Killing Floor


Spark Records SRLP 102 (U.K.)
Sire Records (U.S.A.)

Track listing:

1. Woman You Need Love (Willie Dixon)
2. Nobody by my side (MacDonald/Thorndycraft/Clarke)
3. Come Home Baby (MacDonald/Thorndycraft/Clarke)
4. Bedtime Blues (MacDonald/Thorndycraft/Clarke)
5. Sunday Morning (Martin)
6. Try to Understand (MacDonald/Thorndycraft/Clarke)
7. My Mind Can Ride Easy (MacDonald/Thorndycraft/Clarke)
8. Wet (MacDonald/Thorndycraft/Clarke/Martin/Smith)
9. Keep On Walking (MacDonald/Thorndycraft/Clarke)
10. Forget It (MacDonald/Thorndycraft/Clarke)
11. Lou's Blues (Martin)
12. People Change Your Mind (MacDonald/Thorndycraft/Clarke/Smith)

Bill Thorndycraft - Vocals / Harp
Mick Clarke - Lead Guitar
Lou Martin - Keyboards
Bazz Smith - Drums
Stuart MacDonald - Bass

Recorded at Pye Studios, London
Produced by John Edward

Mick writes..

In the late 1960s every major record company in the U.K. had to have a blues band on its roster. It was the In Thing. The only time in my entire life actually, that I have been "trendy". Consequently, when KILLING FLOOR was looking for a label for its first album release we hit the streets of London's West End and went knocking on the doors of the major companies. One by one we met with rejection. Muff Winwood at Island told us "Sorry, we've just signed a blues band"..well they only wanted one each, and we were late getting in. But our manager John Edward had a connection with the publishing company Southern Music, and they were starting a small record label, "Spark". So "Spark" it was.

We recorded at Pye Recording Studios, just off Marble Arch in the West End of London, where many hits of the time were made. You might find the Kinks or Status Quo roaming the corridors - the larger studio had even hosted Frank Sinatra and a big band. So the studio and the engineering personnel were first rate. However the sessions did not always run smoothly.

The first shock we received on the first day's recording was to be told that all the material had to be original, for publishing reasons. This was a little awkward as we had a complete set of Chicago Blues standards which we'd been rehearsing and playing for the last six months. Consequently Bill went and sat in the toilets at Pye Studios and reluctantly rewrote all the lyrics. Classic blues songs suddenly became originals - the only one that escaped the treatment was Willie Dixon's "You Need Love". Actually the songs had all been re-arranged to such an extent that they were already halfway to becoming originals. The change of lyric just completed the process, but some of them are still quite recognizable.

It was exciting to be in a professional studio for the first time and I'd say we all enjoyed the recording, though at times it was a comedy of errors. We recorded far too much music for a normal vinyl long player and had to cut large chunks out. At least one number starts half way through, and the whole album is full of mistakes both in the music and the production.

But none of this should detract from the good qualities of the session. The band was definitely rocking - we'd had several months of playing the material live and it was ready to go down on tape. Every track is bursting with energy and enthusiasm. We also employed a lot of arrangements in our songs, which was something that very few blues bands of the time were doing. We borrowed ideas quite liberally from other blues and rock albums of the time, but the way the ideas were woven into our own created an end product that was certainly unique.

Lou Martin added a touch of extra class to the Killing Floor album with two completely original solo keyboard pieces.."Lou's Blues", a flat out boogie woogie assault, and a hymn-like "Sunday Morning", played on a harpsichord that we found in the studio left over from a Pink Floyd session, and committed to tape just before the men came to take it away. "My Mind can Ride Easy" had session men brought in to provide a horn section, as it was intended for release as a single. It also had a bongo player added, and some "dooby dooby dooing" at the end, perpetrated by an untrained vocal team of which I was a participant. In the event the single was only released in Germany, under the title "Wow Wow Wow!"

The album was actually very well received when it came out, being an exciting and unusual record, standing out from the more traditional blues offerings that most British bands were coming out with at the time. It sold well and was distributed all over the world, though we didn't know much about that at the time. It was also released in the U.S.A. by the new London subsidary "Sire", and again sold well with good reviews.

Over the years the band members pursued separate careers and we forgot about the album to an extent. However we began to become aware that "KILLING FLOOR" was still out there, and gaining a cult following around the world. It was first reissued on the Spark "Replay" series, then on "See For Miles", the German label "Repertoire" and recently the Italian label "Akarma" and in Japan on "Mailbox Records", complete with Obi Strip. There have also, unfortunately, been numerous bootleg releases. It's still available, and continues to sell to this day. Original vinyl releases have become sought after collectors items.

Review of the Akarma re-issue - Blues Matters! magazine March - April 2003

The reissued debut LP by Killing Floor (originally released on the Sire label with a blood covered jail cell on the cover) is laden with imposing blues-rock by the 60's British blues band. They took blues legends' influences and changed it to reflect our times much in the same way Hendrix and so many other bands did. By electrifying the blues, the music reached a young audience that was changing dramatically. The new sounds featured hard rocking long guitar solos that appealed to a young audience hungry for something different.

By supporting groups like Ten Years After and Jethro Tull on tour, this band received some attention and notoriety, nothing like the bands that they opened for, but they did make a name for themselves. This self-titled debut burns with the red hot coals of emotion only found in righteous blues music. Al but one of these tracks is an original, which proves that they were talented enough to hold their own. Singer and harp player Bill Thorndycraft had a gruff deep-down-from-the-belly vocal style, similar to Alvin Lee, and he could blow the harp to give the music that earthy blues feeling that could be found in all the Mississsippi Delta acoustic blues. Michael Clark was an exceptional six-string slinger that had a fire burning in his belly; you could hear it in his playing, and the rhythm section of Bas Smith (drums) and Stuart MacDonlad (bass) was steadfast and true in support of his fire branded flourishes. Lou Martin added the additional elements of keyboards to give their music more texture and a modern updated sound.

This is an excellent album for a debut, and they clearly broke some ground like their counterparts the Groundhogs did during the same timeframe. This LP has an unfailing flow and liveliness that never lets up; it's all mighty blues-rock played with heart and soul. Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck

Review from the Tiliqua Records website

819. KILLING FLOOR: �S/T� (Spark � SRLP-102) (Record: Near Mint � small colored in tear on label/ Flip Back Jacket: Near Mint) Top UK copy of this loud, finger-blistering guitar charged heavy bluesy psych monster. The sheer toughness -- and overall derivative nature of Killing Floor's debut album, issued six months after Led Zeppelin's debut in 1969 on the Spark label, is a wondrous contrast to the overly slick treatment American blues were given by British artists. All of these tunes, with the exception of one are revamped versions of songs from the blues canon with different words. The lone "cover" in the set was written by Willie Dixon titled "Woman You Need Love�. This is a raw, immediate, overdriven, psychedelic blues record as Killing Floor hits you with a heavy and reverent update of the Yardbirds rave-up sound This self-titled debut burns from start to finish and it is graced with that white-boys-blues trashy sound not unlike Burning Plague. Singer and harp player Bill Thorndycraft had a gruff deep down-from-the-belly vocal style, sounding utterly wasted and he had the gift to blow the harp and give the music that earthy blues feeling that could be found in all the Mississippi Delta acoustic blues. Michael Clark was an exceptional six-string slinger igniting a fire burning he let loose on his strings, molten lava emanating out of it and hitting you right in the face; you could just hear it in his playing, and the rhythm section of Bas Smith (drums) and Stuart MacDonald (bass) was steadfast and true in support of his fire branded flourishes. Lou Martin added the additional elements of keyboards to give their music more texture and a modern updated sound. Original copies in nice condition are completely vanished these days, so� Fucking wasted and dirty white trash psychedelic blues album that till this day hasn�t met his rival yet, so Jon Spencer go suck some more on your mother�s tit, Killing Floor blaze you away any day of the week. TOP COPY, next to impossible to upgrade upon!!!! Price: 400 Euro

See original reviews from 1969

The album was issued on CD (See For Miles SEECD 355), 1992, as "Rock The Blues" and on Repertoire (REP 4532-WP) 1993. The recent re-issue on Akarma Records is on both CD and vinyl. (details at Akarma Records).

The single of "Mind can ride easy" was released in Germany as "Wow Wow Wow".
We have no details at all of sales.

             Original U.S. release on Sire - London   

                        First re-issue on British label - Spark Replay

The album has recently been re-issued on Repertoire Records, Germany. It can also be purchased through Amazon or Ebay. Releases on the "Pink Elephant" label are bootlegs, and the band has never received any payment for these. Below: 1969 Compilation album including Killing Floor, Alexis Korner, Aynsley Dunbar and Doc K.


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