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Pesky Gee biography
Leicester septet PESKY GEE has an interesting history significant to prog that reaches back to 1966 when they started as a 'soul' band playing the club circuit. By 1969 when they released their one and only album 'Exclamation Mark' on Pye Records (intended to simply be '!' but for a record company mix-up), they had become what could be described as progressive rhythm 'n blues with a heavy sound in Jess "Zoot" TAYLOR's prominent Hammond organ and the scratchy guitar of Jim GANNON (replaced by Chris DREDGE in the spring of '69). Also on board was Clive JONES with his sax and flute. Imitating JOPLIN and her Holding Co. and featuring the moody crooning of Kay GARRET, the band was a quite competent ensemble that jammed as well as they covered others' material but with a distinct prog and jazz-rock inclination. The group broke-up in September 1969 and by 1970, had transformed into BLACK WIDOW with fewer members and a completely re-hauled format, and debuted 'Sacrifice' that year.

'Exclamation Mark' is an average but earnest recording by a band that seemed a bit torn about what it really wanted to be and features quite a few covers. Jon Mills of the All Music Guide notes; "Not a solid affair but representative of the change in the British music scene of the late '60s".

Only suggested for fans of the very earliest heavy progressive incarnations that were coming over from the burgeoning psych and blues scenes [and for BLACK WIDOW enthusiasts] though a very decent little band nonetheless.

-- Atavachron (David) --

Why this artist must be listed in :
A small but significant link in the blues-rock/psych/prog continuum and birthed one of the more popular cult prog bands.

Exclamation Mark, studio album (1969)

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PESKY GEE discography

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2.96 | 20 ratings
Exclamation Mark

PESKY GEE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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PESKY GEE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


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 Exclamation Mark by PESKY GEE album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.96 | 20 ratings

Exclamation Mark
Pesky Gee Heavy Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars PESKY GEE were a seven-piece Jazz-Rock band who first emerged from Leicester, England in the late 1960's. Their one and only self-titled 1969 album added an exclamation mark to the band-name. Pesky Gee didn't disappear from the music scene altogether after 1969 though, because they re-invented themselves as the scary Black Widow with their stunning and controversial debut "Sacrifice" in 1970, but that's another story for another album review.

We're off to foreign parts with the album opener "Another Country", which is apparently a cover version of a song by Demon Fuzz, another equally obscure English band. It's a stirring saxophonic Jazz-Rock refrain, very similar in style to some of the other British Jazz-infused rock bands of that era, such as Affinity, Audience, Mogul Thrash, Skin Alley, Tonton Macoute and many other obscure English bands of that ilk too numerous to mention. "Another Country" is a lively up-tempo opening number to set the optimistic mood, in what promises to be a solid Rock album of Jazzy tunes, some of which may be worthy of an exclamation mark! Who knows how Pesky Gee came up with the title of our next lively instrumental Jazzy number "Pigs Foots" (also known as "trotters"), but one presumes it's because it's groovy music you can *trot* along to and jump and jive along with. Anyway, you're unlikely to sit this one out because it's a real lively foot stomper, or a toe-tapper if you're reclining on the sofa and not in the mood to get up and dance. There are spooky goings-on for our third song "Season of the Witch", a moody and hauntingly-atmospheric, bedknobs and broomsticks witches brew that's just as scary as a hollowed-out candle-lit pumpkin on the night of Halloween. "Season of the Witch" represents an eight-minute-long eerie ghost train ride that's a "phantasmic" stunning highlight of the album. It's a nightmarish cover version of the well-known 1967 song by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & the Trinity and it was also covered in magnificent style by the U.S. band Vanilla Fudge, who recorded their own inimitable and unforgettable version of the song in 1968. The splendid female vocalist Kay Garrett deserves a mention here too on this spooky Halloween song because this is her bright shining moment of glory in the spotlight. It's a devil of a great song too, worthy of at least two exclamation marks!! It's time to take a trip back in time to the Heartbreak Hotel now for "A Place of Heartbreak". It's a storm and thunder, all-out stratospheric rocker barrelling along at lightning speed, featuring some simply sublime harmonising from the whole septet of singers in glorious unison. This is fantastic!!!

