The Attack

The Attack was an English psych-rock band that released four 1967–68 singles on Decca. The first two (“Try It,” “Hi Ho Silver Lining”) feature guitarist Davy O’List, who departed for The Nice. Their third (“Created By Clive”) appeared on the same day as a similar version by The Syn.

Guitarist John Du Cann joined for their fourth single, “Neville Thumbcatch” (b/w “Lady Orange Peel”), which sports a heavier sound akin to Art and Gun. The Attack recorded an album of hard pysch but the contents went unreleased until the archival compilations Complete Recordings 1967-68 and About Time! Du Cann did subsequent stints with Andromeda, Atomic Rooster, and Hard Stuff.

Members: Richard Shirman (vocals), David John [Davy O’List] (guitar, trumpet, vocals, 1966-67), Alan Whitehead (drums, 1966-67), Gerry Henderson (bass, 1966-67), Bob Hodges (organ, 1966-67), Brian Davison (drums), Barney Barnfield (drums, 1967), Geoff Richardson (guitar, 1967), Kenny Harold (bass, 1967), George Watt (organ, 1967-68), Chris Allen (drums, 1967), John Du Cann (guitar, 1967-68), Plug Davies (drums, 1967-68), Jim Avery (bass, 1967-68), Keith Hodge (drums, 1968), Roger Deane (bass, 1968)


Formation

The Attack formed in 1966 when singer Richard Shirman befriended teenage guitarist and trumpeter Davy O’List at a Sainsbury shopping stall in the Earls Court district of London.

Shirman sang for the Soul System, an unsigned R&B–beat act whose guitarist, Bob Taylor, recently jumped ship to the Downliners Sect (and played briefly with Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera).

O’List initially joined Soul System as Taylor’s replacement before he and Shirman formed a new band in the mod-psych mold. Davy called in Scottish-born bassist Gerry Henderson, a fellow Sainsbury stall seller. Through an ad in Melody Maker, they found organist Bob Hodges and drummer Alan ‘Noddy’ Whitehead, a former Crispian St. Peters sideman who shifted through the mod groups Loose Ends and Cops ‘n Robbers.>

In late 1966, The Attack caught the attention of Decca Records.


O’List-era Singles

On January 27, 1967, The Attack released their debut single: “Try It” backed with the group original “We Don’t Know.”

A. “Try It” (2:07) was co-written by American songwriters Marc Bellack and Joe Levine, a bubblegum music mogul. The Attack’s “Try It” preceded US versions by The Standells (April 1967) and the Ohio Express (January 1968).
B. “We Don’t Know” (2:39) is credited to Shirman, Henderson, and O’List.

Decca soundman Mike Smith (not the Dave Clark Five singer) produced “Try It” after a run of Dave Berry singles. This was his final work at Decca and the only Attack single with Whitehead, who joined Marmalade, one of Smith’s new clients at CBS. The Attack recorded their next single with drummer Barny Barnfield.

On March 3, 1967, The Attack released their second single: “Hi-Ho Silver Lining” backed with the group original “Any More Than I Do.”

A. “Hi-Ho Silver Lining” (2:30) was co-written by New York songwriters Scott English (writer of”Brandy,” aka “Mandy”) and Larry Weiss (writer of “Rhinestone Cowboy”), the team behind the 1968 American Breed hit “Bend Me, Shape Me.” The Attack released “Hi-Ho Silver Lining” one week ahead of a version by Jeff Beck, who released the song on Columbia as his debut posy-Yardbirds single.
B. “Any More Than I Do” (2:05) is a Shirman–Henderson–O’List song that Radio London DJ John Peel used for an indent.

Transatlantic soundman Mark Wildey (The Plebs, The Untamed, The Kingsmen, People) produced “Hi-Ho” and the third Attack single amid two 1967 Decca singles by Warrington psychsters The Fairytale.


