Sometime after Mick Jones returned from France he joined Wonderwheel, Gary Wright’s solo project after he had left Spooky Tooth in 1970 following the experimental Ceremony album released in 1969 and made in collaboration with French electronic tinkler Pierre Henry. Spooky Tooth would in fact reform in 1973 with Jones and Wright regrouping with the band’s other lead singer and piano player Mike Harrison. But before that happened the remainder of the original band (minus bassist Greg Ridley who left in 1969 to join Humble Pie) comprising of Harrison on lead vocals, Luther Grosvenor on guitar and Mike Kellie on drums, enlisted the help of friends from The Grease Band, Henry McCulloch on second guitar, Chris Stainton on piano and organ and Alan Spenner on bass – together they made The Last Puff in 1970.
With Wright gone the band had lost their main songwriter but in those days there was no shame in interpreting other people’s songs, even performing other band’s new songs as Hendrix did with Sgt. Pepper’s, performing the title track just three days after its release – can you imagine this scenario happening today? The second track on the album, The Wrong Time was actually written by the departed Gary Wright and session guitar player Hugh McCracken. Elton John and Bernie Taupin contributed the song Son Of Your Father – it also appeared four months later on the release of Tumbleweed Connection in October of the same year. Something To Say written by Joe Cocker and Peter Nichols wouldn’t appear by Joe Cocker for another two years when it came out on Cocker’s third and confusingly titled second release also called Joe Cocker in 1972. It’s inclusion was probably influenced by Chris Stainton who contributed a song of his own (the title track), The Grease Band having been originally formed as Cocker’s backing band. Down River was written by and appeared on David Ackles self-titled debut released in 1968. Nobody There At All was written by Mike Post and Bobby Martin, Martin was an arranger but Mike Post became famous for his TV themes notably, Hill Street Blues. Last but not least the opening track on the album was a 6 minute Hard Rock version of I Am The Walrus.
Oddly with all the talent involved in the writing and playing on this album, (it was produced by Island boss Chris Blackwell) Spooky Tooth’s creative heyday seemed to be behind them but the inspired dark cover of I Am The Walrus keeps this album very much alive – don’t miss the female vocals at 4.08, I’m not at the archive to check the album cover for a credit, if there is one but it’s one of many great moments in the version. For all its rough and ready sound the album grows on me the more I listen to it. It was unusual in that it was two halves of two bands coming together and for fans of early Joe Cocker, Leon Russell or The Band this album deserves better attention than history has allowed it.
Band members went onto fascinating things – Henry McCulloch joined Wings, Alan Spenner and Chris Stainton became in demand session men, Luther Grosvenor became Ariel Bender and joined Mott The Hoople and Mike Kellie joined one of the legendary greats of the New Wave era – The Only Ones.