Help Yourself

Help Yourself was a rustic English jam band that released the 1971–72 Liberty–UA albums Help Yourself, Strange Affair, and Beware the Shadow, followed by a 1973 split release with the side-project Happy Days.

Members: Malcolm Morley (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Dave Charles (drums, percussion, vocals, 1970-73), Richard Treece (bass, guitar, vocals, harmonica, 1970-73), Ken Whaley (bass, 1970-71, 1973, 2002-03), Ernie Graham (guitar, 1971), Jojo Glemser [Jonathan Glemser] (guitar, 1971), Paul Burton (bass, 1971-73)


Background

Help Yourself assembled in 1970 when London guitarist–keyboardist Malcolm Morley re-connected with drummer and childhood friend Dave Charles, a recent member of Sam Apple Pie. Five years earlier, they played together in the Hoodoo Blues Band.

Morley signed recently with Famepushers Music, a management company that handled Brinsley Schwarz. Charles (and a planeload of journalists) accompanied the Brinsley’s to New York and recorded the band’s jet-lagged set at the Fillmore East, where they supported Van Morrison and the Quicksilver Messenger Service.

For the new Morley–Charles band, Famepushers staffer John Eichler plucked musicians from unsigned sources: Growth bassist Ken Whaley and Monday Morning Glory guitarist–harpist Richard Treece. As Help Yourself, they signed with Liberty and recorded their first album in advance of their live debut.


Help Yourself

Help Yourself released their self-titled debut album in 1971 on Liberty (UK, Japan).

A1. “I Must See Jesus for Myself” (4:00)
A2. “To Katherine They Fell” (3:35)
A3. “Your Eyes Are Looking Down” (4:30)
A4. “Old Man” (6:45)
B1. “Look at the View” (2:30)
B2. “Paper Leaves” (3:15)
B3. “Running Down Deep” (3:30)
B4. “Deborah” (3:35)
B5. “Street Songs” (5:35)

Recorded At – Olympic Studios
Producer – Dave Robinson
Engineer – Anton Mathews

Bass – Ken Whaley
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Dave Charles
Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals – Malcolm Morley
Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica – Richard Treece

Cover – Jeff of ‘Ello Mum

Help Yourself toured the album with Liberty label-mates Brinsley Schwarz and Irish singer–songwriter Ernie Graham, who cut an earlier Hendrix-produced psychedelic rock album with Eire Apparent. Promoters billed the three acts collectively as the “Downhome Rhythm Kings.” The two bands backed Graham on his 1971 self-titled album. After the tour, Whaley made his first exit.

Help Yourself and Brinsley Schwarz both played at the 1971 Glastonbury Festival, a June 21–26 event with sets by Arthur Brown, David Bowie, Edgar Broughton Band, Fairport Convention, Family, Gong, Hawkwind, Henry Cow, Marsupilami, Pink Fairies, Quintessence, Skin Alley, and Traffic.

“Street Songs” appears on the 1971 Liberty compilation All Good Clean Fun, a two-record set with cuts by Amon Duul II, BB Blunder, Cochise, Colin Scot, Groundhogs, Gypsy, Hawkwind, If, Man, Sugarloaf, Sweet Slag, and WAR (with Eric Burdon). To promote this comp, Liberty–UA sent Help Yourself on a Swiss tour with Man and Gypsy.

In late 1971, Help Yourself moved into Headley Grange, a historic East Hampshire workhouse where Led Zeppelin cut their recent albums Led Zeppelin III and Led Zeppelin IV (aka Zoso). Treece took up bass when Graham arrived with his guitarist, Jonathan “Jojo” Glemser, who joined Help Yourself for their second album. Midway through the sessions, road manager Paul Burton (a onetime Sam Apple Pie roadie) joined as their proper bassist.


Strange Affair

Help Yourself released their second album, Strange Affair, in early 1972 on United Artists (UK, US, Germany) and Liberty (Japan). It features six originals credited to Malcolm Morley, including “The All Electric Fur Trapper” (a lengthy jam) and the title track (the barroom-flavored tale of a two-timer). Ernie Graham submitted “Movie Star.” The band’s roadie, Sean Tyla, wrote the liner notes and made lyrical contributions.

