Trumpet player Alan Bown had been a member of The John Barry Seven in the early sixties. He formed his own band (The Alan Bown Set) in 1964, and his soul and blues influenced outfit became very popular on the British club scene.They released their first album, "Outward Bown", on the Music Factory label in 1968 and a further, self-titled, album the following year, this time on Deram Records. At this stage, The Alan Bown, as they were known, featured vocalists Robert Palmer and Jess Roden in their line-up, with Palmer appearing on the first two albums and Roden on the second album. The band were signed to Island Records in 1970, and the line-up was now Bown on trumpet, Stan Haldane on bass and vocals, Andy Brown on bass and vocals ( on "Stretching Out"), John Helliwell on sax, Vic Sweeney on drums, Tony Catchpole on guitars, Jeff Bannister on keyboards and Gordon Neville on vocals. Two albums, "Listen" in 1970 and this album, "Stretching Out", in 1971, were released on the label, both of which are absolute masterpieces of British jazz rock.The band unfortunately folded in the early seventies. Alan Bown went on to join British progsters Jonesy in 1973 and recorded two albums with them; he became an A&R man for CBS Records and is now a music consultant; John (Anthony) Helliwell found fame with Supertramp from their " Crime of the Century" album onwards; Jeff Bannister joined "A Band called O" and Gordon Neville had a stint with Beggars Opera ( he also collaborated with Rick Wakeman ). The Alan Bown, although quite popular on the club scene, as was previously mentioned, were not that well known outside of the UK, but they certainly were one of England's best jazz/rock outfits, and they should be remembered for releasing some excellent material.


