QUESTION – What happened to Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll and the Trinity? Answer – a lot!
A year ago they were riding the crest of a wave that washed across Britain and the whole of Europe.
Their record, ‘Wheels On Fire’ was a number one hit, Brian’s organ playing had at last received recognition and Julie was the toast of the fashion world and popularity polls.
Then came their flop follow-up ‘Road to Cairo’ which failed to get into the chart.
But while the first flush of publicity has died away, which came after Auge and Jools had been “on the road” for years, the group have been chalking up solid achievements.
They have completed a new double album. Brian has his own solo album released, they have been to America and are due to return soon, and their popularity has not diminished on the Continent.
This week Auger talked about their future, and denied any worries about their absence from the singles chart.
“We’ve just completed the double album with Julie,” says Brian, “and we’re very pleased with the result.
“You can usually compress all the worthwhile tracks on a double album into a single album. But we’ve really gone out to provide a variety of sounds, showing all the things we can do. I think we’ve got two good albums.
“The drop in publicity has been because we haven’t produced another single. Throughout last year we were leaping from country to country and neglected England.
“By the time we got ‘Road To Cairo’ out it was too late. It was one of those ‘if’ scenes…if we had got the record into the shops in time.
“We’re not the sort of group that can make a record like ‘Congratulations’ to get in the chart. If we do a record, it has got to satisfy ourselves.
“Although there are plenty of commercial things about we could do, they would do nothing for our reputation.”
“We’ve put all our effort into the double album and maybe a single will come out of it. We don’t feel we have suffered from not having a hit – certainly not financially or prestigewise. Julie is as popular as ever wherever we go.
“England is definitely the hardest place for us recordwise, but audiences are much better here because they’re harder. They’re more selective and we like a bit of challenge. You’ve got to be good to make it here. They expect you to be on top form all the time.
“For a country of its size, there is a phenomenal amount of talent in England. There are English groups playing everywhere in the world. When we were in the States we met so many English groups it felt like being at home.”
“There is a very exciting musical scene here, but the people on Radio One, apart from John Peel, don’t seem to realise this. If you don’t give any air play to new artists, then in six months time you have created a gap and nobody appears to be progressing and people say nothing is happening.
“So what do they do? They start reviving rock and roll, or they start reissuing old singles.
“I really can’t understand what’s going on because there are so many new bands that never get a hearing, apart from John Peel. He has been voted number one deejay, surely people see something in that?
“And on TV you get a few artists who are given their own shows, just to plug their own single. How easy do they want it?
“I’m afraid we’re going to drop behind Europe and America after having created this group boom. We invent something and give it away.
“Go to Europe or America and they play our groups’ albums on the radio, and when we went to Germany we had our own TV spectacular.
“The surprising thing is the standard of groups in America isn’t as high as ours, probably because they have it too easy. Anybody with the most half-baked ideas for a group can get the money spent on enormous publicity campaigns.”
Brian was full of praise for other musicians he met and jammed with Buddy Miles, drummer with the Buddy Miles Express.
“He’s a rock and roll drummer, without a lot of technique, but does he go – wow! He swings like clappers and really hits you.”
Brian is most excited at the moment with his first solo album on the Marmalade label called Definitely What featuring him on organ, piano and vocals with horns and strings added on several tracks
“It’s taken nine months to get this one out. I think it got lost in the pipeline. It should have been out in September, but there was trouble with the mixing, which we had to do in America.”
Of his vocal tracks, Brian says: “Singing is one of the things I haven’t been able to do much, and I’ve never been particularly serious about it until I made this album. I haven’t discovered a real identity for my voice, but when I do, perhaps I’ll wish I hadn’t.”
© Chris Welch, Melody Maker, 15 March 1969