4 April 2021

Songbird - Sweet Elaine/ Spread The Word

Rocking record from American ex-pats based in Vancouver

Label: MAM
Year of Release: 1971

The group Songbird were, initially at least, somewhat misleadingly named. Their music tended to rock out and generally resembled no garden birds I'm aware of who would probably be appalled and terrified by their blues rockin' racket.

While their name may not be on the tips of everyone's tongues, they were nonetheless a busy group of American ex-pats based in Canada to work with singer Tom Middleton (among presumably other things). When they weren't acting as a backing group for him, they did also manage to cut some singles of their own, opening with this self-penned effort on the GRT label in 1971, then leaving a three year gap before issuing the distinctly smoother and sweeter "I Believe" and "Dirty Work" on Mushroom.

"Sweet Elaine" was the only track of theirs to get a UK issue on Gilbert O'Sullivan's happy home MAM, and is a piece of raw blues-rock boogie featuring vocalists Jay Caress possibly doing his vocal chords harm with his roared approximations of lustful thoughts. Ladies, he's doing himself serious damage here, and honey-menthol sore throat remedies ain't going to put that right. What he needs is some sweet loving.

Besides Mr Caress, the group initially consisted of Mike Flicker on drums, Terry Gotlieb on bass, and Charles Gray Jr and Bob Siegel on unnamed duties, though one can only assume that one of them was the lead guitarist. Flicker and Gotlieb would eventually work with Heart, with Flicker taking on the production duties for several of their LPs and Gotlieb sitting on the engineer's desk. Siegel eventually moved into music management.

As for Jay Caress, he turned out to be the lead vocalist on a mystery record posted on Left and to the Back a few years back, namely Albert Embankment's version of "As Tears Go By". And who would be backing him on that occasion? Why, none other than Flicker and Gotlieb, of course, making it as close as dammit to a Songbird record as we're likely to get. 

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1 comment:

rntcj said...


Thanx for this Canadian single. Will add this "new" addition to Canadian music collection. "B" side here sounds like a "protest" song against US. Maybe they were Draft Dodgers? Their '74 "Dirty Work" was a minor Hit in Canada & used to hear it regularly on 1050 CHUM-AM in Toronto. That song & 4 other YT tracks @ their Discogs page here:

Ciao! For now.