October 8, 2014

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
   --- show 16 ---   10-8-2014

Savoy Brown Blues Band              1966/7
Rolling Stones                                1966/7
Mayall with Clapton                       1966

What is there to say about the Rolling Stones that has not already been said over and over ad infinitum?  Well, maybe this: they disgust me.  When their December 1969 free concert scheduled for San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park fell through because the city decided they could not provide adequate support for the gargantuan number of attendees expected, the band rescheduled it at the last minute to a racecar track named Altamont Speedway with no concern that San Francisco’s assumption just might be correct and sufficient resources would not be available, especially with minimal planning and to an area way out in the boonies.  But no, the Stones were closing a highly successful tour with this concert and were counting on getting the free publicity and a docu-movie to compare to Woodstock out of their great benevolent act.  Camera and sound crews were all committed and the band and / or their management were not about to allow this opportunity to slip through their fingers.  And why care about the consequences?  After all, this was a continent away from their homes, just a place they show up every so often to take the money and run.
The absolute worst decision in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll was to choose the Hell’s Angels as the security force.  Think about it.  It was totally predictable.  Ask yourself why I would opt not to go to a free concert featuring some of the best talent to come out of the Bay Area, AND the band that had the most influence on bringing Blues and R&B to the world stage, AND was less than three hours from my home.  Why?  Because from 1968 to 1972 I had a leather shop in downtown San Jose’s hippie district just blocks away from the San Jose State University campus and a portion of our clientele were motorcycle riders wanting pants or vests or just appreciative of quality leather work.  I had a good working relationship with them with a couple of exceptions, not to the point of real friendship but certainly pleasant as far as it went.  This time span encompassed a period when the Hell’s Angels had a war with the San Jose-based Gypsy Jokers and established a new chapter of their own in San Jose.  Essentially, any Jokers had to stop flying their colors, with the option to join the new chapter, or wind up dead.

Going back a step in time, Vic, the guy I apprenticed under was, shall we say, a unique character.  He professed a belief which, once I later found out details of Charlie Manson’s beliefs, bore some resemblance in that the end was coming and if you were not a part in making it happen, you would be swept up in the holocaust rather than reap the benefits.  This appealed to some of the Gypsy Jokers and he proceeded to hold occasional meetings with them in the basement of the shop after hours.  Not able to survive on what he was paying me, I had opened my own shop in a corner of The Weightless Albatross, a hippie variety store a few blocks away.  Somehow, Vic had a falling out with someone in the club and had to leave town, offering me his business including a heavy duty treadle sewing machine and all the workbenches and display tables, etc., at a very reasonable price which the jewelry maker upstairs loaned me to basically get rid of the guy.  This all happening before I had turned nineteen.

As I said, my dealings with my customers were almost entirely amiable, and this included the Hell’s Angels.  One memory is of a member who would come in and I would turn him on to a joint and he would give me a couple of “reds”, a favorite downer of the time that I never took except once when I had a toothache.  I used to keep my bass amp behind and under the display tables and the president of the new San Jose chapter, Rick, took note of my playing and asked if I wanted to jam with him and a couple of other Angels.  I went over to someone’s house one night and after the session someone said, “Let’s go over to Santa Cruz and beat up some niggers.”  Anyway, I might have jammed another time or two, but I did join them on stage as the sole entertainment for a significant number of Hell’s Angels and their ol’ ladies at San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach in front of the most people in my limited musical career.  Actually, it was as tight a group as I had been a part of, doing basic three chord stuff like Blues and Chuck Berry / Little Richard-type Rock ‘n’ Roll.

At some point they offered me membership, but combining my lack of any desire to put myself at risk on a motorcycle and having a totally different mindset, I jokingly declined saying, “No thanks, I can get in enough trouble on my own.”  I am still proud to call myself a hippie, but in my younger days I was often mistaken for a biker.  I had a later experience when I again played with the band at their Mountain View clubhouse.  My now ex-wife had brought along a friend who was about eight and a half months pregnant but, sitting down and wearing a poncho, she attracted the attention of one of the two guitarists (he, like guitarist / president Rick, was an H.A. as was the drummer’s cousin, as I recall).  At the end of the performance, I packed up my guitar and was outside about to gather everyone to leave when this member I had never seen before said I had to pack up the amp in an attempt to give his buddy more time to pick up on our friend, who was actually kinda going for it.  I went back in and told Rick that was not our agreement and he kindly walked us outside and we were off.  So there were definitely some Angels whose company I enjoyed, but not the group mentality.  I also got a courtesy card from one of the San Francisco chapter members which I really wish I still had for both the memory and the artwork.  It was a very good looking plastic card, hard to describe but much thinner than a credit card while much more durable than your basic paper business card.  If I were ever in some kind of a scrape, showing it to any member was supposed to give me credibility and assistance.  Because of our dealings, I fell into their category of “good people”.

And I did see upsetting things like a couple of prospects (one for the Jokers and one for the Angels) whom they felt they had to accept because the person was not stable enough to be let out in the world alone after what their prospect testing put them through, but in retrospect I guess that might be somehow considered taking responsible action.

