Café Jacques

Café Jacques was a Scottish trio on Epic–Columbia that released the 1977–78 albums Round the Back and International, both produced by Rupert Hine.

Members: Chris Thomson (guitar, vocals), Mike Ogletree (drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, vocals), Peter Veitch (keyboards, accordion)


Background

Café Jacques formed as a septet in 1973 when guitarist–singer Chris Thomson, an accounting student at Edinburgh University, teamed with keyboardist–singer Peter Veitch, a design major at Edinburgh Art College. Chris’s pianist father once played in a band with Peter’s guitarist father. They named their act after an alcoholic coffee served by a friend named Jack.

Café Jacques established a Thursday residency at the West End Club on Princess St. Gradually, they trimmed from seven to four members with drummer Mike Ogletree and a sequence of bassists.

One of their most avid supporters was Edinburgh law student Hugh “Pogey” Barry, who entered Café Jacques into the 1975 Melody Maker Rock–Folk Contest, a competition of unsigned acts held at London’s Roundhouse. (The prior winner, Druid, signed with EMI and made the 1975–76 albums Toward the Sun and Fluid Druid.)

Café Jacques performed to a voting panel that included Queen guitarist Brian May. They ultimately came in second to Deaf School, a Liverpool twelve-piece that signed with Warner Bros. (as a nine-piece) and made the 1976–78 albums 2nd Honeymoon, Don’t Stop the World, and English Boys, Working Girls.

In 1976, Café Jacques found a business champion in music entrepreneur and aspiring rock manager Bruce Findlay, the namesake of Bruce’s Record Shop, a multi-store Scottish chain. Findlay generated interest from several labels but favored CBS due to their strong global distribution (a key concern to Bruce, a longtime record retailer). A group of label representatives led by CBS A&R Dan Loggins (Kenny‘s brother) flew from London to Edinburgh, where they witnessed the band’s West End Club set and signed them after the show.

CBS first paired Café Jacques with producer David Batchelor, a soundman for the Scottish hard-rock bands Nazareth, Tear Gas, and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. After the union proved fruitless, they teamed with Rupert Hine, a veteran musical artist whose growing list of production credits included albums by Jonesy, Kevin Ayers, and Nova. His current band, Quantum Jump, plied similar soul-funk territory to Café Jacques, who admired Hines’ grand visions of sound creation, which they likened to Beatles producer George Martin.


Round the Back

Café Jacques released their debut album, Round the Back, in November 1977 on CBS. Mike Ogletree wrote the laidback opener “Meaningless” and conceived the title for “Eberehtel,” one of three spacious ballads (along with “Sands of Singapore” and “Farewell My Lovely”) by Peter Veitch.

Side B contains three Chris Thomson compositions: the chanson ballad “Crime Passionelle,” the R&B-flavored “Sandra’s a Phonie,” and the spiraling epic “Lifeline,” which demonstrates the jazz-funk and symphonic influences of the album’s two musical guests: GenesisBrand X drummer Phil Collins and Caravan multi-instrumentalist Geoffrey Richardson.

Veitch and Thomson co-wrote the two upbeat numbers: “Dark Eyed Johnny” (a harmonized riff rocker) and “None of Your Business” (a syncopated boogie). Round the Back also features a raw rendition of Bobby Bland’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City.”

A1. “Meaningless” (3:54)
A2. “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” (4:02)
A3. “Sands of Singapore” (4:21)
A4. “Farewell My Lovely” (4:37)
A5. “Eberehtel” (5:45) Ogletree, who had a knack for backward pronunciation, conceived the title as “Let There Be” spoken in reverse.
B1. “Dark Eyed Johnny” (3:40)
B2. “Sandra’s a Phonie” (3:09)
B3. “None of Your Business” (3:25)
B4. “Crime Passionelle” (3:37)
B5. “Lifeline” (6:10) The mid-section contains news of whale hunting, presented by the World Wildlife Fund.

Collins dropped in amid a busy 1977 schedule that included the second Brand X album (Moroccan Roll) and the tour behind the late-1976 Genesis album Wind and Wuthering. In addition to “Lifeline,” he plays percussion on “Sands of Singapore,” “Eberehtel,” and “None of Your Business.”

“Dark Eyed Johnny” preceded the album on September 30 as the lone single (b/w “Sandra’s a Phonie”). Café Jacques performed the song on the December 6 broadcast of the BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test.

“Meaningless” appears on Sounds Like a Good Album to Us, a 1977 CBS sampler with cuts by Crawler (“One Too Many Lovers”), Kansas (“Paradox”), Kursaal Flyers (“Original Model”), Lone Star (“The Ballad of Crafty Jack”), Mahogany Rush (“Broken Heart Blues”), Ram Jam (“Let It All Out”), Santana (“Dawn–Go Within”), Sparks (“Forever Young”), and The Vibrators (“He’s a Psycho”).


International

Café Jacques released their second album, International, in late 1978 on CBS.

A1. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (3:08)
A2. “How Easy” (3:54)
A3. “Waiting” (3:46)
A4. “Station of Dreams” (4:21)
A5. “Chanting and Raving” (5:02)
B1. “Can’t Stand Still” (2:59)
B2. “Man in the Meadow” (4:35)
B3. “Knife Edge” (3:15)
B4. “This Way Up” (2:58)
B5. “The Medley” (6:12) 

Chris Thomson — guitar, vocals
Mike Ogletree — drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, vocals
Peter Veitch — keyboards, accordion

Geoffrey Richardson — acoustic guitar, clarinet, fretless bass, guitar, 12-string, flute, mandolin, viola


After Café Jacques

Mike Ogletree joined Simple Minds for their 1982 release New Gold Dream and did a two-album stint in Fiction Factory.

Peter Veitch (d. 1990) appeared on albums by Marianne Faithful, Murray Head, and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

Chris Thomson formed a new Café Jacques in 2010.


Discography:


Sources:

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