The Alan Bown
Listen/Download – The Alan Bown – Magic Handkerchief
The new week has arrived and so have some new sounds.
I hope everyone had a chance to tune in (aka pull down the ones and zeros) to the latest Iron Leg Radio Show. If not it will be available in the ILRS Archive (just click the link in the header).
I grabbed today’s selection – unheard – off of a friend’s sale list sometime last year, mainly on the strength of the fact that I’d known the name Alan Bown for decades, seen records at record shows but never really delved into their oeuvre.
The titles looked suitably mid-60s-ish (especially today’s selection) so I grabbed it for less than a tenner and reeled it in.
Upon the first needle drop (on the A-side ‘We Can Help You’) I realized that my placement on the timeline was correct, but that the song in question, though wholly Rubble-y, was a tiny bit too treacle-y for my tastes.
That said, as soon as I flipped the record over my small amount of buyer’s remorse disappeared forthwith.
The b-side ‘Magic Handkerchief’ was a slightly harder-edged selection with a bit of that psyche on the road to prog flavor and with just a soupcon of soulful horns.
As it turns out, this was likely a reach backward for the band led by Alan Bown (not to be confused with Andy Bown of the Herd), named variously the Alan Bown Set (in their early R&B days) or The Alan Bown, and utterly confusing but wholly appropriate for the time and place.
As the Alan Bown Set they recorded R&B/soul material like ‘Emergency 999’ and their (quite good) cover of Edwin Starr’s ‘Headline News’ in 1966.
Bown was a trumpeter, and the vocalist on ‘Magic Handkerchief’, doing a very Robin Gibb-ish turn, is Jess Rhoden (later to be replaced by a young Robert Palmer).
The more I listen to this track the more I find to like. It certainly has the a-side beat in terms of toughness and general quality, though it is understandable why the poppier ‘We Can Help You’ (a cover of a tune by Nirvana) was a minor hit in the UK in 1968.
In an interesting bit of trivia, Alan Bown saxophonist John Helliwell later joined Supertramp.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll see you next week.