THIS WEEK was chat time with the new Animals, following their absolutely sensational, shattering opening night at Hunter College, New York City. It was also time to sit down and have a few words with the New Vaudeville Band, who were most surprised to learn that their ‘Winchester Cathedral’ was one of the five songs nominated for a Grammy Award this year.
Both groups have a lot going for them, there’s no doubting that. But right now, it’s the Animals who are scoring so heavily — so heavily, in fact, that the autumn rush of dates has started coming in, and they’ll be back to undertake another tour at the beginning of September.
The New Vaudeville Band will also likely return around that time to play some Fair dates.
One thing we didn’t expect out of an Animals’ concert was country hoedown, played more than expertly by John Weider on his electric violin, and neither were we prepared for’Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Shake Rattle And Roll’ or ‘Hey Bub A Re-Bub’!
Nonetheless, we got it, it sounded great and, as far as this country is concerned, has opened up enormous new avenues for the Animals.
“Why?” I asked the new group between a birthday cake and Batman segment in their hotel room.
“We’re all playing what we want to play,” Vic explained. “It’s dead simple, really. When the new group formed, we all had musical ideas of our own.
“Eric went along with them, and told us that he’d like each one of us to develop into an individual personality as well as being a group member. So our whole scene is based on what we enjoy playing the most.
“For instance, I love composing, arranging and just playing. I have a strong feeding for the blues, and I think music is going in a certain direction — like Jimi Hendrix.”
While Eric will always be appreciated for his contributions to the current music scene, the new Animals are injecting a great, almost totally unheard-of-before personality into their playing.
By the time this year’s out, they could become the hottest college act in the country.
ON THE other hand, the New Vaudeville Band would still like to concentrate on visual performances. Since they look so unusual in their combination of antique British gear, and since a megaphone is still in vogue as a result of ‘Winchester Cathedral’ and its copies, they are stirring up a lot of interest via the small screen.
But still they’re knocked out about their Grammy nomination, though they figured they’d be hard pushed to win over Frank Sinatra’s ‘Strangers In The Night’.
“It’s great being in this country,” they told me, “but it’s always a bit of a drag to leave England when you’ve got a record on the charts.
“Still, a year or so ago, we didn’t even have a group to worry about, and now we’re going home for an Easter date at the London Palladium. Can that be bad?”
© June Harris, New Musical Express, 26 February 1967