So, why I did not go to Altamont was because I had seen enough belligerent attitudes to know what very well could happen.  Even before my shop days, I had seen Angels harassing us hippies at anti-war rallies and musical gatherings.  And that was without the free reign of “enforcing” security.  To be fair, I do recall one time some Angels I knew brought in a visiting member, maybe more than one, from an English chapter and the demeanor was entirely different, totally British and seemingly almost gay.  If this is what Jagger & company expected, they were sorely mistaken.  So, while Crosby Stills Nash and Young were bemoaning four dead in Ohio, the Stones were singing about sympathy for the devil, street fighting men and creating a crowd in chaos with someone requesting “gimme shelter”.

We had a local hippie newspaper that I carried in the shop, the San Jose Red Eye, which printed several photos of the Angels as they were beating up musicians on stage and, as I looked at them, I could recognize almost all the participants as from the San Jose chapter and having been in the shop as customers, many of them multiple times.  When some of the Angels next came in and glanced through the paper, their reaction was to talk about how they were going to go down to the newspaper and tear the place apart.  I spoke to someone from the Red Eye a couple of years back and, to my surprise, the Angels never made it that far, but they were very serious about it at the time. 

If this sounds like a putdown of the Hell’s Angels, that is not my intention.  They were just being who they were, a known commodity.  If there is a hornet’s nest in your neighborhood, you learn to take precautions.  This was not the Rolling Stones’ neighborhood so precautions be damned if it distracted from their purpose of acquiring more press coverage.  This is a putdown of their greediness.

This was written with the assumption that Altamont is a piece of history indelible on the minds of more than just one generation and, since I was not there, there would be many better sources available to become informed of the facts.  It has also been suggested to me that there is a book by Sam Cutler, the tour manager for the Stones, which has a different take on this issue.  Anyway, a simple Google search should provide plenty of interesting reading on the subject.  And, of course, there is the docu-movie that the Stones just could not do without, Gimme Shelter.  Although today’s show ends up a few years before Altamont, their style changed and I see no need to play any of their music that goes beyond today’s show.

Savoy Brown was one of the most prolific bands of the British Blues Boom and, unlike many we have read about in recent posts, they were more popular in North America than in their homeland.  Now, I am sure they must have had some success on the local club scenes to have stayed together long enough to acquire a recording contract, but staying together is something that does not immediately come to mind with this band.  In fact, personnel turnover might be the trademark of the Kim Simmonds-led groups.
Although I don’t consider Wikipedia the most reliable source of information, they do have a very easy to understand list of the varying members in a timeline style that even includes a couple of names that I was unaware of, so I think that would be a good place to start even though we will only be presenting the first iteration on today’s show. 

They were assembled in 1965 and initially went as the Savoy Brown Blues Band in which lead guitarist Simmonds was backed up by drummer Leo Manning, bassist Ray Chappell, harmonicist John O’Leary and fronted by lead vocalist Brice Portius.  Apparently, they had a keyboardist named Trevor Jeavons, but by the time of their first recording sessions for the Immediate label pianist Bob Hall had taken over.  The sets opening tunes, I Tried and I Can’t Quit You Baby, came from those four released sides while the rest of the set came from the Shake Down LP.  By the time they got signed up with Decca and recorded that 1967 LP, which appeared only in the UK, they had brought in Martin Stone, a second guitarist to supplement Simmonds’ playing.  Stone would be on his way shortly to form Stone’s Masonry, whose instrumental Flapjacks was included in the Immediate various artists discs that also provided the aforementioned singles (as well as the earliest recordings by John Mayall and Eric Clapton) and just might find its way to the end of the show in the unlikely situation that I find I have a little more time left over than I expected. 

Stone was not the only member not found on the band’s second release.  Bob Hall would remain an on again, off again participant in the recording sessions, but I’m not sure whether he routinely performed with the group live.  Other than he and Simmonds, the band was entirely revamped for the 1968 Getting to the Point LP, with Roger Earl on drums, Rivers Jobe on bass, “Lonesome” Dave Peverett playing second guitar and Chris Youlden front and center on vocals.  Jobe would only play on two tracks of the 1969 album, Blue Matter, being replaced by Tone Stevens.  This assemblage would remain together through A Step Further, after which Youlden would embark on a solo career prior to the recording of Looking In.  Blue Matter and A Step Further (both taped in 1969) each had one studio side and one live side.  Youlden was down with the flu for the Blue Matter live taping so Peverett put in a fine performance in his stead, but Chris was back on Further’s live side which consisted entirely of the medley Savoy Brown Boogie.

Okay, three albums by the same group (with Youlden missing from the last and Peverett again taking the vocals) doesn’t sound like that frequent an amount of changes, but that is my lasting impression.  Wikipedia also notes that the cast also included bass player Bob Brunning, later to create the Brunning – (Bob) Hall Sunflower Band and right about the time he was holding down the bottom for Fleetwood Mac before John McVie felt comfortable leaving Mayall, drummer Hughie Flint (whom we will hear in our Bluesbreakers segment and much later in the aptly-named Blues Band) and his replacement Bill Bruford (later the drummer for Yes, or so Wiki tells me) between the bands first two albums.

