The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Big Louie / Harp 7" (1972)

I'm in my Alex Harvey period and I'm afraid that if you don't like the man, you'll still be a little bit angry when coming here on the further days. In the last weeks I was confronted to the darkest of human mind and Alex makes me (with some others) believe to the kindness of humanity when so many are wicked scumbags. Here's the first single ever released by the band. Zal is still not with his famous make-up, the band still not with its so particular sound but all in all, as soon as this first try, it's clear that it's a great band to emerge. Don't forget we're in 1972. For me, Sleaford Mods roots are here (as are the Fall ones too). Note that I've improved the sound quality of "Harp", "the unreleased on album" B-side. Although it was included on the double CD compilation Considering the Situation, the bass was too high and Alex's voice far in the back. So now it's much better. I also created a new cover sleeve (there was none for the original single). I'm rather happy with it. Catch it here. More to come.

This is the first single SAHB released, some days before the Framed album. Not a very judicious choice this A-side. In the end of this glam 1972 year, I wonder who could believe this would chart. It seems that the band was not aware of the real meaning of the lyrics. At least they tell it so in one SAHB biography. I can't say I am but Alex was for sure and maybe fluent English spoken listeners will. The fact that, in the same year that his cherished brother Leslie was electocuted on stage while playing with Stone the Crow, he sings about Big Louie being condamned to the electric chair, is moving. But of course, the interest is not "Big Louie", included in the LP, but the B-side, entitled "The Harp" (the song you can listen to on the streaming below), and only released to my knowledge on the Considering the Situation double CD compilation where it was even associated with the pre-SAHB version of this song. It is much better than "Big Louie" and should have been included on Framed I think. During the first SAHB year, what is clear is that Hugh McKenna chosed an electric piano sound in line with the proletarian look, quite cheap in fact, and it was a good move for Next to change it for a much richer sound. Alex helps me a lot to face dayworks these times. Even dead for more than 27 years, he's still living in me like an adored friend. This is one more tribute to him.

 Below the "Big Louie" lyrics.
"Paper sir, Paper sir, Paper sir
The mobs in town and the guns are out, and Louie knows what it's all about, he's gunning down the cops with machinegun tops. Moving in a black sedan, a stickup worth a hundred grand, headline sensation: A payroll grab in the union station
Now there's no lights on the christmas tree mother, they're burning Big Louie tonight. There's no electricity mother, they're burning Big Louie tonight
Across the state the bandits fly, victims scream, gangsters die, and sirens in the night and armoured cars and dynamite. Now Peter is on the mob, and the FBI is on the job, and now the headlines say: Louie Bannassas on trial today
But they got him in the final chase, Louie was running in a losers race, and on the day his case begun. He was Public Enemy Number One, but the jury's back, they all agree, it's murder in the first degree. Tie him down and shave his hair, cause tonight Big Louie's gonna get the chair
The baby's crying
They're burning Big Louie tonight
They're gonna fry him
They're burning Big Louie tonight



andymurdo said...

Been looking for 'The Harp' for ages, thanks for this. Fell in love with the song when Mark Lanegan covered it as part of his set list on the solo acoustic tour. Thought it was one of his to begin with, but was totally proud to discover it was Alex Harvey.

andymurdo said...


Vonnoosh said...

"I'm in my Alex Harvey period and I'm afraid that if you don't like the man, you'll still be a little bit angry when coming here on the further days."

Does this mean you will re-up Rock Drill?

dkelvin said...

Yes but since the 14 CD boxset with the (at least) official release of No Complaint Department is now out, I'm wiating to receive it to put this version on the album (and on the single that I'll re-up again).