Help Yourself: Strange Affair (1972)

Reaching back into the catacombs of my collection, here's Help Yourself, a '70s band out of London that's kinda tough to pigeonhole. They came out of the same British pub rock scene as Brinsley Schwarz, and share some commonalities with the early Brinsley sound -- an odd blend of Americana (part circa-1970 Grateful Dead, part Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters/CSN) and R&B-tinged rock and a bit of prog. Kind of a British Little Feat, thinking generously.

This, their second album, shines when they stretch out a bit. The terrific "Movie Star" is essentially a rewrite of Neil Young's "Down By The River," right down to the monster jam in the center; "The All Electric Fur Trapper" is a sprawling instrumental, both proggy and jammy, a nice little headphone-friendly showcase.

But the straighter songs are ok as well. The title track that opens the album, while definitely showing its age, has a rollicking little piano riff, something you might hear in a smoky bar to get you up on your feet. "Brown Lady" is a largely acoustic cross between CSNY and America.

Maybe not an essential band up there with classic rock elite, but if you share my love of relatively obscure but intriguing mellow '70s rock, worth checking out.

Here are some random film clips set to "Movie Star":
Here's a rip of the entire LP: