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28 Jul 2017

B.B. Blunder ( Blossom Toes) "Workers’ Playtime" 1971 UK Psych Pop,Prog Rock


B.B. Blunder ( Blossom Toes) "Workers’ Playtime" 1971 UK Psych Pop,Prog Rock

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Often regarded as Blossom Toes 3rd LP, this is the most underrated album of the early 70ties (1971). So, it was not really a surprise, that the first re-release of the album on Vinyl (on Decal) in 1989 was credited to Blossom Toes 70. 
Brian Godding, Brian Belshaw and Kevin Westlake showed again their great talent to create songs beside the mainstream but always melodious and with clever lyrics. Great guitar work by Brian Godding and impressive vocals dominate the music. A lot of guest musicians supported the band, among others: Julie Driscoll, Mick Taylor. Released for the first time on CD, the album was digitally remastered and shows a brilliant sound. It also comes with comprehensive booklet including full band story, lyrics and photos never seen before. 2 Bonustracks. Absolutely recommended!...



When the original Blossom Toes split at the end of 1969. Jim Cregan went off to Italy to live with Shawn Phillips (he subsequently joined Stud, Family, Cockney Rebel and Rod Stewart) and drummer Barry Reeves went off to Germany and joined the James Last Orchestra (with whom he still plays). The last thing the band did together was to play on Julie Driscoll’s solo album “69” (polydor 2383077) after which Julie suggested that she’d like to join the band. This wasn’t really a surprise, she was (and is) Brian Godding’s sister-in-law – Brian having met and married Angie Driscoll several years previously – and was therefore “family”. Unfortunately there was no real band for her to join. However, the two Brians enlisted ex-Animals drummer Barry Jenkins (who was an old friend) and did a few low key gigs with Julie. The most publicised of these was a special “Implosion” gig at the Roundhouse, part organised by another old friend, Peter Swales. Swales had worked for the Rolling Stones, but had latterly been managing a Leicester group Gypsy (formerly Legay) and had acquired financing to set up three companies, Sahara Music (publishing), Sahara Records (recording) and Sahara Management – primarily to handle Gypsy. However with the collapse of Marmalade and Paragon and the break-up of the Blossom Toes, he decided to divert some of the money in other directions. 
The highlight of the Roundhouse gig was a version of Brian Godding’s anthem – “New Day” on which the band were backed by a huge choir, made up primarily of school kids, that Swales had put together. “New Day” was a song that the Blossom Toes had recorded – more than once. It very nearly became their last single, in October 1969, and got as far as a test pressing and the allocation of a number (Marmalade 598 022).The band felt that it could have been better and – as far as anyone knows – it was never released. Shortly after the gig and under the auspices of Sahara, the band went into Advision studios and recut “New Day”, with guest musicians Mick Taylor and Brian Auger, plus a cast of thousands (who are listed elsewhere) known as the “Combined Network Forces Choir!” 
Peter Swales was under the impression (which he still believes to be true) that this was the first session of what would have led eventually to a Brian Godding solo album. Brian however is quite fervent that this was not the case and that it (and any subsequent recordings) were band efforts – whoever happened to be in it – and in any case he never, ever wanted to do a solo album. In any event by the time they went into the studio again (around late March) Barry Jenkins had dropped out. They therefore needed a drummer, so they roped old mate Kevin Westlake, at which point the band essentially became Blossom Toes Mk II. (with, for the time being, Julie as “extra” member). 
Kevin, of course had never really lost touch with the Brian’s. After leaving the Blossom Toes at the end of ’67, he continued to live for some time in the communal house in Holmead Road. He had virtually given up the drums and was now concentrating on acoustic guitar, singing and song writing. Early in ’68 he teamed up with Gary Farr, to make a “pop” single. It came out on Marmalade around March ’68 and very good it was too. Gary’s side was “Green” and Kevin’s was “Everyday”, but instead for using their own names, Marmalade called them “The Lion and the Fish” (an astrological reference, which wasn’t even correct in terms of their own signs). The record flopped and is now very rare. The duo did do a few gigs, including one in the south of France that was broadcast over Europe I. The gig was somewhat ruined by Giorgio, pissed out of his head, dressed in a sheet, jumping up and down shouting, “Green”, I want to hear “Green” during the middle of the number. The next day they met Giorgio on the beach at Cannes, and Gary poured beer all over him. They were sacked and had to head back to London with no money. 
On another trip to Cannes (possibly the same one?) Kevin and Gary acted as roadies to their heroes, Capt. Beefheart and The Magic Band. The Magic Band had flown over with no equipment, but turned up at the Midem festival (enroute to a proper gig presumably) for When the original Blossom Toes split at the end of 1969. Jim Cregan went off to Italy to live with Shawn Phillips (he subsequently joined Stud, Family, Cockney Rebel and Rod Stewart) and drummer Barry Reeves went off to Germany and joined the James Last Orchestra (with whom he still plays). The last thing the band did together was to play on Julie Driscoll’s solo album “69” (polydor 2383077) after which Julie suggested that she’d like to join the band. This wasn’t really a surprise, she was (and is) Brian Godding’s sister-in-law – Brian having met and married Angie Driscoll several years previously – and was therefore “family”. Unfortunately there was no real band for her to join. However, the two Brians enlisted ex-Animals drummer Barry Jenkins (who was an old friend) and did a few low key gigs with Julie. The most publicised of these was a special “Implosion” gig at the Roundhouse, part organised by another old friend, Peter Swales. Swales had worked for the Rolling Stones, but had latterly been managing a Leicester group Gypsy (formerly Legay) and had acquired financing to set up three companies, Sahara Music (publishing), Sahara Records (recording) and Sahara Management – primarily to handle Gypsy. However with the collapse of Marmalade and Paragon and the break-up of the Blossom Toes, he decided to divert some of the money in other directions. 
The highlight of the Roundhouse gig was a version of Brian Godding’s anthem – “New Day” on which the band were backed by a huge choir, made up primarily of school kids, that Swales had put together. “New Day” was a song that the Blossom Toes had recorded – more than once. It very nearly became their last single, in October 1969, and got as far as a test pressing and the allocation of a number (Marmalade 598 022).The band felt that it could have been better and – as far as anyone knows – it was never released. Shortly after the gig and under the auspices of Sahara, the band went into Advision studios and recut “New Day”, with guest musicians Mick Taylor and Brian Auger, plus a cast of thousands (who are listed elsewhere) known as the “Combined Network Forces Choir!” 
Peter Swales was under the impression (which he still believes to be true) that this was the first session of what would have led eventually to a Brian Godding solo album. Brian however is quite fervent that this was not the case and that it (and any subsequent recordings) were band efforts – whoever happened to be in it – and in any case he never, ever wanted to do a solo album. In any event by the time they went into the studio again (around late March) Barry Jenkins had dropped out. They therefore needed a drummer, so they roped old mate Kevin Westlake, at which point the band essentially became Blossom Toes Mk II. (with, for the time being, Julie as “extra” member). 
