The Average White Band (also known as AWB) are a Scottish funk and R&B band that had a series of soul and disco hits between 1974 and 1980. They are best known for their million-selling instrumental track “Pick Up the Pieces”, and their albums AWB and Cut the Cake. The band name was initially proposed by Bonnie Bramlett. They have influenced others, such as the Brand New Heavies, and been sampled by various musicians, including the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, TLC, The Beatnuts, Too Short, Ice Cube, Eric B. & Rakim, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Leena Conquest, Christina Milian, and Arrested Development, making them the 15th most sampled act in history. As of 2020, 48 years after their formation, they continue to perform.
AWB was formed in early 1972 in London by Alan Gorrie, and Malcolm “Molly” Duncan, with Owen “Onnie” McIntyre, Michael Rosen (trumpet), Roger Ball, and Robbie McIntosh joining them in the original line-up.
Hamish Stuart quickly replaced Rosen. Duncan and Ball, affectionately known as the Dundee Horns, studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (now part of the University of Dundee, but which at the time was part of the Dundee Institute of Art and Technology, now known as Abertay University), and were previously members of Mogul Thrash. Gorrie and McIntyre had been members of Forever More. McIntyre and McIntosh were used as session musicians on Chuck Berry’s recording of “My Ding-a-Ling”.
According to Duncan, members of the band had played together before in Scotland, but had moved to London separately and met up by chance at a Traffic concert. They decided to jam together; a friend heard them and remarked: “This is too much for the average white man,” which became adapted as the name of the band.
The band’s breakthrough was a support slot at Eric Clapton’s comeback concert in 1973. MCA Records released their debut album, Show Your Hand (1973), which sold poorly. Bruce McCaskill, who was Clapton’s tour manager, liked the band’s music and agreed to manage them. He borrowed money to take them to the US and to promote them. McCaskill had many contacts from his days with Clapton and managed to get Atlantic Records to sign them. The band relocated to Los Angeles and released the follow-up, AWB, better known as The White Album. It reached No. 1 and was the first of many with renowned producer Arif Mardin.
McIntosh died of a heroin overdose at a Los Angeles party on 23 September 1974. Gorrie also overdosed, but Cher kept him conscious until medical help arrived. The NME reported in January 1975 that AWB played a benefit show for McIntosh’s widow at the Marquee Club in London. McIntosh was replaced by Steve Ferrone, previously of Bloodstone, who had replaced McIntosh before in Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. (wikipedia)
how Your Hand is the first album by Scottish funk band Average White Band, likely recorded at R.G. Jones Studios, Wimbledon, London and released in 1973 by MCA Records. After the success of AWB, the album was re-issued in 1975 with a new title, Put It Where You Want It, a different opening track and new cover artwork. The re-issued version finally made it to the Billboard Top 200, peaking at #39. (wikipedia)
Re-issue edition, 1975:
Show Your Hand was where it all began for the Average White Band, which turned out to be one of the hottest funk/soul outfits of the mid- to late ’70s. But when MCA released this debut LP in 1973, the band’s commercial success was still a year away — it wasn’t until they joined the Atlantic roster in 1974 that they exploded commercially. Show Your Hand, in fact, was among 1973’s neglected R&B releases. In retrospect, it’s easy to point the finger at MCA and say, “You dropped the ball; this album should have done better.” Atlantic successfully broke AWB in 1974, so why weren’t MCA’s promotions and marketing people able to accomplish that the previous year? But in all fairness to MCA, breaking AWB was a challenge — imagine trying to convince ’70s soul stations that a white band from Scotland played first-class funk and soul.
Ad from Zig Zag, 1973:
Back in 1973, a lot of program directors at R&B stations probably took one look at this LP and assumed that AWB was a rock band; it took Atlantic to convince those programmers that the name Average White Band was meant to be ironic. Of course, anyone who gave Show Your Hand a serious listen in 1973 realized that AWB certainly wasn’t typical of the era’s long-haired white bands — stylistically, they inspired comparisons to the Isley Brothers and Tower of Power, not Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, or Mahogany Rush. Whether AWB is turning up the funk on “T.L.C.” or chilling out on the smooth soul of “Twilight Zone,” there is no getting around the fact that Show Your Hand is very much an R&B album. Show Your Hand (which MCA reissued as Put It Where You Want It in 1975) never became as well-known as AWB’s subsequent recordings for Atlantic, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive a debut for Hamish Stuart and his colleagues. (by Alex Henderson)
Roger Ball (piano, clavinet, saxophone)
Malcolm Duncan (saxophone)
Alan Gorrie (bass, vocals)
Robbie McIntosh (drums, percussion)
Onnie McIntyre (guitar, background vocals)
Hamish Stuart (guitar, vocals)
Review Melody Maker, 1973:
01. The Jugglers (Gorrie) 4.51
02. This World Has Music (Bramlett/Gorrie/Ware) 5.57
03. Twilight Zone (Ball/Gorrie) 5.28
04. Put It Where You Want It (Sample/Gorrie/Layne) 5.15
05. Show Your Hand (Gorrie) 4.28
06. Back in ’67 (Ball/Gorrie/McIntosh) 4.10
07. Reach Out (Ball/Duncan/Gorrie/McIntosh/McIntyre/Stuart) 4.04
08. T.L.C (Ball/Duncan/Gorrie/McIntosh/McIntyre/Stuart) 8.07
09. How Can You Go Home (Gorrie) 3.06
The album was first released in 1973 under the title Show Your Hand, then re-released in 1975 under the title Put It Where You Want It, with the only difference being the first track (“The Jugglers” replaced with “How Can You Go Home”).
Ad from Melody Maker:
The official website: