The Sensational Alex Harvey Band were wonderful. Throughout the 1970’s, Guitarist Zal Cleminson, brothers Hugh and Ted McKenna on keyboards and drums, bassist Chris Glen and almost middle-aged singer Alex Harvey played heavy, dirty, bluesy, theatrical rock & roll.
Alex Harvey started his career in the late 1950’s as a backing singer for rock & roll stars Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran. From 1958 to 1965 he worked on the fringes of the British blues scene, fronting his Big Soul Band. During the second half of the 60’s He played guitar in the house band of the London production of Hair, and contributed several songs to the soundtrack.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band formed in 1972, at the height of the Glam Rock era. The band were known for their hard blues-rock, their live performances were accompanied by theatrics and a vaudeville atmosphere. They played loud and tight, the skilled musicianship blending perfectly with Harvey’s witty, disturbing and thoroughly entertaining lyrics. Their first two albums, Framed and Next, captured their sound perfectly. Watch the clip below of them performing the title track from the Framed album.
Released at the end of 1972, Framed perfectly captured the tight driving sound of the band’s live shows. The album opens with the title track, a cover of the old Leiber/Stoller original. Harvey’s camp menace and Zal Clemlinson’s tight guitar work set the tone for the rest of the album. From the three part saga of Isobel Goudie, through the riff-tastic rocking of Midnight Moses and the iconic Hole In Her Stocking, the album is a blast of powerful pre-punk British rock and roll at it’s finest. Highly recommended.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s second album was released at the end of 1973. Next developed the sound of the first album with string and brass sections. The band’s unique mix of different musical styles, underpinned by driving hard rock, produced an album that was part music hall, part hard rock. The stand out tracks on Next are the title track – a cover of Jaques Brel’s ‘Au Suivant’, Faith healer – the band’s first hit single, The Last Of The Teenage Idols and Vambo Marble Eye, which was to become one of the band’s anthems.
Next is another great album from a great band. They were called Sensational for a good reason.