Bumpers

Classic Island Sampler

bumpers up frontIn the late sixties British record labels started to release a selection of their artists' material on records known as samplers. These were not intended as anthologies or compilations - the purpose was to allow listeners the opportunity to sample a range of acts at a reduced price, showcasing in particular those for whom there was not a conventional singles market and hence little opportunity for radio airplay in the UK. Columbia's 'The Rock Machine Turns You On' and Liberty Records 'Gutbucket' started the trend, but Island Records produced a series of gems from 'Nice Enough to Eat' and 'You Can All Join In' in 1969, to 'Bumpers' in 1970 and 'El Pea' in 1971. 'Bumpers' was, as it's name would suggest, the pick of the crop, with an eclectic yet cohesive collection of music across two 33rpm vinyl discs. It was also the first album I ever bought, me a pennywise 14 year old thumbing through the new releases in a record shop in Aberdeen with the 30 shillings (actually 29/11) cover price burning a hole in my pocket. The album came out in two pressings, one with the pink label and "i" logo, the other with the label displaying a palm motif on a white background and a pink rim. bumpers.jpg (82688 bytes)There are subtle differences between the recordings (as noted by Dave Sanderson), although the variations on overseas versions were much more fundamental, with a wholly different selection of tracks for the Antipodes (see here). In addition the sleeve notes and label information are shoddily compiled - to the numerous errors recorded by Bob McBeath at The ProgArchives add that John & Beverley Martyn are simply called "John & Beverley" on the back of the album. Incidentally, I have little idea what the motif on the back of the album represents, nor where the picture inside the album was taken, but I can tell you why there is the choice of artwork on the front - it is because those distinctive basketball-style shoes, popular in Britain at the time, were known as "Bumpers". bumpers variationsThe artwork, incidentally, was by Tony Wright who also did the excellent cover artwork for Traffic's 1971 album "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" (amongst many others). I spoke to Tony and he told me "Yes I did the artwork. It was originally a series of prints in multiple colors. Blackwell purchased 100 of them from a store on the Kings Road London and from them came up with the name Bumpers for the album as that's what these kind of sports shoes were called at the time. Island chose the color way and asked my approval and paid me 200 pounds for the rights. Guy Stevens had a friend called (Mike Sidal, I think) who would have normally got the job of doing the cover and allowed him to put the package together. I provided the logo for the front. Why he thought an Aztec figure was appropriate I never understood. But it took me a couple of years to begin worrying what went on the back of an album cover.

It was my first entry into the music business."

1970 was the year that 18 year olds got the vote, and women got equal pay. The first transatlantic Boeing 747 flight arrived at Heathrow and Britons got a taste of the new decimal currency ahead of decimalization in 1971. Ted Heath led a Conservative victory in the General Elections in a decade which would end with Margaret Thatcher in power. Tonga and Fiji gained independence from Great Britain, signaling the last small death throes of the British Empire, whilst white Rhodesians and the IRA initiated their own brands of independence movements. bumpers in the backAcross the pond, Americans protested for and against their invasion of Vietnam and Cambodia, and the National Guard shot unarmed students on the campus of Kent State University. A dazzling Brazilian team led by Pele won and retained the Jules Rimet Trophy, football's World Cup trophy won by England four years earlier at Wembley stadium.

Simon & Garfunkel, the Rolling Stones, Andy Williams, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin had the biggest album successes of the year, and Elvis Presley topped a singles chart which had Rolf Harris's 'Two Little Boys' heading up the chart at the start of the year. This was the year of the Isle Of Wight festival that featured Jimi Hendrix, who was to die in London in September and achieve a posthumous number one single with 'Voodoo Chile'. The Beatles split up and Janis Joplin died. Mariah Carey was born.

bumpers inside leftThe music scene appeared remarkably vibrant, and Island Records was arguably the most innovative and diverse label around, and easily the most successful independent label before its founder, Chris Blackwell, sold it to A&M (PolyGram) in 1989. Blackwell had started in the record industry in 1958 in his native Jamaica, promoting the emerging bluebeat and ska sounds. He had a crossover hit with 'My Boy Lollipop' from Millie Small in 1964, by which time he had moved his Island Records label to Notting Hill Gate in London. The label would expand to include a diverse range of pop, rock, folk, jazz, blues, reggae, progressive, underground and experimental acts that included the Spencer Davis Group, ELP, Bob Marley, Robert Palmer and U2. Along the way it developed a reputation for originality that attracted maverick and talented producers such as Joe Boyd and Guy Stevens. And, of course, the artists featured on Bumpers.

This page was never intended to duplicate other information out there about the Bumpers sampler or the bands featured on the album. All I intended was merely to document an album that seemed to be overlooked, and was never going to make it into any orthodox list of "500 Albums You Must Buy" or such like. For further background, the pink label period releases are lovingly documented in a series of articles in "Record Collector" magazine between September and December 1996. bumpers inside rightTo celebrate 50 years of the label "The Story of Island Records: Keep on Running" was published in 2009, authored by Chris Salewicz and Suzette Newman, and it is a really excellent read. Joe Boyd has also written an outstanding book on the music industry called "White Bicycles" which covers the time he was associated with Island Records.

I'm not going to say too much about my own recollections of Bumpers - that job has been done far more eloquently than I could dare by Dave Sanderson (see his page at flowerbedmusic.com). If you have something to add, know of corrections, wish to be acknowledged or just want to say hello, please click on the button at the foot of the page to get in touch. Oh, yes, and there is a little information at the end on what happened to the acts and the people after Bumpers.

