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Off-topic Sunday

Alex Harvey and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band are names I knew, but didn't know a lot about. Then this performance, what a performance, was brought to my attention.

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB) were described as glam rock, but they are harder to categorise. Harvey is the archetypal rocker greaser, while guitarist Zal Cleminson is a malevolent mime.

Harvey begins the festival performance of Framed, a tale of being fitted up by the police, by sorting his hairdo with a bottle of beer, and then moves onto delivering lines in a very deliberate Glaswegian burr while the audience look on open-mouthed. It's 1974, so Harvey is 38 or 39, no spring chicken, and he looks every week of it. When he appears with a sheer stocking things turn even more bizarre.

The editor, cutting between the cameras, has the trigger finger of gunfighter and cuts to a different angle just as Harvey is about to do something unexpected, like start stuffing the stocking in his mouth. When it cuts back the hosiery is all but in his gob. The singer jams the last bit in and then stretches his gob, in a scene not a million miles away from Joaquin Phoenix's in Joker. It is deranged. With the stocking still in his mouth, Harvey's left arm gets a mind of its own. Anyway, if you haven't started watching it by now, please do.


Mar 03, 2020

Saw SAHB for my first gig too! Fairfield Halls, Croydon probably around 1975. Unbelievable experience which has never really been surpassed over the years.


Mar 02, 2020

My first proper rock gig was the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Christmas 1973 so around the same time as this video. What a show. The set was a giant Christmas present and Alex wandered on wearing a smoking jacket, hair slicked back and smoking a pipe. He produced a beer, poured it over himself and then casually kicked the "present" which pivoted open to reveal the band all set to go. He started the encore by coming through the back of the set with a chainsaw. It was to be many years before any act I saw could reach those levels of deranged showmanship. Thanks for the memory.

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