British prog rock act Skin Alley were a farsighted collaboration between Thomas Crimble (keyboards/bass/vocals), Alvin Pope (drums), Krzysztof Henryk Justkiewicz (keyboards), and Bob James (sax/guitar). Formed in the late '60s, they made inroads quickly and found themselves signed to CBS for their self-titled debut in 1969. That album, and its 1970 follow-up, To Pagham & Beyond, saw the band in top prog form -- a pastiche of folk, jazz, and rock that, although well traveled by this time, managed to delight more than a few critics with its freshness and vitality. Crimble and Pope moved on later that year and were replaced by Nick Graham (formerly of Atomic Rooster) and Tony Knight (ex-Bronx Cheer), respectively. With new members in place, Skin Alley's sound took on a more polished, mainstream approach and began prominently featuring the complex string, woodwind, and brass arrangements of Graham. Their jazz-rock fusion sound was still there, but with decidedly more polish and sophistication.
A switch to the Transatlantic label in 1972 heralded the release of the band's third LP,Two Quid Deal, and found the group finally gaining some fame across the big water. Stax's Don Nix wooed Skin Alley over to Ardent Studios in Memphis to record their fourth (and final) album, 1973's Skintight, and made them the first European band to be signed to the otherwise American soul-oriented imprint. The band split shortly thereafter, with Graham having the most successful post-Skin career with his groups Alibi and the Humans in the early '80s. In 2006, Castle Music packaged Two Quid Deal and Skintight (along with a pair of singles) for a collection called Bad Words & Evil People: The Transatlantic Anthology 1972-73. ~ J. Scott McClintock