The Wurzels

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The Wurzels
Wurzels Wychwood 2011.jpg
Tommy Banner and Pete Budd performing at the 2011 Wychwood Festival
Background information
Origin England
Genres Scrumpy and Western
Years active 1966–present
Website thewurzels.com
Members Tommy Banner
Pete Budd
John Morgan
Sedge Moore

The Wurzels (originally Adge Cutler and the Wurzels but renamed The Wurzels after Adge Cutler's death) are a British Scrumpy and Western band. The Somerset-based band is best known by many people for their 1976 number one hit "Combine Harvester",[1] and number three hit "I Am A Cider Drinker" based on the song "Una Paloma Blanca", but have a history stretching over 40 years, and still perform to this day.

Name[edit]

The name of the band was dreamt up by the band's founder Adge Cutler. It appears to be short for mangelwurzel, a crop grown to feed livestock, and 'wurzel' is also sometimes used in the UK (perhaps only as a result of the band's name) as a synonym for 'yokel'.[2]

The Wurzels' particular "genre" of music was named Scrumpy and Western after the group's first EP of the same name, issued early in 1967. Scrumpy is a name given to traditionally-made cider in southwest England,[3] popular amongst The Wurzels and their fans, and frequently referred to in their songs.

History[edit]

Adge Cutler and The Wurzels[edit]

The Wurzels were formed in 1966[4] as a backing group for, and by, singer/songwriter Adge Cutler.[5] With a thick Somerset accent, Adge played on his West Country roots, singing many folk songs with local themes such as cider making (and drinking), farming, dung-spreading, local villages and industrial work songs, often with a comic slant.

During the latter half of the 1960s, the band became immensely popular regionally, and the release of the single "Drink Up Thy Zider" in 1966 led to national fame and it reaching number 45 in the UK chart.[6] The B-side "Twice Daily" was banned by the BBC for being too raunchy.[7]

A number of live albums were recorded at local pubs and clubs, filled with Adge Cutler penned favourites such as Easton in Gordano, The Champion Dung Spreader, and Thee's Got'n Where Thee Cassn't Back'n, Hassn't? together with songs written by others and some re-workings of popular folk songs of the time.[8]

Adge Cutler died after falling asleep at the wheel of his MGB sports car which then overturned on a roundabout approaching the Severn Bridge. He was returning alone from a Wurzels show in Hereford in May 1974. He is buried in Nailsea.[9]

The Wurzels[edit]

Adge's death marked a turning point in the history of the Wurzels. Deprived of the main song-writing talent, the remaining Wurzels recorded The Wurzels Are Scrumptious! in 1975, an album containing many favourites from the back catalogue, including a number of previously unrecorded Cutler-written songs. In order to continue the surviving band needed its own songs, and these mostly took the formula of re-written popular pop songs of the time with the lyrics changed to include the usual Wurzel themes (cider, farming, local villages, Cheddar cheese, etc.)

In 1976, the Wurzels released "The Combine Harvester", a re-work of the song "Brand New Key", by Melanie, which became a UK hit, topping the charts for 2 weeks.[1] The band quickly followed its success with the release of a number of similarly themed songs such as "I Am A Cider Drinker" (a rework of an existing melody "Una Paloma Blanca", which was written by and had been a hit for the George Baker Selection and also covered by Jonathan King the year before) which got to number three in the charts,[10] and "Farmer Bill's Cowman" (a reworking of the Whistling Jack Smith instrumental "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman").

The Wurzels at Guilfest 2012

The Wurzels have never stopped performing, but record releases during the 1980s and 1990s were few — and included singles such as "I Hate JR" and "Sunny Weston-super-Mare". To help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Eddie Stobart Ltd in 1995, the group signed to Cumbria record label Loose Records & Music, and recorded four new songs including the single "I Wanna Be An Eddie Stobart Driver" (released as a limited edition lorry-shaped disc). The interest in this record sparked off renewed interest in The Wurzels.[11]

The late 1990s saw the continuing of this revival of the fortunes for the surviving Wurzels, gaining a cult status amongst students and a resurgence in their popularity in their native West Country. Under the new management of The Stranglers manager Sil Willcox a number of CD releases followed, largely featuring re-recordings of older works, but also Never Mind The Bullocks, Ere's The Wurzels containing cover versions of contemporary British rock songs.[12] This album was recorded and produced by Louie Nicastro and George Allen [13] The album title and cover were a spoof of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.

The Wurzels covered British Sea Power's "Remember Me", while British Sea Power covered The Wurzels' "I Am A Cider Drinker". The band also supported BSP at their gig at the London Forum in November. In 2004, The Wurzels appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks in that year's Christmas special, performing Christmas songs to Bill Bailey's team.[14] (Bailey is a Wurzels fan,[15] and stood and saluted upon hearing "Combine Harvester", later claiming that he had the tune on his doorbell at home). In 2005, the band released a limited edition split single with British Sea Power.[16]

In 2007, The Wurzels and Tony Blackburn re-released "I Am A Cider Drinker", with the royalties from the song going to the BUI Prostate Cancer Care Appeal in Bristol.[17]

The Wurzels continue to gig around the UK,[18] including playing at the Shalbourne Festival for nearly 11 years, although they pulled out of the 2007 Glastonbury Festival, having been scheduled to play the bandstand stage where they could not use their own sound engineers,[19] although they had played the same stage at the 2000 Glastonbury Festival. They were also one of the headliners at the 2007 Bristol Community Festival, and made a return to Glastonbury in 2008 (on a higher profile stage).

The Wurzels are also popular with supporters of Bristol City F.C. Their song "One For The Bristol City" is the official club anthem.[20] First released in 1976, a newly recorded version of this song reached number 66 in the UK chart in September 2007.[21] It is played at the final whistle at Ashton Gate if the home club win, and it is sung by fans along with another Wurzel song "I Am A Cider Drinker". The song has also been adopted by Bath City who, like Bristol City, play the track after home victories. In the 2010-11 season and thereafter, the songs after a victory for the home side was changed for "Drink Up Thy Cider".

The band continue to spread the message of 'wurzelmania' across the country. In December 2009 they released a new single, available by internet download only — a first for the band, entitled "Ode To Adge" - a tribute to the band's founder, Adge Cutler.

In June 2010 the Wurzels' released another single (a cover of the Kaiser Chiefs "Ruby") and as another first in the band's history, issued in preview form, together with a promotional film, on their YouTube channel. The single was made available for general release only as an internet download (traditional hardcopies were made available as promo discs to radio stations). The same month the band released the band's latest album A Load More Bullocks - timed to coincide with their appearance the previous Saturday at the Glastonbury Festival.[22] Their session took place on the Avalon stage.

In 2011, BBC Four started a series of repeats of the popular long-running programme Top of The Pops starting with 1976 and a programme dedicated to that year. Two of the Wurzels, Budd and Banner were interviewed as part of that programme with their first performance on the programme (1976) being screened. In the same month, the BBC's The One Show included an item on the story of the "Combine Harvester" song, featuring further interviews with Budd and Banner and extracts from the 1976 promotional film.

In 2014 they released a new song "The Mendip Windfarm Song" inspired by a local protest about wind turbines being constructed very near the Wurzel HQ in Laverton.[23]

Current members[edit]

Tommy Banner is the longest serving Wurzel. He joined the band in November 1967. He is usually seen playing accordion, but has also played piano in the Wurzels' past. Hailing from Penicuik, his Scottish accent remains but with a strong Somerset twang.

Pete Budd is the familiar front-man of the post-Cutler band. Budd originally joined the Wurzels as a banjo player in 1972, and his distinctive West Country vocals made him an obvious replacement lead singer after Cutler's death. He continues to sing, and play banjo and guitar for the band, including in his repertoire a Mark Knopfler-esque guitar lead on their modern version of "I Wish I Was Back On The Farm", originally made famous by George Formby.

John Morgan, also known as 'Amos', is the oldest drummer in the land according to fellow band members, hailing from the Forest of Dean  — prefers hot cocoa to cider and during 'live' gigs the claim is made that he is 79 years old.

Sedge Moore, born and bred in Somerset is the bass player.

Louie 'Gribble' Nicastro, latest member of the band, also the producer of the band's recent releases, plays keyboard.

Past members[edit]

Over the years many Wurzels have come and gone since Cutler first formed the group.

