Sometimes, albums become far more interesting because of their back story. Case in point: Agnes Strange. This heavy trio from Southampton, England, led by singer-guitarist John Westwood, somehow didn't make a splash on the early '70s boogie circuit despite their obvious similarities to beloved acts like the Groundhogs, Budgie and the almighty Status Quo.
Despite some heavy names in their corner, including management company DJM (led by Dick James, who had made a mint off the Beatles' publishing) and A&R folks at Pye Records, some bad luck and inexplicable business decisions led them off course.
Foremost among these was a fundamental misunderstanding of the term "pub rock," which led Pye to release Strange Flavour on a one-off label called Birdsnest, which was affiliated with a chain of theme pubs of the same name, owned by the beer manufacturer Watney's.
The existing heavy rock audience at the time reacted much as straight-edge punks would if McDonald's and Sony BMG joined forced to release a hardcore album available only at fast food restaurants, and Strange Flavour disappeared without trace, as did Agnes Strange.
Funny thing, though: it turns out that Strange Flavour is actually pretty good.
Produced by Dave Travis, whose remarkably cheesy country albums from the '60s are much beloved by Anglo-kitsch collectors, and engineered by Colin Thurston, who was about a half decade away from his heyday as a name post-punk and new romantic producer, this album is comfortably pitched between the old and the new, or at least the new iterations of the old.
Agnes Strange an interesting listen for rock obscurantists and old boogie fans alike. This reissue features remastered sound and seven tracks never released before (Stewart Mason )
Unreleased Masters (1974):
01.Theme for a Dream - 2:23
02.Messin' Around - 4:58
03.Graveyard - 5:19
04.Rockin' in 'e' - 4:39
05.Dust in the Sunlight - 3:50
06.The Day Dreamer - 3:49
07.Book With No Cover - 5:54
Original Demos (1972):
08.Failure - 5:51
09.Motorway Rebel - 3:46
10.Children of the Absurd - 7:17
11.Clever Fool - 3:31
12.Strange Flavour - 4:15
13.Odd Man Out - 3:45
14.Highway Blues - 9:41
John Westwood: lead guitar & vocals
Alan Green: bass & vocals
Dave Rodwell: drums & vocals