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Skin Alley

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Skin Alley Two Quid Deal? album cover
3.13 | 27 ratings | 4 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Bad Words & Evil People (5:15)
2. So Many People (5:58)
3. A Final Coat (5:07)
4. Graveyard Shuffle (4:43)
5. Nick's Seven (5:02)
6. Skin Valley Serenada (3:40)
7. So Glad (5:23)
8. The Demagogue (4:54)
9. Sun Music (4:58)

Total Time 45:00

Bonus tracks on 2011 reissue:
10. You Got Me Danglin (single)
11. Sun Music (alt. version)

Line-up / Musicians

- Bob James / electric & acoustic guitars, alto saxophone, flute, vocals
- Krzysztof Justkiewicz / piano, electric piano, Hammond, accordion
- Nick Graham / bass, piano, electric piano, flute, vocals
- Tony Knight / drums & percussion, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Edward Barker

LP Transatlantic Records ‎- TRA 260 (1972, UK)

CD Transatlantic Records ‎- TACD 9.00751 O (1989, Germany)
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2244 (2011, UK) With 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SKIN ALLEY Two Quid Deal? ratings distribution

(27 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

SKIN ALLEY Two Quid Deal? reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

After getting the CBS boot, SA had to find a new recording deal and it doesn't seem like it was an easy task (and took a long time) as their next record came on unlikely labels: the trad folk Transatlantic label in UK/Europe and the soul Stax label in the new world. Strangely enough, they kept the producer of their first two album Fritz Fryer (but not Birch as engineer) and found a new drummer Tony Knight (ex-Bronx Cheer and Chessmen). The Two Quid Dea album (hopefully referring to CBS than their new album) was recorded well into 72 and came out with an atrocious Mickey Mouse artwork (it's amazing Disney never sued)

Opening on the heavy Nick's Seven with the unusual (for them) standard prog quartet (Dr, Bs, Kb and Gt), the track announces a more straight-forward rock direction, something confirmed with the funky 6- mins So Many People, the flute solo over the funky beat is only half-successful, but the track ends almost convincingly. Bad Words again veers straight hard rock (but is the highlight of the first side), until the interesting mid-section organ break, the track returns rebuilds slowly to its original groove; this is something that SA use and abuse over the course of their discography. Graveyard Shuffle is an uninteresting soul track as is the atrocious So Glad track (with an accordion solo if you can believe it) that you'd have a hard time recognizing Skip James' song version done fantastically by Cream.

After such a disastrous middle of the album (spread over two sides), finally the TQD album manages to grab the proghead's interest with the slow flute introduced A Final Coat track (one of the album's best tracks) with a much faster tempo past the first two verse, than a return to the wild instrumental interplay found on their first two albums, including a Jaxon-reminiscent sax. Up next is one of their best- known later tracks (released as a single) Skinvalley Serenade, a flute-laden instrumental track that could easily figure on early-Tull albums or early Focus. Another cool track is the above-average organ- driven Demagogue, but it's acoustic equivalent Sun Music following it is a constantly evolving track, even if hardly riveting, it holds our interest and ends the album on a medium note.

While the first side of TQD is of no interest to progheads (average at best and frankly boring at worst, the second part of the album saves it from sinking and even has some brilliant moments. But really apart from three tracks, this album might just as well be avoided by progheads looking to save both shelf space and hard-earned cash.

