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5 Feb 2017

Help Yourself “Help Yourself” 1971 + “Strange Affair” 1972 + “Beware The Shadow” 1972 + “The Return Of Ken Whaley Happy Days” 1973 + “Five”(1973-2003 Recording) (2004) Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2004 UK Prog Psych Folk Rock































Help Yourself “Help Yourself”  1971 +  “Strange Affair”  1972 +  “Beware The Shadow”  1972 +  “The Return Of Ken Whaley Happy Days” 1973 +  “Five”(1973-2003 Recording) (2004) Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2004 UK Prog Psych Folk Rock 
wath review from Psychedelic Baby
Help Yourself were probably one of the more American-sounding, country-tinged and guitar-driven bands to come out of the early seventies. The problem with this of course is that they weren’t American at all, but a rather working-class British act that existed for but a few short years before the members scattered to a host of other projects including Ducks Deluxe, Bees Makes Honey, Man, and the Flying Aces. This 1971 debut is the most laid-back of their five releases, and gives little hint of the more driving and psychedelic sounds they would graduate to on subsequent releases. 

The comparisons are obvious and inevitable almost immediately into this album: Buffalo Springfield, the Eagles, Wishbone Ash, Man, Quicksilver Messenger Service. So you get the idea. The band for this first release consisted of Malcolm Morley who wrote pretty much all the tracks; Richard Treece who apparently owned the only decent guitar among the group; Ken Whaley, and drummer Dave Charles who had recorded a sole album with Morley in a late sixties group called Sam Apple Pie. 

The music here ranges from almost country ala Neil Young or the Eagles (“Old Man”) to blues-rock (“Look at the View”) to an odd sort of vaguely folk sound with nebulous lyrics hinting at a bard-like tale from ‘days of yore’ (“To Katherine They Fell”). “Deborah” sounds remarkably like an early seventies Eagles tune, and “Street Songs” would not have been out of place on an Allman Brothers album. 

The one real oddity is the opening “I Must See Jesus for Myself”, a sort of honky-tonk gospel-leaning romp that really throws off expectations for the rest of the album. The tongue-in-cheek faux serious mood of this one reminds me quite a bit of the old Violent Femmes tune “Jesus Walking on the Water”, although admittedly the guitar and piano work here is quite a bit more accomplished than the Femmes ever managed. But hey – the Femmes were an awesome live act, so there’s that at least… 

It’s hard to know what to think of this album, and in some ways it’s hard to know how to assess this band. They can’t really be considered overly progressive, and other than “To Katherine They Fell” and “Old Man” I’m not sure I’d place them in the folk category either. But overall this is a quite agreeable sound, and it’s always nice to discover obscure bands from days gone by who still have the chops to keep one’s attention for forty minutes or so. “To Katherine They Fell” is the most impressive track here with its dreamy and relaxed guitars wandering behind Morley’s sad vocals. “Paper Leaves” is the other stand out track, even if I can’t get Michael Stipe out of my head when I hear it. I guess this is better than just for collectors, mostly because I think prog folk fans and those who find something to like in bands like Buffalo Springfield and Wishbone Ash will probably find something here as well. So three stars it is, and recommended to all those people I just mentioned. 

peace…….by ClemofNazareth …… 
Unable to get over my Ernie Graham addiction, I set out in search of more from the ilk of rootsy pre pub rock and stumbled across this gem from 1971. Help Yourself formed in the wake of Brinsley Schwarz but with a strong ear to The Band, forging a raw and honest Americana sound on their first LP. Not nearly as dippy as the cover art suggests, this is a fine sample of straight California rock that’s really from the UK. 

Recorded at The Grange in Headley, previously used by Led Zeppelin to record the Four Symbols album, the Helps were trying to let the rural environment to influence their music. If this is the case, the landscape in Headley must be no different than the piece of earth Neil Young was treading around the same time. The Help Yourself album is eerily similar to Young’s sound in almost every regard; they even have a song called Old Man, which is a really fine but totally different song. 

The record opens with a feel good gospel track, I Must See Jesus For Myself, that I can’t help but think was meant to be ironic. This is sure to throw off listeners, but maybe attract those who don’t mind a little Jesus in their tunes. In any case, you might want to start this record from the 2nd groove. From there on the record showcases great melodies, great double guitar noodling (to great effect with acoustic and electric on separate channels), great songcraft, great CSNY influenced harmonies, and great overall sound. There you have it: six greats for this easily overlooked LP that could and should sneak its way into the playlist of any Neil Young fan. 

The second album, attached in the BGO 2fer, adds a clean, phased sound to the recording that gets a little cheezier. Not to say this is a discountable record, just that it maybe draws too near the Ducks Deluxe pub rock approach for my tastes. 

Help Yourself. Don’t mind if I do…..Rising Storm review……… 

Line-up / Musicians 
- Help Yourself / main performer 
- Malcolm Morley / guitar, keyboards, vocals 
- Richard Treece / guitar, vocals 
- Ken Whaley / bass 
- Dave Charles / drums, vocals 

Tracks: 
1.I Must See Jesus For Myself 
2.To Katherine They Fell 
3.Your Eyes Are Looking Down 
4.Old Man 
5.Look At The View 
6.Paper Leaves 
7.Running Down Deep 
8.Deborah 
9.Street Songs 

Help Yourself “Strange Affair” 1972 second lp 

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HELP YOURSELF were formed in 1970 near London, and initially consisted of guitarist Richard Treece, drummer Dave Charles, bassist Ken Whaley and guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Malcolm Morley. The band recorded their first studio album in 1971 and would release three others before disbanding in late 1973, their career marked by financial and personal issues. Bassist Whaley briefly left the band to help form DUCKS DELUXE and was replaced by guitarist Ernie Graham. 
For a time in the early seventies the band roomed at the Grange (home of Led Zeppelin’s Symbols record) with fellow British act Brinsley Schwarz, where they also recorded their second album. They also performed on the All Good Clean Fun tour in 1972 along with MAN and other British acts. 
Amid a number of lineup changes Ken Whaley returned to the band in 1973, and his return was marked by the band’s fourth and final seventies release ‘The Return of Ken Whaley’, after which the group quickly disintegrated, but not before recording several tracks which would become the 2004-issued compilation known simply as ‘5’.Morley and Whaley would join MAN, a band to which HELP YOURSELF had been associated for most of their existence. Morley would also do a stint with BEES MAKE HONEY. 
Treece recorded with ICEBERG as well as forming the short-lived HEALY TREECE BAND in the late seventies with GRATEFUL DEAD drummer Bill Kreutzmann and soundman Dan Healy. He would also record with MAN, as well as THE FLYING ACES, THE ARCHERS, THE NEUTRONS, SPLENDID HUMANS, and THE TYLA GANG before joining GREEN RAY in 1988. HELP YOURSELF’s rather brief and rocky career left us a collection of decidedly American-sounding folksy, blues and psychedelic recordings. 
Most of the band members would pursue full-time music careers, and while none managed to find significant commercial success, their discography of Helps albums are widely admired by progressive and psych fans the world over.“We were also incredibly stoned all the time.” 
- Richard Treece…. 

Line-up / Musicians 
- Help Yourself / main performer 
- Malcolm Morley / guitar, vocals 
- Richard Treece / guitar, vocals 
- Ernie Graham / guitar, vocals 
- Dave Charles / drums, vocals 
- Jo Jo Glemser / guitar 
- Paul Burton / bass, guitar 
- Kingsley Ward / engineer 
- Anton Mathews / engineer, producer 

Tracks: 
1 Strange Affair 
2 Brown Lady 
3 Movie Star 
4 Deanna Call and Scotty 
5. Heaven Row 
6 Experpts from “The All Electric Fur Trapper” 
7 Many Ways of Meeting 

Help Yourself “Beware The Shadow” 1972 

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Esoteric Recordings have come up trumps with this delightful career-spanning retrospective of English band Help Yourself. Featuring tracks from all four of the group’s studio albums issued during the band’s short lifespan, plus singles and rare live cuts, Reaffirmation does just that, reminding me of just how polished this band of charmingly stoned hippies actually were. 

