29 May 2008

The Hush - Elephant Rider/ Grey

The Hush - Grey

Label: Fontana
Year of Issue: 1968

There are some cheery music industry optimists out there who believe that every band will eventually get the success they deserve, and if they don't, they've clearly approached something from the wrong angle. "Talent will out," as Freddie Mercury used to camply trill to anyone who was listening (and lest we forget, he suffered a few disappointments of his own before Queen made it).

On the other, shadier side of the room, however, stand people like me who think that whilst there's a grain of truth to the belief that talent is always recognised in the end, there are also other factors to consider. There's record companies, of course. We should never, ever, underestimate the power of record companies to make the wrong decision at the wrong time. Ask Bob Geldof what he thought of his American record company's plan to send stuffed rodents to radio stations to promote the Boomtown Rats. As a stunt, it turned more stomachs than it ever turned any dials on to heavy rotation. Then again, record companies are frequently known for promoting the right people in the wrong way, or signing the right bands and releasing the wrong tracks. And that's the focus of this entry.

On the "Sweeping the Nation 1968" muxtape, you'll have heard a track by the Penny Peeps entitled "Little Man With A Stick". Its bouncy frothiness was backed with an aggressive, mod garage barnstormer on the flip called "Model Village", which is the track which usually gets spun by DJs in sixties clubs these days. The band were apparently furious at the time that the label had chosen the weaker track by some staff songwriters as the A side, and felt that their careers had been wrecked as a result. My opinion (for what it's worth) is that "Model Village" might have sounded a bit too dated, a bit too pre-psychedelic even, for the 1968 charts, but there's no question it was the stronger piece of work. As a recording it would certainly have established the bands sound a lot more successfully, for the two sides barely have anything in common musically with each other. "Little Man" is a very polished piece of orchestrated pop, and the vocals are jolly and chirpy, unlike the sneering bluster of "Model Village" which was supposedly more in keeping with their live shows.

The Hush suffered a similar fate in exactly the same year, albeit by a different record company. Here we have two sides that sound absolutely nothing like each other. "Elephant Rider" sounds as if it could be a failed Song for Europe entry with its childish chorus and cheery noises, whereas "Grey" is actually a harsh, heavy, very garagey piece of work, messy and stormy in all the best ways. "One day I'll die, leave things behind..." the lead vocalist announces at the beginning of the track, to the single, pounding metronomic beat of a snare drum. "But that's just one thing on my mind," he then snarls as some demonic, punky guitars come behind. The chorus just builds, a single whining note being struck again and again as the vocals peak into panicked ranting. It's a total garage punk classic, and whilst I can understand how Fontana got jittery about its commercial potential, to bury this away on a B-side is nothing short of criminal.

As for whether The Hush approved of their decision or not, I'm afraid I couldn't say. This was the only single they were ever able to release, so unless some dusty tapes turn up somewhere soon, we'll never know if they had more tracks like "Grey" to offer. Nobody has ever been able to successfully trace them either, despite their single regularly going for hundreds of pounds at auctions (the copy photographed above is a bootlegged facsimile copy I purchased at a more regular price). If any of them ever happen to read this entry, though, they should certainly get in touch...

Both the A and B side is available at the below link:


Anonymous said...

A great song, which caught my ear as it contains the riff sampled by Sebadoh for their song Flame.


And I never realised it was a sample!

23 Daves said...

...and nor did I! It's been quite a few years since I've heard "Flame", and I've never made the connection before.

Is this common knowledge, do you think?

simongmusic said...

I'm guessing not. It certainly doesn't seem to Google anyway, although once this page has been absorbed I'm sure it will be then!

My copy of the Sebadoh single is up in the loft, so I can't even check the credits.

And I don't know why my first comment came up as anon., as I put my name in!

Mac Poole said...

Just for the record "Hush" was a band I put together in Luxemburg Studios, London,where I was doing sessions for Albert Hammond (who wrote "The Air that I breathe" amongst other hits.The band toured and was managed by another Luxemburg icon called "Doug Perry" who later managed "Alex Higgins" the snnooker champ.
Mac Poole

23 Daves said...

Thanks for clearing up a long standing mystery which has dogged a lot of fans of this record for years, Mac.

If you have any other information on the band - such as line-up details, and also whether they actually recorded anything else, please do let me know.

Anonymous said...

bass player named geoff smith,went on to play in band called 706 union

23 Daves said...

Thanks for the comment.

If you don't mind me asking, how did you know this? And do you have any other information on the band at all? Any leads would be really helpful, and I'd be incredibly grateful for them.

Anonymous said...

Info here -> http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/the_hush


chrisanslow141 said...

Hello all I'm the lead vocalist Chris Anslow on Grey and worked with Mac and Geoff we also had a lead guitarist called John Beattie and a keyboard player called Twiggy who went on top play with The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver I did work with Mel Galley and Glenn Hughes and then ended up in Caberet - How did that happen then ????

23 Daves said...

Thanks so much for all that information, Chris - I really do need to do a special update on this record at some point since a lot has come to light since 2008 when I first posted it on here.

Your vocal on "Grey" is brilliant but doesn't quite sound like the work of somebody who would end up in cabaret to my ears!

Would you be willing to pass on your email details so I can verify a few other bits and pieces with you?

Mac Poole said...

Hi all, nice to see Chris's comments.Yes you are right,Geof and I pulled him into the band because he had a great voice.I sang on the demo as we had no singer at the time but we agreed that it would be better to have someone up front singing than the drummer at the back doing it.Anyhow for my sins I ended up being Marsh Hunt's drummer then formed Warhorse with Rick Wakeman and Deep purple's bass player Nick Simper.If you google me you will get a general picture that I have been let loose in the music business for the past 50 odd years working with some great players and sharing some historic moments, so Hush was a good name for a noisy drummer's band!!!!
Mac Poole