Archive for the ‘Spontaneous Combustion’ Category

Emerson, Lake & Palmer Newcastle City Hall 1971

Emerson Lake & Palmer Newcastle City Hall 1971
Support from Michael Chapman & Spontaneous Combustion
Emerson, Lake & Palmer were pretty hot stuff in 1971. They were very popular, and just on the verge of mega success. My mate had their first eponymous album and Pictures at an Exhibition, which had been recorded at Newcastle City Hall earlier that year. We used to go round to his house and we would play both albums again and again. The music on th first album was a curious blend of the pomp classical-rock of Keith Emerson, coupled with the beautiful melodies of Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer’s drum solo Tank. I would always ask to hear Take a Pebble and Lucky Man. I’d seen Keith Emerson in concert in the Nice at Sunderland Empire, and I knew how good a showman he was, so when ELP returned to the City Hall later in 1971, I bought a ticket. I remember being totally blown away by ELP that night; I had a seat close to the front, which always helps. Going to concerts was still a relatively new experience for me, and I would watch every minute of each gig that I attended, studying the musicians and their onstage antics, and ELP had so many strengths to wonder at. Emerson live was a spectacle to behold in himself. Surrounded by two Hammond organs, a Moog, a grand piano, and a Lesley cabinet; Keith was the ultimate early 70s performer. He would play two organs at once, pull them about and on top of himself, stab the organ with a massive dagger, use the dagger to hold down notes, and reach into the piano and play the strings with his hand. He would also famously run up the steps at the back of the City Hall stage and play the massive pipe organ, and is recorded doing so on the Pictures album. ELP’s concert set at that time featured most of the tracks from the first album; I also think Hoedown was included, perhaps as the opener. The Nice live favourite Rondo remained in the set from Emerson’s previous band, and Nutrocker was the fun encore. Pictures also featured, with the aforementioned trip up to the City Hall organ. The programme I have included here is worthy of special mention. It probably doesn’t look much from the scan, bit its actually one of the best produced programmes I have in my collection. Its a small booklet with a white card cover and the band’s name embossed across the top. Inside each picture page is separated from the next by a clear plastic page which contain the text surrounding the photos. It is really a lovely item, which my description can’t possibly do justice to. Looking through it the other day, I discovered that I’d kept a flyer for support act Michael Chapman, which I have also included here. Spontaneous Combustion were first on the bill at this gig. I’ve blogged separately about both of these acts elsewhere. Michael popped up all the time in those days, as support act on a number of tours of major bands, and was a good opening act with some great songs. Spontaneous Combustion were a largely instrumental prog/psych trio, who were produced by Greg Lake. They played a great version of Sabre Dance, as I recall.

Babe Ruth 1973

Babe Ruth 1973
Babe Ruth are often forgotten, memories of them lost over time. I’m getting towards the end of posting on bands beginning with the letter B, and wanted to make sure that I covered every band of note that I have ever seen, and Babe Ruth came to mind. Babe Ruth only existed for a short period between 1972 and 1976, but made a big impression at the time, although their biggest success came in Canada rather than the UK. The original band consisted of Jenny (Janita) Haan on vocals, Alan Shacklock on guitars, and Dave Hewitt on bass. They were a classic rock band; Jenny Haan was a raucous singer in the Janis Joplin mould, and totally wild on stage. Alan Shacklock was a tremendous guitarist and wrote a lot of the material. I recall seeing them performing Wells Fargo from their first album First Base on TV on the Old Grey Whistle Test and then saw them live a few times in local ballrooms. I remember in particular seeing them at Sunderland Top Rank on the Harvestmobile tour (see flyer) which was a package tour featuring bands from the Harvest stable, including Spontaneous Combustion, ELO, Roy Wood’s Wizzard, Kevin Ayres, Roy Harper & The Edgar Broughton Band. The Sunderland gig featured Babe Ruth, ELO, and Spontaneous Combustion. Spontaneous Combustion were a largely instrumental power rock trio, with a great guitarist. ELO were just great in those days (will post about them separately one day), but for me the best band that night was Babe Ruth. Their first album (see left) is excellent. Go to Youtube and listen to Wells Fargo, Black Dog” (not the Zepellin track), The Mexican, and Joker. They also did a great version of Zappa’s King Kong which was a favourite of mine at the time. By 1976 Jenny Haan had left the band to form her own band Jenny Haan’s Lion. She was replaced by Ellie Hope, and by this point the band contained no original members. I remember setting off with Marie to see Jenny Haan’s Lion at a college gig somewhere near Darlington one night, driving around and never finding the gig (no satnavs in those days) and giving up in the end. I think I did get to see them in the end, possibly at Bede College in Durham. I also have vague memories of seeing the new line up of Babe Ruth with new vocalist Ellie Hope, and being disappointed as the magic had gone. That final lineup changed their name to Liquid Gold, found Disco and hit the charts in 1980 with Dance Yourself Dizzy. Enough said. I’ve done some searching for Babe Ruth material on the internet, and discovered that they reformed a couple of years ago and played a reunion tour in Canada. More recently, in May 2012, Janita Jenny Haan and Dave Punshon from the original band played “a relaxed evening of musical storytelling and piano jazz like you’ve never heard before’ in Swindon. I’m going to keep an eye on their site ( and watch for further opportunities to see them.