In the summer of 1978 I was bending an ear to one of the mighty John Peel's fabulous evening radio shows when he played a track by a group called the Bowles Brothersfrom an album titledRoger Buys A Fridge. The song was Charlie's Nuts and, being an admirer of close-harmony vocals, WW2 swing and the best bits and pieces of quality MOR such as the Carpenters and Manhattan Transfer I was subsequently impressed by this scat-sung, bouncy, fun track. It was a bit odd, hearing stuff like this alongside all the punk excitement but rather welcome: a little oasis of polished calm.
The next day I was in my local town centre and spotted the album from which Charlie's Nuts came and decided to take a chance. I grew to love this collection of sophisticated jazz-pop very much indeed over the next thirty years, always peppering mix tapes for friends with a few of its vivacious, articulate compositions. Sadly, they never made another one but there were two rare singles and a couple of Peel sessions.
The line-up was as follows:
Brian Bowles - guitar, vocals
Sue Jones-Davies - vocals
Richard Lee - bass
Julian Smedley - guitar, violin, vocals.
They were aided and abetted on the album by:
Richard Marcangelo - Drums
Roger Rettig - Steel Guitar
Charles Seaward - Flute
Jonathan Wade - Keyboards
Colin Fretcher - Piano
Chris Karan - Percussion
In 1976 they appeared on the same edition of the Granada television music show So It Goes as The Sex Pistols, who were themselves making their infamous debut television appearance. Both were there as bands yet to be signed to a recording contract. The following year they appeared alongside John Cleese, Peter Cook, Peter Ustinov and Julie Covington in the charity concert for Amnesty International titled The Mermaid Frolics. They were also the support act to Don McLean when he toured the UK.
Sue Jones-Davies went on to appear in Rock Follies and as Judith Escariot in Monty Python's Life of Brian. She is now Mayor of Aberystwyth! Brian Bowles is now a voice specialist on such films as the Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings movies, and voice actor in shows such as Monkey Dust. Julian Smedley worked with Vivian Stanshall, as well as appearing in the film Sir Henry at Rawlinson End. He now lives in Berkeley, California and works as a jazz violinist and music producer. Both he and Richard Lee have also worked with fellow ex-Bonzo Dog Band member Neil Innes. Lee later joined Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators.
The album has never been reissued on CD, so it is with immense pleasure that I can now present
Roger Buys A Fridge here, for you.