Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fat Mattress - Fat Mattress I (1969) & II (1970) with Bonus Tracks

(UK 1968-70)
Fat Mattress was an English folk rock band that formed in Folkestone in 1968. Founded by guitarist and vocalist Noel Redding, during his time as bassist for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and vocalist Neil Landon, the band was completed by multi-instrumentalist Jim Leverton and drummer Eric Dillon. Polydor signed them in 1969, and the band released two albums – Fat Mattress and Fat Mattress II – before splitting up in 1970. Their debut album was recorded in late 1968 / early 1969, evoked the influences of the time, touching upon styles pioneered by groups such as Traffic (whose member Chris Wood guested on the record playing flute). A superb piece of Psychedelic rock in its own right, FAT MATTRESS I failed to get the attention it deserved at the time of release (despite a tour as support act to the Hendrix Experience) but has subsequently been hailed as a classic of the era.
Their first album was a Noel Redding’s Post-Hendrix project with him playing guitar not bass along with the rhythm section of Englebert Humperdinck’s band. Actually Noel was a Guitar player, not a bass Player. He stumbled upon been a member of the “Experience” almost in error; He went on an audition for Eric Burdon of the Animals. He was the 1st member to join Jimi's band and was the 1st to leave the band. This album is nothing at all similar to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Its a Dreamy, Folkish, soft-psych LP very differant from the crazy guitar - hard blues of “the Experience” we all know and love.
From the sound of things, Redding (who had a hand in writing much of the material) and his new cohorts were doing some heavy listening to California psychedelic rock and folk-rock, as this is far breezier and more oriented toward harmony vocals. It's often like an amalgam of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Moby Grape, and Love, with some passing nods to British psychedelia by Traffic (Chris Wood plays flute on "All Night Drinker" by the way), the Move, and the Small Faces; there's even a bit of a Monkees-go-spacy feel to "I Don't Mind." In the manner of Forever Changes-era Love, the lyrics have a fleetingly opaque feel, easy on the ear but not really about anything, save soaking up good-time vibes. The problem, at least inasmuch as playing this back to back with something like Forever Changes, is that the words and music don't penetrate nearly as deeply, or coalesce into nearly as strong a group identity. They're pleasing but indeed fleeting in their impression, lacking the indelible hooks or songwriting brilliance of their apparent inspirations, the songs tending to run together in their similar moods. All that said, this isn't a bad album at all; had it not been dismissed by many Hendrix collectors as irrelevant, it might well be getting rediscovered by revisionists and championed as a minor nugget of obscure British light psych. The 1992 reissue on the Sequel label (included here) adds five previously unreleased bonus tracks, undated but from the sound of things cut around the same time as the album or slightly afterward, most of them using a heavier instrumental approach.
The Jimi Hendrix connection was probably responsible for gaining Fat Mattress much of whatever attention they managed to attract. It might have been a double-edged sword, however, as Fat Mattress' music wasn't at all similar to what Redding had played with Hendrix, being in far lighter folk-rock, psychedelic, and early prog rock styles, and integrating plenty of vocal harmonies. Too, Redding wasn't a dominant figure in the band, though he was an important one; Fat Mattress was a true group effort, with fellow members Neil Landon and Jim Leverton writing about as much of their material as Redding did. Fat Mattress formed shortly before Redding's ultimate departure from Hendrix's band as Redding had been frustrated to an extent in the Experience, playing bass although he had more experience as a guitarist, and barely being allowed to write anything on their records. Fat Mattress would open up more opportunities for him to both play guitar (and sing), and to record more original material. The rest of the band were, like Redding, from Folkestone in England. Singer Landon had done a stint in the Ivy League, and multi-instrumentalist Leverton had been in the backing band of Engelbert Humperdinck, where he met Fat Mattress' drummer, Eric Dillon. Fat Mattress came to the attention of the music business quickly, not only via the mere presence of Redding, but also from playing support on an American tour by the Jimi Hendrix Experience (in which Redding would double as the Experience's bassist and Fat Mattress' guitarist). At the end of the day, their debut album wasn't nearly as distinctive as the best acts in those styles, but it did contain some pleasant and accomplished work. It was also modestly successful, making number 134 in the U.S., with one of the songs, "Magic Forest," becoming a big hit in Holland.
Fat Mattress ran into problems soon after that, when they returned to America to do their own tour, completing only five of 30 planned dates before going back to England. A second album, the unimaginatively titled FAT MATTRESS II, ran over the same ground as their debut did, but with less flair and distinction, remaining derivative and suffering in comparison with other bands using similar approaches. Nevertheless, layers of instruments and vocals permeate through every track on their second LP. "Anyway You Want" is a strong example of a good Fat Mattress song. There is an organ and rhythm guitar holding the middle with a simple chord progression and two subtle lead guitars (One Noel's) are riding over the top. This mixed with Landon's searing vocal makes for a perfect song that should be heard a few times to appreciate. I have included the CD release version here of their second LP which includes four bonus tracks, recorded at the same time but not included on the shorter vinyl release.
Having failed to graduate to the big leagues, the group finally broke up soon after the release of their 2nd album in late 1970.
Both rips were taken from CD at 320kps and contain full album artwork (CD and LP)
Track Listing (Fat Mattress I) ...........Band Members:
01 - All Night Drinker ........................Noel Redding (Guitar, Vocals)
02 - I Don't Mind .................................Neil Landon (Lead Vocals)
03 - Bright New Day ............................Eric Dillon (Drums)
04 - Petrol Pump Assistant ................Mitch Mitchell (Percussion)
05 - Mr. Moonshine .............................Chris Wood (Flute)
06 - Magic Forest
07 - She Came In The Morning
08 - Everything's blue
09 - Walking Through A Garden
10 - How can I Live?
[ Bonus Tracks ]
11 - Little Girl In White
12 - Margarita
13 - Which Way To Go
14 - Future Days
15 - Cold Wall Of Stone
Track Listing (Fat Mattress II) ...........Band Members:
01 - The Storm .....................................Noel Redding (Guitar, Vocals)
02 - Anyway You Want........................ Steve Hammond (Guitar)
03 - Leafy Lane.....................................Jim Leverton (Bass)
04 - Naturally.......................................Neil Landon (Lead Vocals)
05 - Roamin'..........................................Mick Weaver (Keyboards)
06 - Happy My Love...............................Eric Dillon (Drums)
07 - Childhood Dream
08 - She
09 - Highway
10 - At The Ball
11 - People
[ Bonus Tracks ]
12 - Hall Of Kings
13 - Long Red
14 - Words
15 - The River
Fat Mattress I Link (124Mb) New Link 04/10/2013
Fat Mattress II Link (172Mb) New Link 04/10/2013