And this is what Bumpers, IDP-1, comprised of, complete with (sometimes incorrect) sleevenotes and some background info:

Side One

Every Mother's Son - Traffic

Sleeve Notes: Every Mother's Son - Traffic (S Winwood) Island Music (Produced by Guy Stevens) (From ILPS 9116 John Barleycorn Must Die) 7:06

Steve Winwood, was a precocious Hammond organ and guitar player from Birmingham who had joined the Spencer Davis Group aged 15 before forming Traffic with Chris Wood, Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason. Winwood's distinctive sound can be heard on songs as diverse as Hendrix's 'Voodoo Chile', Joe Cocker's 'With A Little Help From My Friends' and Toots & The Maytals 'Reggae Got Soul'. Rivalry with Winwood led Mason to leave and rejoin the band before being fired in 1968. Winwood then formed Blind Faith in 1969 with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Rick Grech, but the supergroup lasted barely a year. Winwood began work on a solo album entitled "Mad Shadows", which evolved into another Traffic album, featuring Wood and Capaldi and called instead 'John Barleycorn Must Die' - Guy Stevens recycled the original name for Mott the Hoople's next album. The record was an instant success, fusing R&B, jazz, rock and folk. 'Every Mother's Son', taken from the album, forms a perfect opener to Bumpers although the sleeve notes imperfectly omit Jim Capaldi's song-writing contribution.John Barleycorn.jpg (24576 bytes)

Lyrics:

Once again I'm northward bound, on the edge of sea and sky
Tomorrow is my friend, my one and only friend
We travel on together searching for the end

I'm a traveling soul and every mother's son
Although I'm getting tired I've got to travel on
Can you please help, my god? Can you please help, my god?
Can you please help, my god? I think it's only fair

Once again I'm northward bound, on the edge of sea and sky
Together we will go and see what waits for us
A backdoor to the universe that opens doors

F.S. Music Ltd (PRS) & Island Music Ltd. (PRS)
All rights on behalf of F.S. Music Ltd. admin by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp (BMI)

Love - Bronco

Sleeve Notes: Love - Bronco (J Roden) Blue Mountain Music (produced by Jess Roden) (From ILPS 9134 Bronco. Released - Autumn '70) 4:42

Bronco was fronted by Jess Roden, formerly of another Island band, the Alan Bown Set and regarded by some as one of the best vocalists of his generation. This track was to appear on their first album, 'Country Home', ILPS 9124 (not ILPS 9134 which was to be the catalogue number for Nick Drake's next album, "Bryter Layter").

Lyrics:Country Home.jpg (29937 bytes)

Up and round the laces we're
hoping for the sun,
seems we've all been passed behind
and there's nowhere to run, nowhere to run.

Further out way on about
the tree that shakes below,
exist for you, ooh but I don't know,
and I wonder where I'll go.

Summer days smile through the haze,
ooh then I love you most,
seen my share and paid my fare and drifted from coast to coast,
but never have I felt this way,
over one so gentle thing,
for just your laces so to touch
ooh its all the love I sing, all the love I sing.

I Am The Walrus - Spooky Tooth

Sleeve Notes: I Am The Walrus - Spooky Tooth (Lennon/McCartney) Northern Songs (Produced by Chris Stainton & Chris Blackwell) (From ILPS 9117 - Last Puff) 6:20

Spooky Tooth were formed by members of the bands VIPs and Art and came out with a series of solid albums, 1969's "Spooky Two" probably being the best. This track is a hard-hitting cover of the Beatles song, and the most compelling track on the album, "Last Puff", which nicely showcased the rugged vocals of main man Mike Harrison. Incidentally, apart from the title track, all titles on the album are covers and this version is a different production from the album version.

Lyrics:

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together Last Puff.jpg (82319 bytes)
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly
I'm crying

Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come
Corporation T-shirt stupid bloody Tuesday
Man you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long

I am the eggman
We are the eggmen
I am the walrus

Mr. City policeman sitting pretty little policeman in a row
See how they fly like Lucy in the sky, see how they run
I'm crying

Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye
Crabalocker fishwife pornographic priestess
Boy you been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down

I am the eggman
I am the eggman
I am the walrus

Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun
If the sun don't come you get a tan from standing in the English rain

I am the eggman
We are the eggmen
I am the walrus

Expert texpert choking smokers
Don't you think the joker laughs at you?
See how they smile like pigs in a sty, see how they snied
I'm crying

Semolina pilchard; climbing up the Eiffel Tower.
Elementary penguin singing Hari Krishna,
man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Alan Poe

I am the eggman
We are the eggmen
I am the walrus

Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga - Quintessence

Sleeve Notes: Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga - Quintessence (Quintessence) Blue Mountain Music (Produced by John Barham) (From ILPS 9128 - Quintessence) 5:15

Notting Hill has a colourful musical history and one of its more colourful bands was Quintessence who displayed a strongly spiritual slant on the hippie scene, and a promotion of transcendence through devotion rather than drugs. The band comprised Shiva Jones, Raja Ram, Sambhu Baba, Maha Dev, Allan Mostert, and Jake Milton (mostly adopted names) and released "In Blissful Company" in 1969. Taken from their eponymous 1970 album, 'Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga' was one of their strongest compositions and intimates of what an impressive live act they were - in fact on the pink label Bumpers it actually was a live version.

