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Staffell, Tim: aMIGO

Oh, what could have been… or maybe not. For when singer and bassist Tim Staffell left Smile, the remaining members, Brian May and Roger Taylor, hooked up with Freddie Mercury and John Deacon… and the world was given Queen. Listening back to Staffell’s 2006 solo record aMIGO, it’s clear that had the frontman not decided to move on, then Queen would never have become the worldwide force they did. Different though it may be, that’s not to say that there isn’t a lot to like about this album, which Staffell himself admits has been, quite rightly, re-released due to new interest following the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic of Freddie Mercury’s life. With May guesting on a couple of tracks, the link goes beyond that purely historical slant, even if both of the guitarist’s appearances are the only occasions when we truly move out of a world of bluesy jazz that verges on West Coast lite.

The first of those cuts is “Earth”, where May not only ladles on copious scoops of his trademark guitar lines but also combines vocally with Staffell, and it has to be said that if this slow, easy cut had graced a Queen album then nobody would have been too surprised by either its style, or the class with which it is delivered. The second is “Doin’ Alright” (a Smile song Staffell, May and Taylor re-recorded for the Bo-Rhap movie) which in intention falls more into the America (band) song book with it’s smooth vibe and clever vocals, and again, with May’s unmistakable guitar touch, it’s an engaging experience.

Also lending a hand is Thin Lizzy and extended Pink Floyd family guitarist Snowy White, with the underrated six-string man evident on the 70s jazz-funk of “Love Of The People” and the more Americana vibed “Just Couldn’t Say”. With these two tracks alone it’s easy to hear that not all of aMIGO was written at the same time, inspirations taken from the 60s through the 00s and while that can make for a somewhat uneven journey, the changes in approach certainly keep you tuned in.

Having performed with him in the band Morgan, one-time Mott The Hoople and Love Affair keyboard man Morgan Fisher also lends an occasional hand, with the main band itself comprising Staffell on vocals, guitar and bass, his son Andrew on drums, John Webster on guitar and bass and Richard Lightman also on guitar. Between them they make the brass infused smooth jazz of “Stray” and similarly styled “Country Life” a whole lot of fun. “Why Can’t We Be Free?” might veer too close to croon territory for most tastes, but “U 8n’t Kewel” pops and ticks on a tango flash that swirls you round the dance floor as it gently pokes fun at the ‘cool crowd’. Add in the languid stride of “Amigo” and chuggin’ 70s country blues of “The Land” and the eclectic mix really does cover some ground. Thankfully it does so in a hugely tasteful and convincing manner and while the links between aMIGO and the movie and band that inspired this re-release may be loose indeed, that doesn’t stop it containing an interesting and enjoyable set of songs that don’t waste this second day in the sun.

Track Listing
1. Stray
2. Country Life
3. Love Of The People
4. Sudden Moves
5. Earth
6. The Land
7. Just Couldn’t Say
8. Why Can’t We Be Free?
9. U 8n’t Kewel
10. Amigo
11. Doin’ Alright
12. Just Couldn’t Say (live studio version)

Added: July 6th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Tim Staffell @ bandcamp
Hits: 1588
Language: english

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