Fair Weather

Beginning from an End

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Perhaps best known today, at least in the States, as a member of Eric Clapton's early-'90s backing band, back in the '60s Andy Fairweather Low was a pop star, Amen Corner's frontman/guitarist. Formed in 1966, that group sent six singles spiralling up the U.K. pop chart, including "(If Paradise Is) Half as Nice," their 1969 number one. Amen Corner closed up shop in 1970, only to immediately reopen as Fair Weather, albeit with a slightly reduced staff -- brass players Mike Smith and Allen Jones had found employment elsewhere. By July, the band's debut single, "Natural Sinner," was taking its evil ways up the chart, reaching number six. Beginning from an End arrived soon after, but before year's end, the band had broken up for good and soon sank from memory. Thus Beginning's reissue on CD was a welcome return, for the set really completed Amen Corner's own story and returned the band to a variation on their early British beat sound -- a solid slab of British rock, albeit one with its R&B roots still proudly displayed. Check out the stomping cover of Stax classic "Don' Mess with Cupid" or the inspired psychedelia-tinged take on "I Hear Your Knocking" for proof. Incidentally, "I Hear You Knocking" was engineered by Dave Edmunds and is obviously the prototype for his own subsequent hit cover. But it's Fairweather Low's own compositions that best capture Fair Weather's transition into the rock age. From the funky "You Ain't No Friend," to the heady blend of proggy-blues on the instrumental "Looking for the Red Label," and across the sliding guitar of the country-flavored "Poor Man's Bum a Run," Fair Weather is stretching R&B into a big stadium sound centered around Fairweather Low and Neil Jones' magnificent guitars, and filled out in a hundred directions by Blue Weaver's phenomenal keyboards. Of course, they weren't the only British band at the time attempting this dramatic transformation from R&B into hard rock, but Fair Weather didn't stick around long enough to disintegrate into thumb-twiddling noodling and 20 minutes of tedious soloing. Still a pop band at heart, Fair Weather accomplished in sharp songs what others took an entire album side to do. And to drive home this point, this reissue appends all three of the band's singles, and A- and B-sides, as bonus tracks. Fair Weather sounded grand then, and they still do today.

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