Samurai was an English symphonic/jazz-rock band that released a self-titled album on the Greenwich Gramophone Company label in 1971. They first appeared as Deram recording artists The Web and made the 1970 Polydor album I Spider as Web. Singer, composer, and keyboardist Dave Lawson subsequently co-founded Greenslade with members of Colosseum and Fields.

(For the Japanese psych-rock Samurai with Free/Faces bassist Tetsu Yamauchi, click here.)

Members: Dave Lawson (vocals, keyboards), Tony Edwards (electric guitar, acoustic guitar), John Eaton (bass), Kenny Beveridge (drums), Lennie Wright (vibraphone, drums, percussion), Tony Roberts (tenor saxophone, concert flute, alto flute, bass clarinet), Don Fay (tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, concert flute)


Samurai emerged when reedist Tom Harris left Web, cutting the band down to a five-piece.

The members first came together in 1967 when five Bournemouth musicians — bassist Dick Lee-Smith, drummer Kenny Beveridge, percussionist Lennie Wright, and guitarists John Eaton and Tony Edwards — moved to London and teamed with Harris and African-American singer John L. Watson. Harris replaced Don Fay, their original reedist on the Dorset circuit.

They signed to Deram as The Web and issued the 1968/69 albums Fully Interlocking and Theraphosa Blondi. Eaton replaced Lee-Smith on bass and Watson cleared out for musician/singer Dave Lawson. As the six-piece Web, they made the 1970 Polydor album I Spider.

The exit of Harris precipitated their final name-change to Samurai. Dawson, who wrote the five pieces that comprise I Spider, assumed full leadership of the band.

The Album

Samurai released their self-titled album on the Greenwich Gramophone Company, a division of Decca-subsidiary Chapter 1. Side one features four Lawson originals, mostly in the 4–5-minute range: “Saving It Up for So Long,” “More Rain,” “Maudie James,” and “Holy Padlock.” Side two starts with the shortest track, “Give a Little Love,” and proceeds with the epics “Face in the Mirror” and “As I Dried the Tears Away.”

Samurai, like I Spider, was produced by Wright and recorded at Wessex Sound Studios by engineer Robin Thompson. Wessex, a 16-track facility in London’s Highbury neighborhood, was also used by King Crimson, Brainchild, Centipede, and the German band Epitaph.

The band are augmented on Samurai by reedist Tony Roberts, who plays tenor saxophone, alto flute, and bass clarinet. An active freelance musician, Roberts played on contemporary albums by Kenny Wheeler, Rock Workshop, Ray Russell, Michael Gibbs, Henry Lowther, Graham Collier, and Galliard (New Dawn).

Samurai also features Don Fay on saxophone (tenor, also, baritone) and concert flute. Fay played with the band in their pre-Web Bournemouth days as Sounds Unique. In the interim, he played on Empty Sky, the 1969 debut album by Elton John. He interacted with Harris and Wright on the 1968 Decca release Blues In The Pot (The Big City Blues of Errol Dixon) by Jamaican bluesman Errol Dixon.

Artist Victor Meara painted the gatefold cover, which shows a lily white, raven-haired hippie couple reclining in a flower valley, covered from the waist down in a purple blanket under deep-blue sky. The inner-spread shows the five members standing afar in a half-enclosed industrial space.

Decca issued “Give a Little Love” as a single, backed with “More Rain.”

After Samurai

Eaton and Wright collaborated with November bassist/singer Christer Stålbrandt on both sides of the Swedish band’s 1971 single “Mount Everest” (b/w “Nobodys Hand to Hold”).

Lawson formed the symphonic-rock super-group Greenslade with drummer Andy McCulloch (King Crimson, Fields) and Colosseum alumni Dave Greenslade and Tony Reeves. They released four albums on Warner Bros. between 1973 and 1975, including three with the distinct artwork of Roger Dean (Yes, Uriah Heep, Osibisa).

Samurai was first issued on CD in 1996 by one-press Landren Productions. The disc features five bonus live tracks, three from the album plus “Love You” and the 12-minute “Concerto for Bedsprings” from I Spider. Subsequent CD and vinyl reissues have appeared on Progressive Line (Australia, 2001), Air Mail Archive (Japan, 2006), Arkama (Europe, 2006), Guerssen (Spain, 2007), Belle Antique (Japan, 2013), and Esoteric Recordings (UK, 2015).



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