The Edgar Broughton Band emerged out of the Blues based Underground Progressive Rock tradition in the late sixties and has been active virtually without break since 1968. Their first five albums are widely considered as seminal:
Wasa Wasa (1969)
Sing Brother Sing (1970)
Edgar Broughton Band (1971)
Inside Out (1972)
The original line-up had the creative driving force Edgar Broughton as lead singer and guitarist. Brother Steve Broughton played the drums and Arthur Grant was on the bass. Victor Unitt was part of the original line-up but left before the recording of the first two albums as the band moved away from Blues to Hard Rock. While The Edgar Broughton Band gained fame as one of the leading power trios of its day, Unitt did in fact return for the next two outings.
The band initially gained fame as perhaps the greatest live act of the era that saw them in their pomp, the late sixties and early to mid seventies. The band’s members moved from their native Warwick to Notting Hill in west London in 1969 and their peers tell two stories from those days with great affection. The Broughtons’ mother was the most famous van-driver of the era and the band continued the motoring theme by staging impromptu life gigs from the back of a flat-bed truck once notoriously stopping the traffic in Piccadilly.
A prodigiously talented band generally, and lead singer and guitarist Edgar Broughton himself in particular, it is something of a mystery why this relatively successful in their day Proto-Punk band are not more famous now. The two generally cited reasons are that the band was so talented in every department, and able to turn its hand to so many different styles, occasionally even during the same track, that it failed to mine an obvious niche. A second argument often proposed and one which has great merit is that The Edgar Broughton Band had such political integrity that the disillusion following the summer of love and the 1968 protests caused the group to implode, and perhaps more significantly rendered this anti-establishment hard-left socialist band without the commercial tools or desire to exploit their solid intelligent and informed fan base.
Musically there is little The Edgar Broughton Band recorded that fell short of first class. The first two albums “Wasa Wasa” and “Sing Brother Sing” are a splendid mix of timeless classics and excellent period pieces. On the third album the eponymous “The Edgar Broughton Band” known for reasons obvious to anyone who’s seen its cover as “The Meat Album” the band developed as close as they were ever to come to a homogenous commercially acceptable sound. Often listed as a fan and critic’s favourite, “The Edgar Broughton Band” shows off the band’s musicianship, with Edgar Broughton himself claiming that Dave Bedford’s arrangement on “Evening Over Rooftops” the most beautiful string accompaniment he’s ever heard.
“Inside Out” sees the band returning to cussed revolutionary intensity turning away from the materialist commercial temptations hinted at by its predecessor. Listed in my top twenty greatest albums of all time, “Inside Out” is as relevant now as it was in the early seventies. “Homes Fit For Heroes” has a particular resonance as we watch the returning heroes from Afghanistan, maimed, dead, and alive. John Lennon and David Bowie were just two of the band’s great admirers, and “Inside Out” has a freshness and a poignancy that few protest albums can claim as they enter their fifth decade.
Critically comparable to its two predecessors “Oora” suffers from having to follow the truly iconic “Inside Out” and tends to get overlooked. It does however contain my favourite EBB track of all, and one that will accompany me to my desert island should I ever be asked, “Green Lights”.
I challenge you to listen to “The Edgar Broughton Band” and “Inside Out” three times each and then argue you’re not in the presence of true genius.
Edgar Broughton himself has continued with his socialist worker ethos by promoting his recent music with his fair day’s pay gigs at parties and in his fans’ homes. Have a look at the website www.edgarbroughton.com
© JD Shanks August 2011
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com
Why Not Also Check Out:
Captain Beefheart, born Don Vliet in 1941, is often labeled one of modern music’s true innovators, having a true impact across punk, new wave and post-rock genres.
In his teens, Vilet and his family moved to the Mojave Desert, where the teen was befriended by a young Frank Zappa. In time, Vliet taught himself saxophone and harmonica, and joined a pair of local R&B groups, the Omens and the Blackouts.
After a semester at college, he and Zappa moved to California, where they planned to shoot a film, ‘Captain Beefheart Meets the Grunt People’. As the project remained in limbo, Zappa finally moved to Los Angeles, where he founded the Mothers of Invention, whilst Vliet later returned to his native Mojave area, adopted the Beefheart name and formed the first lineup of his backing group the Magic Band with guitarists Alex St. Clair and Doug Moon, bassist Jerry Handley and drummer Paul Blakely in 1964.
In their original incarnation, the Magic Band were a blues-rock outfit who quickly signed to A&M Records, where the success of the single ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ earned them the opportunity to record a full-length album. Comprised of Van Vliet compositions like ‘Frying Pan’, ‘Electricity’ and ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’, the rejected the completed record as "too negative," and a crushed Beefheart went into seclusion. After replacing Moon and Blakely with guitarist Antennae Jimmy Semens and drummer John "Drumbo" French, the group (fleshed out by guitarist Ry Cooder) recut the songs in 1967 as ‘Safe as Milk’.
After producer Bob Krasnow radically remixed 1968's ‘Strictly Personal’ without Beefheart's approval, he again retired. At the same time, however, Zappa formed his own label, Straight Records, and he soon approached Van Vliet with the promise of complete creative control; a deal was struck and after writing 28 songs in a nine-hour frenzy, to record the seminal 1969 double album ‘Trout Mask Replica’.
Following 1970s similarly outre ‘Lick My Decals Off, Baby’, Beefheart adopted an almost commercial sound for the 1972 releases ‘The Spotlight Kid’ and ‘Clear Spot’. Shortly thereafter, the Magic Band broke off to form Mallard, and Beefheart was dropped by his label. After a two-year layoff, he released a pair of pop-blues albums, ‘Unconditionally Guaranteed’ and ‘Bluejeans and Moonbeams’, with a new, short-lived Magic Band.
In 1982 Van Vliet again retired from music, this time for good. He returned to the desert, took up residence in a trailer and focused on painting. In 1985, he mounted the first major exhibit of his work, done in an abstract, primitive style reminiscent of Francis Bacon. Like his music, his art won wide acclaim, and some of his paintings sold for as much as $25,000. In the 1990s Van Vliet dropped completely from sight when he fell prey to multiple sclerosis.
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com.