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One of the first bands launched onto the U.K. scene during the first crazy days of the glam rock explosion and one of the most unfortunate casualties of the audience's own intransigence, the Jook are one of those groups whose most telling attributes are apparent only with the benefit of hindsight. They inspired the Bay City Rollers' tartan uniforms, they predicted the power pop boom of later years, and they played with a sharp, guitar-driven passion which would not become common currency elsewhere until the advent of punk. At the time, however, they were nothing more than another bunch of hopefuls, cranking out a succession of singles in the hope that one of them might stick and, in guitarist Trevor White's own estimation, growing more desperate with every one. "Our music was getting so contrived that at one point, we were listening to whatever was the number one single that week, to see what it had got, apart from success, that we hadn't. Then we'd borrow it. Integrity just went out of the window. We'd hear something and say, 'that's it, that's what we should be sounding like.'" It is a sign of the band's own remarkable abilities that today, little of that contrivance is visible. The Jook released five singles. All five are now rightly regarded as classics. The seeds of the Jook were planted by John Hewlett, formerly bassist with '60s psych warriors John's Children but, by the early '70s, moving into management. It was he who introduced guitarist White to singer/songwriter Ian Kimmett. White was a former memeber of the A-Jaes, a band once regarded as Britain's answer to the Beach Boys, Kimmett was working at a music publisher's office in London. Following the common trend of the day, the pair immediately decamped to Jedburgh, Scotland, intending to "get their heads together in the country"; there they encountered bassist Ian Hampton before returning to London to hook up with another John's Children graduate, drummer Chris Townson. The band name was supplied by Hewlett, adapted from Gene Chandler's "Jook [Duke] of Earl." Signed with RCA, the Jook was launched in summer 1972. Hardly surprising, the label promptly christened them the new John's Children -- another former band member guitarist Marc Bolan was currently the hottest thing around and the connection, it was hoped, would power the Jook to similar heights. Unfortunately, it didn't. The Jook's debut single, "It's All Right With Me," appeared that summer; over the next two years, the group released four further 45s, including a cover of Gallagher & Lyle's "City and Suburban Blues" (backed by a wildfire interpretation of "Shame Shame Shame"); the stomping and delightfully self-aggrandizing "Oo Oo Rudie," "King Kapp," and finally, the prosaically titled "Bish Bash Bosh." None charted and the band members themselves have since gone on record claiming that the only releases they truly enjoyed were those cut with no thoughts whatsoever for chart success and which were promptly buried away on B-sides -- or worse: "Shame Shame Shame," taped during rehearsals one day and never intended for public consumption, "Rumble," a Trevor White riff extemporized during rehearsals one day with passing pianist Pete Wingfield, and "Crazy Kids," a riotous piece of proto-punk buried on the flip of their final single. Other material was recorded for a full album which has still to see the light of day, while even the attentions of producer Mickie Most, who signed the Jook to a publishing deal in early 1974 could not alter their luck. Completely at odds with the fate of the band's vinyl, the Jook's live appeal was vast. They had a monthly residency at the Edmonton Sundown in north London, where the band's uniform of braces, boots, and cropped hair drew a deeply loyal skinhead audience to their side. The suggestion that, the Bolan connection aside, they were also following in Slade's footsteps did not phase the band members any. It was more alarming, however, for Townson to switch on the television one evening in early 1974 and catch the Bay City Rollers in their own variation on the same look -- only weeks earlier, that the Jook had met the Rollers at a gig in Scotland and been flattered by the local band's admiration for their image. The Jook struggled on for another six months, finally breaking up after manager Hewlett invited White and Ian Hampton to join another band in his stable, Sparks, as replacement for bassist Martin Gordon. Intriguingly, Gordon then formed his own new band, Jet, with Jook drummer Townson and yet another former member of John's Children, vocalist Andy Ellison. There would be two further Jook releases. Following his own departure from Sparks in 1976, White cut a solo single for the band's then-current label, Island, a remake of "Crazy Kids" backed by the Jook's previously unreleased (and uncredited) "Moving in the Right Direction." Two years later, a four-track EP comprising the band's last-ever recording session was issued by U.K. indie Chiswick. One track from that set, "Aggravation Place," was later included on the Bomp label's The Roots of Power Pop anthology.
© Dave Thompson /TiVo

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