Bobby Harrison, voice and drums
Thinkin' 'bout You
King of the Night
Little Linda Lovejoy
Looking for a Friend
Considered to be the "missing link" in BOBBY HARRISON’S career between the two legendary bands FREEDOM and SNAFU, the solo album Funkist has previously only been available on vinyl in the US. With this Angel Air release the rest of the world can now finally catch up with not just Bobby Harrison in top shape, but also a bunch of top notch British rock legends.
In a moment we will take a closer look at the backing musicians appearing on this album. But first a short run through our main man’s own background:
Singer/songwriter and drummer Bobby Harrison’s history can be traced back to the late fifties and the legendary Brentwood group THE ROCKEFELLAS. Subsequently, during the early part of the sixties, he was in GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN, who signed to ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM’S Immediate label and released one single, Monkey Time, in 1965. Following that, Harrison formed the CBS-signed POWERPACK, who put out two singles in 1966 and 1967. Backed by famous jazzer RONNIE SCOTT, Bobby also released his first record in his own name for CBS in the mid-sixties, a version of the song Sonny.
Harrison then became one of the original members of PROCOL HARUM during the spring of 1967, when the group recorded their famous No 1 single, A Whiter Shade Of Pale. However, at the same time as the record was at the top of the charts all over the world, Harrison and the band’s guitarist left the group to form their own outfit, FREEDOM.
This first line-up of FREEDOM made a couple of singles and a soundtrack for an Italian film (now available on Angel Air). However, in order to find a more blues-based sound the line-up was reshuffled and became SAUNDERS (guitar) and WALTER MONAGHAM (bass). This formation made several albums in the late sixties and early seventies but disbanded sometime in 1972. Harrison then commenced work on Funkist, an album featuring the following backing musicians:
IAN PAICE – best known for his many years as a member of DEEP PURPLE, Pace is quite simply one of rock’s most solid, energetic and technically capable drummers ever. Today, he is also in PAUL McCARTNEY’S new group along with guitarists MICK GREEN and DAVE GILMOUR, plus keyboardist PETE WINGFIELD.
MICKY MOODY – a master of the slide guitar, Moody has been an active player since the sixties and played on numerous hits by groups such as WHITESNAKE. During the mid-seventies he and Bobby Harrison formed the core of Snafu. Today Micky is enjoying great commercial success with his old chum from Whitesnake BERNIE MARSDEN touring and recording as COMPANY OF SNAKES.
MATTHEW FISHER – the man who played the organ part on Procol Harum’s all-time classic "A Whiter Shade Of Pale", Fisher created a whole new approach to the Hammond organ. He is also a highly talented writer, singer, producer, and studio engineer. Co-producer on this album along with Bobby Harrison (except for two tracks, which were produced by STEVE ROLAND).
CHRIS STEWART – super experienced bassist who has been playing with practically everyone in the British sixties and seventies rock scene, from JOE COCKER to SPOOKY TOOTH.
WALT MONAGHAM – bass player with Bobby Harrison’s group Freedom in the sixties and seventies, Monogham has a solid, distinctive style not unlike that of FREE’S ANDY FRASER.
CLEM CATTINI – drummer who started out as a member of THE TORNADOS in the early sixties and later moved on to be one of the most used British session players ever.
HERBIE FLOWERS – super experienced bass player, an original member of BLUE MINK who also played with T REX in the mid-seventies and is a much-used guest musician, often together with Clem Cattini.
TONY IOMMI – BLACK SABBATH’S legendary guitarist, whom Harrison had got to know through touring.
HENRY McCULLOCH – a member of THE GREASE BAND and EIRE APARTMENT, later with Paul McCartney’s WINGS.
BOB SARGENT – well-known, prolific keyboard player since the late sixties who has also worked as a producer.
RAY OWEN – vocalist with JUICY LUCY.
I asked Bobby Harrison to explain the circumstances under which this album was recorded:
THE BOBBY HARRISON INTERVIEW
I didn’t know really what to do after Freedom broke up, and I was approached by my management to do a solo album. So I thought, "Okay, I got all these songs floating about." I decided also that I could pick and choose all these musicians.
The material had basically been written for Freedom, but at that time I had started to go in a different direction. I wanted to get away from straight R&B and more into mixing the R&B with funk. Funk was happening then with THE AVERAGE WHITE BAND, WAR, REDBONE and LITTLE FEET.
Our management was really into the end product. They were actually looking for a new band to surround me. So when I got more close to Micky Moody, who played guitar on the record, we decided that we’d start a band together, which we did and that became Snafu.
One of the most important things that happened during that album was that Micky and I started writing together. We wrote the opening track, Long Gone, and that was also later a Snafu single. The version we did on Funkist has wonderful feel, and it features Matthew Fisher, Micky Moody, myself playing drums and Chrissie Stewart on bass. I really like that track, it’s so "spaced out" for want of a better term) it’s so laid-back. The Snafu version was much more matured, but the early one has a very special feel about it.
Bringing together a bunch of top quality players like the ones I had on this album can work out very well, but it can also be a total disaster. I was very lucky it worked well. We worked at some very famous studios too, mainly at Olympic No 1, but a few tracks were also done at Trident and Morgan. I remember clearly doing the tracks with Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath at Morgan.
It was all ready to go. The management thought it was such a good product and also they got a whisper that Micky and I wanted to get a band together from this album. They went with the band idea, and they thought, "Well, we’ll shelve this album for a while and concentrate more on Snafu." That’s why Long Gone became a single. And after Snafu got going for a couple of years they thought this would probably boost me as a solo artist and they finally released it.
Long Gone is perhaps my favourite track on the entire album. I wrote the lyric for it, and it’s all about going on tour. It’s one of those rock ‘n’ roll tour songs I suppose.
They only got a deal for the LP with Capitol Records in the States. So it was released there and nowhere else. But apparently it got to No 76 in the Billboard charts and it is now a very popular album with collectors.
Did I ever receive any money for it? You’re joking! If it got to No 76 in Billboard it must have earned a few bob, but I’ve never seen anything.
Furthermore, having done an album and feeling it has all gone fine and you’ve got all these fantastic players, but then the management decide not to put it out! I didn’t like that at all either. That really hurt. But then again I was promised that it would come out, so I had something to look forward to, and I thought that all the work I had done with Snafu would help that album. That’s the way I saw it.
In the early eighties, after Snafu had folded, Bobby decided to move to Iceland. There he got involved with many musical activities and also teamed up with local supergroup MEZZOFORTE. With this group he recorded the wonderful Solid Silver album, a collection of R&B classics displaying his excellent abilities as a singer.
Today, Harrison is back in Britain. He is as active as ever, with a singing voice that is continually growing in strength.
CLAES JOHANSENwith thanks to BOBBY HARRISON
Thanks, Jill, for the typing