(c’70-’77) Pat Martin (bass / vocals), Ken Baker (guitar / keyboards/ vocals), Pete Perryer (vocals / drums) and Trevor Mee (guitar / vocals)

Unicorn, against the wall of Pat Martin’s father’s house in Heath Drive, Send. Source: Pat Martin via Unicorn – The English Band

As The Late they recorded several acetates, demos and private recordings, some recorded in Bob Potters studio in Mytchett, Surrey on the Ampex 4 and many are now included on Wooden Hill Records compilation “Songs From The Family Tree” [WHCD021]. A demo was cut and the Transatlantic label offered a one album deal and “Uphill all the Way” was released in May ’71, along with the “P.F Sloan” single, under the band’s new name, Unicorn. Shortly before the release they opened for Lindesfarne at the Royal Festival Hall, London (May 10) and toured with Stefan Grossman in late May, including a gig at the Civic Hall, Guildford and appearing on his “Wow” album.

Cover of “Uphill all the Way” album. Picture courtesy of Ben’s Collector’s Records

Mee left in ’72, some time after his child was born in May, the year they supported Blackfoot Sue at the Civic, and was replaced by Kevin Smith (ex-Working). Arisdon Records licensed the Transatlantic catalogue in Italy and invited Unicorn to play at the Venice Song Festival, which was broadcast live across Europe. A brief tour of Italy, then Sweden and many tours in the Netherlands followed. It led to a Dutch T.V. show supporting the Flying Burrito Brothers. In early ’73 they played at the wedding reception of Transatlatic labels record plugger, Ricky Hopper at which David Gilmour was a guest and who got on stage with them; leading to the first of many visits to his studio in Essex.

Unicorn in studio with Dave Gilmour. Photograph by Dave Williamson courtesy of Pat Martin

Unicorn signed with Pink Floyd’s manager Steve O’Rouke’s EMKA organization as a result and Ricky Hopper (who later discovered Kate Bush) became their tour manager, recording the “Blue Pine Trees” and part of the “Too Many Crooks” albums at Olympic Studios, Barnes and mixing at George Martins’ Air Studios, London. O’Rourke cut deals with Charisma Records in the U.K, Capitol Records in the U.S. and EMI International for the rest of the world. A third album “One More Tomorrow” was produced again by Gilmour, with another four tracks produced by Muff Winwood.

A tour of the US was also organized and Norman Whapshott and Frank Windsor became the bands permanent roadies. August ’74 saw Unicorn release the Gilmour produced single “Ooh Mother”, on Charisma. In November that year they hit the US to find “Blue Pine Trees” at #1 in the F.M. Action (airplay) chart and played their first US gig at the Whiskey a Go Go supported by Patti Smith, then three consecutive nights in Salt Lake City, Bozeman and Missoula supporting Fleetwood Mac. Other gigs on the tours saw then on the bill with Manfred Mann’s Earthband, Climax Chicago Blues Band, Camel, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel (at the Cellar Door Club,Washington DC), Linda Ronstadt and Styx.

1975 was spent recording “Too Many Crooks” (released in the US as “Unicorn 2”) which included “No Way Out of Here”; later recorded by Gilmour for his solo album. In March ’76 the band released the “Disco Dancer” 7″ single and supported Hawkwind on a short seven date UK tour. By ’77 they had played nearly every university and supported 10CC, Chapman Whitney, Linda Lewis, Nils Lofgren, Steeleye Span, Ox, Slim Chance, and The Groundhogs. Their final album, “One More Tomorrow” was also released that year. In June ’77 the band undertook a short UK Tour to mark the release of “Too Many Crooks Tour” with Dr. Hook; but shortly after the bands farewell and very last gig, in mid 77, was at the Music Machine, Camden.

From ’73 to ’77 Norman Whapshott, Martin’s oldest school buddy was sound engineer and head road manager with Unicorn, he also went to secondary school with Baker and Perryer. In 2002 a collection of tracks recorded across ’77 and ’78 was released as “Shed No Tear, The Shed Studio Sessions” on the Mad Dog Records label [MDR 1001]. Tracks 1-14 were recorded in 1977/78. Six bonus tracks (numbers 15-20 on the album) were respectively from a demo recorded at David Gilmour’s home studio in Oxfordshire, c.’79/’80; a demo cassette recorded at Easy Street Studio, London, c.,77; an outtake from “Blue Pine Trees”; an outtake from “Too Many Crooks”; recorded for the BBC’s Bob Harris show c.’74/’75; and the b-side of the “Ooh Mother” from ’74. Two Unicorn tracks were included on the 2007 compilation “Goodbye Nashville Hello Camden Town – A Pub Rock Anthology’ on Castle Music [CMEDD1451] label.

Pat Martin & Pete Perryer played bass and drums on Kate Bush’s first recording session at David Gilmour’s home studio before she was signed to EMI. Years later she used one of the tracks ‘Passing Through Air’ as the b-side to her big hit ‘Army Dreamers’ and sent them both a session fee as they had done it for free to help her out. When Unicorn split in ’77, The Volunteers were formed with the addition of guitarist / song writer Rob Jacob. The David Gilmour produced albums Blue Pine Trees, Too Many Crooks & One More Tomorrow were remastered in ’17 and released, with lots of bonus tracks, on Esoteric Recordings part of Cherry Red Records. An album of all the demos recorded at David Gilmour’s home studio was released in December ’18 on CD, vinyl and hi res download by Omnivore Recordings.

In ’19, Unicorn appear on disc one of the 3 CD box set “Across The Great Divide Getting It Together In The Country 1968-74”, and page 11 of the accompanying booklet, on Grapefruit Records [CRSEGBOX061]. Unicorn’s “Going Back Home” was included on Disc 1 of the 3 Disc “Peephole In My Brain – The British Progressive Pop Sounds Of 1971” compilation released by Cherry Red [CRSEG076T] on 21 August ’20. In ’21 Esoteric Recordings released a new 4 CD clamshell boxed set that gathered together three albums and an additional disc of previously unreleased archive material titled “Unicorn: “Slow Dancing – The Recordings 1974 – 1979”.

Do check out the ‘Unicorn The English Band’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1389777017926471/

Pat Martin still lives locally, in Shalford, and plays in the Tamla Tigers amongst others; Ken Baker is also still local and still song writing. Pete Perryer unfortunately passed away in 2005.