Medicine Head came together as a John Fiddler and Peter Hope Evans duo in 1968, after both left school early. As they busked their way around the United Kingdom having a high old time, they were spotted playing at the Lafayette Club in Birmingham by musical entrepreneur John Peel.
Peel was so impressed, he got a tape of the duo and shared it with friends such as Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton and John Lennon. At Lennon’s insistence, they were signed to John Peel’s Dandelion Record Label.
The resulting three albums were marvelous, full of Blues/Rock in Medicine Head style. They titled one of the albums’ Dark Side of the Moon.’ A year later, another popular beat combo released an album under that title, having a degree of success with it.
After leaving John Peel, the band pressed on in various guises, and in 1973, they reached number three in the British Charts with their breakout hit single ‘One and One is One.’ Further singles followed, but despite this, by 1977, the band had run its course. Coupled with bad management and the arrival of punk rock, Medicine Head slipped from view.
John Fiddler didn’t. Giving himself one more chance to run, he joined and led the British Lions; a band formed out of the ashes of Mott the Hoople without Ian Hunter. As magnificent as they were, it was no time for an old school rock’n’roll band and after two years, two albums, and two hundred gigs, they too folded.
John Fiddler carried on with his reputation intact, playing gigs and recording when the muse took him. In 2021, reassessment was applied, and the findings were good. So another bid for stardom was launched.
The resulting album, ‘Warriors of Love’ is an unqualified success. It could only sound like John Fiddler / Medicine Head, although Fiddler has moved with the times.
The album has a great stripped-down feel, with musical embellishments added to the final results mixing in elements of swamp music and Americana for good measure.
Keeping the integrity for all to hear, it is sometimes plaintive and passionate (‘Dancing in the Rain’ being a fine example of this) while alternating to down ‘n ‘dirty with tongue firmly in cheek. (‘Want Your Love is a tremendous example.’) Although a fine musician himself (the blues harp on display on this album is second to none), Fiddler has been smart enough to bring in some of Britain’s finest musicians to compliment the album. Dzal Martin and Dave’ Bucket’ Colwell shine on guitar, whilst former bandmate Morgan Fisher (from both Medicine Head and British Lions) dazzles, bringing his special musical textures to the fore.
As soon as the opening title track starts playing, pure class exudes from every phrase and note.
The ‘Ballad of Ruby Rose’ is the album’s central track, encompassing all the fine elements in one song.
‘Alcohol and Cheap Perfume’ surely must resonate with every red-blooded human. We are back in emotional territory here.
The album finishes with the epic ‘Forgive and Forget,’ a song made to sing in stadiums. Hopefully, if the climate is right, Medicine Head will soon be out on the road bringing these songs to people in concert halls and at summer festivals.
All in all a terrific album. If you have an interest in Bruce Springsteen, Ian Hunter, or indeed John Lennon, this is the album for you. If you don’t like it, I’ll be nice to a cat!
Written by Mott The Dog from the Pattaya Dark Side Swamp.
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