Friday, September 03, 2010

Smokie

The Return of the homercat, yep he's back from vacasheeohne.  So Just a few words before I get on with today's feature. I hope My K-Tel post kept some of you entertained while I was in cowboy country. Now get this, apparently someone complained about one of my links and it was taken down. It was by a group that released only 1 album 30 years ago. It was only ever available on vinyl, it never made it to cd and is still woefully out of print. It was an album I put up here because of it's out of print status.  A forgotten classic by a forgotten band and someone complained to the "authorities" and the file host took it down. See I just don't get that. It's not available anywhere not even itunes. The only people making money off of this particular album are used vinyl dealers who are charging an exorbitant price for it.  So as far as I'm concerned that particular album and group can fade to obscurity to the point where no one will ever remember them or even have a chance to know them. It just irks me, if you don't want it posted  then make it available for people to buy.

Smokie is an English rock band from Bradford, Yorkshire who found success in Europe in the 1970s. They range from country to glam rock, sometimes reminiscent of Slade. Oh where to start with this band, the history is long and confusing. The band formed in 1964 and was originally called The Yen, after about 20 name changes and several personnel changes they finally were renamed Smokey and in late 1974 recordings sessions for their debut album commenced. In 1975 Smokey  released their second album and this LP sounded much softer than the debut, contained string arrangements on some songs, and heavily leaned toward acoustic guitar arrangements with close harmony vocals, which became their signature sound. The first single from the new album, "If You Think You Know How to Love Me", quickly became a big hit in many European countries, peaking at No. 3 in Britain, and won Smokey a wider audience. Just in time for Smokey Robinson to get his panties in a twist and threaten a lawsuit against the band for their name. Can anyone say another name change, albeit small, to Smokie. When their single "Living Next Door to Alice" was released in November 1976, it quickly became the group's biggest hit. Towards the end of the seventies they had almost run their course yet continued to slog along and record albums. However, Smokie made a surprise return to the UK singles chart in 1995, with one of the most unlikely hits of the year - a duet with controversial  comedian Roy Chubby Brown. After a re release of "Alice" had reached number 3, the band noticed that, whilst touring in Ireland, whenever they sang the main line "For 24 years/I've been living next door to Alice" the audience would shout "Who the fuck is Alice?". So after a re recording, Smokie now holds the record as the first group to get a record in the Top Ten with the word "fuck" in it. Unfortunately shortly after the new version of the song was recorded Smokie's tour bus careened off of the road during a hailstorm in Germany. Vocalist Alan Barton (who had replaced Chris Norman) was badly injured and died after five days in intensive care. The rest of the band agreed to donate their royalties from the song to Barton's first wife. I think these guys are hugely underappreciated and their stuff has been a little difficult  for me to find, other than these compilation albums. Todays cut come from this greatest hits album but it didn't contain the re recorded version of "Alice". It just so happened that I did have it so I threw it in there next to the original version.

Living Next Door to Alice
Who the Fuck is Alice?!
Buy It

Funny Toon

5 comments:

jb said...

Bloggers often do more to promote the back catalog of many artists than the artists would ever do themselves. Not that we often get thanked for it.

Good to have you back.

Mick said...

Hope you had a great time in Deathbridge.
Smokie are from my town, we knew the band, but they were never that big in the UK. Massive in Europe and the far east though.
Surprised you didn't mention the 1978 duet 'stumblin' in', with Suzie Quatro.

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

One of your best posts. The good parts of Alberta must have rubbed off on you. I'd forgotten all about Smokie.

SeamusH said...

A good number of the early hits including the ones you mention were written by the Chinn & Chapman team who also wrote for Sweet and Suzi Quatro amongst others.

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