The Balls

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About The Balls

Although there was a good deal of talent involved in Balls, not much of it translated into recorded product, as they issued just one rather dull hard rock single, "Fight for My Country"/"Janie Slow Down" (1971). At various times the group featured Denny Laine, Trevor Burton, Steve Gibbons, Alan White, and Jackie Lomax: all names that have at least some recognition among fans of 1960s and 1970s British rock. They were proof, however, on a very minor league level, that supergroup assemblages of talent don't always, or often, lead to superduper results. Balls began in February 1969, when Trevor Burton left the Move (where he had played bass) to join fellow Birmingham band the Uglys, taking over on guitar rather than bass. Changing their name to Balls, they went to a cottage in Fordingbridge to get it together in the country, in the fashion popularized by Traffic. Original Moody Blues lead singer Denny Laine came in on guitar and vocals during the summer (though Steve Gibbons was ostensibly the most prominent singer). However, they regrouped as a quartet in the summer of 1970, retaining Laine and Burton and adding Lomax and future Yes drummer Alan White. Lomax left after a week, and Gibbon rejoined. Nothing must have been seriously jelling, because they broke up in February 1971, although ex-Spooky Tooth drummer Mike Kellie came in just before the split. That's the sequence reported in Pete Frame's Family Trees book, anyway. It's also been written that White actually left at the end of 1969, with Kellie coming in considerably earlier, and that Lomax was never actually in the band. Additionally, Laine and Burton were also in Airforce for parts of 1970, and played as an acoustic duo during some of that year. It's all quite a headache to sort out considering that just the one single was released. "Fight for My Country," by Burton, had a bit of the Move's combination of pastoral folk and chunky hard rock, though it wasn't a great tune. Laine and White wrote "Janie Slow Down," a pedestrian hard rock number with a bit of a boogie feel. Melody Maker reported in 1970 that Balls had done 12 tracks for an album, which didn't appear (and they were not signed to a label at the time anyway); it's also been speculated that Ric Grech appeared on some of those cuts. Both sides of the Balls single are on the Move bootleg Family Tree. ~ Richie Unterberger

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