Ellis – Riding On The Crest Of A Slump & Why Not?

Ellis were a fairly short lived band running from 1972 to circa 1974 and formed by Steve Ellis, previously vocalist for Love Affair who had several chart hits towards the end of the late 60s. The most notable being their No1 UK chart success Everlasting Love, quickly followed by a series of chart singles –  A Day Without Love, Rainbow Valley and Bringing On Back The Good Times. Towards the end of 1969 Steve Ellis left Love Affair, tired of the heavy touring schedule and citing “personal differences”, although he remained signed to the CBS (Epic) record label.

Prior to forming Ellis, Steve signed a management deal with Chas Chandler, released a couple of singles (Take Your Love & Hold On) and also contributed to Peter Bardens’ The Answer (1970), which featured two guitarists Peter Green and German born Andreas Gröber aka Andy Gee, the latter being Steve Ellis’ primary choice as for his new band. The now legendary Zoot Money took on the keyboard duties, with former Greaseband drummer Dave Lutton and Juicy Lucy bass man Jim Leverton completing the line-up.

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In all truthfullness I don’t remember hearing either of these albums and my vague recollections of the band come from the Ellis name appearing periodically in the weekly music press of the time. Listening to Riding On The Crest Of A Slump with fresh ears I am pleasantly surprised with the band and the material. Musically there’s a fairly broad cross section of styles here, although very few that touch on prog, and throughout I constantly seem to reference early Rod Stewart and in particular the Every Picture Tells A Story album, released a year earlier. Like Stewart, Steve Ellis has a powerful and distinct voice and his performance resonate throughout both albums. Comparisons to the albums producer, Roger Daltry, can also be detected along with perhaps Steve Marriott.

The two longest songs on the album turn out to be the standout tracks for me. Firstly the contemporary sounding El Doomo which sits as comfortably now as it must have done in the early 70s. Steve Ellis turns in a fine vocal performance and Andy Gee, some soulful Peter Green guitar work.

The album closer and funky rocker Angela allows the band time to cut loose, again Andy Gee turns in some fine guitar work and great percolating Hammond from Mick Weaver. In fact all the band are cooking on gas in Angela as well as throughout the entire album.

01. Good To Be Alive (3:26)
02. El Doomo (5:12)
03. You’re The Only Reason (3:42)
04. Tune For Brownie (3:00)
05. Your Game (4:21)
06. Three Times Corner (3:55)
07. Morning Paper (3:25)
08. Wish I Was Back Home (3:99)
09. Angela (7:32)

Total Time – 39:29

Steve Ellis – Vocals
George ‘Zoot’ Money – Keyboards, Guitar & Backing Vocals
Andy Gee – Guitar  & Backing Vocals
Jim Leverton – Bass
Dave Lutton – Drums
~ Guest Musicians
Mick Weaver – Organ
Colin Allen – Percussion
Maggie Bell – Vocals
Mick Weaver – Keyboards
Gary Farr – Harmonica

Roger Daltrey – Producer

Record Label: Esoteric Recordings
Catalogue#: ECLEC 2447
Year Of Release: 2014
Original Release: 1972

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Although their debut album had not achieved the sales anticipated the band went back into the the studio, this time with producer Mick Vernon, the end result was Why Not? Musically we remain in similar territory, although it is obvious that the lessons learned from the recording of the first album along with touring had tightened up the band considerably. The production values are also noticeably better – presumably Mike Vernon had kept a tighter reign on proceedings.

The band remained almost the same for the second album with the only change being the departure of Jim Leverton and his replacement, ex Vinegar Joe’s Nick South. Although the liner notes reveal Colin Allen recorded the drum parts for the album opener.

As indicated the band never particularly strayed into the progressive field and perhaps even less so here on Why Not? The most adventurous track from this album comes in the form of Opus 17 ¾, with shades of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band whilst ably demonstrating Ellis were more than capable musicians. This is a cracking track and a shame they didn’t explore this side of their writing more.

With Steve Ellis at the front of this band it is unfortunate that they did not receive the necessary impetus from their record label. It would appear Epic Records were more interested in Steve as a solo artist, however the musicians in the band were by no means weak links.

No bonus material on either disc, so presumably there was none lurking in any vaults for the intrepid Esoteric Recordings team to find. Not that this particularly matters as both recordings stand up in their own rights. As mentioned in the review Ellis were not of the progressive persuasion, but this doesn’t stop either of these recordings being fine examples of lost gems from early 70s. I cannot comment on the re-mastering as I have not heard the original albums, but the Esoteric Recordings track record suggests that these albums taken from the original Epic tapes will be an added bonus. Both releases have fully restored artwork and interestingly Riding On The Crest Of A Slump has the original liner notes. Both releases have comprehensive new liner notes by Malcolm Dome.

01. Goodbye Boredom (4:25)
02. Opus 17 ¾  (4:27)
03. Future Passed (3:58)
04. Loud And Lazy Love Songs (3:44)
05. Open Road (2:39)
06. All Before (5:49)
07. Leaving In The Morning (2:42)
08. Mighty Mystic Lady (3:37)
09. We Need The Money Too (3:55)
10. Gyupp (0:06)

Total Time – 35:22

Steve Ellis – Vocals
George ‘Zoot’ Money – Keyboards, Guitar & Vocals
Andy Gee – Guitar & Backing Vocals
Nick South – Bass
Dave Lutton – Drums
~ Guest Musicians
Colin Allen – Drums & Percussion (1 & 8)
Maggie Nichols – Vocals (8 & 9)
Julie Tippett – Vocals (8 & 9)
Roger Chapman – Vocals (8 & 9)
Mike Patto – Vocals (8 & 9)
Boz Burrell – Vocals (8 & 9)

Mike Vernon – Producer

Record Label: Esoteric Recordings
Catalogue#: ECLEC 2450
Year Of Release: 2014
Original Release: 1973

Main Website: Steve Ellis
Information: Cherry Red Records