LyricsQuintessence.jpg (14516 bytes)

Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga
Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga
Drop me deep in the sea of your love
Drop me deep in the sea of your love
Drop me deep in the sea of your love
Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga
Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga

Oh my Lord

But the love that I feel
That is deep in my heart
Is never going to stand apart
Of the infinite love of my Lord

Oh my Lord

Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga

Oh my Lord

Side Two

Thunderbuck Ram - Mott The Hoople

Sleeve Notes: Thunderbuck Ram - Mott The Hoople (Ralphs) Blue Mountain Music (Produced by Guy Stevens) (From ILPS 9119 - Mad Shadows) 4:50

Mad Shadows.jpg (23440 bytes)The bassist of Hereford-based band, Silence, auditioned for a new Island band called Free. Although he didn't get the job lead guitarist Mick Ralphs approached Free's manager, Guy Stevens, to get an audition for Silence. Stevens thought they were promising but wanted a change of vocalist to suit his image of what the band should look like. He already had a name in mind for the band - Mott the Hoople after the title of a book by Willard Manus he had read while in Wormwood Scrubs on a drugs-related offence. The vocalist, Stan Tippins, went off to pursue a solo career and a jobbing bass player called Ian Hunter auditioned to replace him. Stevens had his band.

Mott's initial album, simply titled 'Mott the Hoople' made little impact on the record buying public, but their live performance earned them a loyal following. Stevens tried to catch the feel of the live act on the second album, 'Mad Shadows', but it was a patchy affair even if the opening 'Thunderbuck Ram', nicely showcased Ralphs' guitar work. Julian Cope does a great review of this album at Head Heritage. The original name for the album, apparently, had been planned to be "Sticky Fingers" but the Rolling Stones purloined it, and Stevens gave Mott an album name originally intended for Traffic's "John Barleycorn Must Die".

Lyrics:

Will there come a time when sorrow's hard to find
And all those nursery rhymes will find a meaning
There's got to be a change, thoughts to rearrange
Does it seem so strange to try redeeming

Only time will show if the unrelenting blow
That's cast from down below does strike the ceiling
Life must still go on whatever's right or wrong
Realise what's gone and was never healing

Nothing To Say - Jethro Tull

Sleeve Notes: Nothing To Say - Jethro Tull (Anderson) Ian Anderson Music/Chrysalis Music Ltd (Produced by Ian Anderson) (From Chrysalis ILPS 9123 - Benefit) 5:10

Tull formed in Blackpool in the 60s with a combined blues, folk and rock sound increasingly made distinctive by the flute work of Ian Anderson. The name of the band, Jethro Tull, one of many names the band played under before securing a record deal, was that of the inventor of the seed drill. In 1968 'Cat's Squirrel' was released but their lead guitarist and backing vocalist, Mick Abrahams, left over musical differences to form Blodwyn Pig, and the band became increasingly a vehicle for Anderson - less Blues-influenced and more part of the emerging progressive rock sound. 'Stand Up' came out in 1969 and 'Benefit' in 1970, the line up for which was Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, Clive Bunker, Glenn Cornick and John Evans.

Lyrics:

Everyday there's someone askingBenefit.jpg (25422 bytes)
what is there to do?
Should I love or should I fight
is it all the same to you?
No I say I have the answer
proven to be true,
But if I were to share it with you,
you would stand to gain
and I to lose.
Oh I couldn't bear it
so I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say.

Every morning pressure forming
all around my eyes.
Ceilings crash, the walls collapse,
broken by the lies
that your misfortune brought upon us
and I won't disguise them.
So don't ask me will I explain
I won't even begin to tell you why.
No, just because I have a name
well I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say.

Climb a tower of freedom,
paint your own deceiving sign.
It's not my power
to criticize or to ask you to be blind
To your own pressing problem
and the hate you must unwind.
So ask of me no answer
there is none that I could give
you wouldn't find.
I went your way ten years ago
and I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say.

Going Back West - Jimmy Cliff

Sleeve Notes: Going Back West - Jimmy Cliff (Cliff) Blue Mountain Music (Produced by John Kelly) (From ILPS 9133 - Jimmy Cliff Released Autumn '70) 5:32

Born in Jamaica, on 1st April, 1948 as James Chambers, Jimmy Cliff adopted his surname as a metaphor for the heights he intended to reach. His talent soon brought him ska hits in Jamaica and he was picked up by Island records' Chris Blackwell who persuaded him to relocate to London. Cliff adapted his sound and song-writing talents for a Western audience to much acclaim through his 1968 debut album 'Hard Road to Travel', the eponymous album 'Jimmy Cliff' (released as 'Wonderful World, Beautiful People' in the USA) and a series of successful singles and the movie in which he also starred, 'The Harder They Come'. Disenchanted with Island Records, and mourning the death of his mentor, Leslie Kong, the bleak and autobiographical 'Going Back West' ultimately appeared on the 1974 Album "Struggling Man" (ILPS 9235), and was subsequently to be covered by Boney M. Regarded by some as the best track of the album, it is not generally found on compilations of Cliff's work. The catalogue number ILPS 9133 got allocated to John & Beverley Martyn's "Road to Ruin".

Lyrics:

Struggling Man.jpg (53248 bytes)

I was born and raised in the ghetto
Talk with me and you'll know
I wasn't satisfied, with living on the side
I started looking around, for a possibility

Listen to my story, of what became of me

I met a businessman
Who said he had some friends back east
So why don't you come along
Well we can help you at least
We'll make you into a big star
By playing your guitar
But the joke was on me
They left me flat to see

Going back west
Yes I know I'll make out alright
Going back west
Where my music's playing all night
Going back west (going back west)
I think I'll do alright

Going back west
Yes I know I'll make out alright
Going back west
Where my music's playing all night
Going back west (going back west)
I think I'll do alright

Struggling for recognition, identity and respect
I got a lot of promises
They told me not to fret
So we will stand by you
If the going gets rough
But when I started thinking
They didn't even bluff

'bout a year has come and gone
And left me standing here
Thinking how it could have been
For still I ain't nowhere
They surely took me for a ride
Trampled on my pride
But I hold my head up high
Got no more tears to cry

Going back west
Yes I know I'll make out alright
Going back west
Where my music's playing all night
Going back west (going back west)
I think I'll do alright

Going back west
Yes I know I'll make out alright
Going back west
Where my music's playing all night
Going back west (going back west)
I think I'll do alright

Going back west
Yes I know I'll make out alright
Going back west
Where my music's playing all night

Send Your Son To Die - Blodwyn Pig

Sleeve Notes: Send Your Son To Die - Blodwyn Pig (M Abrahams) Chrysalis Music Ltd (Produced by Andy Johns) (From Chrysalis ILPS 9122 - Getting to This) 5:35

After Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams left the band over musical differences he formed Blodwyn Pig, and released two acclaimed progressive blues UK Top Ten albums, 1969's very bluesy 'Ahead Rings Out' and 1970's rockier 'Getting To This' with this track coming from their second album. In 1970 the band split after Abrahams, once again, left due to musical differences. The name of the band reputedly was coined by a 'stoned hippy friend just back from the Buddhist trail'. This track actually clocks in at 4:35, not 5:35 as stated on the album.

Lyrics:

Heard he got a medalGetting to This.jpg (38543 bytes)
Bravery beyond
Go and send him back
To the land where he was born
Mother don't you cry
Send your son to die

Thousand more
Tomorrow they must go
Fortune or their sorrow
It's the name that must go on
Mother don't you cry
Send your son to die

Give us a reason
Give us a sign
Living and fighting
Which heritage is mine
Mother don't you cry
Send your son to die

Little Woman - Dave Mason

Sleeve Notes: Little Woman - Dave Mason (Mason) Island Music (Produced by Dave Mason) 2:30

Born in 1945, Dave Mason was a founder member of Traffic but went on to pursue a solo career following artistic differences. The group Family backed Mason for this song when it was released as a B-side to the 1968 single "Just For You". The only other vinyl outing for this track was the Dave Mason Scrap Book Compilation.

Lyrics:

Little woman walk the Downs
Frightened partridge fled the ground,
The wind against its wings the sound.
Poacher's arrow strikes her down
Little Woman stands in tears
It's darker now, but very clear
Before her lies the path for home
The arrowed bird behind her moans
Little woman gathers wood
The hedgerow understands she should
Not bothering anyone around
The poacher's arrow strikes her down

Side Three

Go Out And Get It - John and Beverley Martyn

Sleeve Notes: Go Out And Get It - John and Beverley Martyn (J Martyn) Warlock Music (From ILPS 9113 - Stormbringer) 3:15

Iain David McGeachy was born in 1948 in New Malden but grew up in Glasgow and adopted the name John Martyn. After one solo album he joined up with singer Beverley Kutner, soon to be his wife. "Stormbringer" was the first of their two albums together and was produced in New York City in 1970 by the legendary Joe Boyd. 'Go Out and Get It' is the opening track of the album and features The Band's Levon Helm.

Lyrics:Stormbringer.jpg (37436 bytes)

I believe in a minute for every man
When he must take notice of the clock and all its hands
If he sees the road lead straight ahead
Gotta run on down and never never be afraid

It's yours, go out and get it
Don't get wet, please keep dry
Think about the people who made you cry

I know a man, six feet tall
Buckskin jacket, velvet strides and all
From Boston town, educated well
And he keeps his mind within a padded shell

Behind the curtain, upon the shelf
Lives a man living with himself
Behind his eyes, behind his smile
What is going on, nobody in the world can tell

Cadence & Cascade - King Crimson

Sleeve Notes: Cadence & Cascade - King Crimson (Fripp/Sinfield) E.G. Music Ltd (Produced R Fripp & P Sinfield) (From ILPS 9127 - In the Wake of Poseidon) 4:30

The name King Crimson was reputedly coined by Pete Sinfield as a synonym for Beelzebub. King Crimson were perhaps the first truly progressive rock band, followed by other English bands such as Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd. Although many of these bands recorded material before King Crimson, the album "In the Court of the Crimson King" heavily influenced the course of this peculiarly (although not exclusively) British movement. It represented a disillusioned reaction against the Love generation and Blues-based sounds, darker in tone and with a more discordant melody.

The version of 'Cadence & Cascade' on Bumpers is a unique, faded-short mix of a song taken from the 1970 album 'In The Wake of Poseidon', written by Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfeld (lyrics). The band at this time was in the process of disintegrating and re-inventing itself. Greg Lake was already committed to Emerson Lake & Palmer, drummer Michael Giles was leaving, and Ian McDonald had gone, but Fripp had signed on Mel Collins on woodwind and singer/bassist Gordon Haskell. "Cadence and Cascade" is an interesting piece - the original melody was used by McDonald and Giles on their "Flight of the Ibis", and some see the lyrics as being misogynistic. This was the only track Haskell sung on the album.

Lyrics:In the Wake of Poseidon.jpg (26488 bytes)

Cadence and Cascade
Kept a man named Jade;
Cool in the shade
While his audience played.
Purred, whispered, "Spend us too:
We only serve for you".

Sliding mystified
On the wine of the tide
Stared pale-eyed
As his veil fell aside.
Sad paper courtesan
They found him just a man.

Caravan hotel
Where the sequin spell fell
Custom of the game.
Cadence oiled in love
Licked his velvet gloved hand
Cascade kissed his name.

Sad paper courtesan
They knew him just a man.

