Black Cat Bones

Black Cat Bones were an English blues-rock band from London that released the album Barbed Wire Sandwich on Decca in 1970. Their two constants were brothers Stuart Brooks (bass) and Derek Brooks (rhythm guitar), who steered the band through an ever-changing cast of singers, drummers, and lead guitarists. Early members Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke left early to form Free. The final lineup morphed into hard-rockers Leaf Hound for the 1971 album Growers of Mushroom.

Members: Stuart Brooks (bass), Derek Brooks (rhythm guitar), Paul Kossoff (lead guitar, 1966-68), Paul Tiller (vocals, 1966-67), Terry Sims (drums, 1966), Frank Perry (drums, 1966-68), Brian Short (vocals, 1967-70), Simon Kirke (drums, 1968), Bob Weston (lead guitar, 1968), Rod Price (guitar, vocals, 1968-70), Phil Lenoir (drums, 1968-70), Peter French (vocals, 1970), Mick Halls (lead guitar, 1970), Keith George Young (drums, 1970)


Black Cat Bones formed in 1966 when rhythm guitarist Derek Brooks and his bassist brother Stuart Brooks teamed with guitarist Paul Kossoff, drummer Terry Sims, and singer Paul Tiller. They took their name from a Hoodoo charm associated with blues music. Within months, Sims cleared out for drummer Frank Perry. Over the next two years, the band gigged the London club and pub circuit.

By 1968, Tiller cleared for singer Brian Short and Perry parted for drummer Simon Kirke. That year, Black Cat Bones performed “Warmth of the Day” for the album Come Aboard! QE2, released in 1969 to coincide with the maiden voyage of the Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth 2. Around the same time, Kossoff, Kirke, and Stuart Brooks backed American blues pianist Champion Jack Dupree on his 1968 Blue Horizon release When You Feel the Feeling You Was Feeling.

After backing Dupree on his UK tour, Kossoff and Kirke left to form Free. Guitarist Bob Weston did a brief stint in Black Cat Bones before teaming with Sims in Ashkan. In late 1968, Black Cat Bones secured lead guitarist Rod Price and drummer Phil Lenoir. The lineup of Short, Price, Lenoir, and the Brooks bothers recorded their singular album in late 1969.

Barbed Wire Sandwich

Black Cat Bones released Barbed Wire Sandwich in 1970 on Decca. It features five cover songs and four originals. The latter consists of three Price compositions (“Coming Back,” “Sylvester’s Blues,” “Good Lookin’ Woman”) and the group-written “Save My Love.” The covers include songs by Anthony Newley (“Feelin’ Good“), Arthur Crudup (“Death Valley Blues“), Peppermint Harris (Please Tell Me Baby”), and Nina Simone (“Four Women” and “Chauffeur,” credited to her husband Andy Stroud).

Barbed Wire Sandwich was produced by David Hitchcock (Jan Dukes de Grey, East of Eden, Satisfaction, Walrus) at Decca Studios with engineers Dave Grinsted (Caravan, ‘Igginbottom, Gryphon, Michael Gibbs) and Peter Rynston (Pussy, Room, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Lesley Duncan). Further work occurred at Tangerine Studios with engineer Robin Sylvester (Ora, Rory Gallagher, Dana Gillespie, Martin Briley). The cover, designed by Decca/Deram visual artist David Anstey (The Moody Blues, Savoy Brown, Galliard, World of Oz), shows a green gargoyle gobbling a barbed wire sandwich. 

Barbed Wire Sandwich was part of the Decca/Deram Nova Series (cat# DN 15), directly following the debut album by Egg and the singular album by Aardvark. The tracks “Death Valley Blues” and “Save My Love” appeared on the 1970 two-LP Decca compilation Super Blues World along with cuts by Ten Years After, Rod Stewart, Pacific Drift, and the Keef Hartley Band. “Please Tell Me Baby” appears on that year’s Nova Sampler with tracks by Bill Fay, The Elastic Band, Sunforest, and several aforementioned labelmates.

Stateside, Barbed Wire Sandwich appeared in 1971 on P.I.P. Records, which also issued John McLaughlin‘s 1970 release Devotion but was more known for its soul and funk acts (The Last Poets, The Dynamics, Kool & the Gang, Crown Heights Affair).

Later Activity

Short, Price, and Lenoir left Black Cat Bones in 1970, soon after the release of Barbed Wire Sandwich. The Brooks brothers drafted drummer Keith George Young and two recent members of the Brunning Sunflower Blues Band, singer Peter French and guitarist Mike Halls. This lineup changed its name to Leaf Hound and released the album Growers of Mushroom on Decca in 1971. After that album, French did stints in Atomic Rooster and Cactus.

Price teamed with members of Savoy Brown in a new group, Foghat, which moved stateside and scored chart and stadium success during the mid-1970s.

Original vocalist Paul Tiller surfaced in the reformed late-’70s lineup of the Downliners Sect.

Barbed Wire Sandwich singer Brian Short released a folk-psych solo album, Anything for a Laugh, on Transatlantic Records in 1971.

First drummer Terry Sims and second lead guitarist Bob Weston formed the blues-rock combo Ashkan, which issued a self-titled album on Decca in 1969. Weston joined Fleetwood Mac for their 1973 albums Penguin and Mystery to Me. He later played on albums by Murray Head (Say It Ain’t So), Danny Kirwan, and Howard Werth & The Moonbeams.

Second drummer Frank Perry became a sideman for pianist Keith Tippett on numerous projects, including Ovary Lodge and Ark. He also played on the 1973 Incus free-jazz release Balance and later worked with American reedist Paul Horn.

Barbed Wire Sandwich drummer Phil Lenoir joined Shagrat, the short-lived project of ex-Tyrannosaurus Rex percussionist Steve Peregrin Took. They recorded three songs (“Peppermint Flickstick”, “Boo! I Said Freeze,” and “Steel Abortion”) that later surfaced on small-press archival releases.

The earliest reissue of Barbed Wire Sandwich appeared in 1976 on the Japanese branch of London Records as part of its Treasury of British Rock series, which also included titles by Genesis (From Genesis to Revelation), Thin Lizzy (Thin Lizzy), Giles, Giles and Fripp, East of Eden, Alan Bown (The Alan Bown), Khan, Trapeze, and the first two albums by Egg (Egg and The Polite Force). More than 10 CD reissues of Barbed Wire Sandwich have appeared since 1990 on Decca (Japan), Won-Sin, Tapestry Records, Rock Fever Music, and BGO Records.


  • Barbed Wire Sandwich (1970)


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