Kevin, of course had never really lost touch with the Brian’s. After leaving the Blossom Toes at the end of ’67, he continued to live for some time in the communal house in Holmead Road. He had virtually given up the drums and was now concentrating on acoustic guitar, singing and song writing. Early in ’68 he teamed up with Gary Farr, to make a “pop” single. It came out on Marmalade around March ’68 and very good it was too. Gary’s side was “Green” and Kevin’s was “Everyday”, but instead for using their own names, Marmalade called them “The Lion and the Fish” (an astrological reference, which wasn’t even correct in terms of their own signs). The record flopped and is now very rare. The duo did do a few gigs, including one in the south of France that was broadcast over Europe I. The gig was somewhat ruined by Giorgio, pissed out of his head, dressed in a sheet, jumping up and down shouting, “Green”, I want to hear “Green” during the middle of the number. The next day they met Giorgio on the beach at Cannes, and Gary poured beer all over him. They were sacked and had to head back to London with no money. 
On another trip to Cannes (possibly the same one?) Kevin and Gary acted as roadies to their heroes, Capt. Beefheart and The Magic Band. The Magic Band had flown over with no equipment, but turned up at the Midem festival (enroute to a proper gig presumably) for some record company publicity. The Blossom Toes were also playing in town, so The Magic Band borrowed their equipment and Kevin and Gary set up the gear on the beach. This accounts for the photo of the band that appeared on the French version of ‘Safe As Milk’ (and latterly an UK re-issue). The band played a full set and were magnificent, according to Kevin. 
Towards the end of ’68, Kevin got to know the sister of one of Blue Cheer’s managers and was invited to the States to help them write songs. He ended up going on a cross-country tour with them, about which there are a great many stories, mostly unprintable. He did, how-ever, sit in with them on several occasions. This happened when Paul Whaley (their then current drummer) “couldn’t be found”, although he was usually known to have been in the building somewhere. Whilst on the tour Kevin got to know Leigh Stephens and somewhat later he played on Stephens “Red Weather” album, recorded over here. He regards it as a pretty dreadful record, “but at least I got paid for it”. 
By the beginning of 1970 Kevin wasn’t doing a great deal in music, although he still did the occasional gig with Gary Farr – in fact they played on the Implosion gig and both were part of the “Combined Network Forces Choir’ on “New Day”. He was however, happy to get back in the drum seat and the quartet entered Olympic studios. The first sessions produced the magnificent “Rise” and “Seed” and it was obvious to all concerned that whatever the original plan had been, this was an actual band. The sessions went really smoothy, the rapport between the musicians was instant and the whole thing was exciting and dynamic. Apart from anything else they show how far Godding had progressed as a guitarist and demons-trate his growing interest in the sounds that could be obtained from the guitar, as well as just simply playing it. The only problem, according to Brian, was the Olympic had just installed an “early” Dolby machine studio, which no one really knew how to operate. He would listen to the playback and say, “where’s the top end, the treble?” and the engineer would say, “It’s there, but you just think you can’t hear it because the Dolby cut out all the hiss’. In fact it had cut out a lot of the top notes. It seems that the “in” and the “out” in the Dolby had to be lined up (or something like that) in order for it to work properly. 
There was no more time at Olympic for a while so they all moved over to Island studios, recording mainly Kevin’s songs. Unfortunately something had gone temportarily askew and nobody liked the results. So it was back to Olympic, in the early summer, where “Lost Horizons” and “Research” were cut totally spontaneously – allegedly as background music for an avant-garde French movie that never got made (this may or may not be true). Either way it put them back on course and over the next couple of months or so the remainder of the album was recorded. 