Help Yourself formed in 1970, and although they hailed from London physically, their musical souls were firmly rooted in Laurel Canyon. Leader Malcolm Morley’s finely crafted songs predated the current Americana fixation by over 40 years, and at the time Help Yourself remained a well-kept and low selling secret. From early in the band’s existence a close relationship was forged with United Artist label mates Man, the two bands frequently playing gigs and tours together, and later swapping band members in a manner that would delight Pete Frame. 

Rolling Stone, upon hearing Help Yourself’s self-titled first album in spring 1971 stated that singer Malcolm Morley “sounds more like Neil Young than Neil Young does”. Oddly, the song from that LP that sounds most like the famous Canadian is titled Old Man, and although it is a different song it is very similar in pace, tone, and sentiment to the far more well-known Harvest tune of the same name, the only thing giving it a distinctive edge being some Grateful Dead-like acidic lead runs from Richard Treece. However, as the Help’s Old Man was recorded before Young’s version by at least a month, probably longer, one can only assume it is nothing more than a coincidence arising from the Help’s obsession with the West Coast sound in general, and on this song, Buffalo Springfield in particular. 

Reaffirmation contains six tracks apiece from the first two LPs, with second album Strange Affair, released in 1972 seeing an enforced change of personnel. Bassist Ken Whaley was ousted by the management who considered that the group’s communal idyllic stoned existence at Headley Grange, recently vacated by Led Zeppelin, was not exactly conducive to the work ethic. Whaley himself described the band as living in “drugged out bliss” – hippies, eh? Doncha just love ‘em? By sacking Whaley, they hoped it would give the rest of the Helps a much needed kick up the collective backside. Richard Treece took up the bass, and Ernie Graham (ex-Eire Apparent) and JoJo Glemser were drafted in. 

Around the time leading up to Strange Affair Malcolm Morley, who was suffering from undiagnosed depression, took more of a back seat with front man duties falling to Graham. That and the initial absence of the spidery acidic wanderings of Treece’s guitar makes Strange Affair take more of a country rock route, with big nods to Poco and America, especially on Brown Lady. The newly arrived duo of Graham and Glemser had no sooner plugged in than they were off again, leaving during the recording of Strange Affair. Treece returned to the lead guitar with Paul Burton filling the bass position. Blimey, this lot have more comings and goings than Chelsea football club! 

As well as the country rock, Burton’s R&B style seeps through on funky proto-pubrock numbers Heaven Row, a particularly classy number, and the title track. The pubrock connection also arises with the long workout The All Electric Fur Trapper which was based on a story by roadie Sean Tyla, later to lead his own barrelhouse rabble-rousers Ducks Deluxe. However, there is no pubrock connection musically on this song, as the nine minute-plus mini epic is a psychedelic paen to Quicksilver Messenger Service, and quite wonderful it is, too. Many Ways Of Meeting and Deanna Call And Scotty show an identifiable Help Yourself style emerging from the Americana roots, the latter being a piano-led ballad that sounds like the kind of classy pop song of the time that Clifford T. Ward would have been proud of. 

Malcom’s continued battle with depression is reflected in the title of third album Beware The Shadow, released in late 1972. At various points between the release of Strange Affair and Beware The Shadow either Deke Leonard, then on one of his sabbaticals from Man, or Sean Tyla were drafted in as replacements for Morley while he battled with his demons, the latter flitting between the status of roadie and front man on the whim of Morley, depending on his state of mental health – it can’t have been easy for either of them. 

The Helps establish their own sound on Beware The Shadow with an effortless laid back funk that stands as a British parallel to Little Feat. The title track to this compilation starts out as a blissed out keyboard-led stroll through a leafy glade, with Paul Burton’s heavily reverbed bass adding an extra layer of groove. The tune then changes tack to a trademark solo from Treece, and then into an extended funk-lite workout. One can see how easily this would fit into Man’s repertoire when Morley and Ken Whaley both joined that band after the demise of the Helps in 1973. Passing Through, the concluding track on CD1 is a quite lovely and highly accomplished acoustic ballad, showing how the band were developing at a pace. 

