The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (without Alex) since 1994
It took me a long time to discover Sensational Alex Harvey Band (with or without Alex).
I'd owned albums by MSG, Nazareth and Greg Lake among other that featured various members
of the band for quite a few years, and heard several recommendations, before actually
purchasing anything by the SAHB. In fact it took a HMV sale for me to take a chance and
pick up three CDs (on the rather dodgy Samurai label - a company that didn't pay the band
any royalties for the releases) in the late 80’; ‘Framed’, ‘Next’ and the slightly confusing
cover version filled ‘Penthouse Tapes’. Though I played the discs a few times they didn’t
really ‘do it’ for me and joined the growing lines of rarely played five inch digital
archives of times past on my bedroom wall.
I’d heard my first live cover of a SAHB tune at a Christmas gig by Pallas in Aberdeen at the
tail end of 1986 but it was the introductory track at the first solo Fish show I saw three
years later that the strength of writing really struck me. The show opened with Faith Healer
and I didn’t even realise it was a SAHB track at until I heard someone mention it.
Roll on another year and I had witnessed the SAHB rhythm section (bass player Chris Glen(n)
and drummer Ted McKenna) providing an extremely solid backing to Ian Gillan on his ‘Naked
Thunder’ tour in August 1990. It was during Black Night at what is now The Forum in London
that their power hit me fully in the stomach as they provided probably the best live version
of the track I’ve heard.
Three years on again and the boys had sort of reformed as The (Sensational) Party Boys.
They’d played around the central belt of a while with guest singers including Dan McCafferty
of Nazareth and the aforementioned Fish but the only chance I had to see them was as openers
(or maybe second – they were on as we walked down the cliff road into the open air swimming
pool) at the Tarlair Festival on the outskirts of the small fishing town of Macduff, just
across the water from where I spent seven years as a wee lad. It has to be said it was a
strange venue for a festival and not the warmest of summer days but the Party Boys seemed
to be keeping people warm. The highlight for most of the early birds was probably Fish
joining the boys on stage for one song at the end of their short set. A couple of the Party
Boys, Chris and Ted IIRC, returned the favour during the Fish set.
With the initial Glenn/McKenna combination eventually attracting Zal and Hugh McKenna back
to the fold and fans asking for more SAHB tracks in the set the time was right for as much
of a reunion show as was possible after Alex died in 1982. Thus later in 1993 with the
help of Party boy singer Stevie Doherty they played some shows and recorded a new live
album with a heavier edge to the old tunes, an edge more in line with the Gillan and MSG
sound that 70’s SAHB. The following year they expanded their range and hit Elgin and several
other towns within easy travelling distance and after the first show I was a fan having
discovered what I’d missed first time round on those CDs.
I initially planned to write my own review of the Aberdeen show below as it coincided with
the tenth anniversary and had the benefit of me having some photos of Chris with a cake my
then girlfriend baked for him. I couldn’t find those photos so a review will have to wait
but I did find some I took at the Turriff show a few weeks later.
I do have one review for you though, written by a musician friend and published originally
in his company magazine, Out of Control. SAHB - London Borderline 1994?
The Sensational Party Boys Tarlair Music Festival, Macduff 18/07/93
The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band Elgin Lido Club 17/04/94
The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band Elgin Lido Club 4/11/94
The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band Aberdeen Lemon Tree 12/11/94
Setlist: Faith Healer / St. Anthony / Still Breathing / Framed / Stone Dead / Hammer Song /
Amos Moses / Boston Tea Party / Boston Tea Party / Midnight Moses / Vambo / Armed and Ready /
Gang Bang / Happy Birthday Chris Glenn
Encore: Delilah / Buff's Bar Blues (about 85 mins of music)
The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band Turriff Rock Mecca, Union Hotel 10/12/94
The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band Glasgow The Arena 23/12/94
FISH / The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band / Sam BROWN “The Big Issue”, Edinburgh Ross Theatre, Princess Street Gardens 2/09/95
Maggie BELL with the Sensational Alex HARVEY Band Aberdeen Black Bull Inn 16/10/95
The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band Aberdeen Cafe Drummond 23/08/03
The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band London, Camden Underworld (filmed for DVD) 18/11/04
The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band Sheffield, 10/11/06 (photos)
The Sensational Alex HARVEY Band Southampton Brook 8 Dec 2007, 08/12/07 (photos)