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16 Jan 2017

Stonehouse “Stonehouse Greek” 1971 UK Hard Blues Rock










Stonehouse “Stonehouse Greek” 1971 UK ultra rare Hard Blues Rock
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“ The Stonehouse are a group of young people from the West Country. They derive their name from a locality near Plymouth. They are a group of many musical colours, ranging from country rock to classical. This first album shows just one of their moods.” …………. 

I have never been that impressed about this record if I’m honest. Stonehouse’s only studio album is a very generic and unoriginal mix of hard rock and blues rock with nothing special to offer. The guitarwork is pretty solid but not exceptional. The lead vocalist is one of the reasons why I don’t like this record that much. His voice and singing style are kinda annoying I think. 

The original pressing is a pretty rare one and there isn’t a vinyl reissue yet. So in case you want to get this LP to your record shelf you need to pay a couple of hundred euros to get it. Even if this is not a bad album it’s definitely nothing special either. There were numerous similar sounding bands active in the early 1970’s that were much more original than these guys. 

Many users here in RYM seem to like this album quite much but I’m not one of them. The guitarwork on this album is nice but that’s pretty much it. Not recommended…..by..CooperBolan…… 
Stonehouse: Stonehouse Creek 1971 is a great Heavy Rock record. Oftentimes wrongfully lumped into the hard progressive sub category, this is just plain old killer articulate early 70s Heavy Rock. The music and vocal stylings bear a slight resemblance to their fellow UK musicians in Free or very early Bad Company. The thing that definitely sets Stonehouse apart from other commonplace hard rock groups is their musicianship. Instead of arranging their material around the guitar, all the musicians use the acoustic piano as a rhythmic springboard allowing them all a more melodious approach to their individual contributions. The Piano is in no way dominant throughout the album, nor are the arrangements too angular. Unfortunately this was the groups only offering and details on the members & their activities are as rare as the RCA record itself…….. 

This is the definition of solid and consistent. The vocal performance is great and the playing is tight. There’s no bombast or posturing here, it’s all understated but heart-felt bluesy rock with great song-writing and a wonderfully warm production, as only the early ‘70s can offer. These qualities stretch over the whole album, not a sniff of repetition or filler to be found. 

Ian Snow (drums) and James Smith (vocals) were both in Asgærd which made one very different album to this, sounding more like an English version of Styx or Kansas, but it was good. 

Has anybody heard the track “Move Away” listed as A4 here? Was it only on the original vinyl? I have not seen it on any re-issues, which all have 11 tracks only. 

The album begins with a plaintive ode to the mysterious “Stonehouse Creek”, lamenting the loss of a well-loved local beauty spot, and then kicks off proper with the good-time bluesrock vibes of “Hobo”. This fully establishes the band’s tight skills; Ian Snow’s funky drumming, Peter Spearings’s nimble blues licks, Terry Parker’s adventurous bass lines and Jim Smith’s versatile wide-range vocal abilities. The second track is a real highlight of the album, “Cheater”, with Jim’s impassioned and brooding performance matching Pete’s doom-laden blues riff. 

“Nightmare” opens with Terry’s quirky, slightly proggy bassline, and this is the first track to include some light piano embellishment, the inclusion of which Jim will voice his minor grievances on later in the interview. Personally speaking, although piano can generally take the edge off hard rock, I like it on this album. It’s well played, not over-powering, and it suits an LP which has a good-natured, fun vibe over-all. 

Toward the end, “Don’t Push Me” introduces some great Sabbathian, progressive riffing. “Topaz” is a compact, groovy instrumental, perfect for those that like Led Zep’s “Moby Dick” but tend to reach for fast-forward at a certain point; this one is drum-solo free haha. Along with the earlier track “Ain’t No Game”, “Four Letter Word” delves into deeper lyrical subject matters, supporting tolerance and anti-war sentiments. The album reprises nicely with Stonehouse Creek pt2, coming back full circle to the homely pleasures of hanging about fishing on a lazy summer afternoon….by….r0b0c0p ……….. 

