Help Yourself
The music of Help Yourself was never easily categorised. American-flavoured country-rock to begin with, albeit still somehow redolent of pastoral England, by their second and subsequent albums they were purveying some of the finest acid-drenched psych this side of the Mad River. Their four albums are highly respected, and distinctly collectable, to this day, and they rarely feature in second-hand catalogues without some additional epithet to their glory ("Fabulous, vastly underrated band" seems to be the most common style of address used). And yet, even if they were universally derided I'd still love them, because somehow Help Yourself had a knack of writing songs which seemed written especially for myself, that stayed in my head and played havoc with my heart. And if you don't already know that feeling for some band of your own favour, then it's no use me expanding on it.

Help Yourself's story is not a happy tale; indeed it's one of the most profoundly sad stories of missed opportunities and personal hang-ups ever related. Guitarist Richard Treece takes up the story.

"After a while playing with various Northern blues bands, I decided that London was the place to be. A couple of us moved to London in 1968 in the midst of the blues boom. We hung out at Elephant & Castle with Jo-Anne Kelly and the John Dummer band, trying to borrow their gear but failing to make the gigs due to the road manager's preference for chatting up girls in the Kings' Road.

"There followed a period of sleeping on the floor of students' flats and auditioning for Jethro Tull, Dock's Blues Band and so-on. After seeing a Blind Faith concert with my old friend Bonk, a bassist, we found a room in East Sheen with some college girls. Various failed auditions and doing some graphics work for ITV followed, and I finally rang up an ad for 'work in cosmetics - no experience necessary', thinking that I couldn't blow it, having already scraped the bottom of the barrel applying for a grave-digging job in Richmond and running as a 5 quid a week messenger boy.

Richard Treece
"I tried the impossible task of looking 'straight' and went along to Strand Cosmetics for the interview. The interview went surprisingly well and I wondered what was going on. Then this huge, maniacal figure in white overalls, beard and flowing mane looked in at the door. It was John Eichler, who thought I was some 'plot' that fellow worker Malcolm Morley had devised since I looked so strange. The opening line of conversation was 'what instrument do you play?', and it turned out that most people were hired either for 'musical ability' or 'strangeness'. Malcolm at the time was set on a solo career and was totally jaded with working in the factory. I was informed by a heroin addict that 'it's cool, man, this place is run by freaks and heads'... Malcolm and I didn't talk much, except for 'what bands do you like?' sort of conversations.

"John returned from holiday and said Eire Apparent had need of a guitarist. It turned out that John was living with Dave Robinson, ex-roadie for Hendrix and manager of Eire Apparent. They'd just returned from a Hendrix tour in the States and were in a state of disarray, living in a big house in Blackheath. I went for a jam along with Dave, John and Stephen Warwick of 'Famepushers'. Nothing much happened. I started going to John and Dave's place in Barnes a lot, and had a few unsuccessful attempts to play with Malcolm through my trusty old Vox that I carted around with me everywhere. Then there were some more visits to Eire Apparent's, and sessions with Malcolm, Davey Dutton, Chrissie Stewart and Mick Smith of 'Sam Apple Pie' - Dave Charles' band, and Malcolm's first session. Hendrix had given Mick Cox, the last guitar player, a Gibson Flying V, and it was a joy to jam on it with Ernie [Graham - ex-Eire Apparent] and Chrissie. Dave Charles suggested that Malcolm and I formed a duo, reckoning that it would go down a treat in the States.

Girl "After a while, Malcolm did an album with Sam Apple Pie and left the cosmetics factory, and I started spending time in psychedelic Oxford Gardens, in a flat shared by various Pink Fairies. Eventually I moved to the front room in Barnes, and got sacked from the factory after blowing up the pulveriser and fusing the lights. It was then that I remembered one of the brief conversations I'd had with Malcolm about doing a mural on the wall of his flat in Walthamstow, which I did, and we started playing some.

"I returned to Lincolnshire for a while, supposedly to join 'Monday Morning Glory Band' who were going pro and getting radio airplay. About that time 'Famepushers' was getting under way with Stephen Warwick, ex-Sam Apple Pie manager; Dave Robinson and Dot Burn-Forti who'd worked in the music business and in modelling. I went back to Walthamstow after decisions were made to start up 'Help Yourself' as a full band. Dave Charles had become disillusioned with Sam Apple Pie and was coming round to the flat with various records (including jazz), and was well into the idea of a new band.

"I visited my mother for Christmas and around January 6th (1970) they came to collect me after getting news that Famepushers were offering financial support. I met Paul Burton, also a Sam Apple Pie associate who was into the idea of 'roadying', Eventually we got a room upstairs at Malcolm's place and things began to move. Within a few weeks of our formation Paul spotted Ken Whaley leading out of his Portobello (Golborne Road) window. He recognised him from a band called 'Growth', who he'd been with for a few years. Ken had been doing Ded Zep-type auditions and was immediately into the idea of a 'different' kind of band, and sort of joined on the spot. We all automatically seemed to like each other and started rehearsing in Malcolm's basement. At one time my sister was going to join as second singer, but fortunately for her it didn't come to fruition."

It was January 1970, and Help Yourself were a band (of sorts), complete with a manager, a roadie, and an impressive array of gear: one Vox AC30 amplifier, a Framus 12 string guitar and a set of Broadway drums. Oh, and Richard's Stratocaster which they tried to persuade him to sell in order that they could eat. Richard takes up the story once again:

"The early days seemed magical, making tapes in the basement. Malcolm would start playing and singing and somehow we'd have a song. In March, Dave and John flew to New York on the Brinsley Schwarz Fillmore Venture. After a few false starts we did a couple of tracks at Olympic studios in Barnes ('Momma Touch The Earth' and 'Harleycorn House'). Dave Robinson managed to get us a joint contract with Ernie Graham and Brinsley Schwarz for seven years, I think it was, which for an unknown band who'd never played a gig was really something."

Quantities of Famepushers funds were being diverted towards hyping the Brinsleys, including that infamous hyping of the band in New York, which left the Helps without the new equipment they so desperately needed. In the Summer of 1970 John Eichler and Dave Robinson left Famepushers, taking their bands with them, and set up the management company Down Home Productions which contemporary publicity blurb described as 'A loose family of artists and creative people'. Headquarters were established in Headley Grange in Middlesex. Richard again:

"We started recording the first Help Yourself album around Christmas 1970 and Ernie Graham's solo album as well, although we were very naive. [Legend has it that Richard took his portable tape recorder, which he was using as an amplifier, with him; the engineer was quick to point out that ample recording facilities already existed...] Dave Robinson produced and somehow blended the whole thing together. On 'Your Eyes Are Looking Down' I played about 10 guitar tracks which he somehow weaved together - I'd never seen anything like it. We were also incredibly stoned all of the time and 'paranoia' would be an understatement; plus the fact that we had never played a gig!

"Somehow we got ourselves signed to NEMS and started gigging, often on the 'Downhome Rhythm Kings' package with the Brinsleys, Ernie Graham and various combinations of all three which at time must have been a nightmare for Dave Robinson who was doing most of the mixing..."

That first Help Yourself album (imaginatively entitled 'Help Yourself'), released on the United Artists' subsidiary Liberty label in 1971, gives few indications of the scorchingly melodic acid-guitar rock that was to follow. Indeed it is somewhat whimsical and country-oriented, and comparisons with Buffalo Springfield were unavoidable. Hesitant, and yet with a charming simplicity that makes it one of the most brilliantly uncontrived works of its kind. A single was released, coupling 'Paper Leaves' with 'To Katherine They Fell', the latter song in particular representing Morley's songwriting skills and Treece's eerie guitar work particularly well. It didn't do particularly well however, needless to say, although the album was successful enough to allow the band to buy themselves some equipment and set out on the road.

A package tour was set up by United Artists, called the All Good Clean Fun tour. A double LP set was put out to commemorate the event the following year. Help Yourself met the Man band on the tour, and so began a relationship that was to continue throughout the band's respective careers (the story is documented by Deke Leonard on the sleeve of Man's 'Winos Rhinos & Lunatics' LP and in his 1997 book of the same name published by Northdown Publishing)

1971 also saw the temporary loss of Help Yourself bassist Ken Whaley, the post being filled by roadie Paul Burton who you may or may not remember from several paragraphs ago. The sacking of Ken is a sad tale that is probably best glossed over; indeed the whole period leading up to the release of their second album in 1972 is a morass of legal entanglements and tales of woe. The recording of the second album, 'Strange Affair', was moved part way through from Olympic Studios to Man's home territory, Rockfield, with Man's engineer Anton Matthews taking a share in the production. 'Strange Affair' contains the Helps' first long-winded psychedelic recording, the sublime 'All Electric Fur Trapper' (complete with supporting sleeve notes by Sean Tyla, a Helps roadie at the time). The only non-Morley-penned number on the album is Ernie Graham's 'Movie Star', which fits seamlessly well with the rest of the material to make for a finely balanced and yet curious album.

The Helps continued to gig sporadically - including an appearance at the 1972 Glastonbury Festival - sometimes with erstwhile Man-guitarist Deke Leonard sitting in for Malcolm Morley who's "feeble frame wasn't up to being vibrated to pieces in an old van around the globe". according to Leonard. Malcolm Morley: "It came about because I lost my nerve and couldn't face the music. The 'Black Abyss' loomed. We cancelled a gig in France after a concerted effort by Dave Charles had failed to snap me out of it. 'But why don't you want to do it?' he kept repeating in amazed tones. 'I don't know', I mumbled. Dave was very disappointed with me, and thereafter never viewed me in quite the same light. As luck would have it Deke Leonard lived with us in the house we rented in East Finchley (despite several attempts by me to put up his rent). Deke boldly stepped in, penning such unforgettable tunes as 'Eddie Waring' and 'Frank Bough' [celebrated sports commentators]. With these pungent statements I believe he reached the pinnacle of his creative powers. Could Sting, for instance, have the imagination to write the definitive Desmond Lynham or John Motson song? I think not. Deke remained until I had somewhat recovered my senses and he was ready to launch himself and Iceberg on an unsuspecting public..."

Malcolm Morley
The 'Hampshire Border Raiders' (as they were winningly dubbed by Leonard) also appear alongside the rest of the Man band on Deke's solo 'Iceberg' elpee, recorded during 1972. 1972 was in fact to be Help Yourself's busiest, and in some ways most successful, year. A further album, 'Beware The Shadow', was recorded at Rockfield and later mixed back at Olympic. Malcolm Morley remembers that the whole thing was done in three or four all-night sessions, after which they came straight out and went to Holland to do some gigs. "It was good, I wish we'd had a bit more of that sort of pace!". John Eichler meanwhile had had a couple of trips to the States trying to raise funds and interest in the band, whilst having hair-raising experiences with coke-crazed record company executives and meeting Tina Turner. Richard Treece:

"Going to Olympic was always a joy. Apart from the heritage of the Stones, Hendrix, Beatles etc, we'd occasionally get to meet legendary figures. Steve Stills stumbled through (I think he'd had a polo accident), noted the Fender pro-verbs we were using on the 1st album and said, 'that's the way, boys'. Record it nice 'n' low...' - we then discovered that his method was to sit in the control room, guitar injected into banks of loud amps.) Steve Marriott came into a mixing session and was complimentary and good-vibey; and Pete Townsend came into the 'She's My Girl' mixing session, enthused about the track and commented that 'it leaves you wanting more'".

A second single was released at the end of the year - a superb pastiche of Christmas singles written by Neil Innes/Roger McGough called 'Mommy Won't Be Home For Christmas', backed with a live version of Johnny B. Goode by Sean Tyla and the Helps (calling themsleves 'Space Truck & The Freight Yard Marshalls') taken from a BBC radio 'Sounds Of The Seventies' broadcast which also featured an unrecorded gem by the Helps entitled 'Halfbreed'. The year was rounded off by an appearance at Man's Christmas party at the Patti Pavilion in Swansea on December 19th. A ten-inch double album was released to commemorate the event; Help Yourself are joined onstage by Deke Leonard and pedal-steel guitarist B.J. Cole for a loose jam based around Deke's 'Eddie Waring', which displays the four individual guitar styles at work to great advantage. The band also did a one-off gig in Berlin, performing a set of Deke's songs with Plum Hollis of The Jets on vocals.

