……………..But no, ‘Spillin’ The Beans is really back again.
This week, because something reminded me of a long-forgotten blast from the past, I am going to talk about one of the lesser-known (obscure, even) bands of the early 1970s and that band is Gnidrolog. “Who?” I hear you say, “Never heard of them!” and, I reply “No, and who could blame you, because they only ever got played by John Peel and they managed to avoid commercial success completely.“
So, who were they? Well, they were a short-lived band formed by two brothers, Colin and Stewart Goldring (the band’s name is a slightly-amended anagram of their surname) in 1969 and who existed until 1972, the year in which they released two albums. The first had the enigmatic title “In Spite Of Harry’s Toe-nail” and the second was the less oddly-named “Lady Lake“. Neither title caused much upheaval in the album charts and the band went its separate ways. Despite the lack of success, various members of the band went on to perform with better-known and far more successful acts, drummer Nigel Pegrum joining Steeleye Span and bassist Pete Cowling played with Pat Travers for many years. The Goldring Brothers themselves went on to form a pretty awful (and probably joke) “punk” band called The Pork Dukes, over which I shall draw a discreet veil. Gnidrolog, inexplicably perhaps, reformed in 1999 and released an album called “Gnosis” in 2000, which proved to be quite popular in Europe. The band has a page on Facebook.
The original lineup of the band was;
Colin Goldring – lead vocals, guitars, recorder, tenor sax, horn, harmonica
Stewart Goldring – lead guitar, vocals
Peter “Mars” Cowling – bass guitar, cello
Nigel Pegrum – percussion, flute, oboe, piano
and they were joined by John Earle on soprano, tenor and baritone saxes, flute and lead vocals for their second album.
So, you wonder, why am I writing about this obscure band? Well, it is because despite their obscurity, they did make some quite interesting music. They fit into the same soundworld as the likes of Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson., and you can detect all sorts of other influences in the music too, even a touch of early Bowie in the main vocals, although Peter Hammill is a more obvious reference point. One oddity is that, apart from one track on Lady Lake, the band doesn’t use any keyboards.
Of the two 1972 albums, the later one, Lady Lake is the more successful and accessible, but the first is the more experimental and contains the seeds of the more-polished later work. The music is pastoral in places, with a lot of flute, sax and other woodwinds. It also features spiky angular passages and discordant singing and playing to dramatic effect. It is very much music of its time, the guitar work and bass-playing is very early 70s, (especially on the first album, which has a couple of “sub-Fripp mixed with blues-rock wig-out” solos for example, as is the overall production and dynamic. The weird thing though, is that I hear little flourishes of this oddness in some much more recent music, such as on the second album, “Hidden” by These New Puritans. Overall, though, they are a band who are probably always going to be seen as a footnote in the history of progressive rock and the music of the 1970s.
So, have I whetted your appetites? I know, probably not, but if you are curious you can find their music on YouTube;
Lady Lake is here
In Spite of Harry’s Toe-Nail is here