Red Dirt was an English post-psych blues-rock band from Kingston upon Hull that released a self-titled album on Fontana in 1970. Guitarist Steve Howden concurrently played with music-hall popsters Fickle Pickle.
They recorded a second Red Dirt album and morphed into Snake Eye for the concept album The Journey, both vaulted until the 2010s. Bassist Ken Giles became a studio musician, appearing on albums by The Mekons, among others.
Members: Steve Howden (guitar, piano, bass, vocals), Dave Richardson (steel guitar, piano, organ, harmonica, vocals), Ken Giles (bass), Steve Jackson (drums)
Red Dirt formed in 1969 at a pub in Bridlington where guitarist Steve Howden met three young aspiring locals: keyboardist Dave Richardson, bassist Ken Giles, and drummer Steve Jackson. Richardson had already worked with two other rising locals: guitarist Mick Ronson and songwriter Mike Chapman.
They initially called their band Wellington Boot before settling on Red Dirt. After 18 months on the local pub and club circuit, they booked a two-night graveyard session at Morgan Studios in North London.
Red Dirt had their album released in limited quantity on Fontana Records in 1970. The album was produced by ex-Smoke drummer Geoff Gill, who co-wrote “Gimme a Shot” with Howden.
Richardson wrote seven of the 12 tracks, including “Memories,” “Death Letter,” and “Death of a Dream.” Howden contributed “Problems,” “Ten Seconds to Go,” and “Summer Madness Laced With Newbald Gold.” Giles’ sole number, “Brain Worker,” is the penultimate track on side two.
Red Dirt was engineered by Pussy, Steamhammer, Little Free Rock, Chicken Shack, and Dada. Assistant engineer Robin Black later worked on recordings by Jethro Tull, Steeley Span, and Mallard. The cover art of Red Dirt, credited to Teenburger company (purportedly by Barney Bubbles), depicts Apache chief Geronimo dripping with four holes to the forehead., then of the studio group Motherlight. He also worked on 1969/70 albums by
Also in 1970, Howden partook in Fickle Pickle, a Gill-produced music-hall project fronted by Cliff Wade and arranged by (ex-Orange Bicycle) keyboardist Wil Malone, also of Motherlight. Howden played guitar and bass and wrote one song (“Barcelona“) on their album Sinful Skinful. He also backed singer Judey Willey on three songs under the name Jude, including the much-comped “Morning Morgan Town.”
Vaulted Second Album, Snake Eye
In January 1971, Red Dirt toured with Mott the Hoople and laid tracks for a second album with producers Gil and Malone. Howden cleared out for musician Ron Hales, a friend of Richardson who played in the soul-rock band Sweet Sugar. When Morgan Music folded over lack of business options, the album got placed in the vaults. Meanwhile, the band played opening slots for Free, Status Quo, and Wishbone Ash.
At the suggestion of new manager Miles Copeland, the lineup of Richardson, Giles, Jackson, Hales, and guitarist/singer Dave Clarke picked a new name, Snake Eye. In 1973, they recorded a concept album under the working title The Journey. Midway through the sessions, Jackson cleared out for drummer
- Red Dirt (1970)
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