Treece recalls another memorable gig. "The United Artists 'Save Hartlepool Football Club' weekend was particularly wacky. Andrew Lauder and Richard Ogden were Hartlepudlians and devised this plan to have a benefit football match - football personalities versus musicians, who included some Fortunes, a Vanity Fair, J. Vincent Edwards from 'Hair', an Ivy League, Richard Williams, Mick Watts, Roy Hollingworth, Ed Welch, Brian Keith (of Plastic Penny) and Sean Tyla. It was an outrageous match. Things were going badly for the musos and at half-time someone slipped Sean a Dex. With his new super-powers Sean was soon in control of the ball. We were all cheering as he was breaking through the opposition's defences when he spun round, changed direction, raced back down the field and kicked the ball into the musician's goal. Needless to say, they lost. Then there was the gig. Man, Groundhogs, Allan Taylor, Colin Scott and us. Man did a powerful set, were well into it and running overtime. Tony McPhee was standing behind the stage furiously shooting a starting pistol and shouting for them to stop... Following the gig was the premiere of Zappa's '200 Motels' and a reception with tables of food laid out. All of a sudden the place erupted into a big cake-throwing fight, from which I beat a hasty retreat back to the hotel. On our return to Hampshire we found there was a new addition to the family, in the person of baby Deke Eichler."

Helps #3
'Beware The Shadow' marked something of a new direction for Help Yourself. Reverting to four musicians (Morley, Treece, Charles and Burton), the only extra name was the ubiquitous Sean Tyla who collaborated on the superb, West Coast acid-tinged 'American Mother'. Other songs include a near-perfect melodic 'pop' song called 'She's My Girl' which would have made a killer single, and on the other side of the coin the amazing 'Reaffirmation' which takes up most of Side One, a piece which chugs along at a gentle pace with Morley's pseudo-American accent more pronounced than ever until suddenly the twin guitars wind up into one of the most melodic frenzies ever set into wax. Dave Charles' machine-gun precise drumming is as neat as ever throughout, and Paul Burton's bass achieves its finest and final moment - by the time the follow up was being recorded in February 1973, Ken Whaley had returned to the fold and Help Yourself were back to their original line-up. Richard:

Ken Whaley "It was pretty much the consensus of opinion that 'Happy Days' was the thing we all wanted to do, and everyone was buzzing with enthusiasm and ideas. All except Paul that is, who felt he couldn't put his heart into the proposed theatrical vision and would have preferred to keep to the straight rock-band format. For some time we'd been wondering, what was all that thing with Ken? He's brilliant! So when Paul joined Deke in 'Iceberg' full time, Ken, spurred on a little by Deke Leonard who recognised his talent, immediately agreed to come back. He left Ducks Deluxe and moved into Finchley. John asked me if I had any ideas for an album title, and being into Westerns I suggested 'The Return of Ken Whaley'. I was surprised it was used - although it's pretty much to the point I suppose."

Originally released on UA as part of a two-LP 'boxed' set in a bespoke card sleeve, 'The Return Of Ken Whaley' was accompanied by the manic 'Happy Days' (catalogue number FREE 1) on which the newly-dubbed 'East Finchley Raiders' were augmented for the duration by the Flying Aces - Man's bassplayer Martin Ace and his wife George - and the lunatic Vivian Morris, best known for his giant Rizla packets and onstage antics. A tour was set up around the whole Happy Days circus, a kind of vaudeville variety act which also included Roger Ruskin-Spear of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (the Helps also appear on his LP 'Unusual' on United Artists).

"I think 'Happy Days' foxed a few people" says Richard, "It was very difficult to pin the show down. Our set included playing and acting along to the 'It Has To Be' backing track - Malcolm danced around with a jewel in his forehead - and at one point John got stuck in his rabbit suit which made him furious. I remember Stacia had also expressed an interest in appearing, it was mentioned in a paper and some very eager but rough fans turned up one night to see her. It ended with this terrible vision of Munch, who travelled with us, mincing across the stage in make-up and a skirt. I don't really think it satisfied the fans. [Munch went on to join Tenpole Tudor!] 'Happy Days' was the most gigs we ever played in a row. We had a huge roadie-cum-tour-manager named Big Bob, who had been an uncomplicated small-gig promoter, totally frustrated at us always being a different line-up - he soon became very complicated and went off to India after mass exposure to 'Happy Days' and a set of Martin and George's songs. We also met up again with Wolfgang, the German film-maker who had made a documentary about us and was, I think, involved with linking the gig up with a simultaneous radio broadcast."

Despite the disposable, fun nature of the album, 'Happy Days' contains a couple of highlights in another of Morley's near-perfect pop songs - 'Jesus What Are Little Kids For' - and 'My Friend', which captures some of Treece's very best guitar playing for a few brief glorious moments on Side 2. There were more than a few glorious moments on its companion LP 'The Return Of Ken Whaley', however. Firmly enshrined amongst my own personal ten favourite records of all time, I can think of few other bands who could begin to approach the nightmarish power of songs such as 'Candy Kane' or the ten-minute free-festival workout 'It Has To Be', set them alongside one another and also include some great keyboard work, guitar playing and songwriting skills all on the same album. 'Pioneers of the West in the Head' they truly were.

Malcolm Morley fondly recounts how 'It Has To Be' came to be recorded: "We had already completed most of the tracks for the album when John Eichler informed me that there wasn't enough material to fill the album. We needed at least another song, possibly two. I told him I didn't have any more songs but he said, 'well, we've got to get it finished, I've booked some more time in Olympic Studios. So we'll just go in and do something.' 'Right', I said.

"So the day of reckoning arrived and we all decided (with the exception of Dave Charles) to take LSD in order to spice things up a little. We trooped into the studio, the equipment was already miked up so we started plunking away on our guitars. The music was meandering along after a fashion whilst I stood there wondering what the hell we were doing, when all of a sudden there was a shout from the control room, 'That's it - you can stop now - come in and listen to this!' So we stopped and went in. I'm standing there whacked out of my brains on acid as this sound, somewhat reminiscent of a Pterodactyl on a bicycling holiday, rumbles out of the monitor speakers. I said to Anton the engineer, 'Is that us? We didn't play that, did we?' Anton had taken acid as well (for the first time in his life, as it happens) and he was hunched over the desk maniacally fiddling with the controls. I tried again.

Dave Charles
"'So, that's us is it?' No answer. Anton appeared to be speaking in numbers. I persevered.

"'We've been out there (pointing at the studio floor), and this is what we played (pointed to the monitor speakers)'.

'Yes, yes, I think we should commit it to tape.' This he said with some degree of agitation.

"'What?' I said. 'I think we should commit it to tape' he repeated.

"This 'commiting it to tape' turned out to be a technical term which I eventually came to grasp but which I've subsequently forgotten. At the time, however, it suggested to my addled grey cells that what we were hearing wasn't on tape at all. In which case, where was it? I remember looking through the window on to the floor of the studio to make sure we weren't still out there playing the bloody thing. I then looked at Anton.

"'I don't get it....', I said.

"'I think we should commit it to tape', came the reply.

"I wondered if this was the only thing Anon was ever going to say again, he was either smiling at me or gritting his teeth and I couldn't be sure which; everybody was looking at me so I decided it was time to pretend I understood what was going on.

"'Okay, let's do that then.'

"John attempted to come to my rescue and lead me very gently to a seat to explain the technicalities, but I sensed he was on somewhat unsteady ground himself and I suspected he was merely humouring me. So I went out for a hamburger and a couple of Valium and stared at the sports page of the Daily Express for a bit. When I came back, Anton was looking a little flushed. 'Do you want a couple of these?' I asked, offering him several yellow pills. 'What are they?' he asked, eyeing them suspiciously - 'Valium' - 'Yes, I think I will. I'll have them all', he said.

"You can hear the results for yourselves. I think I added some piano towards the end of the track, and Dave Charles made some marvellous experimentations with the synthesiser (a new and exciting device in those times), and that was it. The title 'It Has To Be', incidentally, was thought up by John Eichler's father."

Critically acclaimed, the album nevertheless sold far less than was expected. Morley had by now sunken into one of his periodic morasses of self-doubt, and as disillusionment spread through the band outside interests began to attract their attention.

Morley recalls, "I know I felt very disappointed after the Happy Days tour. We'd put a tremendous amount of work into that and all thoroughly enjoyed it. We all felt a sudden kind of loss when it finished. Andrew Lauder thought the band was starting to sound really good by then, and wanted to push us. They didn't want to put any more money into 'Happy Days' though, so we went back to doing 'straight' gigs - but it all felt very flat somehow."

Treece: "We called it a day amid some rumour of touring with Jefferson Airplane. It was quite an adjustment to make the downward energy curve after 'Happy Days' - I was incredibly happy when I was asked to join the Splendid Humans a few months later."

