Exposé Online banner

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express — Happiness Heartaches
(Wounded Bird WOU 2981, 1977/2003, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2003-12-01

Happiness Heartaches Cover art

The latter incarnation of Oblivion Express (led by Hammond B3 player extraordinaire Brian Auger) was characterized by soulful blues-rock, percussion, and danceable grooves. Ex-Return to Forever drummer Lenny White (just a few months after the band’s peak on Romantic Warrior) sets up an excellent back beat for bassist Clive Chaman (ex-Jeff Beck group) to pound steady pulses as on the funky opener “Back Street Bible Class.” Guitarist Jack Mills co-writes three pieces on the album and gives his best lead guitar solo on the title song. Lennox Langton was also an essential member of the six-piece group adding smooth conga playing on the LP’s longest track, “Spice Island.” Chaman’s funky submission, “Never Gonna Come Down,” is propelled by a Moog synthesizer lead, wah-wah guitar, and more feel-good bump and grind. Vocalist Alex Ligertwood’s lead vocal was an essential part of this line-up as well before his later stint with Santana. In this working environment, he is at home belting out up-tempo numbers such as “Gimme a Funky Beat” (that also features Auger’s best organ solo here). “Paging Mr. McCoy” is the album’s closer and the only instrumental piece from the keyboardist’s pen. It’s also the highpoint of the disc with its emphasis on synthesizers atop piano rhythms and a blistering attack from the rhythm section. Overall it’s another consistent performance from an underrated fusion outfit with a long catalog of noteworthy releases.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 28, 2003 releases, 1977 recordings

Related artist(s): Lenny White, Brian Auger / Oblivion Express

Latest news

2018-02-18
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

2018-02-15
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

2018-02-14
Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

2018-01-30
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more

2018-01-18
Christian Burchard RIP – Multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, who founded the seminal band Embryo in 1969, has died at the age of 71. His January 17 passing was announced on the band's Facebook page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

David Gilmour - Remember That Night - Live at the Royal Albert Hall – For those living under a rock, David Gilmour has recently completed a world tour in support of his 2006 solo album, On an Island, which this double DVD set documents and commemorates. Disk one...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues