Mark-Almond Band – Top Of The Pops – November 20, 1970 – BBC World Service –
Not to be confused in any way with Mark Almond of the band Soft Cell, Mark-Almond consisted of Jon Mark and Johnny Almond, two highly regarded musicians who had put in many years as session musicians and members of other bands before teaming up to make a series of milestone albums as a due, innovative in their approach at the time, yet sadly overlooked by the general mainstream Rock audience. Save for a few FM outlets and word-of-mouth via devotees of music off the radar, Mark-Almond were loved by those who knew them and knew of their work – but drawing blanks for an audience not accustomed to listening to anything quiet and contemplative. Great for fans but not so great for Mark-Almond as it made for a lot of frustrations and switching labels.
I met Mark-Almond during the tour for their fifth official album To The Heart, where they played a few gigs on the West Coast. It was a low point for the band, certainly for Jon who had recently lost a finger due to an accident with a metal fence a few years earlier. The frustration was more with the label and the comparative lack of support they were getting – let’s face it, 1976 was the year a lot of music was going through changes – deep and moody wasn’t the go-to music for a lot of people at the time.
They were several cuts above the average. Their music was laced with a certain pathos that made it unforgettable, but it was hardly music you would play at a party – it just wasn’t music you could listen at – it had to be listened to.
So it was very sad to learn of the passing of Jon Mark just a few days ago – not knowing the cause but he left on February 7th in New Zealand where he had been living since the mid-1980s. Johnny Almond had passed away in 2009.
This session, from the BBC Top Of The Pops series, hosted by Brian Matthew was recorded on November 20, 1970 and it coincided with the release of their debut album and it is loaded with optimism, as it always is for a new band and debut album and bright promising future.
It is the way I would prefer to remember them – they figured prominently on my turntable during those formative years – played a lot and absorbed and mulled over. It doesn’t happen that often. But when it does you savor it and it never leaves you. I will always have their albums to fall back on – and that’s a good thing.
Have a quiet listen and a reminder.