The link between The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and the previous post about Stealers Wheel (apart from Scotland) is the legendary American songwriting team Lieber & Stoller. They weren’t just songwriters they were also producers and they turned up in England in the seventies and produced some unlikely artists such as Elkie Brooks, Procol Harum and Stealers Wheel’s first two albums. But it is as songwriters that they are best known – Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog for Elvis Presley, On Broadway, Yakety Yak, Kansas City, Searchin’, Stand By Me with Ben E. King, Poison Ivy, Love Potion No.9. and Framed.
It seems that the first recorded version of Framed was by The Robins in the mid-fifties. The Robins evolved into The Coasters that Lieber and Stoller worked with as producers and hit writers – The Coasters also recorded the song in 1958 as did Richie Valens on his debut album in 1959.
Alex Harvey was already active in the fifties as a working musician (he was born in 1935) and he would have been well aware of these acts and the songs that Lieber And Stoller wrote. Harvey did in fact record the song with his Alex Harvey’s Big Soul Band on their debut album in 1964. Eight years later he recorded it again with his new exciting Rock band featuring Zal Cleminson on guitar, Chris Glen on bass, Ted McKenna on drums and Hugh Mckenna on keyboards, christened The Sensational Alex Harvey band . They were in fact another local Scottish band called Tear Gas signed to Regal Zonophone and after exiting lead singers Davey Batchelor and earlier Andi Mulvey they eventually teamed up with Harvey – the rest is history.
This classic performance from somewhere in Sweden in 1974 (deduced from the translation of pissoar-urinal in the clip) may have you wondering what kind of lunatics Alex Harvey and his band were. I saw them live twice in England in the seventies (mega fan), unforgettable. Nick Cave recorded Hammer Song (the second track on the Framed album from 1972) on Kicking Against The Pricks in 1986.
After the band broke up, Ted McKenna went onto play with Rory Gallagher, guitarist Zal Cleminson joined Nazareth, Chris Glen joined The Michael Schenker Group, Alex Harvey died of a heart attack in 1982 at the age of 46.
This is a link to a post from 2013 on the In Deep Music Archive with the band performing their classic rendition of Jacques Brel’s Next on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973.