This playlist presents an annotated, audio history of Huey Lewis and the News (and also helps to fulfill my [most likely] unhealthy obsession with the band). Originally called Huey Lewis and the American Express (until the credit card company determined otherwise), the 5 original members were drawn from 2 different Bay Area bands active in the 1970's.
From Soundhole came bassist Mario Cipollina, saxist Johnny Colla, and drummer Bill Gibson. Huey himself sang (although not the lead singer) and played harmonica for Clover, which also featured Sean Hopper on keyboards. And before they joined forces and consciously decided to pursue a more commercial sound (Huey admits as much in the interview contained here), both bands rocked.
The songs below are presented chronologically, starting with Soundhole acting as a backing band for Van Morrison. After becoming friends while Van the Man was living in San Francisco, the group helped him overcome his stage fright and put on a killer show at the Orphanage in 1974. Some of his most popular songs are included here, so you can hear the unique flourishes and overall consistency they provided. Johnny Colla on sax especially shines.
Selections from both a Soundhole set later that year and a Clover set from 1975 display both band's propensity for funk. Clover also incorporated SF-psychedelia and country into their set, making it, in the words of Huey himself, a sort of "funky barn dance." "Chicken Funk" provides an early glimpse into Lewis' ability to work crowds, and "Chicken Butt" showcases his skill on the harmonica.
A few years after that show, Clover moved to England to become involved with the British pub rock scene, eventually ending up as the backing band on Elvis Costello's first album, 'My Aim is True.' Although there is nothing in the Vault capturing that relationship on tape, two songs from the album are included here.
Next, you can hear how it all ended up with the slicked-back sound of Huey Lewis and the News, record