Penny Peeps CD cover

The Penny Peeps (featuring Martin Barre) & The Noblemen

The Penny Peeps Meet The Noblemen

Everyone knows Martin Barre from his four decades as lead guitarist of Jethro Tull, but did you know what he did before Tull? After an early stint in The Moonrakers, Barre joined the soul group The Noblemen in late July 1966. The Noblemen became The Motivation in November 1966, and they backed lots of visiting US R&B acts as well as doing rock gigs of their own until December 1967. This is when they became The Penny Peep Show, which was shortened to The Penny Peeps.

The Penny Peeps issued two singles in 1968: “Little Man With A Stick”/ “Model Village” and “I See The Morning”/ “Curly, The Knight Of The Road.” Of these, “Model Village” has become a well-respected slice of psychedelic pop with Martin Barre’s guitar riffs and soloing front and center.

Besides these singles, The Penny Peeps cut many tracks written by their vocalist, Denny Alexander. Only three of these tracks still exist: “Meet Me At The Fair,” “Helen Doesn’t Care” and “Into My Life She Came.” These are included on this special release, and they have been carefully restored from the band’s original reference acetates.

Most Jethro Tull fans know that Martin Barre also plays flute, and an early example of his flute playing (along with his guitar) can be heard on “Into My Life She Came.” “Meet Me At The Fair” is another quality ’60s pop track, and “Helen Doesn’t Care” rocks just like their well-known “Model Village.” These tracks were released in 2007, but these masters are far superior.

The Penny Peeps became In The Garden Of Gethsemane before shortening their name to Gethsemane in August 1968. Sadly, there are no existing recordings of Gethsemane, but as we all know, Martin Barre joined Jethro Tull on Christmas Eve 1968 after doing his second audition for Ian Anderson. His legendary first audition was not successful, but Martin’s persistence paid off.

Also included are three tracks by The Noblemen before Martin Barre joined, and they are high quality covers of Rufus Thomas’ “Jump Back” (included in its full length and edited versions) and the Doc Pomus/ Phil Spector tune “Ecstasy.” These tracks have never been released.

Here is the track and personnel lineup:

The Penny Peeps (“Meet Me At The Fair,” “Helen Doesn’t Care” and “Into My Life She Came”):

Denny Alexander – vocals, sole songwriter for all three titles
Martin Barre – lead guitar, flute (on “Into My Life She Came”)
Bryan Stevens – bass, backing vocals
Mike Ketley – keyboards, backing vocals
Malcolm Tomlinson – drums, percussion

All three tracks recorded in early 1968 at Marquee Studios, London.

The Noblemen (“Jump Back” [both versions] and “Ecstasy”):

Chuck Fryers – lead guitar, lead vocals
Bryan Stevens – bass, backing vocals
Mike Ketley – keyboards, backing vocals
Jem Field – sax
Keith Gemmell – sax
Bernie Smith – drums

All three tracks recorded in late 1965 in London.

Hear Martin Barre before he joined Jethro Tull!


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