November 12, 2014


Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
   --- show 18 ---   11-12-2014

Mayall with Mick Taylor                          1967
Jimmy Page Yardbirds                              1967
Chicken Shack                                           1967

This being the third show in a row to feature John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, we will be putting our focus on Mick Taylor and the time he spent with John.  Mick was born January 17th 1948 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire and began learning the guitar by the time he was eleven.  He had an uncle who turned him on to 50’s Rock ‘n’ Roll after he had been to a Bill Haley concert, and Mick was well on his way by 1962 with his first band, the Strangers.  With his next group, the Juniors, a single was recorded in 1964 for Columbia, There’s a Pretty Girl with the flip side Pocket Size.  Taylor was a member of the Gods (along with future Euriah Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley) in 1965 and 1966, by which time he was starting to listen to the Blues.

Already versed in Mayall’s material by the time he attended a concert in 1966 when Eric Clapton failed to show up, Mick asked if he could sit in in his stead.  With nothing to lose, Mayall allowed him the opportunity and he impressed enough that John put an ad in the Melody Maker to locate him when he needed to replace Peter Green.  The nineteen year old Taylor responded and was installed as one of the newest Bluesbreakers.  At the same time, Mayall recruited guitarist Terry Edmonds (who quickly left to join Ferris Wheel) and saxophonists Rip Kant and Chris Mercer.

Along with Mayall and McVie, the three joined drummer Keef Hartley in the studio on July 11th and 12th and recorded the Crusade album.  I may have already expressed my opinion that the album is a smoother listen than the two preceding LPs which are considered by many to be among the finest of their time, but the musical press mostly did not agree.  Rolling Stone wrote, “You can find better Blues groups, white and black, by the dozens; and if you dig the material, the originals are still around.  And, in the case of Muddy Waters or Albert King, the originals are very much better in terms of musicianship.”  Still, the album climbed to #8 in the UK and #136 US.

In September of 1967, John McVie finally left to join Fleetwood Mac (possibly because of Mayall’s Jazzier leanings at the time but more likely because Mac was growing in its appeal so it was no longer a financial risk), being replaced by Zoot Money’s bassist Paul Williams.  Around the same time, Rip Kant’s departure brought about the arrival of Dick Heckstall-Smith, most recently with Graham Bond.  Quickly showing up in the studio on September 14th and 15th, the revised band recorded the single Suspicions parts 1 & 2.

I’ll take the time to explain that I usually play the albums pretty true to the order the band (or record company) originally placed them, but for Crusade I deconstructed the LP and reassembled it in a way that sounds best to my ear.  I also opted for part two of Suspicions as the strong opener of our second set because there was a little more instrumental and a little less of Mayall’s vocals.  I must admit that through the first three albums his voice was not yet noticeably getting on my nerves.

The album immediately following Crusade was an interesting adventure called The Blues Alone and, as its name implies, Mayall played all the instruments with the exception of Keef Hartley adding drums or percussion to some of the tracks.  Interesting in its attempt, not so much its results, although I haven’t listened to the album in decades.

The Bluesbreakers spent the waning months of 1967 touring Britain and the continent while Mayall carried around a reel-to-reel recorder to collect over 60 hours of live samplings.  These were sorted and submitted to Decca in January with the caveat that the sound quality was not of studio caliber but that the tapes were a true representation of his working band.  The Diary of a Band was issued in two volumes in 1968 in Britain but took an extra two years to reach the American market, and while the sound quality is not up to studio standards I found the CDs much better listening than I recalled.  It was during this period that Paul Williams left and Keith Tillman took over the bass duties.

In his book Blowing the Blues, saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith recalled his time spent as a Bluesbreaker, regarding Mayall as “a nice easygoing bloke … Where he got his hard taskmaster image I have no idea whatsoever” and that “His modus operandi seemed to be: get the right players and leave them to it.  The only musical instruction I ever got from him was that ‘Right then, on you go.’ look … And to cap it all, John paid noticeably better than the GBO (Graham Bond ORGANization).”

January 1968 saw the Bluesbreakers first American tour, beginning with a two week stay at New York’s CafĂ© au GoGo and culminating in San Francisco for four night gigs each of the tour’s last two weeks.  As I mentioned in last show’s commentary, Bill Graham had booked Mayall with Albert King and Jimi Hendrix (possibly for the second week only) and I was fortunate enough to have attended one of these shows but Mick Taylor’s amp was messed up and therefore found that portion disappointing.

Once back in England, Paul Williams dropped out and the 15-year-old Andy Fraser, recommended by Alexis Korner whose daughter he was dating, joined for about six weeks on his way to becoming bassist for the band Free.  Soon afterward, Mayall added Henry Lowther on trumpet and violin and, when Keef Hartley was sacked, Heckstall-Smith was reunited with his former drummer from the GBO, Jon Hiseman.  When Fraser left, Hiseman himself had a reunion with bass player Tony Reeves, a fellow graduate of the New Jazz Orchestra.

