Stealers Wheel

Mmm, folk music… it creates and crosses over many boundaries, and in STEALERS WHEEL’s case, everything from CROSBY, STILLS & NASH to The HUMBLEBUMS – the latter duo was leader Gerry Rafferty’s previous outfit, which he shared with BILLY CONNOLLY. And if there was one hit song that blew your mind in the singer-songwriter-addled 70s (or indeed from the 90s in cult movie Reservoir Dogs), it had to be `Stuck In The Middle With You’.
Formed 1972 in London by Paisley-born Scotsmen Gerry Raffery and Joe Egan, both being former schoolmates at St Mirin’s Academy, there was more than just one hit for the group. Initially a 5-piece with RAB NOAKES (guitar and vocals), Ian Campbell (bass) and Roger Brown (drums), all made their respective ways when the group signed to A&M Records, replacements being Paul Pilnick (ex-Big Three), Tony Williams and Rod Coombes (ex-Juicy Lucy).
Their eponymous Leiber-Stoller-produced debut set, STEALERS WHEEL (1972) {*7}, found success with the American public – okay: this was after the smash hit of `Stuck In The Middle…’. With the defection of Rafferty for (only a brief stint), the main pair reconvened (with basically a makeshift session and touring band) to record what has become to many their mainstream-folk-pop set, FERGUSLIE PARK (1973) {*6}; `Everything Will Turn Out Fine’ and `Star’ were UK Top 40 entries, although the LP failed chart-wise.
Album three, RIGHT OR WRONG (1975) {*4}, lent slightly to the “wrong” side, continuing as it did the same Americanised, formulaic approach, which, with no great songs, alienated the public. Both EGAN and RAFFERTY went off in separate directions, the former with a patchy, brief solo career, the latter to land on his feet with one of the 70s’ smoothest but greatest 45s, `Baker Street’ – and the rest was indeed pop history.
© MC Strong 1994-2010/GRD/GFD // rev-up MCS Feb2013

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