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SPOOKY TOOTH

Proto-Prog • United Kingdom


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Spooky Tooth biography
The band formed in 1967 from an offshoot of three other bands, The Ramrods,Art and the VIP's. In fact Art released one album called Supernatural Fairy Tales before Gary Wright joined the band where subsequent releases were under the Spooky Tooth name. The band were unique at the same where their sound comprised of both organ and piano which lent an important flavour to early progressive instrumentation with also a strong Blues feel. Other artists like Hannsson/Hakansson and The Band were of similar sounds but with different musical directions.

The line up of Spooky Tooth varied over the years but the main members were Mike Harrison on keyboards and vocals, the late Greg Ridley - Bass guitar/vocals, Gary Wright - Organ/vocals, Mike Kellie - Drums and Luke Grosvenor -guitar/vocals.

Their 1969 album Spooky Two is arguably their best release but over the years they enjoyed varying support as their sound evolved and changed. There is a strong link with another band around this time called Humble Pie as members joined this group also as line ups changed.

Were the band influential for progressive music? Undoubtedly so, especially given their authentic early sound, especially their first two album releases. They became more mainstream with latter days releases like the bold 1974 The Mirror

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Last PuffLast Puff
Extra tracks · Import
Repertoire 2005
Audio CD$74.98
$16.92 (used)
Lost in My Dream: An Anthology 1968-1974Lost in My Dream: An Anthology 1968-1974
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2009
Audio CD$14.29
$20.51 (used)
The Best of Spooky Tooth: That Was Only YesterdayThe Best of Spooky Tooth: That Was Only Yesterday
Remastered
A&M 1999
Audio CD$8.28
$7.99 (used)
You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your JawYou Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw
A&M
Vinyl$82.00
$2.79 (used)
Spooky TwoSpooky Two
A&M 1990
Audio CD$71.79
$13.99 (used)
Lost BroadcastsLost Broadcasts
Widescreen
United States Dist 2012
DVD$8.39
$11.94 (used)
Spooky Tooth: Nomad Poets Live in GermanySpooky Tooth: Nomad Poets Live in Germany
Multiple Formats
Koch Records 2007
DVD$9.63
$21.09 (used)
Best of Spooky ToothBest of Spooky Tooth
Import
Island UK 1991
Audio CD$3.19
$2.60 (used)
Spooky TwoSpooky Two
A&M Records
Vinyl$4.97 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
SPOOKY TOOTH-Cross Purpose sealed CD US $2.99 [0 bids]
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Spooky Tooth w/ Pierre Henry - Ceremony An Electronic Mass CD Factory Sealed UK US $5.99 [0 bids]
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SPOOKY TOOTH WITNESS JAPAN MINI LP SHM CD SEALED US $27.99 [0 bids]
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Cross Purpose by Spooky Tooth CD, Feb-1999, Ruf Records (Germany) Music Rock US $3.95 Buy It Now 3 days
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SPOOKY TOOTH It's All About JAPAN LTD MINI LP SHM-CD SEALED +5 US $39.99 Buy It Now 3 days
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Spooky Tooth Spooky Two SP-4194 A&M Records LP US $17.00 Buy It Now 4 days
Spooky Tooth Featuring Mike Harrison The Last Puff SP-4266 A&M Records 1970 LP US $12.75 Buy It Now 4 days
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SPOOKY TOOTH - All Sewn Up - Original 1973 UK 2-track Island 7" vinyl single US $16.96 Buy It Now 4 days
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4 days
SPOOKY TOOTH - Two Time Love - Original 1974 German 2-track 7" vinyl single-p/s US $27.14 Buy It Now 4 days
SPOOKY TOOTH - Waitin' For The Wind - Original 1969 German 2-trk 7" single -p/s US $33.93 Buy It Now 4 days

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SPOOKY TOOTH shows & tickets


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SPOOKY TOOTH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SPOOKY TOOTH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.91 | 26 ratings
It's All About
1968
3.65 | 43 ratings
Spooky Two
1969
3.47 | 25 ratings
Ceremony (Feat. Pierre Henry)
1969
3.29 | 20 ratings
The Last Puff ( Featuring Mike Harrison)
1970
3.42 | 17 ratings
You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw
1973
2.53 | 19 ratings
Witness
1973
3.61 | 21 ratings
The Mirror
1974

SPOOKY TOOTH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SPOOKY TOOTH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SPOOKY TOOTH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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

SPOOKY TOOTH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ceremony (Feat. Pierre Henry) by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.47 | 25 ratings

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Ceremony (Feat. Pierre Henry)
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars This is often one of the most maligned album in the Spooky Tooth discography, probably because the combination of avant garde composer Pierre Henry with Spooky Tooth is regarded as a mismatch, much like Lou Red and Metallica decades later and the maligned Lulu in 2011. One listen to Ceremony and you get the impression that a.) Neither Pierre Henry nor Spooky Tooth listened to each others work, and so it sounds as if Pierre Henry did his thing, then Spooky Tooth their thing, and then have them combined, and voila! or b.) you get the impression that neither Pierre Henry had an understanding of rock music nor Spooky Tooth had an understanding of avant garde. So I can understand why people might run at the thought of this album, even I admit that some of Pierre Henry's part threatens to drown out Spooky Tooth's music. Thanks to the Electric Prunes releasing Mass in F Minor, I imagined this was the reason for Spooky Tooth to do their own rock Mass, but unlike the Prunes, they didn't use Gregorian chanting in a rock context. Now let me tell you that Spooky Tooth's end of things is nothing short of amazing. They really rock like there's no tomorrow. I can't believe this is that same Gary Wright later of Dream Weaver fame, because he really rips it on organ here! The problem comes with Pierre Henry. It's like he never even heard what the band put down before he did his part, as mentioned earlier, so it sounds like a bunch of random sounds that rarely seem to go appropriately with the music. One could say it sounds like a bad Krautrock album, because the best Krautrock out there the musicians involved had a full understanding of both rock and avant garde (in fact several Can members were Stockhausen disciples) and took that knowledge to their full advantage. There's a couple parts of this album that annoys me, particularly "Jubilation". Although the band puts on some killer bluesy guitar riffs on that song, you keep hearing this "bi bi bi bi bi bi bi bi bi bi" voices that NEVER stops. Despite the obvious flaws, there are some really brilliant and amazing moments put by the band, and if they did this by themselves without Pierre Henry, this could probably felt as one of Spooky Tooth's defining moments. Yet I still want to give it a four star rating (it would be five if Pierre Henry took his approach better) because I was blown away by what the band were doing.

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 It's All About by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.91 | 26 ratings

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It's All About
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Not a very interesting album for my taste, this first album by Spooky Tooth shows the band in a more Pop Rock and Psychedelic style, with all members of the band playing very well their instruments, and with very good lead and backing vocals by Mike Harrison and Gary Wright. Sometimes these vocals sound a bir "dramatic" in some songs, and they also use the harpsichord in some songs, an instrument which I think it was not very often used in bands of the sixties. Sometimes the music becomes heavier, but I can say that most songs are a bit more Pop Rock than in the next album titled "Spooky Two", which in my opinion is heavier and more "dark" and in general much better than this first album. Their first album really sounds a bit dated in sound, and the recording and mixing are good but showing the passing of time. I can say the same about the cover design. "Spooky Two" is a much better album than this and for this reason is more remembered and considered as their best album, I think. For collectors and fans only.

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 Spooky Two by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.65 | 43 ratings

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Spooky Two
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars On Spooky Two, Spooky Tooth offer a gritty organ and guitar-driven sound which charts a course that meanders between the evocative prog-leaning proto-metal of Deep Purple or Atomic Rooster on the one hand and the brash, bluesy hard rock of the Faces on the other. Unlike the classics of those bands, however, it doesn't quite elevate itself beyond the aesthetic of its time and the album never quite catches fire; although all of the songs on here are good, if you've got an appreciable 1970s hard rock collection you've probably heard a lot of the tricks on here done better by other artists.

The absolute best and most original song on here is Better By You, Better Than Me, and to be honest the Judas Priest cover version of that number absolutely blows the original out of the water. Doubtless innovative on release, Spooky Two doesn't quite endure the test of time, though if you are feeling nostalgic and want to evoke the feel of the early 1970s it's an effective way to accomplish that.

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 The Last Puff ( Featuring Mike Harrison) by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.29 | 20 ratings

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The Last Puff ( Featuring Mike Harrison)
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by the philosopher

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 was completed by the addition of members of Joe Cocker's band and no one should be surprised that this album became Spooky Tooth's most soul-orientated album. This record mainly consists of cover songs like "I am the Walrus" from the Beatles; "Something to say" from Joe Cocker and "Son of your Father" from Elton John. Although the band was breathing out it's last breath (or puff) and the artists mentioned will not excite all members on PA, this record is actually pretty good, especially when considering the circumstances during it's production.

I'm not too fond of Beatle covers (read my Vanilla Fudge's debut review), but this version of "I am the Walrus" of Spooky Tooth I find mindblowing. The minimalistic psychedelic hardrock approach during the verses combined with the outstanding soul vocals of Mike Harrison gives me the thrills. The instrumental acid rock parts in addition makes this in my opinion the best cover ever (even better then Voivod's Astronomy Divine cover). This cover is a masterpiece and may be the best song ever recorded by Spooky Tooth.

"The Wrong Time" which is a song written by Gary Wright who had left Spooky Tooth before this recording is the second best song on the record and only original Spooky Tooth song. This song shows the artistic approach of Spooky Tooth's earlier efforts, which is the reason Spooky Tooth was added on PA. A great soul song with nice percussion. All the other songs are more or less pure soul songs. Spooky Tooth as a band however was far more skilled then Joe Cocker's band and the vocals of Mike Harrison are shining throughout this record.

This record is advised for music lovers with a positive attitude towards soul music. Spooky Tooth's version of "I am the Walrus" is advised for everyone and this record is discommended for prog purists. Like prog reviewer Chicapah has mentioned the first side of the record is the better one - containing the two best songs of the record. I do like the second side too and cannot find a weak song on this album. First side: 4+ stars/ second side: 3,5 stars.

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 The Mirror by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.61 | 21 ratings

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The Mirror
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After their LP "Ceremony" was released, Gary Wright left the band. Mike Harrison, Mike Kellie and Luther Grosvenor recorded one more album called "The Last Puff" with some assistance from some musicians of Joe Cocker´s band in 1970, and also toured briefly that year before they split.

In 1973, Harrison, Wright and Kellie re-formed the band with guitarist Mick Jones (later the founder of Foreigner in 1976). After some changes in personnel and two albums, in 1974 the band recorded this album called "The Mirror" , now with Mike Patto, Bryson Graham and Val Burke in the line-up, and with Gary Wright as the only original member. As I read in one website dedicated to the band, it seems that Patto and Wright had some conflicts in the musical direction of the band, so after this album was released, Wright left the band and took the name of the band with him. So, the band was dissolved until in 1999 the band was reformed by Mike Harrison, Mike Kellie, Luther Grossvenor and Greg Ridley (but without Wright) and they recorded an album called "Cross Purposes" (which I have not listened to yet).

This "The Mirror" album is mostly influenced in sound by Gary Wright and it also has the predominant use of synthesisers. It also has a very good recording and mixing.It also has in sound more influences by the mid- seventies Hard Rock style, but it also has some progressive influences.

The best songs in this album are "Kyle" (a very good ballad), "Fantasy Satisfier" and "The Mirror". "The Hoofer", a song by Patto, is a bit different in style to the other songs.

The original LP cover was very good in design, having a die-cut cover on which an inner sleeve drawing could be seen. To see scans of the original LP cover visit www.collectable- records.ru/groups/spooky_tooth/mirror.htm

This album was re-issued several times with different covers and even under a different title ("Comic Violence" ).

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 Spooky Two by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.65 | 43 ratings

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Spooky Two
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Some years ago I suggested to add Spooky Tooth to the Prog Archives database. Now, finally it was added, and I think it was a good idea.

Maybe this is their most known and popular album. For years this album was their only available album with all their other albums being out of print in the U.S and U.K. in the LP and CD formats. And I think that it has some very progressive arrangements, and most of the lyrics are "dark" in meaning and difficult to understand. Most of the songs were composed by Gary Wright, which, apart from being a musician, he has a Psychology degree. So, maybe he wanted the lyrics to have some "intelectual meaning" which is not very apparent for some of the listeners.

"Waiting for the Wind" (composed by Luther Grosvenor, Mike Harrison and Gary Wright) starts with a drums rhythm, and maybe it is one of the more "conventional" rock songs in sound in this album (and also one of the best).

"Feelin´Bad" (by Mike Kellie and Gary Wright) is a "dark" song but good anyway.

"I've Got Enough Heartaches " (also by Kellie and Wright) has female backing vocals and also a piano part which Steve Winwood played, as he says in his official website. It is also a good song with some psychedelic influences.

"Evil Woman" (composed by someone called Weiss) is a heavy song with a very good lead guitar and some influences from Blues music. A very intense song.

The next songs were originally on the Side Two of the L.P. and all were composed by Wright alone:

"Lost in my Dream": wiith also some psychedelic influences and strange lyrics which seem to narrate a nightmare instead of a peaceful dream. It has very good drums and dramatic vocals, and also very good backing vocals. It is a dramatic song in content and in playing.

"That was Only Yesterday": maybe the best song in this album and maybe one of their more popular songs, it was recorded again by the band (without Wright) in 1999 for their album called "Cross Purposes" (an album which I have not listened yet). This original version has some harmonica playing.

"Better by You, Better Than Me " is another dramatic song, played with a lot of energy and also with very good drums by Kellie. This song was recorded years later by the band Judas Priest (but I have not listened to their version yet),

The album is finished with the song called "Hangman Hang my Shell on a Tree", which has strange lyrics but it is played with a lot of energy, and it also has some wind instruments played in the background.

Wright and Harrison were the lead singers in this band, but it is difficult to me to known which songs are sung by each of them. After this 1969 album was recorded Greg Ridley left the band to form Humble Pie with Steve Marriott, Jerry Shirley and Peter Frampton. He died some years ago.The most recent line-up of this band (in this century) has Harrison, Wright and Kellie plus some backing musicians.

I first listened to this album in the English L.P. version which had a gatefold cover, in 1973. In late 1980 I bought the U.S, version which didn´t have a gatefold cover. The original U.K. front cover was printed in at least six different colour tonalities, one of which is shown in this page.

To see scans of the original U.K. L.P. front cover printed in several colour tonalties, visit www.collectable-records.ru/groups/spooky_tooth/two.htm

I know that some of their albums have been re-issued some years ago in Europe in the CD format. This album was also re-issued there.

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 The Mirror by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.61 | 21 ratings

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The Mirror
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by dubovsky

5 stars This is an essential piece of music for any true proggers collection. This is a meaty album with no fillers really. Fantasy Satisfier is a fantastic start to the album, nice progressions on many of their songs, and generally great compositions...no not generally, but everything is just so good! It's surprising not too many people know about this. I even think it's worth getting this on vinyl (for you record collectors out there)

Some parts feel like Deep Purple and some parts feel like Uriah Heep--so I can hear some influences on here, which isn't to say that it's bad, but from an objective standpoint, it's not a completely independent and original piece. For example, Fantasy Satisfier kind of reminds me of Purple's Stormbringer, but it's still very unique. They are original in their own right. For 1974, it was and still is a very underrated album.

Woman and Gold has a very groovy baseline, Hell or High Water is great, as well as Kyle. Again, definitely worth listening through the whole album, and I think it would make a great addition to your collection.

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 Witness by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.53 | 19 ratings

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Witness
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Spooky Tooth is one of those groups that just couldn't seem to figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up. They began their existence as a semi-progressive rock outfit but were never able or willing to keep up with the big boys in the demanding prog arena so they veered away from that labeling bit by bit. They're also one of those bands that broke up, reformed, splintered and got back together again several times over the years. They developed a destructive "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" scenario that effectively ruined all chances of their building any semblance of continuity into their work. In the process of justifying their fickle comings and goings they misplaced their shaky identity altogether and this album presents the ensemble as a dysfunctional yet talented family of musicians that didn't know what to do with themselves. They come off as a combo of five guys desperate to be "trendy" and few things are as pitiful as a wannabe. There's absolutely no sense of exploration to be detected here and, in the "anything goes" atmosphere that pervaded the music biz in the early 70s, it's inexcusable that they would play it so safe.

They start off with "Ocean of Power," a soulful slice of white dude funk that brings to mind what Joe Cocker and Leon Russell had been so successful in concocting a few years earlier. What has always been the strongest drawing card about Spooky Tooth for me is Mike Harrison's splendid voice. If not for him they wouldn't have ever gotten my attention but he's got a husky, emotional rasp emanating from his gullet that I really like and he displays it expressively on this cut. And, since I've never been much of a fan of Jones' generic guitar style, Mick's absence from the mix in this song is a definite plus. "Wings on my Heart" is next and it's a gospel-tinged tune with a George Harrison slant to it that's especially noticeable on the imitative guitar solo. "As Long as the World Keeps Turning" follows and there's a palpable Three Dog Night air wafting through the number. Mike sings his butt off from beginning to end but the let's-be-commercial composition just isn't memorable.

