6 May 2020

Young and Renshaw - High Flyin' Bird/ Driftwood

Future Sad Cafe star in early southern rock styled duo

Label: Bell
Year of Release: 1971

The sheer number of early seventies UK flops with a distinct southern USA twang to their sound suggests a lot of musicians and record labels backed the wrong horse. While it may have seemed as if that harmonica honking, swampy bluesy southern rock sound would be irresistible to the British and would sweep the charts quicker than you could say "Lynyrd Skynyrd", it wasn't such big news here. 

"High Flyin' Bird" is yet another piece of confident, stomping rock from a pair of British musicians who had already received quite a bit of airplay (but no sales) from their previous 45 "Way Up There". It has a shedload of attitude and lyrics which clearly ponder vast open plains and mountainous ranges, which is rather deceptive - neither (Paul) Young or (Frank) Renshaw would have had much experience of these things; coming from Manchester, it didn't really apply. That doesn't stop them from selling the idea with gusto, though, with the help of Mr Cook and Mr Greenaway in the producer's hot seat(s).

The pair released a further single ("Gonna See Delaney Again") and an album ("This Is Young and Renshaw") but packed it in shortly afterwards when neither sold well. For Chris Morris lookalike Paul Young, it ended up becoming a bit of a career footnote, as he shaved off his moustache and ended up fronting Sad Cafe, scoring a brace of hits in the UK in the process. Sadly, he passed away in 2000, leaving perhaps one of the biggest rock ballads of the seventies to remember him by - someone, somewhere is probably listening to "Every Day Hurts" on a commercial oldies station or on a late night taxi journey as we speak. His service in the supergroup Mike and The Mechanics has also left its own indelible ink stain on rock history. 

Frank Renshaw went on to do further studio session work with the likes of Hermans Hermits, White Plains and - more unexpectedly - Manchester United Football Team. At the very least you can say they're a bigger name than any other we've mentioned so far.


Joseph Akinfenwa said...

Just guessed it right when I saw the link on google. Its quite informative

Graham said...

Interesting track, I played it for a friend, commented the singers were from Manchester and they commented the "High Flyin' Bird" was probably a pigeon!

Unknown said...

I’ve just picked up from auction the Air Recording Studio 1/4” mono master reels from March 1971 that contain most of the album tracks along with six unreleased Young & Renshaw tracks and two alternative takes of high flying bird, I must say the tracks that did not appear on the albums are the better track on the reels imo.

Steve Johnston