As Peverett, Stevens and Earl all went off to join Rod Price in forming Foghat, Simmonds was perhaps in need of putting a cohesive unit together hastily and he fell upon just such a trio from the embers of the band Chicken Shack.  I think this is my favorite grouping which includes drummer Dave Bidwell, bassist Andy Silvester and keyboardist Paul Raymond.  I’m not sure of Dave Walker’s background, but he came on board also for 1971’s excellent album Street Corner Talking.  Hellbound Train was a disappointment not only for its duration of just a little over a half hour, but their other 1972 release Lion’s Share brought back the band’s legitimacy not only time-wise but with a musical quality throughout the album and culminating with what is probably my favorite Savoy Brown track, a rousing version of Little Walter Jacobs’ Hate to See You Go.  This band would span 1971 to 1974 with the exception of Andy Pyle taking over the bass duties beginning with either the Train or Lion’s album. 

I have enjoyed all of these albums through the years enough that over the years I have replaced each vinyl edition with CDs, but I dug out the LPs just for the feel in my hands as I was confirming the lineups.  There is a certain tactile quality to holding the original issues but, boy, are those flimsy little CD liner notes a lot less cumbersome.  Anyway, that is as far as I will present the music of Savoy Brown in future shows, but I do have three more of their LPs.  I could not find Jack the Toad to see who was on it but Raymond and Bidwell were still around for the 1975 Wire Fire but not 1974’s Boogie Brothers.  That strikes me as strange because their guitarist from Chicken Shack, Stan Webb, shares vocals with guitarist Miller Anderson on the album.  Oh well, that covers the decade of 1965-1975 as far as albums and personnel go, so let’s move along and enjoy their earliest music.

Actually, there is one story I would like to repeat so I went back to a posting from 2009 when I first tried this blogging thing, and I quote, “I do recall one early morning getting a cab dispatch to pick up at a party around Camden and 17 and finding out that the three or four guys I was transporting to a hotel way out on Lawrence past 237 were members of a band that was on tour and playing at the Keystone in Palo Alto. Of course we talked about music and somehow I found out that one of them claimed to be Paul Raymond. Now, I can be gullible sometimes, but the real Paul Raymond has a unique, somewhat youthful face that I had seen on at least three Savoy Brown albums plus the one Shack album I had, so when he got out of the cab (I couldn't really see him before because he was seated directly behind me), it became obvious that he was .... yeah, the real guy. Of course, or else why would I be mentioning this? When I read the liner notes for the Chicken Shack CD, I assumed it must have been UFO that he was with at the time. Anyway, it was some band I'd never heard of. The only other "celebrity" I have given a ride was when I got a call from JJ's because they knew I would treat Junior Walker and a couple of his All Stars properly.”

Perhaps it wasn’t Savoy Brown after all, but instead it just might have been John Mayall that I thought required a scorecard to know the players, although I think we’ve already addressed that pretty well on our twelfth show from August 14th should you care to go back.

Our show opens up with some of the earliest recordings of Mayall and / or Clapton, all preceding the “Beano” album.  I believe I’ve already played the opening tune in our series, but I have yet to hear a version of Pretty Girls Everywhere that I haven’t enjoyed and, being the first version I ever heard, this version with Eric sitting in with Muddy Waters’ band backing Otis Spann’s vocal is still my favorite so it puts the show on the good foot right from the start.  It appeared on a compilation LP (Raw Blues) as did the piano / guitar duet Bernard Jenkins and Mayall’s piano solo Milkman Strut.  Sandwiched in between these three tracks are a couple of sides from the Immediate singles put out before Mayall signed on with Decca Records.

Also released on Immediate are three of a group of jams that Eric recorded for Jimmy Page, originally not for release until anything Clapton brought in big sales, but I have to admit they sound better than the scratchy old LPs I used to play on my beat up old 1960s turntable.  The set winds up with a live Bluesbreakers performance of the Sonny Boy Williamson classic Bye Bye Bird, another tune that never fails to appeal to me.  This was recorded when Jack Bruce had some off time with Manfred Mann so it was he and drummer Hughie Flint backing up Mayall and Clapton, and the last set contains Double Crossing Time, a tune we’ve mentioned before because it was Mayall’s response to Mann poaching Bruce from the Bluesbreakers.


