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. 
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


August 27, 2014

Development of the British Blues & Rhythm
   --- show 13 ---   8-27-2014  

Zoot Money                                     1965/66
Blues Inc. with Herbie Goins             1964

Keyboard player George Bruno Money was born in Bournemouth, Hampshire on July 17th, 1942.  After playing piano in local groups, he put his own band together in 1961.  By 1963, he had switched his emphasis to the Hammond organ and was being backed by drummer Colin Allen, guitarist Andy Somers, and Nick Newall (who played both saxophone and flute) when Money went to London to take advantage of the opportunity to replace Graham Bond as organmaster and main vocalist in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated.  While there, he decided London was to be his new home and called on the band to rejoin him, adding bass player Paul Williams and baritone sax man Clive Burrows to the mix of the new edition of Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band.  After departing Blues Incorporated, his ensemble picked up a residency at the Flamingo and became managed by the club’s owners, the Gunnell brothers.

The band put out The Uncle Willie in August of 1964 for the Decca label, but shortly afterward signed with EMI / Columbia.  Manager Rik Gunnell financed their first album, and we took it along with some of their singles from the same period from the expanded CD version to provide the material for our second Zoot set.  Their follow-up album ZOOT! was recorded live in 1966 from Klook’s Kleek but was unavailable in our price range.  We were, however, able to fairly represent their stage act on our first set with a different live recording, also taken in 1966 at an unknown club.  Bass player Williams provided the vocal on Ain’t That Peculiar (as well as Rags and Old Iron from our studio set) and, along with Herbie Goins, sang background for You Don’t Know Like I Know.

In the mid-60s, London had a vibrant nighttime music scene with several bands packing the clubs most evenings of the week, and the Big Roll Band was no exception.  While this didn’t always translate into record sales, the popularity of these bands throughout the country was undeniable.  One thing that held Zoot out from the rest was a zany aspect he would add to the show, like running through the audience, dropping his drawers if the whim struck him, and during the performance of Bare Footin’ removing the footwear of some of the more attractive ladies seated in the front row.  But as he told Melody Maker’s Chris Welch, “The looner image is a hard thing to keep up.  I don’t feel that funny all the time”.

It has always amused me when listening to well-known American songs done by British musicians how often the words are not quite right.  A perfect though somewhat unique example is the Rolling Stones version of Rufus Thomas’ Walkin’ the Dog.  It is natural that the phrase “didn’t come back ‘til the fourth of July” would have no relevance, but “didn’t come back ‘til a quarter to five” just doesn’t cut it.  Similarly, possibly because so many of his songs have been recorded, many of Chuck Berry’s lyrics have been misinterpreted.  Zoot explains one example when he tells us that they “used to listen to the sound of the record and guess what they were singing.  If we didn’t know what they said, we just made it up.  It was so weird.  I was fanatical about getting the words right, but even the name of the band came about because I got it wrong.  Remember Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode?  He sings: ‘Someday you will be the leader of a big old band’.  I thought he said ‘a big roll band’.  So my whole career is based on mishearing the lyrics.  But I liked the idea of our band rolling rather than rocking.”  Regarding his own nickname, it was chosen because of his admiration as a teenager for Jazz saxophonist Zoot Sims.

I have become increasingly enamored with Dick Heckstall-Smith as I have been digging deeper than just his experiences with Graham Bond and John Mayall, so it pleases me today to begin to follow the path of the only other British horn man whose name became familiar to my ears, that being Johnny Almond whose first recorded appearances were with the Big Roll Band back in 1966.  That is not to say that through my habit of, and interest in, reading the liner notes there are not several others who have crossed my listening path several times, but in Almond I hope to acquire enough material to understand his place in our timeline. Almond (along with Geoff Condon on trumpet, flute and flugelhorn) replaced Clive Burrows in June 1965, who signed on with 

James Brown was a favorite among the G.I.s frequenting the Flamingo so it is quite natural that Zoot would pick I’ll Go Crazy to open the first album while utilizing I Got You (I Feel Good) as the opening number for the first of our live sets.  They actually had a deal set up to tour with James but Money was too eager to impress at the opening show and carried his antics a bit too far, as Zoot explains, “We were the first band on and I took my trousers off and tried to upstage everyone….. I think I was a bit nervous and I thought ‘We’d better put on a good show’, so I went absolutely apeshit”, so it was determined that the band was not a proper choice for the remaining gigs.