Review by Tom Ozric
3 stars I first discovered this album at a record fair sometime in the late 90's - it was the name Nick Graham that caught my attention. Being a fond fan of Atomic Rooster and their debut album (of which Graham was Bassist/Flautist/Vocalist) I snapped it up in a flash. I definately enjoyed hearing this for the first time, still do, but not as much since I acquired their first 2 LP's. Nick Graham and Bob James (Guitars/Winds/Vocals) contribute about half the songs each, and the result is a jammy, jazzy-rock (without being 'Fusion') that's worth a listen, without question. Graham's Bass playing is an important component of the music, and many of the songs are based around his riffs, especially those written by him (obviously). 'Bad Words and Evil People' is a killer track, starting out with a Bass riff in '7', and cool vocals from Nick, with the jammed- out second half featuring a marvellous Hammond solo from keyboardist Krzysztof Juszskiewicz. 'So Many People' is a funky number, again jammy, with a rhythmic Flute workout during the instrumental section, it's quite a groovy song, actually. 'A Final Coat' starts out softly with a lovely Piano and Flute melody, which leads in to the 5/4 verse section with some tasteful Organ playing followed by a screeching Sax work-out from Bob James till the end. 'Graveyard Shuffle' is a song that I don't really 'connect' with, one of the few songs in my life I don't bother with. On side II we have 'Nick's Seven' with, you guessed it, a Bass riff in '7', but it's a lively piece of music and quite appealing. Instrumental track 'Skin Valley Serenade' is a beautiful tune with many changes and blissful Flauting, it reminds me of Camel for some reason, possibly the most 'colourful' moment on the record. 'So Glad' is a lesser track, with shrill singing from BJ and a repetive melody. It does feature an Accordion solo, which is something different, not necessarily great, but different. 'The Demagogue' has a really good feel to it, great groove - an all-round great song. That segues into 'Sun Music' to finish off the album, slightly weaker, but still listenable. I'll grant it a 3.5 now, as I would've said it's a masterpiece, several years ago.
Review by b_olariu
3 stars Skin Alley is an anglo-american band formed in late'60's . After a couple of so so succes albums , released both in 1970, third album proves a turning point in their career, who was short anyway. The album was named Two quid deal release in summer of 1972, refering name for singning to a new record deal, CBS former label kicked them out for some odd reasons. The new album was out on Transatlantic records, but with all that with the new label, even a new member came in Nick Graham from Atomic Rooster, the sound and manner of composing never gave them to much recognision in that period. To many this third album is less good than the predecesors. Here they melted some elements from progressive jazz rock with some funky tunes and even in places some melodic aproach of R'n'B. So a mixt bag, but in the end not so bad as many said. For many listners Skin Alley was to mainstream with a fiew elemnts of traditional progressive sound of early '70's, being far from Genesis, Yes or Nektar for ex. The best pieces are all to me, not a weak moment here, some very strong vocal parts through the album like on So Many People or So glad. Some brass arrangements are here and there given to the album an enjoyble atmosphere. 3 stars for Two quid deal, a good album for sure, but in places less captivating than the predecesors. And by the way, the cover art in cartoon way made by comic artist Edward Barker is not necessarly bad , but for sure a very unpleasent for the album. In the end, an underrated band, their albums are not easy to find, but if you do worth listen if you are in this kind of music.
Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars I recently attended a recurring local record fair, and rolling my eyes at the lack of prog records left these days, I came across this LP no less than three times amongst the different vendors. Each copy was in great condition and no more than $15. Looking at the rather rubbish cover, and wondering how unloved must this album be due to a number of copies remaining unwanted in the crates, I expected it to be pretty ordinary. I had heard the first `Skin Alley' album many years ago, thanks to Archives member Tom Ozric's recommendation, but I assumed by this time the well of great music from this band might have dried up. Finding nothing else of note at the fair, I decided to purchase the best looking copy of `Two Quid Deal', just so I wouldn't go home empty handed. Turns out it's pretty damn good, and a very welcome addition to my collection.

Although the album is quite straightforward rock in many sections, it's always accompanied by varied, energetic flute and sax playing, groovy and very prominent bass, fluid fuzzy organ driving and killer electric lead guitar work. Occasionally folky, very jazzy, jammy progressive rock, while still remaining quite accessible and easy to get in to. There's several moments spread throughout the album where the band gets to loosen up and really break out, but their playing is never overindulgent or brought down by endless noodling. The mixing allows every player to be heard beautifully too!

Until I read up on the album and looked at the credits closer, I had no idea it was the same lead vocalist from the `Atomic Rooster' debut album. Nick Graham sounds quite different on this one, even reminding me a little of the lead singers from Rush or Budgie in the higher pitched moments. His vocals are more varied than on the first Rooster LP, very strong and confident. We all know several 70's prog albums that were let down by poor vocals, but on here you have a very powerful singer. But it's his outstanding bass and flute playing that really gets your attention. He truly is an exceptional talent.

Graham is perfectly complemented by the rest of the band. I love Krzysztof Justkniwwicz's very dirty, messy and noisy Hammond organ solos! Drummer Tony Knight has a huge presence on this album, and is a very gifted musician. Bob James' guitar playing sometimes sounds quite acid rock, really searing. His sax playing is incredible too. I did read on the bio of this band that the majority of the players all but vanished, or went on to do not much of note. This is a real shame, as they all get numerous standout moments throughout the LP.

Reference points for this album might perhaps be some instrumental sections from Focus, or the occasional hard R&B of Atomic Rooster, but the organ has a warmer sound and is not as aggressive as on that band's albums. This LP sometimes reminded me of the wonderful `Tonton Macoute' album, which is no bad thing at all!

The standout track is the Camel-like instrumental `Skin Valley Serenade', with beautiful melodic guitar playing from Bob Jones, which comes as a bit of a surprise because on several other moments on the album his playing has an almost acid rock sound. On this he plays with a gorgeous romantic tone. It wouldn't have sounded out of place on any of the early Camel albums.

On the downside, the album is housed in a pretty horrid cartoon knock-off cover! There's a few missed opportunities, such as when the opening track ends on a fade out as the electric guitar is really wailing! Some tracks do seem to be cut off a little too early, when they should have been allowed to play out. Not sure about the accordian solo on `So Glad' either!

In the end, this album is quite forgotten and probably fairly unimportant. However, to my ears, it's well worth proudly owning, and a very worthy addition to any progressive music collection. Exciting, varied, well played honest prog-rock played by talented musicians, what more could you want? This album was a real pleasant surprise, and I'm so happy I snapped it up. Four stars from me.

By the way, if you happen to attend the Camberwell Fair in Melbourne and find one of those other two copies I left behind, give it a go!

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