Get this crazy baby off my head!



Stretch - You Can't Beat Your Brain For Entertainment - 1976 - Anchor

"At their peak fans rated Stretch as 'the greatest British blues and boogie band of the era', and many spoke in whispered reverence of the crazed night in 1976, 'when they nearly blew Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow off stage". © Chris Welch, London 1995

Stretch, formed in 1975, was led by the great vocalist, Dave Perry (Elmer Gantry of Velvet Opera fame). This blues-rock band had members of Curved Air and the Strawbs in their history. This album is a much overlooked rock/boogie gem. Bukka White's 'Fixin' To Die' and the excellent rocker 'That's The Way The Wind Blows' are outstanding rock/boogie tracks. John Peel, the late great British D.J, and journalist was a big fan of Graham Gregory aka Kirby's guitar work. Elmer Gantry’s actor friend Richard O’Brien (‘Rocky Horror Show’) gave the album it's title. This was the second Stretch album of 1976 vintage. It shows just how much good music was produced by many British bands that tended to get overlooked in their time .The material for 'You Can't Beat Your Brain For Entertainment’ was written while the band was on the road and includes ten slices of solid, soulful rock with a great R&B edge. Lack of commercial success eventually led to the group's disbanding. They lasted until the late 70's, when Punk, Disco and Metal killed off most original quality R&R acts like this... a shame. Stretch briefly reformed in 2007 to promote a Greatest Hits album. Thankfully, between 1975, and 1978 Stretch recorded four great albums, and every one is worth listening to. Try and find the band's terrific "Elastique" album, and listen to Graham Gregory/Kirby's "Composition" album. Brilliant music ! Please forgive the "snap, crackle, and pop" on this vinyl album. However, it's not troublesome enough to ruin your enjoyment.

TRACKS / COMPOSERS (Where known)

A1 Fixin' To Die - Bukka White
A2 If The Cap Fits - Gantry
A3 The Way Life Is - Kirby
A4 That's The Way The Wind Blows - Gantry, Kirby
A5 Hold Up The Light - Gantry, Kirby

B1 Can't Get Enough
B2 Hold On - Gantry
B3 Put Your Hands Up -
B4 Love's Got A Hold On Me
B5 Feelin' Sad - Jones


Elmer Gantry (real name Dave Terry) - Guitar, Harmonica, Guitar (Electric), Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Kirby (real name Graham Gregory) - Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar, Vocals (Background), Slide Guitar
Steve Emery - Bass, Guitar (Bass), Vocals (Background)
Jeff Rich - Drums


