An article from an old Norwich Festival programme:
'John Brown, a lanky Lancastrian with a voice likened by Karl Dallas to a 'cross between Dylan and George Formby' and a ponderous dry wit, is aided and abetted on a bewildering number of instruments by Mike Draper in performing a variety of songs which have such freshness and appeal that Dallas was moved, on the release of their first record on Regal Zonophone, to comparisons with the impact of the early Beatles. Since their last appearance at the 4th Norwich Folk Festival John and Mike have been joined by Tony Dowe and Dick Hardwicke.
Gas Works has a tradition of being a great entertaining live act, and, the lessons they've learned in their years gigging, in clubs, concert halls, and festivals, are all used in the presentation of their act. From the first bars of the taped intro, a quiet mysterious haunting piece of brass band music that conveys the odd, authentic English flavour of this band, you can sense something special is about to happen. The first number starts in just as quiet and controlled a manner but grows slowly to a soaring elevating extended rhythmical section - the first emotional climax of the show. From then on in, using movement, pace and variety there's something attention gripping all the way, and a lot to get people up and dancing. The northern working class image, the short hair, suits, frock and curlers bit, the aspidistra and oil lamp on stage combine to break down the barrier between the group and audience yet make a lasting visual impression of the band.
John's sharp cynical verbal intros reinforce the rapport created across the footlights in a similar manner to that used by Ray Davis of the Kinks. The show works equally well in dances, discos, formal balls, concerts, clubs and festivals because it's been specially designed to and there's no age group, racial type, or creed in front of which Gas Works feel they would not come off well. There's something in what they do for everyone.'
The album produced by Tony Visconti, Mary Hopkin's ex, came in part as a result of him seeing the band at our club at the William IV in Leyton. Sadly it is virtually impossible to come by a copy these days.
Does anyone know the whereabouts of Mick Draper? We have a live Gas Works track earmarked for our second Down River CD. John Brown has given permission for us to use it but Mick is nowhere to be found. Help!