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Splinter was essentially a two-man vocal group hailing from South Shields, England, consisting of Bill Elliott and Bobby Purvis. But they were connected with powerful people (George Harrison, for example) and had good groups of instrumentalists to back them on each album. One of those musicians was a guitarist by the name of Hari Georgeson (Harrison's pseudonym). Splinter was the first artist signed to Harrison's Dark Horse label, when it was still partnered with A&M. All of Splinter's albums were out of print for decades until 2017, when a U.K. label called Greyscale reissued the first two albums, as well as the last one. The first three proper albums were released digitally in 2022, in newly remastered form.

On their splendid 1974 debut album The Place I Love, the duo got a big boost from Harrison, who produced and pseudonymously played guitar on all of the songs. (The harmonium and Moog synthesizer on certain tracks are credited to P. Roducer; guess who that is? Also, try pronouncing the name of percussionist Jai Raj Harisein). Other musicians included Alvin Lee, Billy Preston, Gary Wright, Jim Keltner, and Klaus Voorman. Most of the songs were written by Purvis, with Elliott co-writing lyrics on "China Light" and "Costafine Town".

While some of the songs recall Badfinger (especially "Gravy Train" and "Haven't Got Time"), most of The Place I Love very much resembles a Harrison solo album, but it is more consistent than most of them. Even the vocals sometimes resemble Harrison's; Purvis and Elliott harmonize in a beautifully Beatlesque way. Any Beatles aficionado who hasn't discovered The Place I Love ought to search it out. Lost classics such as "China Light", "Costafine Town", and "Situation Vacant" are among the best Beatles songs that the Beatles never made.

Notes: In August 2017, The Place I Love was reissued on CD by the U.K. label Greyscale. In 2023, the album was reissued in the U.S. for Record Store Day Black Friday in a 1,000-copy limited LP edition, pressed in clear vinyl and packaged in a reproduced gatefold cover.

Track Listing:

1. Gravy Train
2. Drink All Day (Got To Find Your Own Way Home)
3. China Light
4. Somebody's City
5. Costafine Town
6. The Place I Love
7. Situation Vacant
8. Elly-May
9. Haven't Got Time

On Harder To Live, Splinter's 1975 sophomore album, Harrison only participated on one track: "Lonely Man" was co-produced by Harrison and Tom Scott, and "Hari Georgeson" played guitar. It's a transcendent ballad with impressive vocals. It was used in the 1974 movie
Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs, which was Harrison's first foray into film production. It's the only song on Harder To Live that measures up to the promise of The Place I Love.

The rest of the album is given comparatively thin production by Scott, who also played several instruments. Without Harrison's intervention, Splinter turned out to be good instead of great. Most of the songs resemble a folkier version of Badfinger. The songs are not quite as downbeat as the album's title suggests; the title track is a bouncy tune about the high monetary cost of living. Another set of impressive musicians provide backing (i.e. Chris Spedding, Waddy Wachtel, John Taylor), but they are not in the same class as the first album's ensemble. Harder To Live is no dud, but it lacks the splendor of its predecessor. The second side is the better one.

Note: Harder To Live was reissued on CD by the U.K. label Greyscale in October 2017.

Track Listing:

1. Please Help Me
2. Sixty Miles Too Far
3. Harder To Live
4. Half Way There
5. Which Way Will I Get Home
6. Berkley House Hotel
7. After Five Years
8. Green Line Bus
9. Lonely Man
10. What Is It (If You Never Ever Tried It Yourself)

That same year, an untitled promo LP was pressed by Dark Horse Records and given to radio stations. It contained 13 demos recorded acoustically in 1972 (predating The Place I Love) by Purvis and Elliott. It's not surprising that these gentle acoustic tunes hint at the folk-flavored direction of Harder To Live; what is surprising is that their quality is usually closer to that of The Place I Love. These unfinished recordings hardly have the same Beatlesque feeling as that album (although "Down By The Albion" could almost pass for a rough Fab Four demo), but this never-commercially-released disc proves that the duo could make good, respectable music without Harrison's production hand or big-name backing musicians. This disc reveals what drew Harrison to the duo, as they convey Purvis' lyrics about life in an English coastal town, with lovely vocal harmonies. "Love Is Not Enough" was re-recorded for the next studio album reviewed below, but this simple demo version is preferable to the overstated 1977 version. None of the other songs here appeared on any of Splinter's proper albums. These demos deserve to see the light of day just as much as the duo's studio albums do.