I was going to save the closing portion of today’s last set, the Roll Band’s contribution to a 1994 tribute to Alexis Korner, for a more appropriate spot in our timeline but, this being our last installment to include Alexis, it seemed totally fitting to wind up thus.  I was sufficiently impressed by this set that I purchased all three CDs available from the concert and was somewhat disappointed comparatively.  Not only was Zoot Money’s set (without the big Roll band) the most impressive set, and that is saying something considering the participants included, such as Jack Bruce, Paul Jones and Tony McPhee, all of whom will be further represented as we go along, but Money’s song selection was appropriately chosen from Korner’s music rather than from the performers’ own past hits.  Still, when we get to that timeframe in our series, there is plenty of quality material for at least part of a show, likely even to fill the three hours, but that’s 1994 and way down our ever-changing show list.

You might have noticed in our live Zoot set that Herbie Goins was invited to join the band and sing Stormy Monday.  My timeline suggests that Money was Herbie’s immediate predecessor as lead vocalist in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated.  Like Geno Washington from our previous show, Goins was an American G.I. stationed in Europe during the Cold War.  Born in Florida and strongly influenced by his mother, who was a gospel singer, Herbie’s vocals were first displayed in his church, and he then performed R&B with his first group the Teen Kings.  When he moved to New York City, he had the opportunity to open for B.B. King, Bobby “Blue” Band and Sam Cooke, but then the draft took him to Europe in 1957.  After his service in Germany, he joined up with the Eric Delayne Band and, while touring the U.K. with them, found London to his liking and fell into the ranks of the Chris Barber Jazz Orchestra, but by the mid-60s moved back to his roots when he joined Blues Incorporated.

We took our first Blues Incorporated set from the Live at the Cavern CD, taking full advantage of the BBC bonus tracks, particularly the brief interview segments.  Two versions of each side of the band’s single were included and we chose to follow the BBC introductions with the 45 versions of the songs.  Unlike the Zoot Money live tracks, where the introductions to the songs were tacked on to the previous track (a common complaint I have with numerous live sessions), the BBC commentaries were stand alone tracks, making this possible.  With the exception of Alexis’ vocal on Overdrive, Herbie sang lead on all the songs in this set.  I would guess the song Alright, Okay, You Win dates way back to the earliest days of Blues Incorporated as it was a favorite tune for Long John Baldry as well.

I was more than a little disappointed when I first received the Red Hot from Alex CD.  Korner had done a few releases listed as at the Cavern or from the Marquee or from the Roundhouse and I presumed the Alex was another such club but, no, the Alex referred to here was Alexis Korner (silly me!) and I already had this album on American vinyl under the almost-generic title Blues Incorporated and, quite frankly, I was not impressed with it back then.  However, had I not purchased the CD version, I would never have come to realize that over the years I have gained a fondness for the Jazzier R&B style of British Blues.  Back then, what I expected was the guitar-centric Blues of the Clapton’s, Green’s, Alvin Lee’s, etc. 

The album, and our second set, opens with Herbie’s version of the B.B. King tune Woke Up This Morning and closes with Charlie Mingus’ Haitian Fight Song, and in between the blend of Jazz and Blues shines with the twin tenor saxes of Dick Heckstall-Smith and Art Themen, bolstered by Dave Castle’s alto and flute riding on top of the rhythm section of Korner’s guitar, Ron Edgeworth’s keyboards, Barry Howton’s drumming and the bass of Danny Thompson, I believe his first appearance in a longstanding partnership with Alexis.  The Blues is strongest in Herbie’s three vocals (we opted for his live rendition of Stormy Monday on the Zoot set) which include Roberta, an excellent Korner original.  Korner’s vocal from the first CD, Whoa Baby, was added to offset the otherwise long stream of Jazzed up instrumentals.

