phonogram news, September 1976:
Clover have been sitting in San Franscisco for the last 10 years. They have had the reputation of being the best band that the most talented of cities has ever produced and during that time nobody in the record business has approached them about a contract.
Possibly it was the fact that they were so popular that caused the trouble. After all - if a band fill just about any venue in their home town - and still don't have a contract, then perhaps the fact is that they don't want one. There again - it could be that with the number of sessions that the various members of the band are engaged in, they don't have time to make records of their own.
The fact of the matter is - Clover were so obvious that nobody noticed them. They have been in existance longer than any other West Coast band, with the exception of the Dead. The founder members, John McFee and Alex Call, started playing together as schoolboys, and with the help of a drummer called Mitch, they formed the Tiny Hearing Aid Company. After a while the band was augmented by the current bass player, Johnny Ciambotti, and the nucleus of Clover was formed.
In the early days of the band, they were signed to the Fantasy label - a union not without its problems. The label had just had a major success with Creedence, and were under the impression that anything from the West Coast was a guaranteed hit. The band found themselves playing in towns to sell-out audiences, and not a record in the shops. The situation in Britain was even worse, due to a series of contractual messes.
So Clover went back to San Francisco, and the club circuit. McFee became the best known steel player on the coast, with credits, including albums, with The Dead, Boz Scaggs, Steve Miller, Van Morrison and a million others, and Clover kept working.
The current line-up of the band had been together for about five years when they came to the attention of their current management. Perhaps it required an Englishman to spot what had been obvious all the time, but John McFee, lead and pedal guitars, Sean Hopper, keyboards, Alex Call, vocals and guitar, Huey Louis, harp and vocals, Mickey Shine, drums and John Ciambotti, bass, found that they were being taken seriously as a recording group once again in their nineth year.
"We draw from a wide range of styles." says Huey. "I think all forms of American music - country, blues, rock and soul, disco, reggae, bayou ... everything, and consequently it's a wide sound. But basically we break down a lot of the barriers existing in contemporary music."
Now they are signed to a long term contract with Phonogram records and are already working on their first single and album. Their first British concert has drawn plaudits from the British music press - one of the hardest in the world to please. American's loss is England's gain.
For further information contact:
Mac McIntyre - Phonogram Press Office
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