Superlungs of The Fens

I first saw and indeed heard Terry Reid when I was sent a ‘screener’ of the DVD ‘Glastonbury Fayre’ to review. Directed by Nicolas Roeg, it was a record of the Glastonbury festival of 1971 and on it, Terry can be seen performing his song ‘Dean.’  His voice and look immediately resonated with me and I was soon off checking out the man and his music.

Born in November 1949, he grew up in the village of Bluntisham, Cambridgeshire and he was a singer from an early age, having a love of all types of music, which would eventually lead to a particular fancy for American R&B. He left school at 15 and joined local outfit The Redbeats, before hooking up with Peter Jay’s Jaywalkers not long after. They picked up a support act slot to The Rolling Stones and Ike and Tina Turner at the Royal Albert Hall in 1966 and went on to release ‘The Hand Don’t Fit the Glove’ with Reid in fine voice in 1967.

When Terry left the band, he was co-managed by Mickie Most and Peter Grant and toured in support of Cream in the States in 1968. Jimmy Page, also managed by Grant, approached Terry about working with his new group The New Yardbirds, who of course would morph into Led Zeppelin. Reid however, was committed to touring with The Stones and being nervous of telling Keith Richards he was going to pull out, instead suggested Robert Plant for Page to check out, who he knew from the band Band of Joy (he also advised Page to take the drummer too, one Jon Bonham.)

‘It was a perfect combination’ Reid said later  ‘Who’s to say what would have happened if Jim and I had got a band? It might have been a bloody failure.’

Deep Purple also asked him to join them as replacement for Ritchie Blackmore, but he again said no, as he had other plans. He released the album ‘Bang, Bang, You’re Terry Reid’ which sadly didn’t trouble the charts, though his song from it,  ‘Without Expression’ was covered by The Hollies and later, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and REO Speedwagon.

After leaving Most due to ‘musical differences’, Terry concentrated on live work (and singing at the wedding of Mick and Bianca Jagger in 1971) before signing for Atlantic Records.

In truth his recorded output just didn’t find enough of an audience to make him the star his voice undoubtedly deserved and he instead remained that double-edged sword of an underground favourite and industry secret. Instead he concentrated on session work and then toured with ex Rolling Stone Mick Taylor in the 1990s.

In the Noughties, though based in the States; he became a regular on the London live scene with gigs at the 100 Club and a particular favourite of Terry’s, Ronnie Scott’s. Indeed he released an album ‘Live in

London’ in 2012, which was recorded as live at Ronnie’s.

As timed passed on, Terry and his voice were now being discovered by a new generation of performers such as the likes of Jack White, Rumer and the late Chris Cornell. Retrospective releases also became available, including the box set ‘Superlungs’ from 2004 that looked at Terry’s output between 1966 and 1969.  The title picked up on Terry’s nickname from his time recording the song of the same name written by Donovan.

He has kept working over the years and his peers such as Robert Plant, Keith Richard, Bobby Womack, Roger Daltrey, and Eric Burdon often refer to him as the ‘voice of his generation.’

He joked, ‘My records were never released, they escaped!’

Among those worth checking out, as well as those already mentioned, would be the eponymous ‘Terry Reid’ from 1969, which was entitled ‘Move Over for Terry Reid’ in the States.

If you still remain to be convinced however, this quote from Aretha Franklin in 1968 should do the trick.

‘There are only three things happening in England: The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Terry Reid.’

Enough Said.

The Mumper of SE5



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