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28 Jun 2017

I Drive “I Drive” 1972 Uk heavy Prog

I Drive “I Drive” 1972 ultra rare Uk heavy Prog band but released in Germany Metronome Records


Once upon a time, in a distant realm where there are more bands than people, one called "Some Other Guys," whose lead singer was Geff Harrison. This band traveled to Germany because the Beatles proved that things were happening in Germany. On the way back, their van broke and they had to spend some time in Germany. And they were staying. Nessa, were quite successful, especially in cities where there were American bases, and recorded some singles. It was then that they decided to change the name to "I Drive". See that everything is due to that van. There, Geff Harrison, who was the only one with a license to drive, decided to go home and join the Beggars Opera. Fearless of traffic blitz, the guys continued as a quartet and met the producer who was careful about the first Beatles singles. Thus was born the first LP in 1972. It has a clear influence of Deep Purple and even the tuning of the organ resembles that of Jon Lord. Harrison came back and toured extensively with them until he left to form Twenty Sixty Six. That van was abandoned in Munich...................

They came from Manchester in 1966 and were one of the last British bands to enter Germany on the Star Club trail. Fronted by singer Geff Harrison of later 2066 & Then and Kin Ping Meh fame, I Drive toured Germany up and down for four years. Playing the live clubs night by night from eight to three, they did the rock loud, fast, straight and - although having been in Germany for such a long time - very British.

In the late Sixties the German club scene died and so did live music, only a few chains associated venues survived; one of them in the deep South of Germany booked I Drive for a several-month-club-tour. They settled down and rented a small house in the country for loving and rehearsing, right in the middle of nowhere. From now on a strong folloging of fans even accompanied them on tours. A single was released in 1969 and sold at gigs: It showd that the former “beatgroup” had grown up the hard way to be a great heavy progressive outfit with the ability to make it on a bigger market. Geff Harrison left in 1970 to start his own career. And the remaining quartet finally was discovered by a British manager, who had once worked for the Beatles. He installed the band in Munich, they earned their living as studion musicians and collected material for an album. I Drive was off the road from then on, only playing open air gigs from time to time. More than 30 tracks were recorded for the LP. One of those songs that didn’t make it for release was an alternative version of “Before the devil”, where tha band played with the Munich Philharmonica Orchestra. When the masters were finally ready, the group did, what they weren’t allowed to during the recording sessions: a live performance of the whole LP material in the studio. This live gig was recorded too and also vanished from the archives just as the non LP tracks. When the album was released in 1972 by a German major company I Drive had to realize that just a few copies had been pressed and distributed. There was no promotion at all from the company for reasons beyond the field of music and the control of the band.

Nevertheless the LP is a heavy and “speedy progressive” jewel with wonderful tunes that still shines on after twenty years and tells a lot about the group’s live sound and power. I Drive couldn’t stand the disappointment about the commercial failure of the LP and broke up shortly after the album release. There only was a small epilogue of the I Drive story: after a short-termed return of Geff Harrison a three piece incarnation of I Drive toured Spain, releasing on single there before dying finally..
This band is very obviously influenced heavily by Deep Purple, particularly from the “Deep Purple in Rock” era. The organ player copies Jon Lord’s EXACT tones, and the guitarist uses Ritchie Blackmore’s loud, heavy style. Unfortunately, the guitar isn’t as dominant in this band as it is in Deep Purple, so the organ player ends up with all the attention. The best/heaviest songs are the ones with the loudest guitar riffs, namely “Down, Down, Down”, “Looking Out My Window”, and “Before the Devil” (coincidentally all on side A). But if you’re a Jon Lord fan, I think you’ll love this album.

The bonus tracks consist mostly of very poor demo tracks with very few memorable moments, one of which is a painfully short, yet infinitely familiar bolero near the end of “everything in vain” (I can’t figure it out, but I’m leaning towards Deep Purple’s “April”). The single from 1969 stands out from the rest of this album, because you can hear what they sounded like before they began worshipping Deep Purple. Even back then, their sound wasn’t original in the slightest. It’s a psychedelic cover of the Beatles classic “Eleanor Rigby”, but mixed with classical influences (especially Beethoven) in a very experimental way. This may sound like an original idea to some, but this also happens to be the same exact theme used by Vanilla Fudge from their 1968 album “The Beat Goes On” back when they were still essentially a Beatles cover band…..
This is a very spotty album that contains some really good early 70's heavy rock songs that are vaguely similar to Deep Purple, and some pretty bad, mainly boogie songs, that some of the other reviewers rightfully call "trite". The singing is entirely in English, and the vocals are quite good actually, without the heavy German accent that some other German bands had problems with when they sang in English. Another reviewer also pointed out that the organ tone is exactly like Jon Lord's, and I have to second that. It's like this guy must have studied and studied Lord's organ tone and copied it exactly. I actually think that the organ is the only thing here that really sounds like Deep Purple.

This could have been a real classic from the early 70's German heavy rock/prog scene if they had just cut out the bad songs and put all of the good songs on just one disc, instead of releasing a double album. I would say that the good song/bad song ratio is about 50/50. It would not have hurt for them to have used a little cooler album cover art either. This cover reminds me of the late 60's beat scene more than a heavy rock band from the early 70's. Last but not least, there is this stupid little robotic voice that repeats over and over different instructions throughout on what to do to listen to the album, like telling you two or three times at the very beginning that the album must be listened to loud (how original). I found this to be quite annoying.

Concerning the CD issue, I have to point out that all Second Battle had to do was to eliminate the shorter of the two crappy-sounding bonus tracks, and they could have fit this whole thing on just one disc instead of releasing a double CD. Makes you wonder..... by....thirstymoon ..................

Tracks with bonus….
01. Down, Down, Down
02. Oo, Bopajero
03. Looking Out My Window
04. Mary A Musician
05. Before The Devil – Christine

06. Only The Lonely
07. What A Pity
08. Just A Little Bit
09. Be The One
10. Brave New World

11. I Need A Friend
12. Classic Rigby
13. When Evening Comes
14. It Ain’t So Bad

15. Looking Out My Window
16. Everything In Vain
17. Happy Days
18. Turmoil
19. Before The Devil01. Classic Rigby Part 1
02. Classic Rigby Part 2  

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





Cassete Deck

Cassete Deck