Thelonious Monk born 1917, David Lee Roth born 1955
British band Gracious! formed in England in 1968/9, and released one 45 on Polydor Records in 1969, “Beautiful” b/w “What A Lovely Rain” (Polydor UK 45 56333); I’ve never seen or heard this presumably amazing debut record.
I think I first heard Gracious! on the Vertigo Records UK double sampler LP “The Vertigo Annual”, which I must’ve found somewhere very inexpensively. It didn’t take long for me to find their debut LP on Vertigo (Vertigo UK 6360 002, 1970); it’s a fantastic LP! Really sounds like the engineers of the day have finally figured out how to record a loud rock band, amazing electric piano sound! Absolutely amazing!
Not long thereafter, I found the US version of this LP, on Capitol Records. Alas, a U.S. art department totally re-did the superlative packaging of the Vertigo original, even incorporating marijuana leaves into the design. Someone thought it looked good: I even found a mobile of this cover design, that the mind can only boggle at the thought of it being hung up to display in a U.S. hippie record store of 1970.
Capitol must really have wanted to do something with Gracious!, as they released a unique 45, “Do You Have A Clean Mind – Heaven Parts 1 & 2” (Capitol US 2960, 1970) – which isn’t even all of the song that they have broken into 2 parts for a 45!
Vertigo Records in England fared a bit better, by having a totally different 45, “Once On A Windy Day” (a non-LP song) b/w “Fugue in ‘D’ Minor” (Vertigo UK 6059 009, 1970). This single also got released in Germany, with a groovy picture sleeve.
At the time, I waited anxiously for a 2nd album from Gracious!, but it never seemed to arrive. Imagine my shock when an LP appeared on Philips International UK towards the end of 1971, “This is…Gracious!” (Philips International UK 6382 004, 1971). It was a new album, and not just a re-package of the debut album, as LP’s on Philips International frequently were. Where was a 45 from this album? Why wasn’t it on Vertigo?
The liner notes of CD re-issues tell us that the 2nd album was slated for Vertigo, but that the band were dropped amid financial difficulties at Vertigo, one presumes after finishing and delivering a 2nd album. The first CD issue of it even re-sequences the LP, with an explanation (a track was moved, so that the LP wouldn’t have a 25 minute LP side).
A normal CD issue of the debut occurred for Repertoire Records in Germany, but a better CD issue happened in Japan with a ’00 kami sleeve edition. Both CD editions of “This Is…Gracious!” are worth owning, the Renaissance US CD from ’92 having the re-sequencing and the A-side of the 45 added; the Japanese kami sleeve edition from 2006 does not re-sequence, it’s just a really nice mastering of the original 2nd LP.
Additionally, Renaissance Records did a sampler CD that had other Gracious! songs on it, “Buried Treasures” (Renaissance US RCD 1006).
Vocalist Paul (Sandy) Davis had 2 solo albums on EMI Records UK, and at least 1 x 45. I scoured Music Master for years, trying to find out what happened to all of the other members, I believe the bassist turned up, and guitarist Alan Cowderoy ended up at Stiff Records, in some capacity. I’d love to talk to keyboardist Martin Kitkat – if for nothing else than to ask him about his name!
Gracious! always deserved better than they seemed to get. It’s a real mystery to me that more people never heard their 2 x LP’s, they’re both fantastic. They are known and acknowledged in the hardcore record collector community (and in Japan). But I really think this band could’ve found a few more ears to appreciate them.