Notable amongst the other tracks is the neo-funky “Sticky Living” which features brass by Nick Evans and Marc Charig, both of whom were part of the contemporary jazz scene that Brian Godding was moving towards, via his involvement with Keith Tippett (which was happening around this time) and ultimately Mike Westbrook, with whom he still plays. 
An edited and remixed version of “Sticky Living” was issued as a single (probably in Germany only – U.A. 35203B) with Kevin’s raucous “Irish Sex Thriller”, “Rocky Yagbag” on the b side (called for some reason “Rocky Yagbatee Yagbag” on the record). After the record was finished the two Brians and Kevin moved into a cottage in Pembrokeshire – for two weeks almost non-stop jamming. After which they came back to London and recorded a couple more of Brian Godding’s songs (probably “Backstreet” and “Ever Since A Memory”) but these remain unissued.

The album came out in early 1971, under the title “Workers’ Playtime” in a sleeve designed (amongst other things) to look like a copy of the Radio Times, with the songs and lyrics printed-out in the gatefold – to resemble the programme schedules. The idea seemed pretty funny at the time (especially the band on the cover in boiler suits, bus uniforms etc.) but today has lost some of its charm. Also who now remembers the radio programme “Workers’ Playtime”? The name B. B. Blunder was hardly a killer either. It arose during the less than successful month at Island, when engineer Chris Kimsey scribbled on a tape-box - containing less than wonderful tapes – “B. B. (ie Brian & Brian) Blunder” (ie screw-up). Great. The point is that the name and package bear so little relation to the music inside that most people ignored the album. Also, it has to be said, that like the second Blossom Toes album, it came out at a time when such music was unfashionable. Rock fans at the time were into Yes, ELO and Alice Cooper. In fact overall the music is really a continuation of the second Blossom Toes album. A little funkier in parts, a bit jazzy in places and – dare one say it – a bit more sophisticated, but undeniably melodic. Once again it failed to set the charts alight, which is a pity because it really was one of the best albums of the early 70’s. By general consent and agreement the “Blunder” name has been dropped for the re-issue, in favour of what it really was – a second version of Blossom Toes. 
Anyway around the time the album was released it was decided to put the band on the road. Julie had sort of faded out of the picture and Brian Godding didn’t really want to be the lead singer. They thus brought in another old mate. Reg King – late of the Action and possessor of one of great rock voices. They had known Reg since the Holmead Road days, when the Action resided around the corner in Lotts Road. They kept in touch and Reg became one of the people to come under Sahara’s wing. In 1970, around the time the Blunder album was being recorded, Reg cut a solo album (“Reg King” U. A. USA 29157) on which Kevin and the two Brians guested. The two tracks on which they play, “Little Boy” and “10,000 Miles” were later released as a single under the name “Reg King and B. B. Blunder”. (U. A. UP 35204). Certain parties swear blind that the single tracks are later versions, but to my ears they sound like the album cuts, but with a new and considerably improved mix. In fact if there is one problem with the album – which is musically excellent – it’s that overall the mix is pretty dire. 
As well as Reg, the band also recruited keyboard player Nick Judd and performed their first live gig in the early summer of 1971, at the Country Club in Hampstead. Unfortunately Reggie’s behaviour on the gig was erratic to say the least, so much so that Kevin (one feels with a certain justification) quit that night. Subsequently he moved back to Wales and started playing solo acoustic gigs around the pubs. In due course he and Ronnie Lane put together the Slim Chance band, which was pretty successful and even led to Kevin doing Top Of The Pops. After a year or so the original line-up broke up and Kevin has been out of music more or less ever since. 
Blunder carried on, replacing Kevin with Chris Hunt, who had been in Thunderclap Newman’s band. They also fancied a second guitarist and rehearsed with several players, but in the end the only one who played on stage with them was Bam King, who like Reg had been in the Action, plus its successor, the magnificent Mighty Baby. Sadly with the album a commercial failure (relatively) the Blunder were almost doomed to failure. The new line-up gigged until about the end of the year but they were all broke (again) and no more money could be found to support the thing. Unlike the original Blossom Toes, where a conscious decision was made to end the band, B. B. Blunder essentially just collapsed. 
After the split Brian Belshaw spent some time in the second incarnation of Ronnie Lane’s band, after which he dropped out of fulltime music – he went back to Soho to run his family’s fruit and veg. empire. He continued to play on and off but finally knocked it on the head (for the time being anyway) in 1979. Brian Godding, however, has remained in music all the way through, playing mainly with Mike Westbrook’s multi-various jazz projects. At other time he has toured extensively with Kevin Coyne (with whom he also recorded) and Eric Burdon. 
Some people might argue that the whole Blossom Toes/Blunder saga is no more than a footnote in rock history. This may in some sense be true, but any band that produced music as adventurous and challenging as they did, deserved a far better fate than it received at the time. If you missed out then – shame on you. But a least you can listen to the records. ...by..John Platt.....




B.B. Blunder's story is a most confusing one for such a short-lived and little-known band. The group was essentially an offshoot of the Blossom Toes, one of the best underground British rock acts of the '60s, noted for both their droll psychedelic pop and a heavier, dual-lead guitar-oriented sound. 

