The Steampacket – The First Supergroup (1977)

FrontCover1Steampacket (sometimes shown as Steam Packet)[1] were a British blues band formed in 1965 by Long John Baldry with Rod Stewart, Julie Driscoll, and organist Brian Auger. The band were operational as a live act during 1965 and 1966, supporting the Rolling Stones on their 1965 tour. Due to contractual difficulties, they did not release any recordings during their lifetime; however, some demos they recorded would later be released under the deceptive titles, First of the Supergroups: Early Days and The First Supergroup: Steampacket Featuring Rod Stewart, to cash in on Stewart’s success.

The group was formed in 1965 by Long John Baldry after the break-up of his previous group the Hoochie Coochie Men. It included Rod Stewart who had been with Baldry in the Hoochie Coochie Men, vocalist Julie Driscoll, organist Brian Auger and guitarist Vic Briggs. They were managed by Giorgio Gomelsky, who had previously been involved with the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds.

Steampacket01Steampacket played at various clubs, theatres and student unions around the country, including supporting the Rolling Stones on their 1965 British tour.[6][7] Because of contractual difficulties, however, they never formally recorded a studio or live album. Tracks from some demo tapes they recorded at a rehearsal in the Marquee Club would later be released under the deceptive titles, First of the Supergroups: Early Days and The First Supergroup: Steampacket Featuring Rod Stewart, to cash in on Stewart’s success.[

Stewart left in 1966, and the group disbanded soon after. Long John Baldry then joined Bluesology which included a then unknown Elton John on keyboards, before pursuing a solo career, having a number 1 hit record in the UK Singles Chart in 1967 with “Let the Heartaches Begin”. Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and Vic Briggs formed Trinity, and had a UK hit in 1968 with This Wheel’s on Fire; Briggs was also a member of the Animals. Rod Stewart later sang with the Jeff Beck Group, the Faces and as a solo artist. There is an urban legend that Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood, later of Fleetwood Mac, played with Steampacket. In fact Steampacket, with the exception of Rod Stewart’s departure, had the same personnel from its inception to its disintegration. The group that Green and Fleetwood played in alongside Rod Stewart was Shotgun Express.

Steampacket02Also packaged (with equal exploitation) as The First Supergroup, it’s unfair to judge the Steampacket on the basis of these demos, which were never intended for release. Still, what exists is a fair but unremarkable vestige of a typical mid-’60s British club band, perhaps more soul-oriented than most, heavily reliant upon American covers. Their most distinguishing feature was Brian Auger’s bubbly organ, whose style was indebted to American soul-jazz keyboardists like Ramsey Lewis and Jimmy Smith. Despite the title, Stewart only sings lead on one track, “Can I Get a Witness,” which is available on Rod’s Storyteller boxed set. The much inferior Baldry is heard much more often, and the program also includes some instrumental showcases for Auger. ( by Richie Unterberger)

Steampacket03Personnel:
Brian Auger (organ)
Long John Baldry (vocals)
Vic Briggs (guitar)
Richard Brown (aka Ricky Fenson) (bass)
Julie Driscoll (vocals)
Rod Stewart (vocals)
Micky Waller (drums)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Back At The Chicken Shack (Smith) 3.53
02. The In-Crowd (Page)
03. Baby Baby (Baby Dpn´tYou  Do) (unknown) 2.12
04. Can I Get A Witness (Holland/Dozier/Holland) 3.36
05. Baby Take Me (Ashford(Simpson/Armshead) 2. 26
06. Holy Smoke (inknown) 3.28
07. Cry Me A River (Hamilton) 2.46
08. Oh Baby, Don’t You Do It (unknown) 3.29
09. Lord Remember Me (unknown) 4.18

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