Lay Down Your Weary Tune ~ A Forgotten Dylan Classic!

September 6, 2011

In 1969 guitarist Tom McGuinness was at a bit of a loose end after the Manfred Mann band had disbanded after a run of fine hit singles throughout the 60’s. Luckily next door neighbour and drummer Hughie Flint who played in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers playing on the Beano cover album with Eric Clapton was also at a loose end, so after a few drinks down the pub McGuinness Flint was born.

Next they found the excellent northeast singer Dennis Coulson who had a bit of the strong voice Eric Burdon’s about him and the band was beginning to really take shape, then enter two great songwriters Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle and everything was in place. 

A record deal with Capitol Records shortly followed and their first album was recorded with Stones producer Glyn Johns at Olympic studios in London. the self ~ titled album McGuinness Flint with the classic coffin cover was issued and the brilliant single chosen was ‘ When I’m Dead and Gone’ climbed all the way to No. 2 on the UK charts and was only kept off the top slot by the unlikely 45 hit ‘ Grandad ‘ by actor Clive Dunn.

Everything was rosy in the McGuinness Flint garden with the album soaring up the charts and the follow~up single ‘Malt & Barley Blues ‘ also making the UK chart, but after some disappointing live shows writers  Benny and Graham decided to leave the band to pursue their own careers as Gallagher & Lyle and were to have their own hits with ‘Heart On My Sleeve ‘ and ‘I Wanna Stay With You’. Both of  them also appeared on early Ronnie Lane / Slim Chance albums. Graham Lyle also had worldwide success for writing Tina Turner’s hit song ‘ What’s Love Got To Do With It ‘.                    

Left twiddling their thumbs, the other three members soldiered on and they brought in their old friend Dixie Dean on bass and saxophone to complete a new line up and because of the loss of the two main songwriters they came up with the idea of recording an album of covers of the more obscure Bob Dylan songs like from the Basement Tapes album which wasn’t released until three years later 1975 but had been widely bootlegged and featured the Band on backing.     

Manfred Mann had always been an admirer of Dylan songs having hits with ‘ If You Gotta Go ‘ ‘ Just Like A Woman ‘ and ‘ The Mighty Quinn ‘ so he was brought in to oversee the sessions as producer.

Lo & Behold was issued in 1972 as Coulson, Dean, McGuinness & Flint and recieved some excellent reviews but died a death with few copies selling but what an extraordinary gem of a record it is, with totally different arrangements and interpretations of these Dylan songs and has picked up a lot of fans over the years and have a great groove to it.

Released in the UK on DJM Records. Dick James was the publisher that set up the Beatles publishing company Northern Songs and in 1972 Coulson, Dean, McGuinness Flint would have been  UK label mates of Elton John.

The title song ‘ Lo & Behold ‘ sounds like the Rolling Stones in full flight and ‘ Get Your Rocks Off ‘ is given a blues rock treatment. The versions of ‘ Eternal Circle ‘ and ‘ Sign of the Cross ‘ are the best versions I have heard.

Full track listing is : Eternal Circle, Lo & Behold, Let Me Die In Your Footsteps, Open Your Door Homer, Lay Down Your Weary Tune, Don’t You Tell Henry,  Get Your Rocks Off, The Death of Emmett Till, Odd & Ends, Tiny Montgomery, I Wanna Be Your Lover and Sign of the Cross.   DJM Records UK 1972.

Lay Down Your Weary Tune c/w Tiny Mongomery was released on DJM as a 45 in the UK.                                                                         

The group disbanded in 1975 but not without leaving their mark and sadly vocalist Dennis Coulson passed away in 2006.

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