Andy Fairweather Low – Spider Jiving (1974)

FrontCover1The seven million people who bought Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album and the countless more who saw the MTV Unplugged TV show experienced the work of Andy Fairweather Low, who served as Clapton’s backup guitarist/vocalist. But probably few in that giant audience knew that Fairweather Low had once been a teen idol and had an extensive recorded catalog in groups and as a solo star. Born in Cardiff, Wales, Fairweather Low formed Amen Corner in the mid-’60s, for which he served as lead singer. The group scored six U.K. hits from 1967 to 1969, the biggest of which was the number one “(If Paradise Is) Half as Nice.” Its success put Fairweather Low’s attractive face on the bedroom walls of teenage girls all over Britain. Amen Corner broke up at the end of the ’60s and evolved into the more progressive Fair Weather, which scored a hit with “Natural Sinner” in 1970, but broke up in 1971. Fairweather Low retired for several years, but returned as a solo artist in 1974 and made a series of albums through 1980, reaching the U.K. Top Ten with the singles “Reggae Tune” and “Wide Eyed and Legless.” Gradually, however, he began to work as a sideman to more prominent British musicians, notably ex-Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters, and with the ARMS benefit group in 1987. He toured Japan with George Harrison and Eric Clapton in 1991 and has since been part of Clapton’s backup band. Fairweather Low began touring with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings and, in 2006, hit the road again with Waters for the Dark Side of the Moon Tour. (by William Ruhlmann)

Andy Fairweather Low.jpgAndy Fairweather Low spent a fair amount of the late ’60s through 1970 in the British Top Ten with the pop-R&B band Amen Corner, as well the short-lived Fair Weather, before taking a nearly three-year hiatus from recording. Shedding his teen idol image of previous years, the Welsh-born Low returned in 1974 with his first solo record, Spider Jiving. Here he delivers 11 self-penned gems that can be as laid-back as they can be funky, employing support from both Nashville and Memphis while retaining the sort of looseness found in an English pub band. With producer Elliot Mazer — known for his work with Neil Young — Low punches up tunes such as the acoustic-based title track with help from the Memphis Horns, while his rock & roll and R&B sport wry touches of banjo, fiddle, pedal steel, and Charlie McCoy’s harmonica. Lyrically, there’s a thread of frustration, steeped in the experiences of someone who’s had to sit back and watch others get rich from his hard work and success (Low and Amen Corner made very little money despite their success, and were actually in debt to their label following their breakup). And while lines such as “…and the sad thing is, that no one really cares” and “I’ve been abused too long…” may hint at singer/songwriter self-pity, closer investigation reveals a playfulness in the music, as well as a sense of humor and a sly wink in his delivery that keeps everything in perspective. Some of the highlights include the irresistible title cut; the dancehall ballad “Dancing in the Dark”; and the wah-wah driven “Reggae Tune,” which continued Low’s string of U.K. Top Ten hits. (by Brett Hartenbach)

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Personnel:
Kenny Buttrey (drums)
Vassar Clements (violin)
Andy Fairweather Low (guitar, vocals)
John Kahn (guitar)
Charlie McCoy (harmonica)
Henry McCullough (guitar)
Weldon Myrick (steel-guitar)
Mark Naftalin (keyboards)
Denny Seiwell (drums)
Buddy Spicher (violin)
Chris Stewart (bass)
Bobby Thompson (banjo)
Mick Weaver (keyboards)
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The Memphis Horns Horn
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background vocals:
Lea Jane Berinati – Dianne Davidson – Ginger Holladay – Mary Holladay

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Tracklist:
01. Spider Jiving 3.07
02. Drowning on Dry Land 3.30
03. Keep On Rocking 3.47
04. Same Old Story 3.47
05. I Ain’t No Mountain 4.06
06. Every Day I Die 4.33
07. Standing On The Water 4.05
08. Mellow Down 3.10
09. The Light Is Within 4.21
10. Reggae Tune 3.24
11. Dancing In The Dark 3.02

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