Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Temperance Seven

The group were formed at the Royal College of Art in 1957 and dressed in the style of the late 1920s jazz they played. The link between traditional jazz and various forms of comedy (many of them low brow) was well-forged and the group slipped neatly into surreal comedy, similar to the ever popular Goon Show. Trad jazz was also enjoying a renaissance in the UK and the bazaar Temperance Seven took the public imagination. The Temperance Seven usually had nine members and the lineup frequently changed in the ensuing years. Originally they were led by Alexander Hitchcock Galloway, who provided vocals and periodic bellows and commentary through a brass megaphone. Other musicians who made up the group included: “Whispering” Paul MacDowell (lead vocalist and replaced by Allan Moody Mitchell), Clifford Beban (piano, trombone),Canon Colin Bowles (piano), Alan Swainston Cooper (clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone), fez wearing John R.T. Davies aka Sheik Wadi El Yadounir (trombone, alto saxophone). Martin Fry (sousaphone), John Gieves-Watson (banjo and spoons), Phillip Harrison (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone), Cephas Howard (trumpet, euphonium), Brian Innes (percussion), Franklin D. Paverty (sousaphone), Mac White (clarinet, alto saxophone), Ray Whittam (clarinet, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone), Chris Buckley, Ted Wood (brother of Rolling Stone, Ron Wood), Dave Mills (drums), and Joe Clark. The Temperance Seven had some links with the Alberts and many members of the expanded version of the Alberts (known as the Massed Alberts) found their way to the Temperance Seven. The Alberts were a jazz-comedy outfit founded by Bruce Lacey (formerly a special effects engineer who worked on The Goon Show) the original trio was completed with brothers, Tony and Dougie Gray. Dressing in Victorian clothing and utilizing a variety of outré props, they gigged regularly and had a residency at Peter Cook's Establishment Club in London. They only recorded one single as the Massed Alberts and a pair of tracks on a compilation shared with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and the Temperance Seven.

Neil Innes was briefly a member of the ensemble. Lenny Bruce invited them to America and they travelled across on the Queen Mary entertaining/annoying other passengers with their antics which included riding penny-farthing bicycles around the decks. They arrived in New York to find Bruce had been arrested. Viv Stanshall (vocalist Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band) cited the Alberts as his inspiration.

The Temperance Seven had a UK number 1 hit in 1961 with "You're Driving Me Crazy" which was produced by George Martin. Other notable songs recorded were "Charley My Boy", "Pasadena", "Sugar" and "Chili Bom-Bom".

The Temperance Seven appeared in three films; It's Trad, Dad! (1962), Take Me Over (1963), and The Wrong Box (1966).

The group began to fall apart by the late 60s Paul McDowell left (replaced by Alan Mitchell) to pursue an acting career and then sousaphone ace Martin Fry pulled the pin in 1968. The original Temperance Seven came to an end, but Dave Mills who had ownership of the name leased it to a new lineup but after a disastrous trip to Hong Kong the band fell into abeyance. There was a reunion and many members of the original band played together again for a BBC radio programme about the group in 2003. Half a century after they formed The Temperance Seven continues to perform and delight audiences with new personnel.

Worth a listen:
You're Driving Me Crazy (1961)
Charley My Boy (1961)
Pasadena (1961)
Sugar (1961)
Hard hearted woman (1961)
Chili Bom-Bom (1961)
Charleston (1961)
Black Bottom (1961)
Sahara (1962)
Everybody Loves My Baby (1962)
Ain't She Sweet (1963)
From Russia With Love (1963)

Massed Alberts
Blaze Away
Goodbye Dolly Grey

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