The original Wurzels line-up to accompany Cutler recorded their first album (Adge Cutler and the Wurzels) in 1966 and consisted of Brian Walker, Reg Quantrill, John Macey and Reg Chant. Brian Walker left in 1967, soon after the band's first album was released. Their next offering Adge Cutler and the Wurzels’ Family Album, was recorded with the remaining members  – Reg Quantrill, John Macey and Reg Chant. 1967 saw a year of several changes  – Reg Chant left the group, soon followed by John Macey. Their places were filled by Henry Davies and Tommy Banner.

The group's third album, Cutler of the West, was released in 1968 with a line-up featuring Cutler, Davies, Banner and Quantrill. Shortly afterwards they were joined by Melt Kingston for a short period, whilst Henry Davies went to work on other projects. Kingston left when Davies returned at the end of the year. Early in 1969, Davies left the group permanently and was replaced by Tony Baylis, in time for the band's fourth album release Carry On Cutler, the line-up now being Cutler, Banner, Baylis and Quantrill.

By 1974, Quantrill had been replaced by Pete Budd (born Peter Budd, 18 July 1940, Brislington, Bristol), but following the death of Cutler the Wurzels were left to continue on their own  – the future chart topping trio consisting of Banner, Budd and Baylis. The Wurzels obtained their first permanent drummer, John Morgan (born 21 April 1941, Lydney, Forest of Dean), in 1981 and the line-up then remained unchanged until Baylis left in 1983. Just before he left Jai Howe played with the group for a short period, with Terry Pascoe also augmenting the line-up.

Early in 1984, Howe and Pascoe left the band and were replaced by Mike Gwilliam. For the next nine years The Wurzels consisted of Budd, Banner, Morgan and Gwilliam. In 1995 Gwilliam left and was replaced by Dave Wintour. This remained the shape of the band until 2002, when Wintour was replaced by Howe (who had played with the band in the early 1980s).

A temporary change in line-up occurred in November 2005, when long-term Wurzel Tommy Banner had to step away from performing whilst undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. His place was taken on by the band's production and sound engineer, Louie Nicastro, until Banner's health was restored and he was able to return in 2006. The death of Howe in 2007 left the band one man down  — this led to Sedge Moore being recruited to give the current line-up of Budd, Banner, Morgan and Moore.

Singles discography[edit]

Adge Cutler & The Wurzels  — UK Singles[edit]

Title Year Label Reference number
"Drink Up Thy Zider" / "Twice Daily" 1966 Columbia DB8081
Scrumpy & Western EP 1967 Columbia SEG8525
"Champion Dung Spreader" / "When The Common Market Comes To Stanton Drew" 1967 Columbia DB8145
"I Wish I Was Back On The Farm" / "Easton-In-Gordano" 1967 Columbia DB8222
"All Over Mendip" / "My Threshing Machine" 1967 Columbia DB8277
"Don't Tell I, Tell 'Ee" / "Faggots Is The Stuff" 1968 Columbia DB8399
"Up The Clump" / "Aloha Severn Beach" 1968 Columbia DB8462
"Ferry To Glastonbury" / "Saturday Night At The Crown" 1969 Columbia DB8614
"Poor, Poor Farmer" / "Chitterling" 1971 Columbia DB8793
"Little Darlin'" / "Mother Nature Calling" 1972 CBS CBS8067
"Drink Up Thy Zider" / "Twice Daily" (reissue) 1974 Columbia DB9031
"Little Darlin'" / "Mother Nature Calling" (reissue) 1974 Santa Ponsa PNS20

The Wurzels — UK Singles[edit]

All released on 7” vinyl unless otherwise stated

Title Year Label Reference number/format
"Captain Of The Dredger" (Acetate — only one copy known to exist) 1975 EMI 7” acetate (Remains officially unreleased)
"The Combine Harvester" / "The Blackbird" 1976 EMI EMI2450
"I Am A Cider Drinker" / "Back Of My Old Car" 1976 EMI EMI2520
"Morning Glory" / "Rock Around The A38" 1976 EMI EMI2568
"Farmer Bill's Cowman" / "Springtime" 1977 EMI EMI2637
"Give Me England" / "Speedy Gonzales" 1977 EMI EMI2677
"One For The Bristol City" / "Cheddar Cheese" 1977 EMI EMI2686
"The Tractor Song" / "Funky Farmyard" 1978 EMI EMI2792
"I'll Never Get A Scrumpy Here" / "I Got My Beady Little Eye On Thee (Demo Only)" 1978 Columbia DB9051 7” vinyl — remains officially unreleased
"You Don't Get Drunk On Saturday" / "Don Juan Of The West(Demo Only)" 1980 Columbia DB9076 7” vinyl — remains officially unreleased
"Combine Harvester" / "I Am A Cider Drinker" 1980 HMV POP2017
"I Hate JR" / "I Love JR" 1980 John Miles JM1001
"I Shot JR" / "Albert's Funny Farm" 1980 John Miles JM1003
"If You Got Nothin' On Tonight" / "Little Drop Of Home Made Wine" 1980 John Miles JM1004
"Coughin' Song" / "Shovel It Here" 1982 John Miles JM1009
"Wurzel Rap" / "Wurzels In Stereo" 1983 Goldliner RAP1
"All Fall Down" / "My Somerset Crumpet Horn" 1986 Dingles SID238
"Sunny Weston-super-Mare" / "Sunny Weston-Super-Mare (Instrumental)" 1988 Far End FNS2
"Sunny Weston-super-Mare" / "All Fall Down" 1988  ? Cassette (private release)
I Want To Be An Eddie Stobart Driver (EP) 1995 LOOSE Records  ?
The Combine Harvester 2001 Remix (EP) 2001 EMI Gold 243 8 79448 2 4CD
Come On Santa! (EP) 2001 Recognition/Universal CDREC22 CD
Don't Look Back In Anger (EP) 2002 EMI Gold 7243 5 51508 2 0 CD
"Make Hay Not War (Demo only)" 2003 CD remains officially unreleased
Ferry To Glastonbury (EP)(Promo only) 2004 Cruisin Records CD remains officially unreleased
"Feed The Wurzels: Bristolian Band Aid" The Wurzels with Bush & Troy 2004 Bristol GWR FM CD
"Peter Crouch In Lederhosen"/Bush & Troy vs The Wurzels 2006 Bristol GWR FM CD
"Remember Me" / "I Am A Cider Drinker" (British Sea Power) 2006 Rough Trade RTRADS302 7” vinyl (limited to 1966 copies)
"Remember Me" / "I Am A Cider Drinker" (British Sea Power) 2006 Rough Trade Records CD (Promo copy only)
"I Am A Cider Drinker" (with Tony Blackburn) / "Ferry To Glastonbury" 2007 EMI Gold 0946 3 92653 2 9 7” vinyl (yellow)
"I Am A Cider Drinker" (with Tony Blackburn) / "Combine Harvester" 2007 EMI Gold 0946 3 92653 2 9 CD
"One For The Bristol City" / "Drink Up Thy Zider (live)" 2007 Absolute CIA004CD
"Ode To Adge Cutler" 2009 Internet Download only
"Ruby" 2010 Internet Download only
"Sleigh Ride" 2011 Internet Download only
"The Mendip Windfarm Song" 2014 CIA Download only

Albums discography[edit]

Adge Cutler & The Wurzels — UK Albums[edit]

Title Year Label Reference number
Adge Cutler & The Wurzels 1967
1974
Columbia
Columbia
SX6126 (mono) 12" Vinyl
SX6126 (stereo) 12" Vinyl
Adge Cutler & The Wurzels Family Album 1967
1974
Columbia
Columbia
SX6165 (mono) 12" Vinyl
SCX6165 (stereo) 12" Vinyl
Cutler Of The West 1968
1974
2003
Columbia
Columbia
EMI Gold
SX6263 (mono) 12" Vinyl
SCX6263 (stereo) 12" Vinyl
584 8072 CD
Carry On Cutler 1969
1969
Columbia
Columbia
SX6367 (mono) 12" Vinyl
SCX6367 (stereo) 12" Vinyl
Don't Tell I, Tell 'Ee 1972 EMI Starline SRS5119 12" Vinyl
The Very Best of Adge Cutler 1974 EMI EMC3191 12" Vinyl
Dont Tell I, Tell 'Ee 1978 Encore ONCR502 12" Vinyl
Adge Cutler's Cider Drinking Favourites 1980 EMI Notes NTS199 12" Vinyl
Vintage Cider 1980 EMI MFP50476 12" Vinyl

The Wurzels — UK Albums[edit]

Title Year Label Reference number and format
The Wurzels Are Scrumptious 1975 EMI One Up OU2087 12" Vinyl
The Combine Harvester 1976 EMI One Up OU2138 12" Vinyl
Golden Delicious 1977 EMI Notes NTS122 12" Vinyl
Give Me England 1977 EMI Notes NTS138 12" Vinyl
I'll Never Get A Scrumpy Here 1978 EMI Notes NTS160 12" Vinyl
The Wurzels Greatest Hits 1979 EMI Notes NTS190 12" Vinyl
I Am A Cider Drinker 1979 EMI Encore ONCR523 12" Vinyl
The Wurzels Freshly Cut 1983 Wurzel Records WR854675 12" Vinyl
The Wurzels 1988 EMI IDEAL IDL22 CD
The Wurzels AND Adge Cutler & The Wurzels 1991 EMI IDEAL IDL114 CD
Mendip Magic 'Live' 1995 AFS Television Cassette Tape
The Finest 'Arvest Of The Wurzels 2000 EMI Gold 5 27046 2 CD
The Wurzels Collection 2001 HMV Easy 5 32071 2 CD
The Finest 'Arvest Of The Wurzels 2001 EMI Gold 5 34401 2 CD
The Wurzels Live 2002 APR Media Centre 0700010230 CD
Never Mind The Bullocks, Ere's The Wurzels 2002 Cruisin' ZEN 00262 CD
A Taste Of The West 2004 CIA 001 CD
Top Of The Crops 2006 CIA 002 CD
The Wurzels Greatest Hits 2007 EMI Gold 3 93902 2 CD
A Load More Bullocks 2010 CIA CD and Internet Download
The Wurzels Christmas Album 2011 CIA CD and Internet Download

References in popular culture[edit]

West Country-born stand-up comedians Bill Bailey and Richard Herring occasionally refer to The Wurzels in their respective routines. In Bailey's Bewilderness show he mentions knowing them "when they were a German techno band, Die Würtzels — and then they sold out, went all oo-arr country", as well as performing a pastiche of "Combine Harvester" in the style of Chris de Burgh. In an appearance on BBC Two's Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Bailey stood and saluted a playing of the intro to "Combine Harvester". Castmembers sang "Combine Harvester" at the beginning of episode 2.4 of Ashes to Ashes, set in 1982. Bristol City use the tune "One for the Bristol City" by the Wurzels — a reworking of "One for the Morning Glory" as their run-out music at Ashton Gate, and the original version of "Drink Up Thy Zider" at the end of matches when they have won.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "1000 number ones: The Seventies". Music Week. 17 January 2005. 
  2. ^ "The Mangledwurzels". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Soanes, Catherine (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of English (revised edition). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861057-2. 
  4. ^ "The Wurzels". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Adge Cutler & The Wurzels". Scrumpy & Western. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Drink Up Thy Zider". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  7. ^ ""Drink Up Thy Zider" - Adge Cutler & The Wurzels". The Wurzels. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "The Wurzels". iTunes. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Fan pays tribute to Wurzel Adge". BBC. 2005. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  10. ^ "He's the star man". Western Daily Press. This is Bristol. 27 December 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  11. ^ "The Wurzels". Crucial Hosting. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  12. ^ Tyzack, Anna (20 August 2008). "Ooh-arr goes all ooh-la la". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  13. ^ "Wurzels, The – Never Mind The Bullock's Ere's The Wurzels". Discogs. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "The Wurzels". IMDB. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  15. ^ Ross, Deborah (7 October 2002). "Bill Bailey: The laid-back stand-up guy". The Independent. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  16. ^ Collier, Fliss (25 November 2005). "British Sea Power + The Wurzels". Metro. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  17. ^ "The Wurzels with Tony Blackburn I Am A Cider Drinker". Norman Records. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  18. ^ "Somerset - Entertainment and Leisure - Review: The Wurzels' Big Summer Party". BBC. 2006-06-17. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  19. ^ "UK | England | Somerset | Wurzels pull out of Glastonbury". BBC News. 2007-06-17. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  20. ^ "The 3 Lions and A Robin guide to Ashton Gate and the Wurzels". Bristol City Fan Club. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  21. ^ "Bristol City & the Wurzels". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  22. ^ "The Wurzels record new album for Glastonbury Festival". BBC. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  23. ^ "Wurzels announce new single - The Mendip Windfarm song". 6 May 2014. 

External links[edit]