String Driven Thing

Last updated
String Driven Thing
Origin Scotland
Genres Folk rock, progressive folk
Years active1967–1975
1991
2001–present
LabelsConcord Records
Charisma Records
ozit morpheus Records
Backshop Records
Website www.stringdriventhing.co.uk
MembersPauline Adams
Graham Smith
Robin Adams
Andy Allan
Dick Drake
Past membersChris Adams
John Mannion
Colin Wilson
Billy Fairley
Bill Hatje
Colin Fairley
Kim Beacon
Andy Roberts
James Exell
George Tucker
John Bradley
Bob Cairns

String Driven Thing are a folk rock band from Scotland, [1] originally formed in the 1960s and led by husband and wife Chris Adams and Pauline Adams. The band also featured the electric violin of Graham Smith. [2]

Contents

History

Formation

String Driven Thing formed in Glasgow in 1967 as a three part harmony folk band with the Adamses and guitarist John Mannion. After paying their dues on the Scottish folk circuit they put out an eponymous album on the independent Concord label (copies of which are collectable and difficult to find) although a long way from their later Charisma label output. The group moved to London in 1972 and Chris Adams began to steer the band towards the electric folk-rock genre where his song writing abilities, which often feature hard-bitten and bitter observations capturing the harsher side of life, would be seen to better effect. By 1972 he had recruited classically trained violinist Graham Smith and guitarist Colin Wilson on bass, but soon afterwards Mannion left, citing musical differences.

Record deal and tour

Adams then secured a deal with Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma label [3] and another eponymous album came out, produced by Shel Talmy at London's IBC Studios, with the songs "Circus", "Jack Diamond" and "Easy To Be Free" among the standout tracks. With Smith's high octane violin and Pauline Adams' distinctive lispy vocals, the band toured the UK and Europe with Charisma stablemates Lindisfarne and Genesis. This exposure raised their profile and led to TV appearances and an American tour. A second album, The Machine That Cried, was recorded in February 1973 at IBC, but now with the addition of a drummer, Billy "The Kid" Fairley. This was a much bleaker and rockier offering and though reviews were mixed at the time, it is now regarded as a forgotten classic. Standout tracks include "Heartfeeder", "The Machine That Cried" and "Sold Down The River". The song "Night Club", which opened Side Two, was inspired by the cover of their first Charisma album, designed by Hipgnosis, famous for their work with Pink Floyd. Recorded while Chris Adams was suffering health problems, including a collapsed lung and depression, the album is on the whole a very dark affair. Despite its cult status, it did not sell well at the time.

By 1974 the constant touring was taking its toll and Wilson was replaced by Bill Hatje on bass, then Billy Fairley gave way to Colin Fairley (former Beggars Opera but no relation.) Soon afterwards, disillusioned with life on the road, the Adamses quit and returned to their native Glasgow. With their departure the band disintegrated, but Charisma recruited three musicians to continue touring with Smith and Fairley. Singer Kim Beacon, guitarist Andy Roberts and bassist James Exel joined the band, with Roberts and Exel collaborating for much of the songwriting, including the single "Cruel To Fool" produced by Shel Talmy. Two albums followed. Please Mind Your Head, recorded by engineer Tony Taverner at Escape Studios in Kent, and Keep Yer A'nd On It, produced by Andy Johns at Island's Basing Street studios. Following the release of Keep Yer A'nd On It keyboardist Derek Beauchemin joined the band after violinist Graham Smith left.

String Driven Thing put out a number of singles on the Charisma label, some of which are not on any of the vinyl albums but appear as bonus tracks on Ozit Records CDs. Two of these are the Chris Adams compositions "It's a Game" and "Eddie". "It's A Game" was covered by the Bay City Rollers in 1977 and became a chart hit in the US, Japan and Germany. Chris and Pauline Adams put out a few singles on the Charisma label both as "Chris and Pauline Adams" and just "Adams". The b-side of their first single, "The City at Night", features Graham Smith. Colin Wilson went on to put out a solo folk album called Cloudburst on the Tabitha label which is also hard to find and has recently been reissued. The Chris Adams/Graham Smith String Driven Thing line up has reconvened on several occasions, most notably in 1991, 2001 and in 2004 which also saw an appearance from Pauline Adams.

Break up

The American tour of 1975 highlighted issues which the new lineup had with continuity and finding an appropriate audience.[ citation needed ] In October that year, they opened for Lou Reed, after which drummer Colin Fairley left the band and Charisma withdrew their support. Fairley went on to have a career as a studio engineer and record producer, for Elvis Costello and The Bluebells among others. Andy Roberts became guitar tech for Jeff Beck and Stevie Winwood, while Jimmy Exell still plays in Denmark. Beacon sang lead on Tony Banks' solo debut, A Curious Feeling , in 1979 and also had solo material issued. He died in 2001.