The second CD is a less consistent affair, the album cuts being broken up by a novelty Xmas single and ending with an extended live wigout, but it is no less fun for all that. Opening with another of Morley’s superior pop songs, the straight love song She’s My Girl underlines the fact that Beware The Shadow, despite the sad subject of its gloomy title is by far the band’s best and most enjoyable album. 

The supremely daft 1972 Xmas single, Mommy Won’t Be Home For Christmas, penned by Neil Innes and Roger McGough is an amusing, if jarring interlude, and after a refreshingly different live barroom take on Johnny B.Goode, we venture on to the fourth album. The Return Of Ken Whaley was released in 1973, which as the title suggests sees the original bass player rejoining the fold. A return to communal living, this time in Finchley, north London leads to a looser and slightly less coherent recorded statement. However, with the exception of It Has To Be the album is surprisingly tight, with a continuation of the Anglicisation (is that a word?) of their sound. On Candy Kane, Morley’s nasal whine sounds not a million miles from John Lennon. From Buffalo Springfield to The Beatles in four albums, the Helps were coming home! 

The aforementioned It Has To Be was an extended jam under the influence of an acid trip, with drummer Dave Charles adding spontaneous synthesiser. As jams go it’s ok, but I’ve heard better, not least from their mates Man. Speaking of whom, The Return… contains Man, We’re Glad To Know You, a musical thank you to their musical colleagues and mutual support network…ah, bless. The convergence with the Welsh wizards continues with Blown Away, which could easily have been a track on a Man album of the time. 

Released as a free bonus LP with The Return… was Happy Days, a document of the live show toured earlier in the year. There are two tracks from it, Virginia and I’ve Got Beautiful You. The former returns to the Helps’ west coast fixation, and the second is a quaint rock’n’roll and West Coast mix. 

The album ends with Eddie Waring, taken from the limited edition 10-inch double album Christmas At The Patti, also now available on Esoteric Recordings. Curated by Man this was the live document of Man’s 1972 Xmas party with various musical friends held in their home town of Swansea. Here, the Helps are augmented by Man’s Deke Leonard (now back in the fold), who wrote the tune, which is little more than a jam in the classic Man tradition. Leonard used to give his works-in-progress working titles after British TV presenters, hence the odd track title. Also appearing is a certain BJ Cole, then of Cochise, but now long-renowned as the go-to man of choice if you want some pedal steel on your album. 

The band split in the summer of 1973 during sessions for a fifth album as the mounting pressures on Morley to continually come up with the goods began to take its toll. The fifth album was eventually completed and released as “5” in 2002, on the Hux label. It is actually rather good, and if you like what you hear on this collection you should certainly check it out. Sadly Ken Whaley passed away last year, but Malcolm Morley remains active, and info can be found on his website (see link below). 

To conclude, Reaffirmation is a classy summation of a band that are something of a lost treasure. If you have never heard of Help Yourself and you are partial to West Coast sounds and the free spirit of 70s rock music, then do please help yourself to this charming compilation……………. 

TRACK LISTING 
CD 1: 
01. Running Down Deep (3:38) 
02. I Must See Jesus For Myself (4:02) 
03. Paper Leaves (3:05) 
04. Old Man (6:40) 
05. Deborah (3:25) 
06. Street Songs (5:34) 
07. Strange Affair (3:25) 
08. Brown Lady (4:46) 
09. Heaven Row (4:17) 
10. The All Electric Fur Trapper (9:32) 
11. Many Ways Of Meeting (3:54) 
12. Deanna Call And Scotty (3:48) 
13. Alabama Lady (4:05) 
14. Reaffirmation (12:37) 
15. Passing Through (4:34) 

Total Time – 77:30 

CD 2: 
01. She’s My Girl (3:34) 
02. American Mother (7:47) 
03. Mommy Won’t Be Home For Christmas (3:24) 
04. Johnny B. Goode (3:36) 
05. Candy Kane (4:15) 
06. Who Killed Paradise? (3:44) 
07. It Has To Be (12:20) 
08. Man, We’re Glad To Know You (3:23) 
09. Blown Away (4:24) 
10. Virginia (3:43) 
11. I’ve Got Beautiful You (4:52) 
12. Eddie Waring (14:04) 

