In an age awash with supergroups, the 1960s combination of singer Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger and his Trinity was poised to become the most singularly innovative union of them all.
It didn?t work out like that. An ill-starred mish-mash of management, bad planning and a record company that didn?t know what it was doing ? or what it had ? all played a role. But the two albums from the Driscoll-Auger Trinity remain among the most imposing legacies of the late 1960s.
Both of the Driscoll-fired Auger Trinity?s albums, 1967?s Open and 1969?s double Streetnoise, have been remastered and reissued, together with a compilation, The Mod Years, that rounds up each of the band?s UK singles, plus the rare French-only ?I Am A Lonesome Hobo? 45.
Other material ? a double album?s worth of BBC sessions and half a DVD-full of TV appearances ? remains in Auger?s archive, including a gaggle of numbers unrecorded in any other arena. The music that we do have is sufficient to tell us that psychedelia and jazz rock would have been very different and less exciting without it.
Auger and Driscoll first came together in early 1965, as members of Steampacket, a self-contained touring revue show that also featured Long John Baldry and a young Rod Stewart. Auger had been around since the early 1960s, where he led Trinity and played the London jazz club circuit as it morphed into R&B. Driscoll had worked as a secretary in manager Giorgio Gomelsky?s office, where she answered the Yardbirds? fan mail, among other duties. But the 17-year-old both looked and sounded like a star, and Gomelsky was adamant that she fulfill that potential.
Dynamic on stage, Steampacket should have been enormous, but complicated with three sets of management and four different record labels, the group was doomed from the outset. By early 1966, ?the whole thing was [falling] on its arse,? as Auger puts it.
The group broke up a few months later, and Auger decided to strip back down to basics and form a new Trinity.
?The idea was, I really wanted to do this jazz rock bridge. Having come up through the jazz world, but having put together a band like the Steampacket and played over a wide variety of material, I realized that the two scenes were very separate, so I decided to try and make a band that would allow both sides to appreciate the other and bridge between the two things, using current rock and R&B rhythms, then overlaying them with jazz changes and soloing,? he said.
The original Trinity of Clive Thacker (drums), Roger Sutton (bass) and Vic Briggs (guitar) lasted just a couple of months in early 1967 before Briggs left for the New Animals and Gary Boyle replaced him. This short-lived lineup recorded just one single, ?Tiger,? before Dave Ambrose replaced Sutton.
Driscoll reappeared on the scene through the auspices of George Webb, the band?s agent.
?I had a call from George saying that Julie wanted to participate in the Trinity? so I thought, ?Good idea,? because it gave us a shot at a great vocalist and leaned a little bit more into the rock world, and it was obviously a very winning formula,? Auger said.
The augmented Trinity established a firm underground following with regular gigs through late 1967. When Gomelsky got his Marmalade label up and running, the Brian Auger Trinity featuring Julie Driscoll was an obvious early recruit.
Trinity had completed its debut album in just six hours. The band took over Chappell Studios for a day, recruited a group of friends to supply some atmosphere and tore through their live set. The best of the ensuing recordings ? five songs featuring Driscoll, five starring the band alone ? w