Heroes of The Trees Part Two: Toe Fat

Has there ever been a band with an uglier name than Toe Fat? The only uglier things I’ve come across lately are their two album covers, as depicted on these YouTube videos.

The music – well judge for yourself. Its from that moment in the late sixties when British Blues abandoned soul and decided it was all about a thumping beat and power riffs. This track from Toe Fat One above – The Wherefors and the Whys – still has the groove, while the Toe Fat Two number, Midnight Sun, points to where they would evolve next: Uriah Heep.

But where did they come from? Lead singer was Cliff Bennett, from the Rebel Rousers, most famous for their fabulous version of ‘Got to Get You Into My Life

And why are they heroes of the trees? Because they provide a link between different worlds. You can find them in:

Pirates Tornados And Rebel Rousers
Uriah Heep Colosseum Thin Lizzy
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Black Sabbath TV Tree

Foghat: Slow Ride

Noodling around on Youtube, I saw a link to a Foghat video, which piqued my curiosity, as the band features in the Blues Boom tree, and, I have to admit, had not previously pierced my consciousness. For some reason Youtube won’t let us embed the video but here’s the link.

Well, why bother mention it? Only because it appears to have been played an extraordinary 1,384,000 times.

And just for colour, here’s a live version. Only 70,000 plays on this.

Why is this song so popular? No doubt there’s a story to be told.

Willie Dixon and the Roots of Rock Family Trees

If Rock Family Trees had DNA then traces of Willie Dixon would be found everywhere. Rolling Stones, Little Red Rooster: Willie Dixon (Kinks, Stones and Pretties, London R&B Explosion). Cream, Spoonful: Willie Dixon (Alexis Korner, Clapton early and late, Steve Winwood). Jeff Beck, You Shook Me: Willie Dixon (Jeff Beck, Beck Page and Yardbirds). Bluesbreakers: All Your Love: Willie Dixon (John Mayall). Led Zeppelin: Whole Lotta Love, after legal action admitted to have been derived from Willie Dixon’s You Need Love (Beck, Page and Yardbirds, and others).

Check it out for yourself:

Here are some more examples:

Alexis Korner, I’m Built for Comfort

Savoy Brown: Wang Dang Doodle

Dr Feelgood, You’ll Be Mine

The Merseybeats: You Can’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover

Fleetwood Mac: My Baby’s Sweeter

Georgie Fame: Seventh Son

Spencer Davis: My Babe

It’s an old cliche, but if you want to see an illustration of what we could call ‘music laundering’ – how British players imported black Chicago blues and rendered them in a form acceptable to white American audiences – compare Eric Clapton’s solo on All Your Love with the Otis Rush version.

Listen to the solo starting around 1:22, and then listen at 1.20 to this:

And a further twist, Willie Dixon’s performances of his own songs don’t always have the power other singers sometimes can manage. Compare his version of Spoonful, at the top of this page, with Howlin’ Wolf, one of the greatest performances of any Willie Dixon song. Actually, make that one of the greatest performances of any song, full stop. Turn up the volume. And then some more.

Creation: Heroes of the Trees Part One

The new Browse By Band feature allows us to introduce a new category of band: the Heroes of the Trees. These are bands who may not be hugely well-known but appear in more than one tree and thereby make unexpected connections. The first of our heroes is Creation, who appear in both the Cavern Kids 2 tree and Kinks, Stones, Pretties tree, thereby joining up the Liverpool and London scenes of the 60s by means of bass player Bob Garner, and then, later on, guitarist Ron Wood.
creation1Creation 2

As we have had cause to note before, Creation produced songs in two very different styles: first sounding like early Kinks/Who and then later, with Bob Garner on vocals, recording songs with a much more psychedelic feel. One of their singles in this style – If I Stay Too Long – might be one of the most unfairly neglected numbers of the 60s.

Our Music Is Red - With Purple Flashes - The Creation
Our Music Is Red – With Purple Flashes – The Creation

Madness Competition Result


Amazing response to our Madness competition. What Madness competition you ask? Well, if you didn’t see Suggs and the boys on their November and December tour you have only yourself to blame. The tour programme, compiled by Family of Rock star Gavin Martin, offered the opportunity to win a signed, limited edition Madness tree. And not just any tree, but number 1 in the series of 100.

And the winner is …. Jade Cawte from Cardiff. Many congratulations to Jade, and, as one always says on occasions like this, commiserations to all our other unlucky entrants. Our thanks to you all for taking part, and we hope you get some decent Xmas presents to make up for the cruel disappointment we have inflicted on everyone except Jade.

Ellen McIlwaine Anyone?

Sometimes it can be worth pulling out a CD from an old cardboard box just to see what’s on it. In this case the surprising FabricLive.27 mixed by DJ Format, with this astonishingly brilliant version of the Isaac Hayes track ‘Toe Hold’, recorded live in 1972. The FabricLive mix cuts it off after a couple of minutes. It does I suppose, get a bit repetitive (but if that was a reason for cutting the tracks you find on the other Fabric mix CDs there wouldn’t be much left). Anyway have a listen.

Several of the other tracks on the album “Out From the Skies” are also worth a few minutes of your precious time, such as a hyperactive Ode to Billy Joe, a really funky version of the Jack Bruce number ‘Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune’, and a great gospel Further Along.

Up From The Skies: The Polydor Years - Ellen McIlwaine

Up From The Skies: The Polydor Years – Ellen McIlwaine

The FabricLive mixes don’t seem to be available for download, but the CDs are still around from Amazon, if you’re so inclined. Take a look at the track listing: some really unexpected stuff there.

Take 37

Boy this track brought me out in chills.

Your Mind and We Belong Together (Tracking Sessions Highlights Version) - Forever Changes: Expanded and Remastered
Your Mind and We Belong Together (Tracking Sessions Highlights Version) – Forever Changes: Expanded and Remastered

It reminded me why I never crossed the divide between enthusiastic pub rocker to recording artist. Being told by a bad-tempered oaf, with beer gut, dodgy beard and ironic t-shirt, that I was out of time, yet again, did it for me. Luckily for us, Bryan MacLean and Johnny Echols, guitarists with Arthur Lee’s Love, were more resilient.

To get the full effect you need to listen to all 8 mins 17 secs of it. Especially the last 17. The iTunes snippet gives only a hint. (The track appears on the later expanded version of the album, not the original.)