Be My Mighty Baby

Yes, me again! Back so soon with real groovy tunes so grabs ya a spoon and start digging in!

Fans of ’60’s British garage pop and R&B have no doubt heard of the great band The Action (and if you haven’t, check them out now!!!) so those fans will no doubt be thrilled when they find out The Action morphed and became a totally different band at one point.

Below is a review of Sunbeam’s recent reissue of one of the best of The Action’s post-Action albums.

Mighty Baby – A Jug Of Love
Sunbeam Records

Thanks to the great, great Sunbeam label we can again enjoy the thrilling psychedelic sounds of one of the most overlooked psychedelic bands ever to arise out of England. I, for one, have been waiting for this album to be reissued for a mighty (baby) long time! This reissue of this underrated band’s second album from 1972 is like manna from the heavens for those searching for long-lost psyche.

For those looking for a little more backstory, Mighty Baby rose from the ashes of another great overlooked British band, The Action. For a while The Action had been tagged as the band most ready to take over from The Beatles, and unlikely as it seems today, if you listen to The Action’s early recordings you will wonder why they didn’t do just that.

No less than Fab Four producer George Martin thought so as well, as he signed them to their recording contract. Come to think of it, he signed wimp-rock band America too so maybe ol’ Georgy’s taste is suspect. But that’s another story. To Martin’s credit, The Action really did kick some major ass. Mixing equal parts of the Beatles’ (and the other Merseybeat bands) melodic savvy with the pure rock power of the Who and Kinks, The Action were a powerhouse band that nonetheless didn’t quite get the breaks necessary to really hit it big.

After a couple of personnel, managerial, label, and even name changes, the remnants of The Action signed with the same management team as Pink Floyd and T-Rex and started experimenting in the studio. Unlike most hard R&B bands who attempted to keep up with the times by embracing the mind-bending sounds of psychedelic rock, the sound seemed natural and not forced and the current line-up seemed adept at playing the new, groundbreaking sub-genre of rock music.

Christened Mighty Baby by the band’s new label in an attempt at a new start, the former Action came up with one of the stronger psychedelic albums of the period, an album that stands up with the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and the Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow as psychedelic rock blueprints.

Sadly, it went mostly unheard.

Dropped from their label, the band managed to hook up with Blue Horizon Records for this reissue, their second and final album. Though as good as their first record, at the time it still unfortunately succumbed to the same fate: little airplay and hardly any sales. The times had changed and most succesful bands were either playing soft rock like Crosby, Stills and Nash or a simpler form of boogie/blues-based hard rock like Led Zeppelin which would later sadly evolve into the ear-wrecking sounds of heavy metal. For a band more interested in melody, extended fluid guitar lines and thriling vocal harmonies, the time had definitely passed. But that doesn’t mean this album isn’t bliss personified.

A psychedelic fan’s dream with exquisite melodic playing and guitar work to make your heart soar to the heavens, this album makes me wish we could return to the ’60’s for just a little while. Energetic with none of the excessive noodling marring most psyche albums, it’s a perfect meld of garage and psyche that will stay on your turntable for weeks.

Fans of psyche will wet their pants over this one. Pick it up, turn on and tune out, babies. Get some of whatever stuff you smoke when your parents aren’t around and start a-hootin’ because this shit is THE shit. One of the most excellent psyche albums around from one of the most underrated bands ever. Get you some Action and some Mighty Baby as soon as you can. You will not be sorry, and I will guarantee it.

Keep Givin’ Me Mo’, Tony Joe

Sure, I come back after a little sabbatical and there’s no fanfare, no cake, no party, and, worst of all, no friggin’ BALLOONS for chrissakes. What the #$%^?

Anyway, been gone for too long, drinking shit that’s too strong, learning some songs and singin’ ’em wrong, removing some groupies’ thongs and hitting some bongs, listening to T-Rex and banging some gongs – fuck it…it’s time to slow down a little and who best to slow down to than some Snakey?

And by “Snakey” I mean some Tony Joe White, the coolest Southern mutha since James Brown.

If’n ya don’t know the name, ya still know White’s game as he has written some of the coolest soul hits around. Some of them, like Polk Salad Annie (his only big hit as an artist), Rainy Night In Georgia and Groupie Girl, have become rock and roll evergreens, covered by many, many artists and allowing White to earn a living as a songwriter even as his under-the-radar albums stay unknown to the public but worshipped by true music fans who love his foot-stomping boogie beats, masterful guitar work and swampy rock/country songs.

And before ya say something like, ‘sure, he wrote a couple of hit songs, so what’ consider he’s made a career out of using his thick Southern drawl, his womper-stomper (a wooden board he stomps on to create a beat while he plays guitar – yeah, that’s right, a fucking wooden BOARD – how’s that for primal?) and a guitar to create songs many people consider legendary. As a plus, the French love him and treat him like a hero when he tours there!

Believe me, Tony Joe White could take those White Stripes off of Jack White, tie Jack’s ass up with them, shove some Black Keys up Jack’s ass and still have time to sing a cool little ditty about some trolls who love rock and roll, dig? I mean, twenty albums (all of them cooler than shit) and 40 years of singing swamp pop ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.

But, like all true artists, Tony Joe has had his down times. Pretty much labelless from 1983 to 1999, White survived off of songwriting royalties, selling homemade albums out of his car, and touring Europe. While not a bad life, surely not fitting a songwriter and personality such as him.

Thankfully, at the dawn of the millenium, things started turning around. People gave him deals, good ones, and since 2000 White has released about six albums and had a bunch of others reissued on labels large and small. Just this year he has two releases: one on New West Records featuring an Austin City Limits TV appearance from 1982 and a new studio album featuring duets with male rockers Mark Knopfler, J.J. Cale, and Eric Clapton among others. The new studio set is a companion piece to his last studio record in 2004 on which he duetted with female artists like Shelby Lynne and Lucinda Williams.

As his nickname suggests, Tony Joe White keeps shedding old personas like a snake sheds skin and comes back new and improved every few years or so. Right now, he is on the tear of his career and if you have a chance to see him live I would pay whatever he is asking (and double it!) and see a legend in action. Until you have the good fortune to do that though, please pick up his records. Every one of them is a gem and any blues or rock fan will get a supreme delight out of hearing him do his stuff.

He is a true original. Please check him out, buy yourself a wooden board and maybe write your own best sellers like Tony Joe does.

Who knows about wooden boards?

The Music Nerd knows…..????!!!!????