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Mick Abrahams And Sharon Watson - How Many Times (SCD)

Genre: Blues/Rock
Release Date: 11th May 2015

Label: Gonzo
Catalogue Number: HST181CD
Price: £7.99
Available: Sorry - Not currently available

Mick Abrahams And Sharon Watson - How Many Times

It is a story as old as time itself.  I'm sure that it predates rock'n'roll, but it is a paradigm which has appeared so many times within the canon of the sort of bands that I have spent the last four decades listening to, but it hardly bears repeating.  Except, of course, that I must - because without the back story the extraordinary tale of Blodwyn Pig would just be another rags to...  well, if not exactly riches, then slightly more expensive rags.

In the beginning there was Robert Johnson who sold his soul to the devil.  The cornute one passed it on to some evangelical promoters in the Thames Valley. The Blodwyn Pigstory begins back in the mid-1960s when a whole generation of relatively privileged white kids in the UK discovered the music of a previous generation of reasonably underprivileged black men living in the southern states of the USA. 

People quite often forget that Jethro Tull, who are best known for having a personable front man who looked like a tramp and stood on one leg whilst playing the flute didn't start off as a folk band, or even a progressive rock band; they started off as a blues band. Back in the halcyon days of 1967, a couple of members of a Blackpool-based blue-eyed soul band travelled down to the teeming metropolis where they teamed up with two members of a failing, Luton-based blues band.  They appropriated the name of the legendary 18th Century agriculturist (inventor of the rotary seed drill, no less) and the rest is history.  Except, of course, that it is nothing of the kind.

The band signed to the legendary Island Records, home of the cream of what was then known as `the underground`, and during the summer of 1968 recorded their first albumThis Was.  Ian Anderson, the aforementioned gentleman of the rock and roll road, described their music as ‘a sort of progressive blues with a bit of jazz.’ The blues influence came largely from guitarist Mick Abrahams.  It was Abrahams who - on the first album - provided the only non-Anderson lead vocal in Jethro Tull's recorded history, and with the benefit of hindsight it is easy to see that both he and Anderson were jostling for position as the prime creative mover behind the band.

Unsurprisingly, there was a massive falling out between the pair, and Abrahams left the group. He was replaced by Martin Barre (after brief tenures by Toni Iomni, later as Black Sabbath, and Davy O'List of The Nice) and Jethro Tull did their own inimitable thing for the next four decades.

But what of Abrahams? One of the main reasons that he had fallen out with Anderson was that he was a blues purist, and didn't want to follow some of the more esoteric paths that Anderson was to lead the band into.  No, he just wanted to play the blues.  Robert Johnson hadn't sold his soul to the devil in order to make progressive rock albums about a nine-year-old boy poet.  There was a purity and an integrity to the blues, and it was the path along which Mick Abrahams intended to walk.  So he started his own band and for reasons which remain obscure he named it Blodwyn Pig.

Over the years he also recorded a number of solo albums, steeped in the delta blues DNA that had mystically been passed down to him by Robert Johnson. Mick is 72 now, and not in the best of health, but he still has the heart of a bluesman and the remarkable musicianship on this gem of an album pays testament to that.

In his autobiography he writes: “Two albums that I am very proud of are of music that would most certainly not be normally associated with me: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and How Many Times.  The first album was done initially as an album of background music for my son’s school play of the same name in which he appeared at the age of 12.  It was all a bit incestuous in the sense that the Headmistress and my wife Kate (who is now the deputy head) asked me to provide the music and I was happy to oblige. What to do was the burning question for me, but I very quickly got my head around the project and came up with some original themes and songs to accompany the production.  My son Nick was playing the part of Oberon, the crafty fairy prince, so I wrote a song specifically for him and it seemed to take on a life of its own from that point.  A couple of the other cast members wanted songs too and I duly obliged.  Although it was an amateur production, it stood up rather well and of course it was a great seeing my younger son being a part of the production, which made me and Kate very proud. 

We thought it had just been consigned to the archive vault of One-off Productions Ltd, but in 2002, by which time Nick had left school and gone into visual design as a career, the school decided that the senior school drama group would revisit the play and once again called upon my services to update the music and write a few more songs for their production.  This time it got a bit more serious as they planned to take it to the Edinburgh Festival and let the public see the new version.  I took a bit more time with the writing and production as they had grander designs this time and were most definitely out to impress. I called on the help of a few good mates including the very talented Sharon Watson, who for a long time had done backing vocal work on some of my albums and who is an incredible vocalist in her own right.  I also roped in another good pal, Paul Bell, who has a wonderful gravely soul type of voice which suited the occasion perfectly.  The young actors ranged from 16 to 18 years and they did a fine job individually of the songs and the new remixed and enhanced production was really cool.  They completed the week in Edinburgh to excellent reviews and everyone was very happy with the result. “

  1. Please Stop Talking Back
  2. Ain't No Good To Keep You Hanging On
  3. How Many Times
  4. Lies
  5. I Don't Wanna Lover
  6. Just One World
  7. Drivin Sideways
  8. Maybe
  9. Shadow Love 
  10. Take Another Piece of My Heart
  11. I'm A Witness 
  12. Sooner or Later


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