After his time with Alexis, in 1966 Herbie put together his own group, the Night-Timers, who became successful on the London club scene and had a popular single, Number One in Your Heart.  They were also afforded the opportunity for sessions with Otis Redding and John Lee Hooker, as well as an unknown Jimi Hendrix.  He merged his Nightimers for a short time with the instrumental Jazz / Blues group Wynder K. Frog before settling in to write songs and do behind the scenes television work.

I brought in a CD by Ronnie Scott, the Modern Jazz saxophonist probably best known for his self-named night club which has served as the venue for many live recordings from various genres of music, and upon my suggestion the Razzberry availed himself of Scott’s version of It Don’t Mean a Thing, his standard opening number.  We will surely hear more from the two disc set in about eight months when we once again play a show of British Jazz in preparation for the 2015 KKUP Jazz Marathon.
I Got You (I Feel Good)
Train Train
Ain’t That Peculiar
People Gonna Talk
Hallelujah I Love Her So
Smack Dab in the Middle
Rock Me Baby
Stormy Monday Blues
When I Meet My Baby
You Don’t Know Like I Know
Haunted House
   Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band

Brief interview
I Need Your Lovin’ (studio)
Turn On Your Lovelight
Brief interview
Please Please Please (studio)
Every Day I Have the Blues
Alright, Okay, You Win (studio)
Kansas City (studio)
   Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated

I’ll Go Crazy
Alone Came John
Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller
My Wife Can’t Cook
Back Door Blues
The Cat
It Should Have Been Me
Rags and Old Iron
Something Is Worrying Me
Big Time Operator
Zoot’s Sermon
   Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band

Woke Up This Morning
It’s Happening
Cabbage Greens
Whoa Baby (from Cavern CD)
Chicken Shack
Haitian Fight Song
   Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated

Wild Women and Desperate Men
Geneva / Good Luck Soul
Captain America
Let the Good Times Roll
   Zoot Money (at Alexis Korner Tribute)

August 13, 2014

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 12 ---     8-13-2014  
Geno Washington and Ram Jam Band    1966-68
John Mayall                                             1959-64

The main focus of today’s show will be on Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, another favorite in the R&B scene in and around London.  The Indiana-born Washington was deployed by the United States Air Force (one source says he was a Marine) to England beginning in 1961, and while stationed in East Anglia he began to make himself known around the London music spots.  Guitarist Pete Gage was putting together a new band when he sought out Geno in 1965, who had already decided to remain in England after his tour of duty, and invited him to join as the front man.  The Ram Jam Band seems to have had a fluid lineup, with little available notation on who played when except, as Geno explains, “Our bass player’s lungs collapsed and we had to get somebody to jump in right away.  So John Paul Jones (later with Led Zeppelin) played with us for about six months.”  Other familiar names include organist Dave Greenslade who had played in Chris Farlowe’s Thunderbirds and went on to a long career, saxophonist Buddy Beadle, and bari sax man and flautist Clive Burrow who had just left Zoot Money whom we’ll hear on our next show.  Under the management of the Gunnell agency, they became very popular on the R&B circuit and this was reflected in two highly successful live LPs.  Rik Gunnell, in addition to loaning the boys money for attire and equipment and booking them in his clubs, financed their first album and Hand Clappin’, Foot Stompin’, Funky-Butt ... Live! spent 38 weeks on the UK charts beginning in November of 1966, with sales proving sufficient for the Picadilly label to put out another live LP in September 1967, Hipsters, Flipsters. Finger Poppin' Daddies.  Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it, especially since they both made it to the top ten in the LP charts. 

We have already seen a couple of Rik Gunnell’s agency’s acts in the Jazz-styled Georgie Fame and the more Rock / R&B oriented Chris Farlowe, and it just might be that Gunnell preferred the Soulful leanings for the performers at his Flamingo club.  We already know that the audience had a substantial contingent of black American G.I.s anxious to hear the sounds they listened to at home -- the likes of James Brown, Wilson Picket, Junior Walker and Otis Redding.  The main competition, the Marquee, appeared to favor less R&B and a little more of the Rockier side of the Blues.  In Geno Washington, the Flamingo had the only straight up Soul singer that I have come across.  Sure, some of the others put out a fair amount of Soul in their performances, but the Ram Jam Band almost entirely filled their shows with a fine representation of American Soul music such as Detroit’s Motown sound, but more strongly resembling the Soul-shouting style of Memphis-based Stax Records. 

The group also had a handful of moderately successful singles sandwiched around the two live LPs, all included on the extended 2CD version of their third album, Shake a Tail Feather Baby! (January 1968), the CD set subtitled The Sixties Studio Sessions.  The band did release a fourth album, their third live set, in 1968’s release by Pye (I believe the parent company of Picadilly) Live - Running Wild before the band broke apart in the autumn of 1969.  Washington remained in London a while as a solo act before returning to the US, coming back to the UK in 1976 with a new studio release, Geno’s Back, and another simply titled Live, plus in 1979 That’s Why Hollywood Loves Me.

Away from music, Geno has written children’s stories and a war story, The Blood Brothers, as well as appearing as a motivational speaker.  He has also become a member of the Guild of Hypnotists, even occasionally including that as the first half of his shows before he gets into his musical portion.

As far as celebrity hookups, Geno met his wife Frenchie at London’s Bag of Nails nightclub, the same place her sister met husband-to-be Peter Noone (Herman of Hermits fame), making the two singers unlikely brothers-in-law.  That also happens to be the same club where Paul McCartney met his wife Linda Eastman.

Trivialities aside, we start today’s program with some of the singles the band put out between 1966 and 1968, with four of them hovering around #40 on the charts.  Their first release, Water, reached #39, followed here by the later album version of the B-side, Understanding, which was the last song on side one of the vinyl release and therefore had the additional repeated phrase Turn It Over included in its title.  We chose their next three B-sides, Beach Bash, All I Need and (I Gotta) Hold on to My Love (in order, from Hi Hi Hazel which stopped at #45, Que Sera Sera #43, and Michael matching Water at #39), all recorded in 1966 before the first live LP.  We finish off the set with more singles from 1967 and 1968.
We made our middle set with music from the 1968 Tail Feather album plus a pair of tracks unreleased at the time.  The last tune Dirty, Dirty is labeled on the CD as from 1967 but shows up on the singles listing as a 1972 A-side, so it is also likely unissued until long after the band fell apart..

Saving the best for last, we take a step back in time to close with a typically up-tempo live set from the album No Holds Barred (shared with Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, not represented here), which appears to be tunes lifted from the 1966 Funky Butt Live LP, an album pretty much unavailable for a reasonable price.  Geno was out of his element in the recording studio; “recording actually meant nothing to me, because you take me into a studio and I become somebody else suddenly.  There ain’t no crowd there, it’s just a (expletive deleted) wall up there.”  It just didn’t feel natural, so Gunnell arranged to have an invited audience brought into Pye’s Marble Arch Studio, enabling the combination of excitement and sound quality to come through in a fine representation of the Ram Jam Band and its lead singer.