Total Time – 69:14 

MUSICIANS 
Malcolm Morley – Keyboards, Guitar & Vocals 
Richard Treece – Guitar, Vocals & Bass 
Ken Whaley – bass 
Dave Charles – drums, percussion, Vocals & Synthesiser 
Ernie Graham – Guitars & Vocals 
Paul Burton – Bass, Guitar & Vocals 
JoJo Glemser – Guitar 
Martin Ace – Guitar, Bass & Vocals 
~ with: 
Neil Innes, Paul Jones, Lucinda Burn-Forti (CD2 track 3) 
Sean Tyla (CD2 track 4) 
Vivian Morris – vocals (CD2 track 10) 
~ On Eddie Waring: 
Deke Leonard – Vocals & Guitar 
BJ Cole – Pedal Steel Guitar 

Help Yourself “The Return Of Ken Whaley Happy Days” 1973 

Line-up / Musicians 
- Help Yourself / main performer 
- Ken Whaley / bass 
- Malcolm Morley / guitar, vocals 
- Richard Treece / guitar, vocals 
- Dave Charles / drums, vocals 
- Paul Burton / bass, guitar 
- Anton Matthews / engineer 
- David Charles / producer 
- Dave Grinsted / engineer 


Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Candy Kane (4:13) 
2. Pioneers of the West in the Head (3:21) 
3. Who Killed Paradise (3:42) 
4. Amy (4:20) 
5. Blown Away (4:24) 
6. Man Were Glad to Know You (3:21) 
7. It Has to Be (12:18) 
8. The Golden Handshake (6:26) 

Help Yourself “Five”(1973-2003 Recording) (2004) Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2004 

Line-up / Musicians 
- Malcolm Morley / guitar, vocals 
- Richard Treece / guitar, vocals 
- Dave Charles / drums, vocals 
- Paul Burton / bass, guitar 
- Ken Whaley / bass 

Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Light Your Way 
2. Cowboy Song 
3. Monkey Wrench 
4. Romance in a Tin 
5. Grace 
6. Martha 
7. Monkey Wrench (Reprise) 
8. The Rock 
9. Willow 
10. Alley Cat 
11. Duneburgers 

A progressive outfit, formed in 1969 and who also have one track, Street Songs, on the All Good Clean Fun compilation and two live tracks, Eddie Waring and Mona, on Christmas At The Patti. 
Their first album is rather mainstream progressive rock meets pub rock, despite some excellent songs written by Malcolm Morley including the excellent Deborah. Most of the musicianship on the album is raw and derivative (with exception of Richard Treece’s guitar) and consequently the punters weren’t at all interested. After its release, Whaley departed for Ducks Deluxe and was replaced by Paul Burton. 
Strange Affair exhibited a strong US West Coast influence with greater musical improvisation and some fine moments like American Woman. Beware Of The Shadow continued in much the same vein. 
Listen out for their magnum opus, Reaffirmation, on this one. 
Ken Whaley rejoined the band in 1973, hence the title of their final album. 
After their demise, Malcolm Morley had a spell with Man (and Ken Whaley later joined him there). The rest of the band joined Deke Leonard’s Iceberg, and Treece was later in The Flying Aces. 
(Vernon Joynson / Max Waller / Dennis A. Riley) 

ALBUMS: 
1(A) HELP YOURSELF (Liberty LBS 83484) 1971 R1 
2(B) STRANGE AFFAIR (United Artists UAS 29287) 1972 SC 
3(B) BEWARE OF THE SHADOW (United Artists UAS 29413) 1972 SC 
4© RETURN OF KEN WHALEY (United Artists UAS 29487) 1973 
5© HAPPY DAYS (United Artists UA FREE 1) 1973 
6© RETURN OF KEN WHALEY/HAPPY DAYS (United Artists UDG 4001) 1973 
NB: (1) Reissued on Beat Goes On (BGOLP 52) 1990. (4) and (5) available separately and as a double album, (6). 

45s: 
1 Running Down Deep/Paper Leaves (Liberty LBF 15459) 1971 
2 Heaven Row/Brown Lady (United Artists UP 35355) 1972 
3 Mommy Won’t Be Home For Christmas/Johnny B. Goode (United Artists UP 35466) 1972  

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..