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26.11.07

Splinter


splinter-harder2live1975




Splinter - Harder to Live - 1975 - Dark Horse UK

Almost forgotten vocal duo from N.E England, Splinter are probably only remembered for their hit single, "Costafine Town." They were excellent songwriters, and impressed George Harrison, who once tried to sign them to Apple records. Harrison had a large input into much of their work. Check out their first album, The Place I Love, if you can find it, although recordings by Splinter are not generally available. Any more info on recordings by Splinter would be appreciated by A.O.O.F.C

TRACKS

SIDE 1

1. Please Help Me -Robert J. Purvis
2. Sixty Miles Too Far -Robert J. Purvis
3. Harder To Live -Robert J. Purvis
4. Half Way There -Robert J. Purvis
5. Which Way Will I Get Home -Robert J. Purvis

SIDE 2

1. Berkley House Hotel -Robert J. Purvis
2. After Five Years -Robert J. Purvis
3. Green Line Bus -Robert J. Purvis-
4. Lonely Man -Robert J. Purvis-Mal Evans
5. What Is It (If You Never Ever Tried It Yourself) -Robert J. Purvis

CREDITS

Bill Elliott : vocals
Bobby Purvis : vocals
Chris Spedding : guitars
Bill Dickinson : bass
Earl Palmer : drums / percussion
John Taylor : keyboards
Tom Scott : horns / synthesizers


All songs produced by Tom Scott, except Lonely Man , produced by Tom Scott and George Harrison

REVIEWS

On Harder To Live, Splinter's sophomore album, Harrison only participated on one track: "Lonely Man" was co-produced by Harrison and Tom Scott, and "Hari Georgeson" played guitar. It's a transcendent ballad with impressive vocals. It was used in the 1974 movie Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs, which was Harrison's first foray into film production. It's the only song on Harder To Live that measures up to the promise of The Place I Love.

The rest of the album is given comparatively thin production by Scott, who also played several instruments. Without Harrison's intervention, Splinter turned out to be good instead of great. Most of the songs resemble a folkier version of Badfinger. The songs are not quite as downbeat as the album's title suggests; the title track is a bouncy tune about the high monetary cost of living. Another set of impressive musicians provide backing (i.e. Chris Spedding, Waddy Wachtel, John Taylor), but they are not in the same class as the first album's ensemble. Harder To Live is no dud, but it lacks the splendor of its predecessor. The second side is the better one. © RAREBIRD'S ROCK AND ROLL RARITY REVIEWS, http://home.att.net/~rarebird9/splinter.html
Splinter's second release on Dark Horse had a lot less involvement from George Harrison, which is felt throughout the album. This means that the album is not as strong as their debut (1974's The Place I Love), but it is still a very good album. Splinter is comprised of Bill Elliot and Bobby Purvis, both vocalists, who create a beautiful harmony together. They also managed to form a tight, talented, and famous backup band, arranged by the ever-talented Tom Scott (who also contributes musically). Included in the band is Chris Spedding providing strong guitar, and Harrison, who contributes production and guitar (under the name Hari Georgeson) to the wonderful and moving "Lonely Man," which was also the theme to Harrison's first venture into film producing, Little Malcom and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs. It is also co-written by Mal Evans and is by far the strongest track on the album. Other highlights include the beautiful "Green Line Bus" and "Berkley House Hotel," which harkens back to the folk sound of their debut. The music on the album drifts between easy listening pop/rock to folk, but never focuses on one distinct sound. This makes for an uneven listening experience, but the highlights far outweigh the low points. © Aaron Badgley, All Music Guide

BIO (Wikipedia)

