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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thunderclap Newman - "Hollywood Dream" Vinyl, LP, Album, 1970 (Track Records)


Thunderclap Newman is a band put together by Pete Townshend and his manager Kit Lambert.   The band was a trio consisting of Pete's driver Speedy Keen, who I gather is the normal guy in the group, Andy Newman, who is the eccentric and maybe slightly older piano/sax player, and their teenage wonder guitar player Jimmy McCulloch, who ended up in Paul McCartney's Wings, when they were huge.  Why Townshend felt a need to put this band together, I think was to give Keen some attention as a songwriter.   Townshend produced and played bass on this album "Hollywood Dream." 

First of all, it's a brilliant record that probably wasn't meant to become a classic.  The scope of Keen's songs go from Hollywood myth town to getting your head together and make this album via Traffic's aesthetic of going to the country.  Thunderclap Newman didn't go to the country but instead went to Townshend's home studio in London which I suspect was a tiny hole-in-the-wall.  Each member has a distinctive sound and role in the band.  Speedy sings lead and drums, and Andy Newman and Jimmy to me are the stars of the group.  Jimmy because he was 15 or so, doing amazing guitar work, but Andy like the other Andy in the future Roxy Music, adds textures and layers of ambient sax sounds which are essential to the Thunderclap sound - and of course is amazing piano playing which sometimes reminds me of Monk meeting some turn-of-the-century whore house pianist.  It's an amazing group of sounds that fits into Keen's songwriting vision.  "Something in the Air" is the great classic hit off this album, and pretty much shows why they are great, but "Accidents" is the track that goes beyond that even by its length of nine minutes as well as an off-color joke that goes well with its length as well as it's great music.  Especially the Andy Newman freak-out sequence in the middle of the piece.  A classic.