SB & Q: Publicity & Programme Notes
|Over the years, I've gathered a number of items from programmes, etc. These are given below. I've tried, where I could get the information, to attribute these. However, I have not obtained any direct permission to publish any of them, so if the author of any of the material is unhappy about its presence on this website, please get in touch with me and I'll remove it.|
the press releases and programme notes, though, here's a great find
from Dave McCulloch. He joined the band's Fan Club and received this
welcoming letter from the secretary, Corinne Graehame.|
First of all, let me say welcome and thank you for joining the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver Fan Club. It's great to have your support for one of the most underrated and talented bands in this country.
Every one of you can help SB&Q to achieve the success they need by telling people about them, playing their records to those that have not heard them and, of course, telling them about the Fan Club.
I want to make this Fan Club, or Appreciation Society, a very personalised service and that is why there is no membership fee. I will try and answer your queries within three days and tell you where you can get to see them. And from the list enclosed, you will see how you can get posters and photos, etc.
I want you to know that this is your club and it is up to you to get it together. I'm not gonna promise to send you a newsletter every three months because it just doesn't work like that. If you want to know anything at all about Gavin, Iain Willie or Tim, all you got to do is write and, as long as you enclose an SAE, you'll get a quick answer.
If any of you have met SB&Q, write and tell me about it. In fact, if there is anything at all you want them to know or have - what your favourite SB&Q gig was, or you've written them a poem or drawn them a picture - send it to me and I will be only too pleased to let them know.
With best wishes, love from Corinne Graehame, Secretary.
Island Records press release, 1972
Symbiosis, where two elements join together and feed off each other to their mutual benefit, doesn't happen all that often in music. When it does, there's often a new surge of inspiration. Sparks fly. Better music results.
That's what happened when Iain and Gavin Sutherland met up with Quiver. Both parties had been reconsidering their musical directions. The Brothers had been wanting to play with a band for several months. Quiver was seeking new composing and singing talent. They were brought together by Wayne Bardell, manager of the Sutherland Brothers. The sparks flew.
The Sutherland Brothers have been with Island for a little over a year, releasing two albums titled The Sutherland Brothers Band and Lifeboat. Their three singles, The Pie, Sailing and A Lady Like You were warmly received by press and radio folks, and to a reasonable degree established the Brothers with the public.
Quiver had been together for 2½ years, recording two albums for another label entitled Quiver and Gone in the Morning. They had developed a good following around the country, playing at several major festivals and touring for a while with the Who, with whom they opened the Rainbow Theatre in London in November '71.
The talents possessed by each element individually have been enhanced by their coalition, and together they now present a stage act which is, well, compelling.
Band breakdown [Note: band members' ages don't tally with actual dates of birth]
Iain Sutherland - Age 23. Guitar and vocals. Been playing guitar and writing songs since he was 12. Turned pro at 18 in preference to studying at the University of Manchester. Wrote You Got Me Anyway, the new SB&Q single.
Gavin Sutherland - Age 21. Guitar and vocals. Has been playing a couple of years less than Iain, but turned pro and joined Iain's first band at 16. Apart from a brief spell when he had his own group, he's always been involved musically with his brother.
Tim Renwick - Age 23. Electric guitar. Formed Quiver together with Cal Batchelor, who has since returned to his native Canada. Tim's from Cambridge and played in several local bands there before coming to London, where his first major gig was to play in the band led by Jackie Lomax during the time he recorded for Apple.
Bruce Thomas - Age 24. Bass guitar. Turned pro in 1967, when he came to London from Middlesbrough with Free's Paul Rodgers when both were in a band called the Road Runners. Leaving there, he worked as a session man for a year before joining Quiver to replace the band's original bass player. Has been with Quiver just over two years.
Willie Wilson - Age 24. Drums. Also from Cambridge, where he initially met Tim. Also played in local groups, worked on Syd Barrett's solo album and joined Cochise, with whom he recorded two albums. Has been with Quiver two years.
Peter Wood - Age 23. Piano, organ, accordion. The newest member of Quiver, he joined after the linkup with the Suths. Has played piano since 15 and sat the exams of the Royal College of Music. Has loads of session work experience under his belt and has also written arrangements for a multitude of music people, one of the most recent being Jonathon Kelly.
Band breakdown sheet from Island Records, 1973 [Note subtle changes from the one above.]
Iain Sutherland - Age 24. Guitar and vocals. Been playing guitar and writing songs since he was 12. Turned pro at 18 in preference to studying at the University of Manchester. Wrote You Got Me Anyway, and most of the material on the Dream Kid album.
