Help Yourself “Help Yourself”

Unable to get over my Ernie Graham addiction, I set out in search of more from the ilk of rootsy pre pub rock and stumbled across this gem from 1971. Help Yourself formed in the wake of Brinsley Schwarz but with a strong ear to The Band, forging a raw and honest Americana sound on their first LP. Not nearly as dippy as the cover art suggests, this is a fine sample of straight California rock that’s really from the UK.

Recorded at The Grange in Headley, previously used by Led Zeppelin to record the Four Symbols album, the Helps were trying to let the rural environment to influence their music. If this is the case, the landscape in Headley must be no different than the piece of earth Neil Young was treading around the same time. The Help Yourself album is eerily similar to Young’s sound in almost every regard; they even have a song called Old Man, which is a really fine but totally different song.

The record opens with a feel good gospel track, I Must See Jesus For Myself, that I can’t help but think was meant to be ironic. This is sure to throw off listeners, but maybe attract those who don’t mind a little Jesus in their tunes. In any case, you might want to start this record from the 2nd groove. From there on the record showcases great melodies, great double guitar noodling (to great effect with acoustic and electric on separate channels), great songcraft, great CSNY influenced harmonies, and great overall sound. There you have it: six greats for this easily overlooked LP that could and should sneak its way into the playlist of any Neil Young fan.

The second album, attached in the BGO 2fer, adds a clean, phased sound to the recording that gets a little cheezier. Not to say this is a discountable record, just that it maybe draws too near the Ducks Deluxe pub rock approach for my tastes.

Help Yourself. Don’t mind if I do.

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“Your Eyes Are Looking Down”

:D CD Reissue | 2002 | Beat Goes On | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1971 | UA | search ebay ]

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  • This is good stuff. Back in 1995 I read a Robyn Hitchcock interview in “Ptolemaic Terrascope” magazine and he mentioned this band. This is the first time I’m hearing Help Yourself, and I’m liking it.

    Hey, it turns out Help Yourself was interviewed in the same magazine in 1992. Neat!

  • Never heard of it before but I really like these two tracks. Thanks!

  • philspector

    Great Great stuff…… again!!!

    After Ernie Graham, Brinsley Schwarz and now Help Yourself, just one more album is needed :

    “Good’N’Cheap” the wonderful (and unfortunatly) only album by the greatest pub-rock band

  • Garden of Delights dismisses this fine debut with the famous line “pub rock, avoid”. Helps are near and dear to my heart. I met Malcolm and Ken when they came over as part of Man, 1974. Since then, I’ve got to meet Dave Charles and work extensively with guitarist Richard Treece.

    One should not dismiss the four albums that followed. One correction, this album is paired with the 3rd release, Beware The Shadow, which is a masterpiece. The two long pieces, American Mother, and the classic, Reaffermation.. phew. The second album, Strange Affair is just that. Management brought in Ernie Graham and JoJo, fired Ken and moved Treece to the bass position. Malc wasn’t in good shape, so they thought two more song writers would help. The moody instrumental, All Electric Fur Trapper must be heard. The completion of the fifth album 30 years after it was started surprised everyone. It’s very good too. I think there were four new songs recorded to fill it out.

    Malcolm recorded a solo album 10 years ago, and a “lost” album from 1976 has been released. Richard and Ken perform as Green Ray. A recent live album has Nick Saloman guesting. Richard, Ken and Malc have appeared on several records by Donovan’s Brain, a sprawling psych band from Montana…

    I can not say enough about the Helps, just get all the records.

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