Newly remastered and compiling together both albums Toe Fat recorded for EMI between 1970-1972, and the a & b side of their single released in 1972, this anthology is the definitive collection of music produced by the unfortunately named Toe Fat.
With lead singer Cliff Bennett (from Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers) hooking up with Ken Hensley, Lee Kerslake and John Glascock (whose band The Gods had just split) the 4 worked together and gelled.
Released in May 1970 Toe Fat (a name picked to be as disgusting as possible) and in a suitable off-putting cover by Hipgnosis the album itself is a fine example of the heavy sound that bands like Deep Purple and others were starting to develop.
With an Elton John/Bernie Taupin cover (Bad Side of the Moon) and the Coasters cover Just Like Me, the heavier elements that Kerslake and Hensley would later take to Uriah Heep were already in force here, and with Hensley’s unique Hammond Sound, and the steadying bass of future Jethro Tull bassist John Glascock, the band give plenty of room for Cliffs vocals to work, and the sound on here is really tight and it rocks.
With some Hensley/Bennett originals like Working Nights, But I’m Wrong and recorded at Abbey Road, this was a fine album, however, as always business sneaks in and before a massive tour for the band Ken Hensley was sacked by management for negotiating his own publishing deals (and his name was removed from the songwriting credits!) then Lee Kerslake was let go as well.
Those two would reunite much later and far more successfully in Uriah Heep, however this is an interesting prototype of the work Heep would do, and there’s a lot of what would make Heep successful here.
Recruiting guitarist Alan Kendall (later to work with the Bee Gees) and John Glascocks brother Brian on drums, the band spent 20 weeks touring the states with Derek and the Dominoes and Elton John and after the tour American label Motown pushed them back into the studio to capitalise on the American impact.
Two released in 1971 on Motown imprint Rare Earth in the States and Regal Zonophone in the UK is a different beast to its predecessor, due to the change in personnel, however Alan Kendall and Cliff Bennett built up a strong working relationship, with Kendall having writing credits on all the album cuts, and of course the brothers Glascock on bass and drums work really well together anchoring the sound.
Stand out tracks on here include There’ll be changes and Three Time Loser.
Like so many bands of this era, Toe Fat finished before they’d really got going, due to bad financial management form their managers as Bennett discusses in the sleeve notes, and the additional two tracks, released on a single in 1972 were the last gasp of a band that hadn’t been given the support needed by management or record label, and as result ended up as a footnote in their respective members history.
Cliff Bennett turned down joining Uriah Heep as vocalist due to not being in the right frame of mind at the time, and later retired from the music industry in the late 70’s, Hensley and Kerslake were part of the most successful Heep line-up, whilst John Glascock fronted Carmen before joining Jethro Tull in 1976 before his untimely death in 1979 and Kendall worked with the Bee Gees.
Rather than just seeing these albums as stepping-stones, they are fine pieces of music in their own right, and are a fascinating document as to how the blues turned into heavy rock during the early 1970’s.
Bad Side of the Moon is available from: