Sunday, November 8, 2015

TDATS 125: Race With The Devil [Gurvitz Brothers special]

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Adrian and Paul Gurvitz had influential but largely unsung careers in British hard rock in the '60s and '70s. Here are some of the best tracks associated with them, from albums by bands such as Gun, Three Man Army, Baker Gurvitz Army and others that you may be less acquainted with. I have incorporated sections from the bio on Paul Gurvitz's page into this article to tell the story of the Gurvitz Brother's heavy bands along with the music.

The prime Gurvitz Brothers bands of interest for us here at TDATS were Gun and Three Man Army, being the hardest-rocking. I have used tracks from both those bands previously, so here I have tried to avoid repetition and picks from just those band's albums, there are so many good ones and it would be too easy! So, I have used a lot of non-album singles and related bands such as 'Parrish & Gurvitz', The Knack and The Buddy Miles Band. Hopefully there'll be enough of interest here to keep you listening, even if you already know Gun and Three Man Army well!

A small mp3 audio file of a recent radio interview with Paul Gurvitz is included with this comp. A written interview with Paul is also included at the end of this article, courtesy of ItsPsychedelicBaby.

01. Three Man Army - My Yiddishe Mamma (1973)
       from album 'Mahesha'
02. Three Man Army - Hold On (1973)
       from album 'Mahesha'
03. Gun - Runnin' Wild (1970)
04. Three Man Army - What's My Name (1971)
       from album 'A Third Of A Lifetime'
05. Three Man Army - Travellin' (1971)
06. Gun - Race With The Devil (1968)
       from album 'Gun'
07. The Knack - Who'll Be The Next In Line [Kinks cover] (1965)
       from album 'Time Time Time - The Complete UK Singles (and more) 1965-1967'
08. Gun - Drives You Mad (1969)
09. The Buddy Miles Band - L.A. Resurrection (1973)
       from album 'Chapter VII'
10. Three Man Army - Jubilee (1974)
       from album 'Three Man Army Three' (released 2005)
11. Parrish & Gurvitz - Another Time Another Day (1971)
       from album 'Parrish & Gurvitz'
12. Gun - Situation Vacant (1969)
       from album 'Gun Sight'
13. The Baker Gurvitz Army - Hearts On Fire (1976)
       from album 'Hearts On Fire'
14. Three Man Army - In My Eyes (1974)
       from album 'Three Man Army Two'

Gun debut LP 1968
Gun debut s/t LP 1968
Gun were an influential English hard rock band, and one of the very first. Everyone knows about their classic 1968 top ten single, "Race with the Devil" (youtube), it has been covered ever since by famous and underground acts, right up to modern bands like Church Of Misery. The Gun was a development of guitarist Paul Gurvitz's The Knack (prev. The Londoners, formed 1963). Paul's father was road manager for The Shadows so he had a good introduction to rock and The Londoners had already played in France and Hamburg's Star Club by the time they settled in London, becoming The Knack, then in 1966, "The Gun". Soon after they were playing at the UFO Club, supporting names such as Pink Floyd, Arthur Brown and Tomorrow.

Gun - Gunsight 1969
Gun - Gun Sight 1969
By 1968 Paul's brother Adrian had joined on guitar, himself having already cut his teeth with acts such as Rupert's People (see Vol70) and pre-T2 bands Please Bulldog Breed (see vols 27 & 74). Gun recorded two albums and they honed their hard rock elements further on the second LP, Gun Sight, which the track appearing here, 'Situation Vacant', is taken from. After Gun the Gurvitz brothers were in more bands together, including the excellent Three Man Army (prev. in Vol46) and Baker Gurvitz Army with Ginger Baker, as well as separate projects. Adrian and Paul also played on both Graeme Edge Band albums in the latter half of the seventies, with Paul on production duties too.

