Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express: Happiness is Just Around the Bend

Back during my first month of this blog, I featured an exposé of WHAM jazz announcer Harry Abraham and his show “The Best of All Possible Worlds.” He didn’t feature a great deal of vocal jazz, but one he did play a number of times was Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express’ “Happiness is just around the Bend.” After hearing this cut a few times, I went out and purchased the album “Live Oblivion, Volume 2,” which included a version of the song recorded at the Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood.

I eventually purchased the 1973 album “Closer to it!” that contained the original studio version of “Happiness is just around the Bend.” I think what attracted me to this song was Auger’s fantastic keyboard runs on his Rhodes piano. Having just purchased a Wurlitzer electric piano in 1976, I was interested in listening to other keyboardists.

Although I will never have the ability that Auger has in one pinky, listening to his music is as inspiring now as it was in the mid 1970s. In addition to the Rhodes on this cut, Auger plays a Moog synthesizer. Other musicians on this cut include Barry Dean, Jack Mills, Lennox Laington, and Godfrey McLean.

The original album cover had a blue texture cover that overlaid with silver foil. This was quite an expensive proposition for any record company and soon RCA would release the cover with a faux texture printed and silver ink where the foil once was located. The album charted at 64 on the Top 200 Albums chart, at #59 on the R&B Albums chart, and #6 on Billboard’s Jazz chart.

Live Version from Live Oblivion, Volume 2

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