Reaching Out On All Sides - If

Sleeve Notes: Reaching Out On All Sides - If (Quincy/Fishman) Andover Music (Produced by Lew Futterman) (From ILPS 9129 - If) 5:35

If produced jazz-rock in the style of Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago, but never achieved much success outside their native UK. Formed in 1969 by Dave Quincy, Dick Morrissey and Terry Smith, the band had several albums of likeable jazz-infused rock led by the unique voice of J.W. Hodgkinson. Lew Futterman, who signed the band to Island, also produced the album and played bass guitar. If.jpg (4908 bytes)

The band's first album, titled simply If, was a great album, and still sounds good. The opening track is 'Reaching Out on All Sides' which Jim Newsom (www.jimnewsom.com) describes thus: 'The album opens quietly, a lone guitar playing a gentle, bluesy intro that becomes a repeating riff in 7/4 time. Hodkinson's vocal arrives, with the first couple of verses accompanied only by the electric guitar floating atop barely audible organ chords. The saxophones appear playing a complementary pattern as the bass guitar and drums sneak into the mix. The song builds for a couple of minutes, the odd-metered rhythm becoming more insistent. Then the guitarist's riff turns into a sizzling two-minute solo flight over smoldering organ, bass and drums. When the horns reemerge to resume their earlier pattern, vocalist Hodkinson returns to take the song to its lyrical climax ' Saxophones, organ and guitar build to a climax, until guitarist Smith is left alone for the denouement.'

Lyrics:

I'm reaching out on all sides
I'm breaking through the mud and to the skies
They won't stab me in my sweet back
The world is going to the attack

I'm reaching out on all sides
I'm doing all I can to catch the prize
The answer I have waited for
Is not be still, not anymore

The opera wants to hold the moon
They hold it up to stay in tune
And I must fly where there's a chance
While music is in tune with my new dance

I'm reaching out on all sides,
I'm grabbing at the truth instead of lies.
I want it said when I am gone:
I moved the World just one step on

Oh I Wept - Free

Sleeve Notes: Oh I Wept - Free (Rodgers/Kossof) Blue Mountain Music (Produced by Free) (From ILPS 9120 - Fire & Water) 4:25

Along with Cream and Led Zeppelin, Free was one of the leading bands of the late 1960s British blues-influenced rock scene. Formed in London in 1968, Free's lineup was drummer Simon Kirke, bassist Andy Fraser, lead vocalist Paul Rodgers and guitarist Paul Kossoff. Kirke and Kossofforiginally played in an R&B band called 'Black Cat Bones' but decided to form their own band. They visited the Fickle Pickle, an R&B club in London's Finsbury Park where they heard Paul Rodgers, a young vocalist then performing with Brown Sugar, and recruited him for their group. British blues legend Alexis Korner recommended Andy Fraser to Kirke and Kossoff, suggested their name, Free, and recommended the band to Island Records. After two albums and a couple of years of touring, the release of 'Fire and Water' catapulted the young quartet centre stage, with the single 'All Right Now' reaching number 2 in the UK singles chart and number 4 in the USA. 'Oh I Wept' is a strong track on a classic album, with this mix unique to Bumpers.

Lyrics:Fire and Water.jpg (17810 bytes)

Oh I Wept for days
filled my eyes with silly tears
but I don't care no more
I don't care if my eyes get sore.

I take my seat on the train
and let the sun come melt my pain
come tomorrow I'll be far away
in the sunshine of another day.

A worried mind makes so hard to bear
hard to live and hard to care.

But I don't care no more
I don't care if my eyes get sore.
Now I've left it all behind
I did not care to be so unkind.

Oh, I did not...
But the street is warm and bright far away

I'm gonna be tonight

Hazey Jane I - Nick Drake

Sleeve Notes: Hazey Jane - Nick Drake (Drake) Warlock Music Ltd (Produced by Joe Boyd) (From his album to be Released Autumn '70) 4:28

Nick Drake was a Cambridge undergraduate with a talent for writing exquisite songs that sounded near perfect when coupled with his haunting voice and his unique guitar sound. While playing at a Festival For Peace at London's Roundhouse he was heard by Fairport Convention's Tyger Hutchings who got in touch with Joe Boyd who was to produce his first melancholic album, 'Five Leaves Left' - a reference to the insert in a packet of cigarette papers five leaves before the end. 'Hazey Jane' was to appear on his subsequent album, 'Bryter Layter', as 'Hazey Jane I'.

Lyrics:

Do you curse where you come from,Bryter Layter.jpg (16384 bytes)
Do you swear in the night
Will it mean much to you
If I treat you right.
Do you like what you're doing,
Would you do it some more
Or will you stop once and wonder
What you're doing it for.
Hey slow Jane, make sense
Slow, slow, Jane, cross the fence.

Do you feel like a remnant
Of something that's past
Do you find things are moving
Just a little too fast.
Do you hope to find new ways
Of quenching your thirst,
Do you hope to find new ways
Of doing better than your worst.
Hey slow Jane, let me prove
Slow, slow Jane, we're on the move.

Do it for you,
Sure that you would do the same for me one day.
So try to be true,
Even if it's only in your hazey way.

Can you tell if you're moving
With no mirror to see,
If you're just riding a new man
Looks a little like me.
Is it all so confusing,
Is it hard to believe
When the winter is coming
Can you sign up and leave.
Hey slow Jane, live your lie
Slow, slow jane, fly on by.

