The Alan Bown, in session for the radio version of Top Of The Pops, from around September 1969. The Alan Bown Set later known as The Alan Bown! or just Alan Bown, were a British band of the 1960s and 1970s whose music evolved from jazz and blues through soul and rhythm and blues and ended up as psychedelia and progressive rock. The band achieved limited chart success and is best known for the role it played in developing the careers of numerous musicians including Mel Collins, John Helliwell, Robert Palmer, Jess Roden and Dougie Thomson.
When the band’s Pye Records contract expired in 1967, Bown reformed the band as “The Alan Bown!” a psychedelic band on Verve Records, They finally released their first full album Outward Bown in 1967 and appeared on Top Gear. The album included a cover of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, a stage version which “directly inspired Hendrix’s arrangement of the song”. In 1968 they performed “We Can Help You” on Top of the Pops; this was at No 26 in the UK chart but the pressing plant went on strike, so they could not capitalize on the exposure.
In 1969 they changed to Deram Records where they had a minor hit with “Still as Stone”. As with many bands at the time, they recorded cover versions for the BBC, appearing on the ‘’Jimmy Young Show’’, “The David Symonds Show” and others, as restricted needle time required “live” performances between the records. Their next album The Alan Bown! had been recorded when Roden left the band. Robert Palmer joined and the vocals were re-recorded by him, before the album’s UK release, although the Roden vocals were issued in the US (and has never been reissued). The band appeared on BBC TVs Disco Two (which became The Old Grey Whistle Test).
In 1970 the band changed labels yet again, this time to Island Records. They recorded the album Listen, but Palmer promptly left, being replaced by Gordon Neville, who re-recorded the vocals before the album was eventually released. The single “Pyramid” was released before Andy Brown replaced Haldane and Mel Collins joined on saxophone. They recorded another album Stretching Out and re-appeared on Disco Two. Bannister left but was not replaced, then Dougie Thomson replaced Brown and Derek Griffiths, formerly with The Artwoods, replaced Catchpole. This line-up continued until February 1972. Bown then formed a new band with Dave Lawson (keyboards), Tony Dangerfield (bass) and Frank White (guitar) replaced by Pete Goodall, formerly with Thunderclap Newman, Nick Payn (tenor saxophone and flute) and Alan Coulter (drums), but after a major tour, Bown finally disbanded the group in July 1972.
Here is what they were up to in 1969 – two songs: Friends In St. Louis and a cover of the Spirit song, I Got A Line On You. There was a third number, but it was excluded from this Top Of The Pops For Your DJ version of the program.
Crank it up and be surprised why you haven’t heard of them before.