All these changes having occurred in the first two months of 1968, the new seven-man lineup went into the studio in April and came out with the album Bare Wires.  Heckstall-Smith gives us some insight on one portion of the Bare Wires Suite, subtitled Fire.  Included on the tapes Mayall did over the last two months of 1967 were anything he found interesting on stage or off and one of those segments was of a sexual encounter that was supposed to have been highly energetic.  After editing it into a seven minute tidbit, he played it for Hiseman and asked him to interpret whatever he heard through his drum kit, later to be overdubbed.  It was an excellent example of Hiseman’s style but the entire suite was an undivided 22 minutes with little else to make it worthy of about one-eighth of today’s show.  All in all, the album received the best chart ranking so far with #3 in the UK and #59 in the US.

Of the three songs we did take from the LP, two were the handiwork of Mick Taylor.  His instrumental Hartley Quits is inappropriately titled as you will hear the conversation between Mayall and Hartley on the first track of his first album which clearly shows the decision was not Keef’s, but that is down the road a few months.  No Reply was co-written with Mayall and John decides to tell us about his possibly pedophilic tendencies when he speaks of a romance: “very soon she’ll be seventeen” in She’s Too Young.  No kidding!  The 35-year-old Mayall romancing a 16-year-old?  The music is good so it gets included here, unlike a song from his next LP Blues from Laurel Canyon where he sings about the Medicine Man who cured him of VD on his California vacation.  Apparently his standards for what is appropriate and entertaining vary greatly from mine.

Again, notes from DHS’ book expand upon what is generally available regarding the paring down of the band.  Late in July of 1968, Mayall told the band that for the next tour he was planning to cut back down to a four-piece and tone down the volume.  He got Dick and Mick together to say he would decide in a week whether he would go with a saxophone or the more accepted Blues guitar lead.  One evening when he found Dick warming up alone he told him, “Hullo Dick – it’s bad news, I’m afraid.”

DHS and Hiseman had been talking about putting together a new band, so Dick contacted Jon, but Hiseman wanted to stick with Mayall for the American tour after which they could get together, but three months was too long for Dick to stay stagnant; he likely would have moved into another commitment by then.   Bottom line for that saga is Hiseman did opt out of the Mayall tour and the two, along with Reeves put together Colosseum, but that is a tale for another day.

So Mayall was left with only Mick Taylor for his toned-down quartet, recruiting drummer Colin Allen, whom we heard previously with Zoot Money and Georgie Fame, and bassist Stephen Thompson.  In August 1968, they went into the studio and laid down tracks for Blues from Laurel Canyon, the last album for Decca and the first under just John Mayall with no mention of the old band name Bluesbreakers, also the last Mayall session for Mick Taylor.  33 UK and 68 US were the album chartings.

In September, Mayall took the band to America on a ten week tour, then flew back to London to headline the three-day Blues Scene ’68, also featuring Muddy Waters, Champion Jack Dupree and the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation in November.  All of the recent work had taken its toll as John was sidelined in late January with a diagnosis of “influenza and physical exhaustion”, causing the rearrangement of bookings until mid-February.  After some British touring, the band was off again to the states.  Upon their return in May, the band was disassembled once more, keeping only bassist Thompson for his new drummerless project with guitarist Jon Mark and the return of saxophonist Johnny Almond, fulfilling Mayall’s idea of a sax-centric unit although the theory was that all musicians receive equal time. 

The result was the live album Turning Point, and that is when we will be next visiting the Mayall epic.  As for Mick Taylor, Mayall did not forget him when Mick Jagger came around soliciting suggestions regarding a replacement for Brian Jones and Taylor became the next Rolling Stone on June 13th 1969.
*************************
I had a write-up started about Chicken Shack but ran out of time to finish it properly so will include a full bio of the band when we do our second edition some time in the future.

Surprise!  I do have standards I must live up to.  Probably hard to tell, though!

*************************
We gave a pretty good rundown of the Yardbirds through the departure of Eric Clapton, and it was so long ago that I opted to copy it to this posting immediately following the playlist in case anyone wanted to locate it easily.  That said, when Clapton gave notice in March 1965, the band had to find a replacement and their first choice was Jimmy Page.  Page was certainly a guitar virtuoso if by no other standard than the fact that he was probably the most sought out and active studio Rock guitarist in the UK.  He kept himself so busy, in fact, that when the Yardbirds first extended the invitation he knew he was better off continuing what he was doing than to join a band that had finally come up with their first successful selling single in For Your Love   Instead, Jimmy suggested his friend Jeff Beck, who had been playing with the Tridents since late 1963.