Help Yourself had one last attempt to record an album. In November 1973 they went into Chipping Norton studios in Oxfordshire and demo'd six new songs, including a couple which later got reworked for an aborted Malcolm Morley solo album - 'Martha, 'Honey Please', 'Miss Grace' and 'Willow' are all in a similar mould to 'Beware The Shadow' era material, superb melodies with the guitar almost weeping in the background as it weaves in and out of the keyboard work and the sublime harmonies giving each song Help Yourself's own distinctive signature (for those of you familiar with the tapes, it was Deke Leonard and not Richard Treece that supplied the gorgeous guitar part on 'Honey Please' incidentally). Another song intended for the album was a survivor from earlier sessions, shortly after 'The Return of Ken Whaley' was recorded; the fabulous (if oddly titled) 'Eating Duneburgers' which took the band to new heights of psychedelic exploration - and features a Treece guitar solo which still sends shivers up my extremities to this day. Sean Tyla contributed keyboards to the song. It was to be a fitting, if secret, epitaph; the tapes never saw the light of day, and shortly afterwards the band broke up.

Malcolm Morley:"We hadn't sold many copies of the Ken Whaley album and I couldn't really see the point of doing another one if it wasn't going to sell. I didn't really have many songs finished, just some half-formed ideas. I just got fed up with the whole thing, so we decided to knock it on the head. We weren't getting the gigs, nobody wanted to re-book us because we weren't pulling in the crowds and so it all came to a natural conclusion in a way. The funny thing was, a year or so later we got together again for a one-off benefit concert put together by Pete Frame of Zig Zag magazine. It starred Mike Nesmith and took place at the Roundhouse. The place was completely packed - and most of them seemed to have come to see us. At the end of the set I had to go back on and say look, we can't do any more because Mike Nesmith's waiting to come on. I remember feeling so frustrated, thinking to myself 'where were you all when the band was still going?'"

Richard Treece recalls, "When the band had broken up and things were in disarray, most of us were still living in Finchley and we found ourselves flogging off bits of group gear to survive. Sean Tyla stepped in again and either through a sentimental fondness or a desire to help out purchased a few items. He bought my Strat and immediately the bridge broke. He bought my twin reverb and the speakers blew. He bought the Transit and the engine fell out, I think."

Malcolm Morley joined a band called Bees Make Honey for about six months, doing more gigs in that period than Help Yourself had in their entire four year career and thoroughly enjoying himself too. "I was getting six quid a night, so for the first time I was rich. I thought it was terrific - we just didn't do enough gigs in the Helps, not enough people liked us until after we had disbanded."

Malcolm Morley and Ken Whaley, almost inevitably, then joined Man on a more permanent basis, recording the LP 'Winos, Rhinos and Lunatics' with the band. Malcolm remembers that he was reluctant to leave Bees Make Honey because he was having such a good time, but he couldn't turn down the offer to join Man and besides, "they had an American tour lined up, which had been a dream for a long time. And it was a great tour - I can't remember much of it, but it was good fun!" Richard Treece eventually joined Man-band exiles Phil Ryan and Will Youatt in the Neutrons (after a brief spell in the unrecorded Splendid Humans); Sean Tyla went on to form the Tyla Gang, which both Richard and Ken played with at various times. Dave Charles threw himself into session work and engineering/production, and was a long-time member of Dave Edmunds' band as well as playing with such people as Carl Perkins, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Dion and Steve Cropper (to name but a few.) In 1976 Malcolm Morley finally recorded his solo album, backed by various members of Plummet Airlines who he'd been working with sporadically (they did a tour of Holland together, Malcolm playing piano), in Foel Studios and produced by erstwhile Brinsley Ian Gomm. "Oddly enough, it was Dot Burn-Forti who again gave me the opportunity, she'd married a chap who had this studio and they gave me the time to record. Ian Gomm was the engineer there. I gave the tapes to Barry Marshall, but he didn't have any luck trying to sell them."

Helps # 2 Malcolm Morley's last recorded excursion was some studio tracks and a TV appearance for Kirsty McColl in 1981. After a hiatus of several years however, he has been playing live once again recently, a regular Friday and Saturday night solo spot at a French restaurant called Le Chandon in London's Blackheath Village. Richard and Ken also have a band, The Archers (recently renamed The Green Ray, with an album out on Father Yod in the USA), which has gigged sporadically in pubs and small clubs around London.The band is developing a small but eager following of fans, many of whom know little of their past glories. And that's perhaps just as it should be.

Whatever happens, Malcolm Morley, Richard Treece, Ken Whaley, Dave Charles and the various other people who passed through the ranks of Help Yourself in their all too-short lifespan will never be forgotten. Or at least, not if I have anything to do with it. I really loved that band, and if this article serves to turn on even a couple of new listeners to their timeless albums then this'll all have been worthwhile.

By Phil McMullen. Originally written and published in 1991, revised and updated November 1997.

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