In the late sixties, London was the place to be for young people looking for freedom and expressing themselves in music. There was a big underground scene going on with many clubs where young bands could play or could find inspiration. Both Pink Floyd and David Bowie emerged from this scene and also guitarist Tony Hill was one of those young people. In 1965 he joined the American band The Misunderstood. The famous British disc jockey John Peel convinced them to move to England. The band recorded a few singles, got noticed and enjoyed some success. After a short trip to France in 1967 the American band members were forced to leave the UK. Tony Hill returned to London where he played, amongst others, with David Bowie.
Early 1969 he decided to form his own band and he recruited Simon House (violin, keyboards), Peter Pavli (bass) and Roger Hadden (drums) and named his band High Tide. The band had a unique sound: a mixture of (Irish) folk music, psychedelics and even elements of hard rock. They were immediately picked up by Apple Music that allowed them to record some demos. This brought them in contact with the British office of Liberty/United Artists, who were keen on expanding the underground album market. Within weeks of signing, the band had recorded a radio one session for John Peel, and soon after they started to work on what would become their first album: Sea Shanties.
The album was released in October 1969 and is very much inspired by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Peter Pavli and Roger Hadden provide a steady and powerful rhythm over which Tony Hill and Simon House play the guitar and violin Ė sometimes in duet and sometimes in contradistinction. The album received good reviews and although it failed to chart, enough copies were sold to secure a follow-up album. In August 1969 High Tide was the headliner for a series of concerts at All Saints Hall in Ladbroke Grove to promote their agency. On the final concert they were supported by a new band named Group X, who were impressed by High Tideís brand new state of the art gear. They asked if they could play on it and they did. It was the first ever appearance of HawkwindÖ
In April 1970 High Tide started recording their second album to be released in July. The eponymous second album showed progress. Where the first album was dominated by Tony Hillís guitar, on the second album the instruments are more balanced and give room to each other. Also the organ is added in some of the tracks. High Tide is more melancholic than its predecessor; itís reminiscent of early Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett. Despite its good reviews it didnít sell more copies than the first album and High Tide lost its record deal with Liberty. Simon House left the band to join the Third Ear Band and in 1973 he joined Hawkwind. He was a member of Hawkwind until 1978 although he occasionally performed with Hawkwind afterwards. House was a member of David Bowieís band and he also released some solo albums under the name Spiral Realms.
Tony Hill, Peter Pavli and Roger Hadden became involved with Rustic Hinge. In 1972 Roger Hadden suffered from mental health problems and was replaced by former Arthur Brown-drummer Drachen Treaker. Peter Pavli became a member of Michael Mooreís band Deep Fix and would also perform with Robert Calvert. In 1990 High Tide was revitalized with Tony Hill, Peter Pavli, Drachen Treaker, violinist Dave Tomlin and vocalist Sushi Krishnamurthi. They released the album Ancient Gates, but further plans were aborted when Drachen Treaker unexpectedly died. Tony Hill is still active in music performing and recording with his band Tony Hillís Fiction.
The first two High Tide-albums are now re-released on the Esoteric Recordings-label. Both are remastered and completed with bonus tracks, but with the original art work, photographs and the full history of the band. Itís a mystery why some bands make it while others remain a footnote in music history. High Tide surely had the talents, the skills and had a unique sound of its own. And yet the band failed to be successful. Iím thankful to Esoteric for having the heritage of High Tide available again for a new generation.†
***+ / **** Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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