Leaf Hound were one of the dozens of heavy rock bands that evolved during the late-'60s British blues-rock boom.
Rhythm guitarist Derek Brooks and his brother, Stuart Brooks, had been in the Black Cat Bones, a South London-based band that at one time featured Free's Paul Kossoff. Vocalist Peter French and his cousin, lead guitarist Mick Halls, had been in several London groups: Switch, Erotic Eel, Joe Poe, and the Brunning Sunflower Blues Band (featuring Bob Brunning). In the latter half of 1970, after the Black Cat Bones' lead guitarist Rod Price quit (he was heading off to join Foghat), the Brooks brothers formed a new group with Halls and French, drafting in newcomer Keith George Young on drums. This new group -- christened Leaf Hound, a name found in an anthology of stories by horror writer Herbert Van Thal -- recorded "Barbed Wire Sandwich" for Decca's Nova subsidiary in 1969, and soon were playing shows in England, reportedly blowing headliners UFO off-stage. A full-length recording contract with Decca Records soon followed, and the band found themselves ensconced in the Mayfair's Spot Studios, where they recorded Growers of Mushrooms in a mere 11 hours. Meanwhile, the band traveled to Germany, where their album was licensed for release by the Telefunken label. This German-only release actually preceded the official U.K. release on Decca; somewhat surprisingly, it omitted two tracks: the title song and the lead-off track, a blistering "Freelance Fiend." Telefunken also issued a single, "Drowned My Life in Fear," which was backed with the non-LP track "It's Going to Get Better." Then, in October 1971, Decca finally released the band's debut in their own country, adding back the omitted tracks. However by then, Leaf Hound had already decided to call it a day. French had the most success thereafter. He was briefly in a group called Big Bertha before he joined Atomic Rooster, around the time of 1971's In Hearing of Atomic Rooster. He eventually left that band to join the U.S.-based boogie band Cactus (featuring former Vanilla Fudge members Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice), then returned to the U.K. to join a later lineup of Randy Pie, circa 1977. He also sang in Der Fuhrer, a controversial German rock opera highlighting the futility of war, before finally recording a solo album, 1978's Ducks in Flight, for Polydor Germany with an all-star session crew including ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson and Kenney Jones (ex-Small Faces). Growers of Mushrooms, long out of print for decades (and commanding a hefty price from collectors, up to as much as 1,300 dollars), was finally reissued on CD by Repertoire in 1994 and See for Miles in 1995. ~ Bryan Thomas, Rovi