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6 Sep 2016

Killing Floor “Out Of Uranus” 1971 UK Hard Blues Rock














Killing Floor “Out Of Uranus”  1971 UK Hard Blues Rock
full
The South London-based Killing Floor was originally a pop duo formed by lead guitarist Mick Clarke and vocalist/harmonica player Bill Thorndycraft. During the British blues boom of 1968-1969, they decided to form a “straight blues” group, recruiting prospective members from the classified pages of Melody Maker. Joining them were piano player Lou Martin, bassist Stuart MacDonald, and drummer Bazz Smith. Taking their name from Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” (Wolf’s cover was itself a version of Robert Johnson’s “The Lemon Song”), the band played just one gig before ex-Radio Caroline DJ and ardent blues fanatic John Edward offered to manage them. Edward’s connection with the Southern Music publishing company led to them signing with Southern’s Spark Records imprint. The band was booked into Pye Recording Studios and with Edward aboard as “producer,” they recorded their self-titled debut in 12 days’ time. Most of the material was re-configured Chicago blues classics, except for a cover of Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love.” Killing Floor was released in the U.S. on new London subsidary Sire. Meanwhile, Edward booked the band gigs at Dunstable’s California Ballroom, where they supported Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Chicken Shack, and the Herd, to name a few. He also helped them get gigs at the Marquee, where they supported Yes and the Nice, and in 1969, they also toured with Texas bluesman Freddy King on two U.K. tours, which helped further their growing reputation. The band also appeared on all the contemporary British radio rock shows and toured solidly around the U.K. Lou Martin left after the release of Killing Floor and a handful of BBC Radio sessions and the group continued as a four-piece band. There were additional lineup changes in 1970-1971, at which point the group included ex-Juicy Lucy vocalist Ray Owen, drummer Rod D'Ath, and bassist Mick Hawksworth (ex-Fuzzy Duck/Andromeda/Ten Years Later). A second Killing Floor album, Out of Uranus, was released in 1971 on Penny Farthing Records, this time with executive producer/label honcho and the Troggs’ manager Larry Page overseeing the sessions. By mid-1972, Killing Floor had disbanded. The various members became Toe Fat and began backing Cliff Bennett. Thorndycraft retired from music and Bazz Smith continued to play in jazz trios. McDonald formed a band called Peace (with ex-Free vocalist Paul Rodgers) before returning to his native Wales and playing in local bands. Former piano player Martin joined Rory Gallagher’s band, toured with Chuck Berry, and later played with Blues ‘N’ Trouble. In 1974, guitarist Mick Clarke formed legendary pub rockers S.A.L.T. with “Little” Stevie Smith. In 1983, he had his own group, the Mick Clarke Band, who have released numerous LPs. Both Killing Floor albums have been reissued by Repertoire Records and See for Miles (the first album was retitled Rock the Blues). 

Out of Uranus is rawer and more irreverent than most second-line British blues-rock of the late '60s and early '70s, as indicated by the title itself. That doesn’t mean the all-original songs are that good, that they’re especially imaginative players, or that Bill Thorndycraft’s semi-barked vocals are so special. But it makes for a refreshing change from the normal not-so-well-known British blues-rock albums of the era, with a brash streak to both the lean arrangements (particularly in the frequent rushed tempos and Bas Smith’s crisp drumming) and lyrics missing from many of their peers. Slight nods to the world of underground rock outside of the blues form are heard in the yearning hippie ethos of “Soon There Will Be Everything,” where the violin of Paul Spencer Mac again takes them a little outside of the standard framework for the genre. The countercultural mindset of the time is occasionally reflected in numbers like “Call for the Politicians” and the wittily titled “Fido Castrol,” somewhat in the bluntly sardonic manner of another band of the day, the Deviants….by all music…. 

In the Summer of 1970 Killing Floor picked up one of those dream gigs that don’t come along very often - a six week residency in the South of France! In the course of the holiday (sorry, engagement) yours truly got seriously sunburnt and the club went bust. However we all had a jolly good time, and more importantly, we were able to use the empty club each afternoon to rehearse for our new album, “Out of Uranus”. 

Where the hell did that name come from? Well as usual it was me and my big mouth - overhearing talk of a college band with that name I repeated it innocently at a band meeting. Immediately it was taken up as the name for the next album and I’ve had to live with it ever since. Well, it was at least memorable, and Bill wrote a pertinent lyric for the opening track of the album. 

We were by now a four-piece band - Lou being involved in other projects. We had actually split completely a few months earlier, but drifted back together one by one. By now the British “Blues Boom” was all over and blues was not saleable in the U.K. Instead we’d travelled several times to Germany and Switzerland, playing mainly residencies with occasional club or festival dates. 

For the new album we had a whole set of original new material which could roughly be described as progessive blues, veering towards the “heavy” side. Bands like Free and Led Zeppelin were waving the “heavy” banner pretty hard at the time - it seemed like the way to go. 

So it was back to Pye studios near Marble Arch, this time the larger No.1 room. The sessions, as always, were late night all night affairs. Lou came in and played some piano on “Call For the Politicians” and we featured a mellotron and violin on “Soon There Will Be Everything”. 

The cover had already been designed for another “Penny Farthing” project, and was generously donated to our album - at once distinctive, memorable and completely tasteless! 

“Politicians” was a single, and with Larry Page behind it there seemed a fair chance of success. Larry had been involved in chart hits for the Kinks and the Troggs in the sixties. “Politicians” did make it on to the Radio One playlist, and we heard it quite often on the radio. We even went up to the West End one afternoon and guested on the “Radio One Club”, being interviewed by Annie Nightingale and getting screamed up by the young audience. We met Gilbert O'Sullivan in the dressing room, a friendly chap who looked quite normal until he slipped into his schoolboy stagegear. My greatest regret was leaving before the arrival of Ken Dodd. 

