Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hippie Rudies

LOCOMOTIVE-Rudi's In Love/Never Set Me Free U.S. Bell 754 1968

Here's a weird one kids, an American pressing nonetheless, by Locomotive, a British band from Birmingham led by one Norman Haines.  The band are best known for their proto-prog 45 "Mr. Armageddon" (which also gained a U.S. release on Bell 778 in early 1969) and their mindblowing and expensive 1970 LP "We Are Everything You See".

Being from Birmingham, which was a stronghold of reggae/ska fans from it's West Indian community as well as it's heavy duty skinhead/hard mod contingent, Haines was quite familiar with Jamaican sounds and set about steeering his merry band of long hairs into reggae country.  The band's debut 45 was a tune called "Broken Heart" b/w a version of  Dandy Livingstone's "Rudy A Message To You" (Direction 58-3114 December 1967).  Eight months later a reggae flavored Haine's original "Rudi's In Love" appeared" in the U.K. as Parlophone R 5718.

As U.K. reggae/ska cash in's go they can either be cool (Mickey Finn and the Bluemen's "Tom Hark") or dreadful (The Piglett's "Johnny Reggae").  "Rudi's In Love" falls somewhere in the middle.  It's fake West Indian patois is a bit insincere but it's got a great groove and strong horns (Locomotive's strong suit were their amazing horn section) and it's a bit cheezy with lines like "You can stay home while the other rude boys go to Shantytown.." or mention of "no gun shooting, or retributing for Rudi tonight..". "Never Set Me Free" starts out with some great Foundations style horns before it degenerates into a dreadful ballad akin to awful Macleod/Macaulay schlock Long John Baldry or The Foundations (occasionally) were churning out.

pic courtesy of

Not genuine enough to catch on with either the skinhead or West Indian music fans and too exploitative to be taken seriously by anyone else the record did not gain any success, in fact it created quite a bit of aggro for the band when they released their next single "Mr. Armageddon" (a very serious number) and critics and listeners alike were quick to dredge up their two previous ska/reggae releases as proof that they were merely climbing about the psych/prog bandwagon.  I have not seen either side on any form of re-issue other than a 7" E.P. EMI did back in the late 70's that coupled it with "Mr. Armageddon" and it's flip.

Hear "Rudi's In Love":

Hear "Never Set Me Free":

Hear "Rudy A Message To You":

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