Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, Desert Island Woman, Friday Song, Goodbye Nashville (Hello Camden Town), Martin Stone, Mike Nesmith, Paul Riley, Phil Lithman, Real Sharp, Truck Driving Girl, We get along
NO, not THEM, those sock-cock-rock girth-mirthing Califunkers with the SAME song AGAIN and AGAIN. This superior ensemble occupied the post-hippy and pre-punk epoch and are chock full of pub-rocking beats.
Real Sharp: this two-disc anthology covers the whole breakneck rise and fall as within three years (1972 – 1975) and after over 400 gigs and three albums the group crashed and burned.
Group mainstays Martin Stone (ex 60s cultists The Action, Mighty Baby and Savoy Brown) and Phil Lithman were augmented by future Attraction Pete Thomas, (Nick Lowe also featuring on some tracks) managed by the mercurial Jake ‘Stiff’ Riviera and artwork by the legendary designer Barney Bubbles.
This is a band that signify the missing link between prog and punk/new wave taking in Americana-folk banjuelling (‘Goodbye Nashville (Hello Camden Town)), Southern American frazz-rock (the Allman Brothers-esque ‘Desert Island Woman’), fiddling Celt-blues (‘Fiddle Dee’ is akin to a mashing up of The Incredible Lindisfarne String Driven Thing Band) and motorin’ ragtime-rock (‘Friday Song’).
Two tracks (‘We get along’ and ‘Truck Driving Girl’) were recorded (in acrimonious circumstances) with Monkee Mike Nesmith.
This rewind of the mind reminds of a time when America was still ‘over there’, its place in British culture still part of the ‘fantasy realm’ of movies and music, its exoticness yet to be demystified by mass culture-overload and consumerist colonisation. A more innocent (yet no less aware) time when music and its practitioners acted as a portal to other worlds, cultures, sounds and scenes, interpreting and performing without the sense of pecuniary profit to be plundered from pilfering the past (c.f. Mumford & Sons).
This is fascinating document of an under sung group (the collection features a booklet with great recollections by bassist Paul Riley) and a hitherto underwritten period of British music. Turn to this ‘Page in history’.