I like a term Richie Unterberger used in his profile of John Mayall for the All Music Blues edition.  I used to think of Mayall as the father of the British Blues, and he actually billed himself as such, but that just showed my ignorance regarding the stature of Alexis Korner.  Unterberger fittingly referred to Mayall as the elder statesman of the Blues.
John was born in Macclesfield, Cheshire on November 23rd, 1933.  Early on, he would select music from his father’s collection to listen to, often including Leadbelly and Albert Ammons.  He started playing in his teens, moving from guitar to piano to harmonica while maintaining proficiency in them all.  After time in art school and military service in Korea, he worked as a graphic designer and began putting his musical abilities to use, presumably around Manchester.

We are fortunate to have in our collection an extremely rare CD entitled Time Capsule in which Mayall personally introduces us to his own recordings with the Powerhouse Five in 1957 and the Blues Syndicate dating from late 1962 or maybe 1963, precursor of course to his Bluesbreakers which he formed upon moving to London.  He rightfully states that the recording quality is atrocious, but the best of the bunch are instrumentals and we include a half dozen of them here along with his commentary.  Personally, I find particularly the earliest of these pretty listenable especially considering their historical value, but as the band expanded the sound quality drops, and there were a couple of classic Blues tunes I would have liked to include (Maudie, Got My Mojo Working) but found them truly unlistenable for radio purposes.  I acquired the disc many years ago from a cab customer / friend who worked at a company that printed discs and have never seen mention of its availability to the public.

John left Manchester for London in 1963 and pretty quickly decided to make the capitol his home, partially on the advice of Alexis Korner.  He tried to get his old band to join him but the security of their day jobs kept them in place, and Mayall claims that he spent a significant amount of time fronting some pretty lousy ensembles.  It couldn’t have been that long because by February 1963 he had the earliest formation of the Bluesbreakers.  The vinyl version of Looking Back was a nice foldout cover filled on the inside with photos of many of the various players who passed through the ranks, while the CD version lacks this but provides a full list of the members of each incarnation of the band including dates while they were together.  The first entry reports Bernie Watson on guitar, John McVie on bass and a returning player from the Powerhouse Four in Peter Ward playing drums.  They lasted until April 1964 when Mayall and McVie were joined by guitarist Roger Dean and his former Syndicate drummer Hughie Flint, this group staying intact through May 1965 when Eric Clapton took over on guitar. 

It was this second ensemble that recorded on December 7th 1964 at Klook’s Kleek and released an album in the UK in March 1965 as John Mayall Plays John Mayall.  The optimistic liner notes were written by Alexis Korner.  Four of its dozen tunes also included Nigel Stanger on trumpet and slide saxophone.  I have inquired among horn players because this is not the only time I have heard reference to slide sax but no one has any knowledge of such a thing and I can’t even imagine how the instrument might look because it pretty much requires both hands on the keys to play a normal saxophone, although I have seen players going with two instruments simultaneously. Another curiosity I have stems from occasional references to a bass trumpet.  A tuba, perhaps?  No idea.

The same grouping actually put out its first single on May 8th before the LP and a second the following April.  Selections from the live LP form our second Mayall set while some of the single sides are dispersed through the two sets

Seemingly always overshadowed by his personnel, John was a hard taskmaster with lots of turnover, but I’m pretty sure each of them found their tenure a strong learning experience.  John McVie stayed with Mayall the longest, lasting four years, but Mayall felt his drinking negatively affected his playing so, when Jack Bruce became available after his stint with Graham Bond, McVie was given the hook.  When Bruce abruptly departed to join Manfred Mann, Mayall reinstated McVie.  It was bass player Cliff Barton who suggested McVie, who was at the time a pop bass player so Mayall handed him a stack of LPs to take home and get the feel of the Blues.

When Clapton joined the band, they made some 1965 recordings for the Immediate label as well as some for Purdah before Decca re-signed Mayall in early 1966.  Details on these will be given when we use some on our next Bluesbreakers entry showing Clapton’s contributions to the Mayall legacy.  But without doubt what catapulted Mayall upon the music world was the “Beano” album, Decca’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, also being the first Mayall release in America.  Totally unexpected, the album reached the UK Top Ten and set the stage for Mayall’s continued success in the LP market while failing to have any impact with his 45s.

