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Ducks Deluxe

When ex Help Yourself members Sean Tyla and Ken Whaley joined up with Martin Belmont, Nick Garvey and Tim Roper in early 1972, Ducks Deluxe were in at the start of the London pub rock scene of the seventies.

Tony Clayton-Lea describes the scene; "Consisting of working musicians (regularly comprising a smattering of Irishmen, due to Dave Robinson's Murphia connections), eager for the dosh and free beer for the night, the bands included Bees Make Honey, Ducks Deluxe, Kilburn And The High Roads, Roogalator, Help Yourself, Clancy, Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, Ace and The Winkies. The new bands needed more places to play, however, and gradually other pub venues were made available to them, creating a gig circuit that enabled them to move around London on a nightly basis. Previously playing host to jazz, folk, and country & western outfits, the likes of the Hope & Anchor, The Kensington, The Cock Tavern and The Lord Nelson became the breeding ground for a motley assortment of jobbing musicians with an anything-goes attitude and an unpretentious approach to stagecraft."

Ducks Deluxe - 1974
L-R, Tim Roper, Nick Garvey, Martin Belmont, Sean Tyla

Stripping the music down to its bare essentials the Ducks helped to define the moment and soon had established a regular booking at the Tally Ho club in Kentish Town, playing twice a week to enthusiastic and energetic crowds.

Before long, in December 1972, Ken Whaley had departed to rejoin Help Yourself just as the Ducks were captured on record for the first time, playing 'Boogaloo Babe' on Man's 'Christmas At The Patti' twin 10" set. In typical small world fashion Ken would later join Man for a short stint after Help Yourself folded. Tyla and the rest of the crew were busy paying their dues throughout 1973. In his liner notes to the collectable 'Last Night Of A Pub Rock Band', Peter Meulenbroeks recalled; "I remember them making a 200 mile drive up North in a rented van on a Saturday in May, to do a 200 gig, staying overnight and ending up back in London practically broke with no more than a fiver each in their pockets."

Logo
Ducks Logo

A hard year though ended with the band signing to RCA and releasing their first single, Nick Garvey's 'Coast To Coast' which was followed in early 1974 by the debut album 'Ducks Deluxe'. This captures something of the fire and excitement that the Ducks' live act generated, the ultimate pub-rock band in all its glory, a record great for dancing and drinking, and not intended for critical analysis. The album was well received on both sides of the Atlantic. With the addition of keyboard and bass player Andy McMasters, a Scotsman who'd previously been in The Sabres, to fill out the sound they recorded a second album, 1975's 'Taxi To The Terminal Zone' at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth. Taking its title from a line in Chuck Berry's "Promised Land," the album was regarded as disappointing when compared to the first although songs 'Paris 9', 'My My Music' and 'Love's Melody' helped to lift the standard. It was the beginning of the end.

Ducks Deluxe - 1974 again
L-R, Sean Tyla, Tim Roper, Martin Belmont, Nick Garvey

With the band's fortunes now on a downward turn Nick Garvey departed to form Snakes, followed soon after by McMasters. The players would later be re-united in The Motors in 1977 when Garvey (guitar/vocals) and McMasters (bass), joined Ricky Wernham (drums), and Peter Bramall, aka Bram Tchaikovsky (guitar/vocals). The Motors released a debut single on Virgin records, 'Dancing The Night Away', which flickered into and out of the charts, and was supported by the album from which it was taken 'Motors 1'. The next six months saw the band established as a fine live act, although singles releases came and went. Then in 1978 The Motors achieved their moment of greatness, releasing the UK hit 'Airport', but the album 'Approved By The Motors' failed to lift off. Soon after, Bram Tchaikovsky and Ricky Wernham left, and Martin Ace (bass) and Terry Williams (drums) came in. These changes did little to improve the band's fortunes, and after the release of 'Tenement Steps', the last Motors album, the band split up.

In the meantime, back in the Ducks, Tyla, Belmont and Roper carried on with the addition of bassist Micky Groom, who'd once been in The Nashville Teens, but before long the Ducks were dropped by RCA and instead of a third album were reduced to recording an EP, 'Jumpin' on Skydog. Tim Roper abandoned ship on the eve of the band's farewell tour and in the final few months former Brinsley Schwarz members Brinsley Schwarz and Billy Rankin provided the guitar and drums in support of stalwarts Sean Tyla and Martin Belmont. On the Continent, particularly in France, they had built up a good following but their recording career was going nowhere and they finally called it a day in the Summer of 1975. The final gig, at the 100 Club in London was on July 1st 1975.

Sean Tyla went on to form The Tyla Gang, who also included Ken Whaley, and signed to Stiff records with his "Texas Chainsaw Massacre Boogie" being the label's fourth release. Trouser Press have this to say; "Tyla's three albums (the first two with a steady band of pub compadres) are hard-rocking and honest but not thrilling, despite good playing and Tyla's sincere hoarse vocals. Yachtless is the raunchy one, full of lead guitar and aggressive drumming. Moonproof takes a subtler attack, introducing acoustic guitar and a more American sound, but no energy loss. Just Popped Out, which employs an amazing cast of pub-rock characters (including former members of Ace, Bees Make Honey, Ducks Deluxe, Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers and Man) not to mention Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna, offers bitter, depressed songs given the best studio treatment of Tyla's career." Sean then moved on, persuading Deke Leonard back from the USA to create The Force before dropping out of the music business.

Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont joined up with Brinsley's keyboard player Bob Andrews and emerged as the Rumour behind Graham Parker and The Rumour. Martin later went on to play in Carlene Carter's CC Riders, and in 1988 was playing with The Frank Chickens.

Micky Groome joined Deke Leonard and Sean Tyla in The Force and later carried on with Deke in Iceberg after Sean Tyla dropped out.

Personnel:

Sean Tyla (Guitars, vocals)
Martin Belmont (Guitars, vocals)
Ken Whaley (Bass, vocals)
Nick Garvey (Bass, vocals)
Tim Roper (Drums)
Andy McMasters (Keyboards, vocals)
Micky Groome (Bass, vocals)
Billy Rankin (Drums)
Brinsley Schwartz (Guitar, vocals, saxophone)

Discography:

Ducks Deluxe cover

LP

'Ducks Deluxe'

RCA

LPLI 5008

UK(1974)

Taxi To The Terminal Zone cover

LP

'Taxi To The Terminal Zone'

RCA

SF 8402

UK(1975)

Don't Mind Rockin' Tonite cover

LP

'Don't Mind Rockin' Tonite'
(Compilation + bonus two)

RCA

NL 71153

UK(1978)

Last Night Of A Pub Rock Band cover

LP

'Last Night Of A Pub Rock Band'

Dynamite

DYR 3303

Holland(1979)

Ducks Deluxe cover

CD

'Ducks Deluxe'
'Taxi To The Terminal Zone'

Demon

MAU CD 610

UK(1992)

Ducks Deluxe cover

EP

'Jumpin'

Skydog

EP005

UK(1975)

Ducks Deluxe cover

Single

'Coast To Coast/Bring Back That Packard Car'

RCA

RCA 2438

UK(1973)

Ducks Deluxe cover

Single

'Fireball/Saratoga Suzie'

RCA

LPBO 5019

UK(1974)

Ducks Deluxe cover

Single

'Love's Melody/Two Time Twister'

RCA

RCA 2477

UK(1974)

Ducks Deluxe cover

Single

'I Fought The Law/Cherry Pie'

RCA

RCA 2531

UK(1975)

All other Ducks Deluxe information gratefully received. Photos, cover scans, label scans, gig lists and dates, ticket stubs and concert flyers all welcomed.


 
 
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