Paice Ashton Lord – Malice In Wonderland (1976) (2001 Special Edition)

LPFrontCover1Malice in Wonderland is the only studio album by Paice Ashton Lord. It was released in 1977.

Once they had decided to leave and disband Deep Purple, Paice and Lord began to plan a very different type of band, built around a trio of themselves and long time friend Tony Ashton, who was to handle the vocals and share keyboard duties. Ashton, Gardner & Dyke had supported Deep Purple in the early seventies, and shared management. Jon Lord found he got on well with Ashton, and helped AGD out in the studio culminating in the superb western soundtrack ‘The Last Rebel’ which the pair co-wrote and performed on.

In 1974 Ashton and Lord finally finished the “The First Of The Big Bands” album (started three years before), influenced by the Phil Spector wall of sound idea. The album did not sell well, despite a BBC In Concert appearance and an all-star show in London, but did establish the heavy r’n’b foundations on which PAL were to build. To complete PAL, mysterious “guitarist and bassist wanted” press ads appeared in July 1976, and from the auditions guitarist Bernie Marsden (ex of Cozy Powell’s Hammer and Babe Ruth) and bassist Paul Martinex (from Stretch) were signed. Work then got underway on a debut album, the group accompanied off and on by a film crew for the eventual PAL documentary ‘Lifespan’. Jon Lord also broke off to help promote his latest (and some would say best) solo album Sarabande before finishing off the PAL album.

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PAL’s debut Malice In Wonderland in March 1977 got a mixed reception and a European tour was cancelled in favour of just five UK dates during which PAL expanded to an 11-piece group with a brass section and girl backing singers. A nervous world debut on BBC TV’s ‘Sight And Sound In Concert’ was with hindsight a PR blunder, and showed how uneasy Tony Ashton was fronting a band launched on such a grand scale but even so most of the subsequent gigs were packed and Tony enjoyed himself more when able to communicate a little with the first few rows. Paice and Lord tried unsuccessfully to bring in David Coverdale to take the pressure from Ashton’s shoulders (he was also being headhunted by Uriah Heep around the same time), before eventually deciding in early 1978 to cut their losses and call it a day with work on a second album abandoned (some tracks later being unearthed for a CD reissue).

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David Coverdale in turn brought Bernie Marsden into his new band Whitesnake, and a few months later managed to tempt Jon Lord into the fold. Ian Paice followed in mid 1979. Tony Ashton returned to sessions (appearing on one or two of Lord’s solo albums), production, occasional live work and painting. An all-star concert in his honour was held at Abbey Road in 2000 which included the only PAL reunion, with all the original group except for Martinez taking part. Tony Ashton was quite ill by this time and sadly passed away in 2001. (by deep-purple.net)

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Paice Ashton Lord’s sole album is a rather anonymous-sounding late-1970s hard rock/AOR effort. There’s more funk, soul, boogie, and jazz influence than you would expect from Deep Purple alumni, but at heart these are typical period mainstream rock songs that don’t lend a distinctive personality to the short-lived band. There’s an outrageously blatant quote from Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel” in “Silas & Jerome.”

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The 2001 CD reissue on Purple Records adds eight bonus tracks from the sessions for their unreleased second album, which are of a similar but less polished quality. Some of the songs are instrumentals rather than fully worked-up compositions, and the fidelity on a few of them is substandard, though not truly bad. The liner notes for the reissue give a thorough history of the band. (by Richie Unterberger)

And the bonus tracks from the unreleased second album are fucking good … listen to “Steamroller Blues”, “Moonburn” and to all the other tracks … and you´ll know wha I mean !

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Personnel:
Tony Ashton (vocals, keyboards)
Jon Lord (keyboards, synthesizer)
Bernie Marsden (guitar, background vocals)
Paul Martinez (bass)
Ian Paice (drums, percussion)
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Reg Brooks (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone)
Howie Casey (saxophone)
Gilbert Dall’enese (saxophone, clarinet)
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background vocals:
Jeanette McKinley – Sheila McKinley

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Tracklist:
01. Ghost Story (Paice/Ashton/Lord) 5.47
02. Remember The Good Times (Paice/Ashton/Lord/Marsden/Martinez) 5.46
03. Arabella (Oh Tell Me) (Ashton) 4.07
04. Silas & Jerome (Paice/Ashton/Lord)  3.24
05. Dance With Me Baby (Paice/Ashton/Lord/Marsden/Martinez) 3.21
06. On The Road Again, Again (Paice/Ashton/Lord/Marsden) 3.59
07. Sneaky Private Lee (Paice/Ashton/Lord7Marsden) 6.07
08. I’m Gonna Stop Drinking (Paice/Ashton/Lord) 5.09
09. Malice In Wonderland (Paice/Ashton/Lord) 6.06
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10. Steamroller Blues (Taylor) 4.52
11. Nasty Clavinet (Paice/Ashton/Lord/Marsden) 4.30
12. Black And White (Paice/Ashton/Lord) 4.13
13. Moonburn (Paice/Ashton/Lord/Marsden/Martinez) 3.22
14. Dance Coming (Paice/Ashton/Lord) 4.57
15. Goodbye Hello LA (Paice/Ashton/Lord) 3.54
16. Untitled (Paice/Ashton/Lord/Marsden/Martinez) 3.16
17. Ballad Of Mr. Giver (Ashton/Lord) 5.53

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