Sunbeam Records SBRCD5062
Jim Capaldi, Gordon Jackson, Dave Meredith, Luther Grosvenor, and John 'Poli' Palmer - collectively known as the Deep Feeling - came close in 1966 to being the "next big thing" to come out of the West Midlands. As events would have it, the group folded when on the verge of success, leaving behind precious few recordings previously unavailable until now. Sunbeam Records has finally done the group justice by issuing this CD that will help ensure their place in the region's rich rock music history.
Deep Feeling evolved from the Worcester group The Hellions whose origins can be traced back to that town's early 1960s beat scene. The original Hellions line-up of Jim Capaldi (drums/vocals), Dave Mason and Gordon Jackson (guitar/vocals), and Dave Meredith (bass guitar), was later supplemented by drummer Poli Palmer whose addition allowed Jim Capaldi to front the band as their lead vocalist. The Hellions became a highly proficient unit after a stint playing the famous Star Club in Hamburg Germany and were soon in demand in the West Midlands to back well-known visiting artistes and performers.
Upon moving to London, The Hellions were discovered by American record producer Kim Fowley. This led to a recording contract with Picaddilly Records - the group then having four original singles released between 1964 and 1966. The records were undoubtedly commercial and 'pop' oriented but did not chart. With tensions growing in the group, the Hellions moved back to the West Midlands, Dave Mason leaving the line-up shortly after. Luther Grosvenor was recruited to replace Dave on guitar and with a change of management and Yardbirds producer Giorgio Gomelsky on board, the group began composing new and innovative material for a proposed album. By autumn 1966, a new group name "Deep Feeling" was chosen.
According to Jim Capaldi; "I started writing songs with strange arrangements, like Pretty Colours and suddenly we were becoming avant-garde". He also admitted to taking LSD at the time - thus providing the stamp of authenticity to the groups "underground" or "psychedelic" label. On-stage, Deep Feeling went down a storm as a live act wether it be at Birmingham's Elbow Room, London's Marquee, or Cheltenham Football Ground. "Jim was a brilliant frontman" recalls Gordon Jackson.
'Pretty Colours' was the first Deep Feeling track to be recorded in the studio. By early 1967, four more songs had been recorded but then - shocking news - Jim Capaldi left to form Traffic along with former band mate Dave Mason, the Spencer Davis Group's Steve Winwood, and Chris Wood from Locomotive.
Without their charismatic frontman, the others decided not to continue with the band. Luther Grosvenor went on to form Spooky Tooth and later joined Mott The Hoople as the notorious "Aerial Bender". Poli Palmer joined Blossom Toes and after that became a pivotal member of Family. Gordon Jackson made an acclaimed but ill-fated solo album. The tapes for the projected Deep Feeling album were forgotten - until now.
The only previously available Deep Feeling recording was the psychedelically-styled 'Pretty Colours' 45 which originally saw a limited release. The unreleased tracks for the long-abandoned Deep Feeling album are at last united here with Pretty Colours along with a unique collection of rare demos and live recordings that we can now hear for the first time. Sunbeam Records with assistance from Giorgio Gomelsky and Deep Feeling members Gordon Jackson and Poli Palmer, have put together a highly presentable CD that will be of interest to Traffic fans as well as collectors of 1960s U.K. psychedelia.
The Deep Feeling Pretty Colours CD comes attractively packaged with a 12 page booklet packed with rare and previously unpublished photos of the band. Richard Morton Jack provides a good written introduction about the group with the rest of the booklet containing personal detailed recollections from Gordon Jackson, Giorgio Gomelsky, and Jim Capaldi. Some interesting comments about the band from a 1966 edition of the Worcester Evening News are also included.
Now getting to the music on this Deep Feeling CD. The first five tracks were recorded with the full Deep Feeling line-up at Rymuse Studios in London during autumn of 1966. All are credited to Capaldi/Jackson/Palmer and all except for one have remained unissued until now. The title track 'Pretty Colours' has seen previous release on various compilations over the years, most recently appearing on a Mod compilation CD given away with MOJO music magazine.
'Pretty Colours' can certainly be described as full-blown psychedelic although the production on it has much to do with that. Jim Capaldi admitted taking acid as being a "strong contributing factor" when composing this song but Gordon Jackson said the lyric was written about "lost love" and not LSD influenced. Whatever you believe, it's a very trippy number nonetheless with its menacing guitar intro and would have made a fine single with plenty of chart potential.
