A Tale of the Giant Stone Eater

Thirty years ago to the day, British rock music lost a legend - Alex Harvey. A veteran of the R&B scene from the mid-fifties, Harvey found greatest success with the formation of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in the early seventies.

SAHB created a sound that was one part blues, one part prog (Zal Cleminson and the other band members were all drawn from progressive rock group Tear Gas), one part incredible vaudevillian showmanship and a final touch of utterly twisted weirdness.

It only needs a short peruse of a few song titles to emphasise SAHB's slightly bizarre nature: There's No Lights on the Christmas Tree Mother, They're Burning Big Louie Tonight (The only Xmas tune about executing gangsters), The Tale of the Giant Stone Eater (an epic ante-diluvian prog-out that could be a metaphor for virtually anything) and N.E.X.T., which is about, well, see for yourself in this Old Grey Whistle Test clip from 1973:

Honestly, they just don't make them like that anymore - which is a real shame. I can't imagine today ever seeing on TV an enraged Scots 'Everton Mint' and a malevolent harlequin performing a song about the emotional fallout from enforced military brothel-hopping.

Absolutely a one-off, Harvey was something special - adding an intensely dark wit to the prog/glam scene. A scene that took it's silliness sometimes a bit too seriously, whereas SAHB conversely somehow managed to express their seriousness of material with a distinct humour.

Harvey, tragically, died of a heart attack in 1982 and so in tribute to a man of unique genius I'm spending the day with SAHB on the stereo. I expect my mind to be substantially warped after about an hour or so - but that's OK, sometimes I think you need to be reminded that not so long ago (in Stone-Eater timescales) there was a time when creatively you could get away with almost anything, however strange.