Side Four

Walk Awhile - Fairport Convention

Sleeve Notes: Walk A While Fairport Convention (Thomas/Swarbrick) Warlock Music Ltd (Produced by Joe Boyd) (From ILPS 9130 - Full House) 4:00

Fairport Convention started by covering US West Coast music, but developed to become leading pioneers of a folk rock sound based on an English folk tradition. Originally formed by Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson and Simon Nichol, the band took its name from that of Nichol's house. Vocalist Judy Dyble was replaced in 1968 by Sandy Denny, previously of the Strawbs, and Fairport then produced three truly sublime albums "What We Did On Our Holidays", "Unhalfbricking" and "Liege and Lief". "Walk Awhile" is on their next album, "Full House", the first album Fairport recorded after Sandy Denny and Ashley Hutchings left, and the last to feature Richard Thompson.

Lyrics:

(Chorus)
Walk awhile, walk awhile, walk awhile with meFull House.jpg (29975 bytes)
The more we walk together, love, the better we'll agree
We'll agree

One hand in your mouth and your finger in your eye
Undertakers bow their heads as you go walking by

(Chorus)

Here comes another Sunday, ringing on the bell
And here comes a wounded child, another tale to tell

(Chorus)

"Bring along," the brewer said, "bring the cuckoo tree
Bring your lady mother along to keep us company"

(Chorus)

Two miles down the road, Henry Tompkins wife
Three miles down the road and he's running for his life

(Chorus)
(Chorus)

Maybe You're Right - Cat Stevens

Sleeve Notes: Maybe You're Right - Cat Stevens (Stevens) Freshwater Music (produced by Paul Samwell-Smith) (From ILPS 9118 - Mona Bone Jakon) 3:00

Cat Stevens, born Steven Demetre Georgiou, was the son of a Swedish mother and a Greek father who ran a restaurant in London. While attending Hammersmith College in 1965 he began performing under the name Steve Adams. He signed with Decca/Deram with the name Cat Stevens and initially enjoyed some success, but this was short-lived and, following a bout of tuberculosis and an unsuccessful comeback single, he signed a contract with Island Records and released his third album, Mona Bone Jakon, in April 1970. Drawn from the album, the single "Lady D'Arbanville" was issued in June 1970 and became his third Top Ten hit in the U.K. 'Maybe you're Right' is a version of the song on the album Mona Bone Jakon. It is produced by Paul Samwell-Smith, one of the founder members of the Yardbirds and producer for other Island acts such as Renaissance and Amazing Blondel.

Lyrics:

Now maybe you're rightMona Bone Jakon.jpg (21227 bytes)
And maybe you're wrong
But I ain't gonna argue with you no more
I've done it for too long

It was gettin' so good
Why then, where did it go?
I can't think about it no more
Tell me if you know

You were loving me
I was loving you
But now there ain't nothing but regretting
Nothing, nothing but regretting
Everything we do

I put up with your lie
Like you put up with mine
But god knows
We should have stopped somewhere
We could have taken the time

The time has turned
Yes some call it the end
So tell me did you really love me
Like a friend?

You know you don't have to pretend
It's all over now
It'll never happen again
No-no-no
It'll never happen again
It won't happen again
Never-never-never
It'll never happen again
No-no-no-no-no-no

So maybe you're right
And maybe you're wrong
But I ain't gonna argue with you no more
I've done it for too long

It was getting so good
Why then where did it go?
I can't think about it no more
Tell me if you know

You were loving me
I was loving you
But now there ain't nothing but regretting
Nothing, nothing but regretting
Everything we do

Island - Renaissance

Sleeve Notes: Island - Renaissance (Relf/McCarty) Renaissance Music Ltd (produced by Paul Samwell-Smith) (From ILPS 9114 Renaissance) 5:57

Renaissance was founded in 1969 by ex-Yardbirds members Keith Relf , Paul Samwell-Smith and Jim McCarty, together with Louis Cenammo, John Hawken, and Relf's sister, Jane, an inspired late addition on vocals. 'Island' is perhaps the strongest track on their album, switching from the haunting voice of Jane Relf to an interpretation of Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata midway through.

Lyrics:Renaissance.jpg (42697 bytes)

There is an island
Where it should never be
Surrounded by suburban sea
And through the tired and hopeless waves
To where it's free

I want to be there
For the rest of my time

There on the island
The sun is always bright
The moon sends the darkness away in the night
I know that it's waiting
I know there's a place ready for me

I want to be there
For the rest of my time

Warm sounds of windsongs
Come down through the trees
But far away tears are borne on the breeze
I'll follow the raindrops
Cause sunshine and smiles are waiting for me

I want to be there
For the rest of my time

The Sea - Fotheringay

Sleeve Notes: The Sea - Fotheringay (Denny) Warlock Music Ltd (Produced by Joe Boyd) (From ILPS 9125 - Fotheringay) 5:25

The folk rock group Fotheringay was formed in 1970 by singer Sandy Denny upon her departure from Fairport Convention, the name of the band being that of the castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned (and of a song by Fairport Convention). Other band members included Trevor Lucas, Gerry Conway, Jerry Donahue and Pat Donaldson. Fotheringay's sole album was a folk-rock classic, sounding much like early Fairport, with 'The Sea' the stand-out track on the album.

Lyrics:Fotheringay.jpg (38003 bytes)

Do I ever wonder? you don't know.
You'll never follow, and I'll never show.
D'you see the water and watch it flow
And float an empty shell,
And you think that I'm hiding from the island.
You've a fault in your senses. can you feel it now?

Time? what is that? I've no time to care.
I've lived for a long while nearly everywhere.
You will be taken, everyone, you ladies and you gentlemen.
Fall and listen with your ears upon the paving stone.
Is that what you hear? the coming of the sea?

Sea flows under your doors in london town.
And all your defences are all broken down.
You laugh at me on funny days, but mine's the slight of hand.
Don't you know I am a joker, a deceiver?
And I'm waiting for the land.

Take Me To Your Leader - Clouds

Sleeve Notes: Take Me To Your Leader - Clouds (Ellis/Ritchie/Hughes) Chrysalis Music Ltd (Produced by Terry Ellis) (From their Chrysalis Album to be Released Autumn '70) 2:55

Originally known as "1-2-3", The Clouds were a prog rock outfit who came down from Scotland in 1966 to secure a recording deal. Albums include Scrapbook (1968), Up Above Our Heads (US-only release on Deram in 1969) and Watercolour Days (1971). Capable musicians live - Billie Ritchie on keyboards and Ian Ellis on guitar in particular - they had limited commercial success. In the end this track only made it in vinyl onto "Up Above Our Heads", which did not get a UK-release - a shame because it is a great period piece. NB: Kevin McClure tells me by email that a 2010 CD compilation called "Up Above Our Heads" brings together all Clouds recorded output from 1966 until 1971, including the tracks from the original album; and James Alexander has corrected some of the lyrics for us.

Lyrics:

Came with information
From Berlin Wall
Take me to your leader
I will tell, I will tell all

Hey Mr Newsman
You don't know what to say
Take me to your readers
They must learn, get out today

But they laughed when I told them
That they would never ever be really free
Yes they laughed when I told them
And now they know they should have listend to me

I'm on the other side now,
I've come to stay
Take me to your leader
I must live, must earn my pay

Envoi

The stable of acts that were signed up to Island Records and appeared on Bumpers, and their producers, have had a largely successful, often colourful and sometimes tragic history since...

Traffic went on to record the excellent "Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys" but in 1974 they disbanded. Thirty years later, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Steve Winwood went on to record with a wide range of artists before going solo in 1977, achieving commercial success with hits such "While You See a Chance", "Valerie," and "Higher Love". He reunited with the late Jim Capaldi (who died of cancer in 2005) for Traffic 1994's release, "Far From Home", and the resulting tour. Rick Grech, who had played for Family and Blind Faith rejoined Winwood in Traffic for "Low Spark" and "Welcome to the Canteen", subsequently retiring from the music business to become a carpet salesman in Leicester. After a life characterised by brilliant bass work, drug-fuelled unreliability and ultimately a drinking problem, he died from kidney failure in 1990 aged 43.

Dave Mason brought out probably his best solo work, "Alone Together" in 1970. Subsequently he rejoined Traffic, but left again and continues to pursue what has largely been a solo career ever since.

Bronco released "Ace Of Sunlight" in 1971, assisted by Mott The Hoople's Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs, as well as Trevor Lucas of Fotheringay. Jess Roden later went on to join ex-Doors members John Densmore and Robbie Krieger in the short-lived Butts Band and worked on Wildlife, the third Mott The Hoople album. He has since worked with various other acts, including Keef Hartley,  The Rivets and The Humans, as well as solo.

Spooky Tooth broke up in 1970, reformed in 1973, split again in 1974 and reformed again as late as 1998.

Quintessence lost key members in the 1970s to the band Kala, and finally disbanded in the 1980s.

Mott the Hoople's previous vocalist, Stan Tippins, came back as their road manager in 1970. Mott had an incredible live act but with poor record sales they split in March 1972. David Bowie persuaded them to reform, offering them "All The Young Dudes"and they went on to become one of the most successful acts of the seventies before Ralphs left to form Bad Company.

The first incarnation of If produced a number of well regarded albums (If2, If3... and Waterfall) but disilluisionment and illness led to the original lineup breaking up in 1972. Drummer Dennis Elliot went on to join Foreigner.

Renaissance fell out after their first album and the members had all gone their separate ways before a new and ultimately more commercially successful lineup formed in 1971, comprising bassist Jon Camp, keyboard player John Tout, Terry Sullivan on drums and Annie Haslam on vocals. A second album, Illusion, by the original lineup was also released in 1971. John Hawken moved on to play in various other bands including Spooky Tooth, Juicy Lucy, Third World War, Vinegar Joe and the Strawbs. Keith Relf died, electrocuted whilst practising guitar at home.

Ian Ellis of Clouds went on to as to play on Bowie's "Hunky Dory" album and with Alex Harvey, Savoy Brown and Steve Hackett.

Despite commercial success, Blodwyn Pig soon split and Mick Abrahams formed his own band while Andy Pyle joined Savoy Brown.

Jethro Tull are still touring and recording with Ian Anderson still at the helm, although their best work came in the two albums subsequent to "Benefit", "Aqualung" and "Thick as a Brick".

Jimmy Cliff continued to have a successful career without ever hitting the peaks he sought with a worldwide audience. Frustrated by Island Records ability to promote him effectively he left the label, just as Bob Marley arrived at Island to begin a meteoric career built on Chris Blackwell's intimate knowledge of both reggae and rock.

King Crimson is still going strong, its numerous personnel changes including many distinguished musicians who have gravitated around Robert Fripp, the only consistent member of the band over four decades. Ian McDonald and Michael Giles of the original lineup went on to record the sublime album, "McDonald and Giles " and Ian McDonald later went on to form Foreigner.

John Martyn had a distinguished career as a solo artist, leaving Island some ten years after Bumpers - shortly after his split from his wife, Beverley. One of his most famous songs, "Solid Air" was dedicated to his doomed friend, Nick Drake. He lived a life on the edge, drinking and taking drugs heavily, losing a leg, gaining an OBE... and died prematurely aged 60 in 2009. I remember him playing live at York University's Central Hall in the 1970s and nonchalantly taking a joint off a member of the audience. The guy was one of a kind.

