Sunday, December 27, 2009

Woody Woodmansey's U-Boat

Mick "Woody" Woodmansey was raised (as were several influential musicians of the 70s British rock scene) in the English county of Yorkshire, although somewhat farther north than the thriving music community that centered itself around Hull. His interest in the drums developed at the tender age of five, and by fourteen he had formed his first band: an ensemble named The Mutations. This was followed by three years in The Roadrunners, after which he was brought into the ranks of Hull mainstays The Rats in 1969, as a replacement for the departing John Cambridge (who had been tempted away to London by an offer to join Mick Wayne's new band -- and soon-to-be David Bowie back-up -- Junior's Eyes). This new line-up of The Rats did not continue for much longer, and by March of 1970 Woodmansey was himself moving to London to work once again with Rats guitarist Mick Ronson in the Bowie-fronted superhero quartet The Hype -- replacing for the second time drummer John Cambridge, who had abandoned The Hype to join The Mandrakes.

The Hype continued for a short while without Bowie, changing its name to Ronno before releasing the single The Fourth Hour of My Sleep in 1971 on the Vertigo label. The single was received with an enormous upsurge of disinterest, putting the future of the unit in question; but before a complete dispersal could take place, all three members (Woodmansey, Ronson and producer/musician Tony Visconti) were again roped in by Bowie to act as his backing band for the album The Man Who Sold the World (1971). Woodmandsey continued his association with Bowie for three more albums: Hunky Dory (1971), The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1972), and Aladdin Sane (1973). It was the second of these that ultimately cemented the drummers place in music history, as the Ziggy/Spiders spectacle continues to be the most highly revered period of Bowie's work -- despite the extremely brief span of its existence.

Two years after Bowie dissolved the Spiders, the rhythm section of Woodmansey and bassist Trevor Bolder founded their own Spiders From Mars, replacing Bowie and Ronson with Pete McDonald and Dave Black (respectively), and fleshing out the line-up with keyboardist Mike Garson; an eponymous album released the following year was met with little enthusiasm, and the project was abandoned shortly afterwards.

 A year later Woodmansey assembled Woody Woodmansey's U-boat, but its sole offering in 1977 did not fare much better. For the next decade the drummer kept a much lower profile, recording with Screen Idols (on their Premiere LP, 1979) and Dexy's Midnight Runners (Don't Stand Me Down, 1985), as well as making occasional live appearances with arists including Art Garfunkel and Paul McCartney.

After Mick Ronson's untimely death in 1993, Woodmansey and Bolder once again assumed The Spider's moniker for a tribute concert held in honor of the guitarist at the Hammersmith Apollo in London; the pair were joined by Def Leppard members Joe Elliott and Phil Collen in a repetoire consisting mostly of early 70s Bowie material, with appearances also being made by Ian Hunter, Bill Nelson and Roger Daltrey. The Spiders staged a second tribute in Hull in 1997 with a different selection of guests, and both shows were eventually released together as a 2 CD set on the Citadel label. That same year, The two Spiders and the two Leppards continued their collaboration in the guise of Cybernauts, touring the UK and issuing one of the shows as a limited-run CD. A second Cybernauts tour was undertaken in Japan during 2001.

In 1976 Woody tried to build up a new career with his own band U-Boat, recorded an album and supported Uriah Heep on there Firefly tour.

U-Boat was a five piece group with Phil Murray (vocals), Frankie Marshall (Keyboards), MacKintyre Duncan (guitars, vocals), Phil Plant (bass) and Woody Woodmansey (drums, vocals). Their debut album came out on the famous Bronze label and was produced by Gerry Bron, who had successfully supervised lots of  Uriah Heep recordings.

The album, Has severall interesting tracks on it, but completely failed to succeed comercially, and this fact led to an early end of the band's existence. So U-Boat became less than a footnote in rock history.
Bass - Phil Plant

Drums, Percussion, Vocals - Woody Woodmansey

Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals - MacKintyre Duncan

Piano, Piano [Electric], Organ, Synthesizer - Frankie Marshall

Vocals - Phil Murray

Producer - Gerry Bron

Engineer - Mark Dearnley

Engineer [Assistant] - Trevor Hallesy


1. U-Boat
2. Movie Star
3. Slow Down
4. Star Machine
5. I'm In Love
6. Rock Show
7. Let You Be
8. Hope They Come Back
9. Oo La La
10. From The Top



  1. I already have this cd in my collecion but finally I see it here with you on Internet:-))
    I saw the band as support-act of the great Uriah Heep but also this band then was excellent !
    Downloading will not dissapoint you !
    Regards from Holland,

  2. Thanks Hans (again)

    As you say, this is a very underrated album.Personally I love this album. I had it before I knew there was a Heep connection IE touring with Heep ,Trevor Bolder, Spiders from Mars etc I bought it purely because it was on the Bronze label.

    Although I Did not see Heep until 1982 the first tour program I bought was from the Firefly tour which has has a small feature of the u-boat at the back of the program


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