It was during Clapton’s tenure that Jack Bruce was with the band and, when Eric decided to take what turned out to be about a three-month break in Greece, Peter Green was installed in his place for only the last week before EC’s unscheduled return.  After Clapton announced his desire to leave to form Cream, drummer Flint decided a change of pace was in order as well, resolving that by joining Alexis Korner.  He will also show up with some other familiar faces almost a decade and a half later when we get to the excellent group with the simple name Blues Band.

Due to Mayall’s quick dismissal of Green upon Clapton’s return, Peter was not very anxious to accept the bandleader’s request to rejoin the Bluesbreakers, but Mayall’s persistence saw his return on September 18th (or maybe June as another source represents) along with drummer Aynsley Dunbar, although Mick Fleetwood also spent some time in the span ending in May of 1967 when Green left to form Fleetwood Mac.  McVie would join him in August.  While with Mayall, only the album A Hard Road was released, but perhaps two LPs worth of other tracks have surfaced over the years so there will be much to choose from when we get to their portion of our series.
Adding to the list of Mayall’s notable guitarists Mick Taylor, the nineteen year old replacement for Green, actually remained long enough to appear on two studio LPs (Crusade and Bare Wires) as well as the two LP set of Mayall’s own recordings released as Diary of a Band, Volumes 1 & 2.  While Mayall had employed horns on specific tracks previously, it was on Crusade that they were made official members of the Bluesbreakers.  Crusade is my favorite of the first three albums, each with a guitarist who would go on to much more prominent bands; not because Taylor’s playing was the best but because as a concept of a full album I found it more listenable.  Taylor left in mid-69 to join the Rolling Stones just before the death of their previous lead guitarist, Brian Jones.

Always trying out new ideas, Mayall put together an album, Alone, where he played every instrument (overdubbed, obviously) with the exception of a few tracks requiring Keef Hartley to provide the drumming.  Hartley also appeared on the Crusade and Diary albums and upon his departure quickly formed his own group.  His predecessor was so upset over the way he was axed by Mayall that he titled his group the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, one of the strongest straight Blues sets we will hear when its time comes around.

I believe that goes as far as I wish to go in my writing about Mayall, but there will be a few albums past what was mentioned today that we will be hearing in the months to come and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of relevant things to say about those albums and their players.  The man is still recording and his CDs sell and his guitarists still go on to successful careers on their own, it’s just that his voice has gotten more irritating to me the longer his career goes on.  Beyond doubt, he is the most prolific of all the Brit Blues proponents.


Understanding / Turn It Over
Beach Bash
All I Need
(I Gotta) Hold on to My Love
She Shot a Hole in My Soul
I’ve Been Hurt By Love
Different Strokes
You Got Me Hummin’
I Can’t Quit Her
I Can’t Let You Go
Bring It to Me Baby
   Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band

Introduction to the Powerhouse Four
Art School Boogie
The Narrow Path
Comments of John Mayall
Classroom Blues
   The Powerhouse Four
Introduction to the Blues Syndicate
The Hucklebuck
No Rolling Blues
   The Blues Syndicate
Slow Train Crawling Up a Hill
Mister James
   John Mayall

Raise Your Hand
Three Time Loser
Use Me
Knock on Wood
Bonie Moronie
Never Like This Before
Who’s Foolin’ Who
Going Back
Listen to My Love Song That Ain’t Got a Rhyme
Dirty, Dirty
   Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band

I Wanna Teach You Everything
When I’m Gone
The Hoot Owl
R&B Medley: Night Train, Lucille
Crocodile Walk
What’s the Matter with You
Chicago Line
Blues City Shakedown
My Baby’s Sweeter
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

Philly Dog
Land of 1,000 Dances
Willy Nilly
Get Down with It
Que Sera Sera
You Don’t Know Like I Know
   Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band