Spooky Tooth: Nomad Poets – Live In Germany 2004 album review

Neglected 60s/70s rockers Spooky Tooth captured live during reunion tour.

Spooky Tooth's Nomad Poets album artwork

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Initially released in 2007, Nomad Poets was recorded three years before at, respectively, Worpswede’s Music Halle and Hamburg’s Rock & Blues Im Park. These were shows on English rockers Spooky Tooth’s reunion tour of Europe, when the band featured original dual/duelling vocalist-keyboardists Gary Wright and Mike Harrison, and drummer Mike Kellie alongside new members Joey Albrecht (guitar, backing vocals) and Michael “Bexi” Becker (bass, backing vocals). Out of print for several years, the reissue of this two-disc affair now comprises an audio disc that features 10 tracks relying heavily on material from the band’s classic 1969 album, Spooky Two, and also a DVD film of the same performances. The latter also contains footage of Gary Wright recorded live in San Diego, California, back in 1976 performing Love Is Alive and Are You Weepin’, plus an interview with Wright and a slide show of Spooky photos.

Completing the package is a booklet that includes new liner notes. Which “just” leaves the music by one of the few prog – or quasi-prog, anyway – outfits to be fronted by two singing keyboard players (see also Procol Harum and Supertramp). Much of Spooky Tooth’s prog reputation rests on the fact that in 1969 they recorded an album, Ceremony, with musique concrète pioneer Pierre Henry, but really, there is little actual prog here. Blues rock steeped in the late-60s/early-70s progressive boom, yes, but there is little in the way of virtuoso technoflash, fiddly curlicues
or complex tempo shifts. Sunshine Help Me finds the missing link between Cream and Humble Pie, the band that Spooky Tooth member Greg Ridley left to form. The Wrong Time is blue-eyed funk with rasping vocals – not
quite the full Marriott but hoarse enough. Tobacco Road is Eric Clapton-esque while Evil Woman (not the
Electric Light Orchestra one) is 10 minutes of heavy rockin’ blues with ample opportunities for guitar pyrotechnics.

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.