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THE LAST PUFF ( FEATURING MIKE HARRISON)

Spooky Tooth

Proto-Prog


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Spooky Tooth The Last Puff ( Featuring Mike Harrison) album cover
3.29 | 35 ratings | 3 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Am The Walrus (6:20)
2. The Wrong Time (5:40)
3. Something To Say (6:05)
4. Nobody There At All (4:00)
5. Down River (5:10)
6. Son Of Your Father (3:32)
7. The Last Puff (3:30)

Total time 34:17

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Luther Grosvenor / guitar
- Mike Harrison / keyboards, vocals
- Henry McCullough / guitar
- Alan Spenner / bass
- Mike Kellie / drums
- Chris Stainton / organ, guitar, piano, bass, keyboards, producer

- Robert Beale / engineer
- Brian Humphries / engineer
- Chris Blackwell / producer

Releases information

LP Island 6339004 (1970)

CD Repertoire Repuk 1073 ( 2005)

Thanks to chris s for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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SPOOKY TOOTH The Last Puff ( Featuring Mike Harrison) ratings distribution


3.29
(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(6%)
6%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(40%)
40%
Good, but non-essential (46%)
46%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

SPOOKY TOOTH The Last Puff ( Featuring Mike Harrison) reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is another one of the many semi-interesting albums that came out around the time I was moving out of the familial nest into my own apartment so several of the songs from it always take me back to that magical era of innocence and wonder when the world was mine to give. I really didn't know much about Spooky Tooth but my prog-minded friends had played a few choice cuts for me from their earlier records and I liked what I heard. But this LP was getting some prime airplay on the more renegade FM station broadcasting in North Texas and I was intrigued enough to invest my meager funds in this album. I must've played side one hundreds of times. While it's not exactly greatness and not really very proggy, it has a cool aura about it that represents well the climate of bands liberally mixing all kinds of musical genres together, a trend that was prevalent as they traversed the cusp of those two heady decades.

In my research for this review I found out that this offering was pasted together utilizing shredded bits and pieces of what was left of a group that had put out two well-received progressive rock albums and then imploded. Only half of the original six members were still hanging around and I get the impression that vocalist Mike Harrison, guitarist Luther Grosvenor and drummer Mike Kellie were gallantly doing their best to fulfill the group's contract obligations to the label and make the most of a mess. Usually these fractured situations end up producing awful crap that only serves to bring disgrace upon said combo's legacy but "The Last Puff" doesn't belong in that category. It ain't bad at all. Harrison brought in Henry McCulloch, Chris Stainton and Alan Spenner from Joe Cocker's Grease Band to flesh out the sessions and, considering the circumstances, they did a bang up job.

One of the cuts that garnered a spot in heavy rotation on the radio in 1970 was their terrific, dark take on "I Am the Walrus." Beatles music was still somewhat of a sacred cow in those days and few groups outside of the progressive rock scene dared to fool around with anything written by Lennon/McCartney for fear of incurring the wrath of the Gods but the ultra- slow, macabre atmosphere these guys created drew listeners in immediately and without protest. Mike's voice is perfect for the grey mood of this delightful Hammond-laden dirge because he sounds like a man dancing along the jagged edge of insanity throughout. Another big difference is the lack of all the lush orchestration and odd incidental sound effects that colored the original. This is a late-night, no-frills, six-piece rock & roll outfit version that would be right at home being performed in a smoky, dimly-lit cabaret bar at 2am. It has a tough, metallic heaviness to it that is superb and rarely achieved. One of the finest Beatles covers ever in my book.

Original keyboard man Gary Wright had long since moved on to form the short-lived Wonderwheel ensemble but he left behind an excellent tune entitled "The Wrong Time" and it's the highlight of this project. It features a sublime rock guitar riff that's one of my favorites from that era and the all-female chorus packs a strong punch every time it comes around. The rhythm section of drummer Kellie and bassist Spenner maintains an infectious groove that manages to both flow and drive at the same time. Luther's Jimmy Page-ish blues/rock guitar solo and interspersed licks blaze a fiery trail through the number and his gutsy tone is to drool over. Next up is an obscure Joe Cocker ditty called "Something to Say" and although it takes a while for the band to settle into the proper feel, Harrison's soulful rasp carries the load admirably until they do. They eventually find it and hit their stride when the repeating hook line arrives and the swaying, gospel-styled chorale sends it soaring into the wild blue yonder. The musicians then lock firmly into a piano-led, Traffic-like stroll to the fade out that makes me feel like being outside on a sunny spring day.

Speaking of Traffic, side two begins with "Nobody There At All," a song that gives off a palpable Dave Mason folk/rock vibe but, unfortunately, there's nothing that really stands out. It just sorta lopes along for four minutes. David Ackles' "Down River" is an improvement but this somber, sentimental girl-that-got-away tune fails to find its footing until much later on when the group finally shakes off their restraints and plays with emotion- fueled abandon. "Son of Your Father" is a decent rendition of that memorable Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition (culled from the outstanding, underappreciated "Tumbleweed Connection" album) yet the track's a little too loose for my taste and it loses its focus quickly. They perk things up with the final cut, Stainton's "The Last Puff," but it's not much more than a two-chord jam throughout which Chris bounces expertly across the piano keys. The fact that it's the lone instrumental causes me to think it was perhaps a demo that never got Mike's vocal added on to it but, since it possessed such a tight and lively groove, they decided to stick it on anyway as the caboose.

In all honesty, other than the first two songs, this is pretty standard rock & roll fare that probably won't make anyone's top 100 album list but I try to keep in mind that 1970 was a very exciting but confusing year in popular music and groups like Spooky Tooth working on both sides of the Atlantic were trying to figure out how they were going to survive in the new decade and a lot of albums released in that timeframe were hit and miss at best. As for me, even with its flaws, "The Last Puff" brings back some fond memories of my first taste of unfettered freedom and that's enough reason to cherish it as a memento. 2.6 stars.

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album sounds to me like it maybe was recorded to fill contractual obligations with the record label. Maybe Iīm wrong. But at that time SPOOKY TOOTH was a trio of remaining original members Mike Harrison (vocals), Luther Grosvenor (guitar) and Mike Kellie (drums), after Gary Wright (keyboards, vocals, and main composer of the band) and Andy Leight (bass) left the band after the release of the "Ceremony" album, which was recorded with French Avant Garde musician Pierre Henry. For this "The Last Puff" album, which was released as "SPOOKY TOOTH FEATURING MIKE HARRISON" in July 1970, they had Chris Stainton as producer. He also was the keyboard player / bassist for the GREASE BAND, a band which accompanied singer Joe Cocker in some of his early albums and tours in the late sixties and early seventies. So, maybe it was Stainton who brought some of the other members of the GREASE BAND to help SPOOKY TOOTH to record this album (guitarist Henry McCullough and bassist Alan Spenner). So, this album obviously sounds somewhat influenced by the sound of Joe Cocker, Chris Stainton and the Grease Band. Maybe one connection between SPOOKY TOOTH and Chris Stainton and The Grease Band was Mike Kellie, who previously appeared as session drummer on two tracks of Joe Cocker's successful "With a Little Help from My Friends" (1969) album.

This "The Last Puff" album starts with a cover of THE BEATLES's "I am the Walrus". A very well arranged heavy version, with some uncredited female backing vocals (like in other songs in this album), good guitar solos and generally very well played by the band. This song is maybe the most known song from this album, even being played a lot on the radio. It even was played by another very different line-up of SPOOKY TOOTH during their tour in 1974 (Gary Wright, Mike Patto, Val Burke, Bryson Graham and Mick Jones) with a similar musical arrangement!

The next track is Gary Wright's "The Wrong Time", also with some uncredited female backing vocals. I don't know why a song composed by a former member of the band was recorded for this album. Maybe it was played by the band before Wright left the band, so they decided to record it for this album.

The next track is Joe Cocker's song titled "Something to Say", a song which he was going to release in his album titled "Joe Cocker" (or titled as "Something to Say" in the U.K.) from 1972. Maybe SPOOKY TOOTH was the first band to record this song.

Two other covers of songs, "Nobody There at All" and "Down River" (both from less known songwriters, at least for me) sound good but maybe more far from the bandīs original musical style, both sounding a bit like Pop Rock / Blues / Soul songs from the U.S.

"Son Of Your Father" is a song composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin which is good, too.

The album ends with Stainton's "The Last Puff", which is a slow Blues / Jazz musical piece without vocals. It sounds good, too, but I think that they only recorded it to have more material to finish the album.

In conclusion: this album is good, but, as I wrote before, it sounds more like a record contract obligation album than anything else, with a lot of influences from Blues, Soul and Heavy Rock music, obviously influenced by the presence of three members of Joe Cocker's backing band led by Producer Chris Stainton. The band even toured a bit to promote this album in late 1970, but with John Hawken on keyboards and Steve Thompson on bass (there is a short video from this tour on youtbe), and without Stainton, McCullough and Spenner, before they split until 1972, when the band was reformed by Harrison and Wright with some new members.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The Last Puff is Spooky Tooth's fourth album and the last one before a break for three years. This album was recorded while the band had already fallen a part, containing only three original Spooky members: Mike Harrison on vocals, Luther Grosvenor at the guitars and Mike Kelly on drums. The band wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#911662) | Posted by the philosopher | Saturday, February 9, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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