Pretty Girls Everywhere
   Otis Spann with Eric Clapton
Sitting on Top of the World
I’m Your Witchdoctor
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
Bernard Jenkins
   John Mayall and Eric Clapton
Milkman Strut
   John Mayall
West Coast Idea
Tribute to Elmore
   Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page
Bye Bye Bird
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

She Said Yeah
Talkin’ ‘Bout You
You Better Move On
The Singer Not the Song
Get Off My Cloud
I’m Free
Gotta Get Away
19th Nervous Breakdown
Paint It Black
Mother’s Little Helper
Stupid Girl
Under My Thumb
Doncha Bother Me
Flight 505
High and Dry
Out of Time
It’s Not Easy
Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby,
    Standing in the Shadows
   The Rolling Stones

I Tried
I Can’t Quit You Baby
I Ain’t Superstitious
Let Me Love You Baby
High Rise
Rock Me Baby
I Smell Trouble
Pretty Woman
Little Girl
The Doormouse Rides the Rails
Shake ‘em on Down
   The Savoy Brown Blues Band

All Your Love
Little Girl
Another Man
Double Crossing Time
Key to Love
Parchman Farm
Ramblin’ on my Mind
Steppin’ Out
It Ain’t Right
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

Going Home
   The Rolling Stones

September 24, 2014

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
   --- show 15 ---   9-24-2014  
American Folk Blues Festival                   1964
John Lee Hooker with Groundhogs          1965
American Folk Blues Festival                   1965
Champion Jack Dupree w Mayall, T.S. McPhee, Malcolm Pool, Keef Hartley, Clapton      1966

Once again, Willie Dixon put together a fine combination of acoustic “country Blues” artists and a top notch band to back the others who wished to use them for their performances. As usual, Willie played bass, this year with Clifton James on drums, Sunnyland Slim on piano and Hubert Sumlin on guitar.  Sumlin was probably not that well known unless one knew him as the longtime lead guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf.  With Wolf and the return of Sonny Boy Williamson, who had been hanging around Europe since the previous year’s show, this 1965 lineup, represents the urban Blues extremely well.  We open up with the band backing Sonny Boy, but after the opening track he is accompanied only by Hubert.  As Williamson steps down, Sunnyland Slim leads the quartet with his own Everytime I Get to Drinkin’.

Certainly when it comes to country Blues artists, Lightnin’ Hopkins has to be close to the top of anybody’s list, and his version of the Big Joe Williams classic Baby Please Don’t Go moves us into that genre.  Sleepy John Estes performs a couple of his compositions paired with the harmonica playing of Hammie Nixon, who’s jug addition to I’m Tearing Little Daddy is reminiscent of music froma couple of decades earlier.  Since country Blues are not my strongest suit, I can’t tell you a bunch about the artists, guitarist / vocalist John Henry Barbee in particular.  Sorry.

The bay area’s own Sugar Pie Desanto brings back the full band behind her, then Hubert Sumlin puts together a jam right before his boss, Howlin’ Wolf, brings up his guitar as he sings  Elmore James’ best known tune, Dust My Broom, to wind up our first set.

Individual albums containing ten songs from each year have long been available and are the foundation for these shows, but recently extra tracks for 1963-1965 have become available as the Lost Blues Tapes double CD, and these are preceded in our playlist by an asterisk.  It is regrettable that there were no new recordings of Howlin’ Wolf.  Oh, well ….
Most notable of the cast of the 1965 American Folk Blues Festival would have to have been John Lee Hooker.  Before we get into another set from that concert series, we hear selections from a session that same year where he was backed up by T.S. “Tony” McPhee and the Groundhogs, a name chosen in honor of John Lee and taken from an LP in KKUP’s library, oddly enough titled John Lee and the Groundhogs.  This was very early in the career of McPhee, who was first known to me as one of the premier British acoustic guitarists prior to discovering his talent as a bandleader and electric guitarist.  Because of the three year time span, it is unlikely that this is the same cast of Groundhogs that we will hear backing Tony on albums beginning in 1968, but we will be hearing McPhee again in the show as part of the backing crew to Champion Jack Dupree on our fourth and final of today’s sets.
To say that Hooker was the best known invitee to the 1965 concerts is not a slight to any of the others.  What with all his recording experience and knowledge of the Chicago club scene, Willie Dixon could be counted on to put together a band to impress, and this year might have been the pinnacle.  Freddie Below, with his jazz-tinged drumming style, was possibly the most sought out percussionist in the studios of the windy city and would soon (if not already) become a member of the Aces, the all star trio whose cast also included the Myers brothers as the backing band for the likes of Junior Wells after either Little Walter or Freddie King released them to form a travelling band.  I saw the three of them at the Red Ram, a little club by San Jose State University as part of Charlie Musselwhite’s band circa 1970.

The lead guitar player that year is a little better known nowadays than he was back then and is worthy for consideration as today’s ultimate example of Chicago’s many fine Blues guitarists. Buddy Guy.  Big Walter “Shakey” Horton was Chicago’s “other” harmonica player named Walter and would have had a more stellar career if it were not for his overindulgence in alcohol.  Lonesome Jimmie Lee Robinson covered most of the bass playing, although Buddy played a few licks there as well.  As a perfect example, please note on the bottom of our playlist Rosalie, where Jimmie Lee plays lead guitar and sings while Buddy takes over on bass.  This will precede the Eddie Boyd tunes if there is unexpectedly an overabundance of time for the show.  Normally, we have to remove a song or two in order to not run past 5PM.

Roosevelt Sykes was a mainstay on the piano Blues and Boogie Woogie scenes since the 30s, but only appeared on his own two songs.  Eddie Boyd played mostly organ while he played with the quartet, including his oft-recorded Five Long Years, but plunked the piano when they backed Big Mama Thornton on the ever-popular Hound Dog.

J.B. Lenoir opted for minimalism as he was backed up by only Horton on Slow Down, although he did choose his electric guitar for his performance, while Mississippi Fred McDowell maintained his front porch style accompanying his vocals with his acoustic guitar and harmonica.  Doctor Ross was a member of a select group, that of the one man bands.  The only others that come to mind are Joe Hill Louis and Jesse Fuller.  Typically the artist would sit behind a small drum kit (I believe just a bass drum and high hat) while playing his guitar as he either sang or blew away on the harmonica mounted in a rack on the top of his chest.  It was a unique sight to see as they busked out on the streets, but for recording sessions it was common[lace to provide them with some additional backup.
One of my favorite pianists from a city long known for its impressive array of ivory ticklers and pounders, Champion Jack Dupree was a transplant to the European scene from New Orleans in the midst of a recording career that began in 1949.  I was fortunate to see him at JJ’s in Mountain View shortly before his passing and what sticks in my mind was his wit and stage presence, although his solo piano playing was top shelf as well.  The man was the consummate entertainer in all aspects.  We’ll get into a full biography later in our series as he made many a recording appearance in England and maybe even more in Denmark.

Despite its title From New Orleans to Chicago, the 1966 album was his first to fully use a cast of mostly young, white Brits as the backing band.  As we mentioned, one guitarist was McPhee, the other Eric Clapton, and Eric’s current boss John Mayall played harp.  At that time, drummer Keef Hartley and bassist Malcolm Pool were playing in the Artwoods.

I’m Trying to Make London My Home
  *   I Got to Cut Out
   Sonny Boy Williamson
Every Time I Get to Drinking
   Sunnyland Slim
Baby Please Don’t Go
   Lightnin’ Hopkins
I’m Tearing Little Daddy
  *   Your Best Friend’s Gone
   Sleepy John Estes & Hammie Nixon
Cotton Pickin’ Blues
   John Henry Barbee
Slip In Mules
  *   You Got Me Running
   Sugar Pie Desanto
No Title Boogie
   Hubert Sumlin
Dust My Broom
   Howlin’ Wolf

Mae Li
I’m Losing You
(I Cover the) Waterfront
Nobody Pleases Me but You
It’s Rainin’ Here
It’s a Crazy Mixed Up World
Little Girl Go Back to School
   John Lee Hooker

King of the World
Della Mae
   John Lee Hooker
Highway 61
  *   Got a Letter This Morning
   Mississippi Fred McDowell
Slow Down
  *   If I Get Lucky
   J.B. Lenoir
Come On Back Home
  *   Sail On
   Roosevelt Sykes
First Time I Met the Blues
  *   South Side Jump
   Buddy Guy
  *   Blues Harp Shuffle
   Big Walter “Shakey” Horton
Five Long Years
The Big Question
   Eddie Boyd
Hound Dog
   Big Mama Thornton
My Black Name is Ringing
  *   Farewell Baby
   Doctor Ross

He Knows the Rules
Third Degree
Ooh La La
Going Down to Big Leg Emma’s
Down the Valley
She’s All in My Life
Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer
Too Early in the Morning
Ain’t It a Shame
   Champion Jack Dupree

   Lonesome Jimmy Lee Robinson

September 10, 2014

Development of the British Blues & Rhythm
  --- show 14 ---   9-10-2014  

Beck’s Yardbirds                     1965/66
Dave Berry                               1963/64      
Jack Bruce with M. Mann 11-29-65 thru June 66
While Yardbirds fans were hailing Eric Clapton as God, it took the merely mortal Jeff Beck to transform a pretty good Blues band into perhaps the most innovative and influential band of the sixties. 


Jeff Beck in 1973

It is only natural that the record companies made their albums representative to what the concert goers would recognize, and since the American albums were not released until after Clapton’s departure, it was Beck who appeared on the first two Yardbirds American LP covers even though Clapton had the lion’s share on the For Your Love release and the live half of the Rave-up album.  I’ve already said that Five Live Yardbirds is still the best live LP I’ve come across, so if you take half of that away to make room for a side of studio recordings by God’s replacement there must be a bigtime diminishment in the quality, right?  Well, I may be biased (no doubt, actually), but for only one half of an album Beck was already making an impact (listen to his guitar’s impersonation of a sitar on Heart Full of Soul).

I got Rave-up as soon as it came out, or as soon as I could afford it, and it was likely the most played of all my albums (both sides) until the long-awaited follow-up Over Under Sideways Down came out.  Beck’s half began with the soul-searching protest of Better Man Than I, had three dark hearted songs (including the Gregorian chant-like Still I’m Sad), and also took Clapton’s version of I’m a Man and tightened it up in the studio to make the song as much his as Eric’s or even its author, Bo Diddley.  The coup de grace was the side closing Train Kept a-Rolling, the definitive version based on the Dorsey Burnette Trio’s recording rather than the original by Tiny Bradshaw back in the 40s.

So we constructed our opening set with the two Bluesy tracks from the EP , Beck’s first recordings with the Yardbirds, followed up by five of the songs from hjis half of the Rave Up album.  It is my recollection that the Yardbirds first tour of America was cut short due to visa and work permit problems, but the band took the opportunity to record at two of the classic recording sites, Sun Studios in Memphis and Chess Studios in Chicago.  One of the band’s concerns was that the English recording crews did not know how to properly put to tape a high energy and high volume band such as the Yardbirds, but such was not the case with The Train Kept a-Rolling, both recorded in this span and concluding the first set.

Our second set came mostly from the Roger the Engineer CD, most of which was released on American vinyl as the Over Under Sideways Down LP, with the addition of Scratch My Back, Too Much Monkey Business, The Sun is Shining and Smokestack Lightning taken from the BBC sessions CD.
 All in all, if this was the direction the band was heading when Clapton departed as he stayed more of a Blues purist, he might have been better served to stay.  But that might have robbed us of Beck’s innovations.  So, for that, thank you Mr. Clapton.

It is unfortunate that Beck did not have any of his early stage performances recorded for public consumption, unlike his Yardbirds counterparts Clapton and Jimmy Page.  Even his Jeff Beck Group featuring Rod Stewart released only one live track, that being Blues Deluxe on their Truth album.  It would seem that if there is one, there must be more buried away somewhere.  The closest we can come to live performances for his duration with the Yardbirds would be the BBC sessions and we did supplement his vinyl output with three tunes from those sessions.


2007 with bassist Tal Wilkenfeld
For background on the pre-Beck Yardbirds, I recommend you look at the blog for show #5, posted on April 9th.

What happens when you combine one of Britain’s best R&B bands, most of whom have their hearts set on playing Modern Jazz, with the strongest bass player in the British Isles who also has a penchant for his first love of Jazz, especially if you add an extra pair of horns to the mix at the same time?  I guess we’ll hear the answer to that pretty quickly, won’t we?

Manfred Mann.jpg
Manfred Mann, 1964. (L-R): Tom McGuinness, Manfred Mann, Mike Hugg, Mike Vickers and Paul Jones

We’ve already been introduced to Jack Bruce, from when he pleaded to sit in with Ginger Baker and Dick Heckstall-Smith and impressed so much that they convinced Alexis Korner to bring him into his Blues Incorporated.  From Graham Bond, unbeknownst to his rhythm section, telling Korner the three were leaving to form their own group to Baker telling him at knifepoint he was fired from the band and not to come back to any of their gigs.  To his brief time spent with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers before jumping ship to join Manfred Mann, leading to the composition of the song Double Crossing Time.  Or did we quite get that far?  No matter, that is where we are now.

When Jack came into Manfred Mann it was a time of general dissatisfaction for the band.  In almost three years, they had five singles that had made it into the top five chart spots and two more at numbers seven and eleven while their two albums climbed to numbers three and seven, but the members felt that they were not being truly represented in that the music they really wanted to put out was relegated to B-sides and album tracks.  Guitarist Mike Vickers gave his notice, initially wanting to take three months off to compose the musical score for the movie The Sandwich Man, but it eventually became permanent and his last performance was on October 25th.  Bass player Tom McGuiness took advantage of Vickers’ departure to return to his original instrument as the new guitarist.

When Vickers informed the group of his intentions, lead singer Paul Jones voiced a similar decision.  “Mike Vickers made it easy for me because he handed in his notice in September 1965, and I said, ‘Actually, while Mike’s about it, I also want to go.’  And they said, ‘Well, you can’t -- there’s a legal responsibility.’  I said, ‘All I’ll do is stay until you find somebody else.’  I didn’t know they would take eleven months to find somebody else! My main reason for leaving was that, here I was having all these hit records, and one by one they were gradually being notched up to someone called Manfred Mann, and I was not Manfred Mann!” 

It was the recommendation of old friend Graham Bond that the Manfreds choose Jack as their bass player and, feeling he could make a better living for his family, Bruce informed John Mayall but had to serve out a month’s notice.  According to McGuiness, “We all said, ‘We want to get Jack Bruce.  He’s the best bass player around”, and Manfred said, ‘I can’t ask him.  John’s my neighbor.  I can’t!’  We kept badgering Manfred and saying, ‘He’s the one – we gotta get him!’”

Between November 18th and December 6th, Mann and the Yardbirds co-headlined a 16-date multi-artist cinema tour called The Marquee Show.  For the tour, they decided to go with a larger ensemble and brought in trumpeter Henry Lowther (he was also highly capable on violin) who recommended Lyn Dobson to play tenor sax and flute, filling out the expanded horn section.  All of Manfred Mann were happy with the additions, but the fact that too many venues had either space or sound system limitations hindering the performances was what likely led to the expansion’s duration being shortened to merely four months.

Mann had to use temporary bass players until Jack’s time was served and he joined the band on November 29th.  “I came in at the last minute and I learned the whole set.  I mean, I played the whole set without rehearsal and I think that impressed them.”  Three nights into the tour the interim bass player had quit, so the Mark Leeman 5 allowed David Hyde to pull double duty as bassist for both bands until Bruce’s arrival.  I have heard good things about the Leeman band but their recordings are hard to come by and very expensive when they do show up.  In January 1965, they put out Portland Town, an album produced by Manfred Mann, but in June that year the lead singer / guitarist Leeman died in a car crash.

Although the Mann ensemble favored Jazz, it often turned out that Jack was too far ahead of them.  As McGuiness put it, “He was, in fact, quite impossible to play with at times, and we often could not literally follow him.”  Not only did Jack sometimes add his vocals to Paul’s, but on December 28th, 1965 the audience at the Marquee was treated to a surprise guest visit by Eric Burdon sharing the microphone.  Jones was involved in an automobile accident on January 13th which took a long time to fully recover from, causing recording session, television and stage performance cancellations and, on their Marquee gig on the 25th, Eric Burdon fronted the band.  Mike Vickers and Eric Clapton also joined on stage for part of that evening.

On March 9th 1966, Bruce and Jones from Manfred Mann got together with Stevie Winwood and drummer Peter York from the Spencer Davis Group and pianist Ben Palmer to record three songs (I Want to Know, Crossroads and Steppin’ Out) as Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse, released on Elektra’s What’s Shakin’ multi-artist LP.  Shortly afterward, Jack took advantage of a lull in the Mann stage schedule to rejoin Mayall, Clapton and drummer Hughie Flint for two weeks between recording sessions.  Much of the March 17th show at the Flamingo would show up on Mayall’s Primal Solos LP with another track appearing on Looking Back.

When Jack left the Manfreds to help form Cream, he was replaced by Klaus Voorman and, almost concurrently, Jones was replaced by Mike D’Abo in a brand new iteration of the band.

Jack Bruce playing a Gibson EB-3, just like the one I used to have.  Some people thought he played it better!

Our second set of the show, and our first of Manfred Mann, chronicles the six months or so that Jack Bruce spent with the band, including an EP that included their instrumental takes on popular songs of the day: Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe, the Who’s My Generation and the Rolling Stones Satisfaction.  We save the fourth song for a small closing set with both the original version by the Yardbirds and the Manfreds’ interpretation of Still I’m Sad.   Chronologically, our second Mann set predates the Jack Bruce material, including a couple of their earliest recordings, as these have recently become available to me.   
Dave Berry seems a far cry from the R&B we are seeking out, but the liner notes from the 2-disc set This Strange Effect: The Decca Years 1963-1966, which are his earliest sessions, claim them as his beginnings.  He would not have even come to mind for this series were he not included in the 1994 tribute to Alexis Korner.

Born David Holgate Grundy February 6, 1941 in the coal mining village of Woodhouse just southeast of Sheffield, Berry recalls, “My most vivid memories of childhood were hating every minute of it until I was about 15!”  Dave was influenced by his father, a Jazz drummer.  “Band members would come by after their gigs on Friday and Saturday night….  He would take me to Sheffield City Hall to see Woody Herman, Stan Kenton and Dave Brubeck….  It seemed natural I should play drums.  I must have been about 14.  My dad taught me, just the basic style.”

Like so many others, Dave was influenced by the mid-50s emergence of American Rock ‘n’ Roll and R&B.  “Before I’d go to work, I’d listen to the American Forces Network out of Frankfurt, an R&B / Blues show at six in the morning.  I heard Smiley Lewis, Louis Jordan and all these 50s guys.”  Dave gave up his welding job and formed a duo with guitarist Malcolm Green.  “We actually won the regional finals of a prestigious singing and harmony competition … and went to Manchester….  We were runners up, I think.”  The two were together for two years, and Dave also occasionally sat in with a local four piece combo until their lead vocalist signed himself into the Royal Air Force in 1960.  At the band members’ request, Dave became the new front man.  Now needing a catchier name, Dave took on the moniker of his idol Chuck Berry and the band changed its name as well, going as Dave Berry and the Cruisers.

As the Frantic Four, the band had been handling material in the indeed frantic style of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.  Dave guided them more toward the Blues, picking songs by John Lee Hooker, Billy Boy Arnold and the Chess musicians like Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters.  Initially keeping busy in Sheffield, they soon began to acquire gigs farther from home.  They appeared so often at their manager’s Manchester nightclub that Dave surmised, “They also had acts like Wayne Fontana, the Hollies, Freddie and the Dreamers.  Many people thought we were a Manchester band because we did so much work there”.

Dave signed with Decca in 1963, but even though the Cruisers backed him on the successful single Memphis, Tennessee and its flip Tossin’ and Turnin’, it was decided that they used up too much valuable recording time and that it was wiser to wait until the studio musician pairing of guitarist Jimmy Page and drummer Bobby Graham (also occasionally including guitarist Big Jim Sullivan and / or bassist John Paul Jones, among others) became available.  “The original Cruisers were a first class live act but, for some reason, we didn’t really adapt as a unit in the studio.”  Even though Dave would very soon make his name as a crooner, we were still able to dig out a dozen tunes that harken back to his R&B roots from the 57 tracks on the two disc CD set.

