Week of April 27, 2003

The Eyes of Blue

Ritchie Francis - guitar
Gary Pickford Hopkins - vocals
Wyndam Rees - vocals
Phil Ryan - keyboards
Wyndham Rees - drums
Ray Williams - bass
R. Bennett - bass
John Weathers - drums

The Crossroads Of Time (Mercury SMCL 20134) 1968 (CD reissue - Black Rose BR102, 1995)
In Fields Of Ardath (Mercury SMCL 20164) 1969 (CD reissue - Black Rose BR114, 1997)

Heart Trouble/Up And Down (Deram DM 106) 1966 
Supermarket Full Of Cans/Don't Ask Me To Mend Your Broken Heart (Deram DM 114) 1967 
Largo/Yesterday (Mercury MF 1049) 1968 

Starting out as a soul-based band from Neath, The Eyes Of Blue gradually turned to the American West Coast sound. All of their recordings are quite collectable. 

In collaboration with Quincy Jones they contributed to the 'Toy Grabbers' film score and later appeared in the film, 'Connecting Rooms'. Their albums are diverse with pop, R&B, jazz, classical, psychedelic and Eastern influences. The best tracks on the first one are two Graham Bond-penned R&B songs (he also wrote the sleeve notes), "Love Is The Law" and "Crossroads Of Time". It also included good versions of Love's "7 And 7 Is" and The Beatles' "Yesterday". Also noteworthy are their own "Inspiration For A New Day" and "Prodigal Son", which feature some Eastern-sounding psychedelic guitar work.

Their second album is more progressive. The best tracks are: "Merry Go Round" (from the 'Toy Grabbers' soundtrack), which is a keyboard-dominated progressive piece with some good guitar breaks and much classical influence; Graham Bond's "Spanish Blues" with some jazzy organ; and "Door", with its spooky vocals, which, along with the dreamy title cut, indicated the band's interest in the supernatural and the occult (especially reincarnation). 

They also recorded an album in October 1968 as the backing band to American singer-songwriter Buzz Linhart (Buzzy). Highlights included a very good R&B version of Tim Hardin's "Yellow Cab" and Linhart's "Willie Jean" and "End Song". There's a long track on side two, which they don't play on, that is also very good. On this, Linhart is backed by Big Jim Sullivan (guitar) and Keshav Sathe (tabla). 

Phil Ryan later played in Man, whilst Weathers went onto play with Pete Brown and Piblokto! and Gentle Giant. Ritchie Francis later made a solo album in 1971. The band later recorded as Big Sleep and aided Ancient Grease on their sole album. 

'Deram Dayze' (LP) and 'The Mod Scene' (CD) both include "Supermarket Full Of Cans", a pop-soul number with just a hint of psychedelia; their debut 45, "Heart Trouble", has resurfaced on 'Broken Dreams Vol. 5' (LP) and you'll also find "QIII", a rare B-side from an American 45, on 'Rubble Vol. 16: Glass Orchid Aftermath' (LP) and 'Rubble Vol. 9' (CD). It's an organ-driven instrumental. Finally, there's "Prodigal Son" on 'Rubble Vol. 8: All The Colours Of Darkness' (LP) and 'Rubble Vol. 4' (CD). 

(Vernon Joynson / Costas Arvanitis)

Taken from The Tapestry of Delights - The Comprehensive Guide to British Music of the Beat, R&B, Psychedelic and Progressive Eras 1963-1976, Vernon Joynson
ISBN 1 899855 04 1

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