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The Humblebums iTunes Tracks

The Humblebums

Coming out of Glasgow, Scotland in 1965, many music pundits are under the misconception that the group was formed by GERRY RAFFERTY. Indeed he was soon to be a major part of the outfit, which initially comprised the “Big Yin” BILLY CONNOLLY (vocals and banjo), Tam Harvey (guitar and mandolin) and, for a brief spell, Ronnie Rae (bass). A showcase for the banjo ’n’ banter of future stand-up guru CONNOLLY, the duo proved hugely popular on the thriving Scottish folk scene, which could stretch from The CORRIES to The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND.
The HUMBLEBUMS’ debut album, FIRST COLLECTION OF MERRY MELODIES (1969) {*6}, appeared on Nat Joseph’s Transatlantic imprint, a record that showcased several countrified CONNOLLY originals and short instrumentals next to a few trad cues and an A.P. CARTER gem, `My Dixie Darling’. With former Fifth Column player GERRY RAFFERTY on board later the same year, Harvey was clearly dissatisfied and departed soon afterwards (two’s company, three’s a crowd – so to speak), leaving the duo free to try a fresh and less whimsical approach to their folk-jazz-styled bluegrass material. Introduced to the group by his friend Danny Kyle, RAFFERTY brought his not inconsiderable gift for McCARTNEY-esque melodicism to both THE NEW HUMBLEBUMS (1969) {*7} and especially OPEN UP THE DOOR (1970) {*7}. This newfound professionalism sat somewhat uncomfortably alongside CONNOLLY’s irreverent approach, and when the question of touring came up things eventually came to a head. Although the group were still performing at folk clubs, attempts to play the newer material proved a headache – OPEN UP… had employed many session musicians – and Transatlantic suggested taking a backing band on the road. Hardly easy in the role of pop/rock star, this was the point where CONNOLLY bailed out and returned to the intimacy of the folk circuit, although thigh-slapping comedy quickly became the No.1 funny man’s forte. RAFFERTY, meanwhile, went on to release a great debut solo album, `Can I Have My Money Back’ (1971), before forming STEALERS WHEEL with Joe Egan (co-writer of one of the set’s best songs, `Sign On The Dotted Line’.
© MC Strong 2002-2010/GSM-GFD // rev-up MCS Aug2015

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