Nick Drake wrote three astonishing albums without ever achieving critical success, partly due to his dislike of live appearances and increasing mental instability, possibly fuelled by heavy cannabis use. Following a five week stay in a pyschiatric hospital he spent nearly two years of seclusion at his parents home in the idyllic village of Tanworth-On-Arden in Warwickshire, dying of an accidental overdose of pills in November 1974, aged 26. Chris Blackwell's determination to never allow Drake's music to be deleted, even after he sold Island Records, and Joe Boyd's peerless production meant Drake's music never faded away like that of many other talented artists. A new audience for his music appeared as his music became popularized on various soundtracks and TV commercials. "Northern Sky" is one of the finest songs you are ever likely to hear.

After the release of "All Right Now" and an acclaimed appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, Free never quite recaptured those heights again. Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke later joined Bad Company, but Paul Kossoff died tragically young of a heart attack following a period of drug addiction.

Fairport Convention has featured many well-known artists, including Dave Mattacks, Dave Swarbrick, Richard Thompson, Iain Matthews of Matthews Southern Comfort, Dave Pegg (briefly of Jethro Tull), Ashley Hutchings (of Steeleye Span and the Albion Country Band) and Jerry Donahue, Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas (Fotheringay). The band is still around, and still includes Dave Pegg and Simon Nicol who played together in the band as early as 1970.

Fotheringay broke up after one album. The limited commercial success of the album and Sandy Denny's growing reputation as a singer no doubt contributed. From about 1969 to 1972 Trevor Lewis worked with various groups including some of the former members of Fotheringay whilst Sandy Denny pursued a solo career. Lucas was helping Fairport Convention with their album Rosie in 1973 when he joined the band. On September 20, 1973 Trevor and Sandy got married and shortly after Sandy rejoined Fairport Convention, but both left in 1975. In April of 1978 Sandy fell down a flight of stairs and died leaving Trevor to raise their newborn daughter, Georgia, by himself. Shortly after her death Lucas moved back to his native Australia but also died tragically young in 1985 of a heart attack in his sleep.

Cat Stevens career continued to blossom at Island and he received international recognition for his songwriting and musicianship. By 1973 he was again showing signs of the strain of being a pop star and left the UK for tax reasons, moving to Brazil. After ten albums Stevens formally became a Muslim in 1977 and adopted the name Yusuf Islam. After a final album he retired from the pop music business, entered into an arranged marriage, had five children and became a stalwart of the London Muslim community - earning some notoriety for supporting murder attempts on the novelist Salman Rushdie for writing the book The Satanic Verses.

Joe Boyd continued to produce the albums of English folk rock acts before returning to his native USA in the 1970s. He subsequently produced the records of a variety of artists including Kate and Anna McGarrigle, REM and Billy Bragg, as well as writing books and acting as executive producer for the excellent 1988 movie "Scandal" with its fabulous soundtrack.

Guy Stevens was to produce The Clash's "London Calling", one of the best albums of all time. When he died in 1981, after falling down a flight of stairs aged 38, The Clash wrote a song called "Midnight to Stevens" as a tribute to the late studio hellraiser and iconic producer. The track is on disc three of "The Clash on Broadway".

After he sold Island Records, Chris Blackwell continued his associations with the media industry for some time, although his main focus has been developing tourist resorts and hotels in the Caribbean and the Americas.

The golden age of the sampler was short-lived. Although samplers continue to be issued to this day, greater radio and TV airplay largely displaced the need for samplers as a showcase for non-mainstream recorded artists. The budget price of samplers and the portfolio approach of many record labels had also made samplers popular as, in effect, an early form of mixtape, but with the emerging impact of the compact cassette the focus moved to personal DIY compilations, bootlegs, cover-mount cassettes and disks, and finally playlists.

Island Samplers - Artist Availability on CD

The tracks of two previous Island Samplers, "Nice Enough to Eat" and "You Can All Join In" largely appeared on a CD "Nice Enough to Join In" in 1992, but sadly neither "Bumpers" nor the subsequent sampler "El Pea" made the transition to CD. Many of the original albums promoted on Bumpers have been re-issued on CD, although not always with the same versions of the songs. I think only the Dave Mason track never made it into the digital age in any form, although some of his albums are available on CD.

To celebrate 40 years of Island Records an excellent five CD compendium was issued, and a double CD entitled "The Island Story" is a pretty good stab at covering the best songs from a range of artists who signed up to Island Records during its independent era. A CD entitled "Island Routes" features the folk acts who graced the Island label. In 2009, to celebrate 50 years of Island Records, a whole slew of excellent themed compilation albums came out.

However, probably the best album to capture the spirit of the old Island samplers was the 2006 release of an eclectic and eccentric 3 CD 48 song anthology of Island tracks that covers the period covered by the samplers, 1967-1972, "Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal". Released by Island/Universal, the title is a featured track on the album from Dr Strangely Strange. Sadly the overlap with the famous Island samplers is not consistent, but many of the artists are represented. Jimmy Cliff, If, Renaissance, Bronco and Dave Mason did not make it onto the anthology but great tracks from obscure artists like McDonald & Giles, Nirvana, Heavy Jelly and Heads, Hands & Feet, and strong tracks by Traffic, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention and others compensate somewhat. The unique Bumpers version of "Thunderbuck Ram" is the only track from Bumpers that makes it onto the album. To hear the Bumpers album tracks go here.

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Label Variations for Bumpers

Find versions of vinyl Island LP Sampler tracks that are available on CD here

(c) Nic Oatridge 1995-2011 - Please let me know if you have any observations on, or input for, this page by clicking on the email icon below.

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