28 December 2014

Custer's Track - On The Run/ Hello Heaven



Label: Major Minor
Year of Release: 1970

"Bankrobber" excepted, songs about bank raids have proved to be rather rare in the world of rock. Whereas in cinema there have been periods where it's been hard to let a month drift past without a new film coming out about a bank robbery, the preparation, planning and criminal expertise necessarily to pull off a financial services "job" seems not to have fitted well within the lexicon of rock and roll (Hip-Hop, on the other hand, has easily mined that area within an inch of its life).

Step forward, then, Custer's Track from Hornchurch in Essex who could have kickstarted a formula with this single had it been a hit. "On The Run" is sung from the perspective of a man hiding from the attention of the police, and it's actually as filmic as a balls-out rock record is capable of being. Awash with dramatic vocal harmonies, edgy little bass guitar stings, desperate wailing guitars and mournful vocals, it manages to convey both the adrenalin, desperation and panic of such an activity pretty damn well. The chorus is strong enough, but really what always compels me to return to the track is the almost camp, glam rock melodrama behind the whole idea. Somewhere "in a field" I always imagine a bank robber rather conspicuously sporting long hair and ruining his eye make-up with the streaks of post-bank raid tears. The year may have been 1970, and glam might not have been a commercial force yet, but shades of Queen and The Sweet are definitely within the grooves of this single.

Sadly, as its available to buy online as part of the compilation "Lovin' Fire - Psychedelia Melts Into The Progressive" (Progressive? Really?) I can't include it for free download here, but you can definitely sample it in all its glory on YouTube.

The flip side "Hello Heaven" is a different thing entirely, penned by the group's guitarist Tom Mayor. It's a breezy, jaunty toe-tapper which shows that the band's roots must have also been in the commercial end of sixties beat - seldom have two sides of the same record released at the start of a new decade pointed towards the past and the future so clearly.

Custer's Track consisted of Mick Welton on vocals, Kevin Power and Tom Mayor on guitar, John Donnelly on bass guitar and Derek Ballard on drums (who later worked with The Motors). This was their only release, but if any of the band (or their friends) would like to step forward to talk about what happened next, they'd be very welcome.

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