"Don't Ever Stray Away" sounds like it came right off of a Free album. That's not a bad thing in itself but this sad track lacks the loose, infectious energy that made that group's art so viable and influential. This song plods along like an old, sway-backed mare pulling a wagon of hog manure in comparison. "Things Change" is a dull ditty written around a rawkin' guitar riff, a composition technique that's not all that unusual except that the final outcome of these kinds of things ends up being entirely too predictable more often than not and this one's no exception. On top of that, Gary Wright's anemic voice is featured instead of Harrison's and it makes a poor tune become even more destitute. "All Sewn Up" is a Jones/Wright conglomeration that gives hints as to the brand of vapid macho-man rock that Mick would churn out with Foreigner a few years down the line. It's extremely weak, even by his future band's dubious standards, from the puny guitar ride to the passionless vocal from Gary.

"Dream Me a Mountain" is another chunk of unremarkable Caucasian R&B but the return of Mike to the mike is so welcome at this juncture that it makes the song appear to be better than it really is. He's a singer's singer and he makes a huge difference. "Sunlight of My Mind" is next and it's such a shameful, undisguised rip-off of the Rolling Stones' "Dancing with Mr. D" that they should've all be sent to the principal's office for a hard paddling. Even Harrison's primo voice can't save this uninspired waste of recording tape from being a mangy mutt with a limp. They then stuck the only song with any dynamics, "Pyramids," last and that figures since it's also the only one that possesses even a whiff of progness. Mike and Gary trade off the vocal lines gallantly and if they'd expanded on what they were creating here they might've gone somewhere (dare I say it?) ORIGINAL with it. Wishful thinking, I guess. The tune's repeating refrain goes "I know where I'm going" and, if that was indeed the case, they would've done well to let the listener in on that secret. Perhaps they were dabbling in irony.

A personal anecdote might sum up the overwhelming problem that plagues "Witness" and hordes of albums just like it. Many decades ago I joined an established band of very skilled, dedicated local musicians and helped them finish cutting their debut LP. I was invited into their clan on the strength of one of my songs they'd recorded for the disc (The best one, I might add. Humbly, of course.) and I was expected to contribute more of the same in the months to come. Alas, the self-appointed leader/main songwriter of the troupe and I clashed almost immediately. He was of the opinion that manufacturing a hit single (and thereby generating album sales) was accomplished merely by aping what was currently sitting atop the AM radio charts. I begged defiantly to differ, explaining to the conceited moron that one may as well chase the wind for, by the time a band wrote, arranged, recorded, mastered and distributed said product, whatever trend they so wisely mimicked would be passé. Since I didn't kowtow to his obviously-superior intelligence he was an ass to me from that day on, sabotaging every tune I brought into rehearsal, snidely calling them "unmarketable." That incurable idiot's inane formula for success didn't work then and it never will.

Since Gary Wright earned a composer's credit on every track listed I'm pretty sure he was of the same mindset as the mental midget (his name discreetly withheld to protect the guilty) I had to deal and duel with so long ago. Tired of making records that sold only in the thousands instead of in the millions, frustrated Gary set out to replicate "what those crazy kids are buying these days" instead of taking some risks and daring to be true to himself by attempting to explore uncharted territory with his long-haired companions. In other words, the yellow coward stayed as far away from prog as possible and the result was a Spooky Tooth album indistinguishable from oatmeal. Only Mike Harrison's golden throat keeps this project from hitting rock bottom. 1.5 stars and that's being generous.

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 You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.42 | 17 ratings

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You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by trackstoni

4 stars It Was Really Surprising to Me That This Excellent Album is Still without Rate !! However , When i First Got this Album in 1974 , I Had No Idea About there Other Releases ! This Album Meant A Lot to me At That Time as a Prog. rock Fan . It's Not a Progressive Album by All Means , but for me It Was much more than This , It's a Wide Discovery of a Talented Artists , the Eight of Them Are More Than Great , Each one his Own Way , but the best Was the Lyrics ( Self Seeking Man ) and the Captivating Idea of the Loss & Winning , It's a Great Song by All Means , Moriah & Old as i was Born are Really Excellent Stuff , So , One Way or Another this Album was Surely Underrated in Progarchives , But as I Told You Before , it's not a Progressive Album , for me It's the Best Spooky Tooth Album , and Must Be Listed in Progressive Related , as The Most Powerful Progressive Blues Rock Album for All Times !! 4.5 Easily !

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 The Last Puff ( Featuring Mike Harrison) by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.29 | 20 ratings

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The Last Puff ( Featuring Mike Harrison)
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

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.

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Thanks to chris s for the artist addition. and to Tuzvihar for the last updates

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