Forgotten series: Hardin and York – The World’s Smallest Big Band (1970)

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This two-man band’s second album from 1970, featuring ex-Spencer Davis Group members Eddie Hardin (vocal/organ) and Pete York (drums/percussion), somehow managed to fill out the sound together. The World’s Smallest Big Band, a release that was half studio/half recorded live in De Lane Lea studios with an audience, could be favorably compared to Traffic and Procol Harum. You hear Procol Harum especially in the melancholy of “Love, A Song For You,” and Traffic’s influence for the rest of the album.

They start the album out relatively mellow, with a couple of ballads, and then end the original album with live rockin’ medleys comprised of a ’50s rock ‘n’ roll like “Jailhouse Rock/Mean Woman Blues/Rip it up” and the “Northern Medley” of the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” and “Norwegian Wood.” A lively, upbeat instrumental called “The Pike” is sandwiched between those two medleys, and it gets the blood pumping. Occasionally, Hardin and York augmented their sound with additional instruments from musical guests, such as the tasteful orchestration on “Just A Case of Time.”

The original six-track album was, in 2008, delightfully filled out by Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red Records with eight unreleased bonus tracks — including six choice BBC tunes from June 4, 1969: “If I Could Join Them,” “David Difficult,” “Tomorrow Today,” “Candlelight,” “Little Miss Blue” and “Can’t Keep A Good Man Down”; two recorded live in Germany tunes from 1970: “Cowboy” and “Everyone I Know”; as well as material performed from their first album Tomorrow Today and elsewhere. The progressive rock influence is in full bloom here, with many of the tracks totaling well over five minutes, especially on the live material.

The 24-bit remastering sounds fab, and Esoteric’s fine liner notes and color photos add a quality touch.

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Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott has written for Shindig, Twist and Shake, Garage & Beat and Ugly Things. A big fan of all things rock and roll - especially the British Invasion, garage rock, psychedelic, new wave, folk rock, surf and power pop - he was a consultant on Sundazed Music's reissue of 'The Best of Butch Engle & The Styx: No Matter What You Say' in 2000, and has also provided liner notes for Italy's Misty Lane Records. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Steve Elliott
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