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 / Trinity

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Bill Bruford with Ralph Towner and Eddie Gomez - If Summer Had Its Ghosts – When Bill Bruford is on break from his drum duties with King Crimson, what would you expect him to do? Should he go on vacation or work in another less hectic, but rewarding mode? If Summer Had Its...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues