I’ve been wanting to post about my vinyl obsession, but to do something different in the way of reviews. Over the years I’ve gambled often on unknown bands in the delete bins of record stores, and found some real gems. When a record company decides to give up on you, they delete you from the catalogue, and flog whatever’s left in the warehouse really cheap. To add injury to insult, they mark these records with holes drilled in the album cover, or a corner cut off, or even just a notch with a table saw (and yes, sometimes I’ve opened the album to find they missed with the drill)
This will be an occasional series about the anonymous or forgotten hopefuls in my collection, the bands that should’ve gone somewhere, but fate and fortune decreed otherwise.
HANSON NOW HEAR THIS! and MAGIC DRAGON
(nope, not those three, and definitely not THEMM-bop)
Junior Marvin (born Donald Hanson Marvin Kerr Richards Jr) I decided to do first, because he has come within a hair’s breadth of “the big time” so often in his career. For example, as a young Jamaican emigre in London, he appeared in the BEATLES film “HELP” which led to a few TV appearances. He was in the British cast of the musical “HAIR” and can be heard on the original cast recording. He travelled to America, and cut his teeth playing with T BONE WALKER and the IKE & TINA TURNER BAND. Returning to England, he quickly made a reputation and (as Junior Kerr) was invited to join the legendary KEEF HARTLEY BAND, famed mentor for many other British rockers. He appears on their acclaimed “Seventy Second Brave” album. After recording the follow-up “Lancashire Hustler” , he decided to try his own luck as bandleader with these two albums that I found in Port Huron’s Moondance Records for $3 apiece.They’re both on ELP’s Manticore label, and Emerson is thanked for the use of his MiniMoog on the 1st album. Label manager MARIO “The Big M” MEDIOUS signed them, produced both albums, and is paid tribute with the last cut on N.H.T.- the extended jam “Smokin’ to the Big M”.
Even though NOW HEAR THIS has the incredible line-up of session-men extraordinaire JEAN ROUSSELL (he really shines on this) , BOBBY TENCH, CLIVE CHAMAN and REG ISADORE, I prefer MAGIC DRAGON as the better of the two. If only for irony’s sake, because Junior played with LENNY KRAVITZ on SNL in 2001, and the 1974 M.D. album sounds just like Kravitz!!. What an ideal example of an artist born before his time. Now Hear This starts with the Funkadelic-sloppy “Travelling Like A Gypsy” and morphs into a TRAFFIC loose jam vibe- hardly surprising because REEBOP KWAKU BAAH & CHRIS WOOD play congas and flute on a few cuts. Junior also went on to do an album and tour with STEVIE WINWOOD. The whole album is rather laid-back, more R&B/Funk than rock, with some really tasteful playing. One of the songs I could find on YouTube, “Rain” sounds very much like SOULIVE
Junior must not have been happy with the outcome, because when he recorded the second album, he went with then-unknown musicians. Judging from the more rehearsed and dynamic performances, they must have been playing this stuff live as his band. GLEN LeFLEUR drums, NEIL MURRAY bass, and BROTHER JAMES on congas, with FRANK ZAPPA/JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON sideman ANDRE LEWIS (a.k.a. techno-funker MANDRE) adding clavinet & organ on some tracks. I would love to have seen this band live, their version of B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby” cooks with a sinuous heat! And my fave cut “Modern Day Religion” is a driving rocker that should get any audience stompin’.
American Beauty Rose is the song that made me most think of Kravitz. I could easily see this being a hit for him if it was remixed and re-released today. Fortunately for you, the entire album was posted to YouTube;
On Valentine’s Day, 1977 he faced the hardest decision imaginable; invited to join BOTH STEVIE WONDER and BOB MARLEY‘s bands !! His friends pressured him to follow his roots, and he joined the Wailers, contributing his funky rock flavor to Bob’s relaxed island groove. After Marley’s death, he formed THE ORIGINAL WAILERS to keep that music alive. He also contributed to TOOTS & the MAYTALS and BURNING SPEAR albums.
And I’ve just discovered he’s still rocking; In 2014 Junior started a new band JUNIOR MARVIN’S FORCE ONE. A CD is due by July/2014. He’s tweeting about his current tour right now at @JuniorMarvin09 and his website is http://www.juniormarvin.com/