A1. “Strange Affair” (3:21)
A2. “Brown Lady” (4:42)
A3. “Movie Star” (5:45)
A4. “Deanna Call and Scotty” (3:45)
B1. “Heaven Road” (4:15)
B2. “The All Electric Fur Trapper” (9:31)
B3. “Many Ways of Meeting” (3:53)

Recorded At – Rockfield Studios
Recorded At – Olympic Studios
Producer – Anton Mathews, Help Yourself
Engineer – Anton Mathews, Kingsley “Wheres the guitar solo” Ward, Ralph

Bass, Guitar, Vocals – Paul Burton, Richard Treece
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Dave Charles
Guitar – JoJo Glemser
Guitar, Vocals – Ernie Graham
Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals – Malcolm Morley

Cover – ‘Ello Mum
Design – Jet Power
Liner Notes – Sean Tyler
Photography By – Art Gabrinowski

By the time Strange Affair hit shelves, Graham and Glemser left Help Yourself, which continued as a quartet (Morley, Charles, Treece, Burton) and cut their first session for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. Meanwhile, Tyla linked with the band’s former bassist, Ken Whaley, in Ducks Deluxe.


Beware the Shadow

Help Yourself released their third album, Beware the Shadow, in late 1972 on UA. It features four short originals by Morley, who co-wrote the lengthier numbers with Tyla (“American Mother”) and Burton and Treece (“Reaffirmation”).

A1. “Alabama Lady” (4:02)
A2. “Reaffirmation” (12:34)
A3. “Calapso” (1:10)
B1. “She’s My Girl” (3:31)
B2. “Molly Bake Bean” (2:18)
B3. “American Mother” (7:45)
B4. “Passing Through” (4:31)

Recorded At – Rockfield Studios
Producer – Help Yourself
Engineer – Kingsley Ward, Ralph Downs

Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Alto Vocals – Malcolm Morley
Bass, Guitar, Vocals – Paul Burton
Drums, Percussion – Dave Charles
Lead Guitar – Richard Treece

Cover – Annie

A depressed Morley sat out the tour for Beware the Shadow, which Help Yourself promoted on with ex-Man guitarist–keyboardist Deke Leonard, who used the band for his debut solo album Iceberg.

Morley recovered in tome for Man’s Christmas Party, a December 19 event at the Patti Pavillion in Swansea, where Help Yourself performed with Leonard and Cochise steel-player BJ Cole. Two lengthy numbers from their set, “Mona” and “Eddie Waring,” appear on Christmas at the Patti, a 1973 UA double-10″ document of the night’s performers: Man (with Dave Edmunds), Ducks Deluxe, The Jets (a sixties Man precursor, reformed for the occasion), and Flying Aces (Leonard’s makeshift band, with Morley and Charles).

By the time of the Christmas event, Ken Whaley had already left Ducks Deluxe. In February 1973, he rejoined Help Yourself, which intermixed sessions for a new album with material Happy Days: a vaudeville-themed collective project with the Flying Aces, and formed Bonzo Dog BAnd multi-instrumentalist Roger Ruskin Spear. Happy Days embarked on a two-month tour in avance of Help Yourself’s reunion album with Whaley.


The Return of Ken Whaley

Help Yourself released their fourth album, The Return of Ken Whaley, in June 1973 on UA.

A1. “Candy Kane”
A2. “Pioneers of the West In the Head”
A3. “Who Killed Paradise?”
A4. “Amy”
A5. “Blown Away”
B1. “Man We’re Glad We Know You”
B2. “It Has to Be”
B3. “The Golden Handshake”

The first 5,000 copies contains a second record, Happy Days, a document of the spring tour.

A1. “Jesus What Are Little Kids For?”
A2. “Virginia”
A3. “Waiting at the Station”
A4. “Seashell”
B1. “I’ve Got Beautiful You”
B2. “My Friend”
B3. “Elephant By My Side”

Help Yourself’s live popularity never translated to record sales. The road-worn members were ready to move on when UA asked for another album. They recorded eight tracks for the project under the prospective title 5. Before the album recached completion, Help Yourself disbanded in August 1973.

On August 28, 1974, Help Yourself staged a one-off reunion for the “Amazing ZigZag Concert,” an event organized by ex-Monkees Michael Nensmith to honor the fifth anniversay of the seminal British music magazine ZigZag. The concert also features sets by Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, Starry Eyed and Laughing, and onetime Kingston Trio singer–guitarist John Stewart.


5

Help Yourself’s long-vaulted album, 5, finally appeared in 2004 on HUX Records.

1. “Light Your Way” (3:49)
2. “Cowboy Song” (6:59)
3. “Monkey Wrench” (1:12)
4. “Romance In a Tin” (4:35)
5. “Grace” (3:43)
6. “Martha” (3:24)
7. “Monkey Wrench (Reprise)” (1:46)
8. “The Rock” (6:00)
9. “Willow” (3:18)
10. “Alley Cat” (5:38)
11. “Duneburgers” (4:37)


Discography:

  • Help Yourself (1971)
  • Strange Affair (1972)
  • Beware the Shadow (1972)
  • Happy Days / The Return of Ken Whaley (1973 • Happy Days / Help Yourself)
  • 5 (2004, released 1973)
  • The Return of Ken Whaley [Expanded] (2018, recorded 1973)

Sources:

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