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THUNDERCLAP NEWMAN Hollywood Dream Esoteric (2009)

Thunderclap Newman

It's no poor reflection on this album overall but Thunderclap Newman should have been more than one-hit wonders. Chart riding hit 'Something In the Air' kept their profile sky-high throughout the summer of 1969; they milked it admirably, but it didn't shoo-in the big time.

Distracting himself from the demands of The Who, Pete Townsend built the band as a vehicle for the songwriting skills of one Speedy Keen, kitting the hippy with pint-sized teen guitarist prodigy Jimmy McCullough and middle-aged, amply-sized amateur bar pianist and former post office engineer, Andy Newman - much given to blazers, slacks, bow ties.

Given these contrasts, they made great TV. 'Hollywood Dream' is a likeable set of pop and country-infused songs with brief excursions into Bonzo-esque Palm Court territory (Newman seemingly restricted to this styling) bolstered with some blistering guitar work from McCullough.

But nothing really matches 'the hit'. Misguidedly the label put out an edit of the 9-minute concept song 'Accident' and then raced another album track 'The Reason' after it; but the interest was gone. This latest reissue benefits from including all the singles and 'B' sides. In hindsight, the flip to 'Accidents' - 'I See It All' - was probably 'the one': quirky, drole, uptempo and sufficiently different from the hit to let the band develop. But Keen went solo, McCullough to Stone The Crows and later Wings (both men sadly no longer with us) while Newman retrained as an electrician.

Ultimately this band failed to move on from being something in the air. But it hasn't put Andy off: 40 years later, he is performing as The Thunderclap Newman Band. Funny old business.


Review by Peter Muir

Peter Muir presents "Progressive Rock Fusion" on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 19:00, Monday 19:00

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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