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Saturday, December 23, 2023

Grit - Grit (1972 uk, superb heavy psych rock. 2022 japan reissue)

Born from the ashes of a London band called Merlyn, Grit consisted of Frank Martinez (lead guitar, vocals), Paul Christodoulou (bass/vocals), Tom Kelly (drums, vocals) and Jeff Ball (vocalist).

Frank, nicknamed “Spider”, has an interesting story: at the beginning of his musical career he auditioned for Joe Meek at his Holloway Road studio. Later, he also played with a band called Grand Union - who supported Pink Floyd in 1968 - and with members of the John Dummer Band. An electronic wizard, Frank also worked building amps and electronic equipment at Nolan Amps, MIDAS, etc. He built the Twin Stacks and PA’s that later would form part of Grit's equipment.

Tom Kelly came from a band called Connexion and Paul Christodoulou had played in Merlyn along with Frank. After some attempts, the definitive line-up of Grit was born when Frank and Paul convinced drummer Tom Kelly to join them, after assisting to a Nazareth concert. They also recruited powerful singer Jeff Ball after an ad in Melody Maker.

On Christmas Eve, 1972, Grit recorded a demo at SWM Studios and four copies of a one-sided 12” acetate (one for each member) were pressed for promo purposes. It featured four self penned songs: the killer “Mineshaft” (pure underground fuzz hard-rock) and two lengthy numbers: “Child and The Drifter” (with some furious drumming, stunning leads and hard-prog moves) and the hard-psychedelic “What Do You See In My Eyes” / “I Wish I Was”.

Armed with the acetates, the band visited some music agents in London but nobody was interested. But while looking for a manager, they found a company who secured them a Greek tour. This was a true adventure and they managed to appear on television and play with big names from the Greek psych-prog scene like Socrates and Peloma Mpoklou in big festivals. Sadly, due to a family problem, Frank had to leave the band and return to England. That was the end for Grit.

40 years later, one of the original Grit acetates was found at a flea market in Germany, which led to its inclusion in the 7001 Record Collector Dreams book by famous collector Hans Pokora. The band still remained a mystery until 2019, when, by pure chance, Alex Carretero from Guerssen found Frank Martinez and he opened his vault, which included the original master tape of the Grit acetate and several tapes with rehearsals from Grit and Merlyn. 

1. Mineshaft - 3:54
2. The Child And The Drifter - 8:57
3. What Do I See In My Eyes / I Wish I Was - 9:23
4. 1000 Miles - 3:24
5. Across The Windowsill - 4:38
6. What Do I See In My Eyes / I Wish I Was - 7:52
7. Down In The Mine - Mineshaft - 3:44
All songs by Frank Martinez, Jeff Ball, Tom Kelly, Paul Christodoulou
Tracks 4-7 rehearsalls
Tracks 5 as Merlyn

*Frank Martinez - Guitar, Vocals
*Jeff Ball - Lead Vocals
*Tom Kelly - Drums, Vocals
*Paul Christodoulou - Bass, Vocals