Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Koobas - Koobas (1969)

Stuart Leatherwood - guitar, vocals
Roy Morris - guitar* Keith Ellis - bass
John Morris - drums (early)
Tony O'Reilly - drums (later)

The Koobas were among the better failed rock bands in England during the mid-'60s. Their peers, among the most talented group of the early British beat boom never to make it, included the Roulettes, the Chants, and the Cheynes. Favorites of the press and popular for their live shows, they somehow never managed to chart a record despite a lot of breaks that came their way, including a tour opening for the Beatles, top management representation, and a contract on EMI-Columbia. The group was formed in 1962 by guitarist/singers Stuart Leathwood and Roy Morris, drummer John Morris (who was quickly succeeded by Tony O'Reilly), and bassist Keith Ellis... Read More...
01. Royston Rose (Ellis/Morris) - 3:5102. Where Are the Friends? (Ellis/Leathwood) - 3:3703. Constantly Changing (Ellis/Morris/Leathwood) - 2:4304. Here's A Day (Ellis/Morris/Leathwood) - 3:1005. Fade Forever (Ellis/Leathwood) - 2:57 06. Barricades (Ellis/Stratton-Smith/Leathwood) - 5:0207. A Little Piece Of My Heart (Blackwell/Scott) - 2:4208. Gold Leaf Tree (Ellis) - 3:3809. Mr. Claire (Leathwood) - 3:4410. Circus (Ellis/Leathwood) - 5:41
In a sense, it's unfair to rate Koobas entirely by this, their only LP, because they were already in the process of calling it quits as a group when they cut it late in 1968; indeed, it's likely that if they'd thought they would have a possible future, a couple tracks that are here might never have seen the light of day. That said, Koobas is a good document of its time: Its three best songs, "Royston Rose," "Barricades," and "Gold Leaf Tree" are resplendent in rippling guitar parts, lots of fuzz-tone, searing breaks that sound like George Harrison's or Tony Hicks' playing pumped up by a few hundred amps, and drum patterns lifted right out of "Rain" and a dozen equally impressive psychedelic tracks, and some very pretty singing. Unfortunately, the best parts of this album are juxtaposed with too many self-indulgent exercises in quaint nostalgia (which the Kinks could pull off but no one else in mid-'60s England ever could without looking silly) and psychedelic digressions like "Here's a Day" and "Fade Forever" (which, with its heavy Mellotron sound, recalls moments off of the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle without ever being as clever). Their rendition of "A Little Piece of My Heart" is closer in spirit to their older Pye singles and it is easily the best song on this album, as a descendant of their old R&B-based Liverpool sound. Reissued on CD in August 2000 with the rest of their EMI/Columbia output.
Bonus tracks (1966/67/68):
11. Sweet Music - 2:4012. Face - 2:2913. Sally - 2:3414. Champagne & Caviar - 2:26 15. Gypsy Fred - 3:0316. City Girl - 2:25 17. First Cut Is The Deepest - 3:04 18. Walking Out - 1:47

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