The next four recordings on the CD by Deep Feeling comprise the remaining tracks left in the vault after the band's demise. 'The Ruin' is a powerful riff-driven 12-bar arrangement that has a typically soulful lead vocal by Jim Capaldi. What makes it really interesting is Poli Palmer's excellent flute playing throughout which really holds this one together. A good bluesy guitar solo by Luther Grosvenor is in there too. The congas make an appearance on the percussive 'Chicken George' which is certainly Traffic-like in its arrangement. There's some rhythmic high harmony vocals on this rather bass-heavy track as Jim tells the story of a fellow who's "Got no money, got no wife, and doesn't care about a thing in life".
Track four, 'The Necessitarian', is a strange number indeed. The doomy lyrics sung by Jim Capaldi "Cold wings touch my face each night, dark stone shapes steal warmth and light... over a robotic beat that suddenly changes to a more frenzied tempo. The song seems to describe a nightmare (or a bad acid trip) and there's a high harmony vocal climax near the end that would suit a horror movie. The only remaining Deep Feeling studio track entitled 'Or Something' opens up with a pounding rock rhythm and some good vocal harmonies. This would have made for an energetic number when performed by the band on stage. It also features a guitar solo that would have fitted well on a Mott The Hoople record.
'I Put A Spell On You' is a live rendition by the group of the Screaming Jay Hawkins classic as recorded for a BBC Radio Birmingham broadcast in 1966. Jim Capaldi lays down a seriously emotionally-charged vocal for this one with support of great action on the vibes courtesy of Poli Palmer. Despite what the CD notes say, the announcer introduces the track as a Hellions performance.
An amazing rarity 'Coming Home Baby' was recorded live by the group at the Elbow Room club in Birmingham. The location is well known as the birthplace for Traffic so to have this track included is most appropriate. Though there's no vocal on this one, the shuffling drums and bass power along a marvelous performance on the vibes throughout this instrumental version of Mel Torme's chart hit of 1963.
Following the demise of Deep Feeling, Gordon Jackson and Poli Palmer made a number of original recordings in 1967 at Polydor Studios in London, four of which are included on this CD. With lead vocals by Gordon Jackson these tracks would not have sounded out of place on Gordon's 1968 solo album Thinking Back. The track 'I Don't Know Her Too Well' is my personal favourite of these. It's a real gem with a great piano intro and a lead vocal by Gordon Jackson. The wonderful jazzy minor-chord melody on this one is unforgettable as it combines perfectly with Gordon's wistful lyrics and Poli's tasteful performance on the vibes.
The next Jackson/Palmer track on the CD is a song called 'On The Circle Of Life'. This one sounds to me that it may have been Beatles-influenced in a Sgt. Pepper/Magical Mystery Tour sort of way with its hypnotic rhythm and 'fairground carousel' effect for the middle eight. There's some nice percussion and flute effects on this one which does bring to mind some of the early Traffic recordings. A far different atmosphere is created on the next track 'To A Lady In Black' which is a dream-like number with its delicate piano, flute and vibes.
'Imaginations Of Alice' takes us back to what sounds like Sergio Leone's wild west as the best Morricone inspired recording on this CD. Lyrically though, its a totally different scene as the song tells the tale of an individual who's subjected to a ghostly haunting by some female spirit or poltergeist; "Visions of her conscience flood my mind, imaginations of Alice remain..." Scary stuff for late night listening!
The final track on the Deep Feeling CD is a song titled 'Blues For Witley'. It was actually recorded as a demo in 1968 with backing from Poli's current band The Blossom Toes at Polydor Studios in London. This Fullham based psychedelically-styled group recorded a couple of albums for Georgio Gomelsky's Marmalade Records label and attracted a cult following. Poli Palmer left Blossom Toes to help form another short-lived Brum group called The Eclection before joining Family.
The Sunbeam Records Pretty Colours CD makes a fine addition for record collectors interested in Traffic & related bands. Fans of Spooky Tooth, Mott The Hoople, Blossom Toes, and Family may also find it to be a worthwhile purchase and it certainly goes well as a companion piece to Gordon Jackson's 'Thinking Back' CD (also on Sunbeam Records). A worthwhile purchase for anyone who collects Brum bands or 1960s U.K. psychedelic pop. Though there's no CD yet dedicated to recordings by The Hellions, we can only hope there will be in the not too distant future.
It's not so easy to lament the loss of Deep Feeling when considering Traffic may not have existed without Jim Capaldi, but it still leaves us wondering about "what might have been" had things worked out differently back in those heady days of the 1960s. There's no doubt that Deep Feeling were poised on the brink of major success with a line-up that had the talent to back it up. This CD succeeds in freezing their brief moment in time at a point when the possibilities for popular music stretched out to extend way beyond the horizon.
The track listing is as follows:
*previously released, all others previously unavailable.
For more information about the Deep Feeling - Pretty Colours CD, visit the Sunbeam Records web site at www.sunbeamrecords.comCopyright © John R Woodhouse 2009