Side Two opens with another stunning album highlight, "Where is My Mind", another great cover version of a Vanilla Fudge song. The song title sounds like a bad LSD trip, but the music is a tremendously rousing excursion which takes the listener on a soaring magic carpet ride back in time to the psychedelic sixties. In an album that's choc-a-bloc full to the rafters with great cover versions, the next "Poptastic!" classic is "Piece of My Heart", a fabulous cover of the well-known Janis Joplin and Dusty Springfield number. There's another lively Jazzy instrumental on the way with "Dharma for One", a sensational saxophonic blast from the past with the Hammond organist and pounding percussionist going hell for leather in an all-out sonic assault on the eardrums. It's Jazz, given a heavy infusion of Rock, in similar fashion to those other British Jazz-Rock greats, the Graham Bond Organisation and Ginger Baker's Air Force. There's no peace for the wicked, so they say, and there's no way you'll sleep through the next stormy breeze, "Peace of Mind". It's another sonic outburst of no-nonsense Jazz-Rock with attitude! EVERYONE will be familiar with the rip-roaring Easy Rider song to close the album, because it's one of the most famous Hard Rock songs of all time - Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild!" ..... so if you're in the mood for some "Smoke and lightning, Heavy metal thunder, then "Get your motor runnin', Head out on the highway", and if you're "Lookin' for adventure, Take whatever comes your way!"

This relentless non-stop artillery barrage of great cover versions of well-known songs is a real blast from the past worthy of four exclamation marks!!!! - or four stars ****

 Exclamation Mark by PESKY GEE album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.96 | 20 ratings

Exclamation Mark
Pesky Gee Heavy Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I was drawn into this band after having discovered Black Widow and I decided to listen their one and only album !.

The sound of this album perfectly fits into the late sixties: psychedelic, bluesy and hectically rocking. It is undeniable that this band got some late recognition due to their follow-up career. Almost all members be featured into BW.

This work doesn't hold any jewel like Sacrifice for instance, but the album rocks alright and the opener is quite catchy: Another Country contains all the ingredients I have described and it is a wonderful shortcut from this period.

There are some close relation with Mark I: the jazzy instrumental Pigs Foots starts in the style of Wring That Neck. This is another solid number even if the jazzy mood is a bit too much marked.

When I listened to Season Of The Witch, there was no doubt that the Airplane was nearby. It is maybe due to the fact that Kay Garret sounds close to the great Grace Slick. This cover from a Donovan song is quite interesting. Actually, Vanilla Fudge already covered it on their excellent album Renaissance.

On this album, Pesky Gee is also covering a Fudge song '(Where Is My Mind) while the Airplane also covered Donovan a couple of times. Donovan being the centre of the circle here. I consider this version of Season. superior to the one from the masters of covers.Quite a difficult exercise.

I won't have the same feeling about their Tull reprise Dharma For One. Too much jazzy (but this feeling already took place before). I would say that this album is of interest for the ones willing to have a preview of the early Black Widow and therefore is more a fan only affair.

Five out of ten would be more accurate than the tree stars I am giving mostly thanks to Season. and Born To Be Wild (from Steppenwolf). But if you ever want to listen to a real wild version of this song, you'll have to grab the incredible live one from Slade Alive. This is dynamite!

 Exclamation Mark by PESKY GEE album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.96 | 20 ratings

Exclamation Mark
Pesky Gee Heavy Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars How many albums, question mark. One, full stop

Named after an instrumental by another local band, Pesky Gee! would appear from their discography to be a one shot combo, who then quietly disappeared. They are in fact an early version of Black Widow, the line up who recorded this album going on unchanged to start work on that band's debut album "Sacrifice". Female vocalist Kay Garrett would however leave the band before "Sacrifice" was completed.

The title "Exclamation mark" came about as a result of one of those infamous record company mix ups (as led to ELO's debut album being called "No answer" in the US, and the title of Man's album track "Spunk rock" being hilariously changed to "Spunk box" - the wrong word was changed!), the original intention being that the title should be similar to that of Patrick Moraz debut album.

The band's first release was a single, both sides of which are included on this album, after which a couple of line up changes took place, the most important being the arrival of Jim Gannon (who actually came from a band called Broodley Hoo, who's instrumental "Pesky Gee!" gave the band its name). With no less than seven full time band members, Pesky Gee! recorded the rest of this album in one late night session. It is probably fair to say that neither the band nor their record label Pye were overwhelmed by the results, and the band's recording contract was at an end.

Those familiar with the work of Black Widow will be pleased to learn that this is a sort of lost album by them. The music is admittedly noticeably more primitive, the overall impression being of a band desperate to get something out there. There is though a pleasing naivety in the organ driven sounds and sax infused instrumental passages. The opening "Another country" for example, which runs to some 7 minutes, has a fine organ solo followed by sax backed by some lead guitar. The song itself is not particularly memorable, but the lengthy instrumental break is enjoyable.

As a whole, the music tends to wander between blues rock, jazz rock, and just plain rock. The instrumental "Pig's foot" delves deeply into freeform jazz territory, with organ sax and guitar taking consecutive leads. The band's version of Donovan's much covered "Season of the witch" on the other hand features the first appearance of female vocalist Kay Garrett delivering a Janis Joplin like blues.

The two tracks which made up the forerunning single, "A place of heartbreak" and the cover of Vanilla Fudge's "Where is my mind" (a touch ironic given Vanilla Fudge's reputation was built on covering other people's songs) are actually admirably adventurous for a single release. Garrett takes lead vocal on both, the songs demonstrating how the singles market in the late 1960's and early 70's was so much more exciting then (even if this release did not actually chart!). There is a marked similarity here between the vocals of Garrett and those of Sonja Kristina of Curved Air.

The album also includes a cover of "Piece of my heart", a song originally written for Aretha Franklin's sister Erma, but made famous by Janis Joplin. The song has since been covered by many artists, the version here being a decent but undistinguished submission.

"Dharma for one" is one of the most exciting pieces on the album, sounding like a cross between Chicago and Santana. After the brief pop infused "Peace of mind" we close with a rather prosaic cover of the anthem "Born to be wild".

This is one of those albums you put on, enjoy, but do not really find a reason to go back to. There is nothing wrong with the music as such, but then again there is little to catch the imagination either. For a first effort, and bearing in mind that the recordings date from about 40 years ago, credit is due to Pesky Gee! For coming up with something which demonstrates a willingness to push the boundaries a little further.

 Exclamation Mark by PESKY GEE album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.96 | 20 ratings

Exclamation Mark
Pesky Gee Heavy Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Before Black Widow were BW, their first name was Pesky Gee and the line-up bears much resemblance to the first BW album, except for singer's Kay Garrett's disappearance. A band from the midlands, PG was already a very different group by the time of release of their sole album in 69, when compared to the two- singer soul music line-up of 66. Indeed, psychedelia affected the group and they started covering many groups of that time. Their album "exclamation mark", released on the Pye label is full of those covers (including one from VF) they did on the circuit. Covers, mostly covers. like the Fudge, right??? Well not quite! While VF did covers, they took the song apart and reconstructed them, and when they tried to write a song themselves they often succeeded, but not always. PG doesn't try to write, but took the wild bet to cover a VF original >> read later.

Actually, PG's sound might remind most of older proghead something of Affinity, drawing from the same blues and jazz roots, with a good soulful screaming babe up front (Kay and Linda Hoyle's voices sound much alike), with the exception that PG never wrote a track of their own for their album (it wasn't Affinity's strength either, but they managed a few). Starting with another Country, the pleasant surprises starts right away (PG is a fun to listen group), with Clive Jones' sax sounding like VdGG's Jaxon, even before David was anywhere a studio record. Not only a great sax sound, entertaining guitars and an ever- present Hammond organ are the main features besides the double vocal attack. While the group sounds very jumpy and fun, a bit like Colosseum would on The Kettle or Walking In The Park, it is really in the more sombre moments I find them more interesting: tracks like Season Of The Witch, the great Piece Of Mind (from Family) or Born To Be Wild are good successes, while the group misses out a bit on the Piece Of My Heart (just too risky after Janis, IMHO) or the Vanilla Fudge's Where Is My Mind (This might've been interesting to speed the track up by a twofold to see how it would fared, but they played it safe) and others might seem a bit pointless, while remaining quite fun: Tull's Dharma For One.

Included the tracks that were released on the single, Place Of Heartbreak is a very effective drama piece, but as mentioned above the VF track was a bit f miss in the possibilities. Hardly an essential album to say the least, but a charming record nevertheless. One that won't affect your love life, because I don't think many women could resist such a fun album. Just for that fact alone, RUN for it, you progheads!!!

 Exclamation Mark by PESKY GEE album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.96 | 20 ratings

Exclamation Mark
Pesky Gee Heavy Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars These six guys and a gal started as a soul band in 1966 and by '69 had become a fairly good progressive soul/blues/psych outfit with a nice balance between Jess Taylor's classic ice rink Hammond sounds, Jim Gannon's scraping guitar licks and the lush saxes of Clive Jones. Also featured is the slightly folkie vocals of Kay Garret, Clive Box (drums) and Bob Bond (bass). Probably best known as the band that became pentagram-worshiping Black Widow in 1970 (sans Garret), Pesky Gee was more entrenched in the weird, steaming stew of San Francisco trips and heavy rhythm 'n blues of the British underground scene in the late 60s. 'Exclamation Mark', their only release before disbanding, is a significant if completely unremarkable connection in the psychedelic/progressive genetic lineage and may be of some interest to prog historians or Black Widow completists.

Thanks to Atavachron for the artist addition.

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