When the Blossom Toes broke up at the end of the '60s, guitarist Brian Godding and bassist Brian Belshaw continued to play together, sometimes in association with singer (and Godding's sister-in-law) Julie Driscoll. Eventually, Kevin Westlake, who had drummed on the Blossom Toes' first LP, joined them, and the trio recorded an album, with Driscoll helping out on vocals. 

Although the group could have just as well been called Blossom Toes as B.B. Blunder, their sound was in fact significantly different than what they'd played on the Toes' albums. The songwriting was, well, loose, and unfocused. The record's principal attractions are the multi-layered guitars, which have a certain just-post-Abbey Road charm, with lengthy electric-acoustic passages bordering on jams. 

After it was issued as Workers Playtime in 1971, Reg King (formerly of mid-'60s cult mod band the Action) joined the group for live work. The enterprise was basically a non-starter, though. Westlake soon quit, new members joined (including Reg King's brother and fellow Action veteran Bam King), and the group fell apart by the end of 1971. 

To add to the confusion surrounding this none-too-tight aggregation, in 1989, their sole album was reissued under the title New Day by Decal, who attributed the recording to "Blossom Toes '70 (formerly B.B. Blunder)." This is why this none-too-interesting one-shot record also shows up in the Blossom Toes discography. ........by Richie Unterberger.



In the mid-to-late 1960s, during the height of the mania stemming from the British Invasion, the UK was teeming with psychedelic rock bands of all shapes and sizes, many of whom enjoyed the din of obscurity beneath the gargantuan shadows of such titans as the Who, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Pink Floyd and, of course, the Beatles. Among those bands was Blossom Toes, an acid-pop group signed to famed English rock impresario and Yardbirds/Soft Machine manager Gorgio Gomelsky’s Marmalade Records label. The band did not receive the commercial success enjoyed by their peers in the British Invasion, but released two albums to massive critical acclaim and counted Frank Zappa, with whom the group once jammed (as documented on the recently released double-live compilation Love Bomb: Live 1967-69), amongst their fans. 

In December of 1969, Blossom Toes were on their way back from a gig when they suffered a terrible auto accident that didn’t kill anyone in the band, but left the lads shaken up enough to decide to dissolve their union shortly thereafter. While guitarist Jim Cregan went on to join the equally underappreciated UK group Family (who also counted Blind Faith’s Ric Grech amongst its ranks), second Blossom git “Little” Brian Godding and bassist “Big” Brian Belshaw still remained tight, temporarily backing up UK folk chanteuse Julie Driscoll for her 1970 tour. The duo continued to casually jam together after the Driscoll gigs, eventually bringing former Toes drummer Kevin Westlake back into the mix. They rechristened themselves B.B. Blunder, picked up on the heavier, more California-inspired sound the Toes left off on with their 1969 swan song, If Only for a Moment, and took it to new creative heights on their single album, 1971’s Worker’s Playtime. 

Recorded at Olympic Studios at the same time that the Stones were laying down Sticky Fingers (Godding claims that Mick Jagger even lent the band a right-handed guitar for the album sessions), Playtime was looser and more AOR-oriented than the Blossom Toes material, featuring guest spots from the likes of Driscoll, electric piano guru Brian Auger, and Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. The songs B.B. Blunder were creating signified a sonic evolution similar to that of the way the Faces emerged from the Small Faces, or the Pretty Things circa Freeway Madness, with one foot in their British rock roots and the other pointing towards the sounds of the Los Angeles canyons, resulting in a warm, freewheeling sound effectively symbolic of the times while signifying something more progressive altogether. At the same time, songs like “Research”, “Seed”, and “Rise” were quintessential ‘71, and would certainly not sound out of place during a WNEW rock block alongside Bowie’s “Queen Bitch” and “Under My Wheels” by Alice Cooper. 