Lineup Change

In May 1967, Davy O’List joined The Nice, assembled by recent VIP’s keyboardist Keith Emerson (with fellow T-Bones alumnus Lee Jackson) as the backing band of London-based American soul singer PP Arnold. The Attack hired drummer Brian Davison (Mark Leeman Five, The Habits), but he too joined The Nice, which broke from Arnold and released two psychedelic rock albums on Immediate Records. O’List left after the first, The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack. He later surfaced in Jet, formed with ex-members of John’s Children and the touring band of Sparks.

The Attack continued with guitarist Geoff Richardson, bassist Kenny Harold, and drummer Chris Allen.

On June 23, 1967, The Attack released their third single: “Created By Clive” backed with the Shirman original “Colour of My Mind.”

A. “Created By Clive” (2:40) was submitted to Decca by songwriter Hubert Pattison. Decca also handed the song to psychsters The Syn, who released a similar “Created By Clive” on Decca-subsidiary Deram on the same day as The Attack’s version.
B. “Colour of My Mind” (2:29)


John Du Cann Era

In late 1967, The Attack hired John Du Cann, a onetime guitarist of Wiltshire beatsters The Sonics (not the namesake American band) who recently cut an album as part of The Five Day Week Straw People, a psychedelic studio group. The Attack rounded out its new lineup with organist George Watt, bassist Jim Avery, and drummer Plug Davies. Avery soon jumped ship to Thunderclap Newman.

The Attack tapped Du Cann’s “Magic In the Air” as their next a-side but Decca vetoed this on account of the song’s heaviness. They linked with soundman Vic Smith (aka Vic Coppersmith-Heaven), a longtime Decca engineer (Unit 4 + 2, The Hillsiders) whose current clients included psychedelic heavyweights Skip Bifferty and former teen idol singer Billy Fury.

On January 12, 1968, The Attack released their fourth single: “Neville Thumbcatch” backed with “Lady Orange Peel.”

A. “Neville Thumbcatch” (3:02) Smith co-wrote the song with orchestral soundman (and future metal producer) Rodger Bain.
B. “Lady Orange Peel” (2:27) is a Shirman–Smith co-write.

British actor Peter Wyngarde (Department S, Jason King) interprets “Neville Thumbcatch” on his spoken-word comedy album, released in 1970 on RCA Victor.


Final Activity

The Attack’s final lineup featured Shirman, Du Cann, Watt, bassist Roger Deane, and (ex-Picadilly Line) drummer Keith Hodge. They purportedly planned an album titled Roman Gods of War, set for a mid-March 1968 release and titled after an unfinished Hodge original.

In any case, The Attack recorded multiple songs, including the Shirman original “Anything” and the Du Cann numbers “Go Your Way,” “Too Old,” “Strange House,” “Mr Pinnodmy’s Dilemma,” “Feel Like Flying (Aka Making It),” and “Freedom For You.” They marked the last two for a single that never came to pass. These songs, plus the unreleased earlier cut “Magic In the Air” and covers of The Rascals (“Come On Up”) and The Rolling Stones (“Sympathy For the Devil”), are collected with the four Decca singles on About Time! (The Definitive MOD-POP Collection 1967-1968), a nineteen-track CD released in 2006 on Bam Caruso Records.

John Du Cann formed Andromeda, a hard-rock powertrio that cut a 1969 album on RCA Victor. He then joined Atomic Rooster for their 1970–71 albums Death Walks Behind You and In Hearing Of…. He formed another powertrio, Daemon, which cut one single as Bullet and two albums as Hard Stuff. In 1977, he recorded a long-vaulted album of punk pop. After deputizing Gary Numan on the single release of the Lee Cooper jeans jingle “Don’t Be a Dummy,” he rejoined Atomic Rooster for two eighties-era albums.


Discography:

  • Complete Recordings 1967-68 (1999)

Singles:

  • “Try It” b/w “We Dont Know” (Decca, 1967)
  • “Hi Ho Silver Lining” b/w “Any More Than I Do” (Decca, 1967)
  • “Created By Clive” b/w “Colour of My Mind” (Decca, 1967)
  • “Neville Thumbcatch” b/w “Lady Orange Peel” (Decca, 1968)

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