Adrian Gurvitz started playing guitar at the age of 8 and by age 15, he was touring in early bands like Screaming Lord Sutch, Billie Davis, and Crispian St. Peters. In 1967 he briefly joined Rupert’s People, who had a minor-hit single, 'Reflections of Charlie Brown'. It charted at 13 in Australia and made the Top 40 in the UK. Just before The Gun formed, Paul joined an even shorter-lived version of Rupert's people too.

Paul Gurvitz - Adrian Gurvitz - Louis Farrell

Adrian has gained notability as a lead guitarist, known for his screaming, intricate, hard-driving solos. He was placed at No. 9 in Chris Welch of Melody Maker's "Best Guitarist in the World" list. There's no doubt that he and his brother's powerful style heralded heavy metal right at its birth. Since playing in hard rock bands, Adrian (and brother Paul) were key players in the disco/funk informed soft rock of The Graeme Edge Band. The music, although well-played, is not suitable for this blog so doesn't feature in the comp. It pointed the way for Adrian's solo work from 1979 into the eighties. Adrian also continued as a producer and film score writer. He worked on the hugely successful soundtrack to the The Bodyguard and has recently worked with Ziggy Marley.

Paul Gurvitz in BGA
Paul Gurvitz in BGA
After the demise of The Baker Gurvitz Army, Paul produced and played on his brother's solo albums, and went to the US in 1985 to work as a songwriter / producer. He wrote for bands such as Five Star, Jody Watley, The Fat Boys, The Cover Girls, Stanley Clarke and others. In 2002 he returned as a solo artist and continues to record his own albums. He has started country-rockers The New Army band in recent years, where he now lives in Arizona. He did an interview with PsychedelicBaby in 2011, and his website is (link).

You can listen to a recent US radio interview with Paul Gurvitz here:

The Knack becomes The Gun

With the departure of long time band mate Brian Morris from The Knack, guitarist Paul Curtis (aka Paul Gurvitz) made a radical change and The Knack became The Gun.

Gun went through many line up changes (Yes vocalist Jon Anderson was even with the band briefly) until they got their first break playing shows with T Rex and Pink Floyd on the London underground scene. "We were playing a lot at The Speakeasy which was a very fashionable club at the time," Paul recalls. "There you would stand shoulder to shoulder with people whose music is still played all over the world today, The Beatles, Brian Jones of the Stones, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon of The Who, just to name a few".

By the middle of 1968, Gun became a power trio. Paul had taken over bass and left the guitar to his brother Adrian, who was by this time becoming quite a talent. The drums meanwhile were still handled by Louis Farrell (prev. in The Knack). Famous jazz musician Ronnie Scott, had just formed a management company and signed them as his first band. Shortly afterwards they were signed by CBS, and by the end of the year they were at the top of the European charts with 'Race With The Devil', included here. Although the single bares the hallmarks of psychedelic pop of the times, with it's big-sounding production and orchestration, there is also the beginnings of hard rock and heavy metal bubbling bellow the surface, powered by Adrian's blistering guitar leads.

A self-titled debut LP appeared the same year and a second LP came in 1969 called Gun Sight. Included here is a track from Gun Sight called 'Situation Vacant'. It has the searing leads and aggression of Race With The Devil, but not so much of the pop production, which also defines the heavier sound of Gun Sight in general. In my opinion this is a very early hard rock album that deserves to be compared with the earliest work of Deep Purple, Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly as some of the very first heavy metal.

The Army Advances

After Gun had backfired, the brothers Gurvitz took time out in America. Adrian hooked up with Buddy Miles, while Paul worked with former Londoners band mate Brian Morris, who had changed his name to Brian Parrish. They began writing new songs and were introduced to legendary producer George Martin, who signed them to his label, Regal Zonaphone. They recorded the album Parrish & Gurvitz and toured in support of it throughout the US, according to Paul a second LP was recorded but never released. I have included the great opening track from the album here, 'Another Time Another Day'. The rest of the band included past and future members of bands such as Badger, Spooky Tooth, The Only Ones, Cochise, Roxy Music, Foreigner, Small Faces and Ian Dury's Blockheads. After little label support the project split and the backing band went on to join Peter Frampton.

Three Man Army
A Third Of A Lifetime cover
Before Parrish & Gurvitz finished, Paul had begun working on new material with his brother. The brothers had only just returned to the UK in the early '70s when they teamed up again to write and record the debut Three Man Army album, 'A Third of A Lifetime'. This album was released by Pegasus Records in 1971. Most of the songs were rehearsed in the studio before being recorded.

The brothers had a predilection for working with first class drummers, and this album featured no less than three with Buddy Miles (Band Of Gypsys), Mike Kellie (Spooky Tooth) and Carmine Appice (Beck Bogard & Appice, Vanilla Fudge). I have used the track 'What's My Name' from this album. Three Man Army was clearly a development from Gun, Adrian and Paul's song-writing and playing was less psychedelic and decidedly more blues-based hard rock, the riffs are often heavy and fast but every song is infused with melody too, with a noticeable hint of southern rock. Maybe from Paul's love of Allman Brothers.

Two of my favourite tracks from their catalogue are Butter Queen (youtube) and Pole Cat Woman (youtube), which always go down well on the dance floor. The brothers set the blueprint with this album, all three released albums from Three Man Army are very consistent and I recommend them all equally, although they really turned the heaviness up to 11 for the third one, 'Three Man Army Two' (yes that is the name of the third LP, as explained later).

The band's second release, 'Mahesha' (In the US known simply as 'Three Man Arm'), came out on the Warner Bros-owned label Reprise in 1973. Drummer Tony Newman (Rod Stewart Group, May Blitz, Boxer, David Bowie), a sought-after session man who could be heard on many of the hit singles at the time, was added. Newman became a permanent member of the Army, which now allowed the band to play live and promote Mahesha in the US. "The first tour we did was with the Doobie Brothers and the second was with the Beach Boys. Not necessarily acts with which we had much in common", Paul recalls. "However, Warner Bros. thought it would be a good thing". From this album I have used the two opening tracks. 'My Yiddishe Mamma' is a stately instrumental build-up to 'Hold On'. This is not the same as the Hold On that Rupert's People played, but maybe it was an inspiration.

Three Man Army Two
A year later and the band were recording their third album. This one was heavier than the previous two and the title caused some confusion - 'Three Man Army Two'. Paul clarifies the reason behind the choice. "It was the second album for Warner Bros." Perhaps another interpretation could be that it may have been subconsciously influenced by the fact that it was the Second record to feature the line up of Gurvitz, Gurvitz and Newman. This would help to explain the subsequently titled release 'Three Man Army Three'. I have used the track 'In My Eyes' from this album, which is probably the heaviest album the Gurvitz bros ever made, and should be right at the top of your shopping list!

Buddy Miles - Chapter VII
Adrian lent his considerable guitar skills to other artists during these times. He recorded and toured with The Buddy Miles Band, for the album "Chapter VII" which was released in 1973.

Buddy's career began drumming for Wilson Picket when, at age 19, he was inducted into the original line-up of seminal Chicago blues soul rockers The Electric Flag. He also played in Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys.

The credits on Chapter VII were: Ron Johnson (bass and guitar), Adrian Curtis (guitar) and Buddy Himself on drums, vocals, organ, and guitar. As you probably guessed, Curtis is Gurvitz, the brother's real surname is Gurvitz but they would sometimes use Curtis, especially during their early careers and on various projects like Chapter VII, inspired to do so after their father had himself legally changed to it. Adrian's brother Paul explains: "When my parents divorced my father changed his name to Curtis from Gurvitz and at the time I thought that Curtis was more rock n' roll than Gurvitz". As mentioned earlier, Buddy and Adrian's friendship had started just after Gun finished, and Buddy played drums for some tracks on Three Man Army's first LP.

Three Man Army Three cover
Three Man Army had toyed with the idea of doing a rock opera (working title 'Three Days To Go') and they had recorded a few demos for the project. Paul recently rediscovered these demos and remastered them. From these sessions, nine tracks are featured on 'Three Man Army Three'. A collection of previously unreleased materials that has been captured with good sound quality and released in 2005. A good example of this is the track 'Jubilee', which is included here and features drummer Lee Baxter Hayes. When asked who this 'mystery' drummer was performing on the track, Paul laughs and says, "He was a roadie of ours with, let's say with average skills as a drummer, and we let him play. It was just for fun".

Tony Newman
When Tony Newman left the band to play with David Bowie, the brothers Gurvitz hooked up with Ginger Baker and changed their name to the Baker Gurvitz Army. Baker was considered the ultimate rock drummer at the time, known for his work with Blind Faith and obviously Cream. The band's three albums definitely sounded different to Three Man Army, and Baker's drumming was always impressive, but they do not do much for me and are more a display of good drumming and technically proficient but commercial soft rock. With that sound the band entered the US and UK charts in 1974. Two consecutive albums followed as the band expanded their line up from a trio to a quintet with singer Mr. Snips (aka Stephen Alfred Wilson Parsons - ex-Sharks and later new wave solo artist). When their manager Bill Fahelli died in a plane crash, a dispute with the management company forced BGA to part ways.

Baker Gurvitz Army -
Hearts On Fire (1976)
Of the three BGA albums, my pick is the last one, 'Hearts On Fire' (1976). It is not as good as any of the Three Man Army LPs but it has more rocking tracks than he previous two and the title track which I include here is great, if a little short!

The last rock albums that the Gurvitz Brothers played on for a while were the pair of Graeme Edge Band LPs soon after, that were unfortunately rather more lackluster than Baker Gurvitz Army. Unfortunately for heavy-heads, that was the absolute end of the Gurvitz Brothers' forays into hard rock, but by all accounts they made a lot more money for themselves in later pursuits as writers / producers. We can't blame them for doing that and we can't complain about the great set of Gun and Three Man Army albums they left us!

Paul Gurvitz interview

Many thanks to Klemen Breznikar for allowing me to reproduce parts of his 2011 Paul Gurvitz interview here! Klemen runs a great blog/zine over at

Q. Hi Paul. Firstly I would like to ask you about your childhood. What were your main influences at that time, beside Buddy Holly and Elvis.

Paul: I used to listen to a lot of American artist's when I was growing up as there were only a few English ones that I found exciting, around the late 60's I would listen to Santana, Buffalo Springfield, Spirit, The Allman Brothers, Zappa.

Q. Your first band was called The Londoners. You played gigs around London and you also went to Germany.Can you tell us more?

Paul: Actually the Londoners never really played in London other than when we were the backing group for Gene Vincent, The Londoners played mostly in Germany and France.

Q. From Germany you went back to London. You were no longer called The Londoners. Changing your name to The Knack, were there also any changes in lineup? You recorded a few singles for Pye and for Decca. Your first release was 'Who'll Be The Next In Line / She Ain't No Good', right? Can you tell me more about The Knack.

Paul: The Knack was a continuation of The Londoners. There were a few different members, on bass was Gearie Kenworthy, on organ was Tim Mycroft (who is the first of the family tree to have passed away) and on drums was Topper Clay, and I played rhythm guitar. The Knack played mostly in London and around England.

Q. In early 1968 you started Gun. You released a debut album in the same year, which I think it is a true masterpiece and one of the first heavy albums from that era. You also had a mega hit called Race With The Devil. Can you tell me about it? Who made the cover art? I just love it.

Paul: The Gun was a continuation of The Knack with different members. The first Gun was Tim Mycroft on organ, Gearie Kenworthy on bass, Louie Farrel on drums, and I played rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Actually I started playing as The Gun in late 67. In early 68 there were more changes, Jon Anderson was the lead singer and my brother joined on guitar, then it changed again, Anderson left so did Tim mycroft, and then Gearie Kenworthy and that's when we became The Gun that made the albums. I was now playing bass and Adrian on guitar and Louie on drums.

Race With The Devil was our first hit and was recorded at CBS in London on an 8 track recorder. We were managed at that time by the famous jazz player Ronnie Scott and rehearsed in his club. During the time we were rehearsing there was a guy painting murals on the club walls and we asked him if he would like to do the artwork of the cover. His name was Roger Dean who later did all the Yes albums and many more but The Gun was his first. As far as touring we spent time in France, Germany, Italy and England.

Q. In 1969 you started to record a second album, called Gun Sight. There were lineup changes, right? Drummer Peter Dunton came from Bulldog Breed to join your band. Can you tell me more about that?

Paul: I don't remember much about that. I know Peter Dunton played on some tracks, but never really joined the band although there were some publicity pics with him. Most of the second album was Louie Farrell, later Goeff Britton played drums and toured with us. He later joined Wings.

Q. What went wrong with Gun after the second album? Your brother went to the US to record with Buddy Miles. After that you and Brian Parrish released one album called Parrish & Gurvitz. Slowly after that a new band was born. Three Man Army. What can you tell me about this legendary trio with you Adrian and Tony Newman on drums? You released 3 albums from 1970 to 1974.

Paul: I was recording a solo album for CBS and then decided to join up with Parrish. Three Man Army was an extention of Gun but with a lot of different drummers such as Buddy Miles, Mike Kelly (Spooky Tooth) and Carmin Appice (Vanilla Fudge). The band was just a recording band at the time as Adrian and I were playing in different bands but we intended to make Three Man Army a touring band later, when Adrian finished with Buddy Miles.  Parrish & Gurvitz, after making 2 albums with George Martin (of Beatles fame), decided to pack it in and that's when Tony Newman joined and Three Man Army was born. The second album Mahesha and Three Man Army Two were both with Tony Newman.

We recorded often at the Who's studio and toured the US with The Doobie Brothers and The Beach Boys. We did some TV and there is an album of unreleased material called Three Man Army Three and can be purchased at

Paradise Ballroom
Q. During that period you started another project with The Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge. Soon after that two albums were released. Please tell me more about that project.

The two albums with Graeme Edge were just studio albums. The Moody Blues were taking a break and doing their individual projects. The artwork was by Joe Petagno (Motorhead sleeves etc.) also Three Man Army Two, the second album Paradise Ballroom was recorded in London and Memphis, they have both been reissued recently on The Acerteric label.

Q. Tony Newman left Three Man Army and you started a new band called Baker Gurvitz Army. How did you meet with Ginger Baker?

Paul: Three Man Army was back from the U.S. and Tony Newman was offered a gig with David Bowie and we suggested he took it. Three Man Army had an album ready to record, but no drummer. We met Ginger in The Speakeasy one night and he said he wanted to join the band and the rest is history. That album became the first BGA album. The band toured the UK and America and recorded somehow two more albums. There have been many live albums released since the demise of the band also on You will find BGA 'Still Alive' which includes a DVD.

Q. In 1976 you released the last Baker Gurvitz Army album, called Hearts on Fire. What happened next?

Paul: After the recording of Hearts On Fire our manager was killed in a plane crash and the band split. Adrian pursued solo projects and I produced them.

Q. Then came the 80's and you were involved with a lot of projects.

Paul: The 80's was a whole new era for me with my music. I went from playing and creating hard rock to writing pop r&b for many artists which you will find on my website

Q. In 2002 you released the album 'No Gun - No Army' and in 2005 you released the 'Rated PG' album. What can you say about that?

Paul: No Gun No Army was just a release of demo's rated. PG was more a project than No Gun No Army. I make the albums more for other artist's to record the songs.

Q. In 2010 you released the album 'Sweetheart Land'. How do you feel about it?

Paul: I liked Sweetheart Land. Gave me chance to switch my style a bit to more country / rock.

Thanks Paul!

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