Blodwyn Pig was formed in 1969. Mick Abrahams was already a well-respected blues guitarist, playing in a number of R&B groups in the early 60s including Neil Christians Crusaders and Screaming Lord Sutch. He formed McGregors Engine in 1967 with bass player Andy Pyle, Clive Bunker on drums and Pete Fensome on vocals. Following a support slot for the John Evan Band at Luton in 1967, Abrahams and Bunker were asked to form a band with two members of the, by now, ex. John Evan band, Ian Anderson and Glenn Cornick and in December 1967, Jethro Tull were formed.
The band built up a considerable following and went into the studio to record their debut album. This Was", released in 1968, was their brilliant first statement but, tensions in the band were evident and Abrahams left the band allegedly following disagreement over the musical direction Tull wanted to head. While Abrahams wanted to stay true to the blues Anderson was pushing for a more progressive sound.
So, in late 1968, Abrahams formed Blodwyn Pig bringing back former McGregors Engine bassist Andy Pyle and recruiting drummer Ron Berg and Multi instrumentalist Jack Lancaster.
Signed to the Island label, their first album "A Head Rings Out" appeared in 1969. Reaching the UK top ten and doing well in the USA where the band toured a couple of times in support of the album. The music contained on the album was a healthy mix of progressive blues tinged with some jazz, a mix which proved successful and was released to great acclaim. Not surprisingly, a number of tracks would not be at all out of place on early Jethro Tull albums, particularly "Leave It With Me" (featuring flute) and "See My Way" but others have a sound all their own. The superb horns and reeds from Lancaster underpin the sound and add a rich flavour offering variation to the basic blues.
A popular band on the festival and touring circuit, they released the follow up to "A Head Rings Out" in April 1970. "Getting To This" did not just repeat the previous formula but added a more funky, soulful sound as with the opening track "Drive Me". Off they then head on a wonderful melodic prog journey with "Variations On Nainos" containing some marvellous flute, and serve up the ultimate in progressive jazz with the multi-part "San Francisco Sketches", showcasing the various talents of Lancaster. A brave album, musically adventurous, but maybe a tad directionless. When given the chance, Abrahams guitar shines through and his playing is sharp and fiery. The change of styles, however, are perhaps too abrupt and the album loses momentum in places. This mixture of styles and influences works, but only just and the musical struggles within the band would prove too much. Just as they were destined for major success, “musical differences” reared its head and Abrahams left the band he formed.
In September 1970, Pete Banks. Formally the guitarist in Yes joined, but this line up didn’t work and the band split at the end of 1970.
Following a short lived and unsuccessful attempt to reform the band in 1974, with former Tull drummer Clive Bunker, the band members were flung to the four corners of the rock world. Indeed, so disillusioned was Mick Abrahams that he quit the “business” and took a number of jobs selling cars, double glazing and life insurance.
However, proving that you can’t keep a good pig down, the band, reformed once again in the late 1980s and have released a number of well received albums. "All Said And Done" in 1991, "Lies" in 1993 and a live album, "All Tore Down" in 1994.
In addition to playing in Blodwyn Pig, Abrahams runs the Mick Abrahams Band touring and recording regularly. He has also written a biography “What Is A Wommett”, an affectionate and off the wall look back on a musical life.
Ron Berg also played with Juicy Luck and Savoy Brown.
Jack Lancaster composes music for films and TV and has appeared as a session player and arranger on many albums for artists such as Phil Collins, Brian Eno, Vangelis and Gary Moore.
Never fully realising their potential, Blodwyn Pig are remembered with great affection and continue to keep the flag flying to this day reforming at irregular intervals usually with Abrahams and Lancaster as the core members and appearing at festivals and one off shows.
The track now playing is a rare live recording of the song "Dear Jill" recorded at the Fillmore West, August 1970
Ahead Rings Out (Island, August 1969)
Getting To This (Chrysalis, April 1970)
All Tore Down: Live (1994)
The modern Alchemist (Indigo Rec. 1999)
Source: Roger Gibbens; wikipedia
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