Riding On The Crest of a Slump / Why Not
added: 2 Aug 2014
// release date: 2 Aug 2014 // label: Esoteric
reviewer: Andy Snipper
The most common memory people have of Steve Ellis is as the lead singer with the band Love Affair who had a string of hits in the early sixties. After he broke up Love Affair he decided to go solo and formed the band Ellis with Zoot Money and a number of other musicians he had hooked up with during his years with Love Affair. They produced two albums – ‘Riding On The Crest Of A Slump’ and ‘Why Not?’
Personally, I have always had a lot of time for Ellis’ vocal style; throaty and powerful but with a lot of subtlety and able to carry rock and R&B equally. Very much in the Steve Marriot or Rod Stewart vein but with a little less balls than the former but a lot less bollocks than the latter.
As a band Ellis were in the rock & Blues space but because of Zoot Money’s remarkable talents, able to bring in touches of country and boogie. Guitarist Andy Gee cut his chops in Germany, bringing some great slide and powerful riffing while drummer Dave Lutton had had stints with Heavy Jelly and replaced Pugwash Wethers in the Greaseband and the band were completed by Jim Leverton on bass who had been with Juicy Lucy and Fat Mattress.
When the band stretched out they had a great rolling boogie sound and on tracks like ‘Your Game’ they blow hot and proud, real chests out and strutting rock with cockney charm. You can really get a feel for Roger Daltrey’s production on the first album – rudimentary but leaving the band plenty of space to work.
For their second album Daltrey had been replaced by Mike Vernon and he definitely brought more structure and a better understand of the producer’s role.
‘Why Not’ saw Nick Money join on bass and even on the opening track ‘Goodbye Boredom’ his influence is enormous, laying down some furious bass patterns and rally giving Andyt Gee the chance to expand his playing and riff mightily. Zoot Money was beginning to get a little constrained by the format and his keyboards were a little less in evidence but he leads the line brilliantly on ‘Opus 17 ¾’. The whole album feels more of a band piece rather than individual contributions and Ellis’ vocals are definitely the better for the stylistic changes in the music.
Ellis were one of the underplayed bands of the period, a supergroup in all but name but never quite breaking away from the college circuit. Actually a terrific band and the second album ‘why Not’ should be in any serious collection.
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