S – is for Sutherland Brothers

Saturday 22nd April

Iain and Gavin Sutherland hailed, like so many great musicians, from Scotland – Aberdeenshire to be precise.  They released their first album in 1972, the eponymously named ‘The Sutherland Brothers Band’ where the brothers were joined by a few session players who promptly stayed in the studio.  It was a great start, because as well as being excellent musicians they were brilliant songwriters.  They followed this with an album simply credited to the brothers.  This was called Lifeboat and featured a song ‘Sailing’, later covered by Rod Stewart, giving him his biggest hit.  But the album was full of brilliant songs ‘Lady like you’ and my favourite ‘Real Love’, with keyboards by Muff Winwood.  This song is one of my very favourite songs ever, the piano is jazzy and the tune goes all over the place but keeps swirling back with organ to the chorus.

The boys then joined forces with another band on Island Records who were struggling – ‘Quiver’.   And as The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver they released a handful of records, although the new band changed players with almost every record.  The consistent element however were the Brothers Sutherland and their great songs.  They had a huge hit with ‘Arms of Mary’ in 1976, but by 1979 the remnants of Quiver left and it was just the brothers again.  They released one last album ‘When The Night Comes Down’, this is a more subdued but equally superb record.

The brothers stopped recording then; a great pity, and I haven’t been able to find out why. Maybe they just wanted a break and found it hard to plunge back into the ruthless music business again.  But they were an essential part of that huge outpouring of talent in the early Seventies, inspired by The Beatles and other 60’s bands.  I saw them live a few times; looking back it was remarkably easy to go and see bands riding high in the charts during the Seventies; they were always touring and prices were cheap – record sales were huge and band toured to promote the records.  Although I have always favoured singer-songwriters to bands, I would easily place the Sutherland Brothers in my top ten groups of all times.

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