David Kubinec

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David "Kubie" Kubinec (sometimes erroneously spelled "Kubinek") has led one of the longer and more diverse careers in rock & roll, from the post-British Invasion beat boom of the mid-'60s through…
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David "Kubie" Kubinec (sometimes erroneously spelled "Kubinek") has led one of the longer and more diverse careers in rock & roll, from the post-British Invasion beat boom of the mid-'60s through the glam rock era of the 1970s and beyond, active right into the 21st century. He began his career playing keyboards and singing with an R&B-based outfit called the Pieces of Mind, who spent most of their time in Hamburg, Germany -- close to two years there, by some accounts, between 1965 and 1967 -- before he returned home to England. He joined up with Christopher Robin and David Reay, veterans of another band called the Mayfair Set, and Tony Clarkson, to form the World of Oz, a psychedelic pop outfit that started out with a lot of promise, and scored a hit with Kubinec's song "Muffin Man" on the Deram label. For reasons that have never been exactly clear, he left before the group could finish work on the album to follow that song, which was a huge hit in Holland and also charted in half a dozen other countries, as far away as New Zealand and South Africa.

The Geneva Tapes
Kubinec was still writing songs and looking for an outlet for his music on record as the 1960s gave way to the 1970s. He'd briefly passed through a progressive rock/jazz fusion outfit christened Mainhorse Airline in 1969, which included a young Patrick Moraz on keyboards. Not much remembered today, they opened for Free, Humble Pie, and Canned Heat, and even had a newly organized Supertramp open for them on occasion, during their brief existence in 1969-1970 (their work was finally released decades after the fact on The Geneva Tapes). In 1973, the stars all finally seemed to line up in his favor again. He crossed paths with and suitably impressed Adrian Millar, a producer/manager who had lately been in the business orbit of Black Sabbath, no less. Legend has it that he showed up at Millar's home unannounced, guitar in hand, and auditioned before the unprepared impresario and carried the day. Andrew Oldham was involved for a time in attempting to get Kubinec a recording deal, to no avail, and then Millar decided that he would have a better chance as a frontman in a band, rather than as a solo act.

A hard rock band featuring Graham Quinton-Jones, Chris Bailey, and Peter Kirke was recruited and a test recording made to try out with Kubinec -- and even that test recording elicited interest from a newly founded German label, which was fine for Millar and even the bandmembers, but still did Kubinec little good. But it did convince Millar that this was the way to go with his songs, and he was put in as vocalist/leader and recorded in that context. After some more false starts with a couple of major outlets (including one film company, Paramount Pictures, that had a dying label on its hands), Millar went for a deal involving a small U.K. company called Goodear Records, distributed by Pye Records. The band and the album were christened the Rats, and their mix of singer/songwriter intensity and glam rock sensibilities might even have found their moment -- this was when artists such as David Bowie and Kevin Coyne were generating massive amount of press -- if not for Pye Records' lamentable distribution which, by 1973, was a shadow of what it had been in the previous decade. The album and the single, "Turtle Dove," both died on the vine. The actual band situation was made worse by a membership change during the recording, so that the group that existed to promote the record wasn't quite the same one that had made it.

All of that effort came to little, and Kubinec spent the next few years looking for a musical setting that worked. He did get signed to A&M Records for one solo album in 1978, which was released as Some Things Never Change and featured Chris Spedding on guitar and John Cale in the producer's chair. Since then, Kubinec has been an object of cult admiration, especially in England and Germany, his reputation rising whenever one of his earlier efforts, such as the music of the World of Oz or the Rats, surfaces on reissues. In 2007, his name was once more on the front end of an archival CD release as his work with Mainhorse Airline was issued on CD.