out from the streets of Liverpool (the birthplace of some of England’s finest
bands, most notably of course “The Beatles”) talented guitarist/songwriter
Mick Devonport sought out the best musicians from the city to form a scouse
super group to conquer the world, following in the footsteps of previous
First recruit was powerhouse drummer John Mylett. John had
his own tight distinctive style of drumming, powering the band along with
flexibility using every single space of skin on his mass array of drums whilst
adding thunder to the proceedings with his bass drum footwork. The Mylett drum
solo mid-set was always a wonder to behold.
There weren’t many bass players who would not be swamped
playing alongside this God of Thunder, but one was found in Mr. Keith
Mullholand, who always played his bass as if he was a lead guitarist. He used
to wear Doc-Marten boots on stage, as he stomped around so hard on the stage
often breaking the wooden planking as his feet added another dimension to the
Of course there, leading this trio was the mercurial Mick
Devonport, a Jeff Beck admirer, who had practiced so long and hard that he was
a match for his mentor, certainly more consistent, with great song writing
skills. A flamboyant showman with a wonderful sense of humour.
But a front man still had to be found. Whilst the three of
them were sitting in the local pub watching the telly, the Cadbury’s crunchie
bar advert came on with a raunchy soundtrack and a terrific vocal over dub.
“If only we could find him,” they thought. A quick phone call later and
they found out that the young lad was a local Liverpool boy playing in the
Cavern the very next day in his own band. That night lead singer David Lloyd
was persuaded to break up his band and front this new quartet, aptly christened
A residency was set up at the Cavern for the night time, and
during the day they recorded their debut album. It was released in 1974 and,
quite frankly, did not live up to expectations. Apart from two songs “Joke”
and “Round & Round” it was not truly representative of their stage
show. A re-think was in order.
Back to the studios, and this time they put the edge into
the songs. Right from the opening guitar break of 1975’s “Nutz Too”
opener “Natured Intended” you know how hard rock is supposed to be played.
Seven hard rockin Mick Devonport rockers, including the head bangin
“Sinner”, a cover of Pete Pizer’s “Changes Coming” and three David
Lloyd Ballads, including the beautiful “The Love That You Lost”, with John
“Rabbit” Bundrick (later of Free & The Who) on piano.
“Nutz Too” got to the outer regions of the British
Charts. Then a couple of bad decisions put a spanner in the works. A tour of
America was a disaster as the albums weren’t even out in the States due to
complications with unions over printing rights. This tour losing them impetuous
in the U.K., and sinking the band heavily into debt. But record company A &
M Records stepped in and put them onto the Black Sabbath European tour of 1976,
which gave the band excellent exposure, but was not a happy tour as by now
Black Sabbath had turned into warring factions and were about too implode.
Again salvation seemed to be on hand as Nutz were added to
the mid-afternoon time slot on Saturday’s Reading Festival, at the time the
major rock event of the year. They went on for their forty five minutes set at
the peak of their powers. When they came off, the crowd of 95,000 were baying
for more. However, the contract said forty five minutes, no more, or they would
be fined. Management for A & M records were there and told the boys not to
go for an encore. In those circumstances who do you listen too? A suit from the
record company or 95,000 screaming fans? They went back on playing 2 encores
before the plug was pulled on them.
A & M Records were furious. From that moment on tensions
between record company and the band where at breaking point. The band went back
into the studio to record a new album, recruiting Kenny Newton on keyboards to
fill out the sound. “Hard Nutz” was released in 1977 with very little
publicity and the band was sent out on the road with Welsh trio “Budgie”,
label mates on A & M, but combining Budgies decline, Nutz blowing the
headlines off stage every night, and the advent of the dreaded Punk Rock, it
stood no chance.
In 1978 A & M completed their recording contract with Nutz by releasing
“Nutz Live Cutz”, an amazing album of pure raw hard rock ‘n’ roll
including a great version of the Nutz anthem “Wall Banger” clocking in at
12 minutes, plus tracks spanning all three albums. But with no publicity, A
& M holding a contract that would run another 2 years, no financial support
to tour, the album, which should have been huge, flopped. The moral of the
story: don’t upset the suits. Nutz had to sit out their contract, but this
was not the end.