GORDON JACKSON – Thinking Back

Gordon Jackson (not the ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ actor) is a Worcester singer/songwriter whose debut album appeared on the short-lived Marmalade label in 1969. Unfortunately for him the label was in the process of folding as his album was released, and so few copies made it to the shops. This was extremely bad timing for him, as his melodic psyche-tinged songs would have found a ready audience, and an even bigger selling point would have been the calibre of guest musicians who he managed to recruit. Among others there are contributions from Traffic’s Dave Mason (who also produced), Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, and Stevie Winwood, as well as Blossom Toes’ Poli Palmer, and various members of The Action, Spooky Tooth, and Chicken Shack, plus Julie Driscoll on backing vocals. Various members of Traffic play on every track, making this something of a gem for fans of the band and even though Jackson wrote the songs it hangs together extremely well. Opener ‘The Journey’ is a great Eastern sounding piece of psychedelia, while ‘My Ship, My Star’ is more rooted in traditional rock. ‘Me And My Dog’ is a lightweight piece of whimsy and not one of the best songs on here, and yet perversely it is the one track on which every member of Traffic played. ‘Sing To Me Woman’ shows the heavier side of Jackson, with a great underlying riff and some superb guitar from Mason. ‘When You Are Small’ is a beautiful ballad, with Rob Blunt’s lyrical guitar fills adding a certain poignancy to the song. ‘Snakes And Ladders’ ends the album with an loose rural country feel, featuring some nice organ work from Palmer and slide guitar from Mason, and sounding very much like Traffic’s early work. Added to this CD re-issue are five extra tracks – ‘A Day At The Cottage’ which was the B-side of his first single, and two demo versions of songs from the album, of which ’Me And My Dog’ is stretched out to over seven minutes, thus giving the Traffic members a chance to jam together. ‘Sing To Me Woman’ and ‘Song For Freedom’ and given radio-friendly single mixes, and they round off this really enjoyable collection. The term ‘lost classic’ is bandied about way too much these days, but you have to wonder how an album with this line-up has languished unrecognised for over thirty years. Well worth searching out for lovers of good quality late 60’s British rock.