Good hard boogie rock from 1971, the best year for music ever. Nice guitar and hard material make for a good listen. So catch a buzz, put on the headphones and listen. 

Another “one and done” from this great time in music…..by…rod45 … 

I’ve read this described as “bludgeoning” hard rock. Well, their sound is plenty heavy alright, with dis-chordant, off key vocals reminiscent of Dio, or even Uriah Heep, with out the organ. But their song writing is much less compelling, which weakens the impact of their mat'l. It is highly consistently good just the same, just could’ve been much better. My grades - 5 B+’s, 4 B’s, and a B-. Recommended for fans of the genre…by…tymeshifter …… 

“Stonehouse Creek” is one of the best records you’ll find if you peruse the archives of forgotten hard UK bluesrock. Stonehouse the band had their roots in Plymouth, not a place particularly remembered for hard rock, but Plymouth rock did exist, in places other than American history books. 

Many readers with a passing interest in ‘70s obscurities will by now have heard of Leaf Hound, their “Growers of Mushroom” album has long since become the stuff of legend. If you like them, you can’t go wrong with Stonehouse Creek. Cast from the same mold, both in 1971, they share an honest, earthy, blue collar bluesrock sound, with hard-as-nails riffs a’plenty. 
The album begins with a plaintive ode to the mysterious “Stonehouse Creek”, lamenting the loss of a well-loved local beauty spot, and then kicks off proper with the good-time bluesrock vibes of “Hobo”. This fully establishes the band’s tight skills; Ian Snow’s funky drumming, Peter Spearings’s nimble blues licks, Terry Parker’s adventurous bass lines and Jim Smith’s versatile wide-range vocal abilities. The second track is a real highlight of the album, “Cheater”, with Jim’s impassioned and brooding performance matching Pete’s doom-laden blues riff. 

“Nightmare” opens with Terry’s quirky, slightly proggy bassline, and this is the first track to include some light piano embellishment, the inclusion of which Jim has since voiced disapproval over, seeing as it was added by the producer without the band’s knowledge. Although piano can generally take the edge off hard rock, it works on this album. It’s well played, not over-powering, and it suits an LP which has a good-natured, fun vibe over-all. 

Toward the end, “Don’t Push Me” introduces some great Sabbathian, progressive riffing. “Topaz” is a compact, groovy instrumental, perfect for those that like Led Zep’s “Moby Dick” but tend to reach for fast-forward at a certain point; this one is drum-solo free. Along with an earlier track “Ain’t No Game”, “Four Letter Word” delves into deeper lyrical subject matters, supporting tolerance and anti-war sentiments. The album reprises nicely with Stonehouse Creek pt2, coming back full circle to the homely pleasures of hanging about fishing on a lazy summer afternoon. 

Stonehouse was given a very short space of time to record the album, only one day! it’s testament to all their talents that the album sounds as good as it does. Pete Spearing was the ideas man, he wrote all the music and lyrics. His skills, and those of singer Jim Smith (later vocalist of Asgared), are what make this. There are stories of the band playing an album-length progressive epic called “The War Suite” on stage. Alas, this was never recorded, although “Ain’t No Game” is rumoured to have been a final vestige of what must surely have been something to behold. 

Apart from a run-in with an irate shot gun-wielding farmer one cold night after their van broke down, Stonehouse were good lads. They deserved better luck, but non-existent promotion and label support saw them evaporate in a blink after the album was released. To close with Jim’s words: “We weren’t smashing things up, we didn’t get into trouble with anybody. We just played our music. Being good musicians was all we ever wanted.” Anyone who hears the album will be in no doubt that they certainly achieved that………………. 

Line-up: 
Peter Spearing - guitar, vocals 
James Smith - vocals 
Ian Snow - drums 
Terry Parker - bass 

Tracklist: 
1. Stonehouse Creek 
2. Hobo 
3. Cheater 
4. Nightmare 
5. Crazy White Folk 
6. Down, Down 
7. Ain’t No Game 
8. Don’t Push Me 
9. Topaz 
10. Four Letter Word 
11. Stonehouse Creek 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..

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