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Show Your Hand

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Album Review

Show Your Hand was where it all began for the Average White Band, which turned out to be one of the hottest funk/soul outfits of the mid- to late '70s. But when MCA released this debut LP in 1973, the band's commercial success was still a year away — it wasn't until they joined the Atlantic roster in 1974 that they exploded commercially. Show Your Hand, in fact, was among 1973's neglected R&B releases. In retrospect, it's easy to point the finger at MCA and say, "You dropped the ball; this album should have done better." Atlantic successfully broke AWB in 1974, so why weren't MCA's promotions and marketing people able to accomplish that the previous year? But in all fairness to MCA, breaking AWB was a challenge — imagine trying to convince '70s soul stations that a white band from Scotland played first-class funk and soul. Back in 1973, a lot of program directors at R&B stations probably took one look at this LP and assumed that AWB was a rock band; it took Atlantic to convince those programmers that the name Average White Band was meant to be ironic. Of course, anyone who gave Show Your Hand a serious listen in 1973 realized that AWB certainly wasn't typical of the era's long-haired white bands — stylistically, they inspired comparisons to the Isley Brothers and Tower of Power, not Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, or Mahogany Rush. Whether AWB is turning up the funk on "T.L.C." or chilling out on the smooth soul of "Twilight Zone," there is no getting around the fact that Show Your Hand is very much an R&B album. Show Your Hand (which MCA reissued as Put It Where You Want It in 1975) never became as well-known as AWB's subsequent recordings for Atlantic, but that doesn't make it any less impressive a debut for Hamish Stuart and his colleagues.

Biography

Formed: 1972 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Their self-effacing name to the contrary, Average White Band was anything but — one of the few white groups to cross the color line and achieve success and credibility playing funk, with their tight, fiery sound also belying their Scottish heritage, evoking American R&B hotbeds like Detroit, Memphis, and Philadelphia instead. Singer/bassist Alan Gorrie, guitarists Hamish Stuart and Onnie McIntyre, tenor saxophonist Malcolm Duncan, keyboardist/saxophonist Roger Ball, and drummer Robbie McIntosh...
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Show Your Hand, Average White Band
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