Python Lee Jackson, featuring Rod Stewart


Rod Stewart, in 1968, made a "set of odd recordings" with the Australian band Python Lee Jackson. This page summarizes my quest for the best possible quality versions of these 3 songs. On their LP - In a Broken Dream the members of Python Lee Jackson are listed as:

But for these 3 songs, the band was:

In In a Broken Dream and Cloud Nine, it sounds like there are 2 lead guitars. Mick Liber was double tracked, i.e. he did two takes and both were stuck together in the final mix. He played a Gibson SG Custom through a Vox AC-30 amp and a Marshall fuzz. After In a Broken Dream was finished, the 4 band members and Stewart picked 2 more songs to record, " ... basically 'cos it was just a jam. and we had some spare studio time." - (Mick Liber).

After Python Lee Jackson broke up, Mick Liber did a lot of session work and touring, and joined Ashton, Gardner and Dyke. He also "... played with Stewart at the Roundhouse when Beck didn't turn up." - (Mick Liber).
Jaime Byrne went back to playing in The Groove.
Bentley, Liber, and Byrne live in Australia now, and David Montgomery is in LA. The whereabouts of Tony Cahill, who formerly played drums in The Purple Hearts and The Easybeats, are unknown. Mick Liber has a personal web page.


The story unfolds like this. Disc jockey John Peel had signed the group to his Dandelion record label, but they were having problems with the vocals. From the liner notes of a little misunderstood - The Sixties Sessions:

Around October 1968 - or possibly month or so later - Rod recorded the infamous In a Broken Dream with Python Lee Jackson. Although originally put down as a guide vocal, Rod's performance was so strong that the band's lead singer, Dave Bentley (who'd penned the song), never got around to putting his own vocals over the top. Although it flopped upon its initial 1970 release, it became a huge worldwide hit when reissued in 1972. As Rod later recalled:

"It was all John Peel's fault. He said, 'come down and show this guy how to sing the tune'. So me, being naive, and in no particular group at that time [which was patently untrue - Rod was always in a group, and was at that time in the Jeff Beck Group], I went and showed him how to sing it. Then suddenly, three years later, it ends up as a hit single. I don't think Peely had anything to do with that, though. On the other side of the single [the 1970 release] there's a really bad version of the Temptations' Cloud Nine, with me singing the wrong words. But it wasn't called 'Cloud Nine' on the record...they renamed it 'So Fine' [NB: Rod got it wrong - it was actually mistitled Doin' Fine]. I didn't even get a mention."

Peel was quick to confirm he had nowt to do with the reissue:

"It all happened about four years ago ... I'd seen this Australian group called Python Lee Jackson at the Arts Lab in Drury Lane. We tried various singers on the song and one of them happened to be Rod. I didn't particularly want to issue anything with a session singer because it wouldn't be representative of what the group was really like, so when Miki Dallon [who'd produced the session] offered to buy the tapes, I was more than willing to sell..."

The initial 1970 release, on Dallon's Youngblood label, had indeed paired up In a Broken Dream and Doin' Fine (YB 1017); however, a different B-side, Boogie Woogie Joe (which didn't feature Rod), appeared on the 1972 reissue (YB 1002). Rod had also recorded a third track with the band, The Blues, which appeared on their album, In A Broken Dream (SYB 3001), and was later paired up with (a by now correctly titled) Cloud Nine on a 1976 Younglood single (YB 1077). Confusing or what ? [NB: Rod later said that the fee he was paid for singing these three tracks was a set of new mats for his car!!!] --- liner-notes by N. E. Fulcanwright

These liner notes do not mention that the third track, The Blues (D. Bentley), was also mistitled and misattributed. The true title and author are How Blue Can You Get ? (Leonard Feather). It is a signature song of B.B. King and was performed in the movie Blues Brothers 2000.

In a Broken Dream reached #3 on the charts in the U.K. and #56 in the U.S. The author David Bentley remembers the recording session like this:

Python Lee Jackson had a successful run in Australia before relocating to London with a line-up including original members Bentley, Cockney guitarist Mick Liber and drummer David Montgomery. "The band was in starvation mode at the time," Bentley recalls. "We'd worked for six weeks at the Tottenham Club, which was a club the Rolling Stones had started, but the drink bottles were emptying and not being refilled and the fairylights weren't working, so we were getting a bit of a picture." "I went to work on Fleet Street because I'm not good at living without funds. I would have continued with the band if they had something happening straight away, but London wasn't like that at that time, you had to hang about for years for anything to happen."

But the band still had contacts through their former manager turned Oz publisher Richard Neville, and a recording date was arranged at CBS studios. "Mick (Liber) asked me, 'We've got this date tomorrow, could you write a song?' And if someone says, write a song, you do. I was supposed to sing it as well. I hadn't been the singer in the band before but I did sing, although I was more of a jazz singer".

"In the morning I was walking along the street and I heard Joe Cocker singing 'With A Little Help From My Friends' coming out of a record shop. And the next shop had Stevie Winwood singing something. "I thought, 'There's no point me singing this'. My style was too gentle and intimate for it to work, so I phoned up and said I didn't want to do the vocal."

When Bentley turned up, Rod was there. Stewart's manager was a friend of Liber's. "He had rehearsed the song in this little bedsit where the other guys were living. CBS had hired me a Hammond organ, which I loved but had never played before, but when we went in the song just wasn't working, it was horrible. "John Peel (music nut and famed BBC DJ) was the producer, so he sent out for enormous amounts of beer and we got pissed and it worked, you know. "And when Rod came in to do the vocals he added this extra dimension as I'd hoped that a good singer would. I do remember that he couldn't read the last verse because the lights were out so there are a few odd thing in there that aren't in the script!"

After the job was done, they went their different ways. While it had been floated that they might become Stewart's band, nothing came of it and the singer joined the former members of The Small Faces, along with his Jeff Beck Group chum Ron Wood, to form The Faces, a project that ran in tandem with his solo career.

In a Broken Dream went nowhere. Bentley's memory is that it was released seven times to zero result but eventually its star rose with Stewart's. "The song didn't connect in England at all until someone picked it up in Los Angeles, by which time Rod's career had moved forward to rekindle interest in the track. By that time people were releasing old Rod Stewart tracks left, right and centre, all of them to no effect except In a Broken Dream." In 1972 the song became a No 3 hit in the UK, and has been successfully reissued several times since.

It was included on the 1989 Stewart box set Storyteller, where Stewart said in the liner notes: "This was only meant to be a demo which I did for a friend in exchange for a new set of carpets for my automobile." Others had a higher opinion, like respected UK critic John Bauldie, who argued it was one of the best things Stewart ever did. By the time the song broke the band had long since split. For a time Bentley wrote songs for a London publisher, but for the months that Python Lee Jackson was a household name, Bentley was living in splendid isolation in a remote village in Majorca.

Bentley and Stewart never met again, although they came close. One night when he was on tour, Stewart dined in a Brisbane restaurant, never suspecting that the piano player was the author of In a Broken Dream. Bentley laughs. "I felt a bit weird about being the restaurant piano player and him the big star, so I didn't say anything."

But he is at ease with the song. He has just included a version of it in his set, the first time he has played it since his brush with fame one night in London, 33 years ago. David Bentley still plays regularly in Brisbane.

--- this was extracted from the The Rod Stewart Chronicle (primary source unknown)

I have compared the quality of these 3 recordings on one vinyl LP and five CD packages, and summarized the results in the table below. I do not claim that the list is complete, and would be interested to hear if there are others with equal or better quality - my email address is at the bottom of this page. What problems can there be on a CD ? I found 3 types of problems: missing sound at the start of the song, missing or incorrect data at the end of the song, and excessive compression. This is not data compression (as in MP3, AC-3, JPG, etc.) but dynamic range compression. In recent years, CD mastering engineers have been pushed to make the recordings hotter and louder. The low price of sophisticated digital compressors has made the practice easier and more common. Compression may be preferable in brief A/B comparisons, but over time it becomes tiresome. Furthermore, it raises the volume of the softer passages, so nuances in the music are lost. Heavy compression is easy to see on a waveform view - the signal spends much time at the extremes of the digital range, and often looks as though it is clipped. Here is a heavily compressed sample waveform. For more information on this issue, please see A Recording Engineer's Plea for Dynamic Range and Compression In Mastering and Dynamic Range Compression and The Future of Music.

Most tracks have a problem, and a track is not recommended unless otherwise indicated.
The bottom line: I recommend the Storyteller collection and the Tring International reissue on CD.



