Gass

Gass was a CaribbeanEnglish jazz-rock/psych band that released the 1970 album Juju on Polydor, followed by the 1971 single “Something’s Got to Change Your Ways.” As ‘The Gass,’ they cut three earlier R&B singles on Parlophone and CBS. They also served as the pit band for the UK stage production of Jack Good’s Catch My Soul.

Guitarist Bobby Tench enjoyed stints with the Jeff Beck Group, Streetwalkers, and Humble Pie during the ensuing ten-year period. Bassist DeLisle Harper did session work (Gonzalez, Paul Brett) and recorded four mid-1970s albums with the Olympic Runners. Keyboardist Derek Austin briefly joined the Keef Hartley Band and released numerous library albums on Jw Music, Amphonic, and Josef Weinberger Limited. He was also an in-demand sessionist, notably on the first two albums by Sheena Easton. Percussionist Godfrey MacLean reconnected with Harper and Tench as mutual guests on the 1973 album Now Hear This by funksters Hanson.

Members: Bobby Tench (guitar, vocals, organ, percussion), Godfrey MacLean (drums, congas, vocals, percussion), DeLisle Harper (bass, percussion), Derek Austin (organ, piano, flute, percussion), Mike Piggott (violin, guitar)


Background

The Gass formed in London in May 1965 as The Senators when Guyanese percussionist brothers Godfrey and Errol McLean teamed with Trinidadian bassist–keyboardist Bobby Tench. The McLean’s hailed from The Jokers; Godfrey seperate stints included The Music Men and The Raymond Bouche Group.

The new group also included Guyanese keyboardist Frank Clark, Nigerian alto saxophonist Humphrey Okoh (ex-African Messengers), and English tenor saxist Ian Thomas. After a spell as The Creators, they settled on The Gass.

On October 8, 1965, The Gass debuted with the Parlophone single “One Of These Days,” a Marvin Gaye cover backed with the Tench original “I Don’t Know Why.”

The Gass opened 1966 with show’s at Soho’s Flamingo Club opposite Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells (1/14) and Peter B’s Looners (1/15). In mid-May, they welcomed Blues Movement lead guitarist Stuart Cowell.>

On May 27, The Gass released their second single: “The New Breed,” a Jimmy Holiday cover backed with “In the City,” a prior b-side by Charles Dickens (aka British fashion photographer David Anthony).

The Gass played a New Year’s Day 1967 at Tunstall’s Golden Torch with Timebox.

On March 23, 1967, The Gass released the CBS single “Dream Baby,” a Roy Orbison cover backed with “Jitterbug Sid,” an Okoh original.

The Gass performed through the summer and autumn of 1967 on double-bills with Family (6/2: Gaiety Ballroom, Grimsby), John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (6/30: Lanchester College, Coventry), Status Quo (7/15: Town Hall, Clacton), and Coconut Mushroom (9/29: The Parlour, North End, Hampshire).

On April 18, 1968, The Gass played Klooks Kleek in West Hampstead with Jamaican–British singer Carl Douglas (& The Big Stampede).

In 1969, Gass dropped the definite article and settled as a quintet composed of Tench, Godfrey McLean, keyboardist–flutist Derek Austin, bassist–percussionist Delisle Harper, and ex-Sound of Saint James guitarist Michael Piggot, recently of Junior’s Conquest. Gass became the pit band for the London production of the rock musical Catch My Soul-Rock Othello, a counter-culture adaptation of Shakespeare’s 1603 tragedy Othello.

On June 24, 1970, Gass shared a bill with up-and-comers Genesis at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Frith Street in Soho.


Juju

Gass released their singular album, Juju, in 1970 on Polydor. It features seven songs joint-composed by bassist DeLisle Harper, drummer Godfrey McClean, and multi-instrumentalist Robert Tench, including “House For Sale” and “Yes I Can.”

Former members Frank Clark (organ) and Humprey Okah (sax) appear as guests. “Black Velvet” and the title track feature Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green. Gass organist–flutist Derek Austin submitted “Cold Light of Day.”

A1. “Kulu Se Mama” (7:00)
A2. “Holy Woman” (5:36)
A3. “Yes I Can” (6:43)
B1. “Juju” (3:31)
B2. “Black Velvet” (3:41)
B3. “House for Sale” (3:39)
B4. “Cold Light of Day” (4:04)
B5. “Cool Me Down” (6:03)

Producer – Mel Collins
Engineer – Jerry Boyce

Bass, Organ, Guitar, Vocals – Robert Tench
Bass, Percussion – DeLisle Harper
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Godfrey McClean
Organ, Piano, Flute, Percussion – Derek Austin
Violin, Guitar – Michael Pigott

Guitar – Alan Roskans, Junior Marvin
Congas – Errol McClean

Design – Hamish & Gustav
Photography By – Julian Hann

“Black Velvet” appears on a Polydor Compilation Supergroups Vol 2.


“Something’s Got to Change Your Ways”

On September 24, 1971, Gass released “Something’s Got to Change Your Ways” backed with “Mr. Banana,” both group-written exclusives.


Catch My Soul

In 1971, Polydor released Catch My Soul – Live Original Cast Recording, co-credited to Jack Good and Gass.

A1a. “Goats and Monkeys”
A1b. “Wedding Chant”
A2. “Ballad of Catch My Soul”
A3. “Drunk”
A4. “If Wives Do Fall”
A5. “Cannikins”
B1. “Put Out the Light”
B2. “You Told a Lie”
B3. “Very Well-Go To”
B4. “Willow”
B5. “Seven Days and Nights”
B6. “Why”
B7a. “Black On White”
B7b. “Death Chant”

Recorded At – Birmingham Theatre
Recorded By – Pye Mobile Recording Unit
Producer – Peter Knight Jr.
Theatrical Producer (Adapted from Shakespeare’s Othello) – Jack Good
Directed By – Braham Murray, Michael Elliot

Music By – Ray Pohlman
Music By, Arranged By [Vocal Arrangements] – Emil Dean Zoghby
Orchestrated By – Basil Elmes

Organ, Piano – Derek Austin
Bass, Vocals – DeLisle Harper
Drums – Godfrey McLean
Guitar, Vocals – Robert Tench
Percussion – Lennox Langton

Baritone Saxophone, Flute – David Coxhill
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Phil Kenzie
Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Tin Whistle – Geoff Driscoll
Trombone – John Bennett
Trumpet – Bob Thompson, Keith Maynard

Vocals [Bianca] – P.P. Arnold
Vocals [Cassio] – P.J. Proby
Vocals [Desdemona] – Sharon Gurney
Vocals [Iago] – Lance LeGault*
Vocals [Montano / Priest] – Emil Dean Zoghby
Vocals [Othello] – Jack Good
Vocals [Roderigo] – Jeffry Wickham
Vocals [The Singers] – Dana Gillespie, Jean Gilbert, Totlyn Jackson


Discography:

  • “One of These Days” / “I Don’t Know Why” (1965 • The Gass)
  • “The New Breed” / “In the City” (1966 • The Gass)
  • “Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)” / “Jitterbug Sid” (1967)
  • Juju (1970)
  • “Something’s Got to Change Your Ways” / “Mr. Banana” (1971)
  • Catch My Soul (1971)

Sources:

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