Gavin Sutherland - Age 22. Guitar and vocals. Has been playing a couple of years less than Iain, but turned pro and joined Iain's first band at 16. Apart from a brief spell when he had his own group, he's always been involved musically with his brother.
Tim Renwick - Age 24. Not just lead guitar, but one of Britain's finest who is now beginning to receive the attention he's deserved for years. With Robbie Robertson and Richard Thompson, Tim shares the very special quality of being able to make concise and lucid guitar statements mean much more than endless displays of virtuosity for its own sake. Playing with several local bands in his native Cambridge, Tim eventually came to London, where his first major gig was to play in the band led by Jackie Lomax at the time he recorded for Apple.
Bruce Thomas - Age 25. Bass guitar. Turned pro in 1967, when he came to London from Middlesbrough with Bad Company's Paul Rodgers when both were in a band called the Road Runners. Leaving there, he worked as a session man for a year before joining Quiver to replace the band's original bass player. Has been with Quiver just over three years.
Willie Wilson - Age 25. Drums. Also from Cambridge, where he initially met Tim. Also played in local groups, worked on Syd Barrett's solo album and joined Cochise, with whom he recorded two albums. Has been with Quiver three years.
Peter Wood - Age 24. Piano, organ, accordion. Has loads of session work experience under his belt and has written arrangements for a multitude of music people.
John Pidgeon (early 1976; liner notes to Best Of albums)
Inevitably, Sailing will always be associated with Rod Stewart and that's more than a little ironic because, at worst, a lot of people must think he wrote it and, at best, even if the song displays the Sutherland Brothers' remarkable songwriting ability, it doesn't show that, in partnership with Quiver, they're a fine band.
It was in 1971 when Gavin, a year younger than his brother Iain, was still in his teens, that Muff Winwood listened to a demo tape they'd made and knew at once that these were more than just a pair of hopeful kids from the Potteries who'd started out in the mid-sixties with a school group doing versions of Dylan, the Beatles and the Byrds, and learned enough to want to write themselves. Which was the truth, but only part of it.
What took the Sutherland Brothers way out ahead of the pack was apparent from the first minute of the first track of their first album, and then ten times more in the ten tracks that followed, melodies an amnesiac couldn't forget, harmonies so tight it seemed they'd be able to hit them from separate soundproof rooms, an unpretentious wit, and above all a strong pop sense. There were traces of their early influences, but no need for acknowledgements. The Pie, especially, was an instant classic whose undulating, enigmatic beauty has never faded.
That first album, simply called The Sutherland Brothers Band, was recorded with a four-piece line-up that included two old friends from Stoke, Kim Ludman and Neil Hopwood, on bass and drums. The band stuck together for some nine months before the brothers decoded they could make it on their own. The reasoning was uncomplicated, since they performed no songs that couldn't be handled on twin guitars, so Iain mostly sang lead vocals while Gavin picked out the melody lines along the fretboard and harmonised. They forgot, though, to remember that acoustic duos are folkies by convention and they found themselves booked into clubs where the earnest cross-legged audience expected sweet falalas, not raunchy nananas.
The second album, Lifeboat, created a different problem, because the sound of the duo was augmented by a team of session players. It wasn't that Iain and Gavin didn't know how to rock on their own on stage, but simply that it was hard to impersonate Steve Winwood, Rabbit, John Hawken, Pat Donaldson, Bob Ronga and Dave Mattacks with only a couple of Gibsons and plimsolls.
Nevertheless, they were reluctant to re-enter the permanent claustrophobia of band life which had led to the split with Ludman and Hopwood, just as it had earlier broken up their first group. The solution was unexpected, but wholly effective. Instead of recruiting individual musicians, they teamed up with Quiver, a band in search of new leadership and success. If either party needed proof that the partnership would work, their first studio collaboration produced an outstanding single, (I Don't Wanna Love You But) You Got Me Anyway, while their live performances pumped new life like adrenalin into every song.
The new outfit hit harder than either of the previous set-ups, hustled along by Willie Wilson's crisp drumkit shuffle, kicked in the backside by Bruce Thomas's bass, and fleshed out by Peter Wood's keyboards; over them, Tim Renwick's guitar was Ali, both butterfly and bee. Gavin and Iain wore their guitars from habit and, freed from the burden of being their own band, sang stronger than ever.
In the summer of 1973, they toured coast to coast in the States with Elton John and by September You Got Me Anyway rode into the US top twenty with a bullet. "Say," enquired one bewildered American interviewer whose entire knowledge of this high-flying English group was written on the record label, "which one of you guys is Quiver?"
