The Average White Band was a jazz-funk band from Scotland. Their musical style differed from the other contemporary funk acts by using traditional Scottish folk instruments, such as bagpipes and various forms of drums. The group started in 1972 as a supporting act for Black Sabbath, after which their first album, Show Your Hand, was released in 1973. The band’s most successful album, AWB (first released in 1974), is the sixth highest-selling album of all time in the UK. Their biggest hits were one of their earliest songs, “Pick Up the Pieces,” and a medley of three cover versions: “Cut the Cake”/”Let’s Go Round Again”/”No Matter What.” “Pick Up the Pieces” was influenced by Steely Dan. The band broke up in 1983 as the members took solo projects but reunited with original members in 1989, aside from Alan Gorrie, who had retired to spend more time on his farm in Scotland. A New York City stop on their 1989 tour was one of many highlights in the band’s career; they also appeared at Woodstock ’94 and toured with Eric Clapton. The band is still active today, touring the world.
10. When Will You Be Mine (1979)
This song is the first track on, and it could be their best live album of all time. The band was at its peak during this era. This song starts with a typical rock riff but then borrows an old-timey bagpipe melody, which makes the song unique. It adds character to AWB, who seemed like they couldn’t sing love songs without somehow serenading god in them. It’s very upfront about being the love song it is, but there’s also a sense of “Don’t think you can hurt me, I’ve been through this before.”
9. The Jugglers (1973)
This song was written for Alan Gorrie’s son when he started school. It sounds like it would be on one of those Disney kids records if Emma or Daniel Tiger were singing it. But for adults, this song is an adorable children’s lullaby about how his son is growing up, which all parents can relate to. It’s an innocent but moving song with lots of love for his son in it, which makes it a welcome addition to any Average White Band playlist.
8. Person to Person (1974)
The title track on their fourth album is just as funky as anything you’d hear by James Brown or Sly and the Family Stone during that era despite being released two years earlier than those records. This is just one of the most groovy songs ever written about communication between people, especially lovers who are separated from each other too often. After having a fight with his wife over something trivial, Gorrie wrote this song, so they credit it as so great because they still loved each other at the time.
7. Let’s Go Round Again!! (1980)
‘Let’s Go Round Again’ hit was number 12 in the UK chart and 1 in the Japanese Chart. It was a medley of three cover songs: “Cut the Cake”/”Let’s Go Round Again”/”No Matter What.” It’s a funky party jam with excellent vocals, and it has a sick guitar solo by David Lindup. Interestingly, this was released as a single without the names of the songwriters listed on the label – which is why you’ll hear some people refer to this as an anonymous hit. The writers were Allen Toussaint, Roger Ball, and Mick Jackson.
6. If I Ever Lose This Heaven (1975)
“If I Ever Lose This Heaven” was released from their second album, AWB. It became very popular stateside but didn’t make it to number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 until February 5th, 1976. It’s one of those songs that are easy to sing along with, which is why people love it so much. The music video begins with Alan Gorrie dressed up like a clown playing his bass while balloons float around him – pretty silly stuff.
5. Queen Of My Soul (1976)
This song was written by David Lindup, inspired by his wife, who he thought fell in love too easily. It samples lyrics from “Queen of my Soul” and “Sailin’ On,” with a few other sections there’s not enough room to talk about. The song opens with Gorrie slowly singing the words with no drums or guitar, which sets for a moody vibe at first but quickly becomes more upbeat once the beat starts. This is a classic love song worth adding to any playlist.
4. Work To Do (1974)
“Work to Do” was written by Allen Toussaint, who produced this album and even sang on it occasionally. It has that same funkiness that Sly and the Family Stone had except slower-paced and sung in a more traditional R&B style. The guitar sounds great, but it’s also so catchy that everyone will enjoy this song after just one listen.
3. A Love Of Your Own (1976)
This is one of the most soulful songs that Average White Band has written, and it’s very honest about being sad that Gorrie can’t be with his lover right now because she doesn’t love him back yet. It opens with some piano work by David Lindup before building into a more powerful ballad where Alan Gorrie sings inspiring words as if he’s trying to convince someone not to give up on love despite how hard things might seem at the time. “It’s all you’ve got,” he sings, which makes it sound like he means it.
2. Cut The Cake (1975)
As a big fan of funk and soul music, I love AWB’s variety on every album they ever released. They have slow jams, pop songs, disco, jazz… everything from rock to country as well, so there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy no matter what your tastes are like. “Cut The Cake” was their biggest hit which is why most people know it today, but many folks forget about this song even though both have been played on the radio quite a bit over time. It opens with a very jazzy section before going into a funky jam that sounds just as good today as it did when it first came out in the mid-’70s.
1. Pick Up The Pieces (1974)
This was their first big hit in America, which led them touring more over there than they ever did here in the UK – even though they were more successful on this side of the ocean. The song is about being told that Gorrie is too young to know everything, but he disagrees with that notion because he feels like his love for someone has lasted longer than most relationships do. It’s also one of the most well-known songs that Average White Band ever wrote, which is another reason why it deserves to be on this list.
If you’re not familiar with them yet, you should consider checking out their studio albums and live recordings because every song they did was great. Even their covers of existing songs are worth listening to because they bring something unique to the table that makes it sound like a brand new song when you’re done.