John Fiddler / Medicine Head

Current CD and DVD Reviews!

MEDICINE HEAD - "Fiddlersophical"

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Claudia A, music-news.com (October 2011): I've fallen in love! With a CD, mind you. 70s blues rock band Medicine Head have just released their first album for over 37 years and I know this is one love affair that won't fizzle out any time soon. Fronted by John Fiddler (who also used to be very active playing for British Lions) wrote and recorded the new material in the past year. Fiddlersophical features eleven tracks that offer his trademark rich voice, harmonica, and some damn fine acoustic guitar play. Above all, it features great songs that effortlessly slide between bluesy rock, country rock and even a bit of folk. Read full review !

Steven Reid, Rocktopia (January 2012): Thirty five years is a long time between albums for any band, so it was with no little surprise that 'Fiddlersophical' was announced as the first new album from John Fiddler and Medicine Head since 1976 - a year in which the band released two albums.... Best remembered for their hits such as 'Pictures In The Sky', and 'One And One Is One', Medicine Head released seven albums between 1970 and 1976, before disbanding, with Fiddler moving on to join the post-Mott The Hoople outfit British Lions, before fronting the altogether more chart friendly, if eclectic, Box Of Frogs. Over the past year Fiddler has turned his thoughts to resurrecting Medicine Head, although the fact that on all bar one song he writes, performs and produces everything does suggest that this is a solo album in all but name. Either way the most important aspect of this wonderfully titled album is that not only does it stay true to the gentle, folk and country infused blues that made Medicine Head a household name, but it also does it so in a hugely convincing and enjoyable manner. Really this album is all about Fiddler's voice and his trusty guitar and thankfully both would appear to in extremely fine form, with the balance between authentic blues-lite workouts and accessible, memorable hooks being struck with a considered poise.

Let It Rock (October 2011):
So "Free" launches the agenda in the HEAD traditional ring of acoustic guitar and harmonica where the strident approach reveals a lyrical hope that turns urgent in the upbeat swampiness of "Narcisister". But if "First I Lost My Mind" slows things down for the playful to turn into the painful, "Cadillacs And Diamonds" flows on a laid-back West Coast vibe which denies consumerism in the name of love. Yet "I'll Turn You On" is the best power ballad this side of hard rock and it'll take ages to forget the slide figure that carries "The Haunting". And there's peace in the end, as "Angels And Misfits" flattens all the questions marks hanging over Fiddler's songs into a straight and smooth pop route. That's the philosophy to live by.

MEDICINE HEAD - "Radio Sessions 1971 - 1977"

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Hi-Fi World (April 2010): Musically, the CD offers some excellent performances fizzing with energy and force in a live setting while the majority of tracks exhibit admirable sound quality.

Jeff Perkins, Classic Eurorock (February 2010): The hugely informative liner notes tell us that it was an early airplay that prompted John Lennon, Manfred Mann and Pete Townshend to contact John Peel to make sure that he was aware of Medicine Head... This set captures the very best of Medicine Head in session during a period that produced the majority of their impressive output...

Let It Rock (February 2010): Such a diversity and timespan encompassing the band's classic years gives 'Radio Sessions' not only the historic value but also the satisfaction factor.

Jason Ritchie, www.getreadytorock.com (February 2010): .This is classic British based blues rock and it includes their no. 3 hit single 'One And One Is One'. Their earlier work hints at T. Rex most notably '(And The) Pictures In The Sky' whilst later songs such as 'Walkin' Blues' show what an accomplished blues guitarist John Fiddler is.... A definite must for fans of the band and being radio sessions the recordings are very good quality, including those recorded in front of live audiences. Often overlooked Medicine Head are an important part of the 70's blues rock scene.

TNT Audio, www.tnt-audio.com (February 2010): ...preserving the unique character of this duo fronted band...

Record Collector (February 2010): ...rocking like bedheads in a bordello...dusting off primal rock 'n' roll archetypes and fitting them out in natty stardust suits...

Ryan Sparks, Sea of Tranquility (March 2010): The great thing is time has been kind to these songs and these recordings sound extremely fresh and vibrant. Whether you're a Medicine Head junkie...or you're just curious to find out what they were all about, Radio Sessions 1971-1977 is a top notch release from top to bottom that will satisfy both the diehards as well as the newbies.

Classic Rock Society (April 2010): ...this will clearly be snapped up by any fans of the band

www.e-gear.com (May 2010): ...a welcome artefact of this underrated English band.

Maverick magazine (August 2010): ...17 superlative tracks...this is as good as it's going to get on a single album

Kevin Bryan, Stirling Advertiser (July 2010): ...an opportunity to experience alternative versions of perennial crowd-pleasers...

Kevin Bryan, various regional papers (January 2011): The finished product offers their diehard devotees an opportunity to experience alternative versions of perennial crowd pleasers...

MEDICINE HEAD - "Don't Stop The Dance"

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Classic Rock (March 2005): Guitarist John Fiddler and harmonica/jews harpist Peter Hope could never decide how many people they wanted in Medicine Head, even though they were a perfectly capable blues duo, especially with Fiddler banging the bass drum.

Feedback (May 2005): ...an enjoyable album, with Johns' vocals and guitar playing very much to the fore...the sound is very much of a blues band trying to find their roots, not an established act that had already had plenty of hits... This is definitely a worthwhile reissue...As usual this Angle Air release contains plenty of photos and interesting comment.

Joseph Tortelli (April 2005): Recorded during 1974, the previously unreleased Don't Stop The Dance catches Medicine Head during its period of expansion from unique duo to five-piece blues-rock band. Releasing a half dozen British albums during the early 1970s, guitarist-songwriter John Fiddler and harmonica player Peter Hope-Evans created a full-throttled two-man band sound. On these Tony Ashton-produced tracks, the twosome was joined by bassist George Ford, ex-Family drummer Rob Townsend, and guitarist Roger Saunders of the power trio Freedom.... Fiddler unleashes his heavy blues-based guitar attack on the title track, and he mixes swampy slide guitar into "Walkin' Blues." Displaying his songwriting talent, Fiddler takes the atmospheric "Dark Side Of The Moon" in an acoustic, English folk direction, while the influence of the Stones' "Wild Horses" drives the muscular ballads "Can't Live A Lie" and "You Gotta Love Somebody." Besides adding stylish licks throughout, Hope-Evans delivers propulsive harmonica leads on "Lay Around" and Muddy Waters' "Just Wanna Make Love.".... In addition to the never-before released album tracks, Don't Stop The Dance compiles three concert recordings and the CD-debut of two U.K. singles. "Part Of The Play" nicely fits the era's singer-songwriter style; pumping up the tempo, "Come On Over" competes with the most infectious glitter rock of the early '70s; "Mama Come Out" and "It's Got To Be Alright" display Fiddler's knack for dropping sly guitar riffs into cleverly offbeat tunes. Live versions of the 1973 Anglo hits "Rising Sun" and "One And One Is One" underscore the manic energy that Hope-Evans' Jew's harp brought to Fiddler's guitar-powered tunes. With a mix of blues-rock album tracks, pop conscious singles, and energetic live cuts, Don't Stop The Dance offers a snapshot of 1970s British rock.

Record Collector (June 2005): ...this just unearthed unreleased and unfinished...album from 1974 shows that, had they perservered, they could have cracked it. Fiddler's songs rock more, his growling guitar is to the fore and Hope-Evans harmonica leads the show.

www.maelstrom.nu (June 2005): ...Full of harmonica, Jew's harp and blues rock, these recordings sound like a crossover between the free-spirit white-blues of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, the R&B psychedelia of The Rolling Stones and the fierce folk romanticism of Thin Lizzy.

MEDICINE HEAD - "Fiddler's Anthology - Greatest Hits - Live"

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Dave Thomson, Goldmine (June 2004): If they could, of course, there's one band who really should be at the top of the queue. Medicine Head have been almost criminally overlooked by the CD age - at last count, just one of the original duo's albums, their Dandelion label debut, has seen the business end of the reissue market, together with a late-in-the-day (1975) live album to remind us of the sterling sequence of classics and hits the group unleashed during the early-mid 1970s. One day, of course, someone will remember the goldmine that's still locked in a box some place, and be in a position to do something about it; until then, Medicine Head frontman John Fiddler does his bit towards the group's rehabilitation with Fiddler's Anthology: Greatest Hits Live (Angel Air), a 12 track collection recorded in front of an invited audience last August. Largely acoustic, the performance finds Fiddler and guitarist Darrell Bath running, indeed, through some of Medicine Head's most esteemed oldies, from the opening salvo of "Rising Sun" and "Pictures In The Sky", through "One And One Is One" and onto the immortal "Slip'n'Slide", while other aspects of his career are covered through the inclusion of cuts from British Lions (the band he formed in 1978, with the remains of Mott The Hoople) and the post-Yardbirds Box Of Frogs. Fiddler's liner notes provide background and memories of each of the tracks and, though it is no substitute whatsoever for the true career anthology that Fiddler deserves, anybody wanting to remember the true brilliance of Medicine Head really should give it a spin.

