In 1967, the Roadrunners were Paul Rodgers, vocals; Mick Moody guitar; and me on bass — along with a drummer (Dave Usher) who only wanted to earn enough money to buy his own truck.

Shortly before turning pro and leaving Middlesbrough for London, the band recorded a rehearsal at a local church hall.  This tape, made on a domestic reel-to-reel machine, was thought lost decades ago.  It was found recently, but obviously in very poor condition.  Best efforts have since been made to clean it up.

Either way, it’s the first known recording of three aspiring musicians who went on to greater things.  You can already hear that Paul Rodgers was destined to be one of the great voices of rock.  Within a couple of years of this recording he’d already moved on to help set up Free, before going on to Bad Company and, eventually, Queen.  Mick Moody later played with many solid blues/rock bands, the best-known being Whitesnake.  On this tape I’d been playing little more than a year and was only too obviously trying to run before I could even walk — yes folks, I ‘overplayed’ from the very beginning. So here it is …‘as tight as a pair of clown’s trousers’ …a historical or hysterical recording …however you care to hear it.

▶ Rock Me Baby is the B.B.King song that featured in the Jeff Beck Group’s live set at the time we first heard it.

▶ The Walk is a Jimmy McCracklin R&B favourite of the time.

▶ Get Ready: the Temptations’ song is given our own unique treatment.

▶ Early in the Morning is a traditional Blues that we learned from ‘The Sound of ’65’ album by the organ-based Graham Bond Organization, a band that featured Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.

▶ Getting Mighty Crowded is the Betty Everett song that was also covered many years later by Elvis and the Attractions.

▶ Rehearsal Jam: An early attempt at song writing by the band, with lyrics yet to be sorted out.  Jimi Hendrix had recently made his first appearance on British TV, and his impact on the Roadrunners is obvious.

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , | 104 Comments

104 Responses to

  1. Tim says:

    Bruce…
    Hi there
    Any memories of Village.Head Records,John Curd or Mighty Baby you have at all ?
    I’d be glad to hear them
    Cheers
    Tim

  2. Andy Walker says:

    I would love to hear and have copies of those songs, a fan of all three of you and hearing you together would be fantastic. Anyway I can get copies?

    • Bruce says:

      They’re all on YouTube. Just search ‘Roadrunners 1967’ I think there are links on this site. I don’t have CDs of them — but I’m sure any enterprising soul could take an audio feed from a computer somehow or other, if needed.

  3. Rick says:

    Nice to discover the video’s from “Roadrunners”.

    Very easy to download the music from YouTube obviously, but where can I BUY those tracks in a lossless format like FLAC/APE/WAV ???

    • Bruce says:

      You can’t buy the tracks in any kind of “lossless” audio. They were retrieved from a decades old domestic reel-to-reel recorder and I spent a day in his studio with my buddy John Hughes who used all of his engineering expertise to clean them up. He probably has the WAV files on his hard drive I can ask him if its possible to get them to you, but to be honest there won’t be a lot of improvement!

    • Bruce says:

      I’ve got one that looks almost the same that comes round and spends the every day with me then goes back home at night.

      • Tuxedo cats really are the smartest, I think. After all, they evolved that coat as a way of sneaking into upscale restaurants to steal food, so it’s only logical that their higher brain functions would also be more evolved.

      • Bruce says:

        Brilliant. Yes indeed, that’s exactly what he is — a tuxedo cat. He’s certainly got a way of winkling out the best of my fridge’s contents — organic steak and a wee bit of smoked salmon sets him up nicely. How can you deny them? He’s an ex-farm cat so he’s pretty “field-wise”. He can still kill a pigeon or a rabbit if he’s feeling a bit peckish — and without splashing his shirt front.

      • Mike Miller says:

        I had a studio cat here for about a week many years ago. We’d leave the back door cracked open a bit on nice days, and he walked in one day and made himself comfy on one of the control room chairs. He’d sleep a couple of hours and be gone.
        It came to an untimely end when he dropped a live mouse on the feet of a studio client seated at the console, which happened to be a local female celebrity of some sort. Screaming and some crazy dancing ensued.

      • Bruce says:

        I hope you let the cat stay and threw Beyonce out 🙂

      • Bruce says:

        I like him! What a great expression.

  4. PeterF says:

    Hi,
    I was wondering what you’d been up to so now I know.
    I:
    Saw Quiverlands at the Oval and the Stiff tour in Croydon.
    Still use ‘Oliver’s Army’ bass line to practice with.
    Use Sadowsky basses but bought a Squier CV 62 P in umm salmon pink? I’m trying to fade it at the moment and have managed to take the gloss off the polyester finish. Didn’t know about the Bass Collection.
    Think Pino should have only had the Stingray fretless signature, I’d never seen him with Fiesta Red until Mayer, the pink P’s should be yours!
    Wonder if you’ve considered writing an equipment-based book as you seem to have a lot of knowledge. Tony Levin and Guy Pratt both have good books. Bet you know stuff!
    I’ve bookmarked you now. Cheers, Peter

    • Bruce says:

      Thanks for your kind comments, Peter — my information doesn’t extend across the board — my colleague Barry Moorhouse has a far more comprehensive knowledge on these matter and has written a couple of book on equipment himself. You just need to leave the bass in the sun all the time, not in a case — but as we’re in England, buy and ultra violet lamp instead — although, to be fair, we’ve had a decent amount of sunshine this year.

