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Speedy Keen - 1975 Y' Know What I Mean



ARTIST: Speedy Keen
ALBUM: Y'Know What I Mean
LABEL: Island
SERIAL: ILPS 9338
YEAR: 1975
CD REISSUE: 1996, UK, Edsel

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: John Keen - lead vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, drums, piano, organ, mellotron * Butch Sanford - lead guitar * Terry Wilson - bass guitar * Tony Braunagel - drums * Emanuel Rentzos, John Bundrick - keyboards * Liza Strike - backing vocals * Peter Vanderpuije, George Lee, Eddie Quansah - horns

TRACK LISTING: 01 Crazy Love * 02 Almost Eighteen * 03 Nightmare * 04 Fighting In The Streets * 05 Bad Boys * 06 I Promise You * 07 Someone To Love * 08 My Love * 09 The Profit On Ecology


Background
Never heard of them eh? Well, Speedy Keen was not really a band but the stage name of one John Keen former lead vocalist of Thunderclap Newman. The Thunderclap's originally put together by The Who's Pete Townsend had one major hit with 'Something In The Air', a song that if you've been within earshot of a radio in the last thirty eight years, you must have heard at least once. An obligatory two month tour of the UK followed, but the band fell apart, understandably not able to match the success of the brilliant and timeless single. Following the split guitarist Jimmy McCulloch went on to Wings and keyboardist Andy Newman released an outstanding progressive album 'Rainbow' in 1971 disappearing soon after never to be heard from again. Not to be left out in the cold, Keen released his first solo album 'Previous Convictions' in 1973 to lukewarm reviews. Following up with 'Y'Know Wot I Mean' found Speedy supported by most of Back Street Crawler and an album that was originally written as a double LP, but eventually was whittled down on the advisement of Island Records.


The Songs
Good thing too, since this is not the strongest record I've ever heard and a double set would have been a questionable test in endurance but as a single disc, it's not without its merits. Opening on an odd note with the country rock influenced 'Crazy Love' I don't think helped the Speedy Keen cause and his cover of Roy Orbison's 'Almost Eighteen' does little for me. 'Nightmare' and 'Fighting In The Streets' see Keen trying for hard rock credo, but neither track gets too exciting and lack both substance. 'Bad Boys' is an awful reggae influenced number that should have been left off the record, but from here on things get much better with the ballads 'I Promise You' and 'Someone To Love' both of which reach back to the Thunderclap Newman sound. 'My Love' follows a similar melodic line while the closing 'The Profit From Ecology' is as current as it was in 1975 in light of today's environmental issues and a full album in the spirit of the last four tracks would have made this record a classic.


In Summary
Keen never followed up with another album, instead he found himself taking on the role of producer which included the first raw, but incredibly energetic Motorhead album. Later in life, John endured severe arthritis and could no longer play music, gradually fading from the rock scene. He died unexpectedly in 2002 and the world lost a talented musician that never received much attention but left his mark in the pop world forever with 'Something In The Air'.


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