Demon Fuzz

Demon Fuzz was an English funk-psych septet that released the 1970 album Afreaka! on Dawn. They recorded a second album circa 1971–72 that surfaced after their breakup on self-press Paco Records.

Members: Smokey Adams (vocals), Winston Joseph (guitar), Sleepy Jack Joseph (bass), Steve John (drums), Ray Rhoden (keyboards), Ayinde Folarin (percussion), Paddy Corea (flute, saxophone), Clarence Brooms Crosdale (trombone)


Background

Demon Fuzz originated as Blue Rivers & The Maroons, a London-based ska septet led by toaster Howard Joseph. The members migrated to the UK from Commonwealth nations in the Caribbean. In 1967, the Maroons released the album Blue Beat In My Soul on Columbia. The album contains 12 songs, seven written by Joseph, including the single “Witchcraft Doctor.” They released a further single, “Take It Or Leave It,” in 1968 on Spectrum.

During a trip to Morocco, the members were exposed to African rhythmic music. This, combined with the influences of American soul and transatlantic psychedelia, remolded their sound. They changed their name to Demon Fuzz, meaning “devil’s children or bad policemen.”

In May 1970, Demon Fuzz played the Hollywood Music Festival, a two-day event at Leycett, Newcastle-under-Lyme, that also featured performances by Black Sabbath, Traffic, Colosseum, Trader Horne, Free, Black Widow, and Quintessence. Demon Fuzz played on day one (the 23rd) along with Family, Mike Cooper, Mungo Jerry, and Ginger Baker’s Air Force.

Two months later, Demon Fuzz played Phun City, a three-day free festival (July 24–26) on Ecclesden Common near Worthing with performances by The Pretty Things, Kevin Ayers, Edgar Broughton Band, Mighty Baby, the Pink Fairies, and Detroit proto-punks the MC5.

That summer, Demon Fuzz recorded an album for Dawn Records, the newly established sublabel of Pye that specialized on post-psych underground acts.


Afreaka!

Demon Fuzz released Afreaka! in November 1970 on Dawn. It features five lengthy numbers: three co-written by guitarist Winston Joseph and keyboardist Ray Rhoden (“Past Present and Future,” “Disillusioned Man,” “Hymn to Mother Earth”). Reedist Paddy Corea arranged the closing piece “Mercy (Variation No. 1),” written by one Ray Harris. The centerpiece, “Another Country,” was composed by American Ron Polte and first recorded in 1968 by the Electric Flag.

Afreaka! was produced by Barry Murray, who also produced the debut album by Blonde On Blonde and 1970 titles by Dawn label-mates Trader Horne (Morning Way) and Titus Groan (self-titled). The album was co-engineered by Geoff Calver (Steamhammer, Blodwyn Pig, Trifle, Paul Brett’s Sage) and Howard Barrow (The Kinks, Donovan, Killing Floor, Fleetwood Mac).

Dawn copies are housed in a laminated gatefold sleeve with liner notes on the inner-spread by Jerry Floyd, a resident DJ at London’s famed Marquee Club. In the US, Afreaka! was issued on Janus Records.

The UK Dawn release was accompanied by the 14-minute maxi-single “I Put a Spell On You” / “Message to Mankind” / “Fuzz Oriental Blues.” The first, a 1956 R&B standard by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, was recently updated by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. The other two tracks are Joseph/Roden originals.

Demon Fuzz plugged the release of Afreaka! as part of a 10-concert package series dubbed “A Penny Concert.” Also billed on these shows were Comus, Heron, and Titus Groan.

“I Put a Spell On You” appears on the 1971 comps The Dawn Take-Away Concert and This Is Dawn Sound! with cuts by aforementioned label-mates.


Roots and Offshoots

Demon Fuzz recorded a second album that went unreleased at the time of their dissolution. Five years later, the lost album appeared as Roots and Offshoots on one-press Paco Records, Inc. It features nine cuts, including the maxi-single numbers “I Put a Spell On You” and “Fuzz Oriental Blues.” The album also includes three unheard Joseph/Roden originals (“Girl,” “Proven Love,” “Pretty Baby”), two Corea cuts (“Bad, Black & Blue,” “Remember Biafra”), and the Joseph/Corea number “Our World Today.” The album concludes with a cover of “The Weight” by The Band.

Afreaka! was first reissued in 2004 by Japanese progressive specialists Arcàngelo. This and subsequent CD pressings (Castle Music, Esoteric Recordings) feature the three maxi-single cuts as bonus tracks. The album has since become a major sampling source.

In 2019, French archivists Klimt Records reissued Roots and Offshoots on vinyl.


Discography:

  • Afreaka! (1970)
  • “I Put a Spell on You” / “Message to Mankind” / “Fuzz Oriental Blues” (1970)
  • Roots and Offshoots (1976)

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