  5. Mike Miller says:

    I was thinking about the Weepies project you played on and if they ever released it.

    http://westendstudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/weepies.jpg

    • Bruce says:

      No word so far — it was at the demo stage when I added my stuff — and Deb has been poorly (but is OK now). As soon as I have word I’ll update everyone. I hope it sees the light of day soon. The same goes for Tasmin Archer’s new tracks. Between them, there’s twenty new bass parts to luxuriate in 🙂

    • Bruce says:

      How interesting. They even quote “Bruce Thomas Salmon Pink” as a finish in its own right now! Do you know — and I’m being completely honest — I’d rather stick with the Profile I got out of the box. I just did 12 tracks with Tasmin Archer earlier in the month — using a virtual 1959 Fender Bassman amp and it sounded just about as right as a bass has a right to, if you follow my drift.

      • Mike Miller says:

        It’s my auction. I play the Profile all the time now. It’s really easier to play and more inspiring. Had to give you credit for the color.

      • Bruce says:

        I just sent a naughty e-mail to Fender with your link, noting that vintage Fender basses are resprayed in Bruce’s Salmon Pink not Pino Faded Red, and that we all back the wrong horse sometimes. Couldn’t resist it. That’s the power of the fruit of the grape for you, it’s evening in the UK and I’ve just settled down with a nice bit of cheese and a bottle of red — I should’ve learnt by now that it isn’t always a good time to start e-mailing and posting.

      • Mike Miller says:

        But, if they would have backed you, which they rightly should have, then we’d have a $5000 bass that no one could afford. (at least me). And while I’m brown-nosing a bit, I always thought, at least musically, you’d been a great replacement for Entwhistle.

        And, as you well know, I’ve done my share of “Wine and Cheese” posting here.

      • Bruce says:

        I don’t think “musically” is always the prime consideration, otherwise there might still be an Attractions. Apparently Roger Daltrey wasn’t oo enamoured with Pino because he was too tall and Roger is a bit touchy about his height (or lack of) apparently. Barry and I could’ve done an elitist bass for big bucks, but it just so happened that the one we liked best by far is the one that’s been put into production.

      • Mike Miller says:

        If you would have been in John Mayer’s band, you would have been a shoe-in for a Fender Custom Shop Tribute bass. Two of the three Precision tribute artists are former bandmates of Mayer.

      • Bruce says:

        They had their chance.

      • Mike Miller says:

        The Salmon-P is headed to upstate NY. Hope the guy’s a fan.

  6. The bass part in this obscure and eerie 1972 recording sounds more than a little Thomas-esque.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taJKf9ty7xA

  7. Mike Miller says:

    Are Paul and Mick aware of the discovery of this recording?

  8. Roddy Ring says:

    Very nice to find old gems. Reminds me that there is a cassette somewhere of 4 or 5 originals recorded at college in a piano rehearsal room that I need to locate and transfer to digital. On at least three of those songs I was attempting to emulate a certain bespectacled bass player with an affinity for suit vests and a odd-colored guitar.

  9. I saw the video on Youtube where you play the Profile bass with your CAT!

    Why do cats love bass so much? At least mine does. And I mean he really loves it. He always sits nearby when I’m playing – and he even plays himself sometime, using his tail to whack the strings. He also likes to rub his face against the upright bass:

    https://flic.kr/p/p52t5R

    He hates the guitar though. Guitar chords freak him out. Sometimes just reaching for the guitar makes him run from the room. Something to do with the low frequency of the bass being more pleasant for the sensitive ears of the cat?

    • Bruce says:

      What a great pic. Sadly Lucy, who is in my YT clips passed away nearly a year ago. But the day after a cat from down the lane started visiting me and now comes round very day and spends the day with me while his owners are out at work — he’s black with white markings and looks very much like your boy. I used to be very much a dog person until I took on my sister’s two cats when she decided to go off sailing. Of course, now I’m a cat convert. I think the low frequencies are more in the purring range, while a guitar is more in the shrieking range — which would explain the reaction.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Beware of the “Brown Note” phenomenon. Cats could be susceptible too.

      • Bruce says:

        It’s one of the first thing I beware of on my long list of things to beware of.

      • Mike Miller says:

        I’m living proof that left field does exist.

      • Bruce says:

        Ah, but there’s no ‘left’ without a ‘right’.

      • Mike Miller says:

        The keywords “low frequency” sent me to left field.
        A science tv show here set out to prove whether the “B-Note” was a fact or myth. They set up these huge 18″ bass cabinets in a semi-circle on an airport runway and subjected the co-host to hi-db LF tones to see if they could make him soil his drawers. They ran 5, 7, 10 hz and nothing. But around 30hz, it shook the guy to where he could hardly breath, but sadly no soiling occurred. So, they called it a myth. Quite entertaining, I must say.
        I did hear a story of some well known, long-time bass player who later in his career lost bowel control because he always sat on his speaker cab while performing.
        Probably a myth too.