Joe Geesin, www.getreadytorock.com (April 2004): This CD, with tracks taken from that show, highlights some great music taken from across Fiddler's career. Recorded with ex Ian Hunter Band guitarist Darrell Bath, the duo produce a great sound. Mixing both electric and acoustic guitars, Fiddler also adds vocals and harmonica. Many of John's bands released singles that get replayed here, including the Medicine Head cuts `Pictures In The Sky' and `One And One Is One' (the latter a top 3 hit). The music's great, but largely acoustic throughout. It is still very enjoyable and atmospheric, and enjoyed by the audience.

Neil Makin, Classic Rock Society (May 2004): With extensive sleeve notes and an explanation about each song it is as good a read as it is a listen.

Feedback (June 2004): ...the booklet is extremely good stating who recorded the song and when it was first released...a reflective and enjoyable jaunt through the back catalogue

Kevin Bryan (June 2004): The contents are direct, uncluttered and just as appealing as ever...

Rimmer, Modern Dance (August 2004): Twelve brilliant songs...These two musicians make a tremendous sound and is a gret release from the boys and should captivate a lot of music fans over here as it does in the rest of Europe and the USA.

JOHN FIDDLER - "The Big Buffalo"

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Terry Craven, Wondrous Stories (May 2000): ...this CD is an eclectic mixture of up-tempo rockers, ballads and r 'n' b classics that should prove to be popular with anyone fortunate enough to hear it...There has been much debate with Classic Rock Society circles as to what actually is classic rock and such is the strength of this album that I would be tempted to put it forward as the sheer definition of this genre.

Feedback (June 2000): It's a superb album that all lovers of good music will enjoy. Some are acoustic while others are electric but at all times John is in total control, and the results are a tonic...an album to savour

Classic Rock (June 2000): ...when you spent your early life bashing a bass drum with your foot, computerised percussion's a piece of cake - sounds like a collection of polished demos of potentially excellent live rock songs.

Birmingham Post (June 2000): ...for much of the time synth-heavy AOR rock...There are however echoes, especially on Wish, of the plaintive pop of Crowded House but Fiddler is at his best with just an acoustic guitar and harp for company...

Record Collector (July 2000): ...The music is modern and very melodic...a fine example of 90s pop-rock. A far cry from what Fiddler was doing 20 or 30 years ago, but it's done well, and with extra tracks and sleevenotes that are up to Angel Air's usual high standards.

Country Music (July 2000): ...Mindblowing collection of instantly memorable songs, at least half a dozen that Garth Brooks could have a hit with, from one of the great voices of rootsy rock 'n' roll...Just listen to songs like Strong Heart, Time Will Tell, Win Or Lose and When I Looked Away and you see Country Number One stamped all over them...An absolute delight from start to finish.

Free Appreciation Society (August 2000): ...It's very good...to see it reissued with four bonus tracks and completely repackaged with an informative 16 page booklet (Angel Air are just fantastic at this stuff). The album itself is full of strong material and some excellent performances and kinda fits into a British Jackson Browne pigeon hole, should you need a place to file it. Acoustic based rock music, thoughtful, mature, and very very good...It comes highly recommended...

Jo-Ann Greene, Goldmine (July 2000): ...longtime admirers of any of his past bands will be delighted to know that all the old magic is still intact...The Big Buffalo should ensure that Fiddler gets at least some of the due he deserves.

Hartlepool Mail (November 2000): "Remastered with four extra tracks this highly entertaining release comes complete with an informative 16-page full colour booklet"

Two Miles From Heaven Issue 2: Sadly overlooked at the time, let us hope that this updated version of the album on Angel Air will attract the sort of attention an artist of John's stature undoubtedly deserves. The Big Buffalo is full of memorable melodic songs of love and heartache most of which contain John's trademark features - that rich voice, harmonica and fine acoustic guitar...Angel Air have done a great job repackaging this album with a new cover and a nice booklet with liner notes written by Jay Wyatt and Dale Griffin...if like me you missed this album first time round, you've got no excuses now. Buy it!

