Peter French

Ducks In Flight




Trust German label Repertoire to make another lost gem available once more. Here on 1978 recordings we find ace singer French teaming up with Small Faces and The Faces drummer Kenney Jones, bassist Dave Markee, guitarslinger Brian Robertson and other notables.

By that I mean Joe Brown, Mick Halls, Micky Moody, Tim Hinkley, Raff Ravenscroft (the sax player on Baker Street), Henry Spinetti (Clapton drummer), Jellybread’s Pete Wingfield. The resulting album saw little action at the time, but can now be savoured as another slice of durable Seventies rock music.

Pete over his career has sung for Leafhound, Randy Pie the German act, Cactus, Atomic Rooster and many more ; here he nods to his love of The Faces and much more. Starting track Slipped And Stumbled rides in on Kenney’s drums and a choppy funk rhythm, French gives it the Rod welly and the band punch out the song. Give Me Your Love has harmony guitars and deep bass and once again Jones holds the whole thing together, rattling the snare. The quality song has a Jeff Beck Group tinge and the guitar break has a touch-of-wah drive that sounds terrific.  A perfect setting for the French pipes. Same Old Questions is gentler fare, acoustic guitars and sighing Hammond and French sounds perfect as he tells the tale of a hard-working chap. The bridge sounds beautiful and as a winsome folk-rock piece this could hardly work better, legato electric guitar break and all.

On to Sweet Annabella which is a dirt-flecked chugging rocker giving Pete an open road to sing over. Wow, those drums sound so crisp. The guitars really cook this, that swaggering sound has a linear clout. Shame Shame is another guitar-soaked number, with a pronounced Faces lope, enhanced of course by Kenney’s hold on the beat and changes throughout. Next up, Without You is reflective with gorgeous acoustic chording and a light overlay of reverbed electric. Jones waits for his moment to add to the dynamic. There are few singers who can make this rock-soul material work as well as French. Not that his humble personality ever trumpets this!

This is the sound of a band making a stunning composition come to life and sound affecting. The guitar coda is fabulous, too. Hold Me Take Me is a stomping slice of strident fun, whilst Goodbye Jesse takes a country-funk setting for a Wild West story. The banjo – not my favourite instrument – makes this one. Schooldays has an electrified sway and dredges up memories of a lost love, French sings with authority and a breezy handle on the song.

The producer Geoffrey Haslam managed to bottle much of the spirit of the time on this one and it still sounds musical, energised and pleasingly varied.

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks to Peter French)

Peter French 'Ducks In Flight' is out now on Repertoire.

You can purchase the album here: