Monday, March 9, 2009

Rock Workshop - With Alex Harvey & Ray Russell

A product of the early-70's, Rock Workshop were formed by Ray Russell and Alex Harvey and became an expansive band of thirteen musicians who created an innovative and technically articulate form of experimental rhythm and blues.

Ray Russell recalls that he was playing with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames and then appeared in the 'Hair' musical together with Alex Harvey's brother Les. From this meeting, and Alex Harvey's involvement on backing vocals in the musical, the idea of Rock Workshop was born.

The collective's first album was issued in 1971 to great critical acclaim. However, due to their record company wanting to market them as an English 'Blood Sweat And Tears', they never achieved great commercial success. A second album was released before the band folded and Alex Harvey went on to great commercial and critical success with his own band.


Formed in 1970, this fluid but short-lived jazz rock group formed by Ray Russell (guitar) and featured several of the UK's leading young jazz musicians, and originally included Harry Beckett (trumpet/flugelhorn), Bob Downes (saxophone), Bud Parkes (trumpet) and Tony Roberts (trumpet/woodwind), Derek Wadsworth (trombone) Alan Greed (vocals) and Brian Miller (keyboards), Daryl Runswick (bass), Alan Rushton and Robin Jones (drums). Several were involved in other, simultaneous projects, notably solo albums by Downes and Russell and session appearances for albums at that time by Jack Bruce, Keef Hartley and Harvey. Wadsworth and Parkes appeared on the latter's solo album, Roman Wall Blues, and Harvey reciprocated by singing on most of Rock Workshop. Their second album For The Very Last Time featured percussionists Phil Wainman and Tony Uter in place of Jones, while Ginger Harper was added on vocals. The individual members then went their separate ways. Rock Workshop in particular remains an underrated gem, featuring Russell's frantic "Spoin Kop" and the evocative and brassy "Primrose Hill". Although both vinyl albums have long since been deleted, they represent a bold attempt at fusing what would be termed rock jazz as opposed to jazz rock. The debut was finally reissued in 2003 by Angel Air. This welcome release has bonus tracks and the running order changed yet the original version of "Primrose Hill" is sadly replaced by an inferior alternate take.
Artist: Rock Workshop
Album: Rock Workshop (Bonus Tracks)

1 Ice Cold (Russell, Shepherd) 2:58
2 Wade in the Water (Traditional) 3:45
3 Hole in Her Stocking (Harvey, Russell) 4:09
4 He Looks at Me/Mooncross Grov (Russell) 10:19
5 Spine Cop (Russell) 3:47
6 Born in the City (Russell) 3:01
7 Theme for Freedom (Russell) 7:34
8 You to Lose (Cameron, Russell) 6:41
9 Spine Cop (alternate take) (Russell) 3:50
10 Hole in Her Stocking (alternate take) (Harvey, Russell) 5:31
11 Born in the City (alternate take) (Russell) 2:47
12 You to Lose (alternate take) (Cameron, Russell) 5:25
13 Primrose Hill (Russell, Shepherd) 5:41
14 Return of the Goddess (Russell) 5:40
Harry Beckett - Horn
Bob Downes - Wind
Alan Greed - Keyboards, Vocals
Alexander Harvey - Vocals
Robin Jones - Drums
Brian Miller - Keyboards
Tony Roberts - Wind
Darryl Runswick - Bass
Alan Rushton - Drums
Ray Russell - Guitar
Derek Wadsworth - Trombone


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