The Exception “The Eagle Flies On Friday: Complete Recordings 1967-1969” (RPM Retro 956, 27 October 2014)
Hailing from Birmingham, The Exception, who began life as The Exceptions, were a pop trio formed in 1967, who released a total of seven singles and one LP in their two and a half year lifespan. The band was unique in that it was led by drummer and lead vocalist, Alan “Bugsy” Eastwood, who also penned most of the band’s songs, and employed vibes as an essential part of their sound. Eastwood was joined by guitarist Roger Hill and bassist Dave Pegg. RPM Records, UK, gives The Exception the royal treatment on this compilation which not only contains the band’s complete recorded output, but five previously unreleased tracks, thus totaling 26 tracks with a run time of more than 70 minutes.
The set opens with the title track, issued in March, 1967 on the CBS label, under their original moniker, The Exceptions. Featuring vibraphone and a blazing guitar solo by Roger Hill, this may well be the high water mark for the band’s releases. The tune’s title referred to the eagle’s head on US currency and Friday being payday for most workers, so the “eagles fly on Friday.” Unfortunately, the meaning was lost on most UK record buyers and in turn the single failed to sell. CBS released a second single, but it suffered a similar fate and the remainder of the group’s singles and its long LP were released on the President label. At this point the trio’s original bassist, Dave Pegg, left the band, eventually joining Fairport Convention and then Jethro Tull. Pegg was replaced first by John Rowland and later Malcolm Garner.
On stage The Exception were a blues based band, and their fifth single, “Tailor Made Babe” reflects this with its barrelhouse blues piano leading the way. The b-side “Turn Over The Soil” features stinging guitar bursts courtesy of Roger Hill, and is definitely one of the highlights of this retrospective, seting the tone for the bands’ later recordings such as “Jack Rabbit” which features psychedelic guitar work by Hill.
The band was given artistic control on their first and only LP, and the resulting album “The Exceptional Exception” released in February, 1969, certainly deserved a better fate than it experienced. Highlights include the psychedelic “Don’t Torture Your Mind” written by Hill, as well as inspired Eastwood tracks such as “Mrs. Cocaine” and “Woman Of The Green Lantern.” Unfortunately, Eastwood became restless and left the band, effectively marking the end of The Exception although Hill and Garner did carry on with a new drummer and Hill taking over on lead vocals, by May, 1969, The Exception were no more.
Thanks to project manager John Reed and sound engineer Simon Murphy, “The Eagle Flies On Friday” is a wonderful package for fans of mid to late 1960s pop music. The group’s tasteful use of vibes and wonderful tinges of psychedelic guitars as well as Eastwood’s unique lyrics set it apart from its contemporaries and definitely makes this collection worth exploring. The accompanying 16 page color booklet featuring complete track annotations and informative notes by Reed are icing on the cake for this release. As always, the folks at RPM Records live up to their motto, “By Collectors For Collectors.”
Review made by Kevin Rathert/2015
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