The Alan Bown - Loosen Up, from "Listen" in 1970, their third album. UK trumpet player Alan Bown formed his band in 1967. The initial line-up was Bown on trumpet, Vic Sweeney on drums, Robert Palmer on vocals, John Anthony Helliwell on saxes, Jeff Bannister on keyboards and Stan Haldane on bass. They became very popular on the club scene as a soul and blues outfit, recording their debut album, "Outward Bown" on the Music Factory record label in 1967. They then signed to Deram Records the following year and released "The Alan Bown", which also featured vocalist Jess Roden and guitarist Tony Catchpole, and they had a minor hit with their ''Still as Stone" single. By the time this, our featured album, came along, both Roden and Palmer had moved off to other things and they were replaced by Gordon Neville. The band had also moved over to Island Records. This album, and the band's final album, "Stretching Out", which was released in 1971, are amongst the finest examples of brass rock ever to emerge from the UK. When The Alan Bown split, Alan Bown joined Jonesy, John Helliwell joined Supertramp, Jeff Bannister joined Bronco, the outfit formed by Jess Roden, Starry Eyed and Laughing and ''A band called 'O' ", Vic Sweeney joined Kevin Coyne's band and Gordon Neville sang with Elton John, Beggars Opera and Rick Wakeman. Robert Palmer, as is commonly known, became a successful soloist after having featured in bands like Dada, Vinegar Joe and many others.  
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Biography by Bruce Eder
The history of British rock 'n' roll of the 1960's is filled with the names of homegrown performers who, despite enjoying the favor of critics, music columnists, and club audiences, never managed to make a permanent mark on the record charts. Alan Bown was a case-in-point, a trumpet player who organized a series of bands — principally known as the Alan Bown Set — in the 1960's who got good reviews and attracted healthy live audiences, but which were never able to successfully transfer their club sound onto vinyl. Bown didn't start pursuing a professional music career until after having served a hitch in the Royal Air Force — he organized his first band soon after returning to civilian life in the early 1960's. At the time, there were several different types of music competing for attention in England, including homegrown rock 'n' rollers, teen pop singers, trad-jazz and soft-jazz outfits, and folk groups of various sizes and shapes. Bown's instrument was the trumpet and his main interest were jazz and American rhythm-and-blues, and there was room for outfits of that sort at the time — his first group made it to the performing Mecca of Hamburg, Germany, playing at venues such as the Star Club and crossing paths with the Beatles, Tony Sheridan et al. He later joined the John Barry Seven during its stint backing Brenda Lee on a tour of Europe, and became a formal member of the studio version of the group, until it broke up in 1964 amid Barry's burgeoning career as a film composer.He formed the Alan Bown Set in 1964, featuring Bown on trumpet, Jeff Bannister on vocals and keyboards, Dave Green on sax, clarinet, and flute, Pete Burgess on guitar, Stan Haldane on bass, and Vic Sweeney on drums. They built up a reputation for exciting live shows and then headed for London, where their resourcefulness at filling their repertory with obscure but worthwhile American r&b and soul numbers quickly got them a loyal following in club patrons and trade reviews. They had rivals in this field, including Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band, Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, and Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, and by all accounts Bown and company could hold their own with the best of them. But what each of them did, as early as 1964, that Bown didn't do, was land a recording contract, and Georgie Fame and Cliff Bennett suddenly had chart-soaring singles and international recognition from the songs "Yeh Yeh" and "One Way Love", respectively. In 1965, the Alan Bown Set was discovered by bassist-turned-producer Tony Reeves and signed to Pye Records by Reeves' superior, Tony Hatch. They might've made a noise on the charts if their intended single, a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "I'm The One", had gone out as planned — instead, it ended up as the B-side and the "play" side "Can't Let Her Go" was ignored by the powers-that-were. The group continued to succeed as a club band and by the second half of 1965 had become a top attraction at the Marquee in London; such was their recognition, that they began getting offers to play all across England, and over the next year they did precisely that — they lost guitarist Green in early 1966, his slot filled by saxman John Helliwell (later part of Supertramp), and they expanded further with the addition of singer Jess Roden, which allowed Bannister to devote his attention to playing keyboards. This version of the group was actually much stronger, a fact perhaps reflected by the three singles that they cut and released in 1966, among them the classic "Emergency 999", which, like their other releases, failed to chart — but it later found an audience among Northern Soul enthusiasts. Pye finally hit upon the notion of simply recording a live set by the group, which (in tandem with a set by Jimmy James & The Vagabonds on the other side) was released as London Swings — Live At the Marquee Club. That LP is now considered one of the most important and essential ever released by Pye Records. Guitarist Pete Burgess departed the line-up in November of 1966 and was replaced by Tony Catchpole, and it was this version of the group that played out the end of its contract in 1967. This included one last Pye single, "Gonna Fix You Good (Everytime You're Bad)" b/w "I Really, Really Care", and a song for a French film entitled Jeu De Massacre, featuring Jacques Loussier. The next few months saw the group go through a complete transformation, into a psychedelic band known simply as The Alan Bown, which was signed to the Deram label (after one release on Verve Records) in 1968. With Robert Palmer on vocals, they finally enjoyed a minor hit single with "Still As Stone", and after Palmer left to join Dada and Vinegar Joe, the group carried on with Gordon Neville in their last incarnation circa 1970-71, with Mel Collins on saxophone, by which time they'd moved over to Island Records, no less. The Alan Bown called it quits in 1971, with Bown himself becoming a member of Jonesy before moving into A&R work with British CBS Records, while Jeff Bannister jumped to Jess Roden's group Bronco, and Vic Sweeney worked with Kevin Coyne. Gordon Neville was later a part of Elton John's backing band, as well as working with Rick Wakeman, and Mel Collins went on to work with King Crimson and Alexis Korner, as well as (seemingly) almost everyone else in British music over the next few decades.

Robert Palmer
Jess Roden
Jeff Bannister
Tony Catchpole
Stan Haldane
John Helliwell
Gordon Neville
Vic Sweeney
Andrew Brown
Alan Bown

Amen Corner



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Robert Palmer - Addicted to Love

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Alex Gitlin Page

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Alan Bown - 1967 - Outward Bown - 3/5

Alan Bown - 1969 - The Alan Bown - 4/5

Alan Bown - 1971 - Stretching Out - 4/5

Alan Bown - 1971 - Listen - 4/5

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