In a Broken Dream
(David Bentley)
Cloud Nine
[Doin' Fine]
(Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong)
How Blue Can You Get ?
[The Blues]
(Leonard Feather)
Artist: Python Lee Jackson,
      guest star Rod Stewart
Title: In a Broken Dream
1 vinyl LP with 10 tracks
GNP Crescendo - GNPS 2066
1972. made in USA
I have seen this LP for sale on eBay.
The track has the usual vinyl noise. The dynamic range is good and the track is complete. The track has the usual vinyl noise. The dynamic range is good and the track is complete. A waveform view is available. The track has the usual vinyl noise. The dynamic range is good and the track is complete, including the piano introduction.
Artist: Python Lee Jackson,
      guest star Rod Stewart
Title: Cloud Nine / Rod's Blues
1 vinyl 45 single
GNP Crescendo - 462
1972.
NA The version on the single has been edited
from 3:51 down to 2:56.
But the dynamic range is good.
The track has little vinyl noise. The dynamic range is good and the track (in this case mis-titled Rod's Blues) is complete. Recommended.
A dubbed file is available, from BV at WLOF Orlando, using a Stanton ST-150 turntable.
Artist: Python Lee Jackson
Title: In a Broken Dream / Doing Fine
1 vinyl 45 single
Family Label - FAY 1013
1973.
"There are very minor vinyl
'acoustics' ..."
- Stephen Cook
"There are very minor vinyl 'acoustics' ..."
 
NA
Artist: Rod Stewart
Title: Shake
1 CD with 16 tracks
CD DRIVE 3058
1989. made in Germany
The dynamic range is compressed. The fadeout is slightly premature. A waveform view is available. The dynamic range is not severely compressed. But the fadeout is a few seconds early, so the phrase "Don't you worry" has been cut out. A waveform view is available. The track is missing ~6 seconds of the piano introduction. The dynamic range is also compressed.
story_lp.jpg - 7811 Bytes Artist: Rod Stewart
Title: Storyteller
4 CDs with 65 tracks
Warner Bros. 25987-2
1989. made in USA
The dynamic range is very good and the track is complete. A waveform view is available. Recommended. NA NA
Artist: Rod Stewart
Title: 1964-1969
2 CDs with 30 tracks
Pilot 44
1999. made in England?
It may also be available on vinyl, but I have not seen it.
Dynamic range is compressed. Track is complete. Left and right channels are swapped. A waveform view is available. A few seconds of the end of the song is replaced by the beginning of the next track - Shock Treatment ! Very sloppy quality control ! The dynamic range is highly compressed. A waveform view is available. The track is missing the entire first note of the piano introduction. The dynamic range is highly compressed. A waveform view is available.
misunderstood.jpg - 8768 Bytes Artist: Rod Stewart
Title: a little misunderstood -
      the Sixties Sessions
1 CD with 15 tracks
YEAAH! 44
made in England
The track appears to be identical to the one on the Pilot-44 CD. A waveform view is available. The track appears to be identical to the one on the Pilot-44 CD. A waveform view is available. The track appears to be identical to the one on the Pilot-44 CD. A waveform view is available.
broken-dream.jpg - 14788 Bytes Artist: Python Lee Jackson,
      featuring Rod Stewart
Title: In a Broken Dream
1 CD with 10 tracks
Tring International JHD065
made in the E.E.C.
I got a copy of this import CD on
eBay.
The dynamic range is compressed, but not severely. The track is complete. A waveform view is available. Recommended, but I prefer the Storyteller version. The dynamic range is similar to the vinyl version. The track is complete. A waveform view is available. Recommended. The track is missing ~0.15sec from the first note of the piano introduction. To fix the problem, I took the first piano note from the vinyl LP, and replaced the incomplete note on the CD. The resulting file is available for download. The dynamic range is good. A waveform view is available. Recommended.
broken-dream.jpg - 14788 Bytes Artist: Rod Stewart
Title: The Stewart Distillery / Funny Blend
1 CD with 10 tracks (the same tracks as Tring International JHD065, but in different order).
Dog'N'Roll, catalogue number DNR 009
made in the E.E.C. (c) Pilz 1993.
Thanks to Richard Butler for sending me this image and all above information.
I have not heard these 3, but they are probably the same as on
Tring International JHD065




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