Get Ready to ROCK! Radio features a series of interview specials to tie in with the Fancy release and the forthcoming Ray Fenwick compilation.
Mo Foster: Sunday 31 January 18:00 GMT
Mo Foster Favourite Tracks from Favourite Artists: Monday 1 February, 16:00 GMT
Ray Fenwick: Sunday 14 February 18:00 GMT
Lemon/Cherry Red [Release date 29.01.21]
Fancy probably passed many punters by in the 1970s, as they could easily have got mixed up in the glam rock era and overlooked. Fortunately this didn’t happen in the USA where they had some success, with two chart singles, and extensive tour dates.
The band was something of a “supergroup” with seasoned sessioners Ray Fenwick and Mo Foster joining future Judas Priest drummer Les Binks and vocalist Annie Kavanagh. This 3-CD box set brings together their two albums with a bonus disc recorded live at Ronnie Scotts in 1975 together with an informative archive radio interview.
The band was the brainchild of pop producer veteran Mike Hurst who had worked previously with Ray Fenwick when the guitarist was with Spencer Davis Group. He brought in a Penthouse Pet – Helen Caunt – (you couldn’t make this up!) as a vocalist for the surprise American hit single a cover of ‘Wild Thing’.
It certainly provided an interesting focal point but ultimately (and fortunately) they settled on a theatrical singer Annie Kavanagh who appears on the two albums and had performed in big musicals like ‘Hair’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.
The album ‘Wild Thing’ really represents Fenwick (and Foster’s) interest in R&B and funk during this period and we could group Fancy with contemporary bands such as Kokomo, Sniff N The Tears, Cado Belle and even Ace who – at their best – provided us with soulful, ballsy rock.
The single could be dismissed as a novelty with the Penthouse Pet breathing heavily throughout. As Mike Hurst recalls: “I wanted a slow funky record, with liberal splashes of sex”. Pity poor Annie when she had to recreate this on stage! The track does retain a certain originality with Alan Hawkshaw’s early synth providing another focal point.
But tracks like ‘Love For Sale’, ‘I’m A Woman’ and ‘Feel Good’ show the band at their ballsiest. Perhaps the first album was a tentative step to forge a more distinctive style as it is also peppered with fairly perfunctory pop songs like ‘Move On’, ‘One Night’ and ‘Between The Devil And Me’ the latter two with added brass.
1975′s ‘Something To Remember’ (called ‘Turn You On’ in the USA) expanded the band’s range still further but keeping things funky with tracks like the excellent ‘She’s Riding The Rock Machine’ (included here in different permutations) and a great cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Was Made To Love Him’. The album shows a band maturing with Mose Allison’s ‘Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy’ and the soulful ‘Stop’.
The live disc is a great bonus and perfectly captures a small club gig. Thankfully this showcase set at Ronnie Scott’s in June 1975 was recorded on the night by the compilation’s genial curator Mo Foster and reflects a tight and road tested unit made even tighter by their Stateside touring. Helping out on second guitar was Jo Partridge who at the time played in Kiki Dee’s band. There’s an extended version of ‘Love For Sale’ complete with de rigeur drum solo.
What happened to Fancy? Well, they could be construed as one of those poptastic “moments in time” and “of the time” whose success surprised everyone not least the band and Mike Hurst. They were aided by Hurst’s pop production talents and Ray Fenwick’s commercial sensibilities plus great musicianship, not least Kavanagh’s superb vocals.
Starved of continued record label interest, Fenwick and Foster soon returned to the more lucrative session work, Ray Fenwick only months ahead of a stint with Ian Gillan whilst Les Binks was to join heavy metallers Judas Priest. Annie Kavanagh married and returned to Australia.
A handful of bonuses are spread across this collection, including non-album tracks and two Fenwick instrumentals plus the Mo Foster penned ‘Driving Home’.
With entertaining and informative liner notes from Mike Hurst and Mo Foster, and each CD housed in a facsimilie card sleeve, this really is the complete package and you’ll find here at least something to take your fancy. *****
Review by David Randall
The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 February, 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT
More about Josh: http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/?s=%22Josh+Taerk%22
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 7 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 26 January 2021.
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