Monday, March 9, 2009

Rock Workshop - The Very Last Time

It’s probably accurate to claim that Rock Workshop couldn’t exist today. Only during the early seventies did record labels bestow upon bands the flexibility and freedom that led to the creation of such original and often avant-garde albums.
Rock Workshop were just such an innovative project. The band formed in 1971 when guitarist Ray Russell (who had previously worked with Georgie Fame And The Blue Flames) colluded with the legendary singer Alex Harvey. Russell had first met Harvey after standing in for Harvey’s brother Leslie (of Stone The Crows) in the musical ‘Hair’ (at a tender age).
Their shared enthusiasm in producing more left-field material enabled them to recruit a sprawling band of twelve members that included a lively brass section.
Their debut album ‘Rock Workshop’ was recorded over a two-day period in April 1970, and released soon afterwards, though it surprisingly failed to make any substantial impact on the charts. Containing such tracks as ‘Hole In Her Stocking’ and ‘Born In The City’- both delivered with Alex Harvey’s hefty vocals- and it remains fresh even today.
Yet the record label was sufficiently impressed with the debut to fund a second album.
Regrettably, by the time of the recording of the second album, Alex Harvey had effectively left the band in order to pursue his own career (with the first of many Sensational Alex Harvey Band albums being released in 1972).
Replacing Harvey were Al Greed (who had sung on a number of the songs on the first album) and the somewhat mysterious figure of Ginger who only worked with the band on this record.
This release is enhanced by the inclusion of some previously unreleased material, which Russell has recently unearthed, that were recorded in the period between the first and second album.
“Well, these are tracks that I didn’t know that I had. I found the tapes, along with a few photos of Alex, in the bottom of a box in my loft,” he smiles. “I’m actually amazed that the tapes have survived so long as they were left out in my barn for ages!”
Including rehearsals (with Harvey on vocals) of tracks such as ‘Wade In The Water’ and ‘Ice Cold’ along with live material recorded at London’s Goldsmiths College they provide a valuable insight into how the band arranged and performed their material in a live setting.

Artist: Rockworkshop
Album: The Very Last Time (UK Bonus Tracks)


1 Living Reason (Russell) 4:13
2 Street War, Pts. 1-2 (Russell) 9:12
3 Going Home (Greed, Russell) 5:42
4 What's Mine Is Mine (Greed, Russell) 2:54
5 Weeping Wood Mandalas (Russell) 1:51
6 Forgotten How to Live (Greed, Harper, Russell) 4:00
7 Light as Light (Greed, Russell) 3:49
8 I Think It's.... (Greed, Rushton, Russell) 4:01
9 Ella Banta Dum Bundy (Russell) 6:22
10 Very Last Time (Russell) 3:31
11 Is This the End.... Baby? (Russell) 0:51
12 Let My Bluebird Sing (live) (Harvey, Russell) 4:04
13 Wade in the Water (Traditional) 3:41
14 Ice Cold (Russell, Shepard) 3:04
15 Heavy Weather (live) (Russell) 4:39
16 Patterns (Russell) 2:44
17 Watch Your Step (Russell) 4:16
18 Ashen Besher (Russell) 5:28

Rock Workshop In The Studio

Harry Beckett - Horn
Bob Downes - Wind
Alan Greed - Keyboards, Vocals
Ginger Harper - Vocals
Bud Parkes - Horn
Brian Miller - Keyboards
Tony Roberts - Wind
Darryl Runswick - Bass
Alan Rushton - Drums
Ray Russell - Guitar
Derek Wadsworth - Trombone
Tony Uter - Percussion
Phil Wainman - Percussion


1 comment:

  1. Dear abominogjnr,
    I lost your blog for a while when I was having computer problems, so am very pleased to rediscover it and find you've posted not one Rock Workshop lp as requested, but the follow up too. I bought 'The Very Last Time'on vinyl as a cut-out at Woolworths when still at school, but was disappointed at the time to find that Alex Harvey wasn't on that one. (Still like their kind of noise though).

    I don't make requests normally, especially when a blogger is obviously pursuing their own vision in interesting ways, so many thanks. If you like Ray Russell, his many other projects over the years are always worth a listen.
    Btw, I continue these days to defend Heep in the face of those who - like my younger and more arrogant self - are too ready to dismiss them as average UK rock!


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