Splinter was a two-man vocal group from South Shields, near Newcastle upon Tyne in the north east of England, consisting of Bill Elliott (William Elliott) and Bobby Purvis (Robert J Purvis).
They were connected with powerful people (George Harrison, of The Beatles) and had good groups of instrumentalists to back them on each album. One of those musicians was a guitarist by the name of "Hari Georgeson" (Harrison's pseudonym). Splinter was the first artist signed to Harrison's Dark Horse Record label, when it was still partnered with A&M Records. All of Splinter's albums are out of print. Splinter, who had worked together at various times in the Newcastle and London music scenes, first came to the attention of George Harrison of The Beatles through Mal Evans who was involved with both groups. Harrison was impressed with one of their songs which he felt would be ideal for an Apple film "Little Malcolm And His Struggle With The Eunuchs". Harrison initially wanted to sign Splinter to Apple Records and arranged sessions at Apple Studios to work on the song - he brought-in Pete Ham from Badfinger to participate. Finally entitled "Lonely Man" plans were made for the song to be released as an Apple single and Splinter were shown performing the piece in the film. However, as Apple fell apart Harrison decided to establish his own record label, and once he heard more of Splinter's material he invited them to record an album. Work on this album spanned 18 months. Also in this period Purvis and Elliot co-wrote the song "Kyle" with Harrison's pianist friend Gary Wright - it appeared on the 1974 Spooky Tooth album The Mirror.
On their debut album The Place I Love, the duo got plenty of input from Harrison, who produced and pseudonymously played guitar on all the songs. (The harmonium and Moog synthesizer on certain tracks are credited to a P. Roducer, who may be Harrison) Similarly, the pronunciation of percussionist "Jai Raj Harisein" is evocative of "George Harrison". Other musicians included Alvin Lee, Billy Preston, Gary Wright, Jim Keltner, and Klaus Voorman. Most of the songs were written by Purvis, with Elliott co-writing lyrics on "China Light" and "Costafine Town". "Costafine Town" was a major international hit, reaching the top 10 in Australia and South Africa and the top 20 in the United Kingdom. Both this single and album also appeared on the Top 100 Billboard charts. The follow-up single, "Drink All Day", was banned in the UK by the BBC for the inclusion of the word "bloody".
While some of the songs recall Badfinger (especially "Gravy Train" and "Haven't Got Time"), most of The Place I Love very much resembles a Harrison solo album, but it is more consistent than most of them. Even the vocals sometimes resemble Harrison's; Purvis and Elliott harmonize in a beautifully Beatlesque way. Any Beatles aficionado who hasn't discovered The Place I Love ought to search it out. Lost classics such as "China Light", "Costafine Town", and "Situation Vacant" are among the best Beatles songs that the Beatles never made and Harrison's guitar playing on this album is some of the best on his career (notably "Somebody's City", "Drink All Day" and "The Place I Love").
In preparing for a second Splinter album Harrison recorded Splinter in 1975 running through new material at his Friar Park studio. Such were Harrison's enthusiasm and resources that he pressed this as a private album on Dark Horse Records - known simply as "Splinter" or "The White Album" (after the white sleeve it was housed in), this record commands prices in excess of £300 amongst collectors.
On Harder To Live, Splinter's second album, Harrison only participated on one track. "Lonely Man" was co-produced by Harrison and Tom Scott, and "Hari Georgeson" played guitar. Its a transcendent ballad with impressive vocals. It was used in the 1974 movie Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs, which was Harrison's first foray into film production. It's the only song on Harder To Live that measures up to the promise of The Place I Love. "Lonely Man" was a popular hit in Japan, and in recording a version of the song in Japanese, Splinter became the first western artists to sing in Japanese. They were helped to achieve this by the notable Japanese actor / singer Masatoshi Nakamura.
The rest of the album is given comparatively thin production by Scott, who also played several instruments. Without Harrison's intervention, Splinter turned out to be good instead of great. Most of the songs resemble a folkier version of Badfinger. The songs are not quite as downbeat as the album's title suggests; the title track is a bouncy tune about the high monetary cost of living. Another set of impressive musicians provide backing (i.e. Chris Spedding, Waddy Wachtel, John Taylor), but they are not in the same class as the first album's ensemble. Harder To Live is no dud, but it lacks the splendor of its predecessor. The second side is the better one. The album was not helped by the fact that Harrison would soon fall out with A&M records.
Also in this period Splinter won the Outstanding Song Award at the 1976 "Yamaha World Popular Song Festival" at the Budokan in Tokyo with the song "Love Is Not Enough". This performance was released on an album that documented this annual song festival. As a result of this success, "Love Is Not Enough" was released as a single in Japan. This first version was produced by Tom Scott and is an entirely different arrangement from the one that subsequently appeared on Two Man Band.