1974 was all snakes and ladders. It started with a single, Dream Kid, that should've been a hit, and an excellent album of the same name, then between a European tour in march and a week in the studio, Bruce Thomas quit. Ace's Tex Comer helped out in the studio and played a few gigs besides, before the band realised they already had a replacement in Gavin, who'd originally played bass in the brothers' first group. This change drew the band's two elements closer together as Gavin built a bridge between the Sutherland Brothers (songwriters and singers) and Quiver (instrumentalists). The benefit showed best on stage when they stretched out and really played on numbers like Real Love. The brothers' rhythm parts had previously kept well down in the mix, but now with Gavin pushing out bass riffs, Iain struck his chords like it really mattered.
Now, in 1976, the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver have finally received the recognition which has long been overdue. As you may have only recently discovered their present, what better time than now to acquaint yourself with their past?
Programme notes for Slipstream tour, 1976
Less than a year ago, Sutherland Brothers and Quiver were seriously, if briefly, considering going their separate ways. After almost three years of effort, two SB&Q albums and two excellent singles which missed the charts by a whisker, the group found themselves with no recording contract, no manager and had seen its personnel shrink from six to four. Weighing up the pros and cons of splitting the band, Iain and Gavin Sutherland, Tim Renwick and Willie Wilson decided that although there was more money to be earned as songwriters and session musicians, the satisfaction of making music together far outweighed immediate financial benefits. They can now look back on those dark days knowing that their decision had been correct. Arms of Mary, their second single for CBS and Reach for the Sky, their first album for the label, both hit the charts, the single coming within an ace of the number one spot.
The sudden spurt in the fortunes of SB&Q has its root in the meeting with Nick Blackburn, who subsequently became their manager, negotiated the recording deal with CBS and encouraged and believed in the group at a time when encouragement and belief were rare commodities.
Sutherland Brothers and Quiver joined forces in December 1972. Iain and Gavin Sutherland, after working in local bands in the Stoke-on-Trent area (born in North-East Scotland, they'd moved south when children), came to London and after the requisite hawking of their songs around Tin Pan Alley, securing a contract with Island Records. Muff Winwood produced them. After two albums as a duo (The Sutherland Brothers Band and Lifeboat), tours as a small group (Neil Hopwood on drums, Kim Ludman on bass) and tours as an acoustic duo, it became clear that Gavin and Iain desperately needed a strong instrumental unit to use as a platform for their many fine songs which were, by now, attracting much attention in the business (latterly, of course, Rod Stewart recording Gavin's Sailing, one of his earliest compositions, and it became a number one hit). Contemporary to the Sutherland Brothers decision to look for a band was the gradual dissolution of Quiver, a tight outfit who'd won a deserved reputation for sympathetic yet energetic playing with Tim Renwick's guitar work standing out.
Quiver had been formed by Renwick and Canadian songwriter Cal Batchelor. Working their way through various personnel changes, they'd settled down with drummer Willie Wilson and bassist Bruce Thomas. Eventually, after two Warner Bros albums, Batchelor's supply of songs was exhausted and Tim, Willie and Bruce began the search for a new source of material. They considered contacting Terry Reid, but he'd moved to America and so when it was suggested they rehearse with the Sutherlands, they thought "why not". Both sides approached the meeting with trepidation, but the two groups hit it off from the start, combined their date sheets and by December 29th 1972 were ready to play London's Marquee Club in Wardour Street. Things happened fast. Their first single, (I Don't Want to Love You But) You Got Me Anyway, gradually climbed the American charts peaking just inside the top twenty; they toured there supporting Elton John; their second single, Dream Kid, off the album of the same name, almost charted in Britain.
But their career went off-course. A second tour of the States was a disastrous affair, bass player Bruce Thomas had quit by now and Gavin took his place on bass. Keyboard player Pete Wood left. He wasn't replaced. Remarkably, throughout this turmoil, the Sutherlands continued to write strong songs and the slimmer SB&Q line-up threw a greater burden on Renwick's guitar playing, which was to the good. It was then that their affairs were taken over by Nick Blackburn, then working with BTN. They recorded Reach for the Sky with American producers Ron and Howie Albert and, with several labels competing, signed to CBS. The rest is very recent, very satisfying history.
There are several distinctive flavours to SB&Q's music which distinguishes them from the rock 'n' roll pack. The songs of Gavin and Iain are deeply melodic, informed by their Scots' heritage and by the close ties their family had with the sea. Gavin, especially, draws upon its power and beauty; Iain tends to be a gentler, more romantic writer. Renwick's guitar work has received enough praise to slake the thirstiest ego, which Tim incidentally doesn't possess. Drummer Willie Wilson is content to deftly support the group in an unfussy, sensitive style, holding strength in reserve until it's needed. Descibing their "overnight success after three-and-a-half years", SB&Q say it feels like 1973 all over again, when they were touring with Elton and riding the U.S. hot 100. This time, however, SB&Q are set to consolidate their breakthrough. From now on, they're reaching for the sky.
