Monday, November 26, 2012

The Creation

It was the mid-sixties, and this British band was quite popular with the era's Mods, decked out in the latest Carnaby Street pop art clothing styles. Their music featured a big powerful rhythm guitar, inventive drumming and commanding bass with a vocalist possessed of a middling voice but great stage presence. Their repertoire mixed              original songs with covers by American soul and blues artists. You'd be forgiven for thinking I'd just described The Who...but you'd be wrong. It was The Creation that utilized this well known formula, if only in relative obscurity. They are nonetheless worthy of attention.
Formed in 1966 from the remnants of a band called The Mark Four with members Kenny Pickett on lead vocals, Eddie Phillips on guitar, bassist Bob Garner and drummer Jack Jones. They signed a management deal that same year with well-known manager Tony Stratton-Smith who suggested the boys lose the name The Mark Four. It was Pickett who came up with The Creation based on a reference he found in a book of Russian poetry. The band's stylistic similarity to the early records by The Who is not surprising, being as they were produced by Shel Talmy whose work with The Who, The Yardbirds and others is well-documented. Their first single, the Talmy-produced "Making Time" was a Pickett-Phillips song released on Talmy's own label Planet Records and went to #49 on the U.K. chart.

The follow-up single would prove to be their most successful. It featured Phillips playing his guitar with a cello bow, a technique used in later years by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page to much greater acclaim. Live performances of this song took The band's pop art experimentation to a new level when Pickett would spray and brush paint a canvas onstage during the song. Thesong was entitled "Painter Man", and it went to #36 in the U.K. and was a top 10 song in Germany.

"Painter Man" was the group's last single to chart in the U.K. Line-up changes occurred, as with most bands. In 1967 Pickett left the band and bassist Bob Garner assumed lead vocal duties, bringing in new bassist Kim Gardner. At different times The Kinks drummer Mick Avory and Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood were members of the band. In spite of the band's strong stagecraft and well above average writing, the band could not crack the U.S. market, having released four singles in The States, none of which managed to chart. The band broke up in February of 1968.

Pickett and Phillips continued to collaborate as songwriters having most notably written "Teacher,Teacher" in 1980 for the band Rockpile.
The band's original line-up reformed in 1994 and recorded an album Power Surge that was released in England in 1996.
Kenny Pickett passed away in 1997.

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