Wednesday, September 24, 2008
DIG IT HERE! The Equals were formed in 1965, and they predated the Rudies of Two Tone fame. A multi-racial band that was unique in their own right by their look and sound. Fusing Soul, Pop, Rock, Ska, and the sounds of the West Indies, they broke onto the club and pub circuit strong. The band was made up of Eddy Grant (guitar, and yes Grant of “Electric Avenue” fame), the brothers Gordon and Lincoln Derv (one a guitar player the other a singer), Pat Lloyd (bass), and drummer John Hall. Their hard work paid off and they signed to President Records in 1967. Their early singles didn’t fare to welll in the UK, but they finally got some success with “I Get So Excited” and “Hold Me Closer” in 1968. The latter put them top of the charts in Germany, which spread across through Europe like a case of mono, eventually reaching their homes in the UK and then on to the US. The band releases a couple of more singles, which were kind of flops. Eddy Grant, however, was not done. In 1970 he started Torpedo Records, which focused his attention on various British Reggae artists, the Equals, and a few records he put out under the monicker Little Grant. It was on here they gave us “Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys” in 1970. Grant went on to have a heart attack at the age of 23 (rumoured to be because of their hectic touring schedule), which pretty much led to his exit and the demise of the band. The copy of the record I have is on Shout, which was a subsidiary of Bang Records out of New York City, which existed from 1967-1972, then got sold to Columbia.
Starting off guitar heavy and moving in with a decent drum beat, the Equals belt out a political song filled with a mixture of their signature Rock, Ska, and Soul. Obviously the Vietnam War was going strong, adding fuel to this already blazing fire of a song. Although they were based out of the UK, there is no doubt that the band was aware of the social/ political issues going on in the world. Being a mixed race band from their inception “Black Skinned/ Blue Eyed Boys/ Ain’t Gonna Fight No Dog Gone War” is a heavy lyric people. It seems that they could see it from both sides of the racial spectrum. Heavy as the lyrics and song was, to me, the song is still soulful as hell. Yes I said it. The Equals had Soul. They sent out a political message in their music were able to achieve racial harmony through it. They made a splash with the song on the UK singles charts, reaching number 9 in 1970. This would be the last song with Eddie Grant, as he moved on to his solo career. Although the Grant left the band to do his thing, there was a resurgence of their material when The Clash covered “Police on My Back” in the latter part of the 70’s, and Pato Banton did his reggae cover version of “Baby Come Back” in 1994. The band did continue on without Grant, and continues to tour under the same name.(fmf)