Over the years I’ve collected a lot of albums purporting to be “lost masterpieces”, records which upon release didn’t enter the canon, but were greeted with indifference at best.
Usually it’s obvious why. With the exception of Big Star, most often it’s a combination of bad luck, weak vocals and worse songs.
I don’t know why I never took a chance on LEGEND, as it has a very cool cover. I remember seeing it, back in the day, in the import section, but until recently I had no idea what it was about.
They were “pub rock” a few years before it was a thing.
Mickey Jupp is a fine singer, songwriter, who also plays guitar, and a mean rollicking New Orleans piano as well.
Here are liner notes from the recent reissue of “Legend” (aka The Red Boot):
“In some circles, Mickey Jupp is something of a minor legend, a roots rocker with excellent taste and a cutting wit, best heard on the songs “Switchboard Susan” and “You’ll Never Get Me Up in One of Those,” both covered by Nick Lowe.
Basher’s endorsement is a clear indication that Jupp is a pub rocker, a guy who specializes in laid-back good times, so it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that his first band, Legend, was proto-pub, an unabashed celebration of old-time rock & roll, filled with three-chord Chuck Berry rockers and doo wop backing vocals. Nevertheless, listening to their 1970 LP is a bit of a shock, as it’s completely disassociated with anything that was happening in 1970, even with Tony Visconti enlisted as their producer.
Legend’s sensibility is ahead of its time in its retro thinking, pointing the way to the rock & roll revival of the late ’70s and not even that similar to the country-rock of Eggs Over Easy or Bees Make Honey, as this has little of the rustic feel of the Band: it’s just straight-up oldies rock, a trait emphasized by those incessant doo wop harmonies that are on almost every cut.
Those harmonies and the light, almost goofy, touch of Jupp’s writing here distinguish Legend and also illustrate why they made no waves in 1970; it’s hard to see the counterculture getting roused over the verse “If you were an apple you’d be/Good good eating/If you were a book you’d be/Good good reading.”
These slightly silly flourishes do have a lot in common with the wry humor of Nick Lowe, who at this time was denying this mischievous streak as he attempted to sound like Crosby, Stills & Nash, but at this point, Jupp was largely on his own doing this light, good-time pub rock. That may be why it sank without a trace at the time, but heard apart from its era, Legend is a minor delight, one of the first flowerings of the pub rock sensibility.”
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine
This music is straight foreard, no-frills Rock N Roll. The “Red Boot” was produced by Tony Visconti, so it’s no coincidence that drummer Bill Fifield left shortly afterwards to join T-Rex and record “Electric Warrior” credited as Bill Legend.
It was engineered by Eddie Offord, Yes, ELP, etc.
They didn’t break any new ground, but the familiar elements of blues, country and early rock n roll they worked with was treated with dignity and love.
In short, they rocked.
“Moonshine” was released in 1972, and self produced. After which they disbanded, and,
“Jupp pursued a low-key existence until the pub-rock revolution (spearheaded by local bands such as Dr. Feelgood, for whom he wrote the hit single “Down at the Doctors”) created a fresh interest in rock and roll. He signed to Stiff Records in 1978, and they initially released a compilation album of the first three Legend albums, which was also called Legend, giving three albums with this title. This was followed by his first solo album, Juppanese, an album in two different styles. The first half was recorded with Rockpile and produced by Nick Lowe, and is in a simple raw style, whereas the second half, produced by Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, was slicker.The album had a racist cover photo, in which Jupp sits at a table of oriental food, pulling at the corners of his eyes. Jupp had a long-standing connection with Procol Harum; one of his early idols was Gary Brooker then with R&B group the Paramounts. When Procol’s bassist David Knights went into management, Legend were his first act. He also produced their final album Moonshine. Robin Trower also produced Legend’s second single “Georgia George Part 1″which was actually Jupp backed by Mo Witham and Procol’s Matthew Fisher and B.J. Wilson.
The follow-up album Long Distance Romancer was produced by Godley and Creme, and has a slick, highly produced, sound, which was generally seen as less successful.
Jupp went on to release a further seven solo albums, some appearing on Swedish and German labels. His songs have been recorded by Rick Nelson, Elkie Brooks, the Judds,Chris Farlowe, Delbert McClinton, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Gary Brooker, the Hamsters, Dr. Feelgood, Roger Chapman, and the Searchers.”
This compilation includes two songs from “Legend” (1969), “Legend” (Red Boot, 1970), most of “Moonshine” (1972), some singles, and “Natures Radio” (1976).
It totally Rocks.