Wide Eyed & Legless: The A&M Recordings
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Audio CD, Import, May 31, 2004
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UK release by the ex-teen idol & frontman for Amen Corner features all three albums released by A&M in the mid-seventies, 'Spider Jiving' (1974), 'La Booga Rooga' (1975), & 'Be Bop N Holla' (1976). Andy served as the backup guitarist/vocalist on Eric Clapton's 1992 album 'Unplugged' & MTV Unplugged TV show. Edsel. 2004.
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These three A$M albums by Andy Fairwheater Low do this beautifully, using taunt song structure; reggae, lounge, old-school jazz all flood into these songs--many of which could be top 40 singles. Listen to how Low's most famous track, "La-Booga-Rooga" works a hard funk, reggae edge, but has perfect hooks for late-1970s FM radio.
Even as free form broadcasting became less free, great songs like Low's gravitated to DJs who knew quality when they heard it.
Andy first made the big time in the sixties as the front man for Amen Corner. In that capacity, he had six hits in the British pop charts, four of which made the top ten including Bend me shape me (a top three hit that was a cover of a song that had been a huge American hit for American Breed) and If Paradise is half as nice (which made number one in the British charts). Amen Corner split in two, with Andy and three of the other five members forming Fair Weather, who had a British top ten hit with Natural sinner, but this group was short-lived. Eventually, Andy emerged as a solo artist and this collections contains the first three of the five solo albums that he recorded for A and M, together with a bonus track (If I ever get lucky) that originally appeared as the B-side of a single.
The first two of these three albums each spawned a British top ten hit single, these being Reggae tune (from the first album, Spider jiving) and Wide eyed and legless (from the second album (La booga rooga). The third album (Be bop 'n' holla) marked a slight change in style, sounding a little mellower than its predecessors, but yielded no hits. Unless you are already familiar with Andy's music beyond the hits, you won't know most of the other songs. There are three cover versions but they aren't of the most obvious songs. My bucket's got a hole in it (a cover of a Hank Williams song) may be familiar - and not just to country music fans, as Andy was by no means the first rocker to cover the song. Indeed, it is possible that Andy learned the song from a rock'n'roll cover version, of which there were several. Fans of the Beatles' white album will immediately recognize Rocky raccoon, but not many others will because there aren't a huge number of covers of this song. At least among Brits, the most famous of the three songs covered is Travellin' light, which provided Cliff Richard with a British number one hit in 1959. With all three songs, Andy puts his distinctive stamp on them.
Andy recorded the first of these albums (Spider jiving) in San Francisco, with Elliot Mazer (who had already worked with Neil Young among others) as the producer. The other two albums were recorded in Britain with Glyn Johns as the producer. In all three albums, the overall feel is of good-time music performed in a variety of styles, yet somehow holding together well. Picking out favorites among the less familiar songs is hard as there is so much good material here.
Andy was supported by a stellar cast of musicians on all three of the albums re-issued, so it seems a cruel twist of fate that he has spent much of the time since the seventies providing musical backing to others, especially Eric Clapton and Roger Waters. Still, at least he's been able to continue making a living in the music business and we should be thankful for that.
The booklet includes lyrics and musician credits for all songs except the bonus track, together with a couple of pages of liner notes. While the music is not easily pigeon-holed - it isn't progressive rock, glam-rock or mainstream pop - there is a lot to like about Andy's good-time seventies rock music.