In continuation of their reissue campaign focusing on the Blossom Toes catalog, it is only right and natural that Sunbeam Records gives Worker’s Playtime a long overdue makeover. The 2009 version of Worker’s Playtime is a vast upgrade to the tepid 1989 reissue on the Decal label, which retitled the album New Day after one of its key tracks (and one which features slide guitar from Mick Taylor, according to Godding) and rechristened the group Blossom Toes ’70 with the disclaimer “formerly B.B. Blunder” in parentheses. In addition to restoring the album’s original artwork, which parodied the BBC listings guide Radio Times, and accompanying it with assorted visual empherea from the time and newly penned liner notes from Godding and London writer Richard Morton Jack, this updated Playtime also features a killer bonus disc of previously unreleased material. And to be honest with you, the rarities are, quite arguably, much better than what was cleared for the official release. This is particularly true of the bundle of acoustic-based tracks, notably the Roy Harper-esque “When I Was in the Country” and a drastic acid-folk retooling of the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night”, not to mention the kaleidoscopic, eight-minute electric instrumental jam “Earache” and the Grateful Dead-cum-Grand Funk inspired earth shaker “Waltz”. 

Though B.B. Blunder were over before they could begin, breaking up only a year after forming, this singular gem of an album they left in its wake remains one of the great buried treasures of this most robust and creative time for progressive rock music. And thanks to this most definitive version courtesy of Sunbeam, now is a better time than any to discover Worker’s Playtime. For further research on this closet classic, check out this great interview with Brian Godding conducted by Bill Whitten and James Beaudreau of the New York City rock band Grand Mal on the New York Night Train Web site. ....by Ron Har......... 

B.B. Blunder's story is a most confusing one for such a short-lived and little-known band. The group was essentially an offshoot of the Blossom Toes, one of the best underground British rock acts of the '60s, noted for both their droll psychedelic pop and a heavier, dual-lead guitar-oriented sound. When the Blossom Toes broke up at the end of the '60s, guitarist Brian Godding and bassist Brian Belshaw continued to play together, sometimes in association with singer (and Godding's sister-in-law) Julie Driscoll. Eventually, Kevin Westlake, who had drummed on the Blossom Toes' first LP, joined them, and the trio recorded an album, with Driscoll helping out on vocals. 

Although the group could have just as well been called Blossom Toes as B.B. Blunder, their sound was in fact significantly different than what they'd played on the Toes' albums. The songwriting was, well, loose, and unfocused. The record's principal attractions are the multi-layered guitars, which have a certain just-post-Abbey Road charm, with lengthy electric-acoustic passages bordering on jams. After it was issued as Workers Playtime in 1971, Reg King (formerly of mid-'60s cult mod band the Action) joined the group for live work. The enterprise was basically a non-starter, though. Westlake soon quit, new members joined (including Reg King's brother and fellow Action veteran Bam King), and the group fell apart by the end of 1971. To add to the confusion surrounding this none-too-tight aggregation, in 1989, their sole album was reissued under the title New Day by Decal, who attributed the recording to "Blossom Toes '70 (formerly B.B. Blunder)." This is why this none-too-interesting one-shot record also shows up in the Blossom Toes discography...


Personnel 
*Brian Godding - Vocals, Guitar, Piano 
*Kevin Westlake - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Drums 
*Brian Belshaw - Vocals 
*Julie Driscoll - Vocals 
*Marc Charig - Trumpet 
*Nick Evans - Trombone 
*Chris Kimsey - Piano 
*Keith Tippett - Piano 
*Barry Jenkins - Piano 
*Brian Auger - Piano 


Tracks 
1. Sticky Living! - 6:32 
2. You’re So Young - 5:26 
3. Lost Horizons (B.B.Blunder) - 2:07 
4. Research - 4:36 
5. Rocky Yagbag (Kevin Westlake) - 4:00 
6. Seed - 5:31 
7. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is (Brian Belshaw, B.B.Blunder) - 3:33 
8. Rise - 5:05 
9. Moondance (B.B.Blunder) - 1:24 
10.New Day - 4:44 
11.Freedom (Brian Belshaw) - 5:42 
12.Backstreet - 3:55

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