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20 Sep 2016

The Artwoods “Art Gallery” 1966 UK Freakbeat Psych with John Lord

The Artwoods “Art Gallery” 1966 UK very rare Decca Label Freakbeat Psych with John Lord
For fans of metaphors, we say that Jon Lord was such that beautiful girl that everyone ate at him before it takes fifty kilos in a few months (Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple always known similar mishap)! Only his banker and those who like to wash the ears lard tasted metamorphosis. Forget the ravages of time to plunge in the heart of Swinging London. The Artwoods were a bunch of young mods superbly violence to the sacred rhythm'n'blues. The rhythmic engine purrs like a Jaguar, guitarist launches poisoned arrows, organ weaves the ultra sexy lace, while the singer beautifully hoarse. Just close your eyes to see the swarms of cute miniskirts dance the jerk in Egyptian graces! Of those who pâmèrent hardly lived at the time the turn of the decade. The sourdingues call it an early work, others prefer to forget what happened then. …. 

The Artwoods formed in London in 1964. Arthur Wood (the eldest brother of Rolling Stones and Faces guitarist Ronnie) had previously played with The Art Wood Combo, a swing and blues combo, and was later a member of Blues Incorporated. Indeed, Wood used the name The Art Wood Combo for an earlier line-up of The Artwoods which featured a guy called Reg Dunnage on drums, although by the time their name was shortened to The Artwoods, he had been replaced by Keef Hartley from Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. By now the band had secured a residency at London’s 100 Club and a recording deal with Decca. Decca decided not to release their first recording, a cover of Muddy Waters’ Hoochie Coochie Man, although acetates do exist and are very expensive collectors’ items. Indeed a Leadbelly cover, Sweet Mary, a heavy laid back blues number was chosen as their first single. Although it failed to Chart it got sufficient airplay to bring them a lot of live work and an appearance on the first live edition of ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ The follow-up, Oh My Love, was another blues cover with a Jon Lord composition on the flip. It didn’t Chart but they continued to get plenty of live work touring England with P.J. Proby, Europe with Petula Clark and backing US blues singer Mae Mercer. Their third single was Goodbye Sisters, a smoother R&B number backed by a self-penned group composition. It also failed to Chart, but they finally achieved some commercial success with their fourth 45, a pulsating cover of Sam and Dave’s I Take What I Want. 
The Jazz In Jeans EP consisted of three cover versions - Our Man Flint, These Boots Are Made For Walking and A Taste Of Honey and one original, Routine. Originally recorded for release in France it didn’t comprise their usual R&B covers and its release in England could easily have damaged their R&B credentials. It is now their rarest and most expensive item. 
The Art Gallery album was entirely comprised of cover versions and sold badly, as did the I Feel Good single which was used to promote it. However, I Feel Good was definitely one of their more interesting singles. 
In view of their disappointing sales the band were dropped by Decca at the end of 1966 but negotiated a one-off deal with Parlophone who didn’t take up the option to extend it when the resultant What Shall I Do 45 flopped. 
The group finally split on a tour of Denmark but returned to the UK to find that their booking agent had secured another one-off deal with Fontana. To honour this the group were relaunched under the new name of St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. It was to be their final 45 as they split shortly after its release. 
Keef Hartley, who was sacked in the final days of The Artwoods later joined John Mayall’s Bluebreakers and then formed his own Keef Hartley Band. He later formed Dog Soldier who also included guitarist Derek Griffiths who in the interim had played with Mike Cotton Sound and Satisfaction. Malcolm Pool played with Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum and the Don Partridge Band and then started a graphic design studio in Hillingdon. Jon Lord, of course, was later in Deep Purple and Whitesnake. Art Wood formed the short-lived Quiet Melon, who later had two tracks issued on CD in April 1995 and then quit the music business eventually to become a graphic designer. 
For those into mega collectables, there’s an unissued album, Zetas Twigs, a mix of R&B, music hall and Art’s zany Goon Show type humour and also a one-sided acetate of What Shall I Do Now on EMI. Various members of the band also appeared uncredited on the album The Fantastic Freddie Mack Show on Raynik Records in 1966. Freddie Mack was managed by Johnny Jones, The Artwoods’ manager, who produced this 'live’ recording. Various session men were required to improve the performance of Freddie’s original band - enter The Artwoods. The album, a R&B style offering with a Geno Washington feel flopped. 
There’s also one fake 'collectable’ - an acetate of the band playing live in a club in North Wales which was sold by a dealer a few years back for big money. This gig was actually recorded in 1964 by an aquaintance of the band and copied to the band members. Subsequently someone has made an acetate from a couple of tracks on the tape and passed it off as an old demo. Further live tapes do exist. 
It’s really been the subsequent success of Jon Lord and Keef Hartley that has kept some level of interest in The Artwoods. Decca reissued the Art Gallery album on their budget Eclipse label in 1970. In 1973 Spark put out a compilation comprising eight songs from Art Gallery and all the tracks (except These Boots Are Made For Walking) from the Jazz In Jeans (EP). More recently, Edsel have released a 16 track compilation consisting of all their Decca 'A’ and 'B’ sides (except Molly Anderson’s Cookery Book) and seven cuts from the Art Gallery album. The album came with a four page history of the group written by former member, Derek Griffiths. Repertoire too have an excellent 26-track CD compilation entitled Art Gallery (REP 4533-WP) 1995. 
Compilation appearances have included: Shake on Justification (LP); What Shall I Do on My Generation (LP); Chicago Calling and Hoochie Coochie Man on Made In England, Vol. 2 (CD) and Incredible Sound Show Stories, Vol. 5 (LP); In The Deep End, What Shall I Do, Daytripper, Steady Getting’ It and Devil With The Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly on Deep Purple - Odd Ditties (CD). ….. 

Art Wood - lead vocals 
Derek Griffiths - lead guitar 
Jon Lord - organ 
Malcolm Pool - bass guitar 
Keef Hartley - drums 

1.Can You Hear Me? 
2.Down In The Valley 
3.Things Get Better 
4.Walk On The Wild Side 
5.I Keep Forgetting 
6.Keep Looking 
7.One More Heartache 
8.Work Work Work 
9.Be My Lady 
10.If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody 
11.Stop And Think It Over 
12.Don’t Cry No More 

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