Sunday, November 15, 2020

Unit 4 + 2: Concrete and Clay

The late Barry Summers, who taught me history at Welland Park College and was later a fellow Liberal member of Harborough District Council, was a photographer in the 1960s, specialising in the pop scene.

One of his favourite stories was that after hearing Concrete and Clay he immediately arranged to photograph Unit 4 + 2 because he was certain it would be a hit and that shots of the obscure band would be in demand. Sure enough, the record reached number one in the UK singles chart in April 1965.

This video shows the band miming on a construction site that was in the process of becoming the Barbican Centre. This quarter of London was bombed to destruction in the second world war - it was somewhere on the resulting bombsites that Jon Whiteley found a gun and accidentally shot a friend in the 1956 film The Weapon.

Russ Ballard tells the story of Concrete and Clay on an edition of The Strange Brew podcast. Unit 4 were essentially a folk band, so Ballard was called in as lead guitarist and Bob Henrit as drummer to beef them up for their assault on the charts. Which means that Ballard must be next to the lead singer in this video.

Later he and Henrit were members of Argent - Hold Your Head Up and God Gave Rock and Roll to You, which have both featured here, were written by Ballard.

I think Barry Summers had it right. Concrete and Clay is a great record, thanks in part to Ballard's inventive guitar work.

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