Programme notes for Down to Earth tour, 1978
Since the Sutherland Brothers, Iain and younger brother Gavin, and the remnants of Quiver - Tim Renwick lead guitar, drummer Willie Wilson and bassist Bruce Thomas - joined forces in December 1972, they've had more than their fair share of hard times and ill-fortune, but each time, they've bounced back, seemingly recharged by the experience.
The initial effect of the alliance was actually quite shattering. Their first recording sessions, with the band now augmented by keyboard player Pete Wood, produced (I Don't Want to Love You But) You Got Me Anyway, which became a top twenty hit in America. and a successful Stateside tour with Elton John took them to the brink of an instant breakthrough.
Sadly, though, things started to go wrong. Their first album, Dream Kid, didn't do as well as it deserved; further hit singles narrowly eluded them; the second tour of America was a disaster, both organisationally and financially; and shortly afterwards Bruce Thomas threw in the towel during a European tour.
For the next album, Beat of the Street, SB&Q enlisted the help of Tex Comer from Ace and almost lured him away on a full-time basis (an incident that inspired Ace's How Long), but when they went back on the road, it was as a five-piece with Gavin playing bass.
Yet it seemed that their problems had hardly begun. They had been without proper management since their second visit to the States and, following the disappointing reaction to Beat of the Street, they were also without a record company. During a break from touring to sort out this dilemma, Tim and Pete returned to their old stand-by of session work and played with Al Stewart's band. which Pete decided to join permanently.
Now down to a four-piece, SB&Q were at the point of disbanding in early 1975, but with their new-found manager Nick Blackburn giving them a much-needed shot of confidence and enthusiasm, they decided to carry on.
It was a decision that was to be vindicated very swiftly after their signing with CBS in August of 1975. The American production [team] of Ron and Howie Albert, who'd made quite a name for themselves down in Miami working for the likes of Stephen Stills, had been brought over to work on the new Reach for the Sky album, and its release shortly before Christmas '75 was followed in the New Year by their first British hit single. Arms of Mary missed the number one spot by the narrowest of margins, but along with the tremendous success of Rod Stewart with Gavin's Sailing the previous year, it finally established the Sutherland Brothers in the public eye as songwriters of the first order.
Perhaps even more importantly from the band's point of view, the album also did very well, spending some time in the top thirty and helping elevate them to a position where they could accompany the release of their Slipstream album last October with a sell-out 22 date nationwide tour.
This was followed by a somewhat less successful European tour, when SB&Q found themselves consistently at loggerheads with the audiences attracted by the headline band, Wishbone Ash, and another American visit which proved more rewarding. But then in April came the departure of Tim Renwick, who felt he needed greater freedom to develop as a songwriter.
Once again, SB&Q were faced with the dilemma of how to cover the loss, and once again they decided not to introduce another permanent member, preferring to augment themselves on stage and in the studio as they see fit. Since the core of SB&Q's distinctive appeal has always been the consistent quality of Iain and Gavin's songs and will continue to be so, it's a policy that can hardly be detrimental to their music, but will allow them a new flexibility of style.
Evidence of this is provided by Down to Earth, SB&Q's third album for CBS. Produced by Bruce Welch of the Shadows, who has been doing some very successful production work recently for Cliff Richard, the sessions featured the talents of Mick Gragham, Meal Ticket's Ray Flacke as well as Tim Renwick on guitar, Andy Pyle from the Kinks and Rick Wills on bass and Brian Bennett from the Shadows and ex-Moon drummer John Shearer on percussion.
The release of the album is followed by an extensive tour of the UK, and in view of the low profile that has tended to be characteristic of SB&Q's live shows down the years, it is interesting to note that they will be taking to the road with the largest aggregation of musicians ever assembled under the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver banner. Guitarist Alan Ross has played with such luminaries as Eric Clapton and the Doobie Brothers as well as leading his own band, Ross; bassist Tex Comer resumes his partnership with the band after a break of some three years; keyboard player Mick Weaver's credentials include tours with Andy Fairweather-Lowe and Frankie Miller. to name but two; while vocalists Debbie Doss and Shirley Roden were part of the Kinks' tour. John Shearer will also be along, forming with Willie Wilson what threatens to be a percussion section of rare power.
It all confirms the old adage that you can't keep a good man (or men) down, and leads one to suspect that, despite nearly five years of excellent music-making, the best of the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver is probably still to come.