Although the duo of Purvis and Elliott continued to perform together until 1984, the 1977 release Two Man Band was the last Splinter album released in most countries, including the United States. Harrison is credited as co-executive producer, and played some of the guitar (most recognizably during "Round & Round"). The main production duties were entrusted to Norbert Putnam, whose ultra-slick treatment added a deadly dose of saccharine to Splinter's sound. Much of the music is gooey 1970s soft rock. Guitarist Parker McGee, who wrote two of the songs, had written middle of the road hits for other artists. A few of the tracks ("Black Friday", "Love Is Not Enough") spill over into disco territory! Aside from two vintage Splinter songs, "Little Girl" and "New York City (Who Am I)", most of the songs are cloying. It's a shame; Splinter's recording career deserved a better end than this.
Although Two Man Band was Splinter's last release in the U.S. and most other parts of the world, the duo did record two more albums that were each released in no more than two countries. Both albums were done without Harrison.
The first of these, titled Streets At Night, was released only in Japan in 1979. Purvis and Elliott produced and arranged this album themselves. It has a more natural sound than the overproduced Two Man Band. This album also benefits from the musicianship of Alan Clark (the Dire Straits keyboardist-to-be), who played keyboards, synthesizers, and clavinette. Streets At Night is heavy on ballads, but most of them are agreeable enough. "Stateside Girl" is reminiscent of their earlier work, complete with Harrison-like guitar chords. "Evergreen" is a good bluegrass picker. The thumping "Where Do I Go From Here?" is the closest that this mellow album comes to rock and roll. On the downside, the last two tracks are too schmaltzy, and they hint at the adult-contemporary blandness that would soon sink Splinter's final album.
In this period Splinter were associated with the Japanese music TV station NTVM and worked with the headline Japanese rock band Godiego. A single of Splinter singing the popular Godiego song "Ghandara" (associated with the TV show Monkey) was released, and they also appeared on a compilation album called Our Favourite Songs, a set led by members of Godiego.
The final Splinter album was the self-titled Splinter, which was released in England in 1980 on the Bellaphon label. (The album was also issued in Japan the following year under the title Sail Away, with a song called "Pigalle" used in place of "All That Love". That was released by Columbia, catalogue no. YX-7292-AX). This album also was totally Harrison-less, although George's influence can still be heard on a few tracks ("Plane Leaving Tokyo", "Passing Through"). The album is mired in a mellow easy-listening format, which makes for quite grating listening by the time you reach Side Two. Purvis and Elliott are both in good voice here, but the mushy adult-contemporary material leaves something to be desired. It's not surprising to learn that producer Jimmy Horowitz had previously worked with Air Supply. The saxophone sound on "Innocent" and "Touch Yet Never Feel" should have sounded fresh, but it's simply boring. There was still no denying the duo's vocal talents, but without the right producers and/or backing musicians, Splinter seemed unable to deliver the goods on record.
In retrospect Splinter’s involvement with Harrison was a mixed blessing. At the time they chose to sign with Harrison over the other offers they had, Harrison was the biggest star in world popular music. However, by the time Splinter’s Dark Horse releases appeared Harrison had fallen from favour with the music press and most things associated with him were treated in this light. While the Beatles were expert at being successful artists themselves, most of the acts they signed to their various labels met with little success, or in the case of Badfinger, tragedy. The irony is that Splinter's first album was a success which spawned a major hit - the fact that this was not built-on arose because the primary interest A&M had in hosting Harrison’s Dark Horse label was to release Harrison’s albums. The promotion of the other acts on the label was far from relentless.
And the obstacles continue to this day - while it is widely agreed that The Place I Love is a significant album deserving of release on CD, it is owned by the Harrison Estate who show no signs of reviving it. Thus, sadly, Splinter's excellent songwriting and singing that so impressed Harrison in 1973 are not generally available.

8 comments:

benny said...

what a great find - i haven't thought of these guys in years. have you any of there others albums esp the first one?

cheers

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks,benny. Try Splinter's album "The Place I Love" @
SPLINTER/TPIL
and
"Two Man Band" @
SPLINTER/2MB

I don't know if links are still active..No harm trying. Let me know if you get lucky!...TTU soon

Mieke said...

Wow, great share! Thanks again...

A.O.O.F.C said...

Cheers, Mieke. Glad you like Splinter. A much neglected band. Thanks a million, & ttu soon

bullfrog said...

link is dead, will you re-post please, thanks

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,bullfrog. Try
http://juliocmail.
blogspot.com
/2008/11/splinter
-harder-to-live
-1975-us-dark.html

Thanks to uploader

rob said...

Hi aoofc,
thanks for the splinter files, but some of the links don't work. Can you re-post them please?
Harder to Live &
Two Man Band.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Rob. I haven't got the albums to re-up. I hard a hard drive with thousands of albums nicked, and I'm trying to rebuild. Maybe somebody reading this could help with links. TVM...P