Week of February 20, 2000

Greatest Show On Earth


Mike Deacon - keyboards
Dick Hanson - horns
Colin Horton-Jennings - vocals, gtr, drumsA 
Tex Philpotts - sax
Ron Prudence - congas, drums 
Garth Watt-Roy - vocals, guitar 
Norman Watt-Roy - vocals, bass


Horizons (Harvest SHVL 769) 1970 R1 
The Going's Easy (Harvest SHVL 783) 1970 R1 
Greatest Show On Earth (dbl.) (Harvest SHSM 2004) 1975 

NB: "Horizons" reissued on CD (Repertoire REP 4484-WP) in 1994 and "The Going's Easy" reissued on CD (Repertoire REP 4483-WP) in 1994 with one bonus cut, "Mountain Song". Both have been reissued on one CD (See For Miles SEECD 473) in 1997.

The Greatest Show on Earth were originally formed in 1968 by guitarist Garth Watt-Roy and his bass-playing brother Norman. Also featured in the original line-up were organist Mick Deacon, drummer Ron Prudence and three horn players, Dick Hanson, Tex Phillpotts and Ian Aitcheson. The band's first vocalist was black American Ozzie Lane but he returned to his native New Orleans a year later and was replaced by Colin Horton-Jennings, not only a strong gravel-voiced singer but also quite adept on the guitar, bongos and flute. The group's mixture of R&B soul, jazz and prog-rock brought them to the attention of EMI's progressive label Harvest Records, who signed the band and issued, in February 1970, the single, "Real Cool World"/"Again And Again" (HAR 5012) which, though not a hit in the UK, gave the band a medium-sized hit across Europe where they were also an in-demand live attraction. Both tracks featured on their March 1970 debut LP, "Horizons" (SHVL 769) which was housed in a distinctive sleeve designed by Hipgnosis and coincided with a Radio One session for Mike Harding on which they played three new songs: "Border Line", "Mountain Song" and "Time". A second session for Harding, in November 1970, featured "The Leader" and "Check Me Into Your Life", the latter of which has never officially been released. "Tell The Story"/"The Mountain Song" (HAR 5026) had failed to chart when released in September 1970, and the same fate awaited the band's second album "The Going's Easy" (SHVL 783) though one track from the LP, "Magic Woman Touch" was later released as a single by The Hollies.

The lack of chart success contributed to the band splitting in mid-1971. Ron Prudence, Ian Aitcheson and Tex Phillpotts quit music altogether, whilst Horton-Jennings joined Chaser and later turned up in Taggett releasing one self-titled LP for EMI in 1974. Dick Hanson turned to session work and recorded with the likes of The Blues Band, Graham Parker, Dave Edmunds, Kirsty McColl and Shakin' Stevens. Mike Deacon joined Vinegar Joe and then became a member of both the Suzi Quatro Band and Darts. Norman Watt-Roy formed Glencoe releasing two albums for Epic, "Glencoe" and "The Spirit Of Glencoe". He then formed Loving Awareness, releasing one self-titled LP in 1976 for More Love Records, before the band eventually evolved into The Blockheads, the backing band for Ian Dury. Today he is a member of the Wilko Johnson Band. Garth Watt-Roy joined Fuzzy Duck before undertaking session work for the likes of East Of Eden, Limey and Bonnie Tyler as well as being a member of Marmalade, The Q-Tips and The Barron Knights.

Mark Brennan
(Taken from the CD reissue of "The Going's Easy", Repertoire REP 4483-WP, 1994)

(Discography taken from The Tapestry of Delights - The Comprehensive Guide to British Music of the Beat, R&B, Psychedelic and Progressive Eras 1963-1976, Vernon Joynson
ISBN 1 899855 04 1)

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