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written by: Nigel Camilleri
A Brief History
How can one best approach a band such as Delivery? In retrospect strictly speaking they are not what one would
term as a progressive rock band in the general sense of categorisation. However when one really analyses the way
the musicians approached and interpreted their music, then one could reconsider such as statement. In fact they
are more akin to Big Brother & The Holding Company than other fellow Canterbury prog-rockers such as
Caravan yet on the other hand their music does have a certain amount of experimentation and flair that
goes beyond the routine rhythm & blues. More importantly they musicians that played with Delivery would go on to
form an integral part of the Canterbury rock scene in later years.
The formation of Delivery harks back to the childhood of both Phil Miller and Philip "Pip" Pyle in Sawbridgeworth, Essex County. Music was always an integral part of their childhood and they grew up to playing together and by 1966 Phil (guitars), then still 17 and Pip Pyle on drums roped in Phil's brother Steve on piano and vocals together with bass player Jack Monck. Steve Miller had already started to make a name for himself in London as a session musician, and he introduced hi fellow band members to the music of artists such as Lux Lewis and Jimmy Yancy. The quartet was augmented by the addition of vocalist Dez Fisher and following several rehearsals, the stage was set for the band's debut at the Memorial Hall in Bishops Stortford. Their first band name was Bruno Blues Band.
The late sixties involved the British Blues boom and anywhere one went, one would find a blues band sprouting.
Pip Pyle formed his own blues club called the Juniper Blossom Blues Club and by the end of that year (1967),
Steve Miller had also formed his Ramblin' Jack's Blues Club. The bands that played at these clubs would one day
form the cream of British rock with artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Chickenshack, Savoy Brown and
Free all gracing the stages of these clubs. By the end of 1968, the band also underwent its first change
in lineup with Dez Fisher replaced by Simon Leigh, who in turn did not last long within the band. However Leigh
can be credited with one important factor to the Delivery history in that he introduced the band to veteran jazz
saxophonist Lol Coxhill.
Coxhill was an important factor to the band as he introduced an element of freedom and improvisation to the
band's music. Furthermore his arrival called for a change in name and the Brunos Blues Band became Steve Miller's
Delivery, later shortened to Delivery. Steve Miller was also making a name for himself with veteran blues
musician Alexis Korner and would go to Germany often to make TV appearances with the musician. At this po
int in their history Delivery had already had the distinction of supporting blues legends such as Lowell
Fulson, Eddie Boyd and Otis Span, as well as being a regular act at the legendary Ronnie Scott's.
Another club that was frequented by the band was The London's Speakeasy Club, which also saw the band share the
bill with Yes. Furthermore on October 22nd 1969, the band was playing on the same set as another group
called Babylon. This band featured vocalist Carol Grimes who sat in for a few of the band's numbers and
when her band broke up a few weeks later, she was invited to join Delivery.
Apart from her great vocals, Grimes also gave the band a certain amount of commercial value due to her contract with the Robert Stigwood Organisation who set up a record deal for the band. However recordings would not take place before there was one final change in lineup. Bassist Jack Monck left to join Ashkan and was replaced by Roy Babbington, himself nominated by Alexis Korner. Another blow to the band was the departure of Coxhill, who joined Kevin Ayers And The Whole World, though he did play as a guest musician on the album Delivery would record.
The band were signed by progressive label B&C Records who insisted on rushing the recording sessions. The
pressure placed on the band as well as time constraints while recording was not conducive to an excellent
recording atmosphere. Add to this the fact that recordings were made through independent mixes, a technique that
did not ably translate the band's powerful live atmosphere, and one gets the one and only album that Delivery
produced, Fool's Meeting.(The album would be also released on the Charisma label as CAS 1023, Value BS50.00)
Having said that the music on the album does offer a great example of progressive blues and rock. The gatefold
sleeve design was by Grimes' then husband, and noted psychedelic artist Larry Smart. To add further insult to
injury the release of the album was postponed by six months to November 1969. In the meantime various members of
the band jammed or played alongside various other sessions such as Free (Steve Miller) and
Centipede (Roy Babbington).
Thus B&C Records released Fool's Meeting in November 1969, and to aid in promotion of the album a non LP
single (Harry Lucky/Home Made Ruin)(B&C CB 129, Value BS6.00) was released. As the band hit the college
circuit to promote the album, criticism of the recording was favourable. However the band were finding enormous
pressure from the corporate side of the musical business. A reference to coke in Harry Lucky led to the
single being banned by BBC Radio 1 while the record company were adamant that the band become a vehicle for Carol
Grimes and wanted to market her as England's answer to Janis Joplim and Grace Slick. The album was also marketed
as Carol Grimes And Delivery! In all fairness to Grimes, this was something that she absolutely refused to bow
down to as she wished to appear simply as a band member.
In January 1971, following a BBC Top Gear Session, founder member Pip Pyle left the fold to join Gong
and he was replaced by Laurie Allan, an acquaintance of Steve Miller's from his stints in Germany. The band began
to evolve in a jazz direction, leading to Grimes leaving in March of that year and Babbington following soon
after, thus bringing Delivery to an end. (Babbington would join jazz legend Ian Carr in his band
However in summer 1971, Lol Coxhill roped in the remaining three members of Delivery (Phil Miller, Steve
Miller and Laurie Allan) together with ex-Fairport Convention vocalist Judy Dyble to form the more
improvisational inspired DC & The MB's (Dyble, Coxhill and the Miller Brothers). This lineup manage to
last a tour of the Netherlands and the U.K., though shortly after disbanded with Steve Miller joining
Caravan and his brother joining Matching Mole. The sound of Caravan would be changed
completely with the addition of Steve Miller and tracks on the album Waterloo Lily, Songs And Signs, Nothing
At All and It's Coming Soon, are all tracks that were written during his Delivery days and can be
looked at as tracks that were never recorded by the second Delivery lineup.
This by no means was the end of Delivery. It is true that the band was effectively dead as a recording entity,
however the band can also be credited as being instrumental in the formation of another legendary Canterbury
band. In between Caravan tours, Steve Miller shared the bill on a Lol Coxhill album and on the same album
Phil, Pip and bassist Richard Sinclair (Caravan) dropped by during sessions and played on the track One
For You. On July 21st 1972, Steve Miller, Richard Sinclair, Phil Miller and Pip Pyle reformed Delivery to
play at the Music In The Moat Festival at the Tower Of London. They played d a continuos 35-minute set consisting
of One For You"/"Big Jobs No. 2"/"Finesse Is For Fairies"/ unknown/"Nan True's Hole"/"Shaving Is Boring"/"God
Song. On September 29th, the same lineup together with Didier Malherbe (Gong) played in Brighton.
However Steve Miller wanted to play a more jazz orientated style of music and left the band to join Coxhill and
Allan for a series of European dates. His replacement was Dave Sinclair (Egg/Caravan/Matching Mole), and
his addition also resulted in the formation of a new band and new name. Thus, under the suggestion of Mike
Patto, Hatfield And The North was born!
Sometime in 1973 a BBC In Concert was organised and Steve, Lol, Phil, Roy, Richard, and Pip played together at
the Paris Theatre. This was not to be the last time the band would play together. Unfortunately Steve Miller was
diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and on June 28th 1998, at London's Vortex Jazz Bar, Mark Hewins, Eddie
Prevost, Mark Sanders, Elton Dean, Fred Baker, Lol, Phil, and Pip played in various combinations with Steve
before Carol Grimes and Delivery reunited for a set of old songs. Only two musicians could not make it to the
benefit gig and they were Roy Babbington, who was on a tour, and Peter Lemer who was on holiday with his family.
Unfotunately Steve Miller lost his battle to cancer and died on 9/1/98.
Albums reviewed here are:
Delivery - Fool's Meeting
Tracklist: Blind To Your Light (5:05), Miserable Man (8:28), Home Made Ruin (3:23), Is It Really The
Same (5:44), We Were Satisfied (4:02), The Wrong Time (7:50), Fighting It Out (5:48), Fools Meeting (5:27), Harry
Lucky (3:41), Home Made Ruin (Alternative Take) (2:56), Is It Really The Same (Live) (5:19), Blind To Your Light
(Live) (5:29), One For You (7:43)
|Country of Origin:||UK|
|Record Label:||Charisma Records||Cuneiform Records|
|Catalogue #:||CAS 1023||Rune 115|
|Year of Release:||1970||1999|
Tracks 1-10 recorded at Morgan Studios, London April 28th - May 2nd 1970. Produced by Roger Quested
Tracks 11-12 recorded live in London, late 1970
Track 13 recorded at Mushroom Studios, Chalkfarm, London, (probably) Autumn 1971. Engineered by Vic Keary
Line-up: Steve Miller (Piano), Phil Miller (Guitar), Roy Babbington (Bass, Tracks 1-12), Pip Pyle
(Drums), Carol Grimes (Vocals, Percussion, Tracks 1-3,5-12), Lol Coxhill (soprano/tenor saxophone Tracks 1-8,10),
Roddy Skeaping (Violin Track 2), Richard Sinclair (Bass, Track 13)
Tracks Composed by Phil Miler (3,5,7,10), Phil Miller/Carol Grimes (Tracks 1,12), Delivery/Carol Grimes
(Tracks 2,6,8), Keith Jarret (Tracks 4,11), Steve Miller (Track 13), Steve Miller/Alfreda Benge/Pip Pyle (Track
First of all one must add that the sole Delivery album, Fool's Meeting has recently been released by Cuneiform Records together with several bonus tracks. However one
must also state that unfortunately much of what this band had recorded, has unfortunately been lost. Master tapes
of this album have been lost as have also been the recordings of the band live at various concerts such ss the
BBC Top Gear Sessions. Notwithstanding all this the label have managed to include two "bonus" tracks from the
same recording session of the album, including the single release Harry Lucky that was unavailable on
the vinyl edition, together with two live tracks and the track One For You from the Lol Coxhill/Steve
Miller album sessions.
The album opens with the track Blind To Your Light, which with its running bass line conjures up a
definite bluesy atmosphere thus confirming the record label's aspirations for Grimes' contention as a vocal
ist to rival Janis Joplin and Grace Slick. However the saxophone playing of Coxhill together with
Steve Miller's piano helps add spice to the atmosphere giving it a jazz touch alongside the likes of bands such
as Colosseum. The live version of this track is played in an incredibly much slower pace with the guitar
coming to the fore of the band's playing, something that was not too conspicuous on the studio version. The
absence of Lol Coxhill on saxophone is probably the most plausible reason for this and it is up to bass and
guitar to fill in his shoes. The slow bluesy touch is maintained on Miserable Man, though the pace is
slowed down considerably (in comparison to the studio version of Blind To Your Light) and the overall
sound of the track has its roots in the sixties psychedelic rock scene, with Jefferson Airplane a strong
contender for inspiration.
On Home Made Ruin one can start to fell the progressive rock slowly creeping into the band's music. The
first track that had Phil Miller as sole composer, the music sees the guitar coming to the fore to reply to the
jazzy keyboard solo, though the striking factor of this track is the strong ever increasing rhythm and power with
which it is played out. The alternate take of this track features a completely different overall structure with
some delightful interplay between piano and guitar. With Is It Really The Same, the band start to take on
the sounds that were pervading the British rock scene, namely via bands like King Crimson. Coxhill manages
to infuse a raw energy into the band's performance giving them a much more raw rock sound, rather than the
polished feel that many progressive and Canterbury bands would tend to follow. The live version has Phil Miller's
distorted guitar carrying the load of the saxophone, though one must admit that there is a lack of broadness and
harshness when the track is executed live.
Once again it takes a Phil Miller composition to bring out a more obvious progressive feel to the music of
Delivery. We Were Satisfied is just one such track with a mixture of prog and psychedelia while tracks
like The Wrong Time and Figuring It out sound more like a jazzed up version of The Grateful
Dead with elements of R&B surfacing occasionally. The last track that was originally on the vinyl album was
the title track, Fool's Meeting, which is a true bluesy number that once again re-evokes the Grace
Slick/Janis Joplin comparisons with Carol Grimes' powerful vocals.
Harry Lucky was originally omitted from the vinyl version, but was released as a single to promote the
release of the album. Of the tracks on the album it is probably the weakest of the lot featuring little of note,
unlike the final track on this album, One For You. Written after the official demise of the band it was
recorded during the Coxhill/Miller recording sessions in Autumn, 1971 ad could be considered to be more of a jam
session than anything else. However it shows how the involved musicians had matured over the short period since
their last official recording. The music had evolved from a broad blues style to a more improvisational jazzy
approach, a sure feature of most Canterbury bands.
It is indeed a pity that both the album and the band have become mere footnotes in the history of Canterbury
music. The album should prove of interest to all those who want to see (or hear!) how much of the British
progressive rock scene evolved from the British blues sixties boom. This album is an important stepping stone for
such bands standing somewhere in the middle of both genres.
This album has been reviewed previously on DPRP by Jerry van Kooten and can
be accessed from here.
There is no official Delivery website, but the most authorative site (in my opinion!) related to the
Canterbury Progressive rock scene is the Calyx
Should you have any further information regarding
Delivery that could be added to the site, do not hesitate
to contact me.