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Adge Cutler & The Wurzels - The  Unfinished Album  

  Planned for the Summer of 1974

The album that never was: The LP that Adge was  planning to record and release before his tragic death in May 1974  that bought a premature end to his career. The image used here is from one of the last TV appearances by Adge and The Wurzels.

The Band:

At the time of the planning of this album Adge Cutler (on vocals) was supported by Tommy Banner on piano, organ and accordion (who had joined Adge and his Wurzels in November 1967), Tony Baylis playing bass and sousaphone (who had joined Adge in 1969) and Pete Budd on guitar and banjo who, by 1974, was a permanent member of The Wurzels having first played a gig with them in 1972). 

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The Album That Never Was:

Adge Cutler and his Wurzels released 5 vinyl LPs between 1967 and 1972. The first four were promoted as 'live' (the inter-track chat was certainly live although on occasion some of the songs recorded at the venues had to be replaced with studio versions and the audience atmosphere added later). The final album Don't Tell I Tell 'Ee  (released in 1972) can often be found described as a 'compilation' released by EMI as Adge had 'run out of steam' and this release was a way of closing-out his the EMI contract and clearing up loose ends; exactly where this story originated is unclear but it is completely false. Adge had a lot of input into this album and he meticulously recorded the track listing in his notebooks alongside his other albums.

In the period leading up to his death Adge had been collaborating again with his old friend Henry Davis - Henry had been musical director on Adge's Cutler Of The West album as well as being one of his Wurzels at that time. Henry had a strong and successful jazz background and was an accomplished musician, song-writer, director and arranger. Henry remembers that Adge was feeling better about the Wurzels, mentioning how co-operative Pete Budd was (Pete had only recently joined the group) and how much the band had improved since he had joined. Adge at the time still held ambitions to start a solo career as a comic (like many folk musicians!) having become friendly with the late great Ken Dodd, who told him, "Never mind 'a laugh a minute', you ought to aim for six laughs a minute". It is evident though, from his plans for another album, that he was still "investing" in the Wurzels.

As Henry remembers 'Adge and I had completed about six songs and  the rest were to be finalised later. We last met on the afternoon of Saturday 3rd May [1974] and Adge was complaining of feeling a bit groggy and really not looking forward to the last night of his week of gigs. 'Still', he said, 'no work next week so I'll come round Monday and we should get this lot done by the end of the week'. 

The next meeting never happened - but with Henry's notes and memory and drawing on the 'cryptic' notes that Adge himself kept in his large red notebook, it is possible to reconstruct how the album may have looked.

Working List Of Album Tracks:

1. Sunday Trip to Weston-super-Mare: This song was probably one of those nearing completion at the time of Adge's death. It opens with the line ' Grab your girlie gotta get a seat early on the Charabanc' and is a typically Adge song. His rehearsal tapes contain a full solo rendition without any accompaniment.

2. Somerset Cricket:   Only a shortened version of these lyrics survive and they are a tribute to the game in Somerset. Adge wrote the title as 'Som-Er-Set' which perhaps is a clue as to the way he intended to sing it!

3. Look At Ee Looking At I!:     A full set of lyrics for this track appears in Adge's notes, probably written in the period leading up to Adge's death. This song was one of the ones effectively completed by Adge and Henry Davis. It was later given by Henry to The Wurzels for their first 'solo' album The Wurzels Are Scrumptious . 

4. When You Haven't Got A Gun:   The surviving lyrics for this song appear complete and several slightly different versions exist in Adge's handwriting. A rather strange set of lyrics and not particularly 'Adge-like'. Each verse extols the pleasures of the countryside and what can be seen and ends with the lines ' And glory be what sights you see  when you haven’t got a gun '.

5. On A Five Barred Gate:   Only a shortened version of these lyrics survive. The song is really a lament by Adge about the busy world around him, starting off with 'Oh me boys, I just can’t stand the noise, the racket of today’s got me in tears, there’s no peace down the lanes....'    Henry Davis has it down as ' On A Five Bar Gate'. Adge on the other hand refers to it as 'On A Five Barred Gate' and 'On A Five Bar'd Gate'. If the complete lyrics were present then maybe these differences would have been made clear - no doubt it was another of Adge's wordplay games.

6. I’m The Captain Of A Dredger:  I’m The Captain Of A Dredger - another track which was in a near finished state at the time of Adge's death. Credited to Adge and Henry Davis, it was later given by Henry to The Wurzels for their first 'solo' album 'The Wurzels Are Scrumptious'. 

7. The Cruise of the Mayflower:   This song was first drafted by Adge in 1970 and by May 1974 the lyrics seem to have been about complete.  As the title suggests it tells the tale of the Puritans leaving Plymouth in 1620 and sailing to America. It is a typical set of Adge lyrics and the chorus, which starts off with ' Hoist up thy rudder, grab thy dad and mudder, Oh we’re heading out to sea' is pure Adge.  

8. The Great Nailsea Cider Bet  (The Ballad Of Faro Moss):   This was a track that Adge had been playing with for many years - at least as far back as 1965.  It was first publicly acknowledged as an Adge composition in 1966 when The Crofters released their EP 'Drink Up Thee Cider - The Somerset Songs Of Adge Cutler'. An insert in the record sleeve refers to potential future recordings by The Crofters including Adge Cutler's 'The Great Nailsea Cider Bet'. Sadly, this recording didn't actually go ahead. 

9. Down In Nempnett Thrubwell :    Adge first started jotting down the lyrics for this song back in 1967, and a partial recording of a practice session from 1968 exists on a rehearsal tape with Tommy Banner playing the piano. The Wurzels revived this song on their 1976 The Combine Harvester LP; it is credited to both Adge and Henry Davis on that album.

10. The Men On The Trawsfynydd Site:   Interestingly the only surviving evidence for this track is on Adge's list of potential LP tracks.  Adge had already written 'A Mixer Man's Lament' about his time at Trawsfynydd (Adge Cutler's first album in 1967) - perhaps this was intended to be in a similar vein.

11. Nailsea In The Morning:   This is a track that doesn't appear in any of Adge's remaining notes but comes from the notes kept by Henry Davis.

12. Yeovil (Slow Bill):    A rather unusual song the lyrics for this appear in several different forms in Adge's notebooks and scraps of notepaper. And a little taster of the lyrics taken from the end of a verse?   'So whoa Bill, Slow Bill, Head ‘er on to Yeovil , Come swig the liquor down '. 

All the potential tracks were original Adge compositions - perhaps signalling a return to the style of his first album where all tracks were credited to Adge.

The Aftermath:

Following Adge's death The Wurzels decided to 'keep going' and for several months were billed as Adge Cutler's Wurzels but by the July of 1975 having managed to create their own brand the group released their first 'solo' album as The Wurzels . Commercially it wasn't a great success and it was a brave move by EMI to support the recording of another album in 1976 - The Combine Harvester - with huge commercial success which began a tremendous revival for the band. This first solo album by The Wurzels The Wurzels Are Scrumptious was a good collection of Wurzelish numbers, and all very typical of the style they had been performing in at the time of Adge's death. As Henry Davis recalled ' I had no input into the Wurzels album other than to give them the song copies that Adge and I had produced [ in preparation for his next album] leaving them to chose what they wanted which they did of course.' So Adge's sixth album never saw the light of day, and until recently it wasn't generally appreciated that he was indeed planning one. But with the keen memory of Henry Davis and a careful trawl through Adge's notebooks we have been able to perhaps have a glimpse of what might have been - and indeed an audible teaser when listening to the tracks that his Wurzels used on their first two albums using his material and the raw takes on his rehearsal tapes.

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