Sunday, 2 February 2014

Help Yourself - Selftitled (Great Rock Album UK 1971)



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Bitrate: 256
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Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
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Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

There's no question that Help Yourself's debut album was a product of its times -- something about the whole easygoing boogie vibe and gentle psych-inspired trippiness, the way of singing, the production, and more just screams early-'70s non-metal and non-glam rock & roll. Look at it one way and Help Yourself was just a cut above incipient bar band culture but, heard with fresh ears years after its release, it strikes a great balance between entertaining the crowd and exploration. Call the band a more down-to-earth Pink Floyd or Hawkwind set somewhere in the English countryside without specifically owing anything to either band. 

Morley, who takes vocal lead throughout, shows a fine voice similar to Neil Young's, with just that hint of twang while not sounding quite so cracked and strained. At some points the resemblance is overwhelming -- check out the chorus of the wistful "Old Man" (in fact not a cover of Young's own standard, though that would have been perfectly appropriate). As a unit, the four-piece, which finished up the album in a week's time, comes across as seasoned without being overly pro or polished -- the curse of "tasty licks" is generally avoided in favor of relaxed understatement, solos smoothly fitting into the songs rather than dominating them. 

The more immediately singalong numbers, like "I Must See Jesus for Myself" and the lovely "Paper Leaves," as perfect a late summer evening ramble and sigh as one could ask for, still sneak up on a listener, entrancing without trying too hard to do so. There are some darker numbers worthy of note -- "To Katherine They Fall" is the most space rock of the bunch, keeping the right head-nodding vibes while not tripping out completely, while "Deborah" is a flat-out lovely piano ballad, Morley's wounded voice the perfect accompaniment.

HELP YOURSELF were formed in 1970 near London, and initially consisted of guitarist Richard Treece, drummer Dave Charles, bassist Ken Whaley and guitarist / keyboardist / vocalist Malcolm Morley. The band recorded their first studio album in 1971 and would release three others before disbanding in late 1973, their career marked by financial and personal issues. Bassist Whaley briefly left the band to help form DUCKS DELUXE and was replaced by guitarist Ernie Graham. For a time in the early seventies the band roomed at the Grange (home of Led Zeppelin's Symbols record) with fellow British act Brinsley Schwarz, where they also recorded their second album. They also performed on the All Good Clean Fun tour in 1972 along with MAN and other British acts.

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Amid a number of lineup changes Ken Whaley returned to the band in 1973, and his return was marked by the band's fourth and final seventies release 'The Return of Ken Whaley', after which the group quickly disintegrated, but not before recording several tracks which would become the 2004-issued compilation known simply as '5'.

Morley and Whaley would join MAN, a band to which HELP YOURSELF had been associated for most of their existence. Morley would also do a stint with BEES MAKE HONEY. Treece recorded with ICEBERG as well as forming the short-lived HEALY TREECE BAND in the late seventies with GRATEFUL DEAD drummer Bill Kreutzmann and soundman Dan Healy. He would also record with MAN, as well as THE FLYING ACES, THE ARCHERS, THE NEUTRONS, SPLENDID HUMANS, and THE TYLA GANG before joining GREEN RAY in 1988. 

HELP YOURSELF's rather brief and rocky career left us a collection of decidedly American-sounding folksy, blues and psychedelic recordings. Most of the band members would pursue full-time music careers, and while none managed to find significant commercial success, their discography of Helps albums are widely admired by progressive and psych fans the world over.

01. I Must See Jesus for Myself (4:03)
02. To Katherine they Fall (3:32)
03. Your Eyes are Looking Down (4:30)
04. Old Man (6:42)
05. Look at the View (2:33)
06. Paper Leaves (3:07)
07. Running Down Deep (3:39)
08. Deborah (3:26)
09. Street Songs (5:35)

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanx a lot!

Alixvaldo said...

Darius, my friend, do you have the Relatively Clean Rivers' album? easy Ride...

snakeboy said...

Yesterday I heard a song of theirs on an internet radio station and today here is the entire LP. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, my friend! I've enjoyed your posts over the last few years and I cannot thank you enough for all the new music to which you've introduced me.

davedoor said...

rip ken whaley

Piblokto said...

Thank you very much Chris, I have been looking out for Help Yourself albums for some time. Any more would be extremely welcome (I have no. 5 courtesy of Silverado). Fans should check out Deke Leonard's autobiography for wild tales involving the band.

Daniel said...

What a fine and surprising album. Thank you Chris