Affinity was an English jazz-rock/psych band that released a self-titled album on the Vertigo “swirl” label in 1970. Vocalist Linda Hoyle followed up the band with a 1971 solo album Pieces of Me. Drummer Grant Serpell resurfaced in 1974 with vaudeville-popsters Sailor.
Members: Mike Jopp (guitar), Mo Foster (bass), Grant Serpell (drums), Linda Hoyle (vocals, 1968-70), Lynton Naiff (keyboards, 1968-70), Vivienne McAuliffe (vocals, 1971-72), Dave Watts (Hammond organ, 1971-72)
Affinity stemmed from the US Jazz Trio, formed in 1965 at University of Sussex in Brighton by keyboardist Lynton Naiff, contrabassist Nick Nicholas, and drummer Grant Serpell, all science students. After graduating, Serpell cleared out for bassist/drummer Mo Foster of the University Jazz Quartet. With a set comprised of jazz covers, the Foster lineup performed in the debating chamber at Falmer House, UoS, and various campus bars.
Naiif soon joined Serpell in the psych-rock combo Ice, which issued two 1967/68 Decca singles: “Anniversary (of Love)” (b/w “So Many Times”) and the eerie/shimmery “Ice Man” (b/w “Whisper Her Name (Maria Laine)“). They recorded an album’s worth of live tracks/demos and masqueraded as Russell’s Clump. Despite success, they disbanded in mid-1968.
Naiif and Serpell reteamed with Foster, who switched to bass. They expanded to a quintet with guitarist Mike Jopp and singer Linda Hoyle, then a teaching major. Their name came from the 1961 album Affinity by Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Jopp secured a loan from his father that allowed them to buy new equipment, including a Hammond M102 organ and a Gibson EBO bass guitar.
Affinity made its live debut on October 5, 1968, at the Revolution Club in Bruton Place in Mayfair, West End. A subsequent show was broadcast on BBC Radio Jazz Club. Upon hearing the band, impresario Ronnie Scott gave them a residency at his popular Soho jazz club. They toured Scandinavia and performed on the BBC2 music program Disco 2. Philips signed Affinity to its underground subsidiary Vertigo.
Affinity: The Album
Affinity released their singular album on Vertigo in 1970. It features seven songs, including two originals: the Jopp/Hoyle “Night Flight” and Naiff/Hoyle “Three Sisters.” The covers include compositions by Alan Hull (“I Am and So Are You”), Annette Peacock (“Mr. Joy,” recorded earlier by Paul Bley and Karin Krog), the Everly Brothers (“I Wonder If I Care as Much”), the Lovin’ Spoonful (“Coconut Grove”), and an 11-minute version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” John Paul Jones arranged brass on “I Am and So Are You” and strings on “I Wonder If I Care as Much.”
Affinity was recorded between 1968 and 1970 at Trident and Island Studios. The cover shows a turquoise-saturated photo of Linda holding a Chinese umbrella, perched before a duck pond. The image was captured by Keith MacMillan, Vertigo’s in-house photographer who also shot covers for Colosseum (Valentyne Suite), Rod Stewart (An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down), Beggar’s Opera (Act One), and Black Sabbath (ST, Paranoid). The inner-spread has lyrics and a xeroxed photo of the band.
Musically, Affinity blends lounge jazz and psychedelic sounds. The more aggressive numbers (“I Am and So Are You,” “Three Sisters”) serve as missing links between Julie Driscoll and Trinity and Catapilla. On some of the hazier cuts, Affinity presages the 1971 release by Tonton Macoute. Affinity’s misty, haunting blend also resembles spiritual jazz, as purveyed by select American acts.
Affinity first appeared on Vertigo’s swirl label, cat. #6360 004, preceded by titles from Gracious (Gracious!) and Magna Carta (Seasons) and directly followed by albums from Uriah Heep (…Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble…) and Bob Downes Open Music (Electric City). “I Wonder If I Care as Much” was issued on a swirl label 7″, backed with “Three Sisters.”
Later in 1970, Affinity issued a non-album single featuring two covers: Laura Nyro‘s “Eli’s Coming” backed with another Hull composition, “United States of Mind.” Both tracks were later added to the first several CD reissues of Affinity. In 2007, Air Mail Archive (Japan) reissued Affinity as a 15-track double CD. In addition to the 1970 album and single, the set includes two unearthed originals (“Yes Man,” “Little Lonely Man”) and covers of The Beatles (“I Am the Walrus”) and Carole King (“Long Voyage”).
Affinity (1970): The Songs
“Night Flight” (7:15): Dark, deep F# minor with soft yet soaring vocals that carry the melody. Swelling bridge, block-key Hammond section in B♭ with stronger voice, prominent volume. Latinized middle with swirling, traveling organ and maracas over a bobbing bassline. Reprise of first section. Brisk, ascending coda with pounding cowbell downbeat.
“Mr. Joy” (5:02): Upstroke E minor, light vibes, lounge-mist precision. Slow, sensual vocal where Hoyle attributes sentience to a sex toy. Open-cadence, vibe-lit chorus in Gmaj7 where she sighs the lines:
“Buying a toy, a passion I need so badly
He’s my Mr. Joy, waiting for me so gladly
I’ll wind him and when I’m alone, feeling sadly”
Intensified final section as Hoyle howls to climax.
“I Am and So Are You” (3:31): Guttural organ/guitar riff in F. Stray brass; punchy sax. Soulful vocals, belted yet laidback.
“Three Sisters” (4:57): Fussy, wiggling bassline in C# minor against a thick Hammond/brass backdrop. Slow, commanding, contralto vocal deliver. Icy, rippling organ refrain. Lengthy, scaly guitar break.
“Yes Man” (7:23): Frenetic, trebly bassline in C# amid an organ/brass/snare assault. Soon reforms as a syncopated, piano-driven march in C#/E. Arching chorus line with elongated, soaring vowels. Midway: fugue-like bass/piano counterpoint → legato licks over staccato bass figure, rising/falling organ pattern, swirling Hammond solo.
- Affinity (1970)
- 1971–1972 (2003 — recorded 1971–72)
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