Sunday, October 19, 2008

whatever you do, don't leave before the last song

Thunderclap Newman @ the Windmill, 17th October

Considering the number of little-known acts who have reformed after thirty or more years of obscurity, maybe it's not that surprising that a band whose name survives thanks to a solitary number one hit in 1969 are touring again in 2008. "Something In The Air" by Thunderclap Newman still gets its share of radio airplay and rightly so, it's a great song. In fact, in the days when chart success was actually a real indicator of quality, it kept songs by both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones ("Ballad of John and Yoko" and "Honky Tonk Woman" respectively) off the top spot.

Andy "Thunderclap" Newman definitely has something of the Brian Wilson about him, sitting behind his keyboard and staring uneasily into the audience from time to time. But it seems it was ever thus. Turning up their entry in the Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, I see that even in 1969 the "[the group's] impact derived mainly from the quirky, old-fashioned image of the pianist".

In fact it was lead singer John "Speedy" Keen, now deceased, who wrote most of the material on the "Hollywood Dreams" album which is performed in full tonight. Andy Newman is the only survivor from the original line-up but he's got an impressive bunch of musicians together.

Check out his groovy piano solo a couple of minutes in...

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