Archive for the Tramline Category

Tramline – Somewhere Down The Line 1968

Posted in BLUES, Tramline on November 17, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Tramline – Somewhere Down The Line 1968
1996 Issue.


Somewhere Down The Line’ was their first album. Dynamic slide guitarist Micky Moody looks back on Tramline with nostalgia and pride, as the CDs bring back happy memories.

Says Moody: “It was an inspirational time for teenagers. There were so many creative things going on and I feel sorry for bands today. It’s so difficult to come up with anything original. We were so lucky that was a lot of work and opportunity for ‘live’ bands. There were fewer distractions and people went out more for their entertainment.
Tramline was a hard-rocking blues-based quartet, not too different from Free and other guitar-heavy outfits of the late ’60s, and for a time even shared label affiliation with the latter band. Formed by John McCoy (vocals, harmonica), Mick Moody (guitar), Terry Sidgwick (bass, vocals), and Terry Popple (drums). Chris Blackwell plucked them from the club scene in 1968 and signed them to Island Records, whence they began work on their debut LP, Somewhere Down the Line (with Blackwell producing). The band made enough worthwhile noise to get some exposure on the BBC’s Top Gear, hosted by John Peel, but the album never sold in large numbers. Island wasn’t done with them, however, and in 1969 a second LP, Moves of Vegetable Centuries, was forthcoming, this time produced by the renowned Guy Stevens and emphasizing Moody’s guitar in the mix. It didn’t do any better than the first album, however, although one cut off the album, a cover of Traffic’s “Pearly Queen,” got a lot of exposure to the underground press and in prog rock circles when it earned a place on the Island sampler album You Can All Join In. The group had split by 1970, with McCoy and Sidgwick evidently leaving music behind while Moody passed through Juicy Lucy and Snafu before achieving huge success with Whitesnake; Popple tagged along for a time in Snafu, as well as working with Matthew Fisher and Alan Hull, and passed through the lineup of Radiator.
By Bruce Eder, Rovi.
40 minutes in length approximately. The sound is crisp and immediate. The folded info sheet tells the story of TRAMLINE,the era (late 60’s),and the band members. The CD is housed in a replica of the LP release.

This is the first album (the second is “Moves of Vegetable Centuries”) by this quartet,which featured John McCoy-harmonica and vocals,Terry Sidgwick-bass and vocals,Mick Moody (later in WHITESNAKE)-lead and slide guitar,and Terry Popple-drums. The album was produced by Chris Blackwell of Island Records fame.

As was typical of the era in England,there were a number of bands playing hard blues and r&b,or incorporating those styles into rock. TRAMLINE was just another blues-based band (often compared to FREE) when Blackwell heard them (under a different name) and then took the inexperienced group into the studio. The comparisons to FREE were apt-but don’t think the group was a clone-they had their own sound even then. Like FREE they were a four-piece with a good lead singer. McCoy’s phrasing was similar to Paul Rodgers,yet with a smokier,smoother vocal tone. Mick Moody’s guitar had,at times,that emotional feel akin to Paul Kossoff,but without the sustained vibrato Kossoff was known for. The rhythm section was more than capable of holding everything together without calling undue attention to itself,which enabled Moody and McCoy to solo on top of the band.

A number of these tunes were written or arranged by members of the band,which helped give them an identity over groups who stayed with a strict blues sound. The tunes range from 4/4 shuffle time (Elmore James’ “Look Over Yonder Wall”),to slower blues (“Sorry Sorry”),with a couple more well known blues tunes (“Killing Floor” by Chester “Howling Wolf” Burnett,and “Satesborough Blues” by Blind Willie McTell,which the band heard by Taj Mahal). The track entitled “National Blues” has Moody playing slide guitar-a National Resonator-hence the name,along with Bruce Thomas on double bass,which elevates the tune above the rest with a sound different than anything else on the album. A curious choice was Steve Stills’ “Rock and Roll Woman”,which the band give a different sound to-a combination of West Coast rock and English blues. Another example of the band’s influences is an instrumental track titled “Mazurka”,which Moody had heard on a Segovia album. The track is an instrumental featuring Moody and Popple. This assortment of styles gives this album some depth and is a refreshing change from other groups plying the same trade of strictly blues-based rock. With musicians so young and inexperienced,the music was nonetheless fairly advanced,and showed the band had big ears when it came to incorporating different styles of music into their own sound.

For listeners of late 60’s English blues bands-this is something worth investigating. TRAMLINE recorded only two albums before the group went their separate ways. They certainly deserved more recognition at the time,but with other groups having more experience,better management,and luck,they simply couldn’t keep it together. This band’s music has that curiously enjoyable feel of the era-like you picked the album up at your favorite record store (remember those?),and slipped it onto the turntable. This album is a good example of British blues from the late 60’s,played by good musicians,with a sound that was beginning to incorporate different styles of music into their hard blues sound. Nothing truly earth-shattering,but some good music which is still enjoyable. Its nice that both their albums have been re-released. Maybe now people will find out what they’ve missed.
By Stuart Jefferson.
John McCoy- (Vocals, Harmonica),
Mick Moody- (Guitar),
Terry Sidgwick- (Bass, Vocals),
Terry Popple- (Drums).
01. Harpoon Man
02. National Blues
03. Sorry Sorry
04. Look Over Yonder Wall
05. Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman
06. Somewhere Down The Line
07. Mazurka
08. Statesborough Blues
09. Killing Floor

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