Skin Alley - Two Quid Deal? 1972 England

For years I passed over this one in the bins. The US Stax copy was a regular buck bin special, and with that ridiculous cartoon rat and cheese cover, it never occurred to me this would be anything worth pursuing. Years later I discovered their brilliant debut and very good followup, but maintained (for no good reason really) that this must have been their sellout album.

And I was right. Except.... Skin Alley were no good at it! You can tell this album is pandering to the early 70s US Billboard charts. You can hear popular bands at the time like Rare Earth in these grooves. But even so, they cannot seem to stop themselves from a full helping of a mid song progressive rock break. It's in their DNA. So while the first 3 tracks all start out with a bit of concern, it doesn't take long for the band to find their sea legs, and create music similar to their debut, especially on 'Bad Words & Evil People'. I wasn't too keen on 'Graveyard Shuffle' nor 'So Glad', but 'A Final Coat' takes us back to the opening trio of tracks. And 'The Demagogue' is similar. For my tastes the best track is the instrumental 'Skin Valley Serenada' that seems to be the model blueprint for a band like Rousseau for example. A gorgeous flute melody over a happening jazzy rhythm pattern makes this one special. In my opinion, Two Quid Deal surpasses To Pagham and Beyond in quality. Yes, that surprised me too.

Personal collection
CD: 2005 Strange Days (Japan)

The above comes in a fine mini-LP. I guess because the album was long considered a dollar bin special, the album was poorly served in the reissue market. The bare bones cheap German Line version came out in 1989, and that's all there was until this expensive Japanese CD hit the market (that I just recently got a good deal on, hence my first time to hear the album!). As such bootlegs proliferated for many years until Esoteric finally reissued the album properly in 2011.

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