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21 Sep 2016

Pesky Gee “Exclamation Mark” 1969 UK Heavy Psych Rock

Pesky Gee  “Exclamation Mark” 1969 UK  Heavy Psych Rock
watch interview by psychedelic baby…..
Starting out as a typical U.K. club soul band, and then turning toward psychedelia and prog rock in the latter half of the ‘60s, it wasn’t until Pesky Gee! changed their name in 1970 to Black Widow, transformed, and released the satanic Sacrifice that they reached the public eye. If not singular in any particular way, the prog-edged Pesky Gee! album, released on Pye in 1969, has enough cool Hammond organ flourishes and late psych-intoned vocals (male and female) to cause interest. Much is aimless, relies too much on the blues-rock boom, or is downright bad (“Born to Be Wild”), but when they got the mix right they were superb, as on their original psych/soul/prog numbers: on “A Place of Heartbreak” there is a superb male/female vocal, a soulful beat, and some haunting changes; while “Where Is My Mind” (both songs were released as a 45) has a driving rhythm, a unique use of horns, and sees the beginning of the band’s fascination with sinister subject matter and horror vocalization. The covers get a bit much, although the Julie Driscoll-intoned reading of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” has some fine moments. Not a solid affair but representative of the change in the British music scene of the late '60s… allmusic…… 

Before Black Widow were BW, their first name was Pesky Gee and the line-up bears much resemblance to the first BW album, except for singer’s Kay Garrett’s disappearance. A band from the midlands, PG was already a very different group by the time of release of their sole album in 69, when compared to the two- singer soul music line-up of 66. Indeed, psychedelia affected the group and they started covering many groups of that time. Their album “exclamation mark”, released on the Pye label is full of those covers (including one from VF) they did on the circuit. Covers, mostly covers. like the Fudge, right??? Well not quite! While VF did covers, they took the song apart and reconstructed them, and when they tried to write a song themselves they often succeeded, but not always. PG doesn’t try to write, but took the wild bet to cover a VF original >> read later. 
Actually, PG’s sound might remind most of older proghead something of Affinity, drawing from the same blues and jazz roots, with a good soulful screaming babe up front (Kay and Linda Hoyle’s voices sound much alike), with the exception that PG never wrote a track of their own for their album (it wasn’t Affinity’s strength either, but they managed a few). Starting with another Country, the pleasant surprises starts right away (PG is a fun to listen group), with Clive Jones’ sax sounding like VdGG’s Jaxon, even before David was anywhere a studio record. Not only a great sax sound, entertaining guitars and an ever- present Hammond organ are the main features besides the double vocal attack. While the group sounds very jumpy and fun, a bit like Colosseum would on The Kettle or Walking In The Park, it is really in the more sombre moments I find them more interesting: tracks like Season Of The Witch, the great Piece Of Mind (from Family) or Born To Be Wild are good successes, while the group misses out a bit on the Piece Of My Heart (just too risky after Janis, IMHO) or the Vanilla Fudge’s Where Is My Mind (This might’ve been interesting to speed the track up by a twofold to see how it would fared, but they played it safe) and others might seem a bit pointless, while remaining quite fun: Tull’s Dharma For One. 

Included the tracks that were released on the single, Place Of Heartbreak is a very effective drama piece, but as mentioned above the VF track was a bit f miss in the possibilities. Hardly an essential album to say the least, but a charming record nevertheless. One that won’t affect your love life, because I don’t think many women could resist such a fun album. Just for that fact alone, RUN for it, you progheads!!!…by progarchives… 

Now a mere footnote in '60s rock history, Leicester, England’s Pesky Gee! are perhaps remembered more for the band that they became – notorious Satan-worshipers Black Widow – than for their actual music. Taking their name from a song in another local group’s repertoire, Pesky Gee! were originally formed as a soul band before constant gigging slowly pushed them toward a more experimental and progressive style of rock & roll. 

By 1968, the band consisted of Kay Garrett - lead vocals, Kip Trevor - vocals, guitar, harmonica, Chris Dredge - guitar, Clive Jones - saxophone, flute, Alan Hornsby - brass, Bob Bond - bass, and Clive Box drums, and had signed a deal with Pye Records. A cover of Vanilla Fudge’s “Where Is My Mind” was chosen as their first single in March 1969, but when it failed to chart, both Dredge and Hornsby flew the coop, being replaced by guitarist Jim Gannon keyboardist Jess “Zoot” Taylor. 

Wasting little time, this “new and improved” lineup managed to record Pesky Gee!’s cleverly titled first album, Exclamation Mark, in a single, one-night, four-hour session. Issued in June of the same year, the record sadly fared no better than their single, and the impatient Pye soon showed them the door. 

Feeling that this particular incarnation had run its course, and simultaneously observing the general populace’s growing fascination with forbidden topics like black magic and the occult, Pesky Gee! decided to re-invent themselves as a theatrically Satanic outfit by assuming the fittingly conspicuous name of Black Widow. 
by Eduardo Rivadavia …… 

I was drawn into this band after having discovered Black Widow and I decided to listen their one and only album !. 
The sound of this album perfectly fits into the late sixties: psychedelic, bluesy and hectically rocking. It is undeniable that this band got some late recognition due to their follow-up career. Almost all members be featured into BW. 

This work doesn’t hold any jewel like Sacrifice for instance, but the album rocks alright and the opener is quite catchy: Another Country contains all the ingredients I have described and it is a wonderful shortcut from this period. 

There are some close relation with Mark I: the jazzy instrumental Pigs Foots starts in the style of Wring That Neck. This is another solid number even if the jazzy mood is a bit too much marked. 

When I listened to Season Of The Witch, there was no doubt that the Airplane was nearby. It is maybe due to the fact that Kay Garret sounds close to the great Grace Slick. This cover from a Donovan song is quite interesting. Actually, Vanilla Fudge already covered it on their excellent album Renaissance. 

On this album, Pesky Gee is also covering a Fudge song ’(Where Is My Mind) while the Airplane also covered Donovan a couple of times. Donovan being the centre of the circle here. I consider this version of Season. superior to the one from the masters of covers.Quite a difficult exercise. 

I won’t have the same feeling about their Tull reprise Dharma For One. Too much jazzy (but this feeling already took place before). I would say that this album is of interest for the ones willing to have a preview of the early Black Widow and therefore is more a fan only affair. 

Five out of ten would be more accurate than the tree stars I am giving mostly thanks to Season. and Born To Be Wild (from Steppenwolf). But if you ever want to listen to a real wild version of this song, you’ll have to grab the incredible live one from Slade Alive. This is dynamite!….by progarchives…. 

Pesky Gee 
*Jim Gannon - Guitar 
*Jess Taylor - Organ 
*Kay Garret - Lead Vocals 
*Clive Jones - Saxophone 
*Bob Bond - Bass 
*Clive Box - Drums 
*Kip Trevor - Vocals 

1. Another Country (R. Polte) - 7:37 
2. Pigs Foots (Ben Dixon) - 4:39 
3. Season of the Witch (D. Leitch) - 8:22 
4. A Place of Heartbreak (M. Rabbitt) - 3:00 
5. Where is My Mind (M. Stein) - 3:00 
6. Piece of My Heart (J. Ragavoy, B. Burns) - 2:50 
7. Dharma For One (Anderson Bunker) - 4:02 
8. Peace of Mind (John Whitney, Roger Chapman) - 2:19 
9. Born To Be Wild (M. Bonfire) - 4:20 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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