Violinist Graham Smith joined Charisma labelmates Van der Graaf in 1977 and also featured on some Peter Hammill albums. He later joined the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and put out three solo albums in Iceland, later reissued on CD by specialist progressive label Ozit Morpheus Records.

All early String Driven Thing, Chris Adams and Graham Smith albums are available on CD (Ozit Morpheus Records). Some live material and some hard to find tracks and outtakes appear on a German CD called Dischotomy with some alternate takes and rare material not found anywhere else. There are several BBC transcription discs of String Driven Thing live performances featuring both line-ups and two of these sets are on a German live bootleg CD called It's a Game.

Reformation and career

After 15 years of silence, Chris Adams released a solo album, The Damage, in 1991 and subsequently reformed String Driven Thing for a German tour, the Berlin leg of which was released on Ozit as $uicide, Live in Berlin. Variations of that band toured sporadically throughout the 1990s, but since 2001 the lineup has stabilised, with Andy Allan on bass, Dick Drake on drums and either George Tucker or Chris' son Robin Adams on guitar, with Pauline Adams and Graham Smith occasionally joining them in concert.

In 1978, Jimmy Exell played with a number of "session" bands, notably at the Baron's Court Tavern in Baron's Court, London, where he was a regular and a favourite of Alex Sanders' (then known as "The King of the Witches")

In 2007, the band released Moments of Truth, their first studio album in over 30 years, featuring twelve new Adams songs. April 2009 brought the Americana-tinged Songs From Another Country (released for contractual reasons as String Driven) on Backshop Records. The new material was first heard publicly at Fifestock in March 2009 and a new website stringdriventhing.co.uk was launched at the same time as the album release. In 2010, the Adamses gigged with original member John Mannion to celebrate the first album's 40th anniversary. As 2012 was the 40th anniversary of String Driven Thing's signing to Charisma and touring with Genesis, the band did some English gigs with Graham Smith and Pauline Adams.

Bass player Colin Wilson died in 2013 and founder and lead singer Chris Adams died on 7 October 2016. [4]

Personnel

Members

Lineups

1967–197219721972–19731973–1974
  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • John Mannion - guitar
  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • John Mannion - guitar
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Colin Wilson - bass
  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Colin Wilson - bass
  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Colin Wilson - bass
  • Billy "The Kid" Fairley - drums
197419741974–19751975
  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Billy "The Kid" Fairley - drums
  • Bill Hatje - bass
  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Bill Hatje - bass
  • Colin Fairley - drums
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Colin Fairley - drums
  • Kim Beacon - vocals
  • Andy Roberts - guitar
  • James Exel - bass
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Kim Beacon - vocals
  • Andy Roberts - guitar
  • James Exel - bass
1975–199119911991–20012001

Disbanded

  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin

Disbanded

  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin
2001–200420042004–20122012

Disbanded

  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Andy Allan - bass
  • Dick Drake - drums
20122012–present
  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Chris Adams - guitar, vocals
  • Pauline Adams - vocals, percussion
  • Graham Smith - violin
  • Robin Adams - guitar
  • Andy Allan - bass
  • Dick Drake - drums

Timeline

String Driven Thing

Discography

Albums

Singles

Solo releases

Related Research Articles

Wire (band) English rock band

Wire are an English rock band, formed in London in October 1976 by Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Bruce Gilbert (guitar) and Robert Gotobed (drums). They were originally associated with the punk rock scene, appearing on The Roxy London WC2 album, and were later central to the development of post-punk, with their debut album Pink Flag was influential for hardcore punk.

<i>Seconds Out</i> 1977 live album by Genesis

Seconds Out is the second live album by English progressive rock band Genesis. It was released as a double album on 14 October 1977 on Charisma Records and was their last to feature guitarist Steve Hackett prior to his departure. The majority was recorded in June 1977 at the Palais des Sports in Paris during the Wind & Wuthering Tour. One track, "The Cinema Show", was recorded the previous year at the Pavillon de Paris during their A Trick of the Tail Tour.

Charisma Records British record label

The Famous Charisma Label was a British record label founded in 1969 by former journalist Tony Stratton-Smith. He had previously acted as manager for rock bands such as The Nice, the Bonzo Dog Band and Van der Graaf Generator. Gail Colson was label manager and joint managing director.

Whiskeytown Band that plays alternative country

Whiskeytown was an American rock/alternative country band formed in 1994 from Raleigh, North Carolina. Fronted by Ryan Adams, the group included members Caitlin Cary, Phil Wandscher, Eric "Skillet" Gilmore, and Mike Daly. They disbanded in 2000 with Adams leaving to pursue his solo career. Whiskeytown gradually expanded its sound outside the confines of alternative country while still maintaining its alternative roots.

Colin Meloy American musician

Colin Patrick Henry Meloy is an American musician, singer-songwriter and author best known as the frontman of the Portland, Oregon, indie folk rock band The Decemberists. In addition to vocals, he performs with an acoustic guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bouzouki, harmonica and percussion instruments.

