Magic Band Members: Mark Boston, John French, Bill Harkleroad, John Thomas, Art Tripp

Is is a duck ? … is it a train? No, it’s the Magic Band after they left Beefheart in 1974. Bill Harkleroad (aka Zoot Horn Rollo) and bassist Mark Boston (aka Rockette Morton) decided to form their own band. John French joined on vocals and drums and John Thomas, who’d been with French in Rattlesnake & Eggs, played keyboards.

Unfortunately only six demo songs were recorded with this line-up before French got the call to rejoin the Magic Band. Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, a Magic Band fan and friend of Mark Boston, financed their first album which resulted in their signing with Virgin Records UK. The album was recorded in the UK with just Bill and Mark from the original line-up. Art Tripp (aka Ed Marimba) had agreed to play drums (only if he had money upfront), and the vocals were handled by country/lounge bar circuit singer Sam Galpin who had no idea about the history of his fellow band mates. John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick was brought in on keyboards.

Denounced by Beefheart as ‘a bunch of quacks’ they nevertheless included a version of ‘Peon’ because they’d heard he was in financial difficulties. However the track is credited to DONALD van Vliet!

The band went on to record another album, In A Different Climate. On this one George Draggota takes over on drums and John Thomas gets to play keyboards. These two with Bill Harkleroad, Mark Boston and Sam Galpin were the band that toured Europe in 1976, appearing at the Reading Festival, the Roundhouse in London and on the German TV show ‘Rockpalast’ amongst other venues.

Poor distribution and the subsequent lack of financial success led to the band deciding not to continue.

The two albums have been released on CD although it is now deleted and fairly difficult to find.

Releases:

  • 1975 UK Original of Mallard on Virgin V2045. This album was never released in the US.
  • 1975 UK Original of Mallard on Virgin V2045 – PROMOTIONAL COPY ONLY overprinted in red on centre label – normal sleeve
  • 1976 UK Original of In A Different Climate on Virgin V2077
  • 1976 UK Original of In A Different Climate on Virgin V2077 – D.J.Copy. For promotional use only printed in green around centre of label – normal sleeve
  • 1976 US Original of In A Different Climate on Virgin PZ34489 – was distributed by CBS Records in America during 1977 through its short lived deal with Virgin UK
  • 1976 US Original of In A Different Climate on Virgin PZ34489 – FOR PROMOTION ONLY Ownership Reserved By CBS Sale Is Unlawful message stamped in gold on back – normal record – Distributed by CBS Records New York
  • 1976 US Original of In A Different Climate on Virgin PZ34489 – DEMONSTRATION Not For Sale message stamped in gold on back and printed in black on record label – Front of cover has white paper DJ timing strip stuck on with DEMONSTRATION Not For Sale message and “Suggested Cuts” – Distributed by CBS Records New York
  • 1976 US 7″ Harvest (mono) / Harvest (stereo) on Virgin ZS8 9514. A plain white sleeve with “Taken from the Virgin LP ‘In A Different Climate'”, “Demonstration Not for Sale”. “Distributed by CBS Records” As far as I know no singles from the albums were released. Although there is a promo single – but was it for the album or for a single?

    [Thanks to Sheldon Reber for the info on this release and the scan .]
  • 1978 UK Original of Dead On Arrival Sampler on Virgin VD2508 (double) (g/fold) – Luminous ‘Black Light’ Vinyl – includes “Desperados Waiting For A Train” from the first album.
  • 1994 UK CD Original of Mallard / In A Different Climate on Caroline Blue Plate CAROL 1897 the budget label for Virgin [Virgin UK # 7243 8 39538 2 0]. Both Mallard LPs released on one 72 Minute CD
  • 1994 Luxembourg CD One Day Once on Oh Boy Records 1-9161. A bootleg of Mallard’s concert “recorded live in Europe 09-07-76”. It’s actually the show they did for the German TV programme ‘Rockpalast’ – 10 songs with excellent sound.

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