Modern Dance Issue 32 (December 2000): ...it's an honest affair with some very effective songs: Time Will Tell, Let The Kids Know, Working Class hero and the acoustic version of Strong Heart - all pretty cracking material. Alongside Fiddler there's Laurence Archer and Lou Stonebridge - and for three they make a pretty strong argument for an album that deserves to be heard.

MEDICINE HEAD - Live At The Marquee 1975

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Adrian Perkins / www.hunter-mott.com (June 2001): This CD captures them at their live, thunderous best and was recorded in the latter part of their career... Make no mistake, this is no one-dimensional performance, with John playing guitar, drums and handling vocal duties while Peter accompanies him with harmonica, jews' harp and claves, at times you need to pinch yourself to remember this is just two guys, not a five-piece band. The delivery is paced just right, too, with heavy, fast, crunching numbers mixed in with the slower ones. Like set opener How Does It Feel and Pictures In The Sky getting everyone present nicely warmed up. Two Men Now slows things down nicely (Peter's jews harp is clearly audible) before picking up again for Home's Odyssey... A demo of Pictures In The Sky rounds the CD off nicely, but its the live material you'll be buying it for. A 12-page booklet (written by MTHAS' Keith Smith) summarises Medicine Head's career, complete with discography and rare photos. Medicine Head was a band that was championed by DJ John Peel (they were even signed to his Dandelion label for a while) and which, despite finding some fame in 73/74 with hit singles he never tired of. One of the reasons is they never lost touch with what they were really about. All the evidence is here on this disc. I like live albums anyhow, and I think you'll like this one too.

Jilly's Rock World (June 2001): Excellent quality recording...the gig itself is top quality, and a reminder how underrated this rather obscure duo were...an essential purchase for any Medicine Head/John Fiddler fans. 8/10

Steve Ward, Wondrous Stories (July 2001): This performance was recorded in June 1975 at the height of their commercial success...Musically the band sit somewhere between rock, pop and blues...Anyone familiar with the work of Hardin & York from the early 70's should substitute the organ for guitar and this should give you an idea of where Medicine Head were at. Serious collectors of the Yardbirds should be very interested in the CD's bonus track, a demo version of 'Pictures In the Sky' recorded in John Fiddler's kitchen with features Keith Relf on guitar. Medicine Head were a joyous one off, and this CD shows them in all their unique glory.

Nick Dalton, Country Music International (July 2001): They rock in a way that predates punk yet manage to sound as if they're in a sleazy Louisiana roadhouse rather than London's Soho...Thrown in for good measure is an echoey demo version of Pictures that could have come from Sun Studios, circa 1959. Awesome.

Norfolk & Suffolk Preview, (July 2001): This superb concert captures the combo in full force with their compelling lyrics and passionate vocals.

Record Collector, (August 2001): Originally issued in 1995, this set adds excellent extensive sleeve notes and a discography, as well as a bonus track that features the Yardbirds' Keith Relf. Essential for fans and a good place to start for beginners.

Jo Ann-Greene, Goldmine, (August 2001): ...catches the duo of Fiddler and Peter Hope Evans at their hit-making peak...one wonders why, with material of this quality at their disposal, Medicine Head didn't make more of a splash during their lifetime.

Feedback, (Sep 2001): It may be dated, very Seventies, but there is good clear sound, and the music is in the hands of guys who care. Worth hearing.

Two Miles From Heaven (November 2001): …n a welcome tonic…in this world of computerised gadgetry and synthetically enhanced, mass-production lines comes this delicious slice of naturally grown, wholesome organic music. And what's more - it's really good for you!

MEDICINE HEAD - Two Man Band

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Steve Ward, Wondrous Stories (October 2001): This is a surprisingly laid back, almost dreamy album which has a lovely innocent quality which permeates through the majority of the tracks...Great stuff from one of the better, and most original bands from the 70's.