Jim Messina (musician) American musician

James Messina is an American musician, songwriter, singer, guitarist, recording engineer and record producer. He was a member of the folk rock group Buffalo Springfield, a founding member of the pioneering country rock band Poco, and half of the soft rock duo Loggins and Messina with Kenny Loggins.

Wayne Hussey English musician, singer of The Mission

Jerry Wayne Hussey is an English musician who was born in Bristol, England. He is best known as the lead singer of The Mission, and the guitarist with The Sisters of Mercy.

Climax Blues Band British blues rock band

The Climax Blues Band is a British blues rock band. The band was formed in Stafford, England, in 1967 by vocalist and harmonica player Colin Cooper (1939–2008), guitarist and vocalist Pete Haycock (1951–2013), guitarist Derek Holt, bassist and keyboardist Richard Jones, drummer George Newsome, and keyboardist Arthur Wood (1929–2005).

Mike Heron British musician

James Michael Heron is a Scottish singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his work in the Incredible String Band in the 1960s and 1970s.

<i>Spectral Mornings</i> 1979 studio album by Steve Hackett

Spectral Mornings is the third studio album by English guitarist and songwriter Steve Hackett, released in May 1979 on Charisma Records. It is his first to feature members of his touring band, which many Hackett fans consider as the "classic line-up". The musicians are his brother John Hackett, Nick Magnus, Dik Cadbury, John Shearer, and Pete Hicks.

Tony Stratton-Smith British music executive

Tony Stratton-Smith was an English rock music manager, and entrepreneur. He founded the London-based record label Charisma Records in 1969 and managed rock groups such as the Nice, Van der Graaf Generator and Genesis.

<i>The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome</i> 1977 studio album by Van der Graaf

The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome is the eighth album by British progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. Released in 1977, it was their last studio album before their 2005 reunion. The album features a more energetic, new wave sound than its three immediate predecessors, anticipating singer and songwriter Peter Hammill's late 1970s solo work.

Chris Stills American musician, actor and producer

Chris Stills is a musician and actor. He is the son of American rock musician Stephen Stills and French singer-songwriter Véronique Sanson. He has played with both his father and his mother.

<i>Over</i> (album) 1977 studio album by Peter Hammill

Over is the sixth studio album by the English singer and songwriter Peter Hammill, released on Charisma Records in April 1977. It was issued for the first time on CD on Virgin Records in the early 1990s, and was reissued again in a remastered version in 2006 with bonus tracks.

<i>World Record</i> (Van der Graaf Generator album) 1976 studio album by Van der Graaf Generator

World Record is the seventh studio album by Van der Graaf Generator, originally released in 1976 on Charisma Records. Bonus tracks were added for the 2005 rerelease.

<i>pH7</i> (Peter Hammill album) 1979 studio album by Peter Hammill

pH7 is an album by Peter Hammill, originally released on Charisma Records in September 1979. It was Hammill's eighth solo album and his last release on the Charisma label.

Van der Graaf Generator rock band from England

Van der Graaf Generator are an English progressive rock band, formed in 1967 in Manchester by singer-songwriters Peter Hammill and Chris Judge Smith and the first act signed by Charisma Records. They did not experience much commercial success in the UK, but became popular in Italy during the 1970s. In 2005 the band reformed, and are still musically active with a line-up of Hammill, organist Hugh Banton and drummer Guy Evans.

Magna Carta (band) band

Magna Carta is a progressive rock/folk rock group, originally formed in London in April 1969. Their first concert was on 10 May 1969, by Chris Simpson, Lyell Tranter, and Glen Stuart (vocals).

Arthur Adams (singer) American blues musician

Arthur Adams is an American blues guitarist from Medon, Tennessee. Inspired by B.B. King and other 1950s artists, he played gospel music before attending college. He moved to Los Angeles, and during the 1960s and 1970s he released solo albums and worked as a session musician. In 1985 he was tapped to tour on bass guitar with Nina Simone, and he staged a comeback in the 1990s when he released Back on Track, and became a respected Chicago blues player and bandleader in B.B. King's clubs.

Steve Ashley British singer-songwriter

Steve Frank Ashley is an English singer-songwriter, recording artist, multi-instrumentalist, writer and graphic designer. Ashley is best known as a songwriter and first gained public recognition for his work with his debut solo album, Stroll On. Taking his inspiration from English traditional songs, Ashley has developed a songwriting style, which is contemporary in content while reflecting traditional influences in his melodies, poetry and vocal delivery.

References

  1. String Driven Thing at AllMusic
  2. Christopulos, J., and Smart, P.: Van der Graaf Generator - The Book, p. 259. Phil and Jim publishers, 2005. ISBN   0-9551337-0-X.
  3. "String Driven Thing". Dinosaurdays. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  4. "String Driven Thing". String Driven Thing. Retrieved 2016-07-09.