Credits for this week’s edition include the CD liner notes for the entire Dave Berry portion while the Jeff Beck write-up was off the top of my head.  The Jack Bruce segment was partly from memory but refreshed (and quotes provided) by Greg Russo’s Mannerisms: The Five Phases of Manfred Mann.  It is his book on the Yardbirds that I must locate within my apartment to do Jeff Beck justice by the time we get to the Jeff Beck Group, the one with Rod Stewart.  The photos came from Wikipedia’s notes and if this first attempt turns out as hoped, you can expect to see more.  And thanks to Jim McKee for his heads up about the JJ’s links, which follows today’s playlist.

I Ain’t Done Wrong
I’m Not Talking
Mister You’re a Better Man Than I
Evil Hearted You
Heart Full of Soul
I’m a Man
The Train Kept a-Rolling
Shapes of Things
   The Yardbirds

That’s All I Ever Wanted from You Baby
Spirit Free
Tengo Tango
She Needs Company
When Will I Be Loved
I Got You Babe
My Generation
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
You’re Standing By
Driva Man
It’s Getting Late
Come Home Baby
Pretty Flamingo
   Jack Bruce with Manfred Mann

Don’t Gimme No Lip
Ella Speed
Diddley Daddy
Not Fade Away
St. James Infirmary
My Baby Left Me
Just a Little Bit
Go On Home
You’re Gonna Need Somebody
Alright Baby
Tossin’ and Turnin’
If You Need Me
   Dave Berry
Lost Woman
Over Under Sideways Down
The Nazz Are Blue
Jeff’s Boogie
He’s Always There
Turn into Earth
Scratch My Back
Too Much Monkey Business
The Sun is Shining
Smokestack Lightning
Happenings Ten Years Time Ago
What Do You Want
Hot House of Omagarashid
Ever Since the World Began
   The Yardbirds

Why Should We Not
Brother Jack (Frere Jacque)
Mr. Anello
Bare Hugg
L. S. D.
The Abominable Snowman
   Manfred Mann

Still I’m Sad
   The Yardbirds
Still I’m Sad
   Jack Bruce with Manfred Mann

Fitting right into today’s show, here is W.H.a.T.’ s extended version of Jeff Beck’s Yardbirds instrumental “Jeff’s Boogie” (20 minutes)

W.H.a.T. is comprised of guitarist John Wedemeyer, drummer Randy Hayes and bassist Endre Tarczy.  To my knowledge they put out only one album locally in the 90s but it didn’t compare to the excitement they created in front of a live audience. 
+   +   +   +   +

This was just part of one of the last shows to be held at JJ’s Blues club on Stevens Creek.  To the best of my recollection, the club opened its doors on San Jose’s west side in the very early 1980s and quickly became the area’s main, if not only, Blues venue with Blues bands performing every night of the week until the bar closed at 2am.  Many nights, there would be a band from 4-8pm with the headliner playing from 9pm until 1 in the morning.  They also had weekend barbecues and for several years put on their own Blues Festival at the San Jose Fairgrounds as well as bringing touring bands into the club.  There were also two expansions attempted with clubs opened in Mountain View and downtown San Jose, and I believe there was a time when all three were open.  Although the annexes were short-lived, the Stevens Creek location survived well over thirty years including going through some rough times for bar businesses.  With all the shows and jam sessions, it gave our established players a place to show off their talents and lots of local lesser-knowns the opportunity to hone their chops.  Likely the widest known nationally would have to be Chris Cain and Tommy Castro.

+   +   +   +   +
Here’s a reconstruction of Andy Just and the Shapes with Andy on vocals and harmonica and former bandmates Dave Price on drums and John Wedemeyer on guitar.  Endre Tarczy fills the shoes of Fingers Farrell on bass.

+   +   +   +   +
Andy Just and John Wedemeyer: Going Down Slow (7 minutes)

John was an original member of Andy Just and the Shapes (a reference to a Yardbirds tune) back in the early 80s.  John has been and always will be one of the bay areas’s favorite musicians and was tapped by Charlie Musselwhite for at least one of his albums and associated gigs.  He, and particularly Andy, filled in with the Ford Band when brothers Mark or Robben Ford had other commitments.

+   +   +   +   +
Gary Smith on harmonica and bassist Frank DeRose join Wedemeyer and Hayes on stage for Going Down Slow, Gypsy Good Time, Mean Old World and the closer. (21 minutes)

Gary’s reputation has been established as the premier Blues harp player in the area long before the opening of JJ’s.  He was the very first Blues DJ at KKUP and has helped the station any way he could ever since.

+   +   +   +   +
This show started Saturday, August 23rd at 9pm and ended at 2:15am.  The Blues were finally locked out of the building on September 1st, 2014.  Thanks go to Bobbi Goodman for the video capture and Jim McKee for his mastery of the mixing board.  I was sent a fifth link but have been unable to access it.