Track Listing:

1. Split Crow Road
2. This Is My Corner
3. Why Can't We Live By The Sea
4. Raincoat Salesman
5. This Time We're Gonna Come Through
6. Don't Get Under My Feet
7. Christmas Time Feeling
8. Re-Directed
9. Railway
10. Little Piece Of Luck
11. Down By The Albion
12. City Lady
13. Love Is Not Enough (To Stay Alive)

Although the duo continued to perform together until 1984, the 1977 release Two Man Band was the last Splinter album released in most countries, including the United States. Harrison is credited as co-executive producer, and played some of the guitar (most recognizably during "Round & Round"). But the main production duties were entrusted to Norbert Putnam, whose ultra-slick treatment added a deadly dose of saccharine to Splinter's sound. Much of the music is gooey '70's soft rock; guitarist Parker McGee, who wrote two of the songs, had written MOR hits for other artists. A few of the tracks ("Black Friday", "Love Is Not Enough") spill over into disco territory! Aside from two vintage Splinter songs, "Little Girl" and "New York City (Who Am I)", most of the songs are cloying. It's a shame; Splinter's recording career deserved a better end than this.

Track Listing:

1. Little Girl
2. Round & Round
3. Baby Love
4. I Apologize
5. Black Friday
6. New York City (Who Am I)
7. I Need Your Love
8. Motions Of Love
9. Silver
10. Love Is Not Enough

Although Two Man Band was Splinter's last release in the U.S. and most other parts of the world, the duo did record two more albums that were each released in no more than two countries. Both albums were done without Harrison. The first of these, titled Streets At Night, was released only in Japan in 1979. Purvis and Elliott produced and arranged this album themselves. It has a more natural sound than the overproduced Two Man Band. This album also benefits from the musicianship of Alan Clark (the Dire Straits keyboardist-to-be), who played keyboards, synthesizers, and clavinette. Streets At Night is heavy on ballads, but most of them are agreeable enough. "Stateside Girl" is reminiscent of their earlier work, complete with Harrison-like guitar chords. "Evergreen" is a good bluegrass picker. The thumping "Where Do I Go From Here?" is the closest that this mellow album comes to rock and roll. On the downside, the last two tracks are too schmaltzy, and they hint at the adult-contemporary blandness that would soon sink Splinter's final album.

(Note: The disco-flavored track "Danger Zone" was released as a single in the U.K. on Chas Chandler's label Barn, with a non-LP B-side titled "Swear To God" (Barn BARN 004). One year earlier in 1978, a single called "Take Off" was released in Japan (Columbia YK-113-AX), which was the same song as "Danger Zone" with different lyrics).

Track Listing:

1. Streets At Night
2. I Can't Turn You On
3. Is It For Life
4. Stateside Girl
5. Evergreen
6. Danger Zone
7. When Will You Let Go
8. Where Do I Go From Here?
9. Took My Breath Away
10. Flyin' Blind

That final album was the self-titled Splinter, which was released in England in 1980 on the Bellaphon label. (The album was also issued in Japan the following year under the title Sail Away, with a song called "Pigalle" used in place of "All That Love". That was released by Columbia, catalogue no. YX-7292-AX). This album also was totally Harrison-less, although George's influence can still be heard on a few tracks ("Plane Leaving Tokyo", "Passing Through"). The album is mired in a mellow easy-listening format, which makes for quite grating listening by the time you reach Side Two. Purvis and Elliott are both in good voice here, but the mushy adult-contemporary material leaves something to be desired. It's not surprising to learn that producer Jimmy Horowitz had previously worked with Air Supply. The saxophone sound on "Innocent" and "Touch Yet Never Feel" should have sounded fresh, but it's simply boring (and the presence of a mysterious female voice on those songs makes one wonder why "all backing voices" are credited to Purvis and Elliott). There was still no denying the duo's vocal talents, but without the right producers and/or backing musicians, Splinter seemed unable to deliver the goods on record.

Track Listing:

1. Innocent
2. Plane Leaving Tokyo
3. Another Time Another Place
4. Too Far Down The Line
5. Take It Or Leave It
6. Passing Through
7. Touch Yet Never Feel
8. Don't Leave Me Now
9. All That Love
10. Sailaway

See also George Harrison

The Wikipedia article on Splinter, which uses info from this page