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22 Sep 2016

Luther Grosvenor {quitar of Spooky Tooth} “Under Open Skies “ 1971 UK Prog Psych














 Luther Grosvenor {quitar of Spooky Tooth} “Under Open Skies “ 1971 UK  Prog Psych
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biography
Under Open Skies is a very strong album by the Island recording artist  who left Spooky Tooth and joined Mott the Hoople after that group left  Island for CBS. “Ride On” begins the festivities with Grosvenor playing  both bass and lead guitar; Spooky Tooth’s Mick Kellie provides the  drums; John Hawken is on piano; and harmonies are by Jim Capaldi of  Traffic and the man Luther Grosvenor replaced in Mott the Hoople, Mick  Ralphs. Here is the oddity of Under Open Skies, where Verden Allen’s  "Soft Ground" really disrupted the flow of the All the Young Dudes  album, a tune like “Here Comes the Queen” would have been dynamite for  Ian Hunter and the boys. ..
Guitarist Luther Grovenor (aka Ariel Bender) is a guy who defines the term “journey man musician”.  Over the last four decades he’s recorded music spanning all types of genres, enjoying massive commercial popularity with some of the world’s most commercially successful bands.  In spite of that success, he’s all but unknown to most people. 

Here’s a little bit of biographical information on the man.  Grovesnor was born in Evesham, England.  Interested in music from a young age, by the time he was a teenager he’d been in a number of local bands including Wavelength and Deep Feeling.  The latter included lifelong friend/drummer Jim Capaldi, Gordon Jackson, Dave Mason, Dave Meredith and John Palmer.  In early 1967 Capaldi and Mason left to join Steve Winwood in Traffic.  Grosvenor subsequently joined the VIPs.  Grosvenor’s VIP stint was brief.  After two singles 1968 saw the band fell apart with keyboardist Keith Emerson joining The Nice, while Grovsenor, Mike Harrison, Mike Kellie and Greg Ridley regrouped as Art.  Art lasted long enough to complete one LP, before adding singer/guitarist Gary Wright to the line up and metamorphosing into Spooky Tooth.  Between 1968 and 1970, Spooky Tooth churned out a series of four LPs.  Following the release of 1970’s “The Last Puff”, the band collapsed. 

Against this backdrop Island Records owner Chris Blackwell offered Grosvenor a solo deal.  Recognizing most solo efforts simply suck, 1972’s “Under Open Skies” is one of those rare exceptions.  Co-produced by Grosveor and Tony Platt, the LP was written and recorded over a three month period in Blackwell’s Spanish villa.  The LP certainly sported one of the year’s more impressive supporting casts, including The Moves’ Trevor Burton, longtime buddy Capaldi, former Spooky Tooth alumnus Mike Kellie, Fairport Convention drummer Trevor Lucas and Mott the Hopple guitarist Mick Ralphs.  In terms of performances most folks won’t be shocked to hear that Grosvenor was a competent, if under whelming singer.  That said, on tracks like ‘When I Met You’ and 'Waiting’ his fragile voice occasionally recalled Steve Winwood.  Certainly a bigger surprise, anyone expecting to hear an album of power guitar was probably somewhat disappointed.  'When I Met You’ and 'Rocket’ found Grosvenor aptly displaying his guitar chops, but the overall feel was quite pastoral and reflective.  

- Anyone who’d heard Grosvenor’s work with Spooky Tooth and Mott the Hoople was bound to be surprised by the jazzy moves that characterized the opener 'Ride On’.   Nothing like what I would have expected, yet surprisingly impressive in kind of a Traffic fashion.  At least to my ears, Grosvenor’s fragile voice bore more than a passing resemblance of Steve Winwood on this one.   rating: **** stars 
- With a catchy, good-timey melody 'Here Comes the Queen’ showcased Grosvenor’s first rate slide guitar.  It was also one of the album’s most commercial efforts.  Easy to see why it was tapped as a single.    rating: **** stars 
- While Grosvenor didn’t have the most commercial voice you’ve ever heard, the rocker 'When I Met You’ made it clear he knew how to make the most of his gift.  Catchy tune with a great guitar solo too boot.   My only complaint with this one was the unexpected and abrupt ending …  the song sounded like it was really kicking into gear and then …   rating: **** stars 
- Just Groevenor on acoustic guitar and percussion, 'Love the Way’ was a pretty ballad, but was undermined by the fact it was performed in a key that was simply too high for his fragile voice.  The melody was wonderful, but the overall results were a bit screechy.   rating: ** stars 
- 'Waiting’ started out as an atmospheric ballad before morphing into a mid-tempo rocker.  The song highlights came in the form of the gorgeous backing vocals - courtesy of Grosvenor and Trevor Lucas.   rating: *** stars   
- Kickec along by Mike Kellie’s rock solid percussion, 'Rocket’ was a slinky, blues-rocker with some amazing lead guitar - the performance actually sounded like a backward tape !  One of my favorite tracks on the LP. 
- Ever wonder what Arlo Gurthrie would have sounded like had he decided to record a real rock song?  Well, 'Under Open Skies’ is probably a pretty good approximation.  That shouldn’t be taken as a criticism since this rocker was one of the album highlights ……
Luther first began playing in local bands in his hometown of Evesham. He met Jim Capaldi, who later played with Traffic, with whom he formed a group called Deep Feelin. 
Later he joined a group called The V.I.P.’s, in which Keith Emerson played for some time. The V.I.P.’s were renamed Art and later became Spooky Tooth. 
The years with Spooky Tooth (1967 to 1970), Stealers Wheel (1973) and Mott the Hoople (1973 to 1974) were the most successful years in his musical career. 
After leaving Mott the Hoople, Luther published a few solo albums, and formed Widowmaker, releasing Widowmaker in 1976 and Too Late to Cry in 1977. 
In the 1990s, Luther Grosvenor returned in a Spooky Tooth reunion. In 2005, he revived his pseudonym, forming the Ariel Bender Band. In 2007 and 2008 he performed under the name Ariel Bender’s Mott The Hoople performing Spooky Tooth and Mott The Hoople songs, as well as cover songs. …..
01. Ride On — 6:26
02. Here Comes The Queen — 3:49
03. When I Met You — 5:18
04. Love The Way — 3:22
05. Waiting — 4:15
06. Rocket — 4:36
07. Under Open Skies — 5:43 
Luther Grosvenor — vocals, lead guitar (01, 06, 07), acoustic guitar (05, 07), bass (01, 02, 05, 06), guitar (02-04), slide guitar (06), tambourine, cymbal, scraper, shaker (04), producer 
Trevor Burton — bass (03, 07) 
John Hawken — piano (01, 03, 05) 
Mike Kellie — drums (01, 03, 05-07), harmony vocals (07) 
Mike Giles — drums (02) 
Jim Capaldi — harmony vocals (01) 
Mick Ralphs — harmony vocals (01) 
Paul Bennett — harmony vocals (07) 
Trevor Lucas — harmony vocals (05) 

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