Glenn Milligan, Metalliville (October 2001): The album is real nice and has highlights like the snappy 'Mother Love', 'Over You' (with its cool Jaw Harp) and reminds me of two Free songs mixed into one - 'Mr Big' and 'Fire And Water'...Recorded by Pete Townsend at his Eel Pie Studios...it's been re-released...with three bonus tracks which make it worth buying if you already have the original crackly vinyl... A beauty of a buy if you like folky 70's rock (8/10)

Feedback, (November 2001): This is a great introduction to the band, as it encompasses many of their styles from blues to singer songwriter, lots of acoustic as well as some electric! This was the last release as Peter and John parted ways permanently soon afterwards, but they left on a strong note. A goody.

Adrian Perkins / www.hunter.mott.com: There's a bluesy feel throughout the album, with hints of pop imbibed with a timeless quality that means the music doesn't sound dated at all... this album is important as it marks the end of one of the unique bands of British Rock!

Two Miles From Heaven (November 2001): Against all the odds, Two Man Band turned out to be a remarkably positive and, in the circumstances, upbeat album. The band's rawer side was sidelined in favour of finely crafted melodic songs imbued with an innocent pastoral quality that conjured up images of lazy summer afternoons, sipping ice cold drinks and watching the world go by!

Clint Thigh, Bucketful Of Blues (November 2001): What a pleasant surprise it was to hear the unique chugging bluesy twang of the opening track. And things just kept getting better! This is the first time on CD for this gem from 1976. And while the Byrds may have perfected the sound of twangy guitars, twang really don't get much stronger than the noise made by Medicine Head's jew's harp!

Nick Dalton, Country Music International (November 2001): This...is their rootsiest, countriest collection. John Fiddler's songs are at their gentlest, and warmest...although still with his knack of writing neat pop songs...A lovingly-prepared reissue with several bonus tracks and excellent sleeve notes. Play it just as the sun's going down. Divine.

Joe Geesin, Record Collector (December 2001): ...a must for fans, and the sleevenotes and extra tracks all make for a comprehensive history lesson.

Hartlepool Mail (31 December 2001): Magical soft rock that captivates with its innocence and simplicity. Gentle rhythmoic rock with clever and catchy lyrics are the perfect medicine for those wanting a remedy for some of today's less appealing music.

Jo-Ann Green, Goldmine (January 2002): ...a defiantly contrary collection of rootsy. Bluesy gems ....One reaches the end astonished that a band that still sounded this vital, vibrant and vivacious should have felt the need to break up. Modern Dance #39 (August 2002): The music is very easy to listen to. I suppose it's gentle rock including a couple of nice ballads…This is Medicine Head at their softest and best despite it being their last album together; this album stands up well and is well worth a listen.

MEDICINE HEAD - Live In London (DVD)

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Philip Holbrook (April 2004): Medicine Head had a string of hit singles in the 70's, but they were known as a hard-working live band too- one year they took the record of the most gigs played in that year. John Fiddler went on after Medicine Head to join the British Lions, who also included members of Mott The Hoople minus Ian Hunter of course, and the subsequent band Box Of Frogs were huge in the USA, had continual play on MTV and it was the only the reluctance of the other members that prevented the band touring.... Here on this excellent DVD, it's not the original line-up of course, but replacing Peter Hope-Evans is Darrell Bath, who does an excellent job on guitar. John and Darrell go through the back catalogue and perform the hits such as One And One Is One and Pictures In The Sky. One More Chance To Run from the Lions is included as well as favourites such as Return Of The Buffalo, from John's solo career.... The DVD was recorded last summer before an invited audience and the quality of the songs shine through. The atmosphere in the studio is warm and relaxed and you can see a good time was had by all. The DVD has 5.1 surround sound and DTS so that is very welcome and there are excellent interviews with John Fiddler, Darrell Bath and Keith Smith (who runs the Mott The Hoople Fanzine, 2 Miles from Heaven.)

Nick Dalton, Record Collector (June 2004) : ...all the offerings here are Fiddler through and through - booming acoustic guitar and soulful, roaring vocals. Moving, while entertaining and beautifully recorded, and there are interviews with Fiddler and Bath.

Feedback, (June 2004): There is something very special about musicians performing with just the bare essentials, and while John does also play harmonica it is vocals, guitars, and great songs that capture the attention. This DVD is three hours long, with the gig itself lasting for two hours and containing 23 songs...Yet another very worthy release from Angel Air.

Michael Heatley, Classic Rock (July 2004): With 22 tracks and bonus interviews you can't quibble about value for money...if you know Fiddler more from recent stints as frontman of Mott spin-offs British Lions or ex-Yardbirds act Box Of Frogs...you'll be more than satisfied.