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10.2.08

Medicine Head







Medicine Head - New Bottles Old Medicine - 1970 - Dandelion

Q. Who recorded the very obscure album, "Dark Side of the Moon" recordrd in 1972 ?...........A. Medicine Head ! Despite having recorded six original albums, and four hit singles in the early seventies, including "(And The) Pictures in the Sky," "One and One is One," and "Rising Sun," this band is now all but forgotten. "New Bottles Old Medicine," was Medicine Head's first album released on the late, great BBC Radio One DJ John Peel's Dandelion label. In the early days Peel helped the careers of Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Captain Beefheart, by giving them studio-time to record. He also saw the potential in bands like Joy Division, The Fall, The Smiths, and the Undertones, whose great Teenage Kicks was his all-time favourite single. There are some amazing live BBC studio albums available from these groups, and many more. Check out the legendary "Peel sessions" albums for details. Peel saw the potential in Medicine Head, and this album was originally released on Peel's own record label. It's quite a good album. Medicine Head had a sound all of their own. The original two man line-up produced some great folksy blues rock using a Jew's Harp,mouth organ, an acoustic guitar, and a handheld drum. Their albums never received much commercial notice, but this wasn't unusual in the early seventies, as many great bands were overshadowed by huge groups like Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple to name but two. Give this album a listen, and if you can find their 1975 "Live At The Marquee" album, you should buy it. Also, any info on that "Dark Side of the Moon" album would be very welcome. Please post your opinions of "New Bottles Old Medicine" to A.O.O.F.C


TRACKS

1. When Night Falls
2. Ooee Baby
3. Next Time The Sun Comes 'Round
4. This Love Of Old
5. Homer's Odyssey
6. Oh My Heart To Peace
7. Do It Now
8. Be It As We Are
9. Fire Under The Mountain
10. Two Men Now
11. Crazy About You Baby
12. Going Home
13. His Guiding Hand
14. Walkin' Blues

BAND

Peter Hope-Evans - Harmonica & Vocals
John Fiddler - Guitar & Vocals

REVIEW

One of the most refreshing hits of the very early '70s was Medicine Head's "Pictures in the Sky," a song so subtly woven and effortlessly understated that it was almost difficult to actually hear it; rather, you absorbed it straight into your subconscious, then wandered round wondering what it was you were humming. That was the band's first hit single, and their first album, one should not be too shocked to discover, is basically cut from the same cloth. True, not every track is so superbly sublime; true, not every melody as deeply, darkly haunted. But two guys with a Jew's Harp, a handheld drum, a harmonica, and an acoustic guitar nevertheless make mountains move, and would probably have moved them even further if they'd recorded the hit in time for the album. Unfortunately, they didn't. The opening "When Night Falls" sets the scene instead, haunted harp and funereal pounding keeping time behind vocalist John Fiddler's lonesome, confessional lyric. There's a ghostly Dylan air to a lot of Medicine Head's early work, and this one shows you where it came from. Or maybe that honor should go to "Ooee Baby," which throws a muddy riff, a bluesy holler, and a driving rhythm into play and spins all expectations for the album upside down. Judas could not have turned out more shocking. Those moods continue through the album: one moment reflective, one moment boisterous, but always loose and laconic enough to remind you just what kind of arsenal was making all the noise. Like Mungo Jerry, the only other band of the era capable of making such a racket with the minimum of rock toys, Medicine Head's achievement isn't simply in writing and performing such memorable songs. It lies in making them sound so memorable as well, and New Bottles Old Medicine overflows with that magic. © Dave Thompson, All Music Guide

BIO (Wikipedia)

Medicine Head was an English blues rock band, active in the 1970s. The group worked as a duo for most of its career, consisting of John Fiddler (born 25 September 1947, Darlaston, Staffordshire, England) - (vocalist, guitarist, piano player, drummer), & Peter Hope-Evans (born 28 September 1947, Brecon, Powys, Wales) - (harmonica, jew's harp, and mouthbow player). Medicine Head formed in Stafford in 1968, and came to prominence when championed by influential DJ John Peel, who signed them to his Dandelion record label. The group recorded six original albums, the opening trio of which were on 'Dandelion'. That label enjoyed its only UK Singles Chart hit when "(And The) Pictures in the Sky" reached number 22 in 1971. Despite consistent touring, often as support to acts with larger commercial appeal, Medicine Head failed to place an album on the UK Albums Chart. One of their albums was titled "Dark Side of the Moon" (1972), released the year before the Pink Floyd album of the same name. If the Medicine Head release had gained attention, Pink Floyd may have had to reconsider the title of their masterwork. They went through line-up changes with their largely backing personnel, but did achieve a total of four hit singles, the best-known of which are "One and One is One" (No. 3, 1973) and "Rising Sun" (No. 11, 1973). At various times the line-up also included Tony Ashton, formerly of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke, and Keith Relf, the former Yardbirds vocalist. Their later recordings were released on the Polydor record label. Two Man Band was their last album, and Medicine Head finally folded in 1977. In 2005 Angel Air released the album Don't Stop The Dance. In effect it was a 'lost' album, compiling some singles from an unsuccessful period with the WWA label, and some unreleased sessions with the band as a five piece. Since the band's break-up, both members have continued to work in music: Hope-Evans appears on many albums, most prominently with Pete Townshend, and Fiddler was a member of British Lions and Box of Frogs. Fiddler has occasionally revived the Medicine Head name, to tour a show of their hits and release further low-key recordings.

MORE ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Formed in Stafford, England in 1968, the British blues duo Medicine Head comprised vocalist/multi-instrumentalist John Fiddler and Peter Hope-Evans, who played the harmonica and jew's harp. Upon their formation at art college, Medicine Head became a staple of the local club circuit, eventually recording a demo which found its way to influential BBC radio personality John Peel, who began championing the track "His Guiding Hand." Other DJs soon followed suit, and quickly the duo was on the brink of stardom. With Peel's continued assistance, Medicine Head entered the studio to begin recording their 1970 debut LP New Bottles Old Medicine. Their focus shifted from basic blues to a more intricate sound for 1971's Heavy on the Drum, produced by former Yardbird Keith Relf; after scoring a surprise hit with the single "(And the) Pictures in the Sky," Hope-Evans left the group, and was replaced by Relf and drummer John Davies for 1972's The Dark Side of the Moon. Hope-Evans rejoined prior to 1973's One and One Is One, which launched the title track to the Top Three of the U.K. singles chart. Now a five-piece also including guitarist Roger Saunders, onetime Family drummer Rob Townsend and bassist George Ford, Medicine Head notched two more hit singles, "Rising Sun" and "Slip and Slide," but 1974's Thru' a Five failed to chart, and the group began to disintegrate. Only Fiddler and Hope-Evans remained by the time of 1976's Two Man Band, and after one last single, "Me and Suzy Hit the Floor," Medicine Head officially disbanded. Fiddler later resurfaced in the British Lions, followed by a stint in Box of Frogs and finally a solo career, while Hope-Evans contributed to the Pete Townshend albums Empty Glass and White City. © Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide