Des Henly's Rock and Roll Circus

music paper articles

Beat Instrumental
Sept 1972

FUMBLE

It seems that many of today’s rock revival bands have adopted a rather cowardly attitude by sticking to the same old easy-to-sing numbers such as Memphis Tennessee, Johnny B. Goode, Hound Dog and A Whole Lotta Shakin‘ Goin‘ On rather than go in for songs with more complicated arrangements and possibly stand the risk of fluffing their efforts.

Fumble, a four-piece band based in the West country, are one of the few groups around that have actually made an intense study of exactly what went into the rock songs of the late 1950‘s and very early 1960‘s. Because their research has been so thorough they are now able to reproduce almost perfectly on stage and record such songs as Ebony Eyes, Teenager In Love, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Take Good Care Of My Baby and many more.

"The arrangements of many of these songs are very complicated", said lead guitarist and vocalist Des Henly. "For instance, on It Might As Well Rain Until September the musicians behind Carole King’s voice keep going up and down the musical scales and on Take Good Care Of My Baby there are odd notes and vocal bursts all over the place.

If you just listen casually to one of these songs you don’t hear half of what’s goin on. There only seems to be the singer’s voice and the basic arrangement. But we’ve literally sat for hours at a time and just listened to one song and noted absolutely every vocal or instrumental insertion and such like."

When Fumble first started playing the songs of those days Henly, and the other members, Mario Ferrari on bass, Sean Mayes on piano and Barry Pike on drums, wondered what kind of reaction they’d get.

"The reaction has been tremendous wherever we play, whether it be in front of women aged about 25-30 and who remember the days when the songs were popular, or kids of about 16 and younger who have most likely never heard some of the numbers we’re playing."

In keeping with the performers of 10 or more years ago, Fumble use an absolute minimum of equipment. Henly said he doesn’t think that a concert audience really wants to see stacks and stacks of amplifiers, speakers and mixers all over the place.

To faithfully reproduce the sounds of yester-year Fumble have found the necessity to use a mixer – a 12 channel Hi-Watt – and a Binson echo effect panel.

Fumble’s first LP is soon to be released on the Sovereign label.