Ahhh, the jams of yesteryear.
In 1972, a charitable event known as the Greasy Truckers Party, took place at London’s Roundhouse, pieced together by the Greasy Truckers Organisation to channel and funnel monies to needful agencies. This UK organization was patterned after the San Francisco collective known as The Diggers, who raised money to assist the homeless, etc. The program put together, gained a legendary notoriety that was chronicled by the release of a double LP, now extremely rare, and which featured a handful of tunes from the main attractions, Man, Hawkwind, and Brinsley Schwartz. Of course, the full 9-hour show, beset by power issues and delays properly explained in the included booklet, showcased far more than those main performances, as well as more songs from the main performances than found their way on to time-restricted vinyl.
The masters from the 8-track recording unit used on the Pye Mobile to record the event have recently been located, beautifully remastered, and compiled into a 3CD set to remember the event in as complete a showcase as can be. You only need to hear this once to realize just what fantastic performances came forth. For those lucky enough to have acquired an LP copy as originally dispensed – the 20,000 units were quickly snapped up when offered – you already know just how excellent these performances were.
Reissued by EMI Holland and delivered in the US by Caroline Records, this newly revived classic is fantastic. Not only does it provide a slice of history, it also provides side-by-side stylistic differences that, no matter how you hear it, just seem right together.
Man, who occupies the first disc with 5 songs, several long extended jams, is solid rock’n’roll from start to finish in an excellent set. Man, more a progressive band than otherwise, had gained stature as a strong FM band, where more emphasis was placed on the band rather than the short, catchy single designed for AM play. This first disc begins with a more than 20-minute rendition of “Spunk Rock,” a powerhouse song that readily reveals the qualities of the band, and, in this case, blows the doors off the club. Man, like many excellent bands of that time period, never received the full recognition that they deserved, despite having released top-seller albums and live sets (which complemented them more than anything). Their performance on this set is exemplary, easily worth the price of this admission.
The second disc is dedicated to Brinsley Schwartz, a band that not only employed a richness of styles, but, when splintered, went on to achieve other levels of success amongst themselves. Bassist Nick Lowe, went on to a successful solo/producing/songwriting career (“Cruel to be Kind,” Elvis Costello, “What’s so Funny ‘bout Peace, Love, and Understanding”) and a brief stint with Dave Edmunds in Rockpile. Brinsley Schwartz went on to work with Graham Parker as a member of The Rumour – along with keyboardist Bob Andrews, also releasing a solo Rumour album. The Brinsley Schwartz band that is heard on this album, however, used country, blues, and soulful songs as their stock in trade. Contrasting the extended efforts of Man, and Hawkwind, this band still held their own with 16 catchy, smart songs and a well-performed show, despite some rough patches, which are mentioned in the notes.
The second disc is finished out with the addition of a song from odd man performer, Magic Michael. Magic Michael is an artist that I’ve never heard of; however, his corny performance here is likely an interlude to the more serious bands. It has no value other than it was historically a part of the show.
The final disc is the musical document of Hawkwind’s involvement with the event. Acting as headliner, Hawkwind was the last performance of the evening. Featuring a newly joined and pre-Motorhead, Lemmy Kilmister, Hawkwind’s set is a superb performance full of the spacey and innovative energies that one would expect from the band. There are 11 songs here including a previously unheard new tune in the excellent “Silver Machine,” which ended up a much different song in other performances.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Man performance best but that is not to discount any of the music that shows up here (save for Magic Michael). As an historical document of the night of February 13, 1972 at The Roundhouse in London, this 3CD set is perfect. It is completed with a 24-page booklet that thoroughly recounts the event with pinpoint details and observations, including the moods of the show. It even goes into the history of each band on the album as well as a few that are not included but played in the show. It is a well constructed booklet full of information, pictures, and track-listings.
Greasy Truckers Party is a classic disc that should be owned by all serious archivists and fans of early seventies live rock.