Jasper, the sole, eponymous album by the Keighly-based British band, is something I picked up for 50p on holiday: I have seen a copy, similarly autographed, on eBay recently for a tenner (even though one of the tracks was rendered unplayable by a cigarette burn) but I’d advise you not to waste your money. It isn’t worth it.
The album, issued in 1978 by Look Records, is pretty pedestrian, competent but dull and full of obvious showband covers. It would hardly have been worth a mention if not for the dismal, self-composed, second track Supergirl – a sub-Rubettes Sugar Baby Love rip-off – and track three, Do It In the Night, a failed stab at white soul: a funk-fuelled fright-fest, if you’ll allow the alliteration. Apparently this is what passed for entertainment in Yorkshire in the late 70s. Look Records was owned and operated by September Sound Studios in Huddersfield and appears to have been active between 1975 and 1982 (Elvis Costello and the Attractions recorded there in 1981). There is –as far as I am aware – no connection between them and the September Sound Studios set up by the Cocteau Twins, which was formerly better known as Pete Townshend’s Eel Pie studio.
To be perfectly frank, the best thing about it is the cover. Look at those hairstyles! And the clothes! They look as though they’ve been dressed by a blind man rummaging around in Leo Sayer’s dressing up box (with understated prescience, the album features a bland cover of the singing midget’s international smash When I Need You).
Most of the members of the band had previously been part of a late incarnation of John O’Hara and the Playboys. The Playboys, originally from Scotland, had been around since the late 50s, released a couple of singles on Fontana in the mid-1960s and even appeared on the German TV show Beat Club. However the original line-up had long since disbanded and by the middle of the 1970s the band consisted of John O’Hara, Peter Baines, Steve Middleton, Anthony Waite, Chris Turner, Roy Johnson and Peter Coe. Coe, Johnson, Turner and Baines all went on to appear on the Jasper album, along with Geoffrey Alan Cartwright and Denni (Tifano) Conlan.
Guitarist and lead vocalist Roy Johnson is now a full time tutor of classical, acoustic and electric guitar as well as Irish tenor and bluegrass banjo from his home in Yorkshire. There’s a Chris Turner who has carved out a career as a musician on cruise liners, but I sincerely doubt that he is the same musician, as he would have been 12 years old when this album was released. Drummer Peter Coe continued to work as a session drummer and is now living on the Isle of Wight where, coincidentally, I discovered this little treasure. I guess he has a stack of them and is dropping them off in charity shops around the island.