But “Politicians” wasn’t a hit and life carried on as normal. Later we found out that it had sold several thousand copies in Germany, but nobody told us at the time. We performed “Milkman” on BBC TV as the closing track of “Disco 2”, a programme which was the fore-runner of The Old Grey Whistle Test. We mimed to the backing track while Bill sung live - Bazz thrashing away on the BBC plastic imitation cymbals. 

“Out of Uranus” is an interesting and at times exciting record, although parts of it sound dated and can be clearly pegged to those “progressive” days of the early seventies. Listening to it again for the first time in many years I found it entertaining and enjoyable, and was struck by the wealth of ideas it contains. 
by Mick Clarke …… 

Enjoy socializing with German, Swiss and French audience, «Killing Floor» returned to London to record their second album. «Out Of Uranus», released on the label “of Penny Farthing”, showed a departure from American blues to more rough and tough, seasoned psychedelic blues-rock and spawned the single «Call For The Politicians», bracing spell in heavy rotation “BBC Radio 1”. There was a band and on television, but the further development of its lack of clarity led to the rapid disintegration. First «Floor» changed the rhythm section on Rod de'Ath and Stan Dekker and returned in the Martin, but the only thing was to build, as the left Thorndycraft. For a while, the team worked with the ex-frontman «Juicy Lucy» Ray Owen, however, increased staff turnover, and in the end, the project collapsed. Renaissance Group began in 2002, when representatives of the «Appaloosa Records» Clark asked, not whether they want «Killing Floor» record a new album. Mick responded with enthusiasm, and he was supported by the rest of the originals, and in January 2004 studiynik «Zero Tolerance» went on sale. The only one who could not immediately find, was Bazz Smith, but all the same, and he came to the end of the session and contributed to a couple of tracks. Despite the rave reviews about the comeback, Martin could not participate in the subsequent tour, but the remaining four are not limited to some concerts and in 2012 «Sweden Rock Festival» presented songs from the fourth album «Rock'n'Roll Gone Mad»…… 

Killing Floor formed in South London in late 1968 when guitarist Mick Clarke, vocalist Bill Thorndycraft, bassist Stuart McDonald and drummer Baz Smith recruited keyboardist Lou Martin and began a bout of intensive rehearsals. After just one gig and after having hawked their demo tape round various agents, Killing Floor were picked up on by ex-Radio Caroline DJ John Edward. Martin recalls, “Edward thought we sounded like Hendrix and as the British Blues boom being in full flow saw us as a chance to get involved in the scene.” Edward booked the band for Dunstable’s California Ballroom and so gave Killing Floor support slots to the likes of Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Chicken Shack, The Herd, The Casuals and Junior Walker And The All Stars amongst others. He also secured the band a deal with Spark Records who released the group’s self-titled LP, produced by Edward, in mid-1969 (SRLP 102). Around this time, the band were offered the chance to back Freddie King on two UK tours which helped further their growing reputation. The band also appeared on all the contemporary British radio rock shows and toured solidly around the U.K. 

Out of Uranus is rawer and more irreverent than most second-line British blues-rock of the late '60s and early '70s, as indicated by the title itself. That doesn’t mean the all-original songs are that good, that they’re especially imaginative players, or that Bill Thorndycraft’s semi-barked vocals are so special. But it makes for a refreshing change from the normal not-so-well-known British blues-rock albums of the era, with a brash streak to both the lean arrangements (particularly in the frequent rushed tempos and Bas Smith’s crisp drumming) and lyrics missing from many of their peers. Slight nods to the world of underground rock outside of the blues form are heard in the yearning hippie ethos of “Soon There Will Be Everything,” where the violin of Paul Spencer Mac again takes them a little outside of the standard framework for the genre. The countercultural mindset of the time is occasionally reflected in numbers like “Call for the Politicians” and the wittily titled “Fido Castrol,” somewhat in the bluntly sardonic manner of another band of the day, the Deviants. (Richie Unterberger) ….. 

One of the hottest bands on the UK blues scenes was Killing Floor, that featured the powerful guitar of Mick Clarke and harmonica playing of vocalist Bill Thorndycraft. This was the Killer’s second album, originally released in 1971 and packed with dynamic performances. The ten tracks range from the ‘psycho blues’ number ‘Out Out Of Uranus’ to the fast and funky ‘Acid Bean’ and explosive ‘Son Of Wet’, a raving jam session that features Buddy Rich inspired drummer Bazz Smith. Raised in an era when the Who and Led Zeppelin were all powerful, Killing Floor display some of their riff laden influences while creating their own distinctive sound. This exciting album has become legendary among fans of classic British rock and remains essential listening for all true collectors. The CD liner notes include a fascinating interview with Mick Clarke about the history and fate of a band that’s been revived back in action in 2011. ……. 

Personnel: 
Mick (Michael) Clarke — lead guitar 
Bill Thorndycraft – lead vocals, harp 
Lou Martin — piano 
Stuart MacDonald – bass, vocals 
Bazz Smith – percussion 

Tracks: 
01. Out Of Uranus — 4:35 
02. Soon There Will Be Everything — 3:54 
03. Acid Bean — 4:21 
04. Where Nobody Ever Goes — 5:23 
05. Sun Keeps Shining — 4:26 
06. Call For The Politicians — 2:23 
07. Fido Castrol — 4:44 
08. Lost Alone — 5:07 
09. Son Of Wet — 5:12 
10. Milkman — 5:27 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..