      • Bruce says:

        Ah — now your earlier “brown note” comment makes sense. Very interesting. 30 Hz is the killer rumble, for sure. As for the bass player sitting on his cabinet, as you say, probably urban myth. I did hear that Howard Stern had a woman listener sit on a large speaker cabinet at her home while he broadcast sounds to induce her to orgasm. Also the ex-Walker Brother Scot Engel is involved with some wretched techno-dudes who have found a way to make their audience vomit (although Barry Manilow had a similar effect on some for years).

      • Mike Miller says:

        You’re kinda hard on Barry…After all, he wrote the songs that the whole world wants to sing.

      • Bruce says:

        “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” — as a vehicle for promoting brain-rotting sugar syrup. Not a lot different really.

    • 1999, I was in eighth grade, and I saw the Ben Folds Five at the IU Auditorium. Ben Folds actually gave a speech to the audience about the “brown note” phenomenon – as a statement of fact – then informed us that he was about to play it. And played some very low, loud note on his synthesizer. Nothing happened, but I thought the whole thing was very bizarre at the time. Looking back on it, it’s kind of hilarious that he did it.

      The Ben Folds Five (actually only three guys – the name is a joke) was one of my first big musical influences, especially bass-wise. Their bassist Robert Sledge used some kind of compression/distortion pedal and alternated between a thump/crunch sound and an overdriven wail that sounded more like a distorted lead guitar. For a trio with no guitarist, they had a HUGE sound because of this bass playing.

      Best song imo: Kate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7BUG8LOd8A

    • Roddy Ring says:

      Be careful with what you say Mr. Thomas.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ9B7owHxMQ

  10. Mike Miller says:

    Hey, how ’bout those nutty Scot’s?

  11. Andy Radford says:

    Any chance a tape was rolling the night your band backed Peter Green at the Marquee?

    • Bruce says:

      If there’s one tape I’d love to have it would be that one. Fortunately there is something that comes pretty close. Not long ago someone started uploading to YouTube private tapes of Peter Green during his stint with John Mayall. It’s well known that Mayall himself use to record all their gigs, but my money is on Mick Fleetwood who even now rightly gets misty-eyed and reverential whenever he speaks about Greeny. There’s a clip of Peter Green playing live with John Mayall not long before he and I played the same Freddy King instrumental at the Marquee in 1969. It takes two or three minutes to get going then it soars very close the level of playing he reached at the height of his powers. This is a true master at work.

      Green/Mayall Live: The Stumble: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRA33BMkuZE

      And while you’re at it, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT0YDqqy0ew

  12. Sasha says:

    Thank you very much Bruce for your music and stories!

  13. Mike Miller says:

    Overplaying? Maybe..Maybe not. Just the beginnings of the great execution that I and others admire and attempt to emulate.

    Maybe some Jack Bruce in there too.

    • Bruce says:

      Just a bit … I’d just learnt “Spoonful” off “Fresh Cream” and nothing was going to stop me. My next bunch of clips will be my practice songs when I realized I was still several years away from a groove.

  14. These are awesome, Bruce, thanks for sharing.

    Now, here is a serious question: you say the drummer wanted enough money to buy his own truck.

    Do (did?) guys just buy trucks to drive around as their regular vehicle in the UK? In the US, tons of people get pickup trucks just for the hell of it, just as an everyday driving vehicle. But I never saw this in the UK, not a single time – there, a truck is used as a work vehicle. I don’t think I saw any pickup trucks there, only full-size trucks (lorries?) used for towing a trailer.

    Did this drummer want to buy the truck to help him work at some sort of trade? Or did he just want to have a truck just for the sake of driving a truck rather than a car – as many people do in the US?

    • Bruce says:

      No — he wanted to be a truck driver for his career! He even used to dress like a truck driver when he was in the band. I guess, it’s great to have a vision of waht you want out of life 🙂 (In England we call trucks “lorries”, but I thought none of you would know what I was talking about).

      • I figured that was probably what you meant, but I thought maybe there was a remote possibility that the guy just wanted a truck as his personal vehicle.

        In the US, maybe because of the agrarian culture of much of the midwest, south, west, and basically anywhere that’s not a major city, it’s really common for people to drive pickup trucks. As I said, I never saw one in the UK. But I guess they do exist in small numbers.

      • Bruce says:

        I think my percussive colleague had an 18-wheeler in mind.

      • Mike Miller says:

        I would bet the fuel cost there would dictate the choice of vehicle. It’s about $3.25 here locally. (KC)

      • Bruce says:

        $15 per gallon here. What we need is a nice war in Iraq … oh! just a minute …

      • Mike Miller says:

        Wow! No wonder why you guys drive those Clouseau cars.

        Probably a $1.00 for the fuel and $14 for taxes, surcharges, vat, the Queen’s cut, ect.

      • Bruce says:

        There’s quite a lot of BMWs Mercs and Audis on the road too. Euro cars are much more fuel efficient these days — 50 – 70 miles to the gallon ins’t unusual. Not like those gaz-guzzliing giant sardine cans you guys drive :))

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