Uriah Heep fans (aka Heepsters) should be happy to know that Cherry Red Records will be releasing several Heep related titles this year. The label is slated to release the posthumous albums of both drummer Lee Kerslake and keyboardist Ken Hensley. Along with this, Cherry Red have released a 2-CD set devoted to the career of Toe Fat- a pre-Uriah Heep band that Kerslake and Hensley were in during the early 1970s. The set, entitled Bad Side of the Moon, features the band’s lone two studio albums. Not only are these albums back in print but they’ve also been newly re-mastered- making Bad Side of the Moon a great new release.
A Little History
Toe Fat were formed around 1969 by singer Cliff Bennett. Prior to forming the band, Bennett had been the frontman for his own band Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers. When the Rousers split, Bennett was interested forming a heavy rock band. Keyboardist/guitarist Ken Hensley answered Bennett’s ad- given that the two had worked together in the past. At the time Hensley called, he had been in a band called the Gods with guitarist Joe Konas, bassist John Glascock and drummer Lee Kerslake. After two albums together, the band had split. With this, Hensley suggested to Bennett that Glascock and Kerslake should join the band- thus forming Toe Fat.
Toe Fat (1970)
Toe Fat’s self-titled debut album is a fun 10-track hard rock-heavy psych affair. Taking from the psychedelic rock that the Gods had churned out on their two albums, Toe Fat’s debut sounds like the natural successor- albeit much heavier and bluesy. Bennett’s gruff vocals are fairly similar to that of Paul Rodgers’- blending in nicely with the hard and heavy sounds created by Hensley, Glascock and Kerslake. Track by track, the band does a little bit of everything: hard rockers, slide-guitar bluesy tunes and all out guitar jams. Topped off with its rough but clean production, this is a must-listen.
Highlights: Bad Side of the Moon, This is My Life With You, Just Like Me, I Can’t Believe, But I’m Wrong
By the time the band’s sophomore effort came out, Hensley and Kerslake had been dismissed from the band by the band’s management. Bennett and Glascock recruited guitarist Alan Kendall and Glascock’s drummer brother Brian. Released a year or less after the debut, Two isn’t as good as its predecessor. It’s not bad, mind you but it doesn’t sound as cohesive as the debut. Even then, the eight songs on Two pick up where the debut left off on. If there was any distinct difference between the two albums, Two is slightly more blues based- although the album has its share of thick and heavy sounding hard rockers. Peter Green plays the guitar solo on “There’ll Be Changes.”
Highlights: Stick Heat, Idol,
Along with the two albums, there are two single-only bonus tracks- “Brand New Band” and “Can’t Live Without You.”
As a whole, Bad Side of the Moon is a solid set of albums. Along with the music and superb remastering are the liner notes- which are written by music journalist Malcolm Dome. There isn’t a whole lot written on Toe Fat so these liner notes are a nice addition, which features a new interview with Cliff Bennett and several other figures. If the set had any downsides, the music itself may not be particularly memorable. Even then, Heepsters should be happy that these two albums are back in print.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.