They were wild days, back in the mid-Seventies, when bands were tough, hard rocking and determined to carve out a piece of the action. Those were the days when record companies were falling over themselves in the rush to sign new outfits they hoped would compete with mega-successful outfits, like Free, Bad Company, and Deep Purple. There was plenty of money around, and loads of clubs, festivals and tours, enough to support scores of musicians who could expect to make a reasonable living, plying their trade. Throughout Germany, Britain and America, there was a rich variety of hard rock bands who relied on the power of screaming vocalists, wailing guitarists and super charged drummers to kick ass. Night after night on the road they got the fans up on their feet, cheering and waving their blazing cigarette lighters in support. There was no need to worry about the horrors to come - punk rock, disco, rap and dance music. Rock bands were kings of the road, and even the least famous could live out dreams of stardom. Among those hard working dreamers was a band called Stretch, a British outfit who recorded for the Anchor label. Their first LP was in fact "Elastique", produced by Martin Rushent, and now re-issued by Repertoire, enabling whole new generations to rediscover the power of a band once hailed as one of the hottest new names of 1975. Stretch featured the fine vocal talents of one Elmer Gantry (who named himself in honour of the character in the Burt Lancaster movie Elmer Gantry). Elmer had previously led an outfit called Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, which released three singles in the late Sixties on the Direction label. They were "Flames", (1967), "Mary Jane", (1968), and "Volcano", (1969), all now collector's items. He also recorded a song called "Psychobabble", featured on an Alan Parsons Project Album "Eye In The Sky". They all helped establish Elmer's reputation as a fine, expressive singer and imaginative composer. Stretch was a much more bluesy kind of band and featured a hot young guitarist, and songwriter simply known as "Kirby". Elmer was the lead vocalist and also played some guitar. They made a strong team, ably backed by Steve Emery (bass guitar), and Jim Russell (drums), who also played with rock'n'roll revival band The Wild Angels. Stretch was augmented on the album by horn players Mike Bailey and Ron Carthy, saxophonists Mick Eve and Chris Mercer, and keyboard player John Cook. The band had made a promising start and enjoyed the thrill of a hit single, when "Why Did You Do It" (written by Kirby and featured on this CD) got to Number 16 in the U.K. in November 1975. It spent nine weeks in the charts and seemed to signal the start of a hugely successful career. The band followed up "Elastique" with "You Can't Beat Your Brain For Entertainment" (1976), and "Life Blood" (1977), all on Anchor, by which time drummer Jeff Rich had joined the band. The blond-haired young sticksman was later to find job security with Status Quo. The final Stretch record, "Forget The Past" was released on the Hot Wax label in 1978. Alas, none of these last two quite matched up to the power of their debut album and they couldn't manage to find the panacea of another hit single. By the time they released "Forget The Past" the band had virtually disintegrated. One music expert described the last album, rather cruelly as 'pure trash'. Only Kirby and Steve Emery remained, using session men like Nicko McBrain (drums), from the Pat Travers Band and Trust, who went on to fame with heavy metal gods Iron Maiden. The writing was on the wall for the kind of rock band Stretch typified. Soon they would be replaced by much heavier metal bands like Iron Maiden, or the combined forces of punk and New Wave. Soon, it would no longer be enough simply to get on the stage, yell 'Rock on!’ and play the blues all night. Bands needed an image, lots of special effects, dry ice and rings through their noses (not always in that order of course!). At their peak critics rated Stretch as 'the greatest British blues and boogie band of the era', and many spoke in whispered reverence of the crazed night in 1976, 'when they nearly blew Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow off stage'. With the miracle of the CD re-issue we can now once again enjoy the excitement of the band 'at full stretch', on their first album as they stomp through Elmer Gantry compositions like "Miss Jones", "Miss Daisy", "Snakes Alive", "Write Me A Note", "Tomorrow's Another Day", and "Buzz Fly". Most of the rest of the material was written or co-written by Kirby, including "Why Did You Do It?", "Down Home", and "Slip Away". "Navy Blues" was contributed by another bass guitarist, Paul Martinez (later with Paice Ashton & Lord). It was all vibrant, pulsating stuff. Now if only they'd got another hit… © Chris Welch, London 1995, Taken from the CD reissue of "Elastique" (1975) - Repertoire, REP 4522-WY [ Complete article obtained from www.alexgitlin.com ]

BIO (Wikipedia)

Stretch was a 1970s British rock band that grew from the collaboration between Elmer Gantry (real name Dave Terry) and Kirby (real name Graham Gregory). Gantry was previously the frontman of Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera. Kirby was previously a member of Curved Air. The band was put together with help from Fleetwood Mac manager Clifford Davis and drummer Mick Fleetwood, to perform as Fleetwood Mac on a US tour because the existing Fleetwood Mac were not in a position to fulfil outstanding contractual obligations. Unfortunately, Fleetwood did not join the tour as planned, and later denied any knowledge or involvement, and part way through the tour it became obvious to audiences that there was no original member of Fleetwood Mac in the band, and the tour collapsed. Stretch rose from the ashes of this debacle, and soon had a No16 hit single in November 1975 with "Why Did You Do It?",the lyric of which was a direct attack on Mick Fleetwood for his failure to join the band on the ill-fated Fleetwood Mac tour. They followed this up with an album, entitled Elastique. During the recording of this album, bass player Paul Martinez was sacked, and drummer Jim Russell left before the recording of the second album You Can't Beat Your Brain for Entertainment due to musical differences. He was replaced by future Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich. Two more albums were made, but Gantry left before the last album, Forget the Past. Another blow came in 1979 when manager Davis decided to withdraw his financial input, and the band eventually split up. Stretch reformed in 2007 to coincide with a "Greatest Hits" collection, and toured in support of the Jeff Healey Band.


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

LINKp/w aoofc

diamonddave said...

Great blog. I regularly look to see what you have. Thanks for sharing and keep on rocking in the free world!!

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

Thanks a lot, diamonddave! How are you? Enjoy the music, and keep the blues alive!