Beck went to the Marquee to audition for Giorgio Gomelsky, owner of the club and manager of the Yardbirds.  The band had found their man and Beck played on the three track EP Five Yardbirds, released in April.  Later that month they appeared on the BBC’s TV show Top of the Pops to promote their earlier single, For Your Love.  They went on a package tour headlined by the Kinks the first three weeks of May.  Initially, Beck was not received particularly well, leading to one time when he took the microphone to express, “Don’t be so fucking rude.  Don’t you read the papers?  Eric’s left.”, but rather quickly he won over the audiences with his own style.

For Jeff’s first single with the band, he convinced them to resurrect a song they had tried with a sitar player who couldn’t quite get the timing down.  Heart Full of Soul featured Beck’s guitar emulating the instrument and was released with the B-side Steeled Blues, derived from a Chuck Berry instrumental.  With Paul Samwell-Smith on the engineering side of the recording, Ron Prentice provided the bass.  The 45 got into single digits on both sides of the pond, #2 UK and #9 US.

Epic, the Yardbirds’ American distributor, patched together the album For Your Love with both sides of each of Clapton’s three singles and a couple of outtakes alongside Beck’s three EP tracks.  The album cover featured Beck even though Clapton provided the lion’s share.  Their two week September tour of the states to promote the album wound up being a disaster as the group was not allowed to perform on the TV show Shindig and the taping for Where the Action Is was never aired, all due to union and work visa problems, but they did manage an appearance on Hullabaloo.  They also were not allowed to check into their Los Angeles hotel and were unable to get into Disneyland, presumably because of their long hair.

Limited regarding broadcast and play for pay as they were, the group still tried to accomplish something on their trip so they went to a couple of the legendary American recording studios: Sam Phillips’ Sun Records in Memphis, where they recorded Train Kept A-rollin’ and Mister You’re a Better Man Than I, and the Chess brothers’ studio in Chicago, putting the studio version of I’m a Man to tape.  While there, they were also able to catch Muddy Waters band and Jeff was even invited on stage.  Appropriately, New York City Blues was done at that city’s CBS studio.

Once they were back home, the band released a 45 that got equal airplay on both sides of the record, Evil Hearted You and Still I’m Sad, the latter resembling a Gregorian chant.  In America, Still I’m Sad backed I’m a Man.  Both were put out in October and went #3 UK and #17 US.  In late December, the Yardbirds began another US tour and they needed an album in support.  They only had a little over half an album’s worth of material so that is likely the reason they took four songs from the Five Live Yardbirds date to fill the back half of the LP.  That is strictly my conjecture but, no matter, the resulting Having a Rave Up was far better than the previous and one of the best of the entire British Blues genre.  Still, the album only reached #53, but the band did take the opportunity on December 21st to again stop by the Chess studio, this time recording Shapes of Things, which would climb to #3 UK and #11 US after releases in February and March.

Individually, the readers of Beat Instrumental voted Beck a close second behind the Shadows Hank Marvin as the nation’s top guitarists; Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty were working on “an abstract comedy”; Paul Samwell-Smith wished to take lead vocal on Green Trees; Keith Relf was putting together Mr. Zero with orchestral backing; and Beck was planning on an instrumental version of Summertime.  As Relf put it, “All the members of the other leading groups are known individually to the fans – but not us.  So it seemed a good idea to try some solo discs.”  Relf’s project was the only one to come to fruition and it made #50 on the Brit charts.

April saw Gomelsky ousted in favor of Simon Napier-Bell and Beck coming down with meningitis, but they were back in the studio in May to lay down the tracks for their first UK album.  First release from the session was the single with Over Under Sideways Down (later the album’s American title) and Jeff’s Boogie which hit #10 UK and #13 US.  The feel of the LP was not dissimilar to the Beck side of Rave Up with some more innovative ideas.  One of my favorite songs (because of the way Beck bends one extended note in the instrumental), The Nazz Are Blue, was omitted from the US album but appeared late in the year as the flipside of Happenings Ten Years Ago, which only reached #30 while the album hit #20 UK and #52 US.  Why are these American numbers so low?  I and most of my friends bought the albums and, against my nature, I even bought that 45.

Before the album even came out, Samwell-Smith dropped out from the group.  Although he was beginning to play less and less in the studio his musical directorship made a strong mark on the group, and production was the direction in which he wished to go.  After the announcement, the plan was for Dreja to take over the bass duties but until he properly learned the instrument Jimmy Page would handle it.  As it turned out, Page decided to stay on and make it a two guitar attack.

As we have already read, Page was an integral part of the Dave Berry and Them recordings and he participated in releases by the Kinks and numerous other groups in the early to mid-sixties, but now he was ready to get back to stage work, as he brought up with Hit Parader, “I was drying up as a guitarist.  I played a lot of rhythm guitar, which was very dull and left me no time to practice.”

The point of no return, so to speak, came during their third American tour in August of 1966 when Beck came down with tonsillitis.  Fortunately, Dreja was close enough to ready to take over on bass as Page switched to lead guitar.  As Relf observed, “Jimmy has been doing great … It’s the first time I have seen him really blow out on stage.”  With the idea of Jeff and Jimmy both as leads, Jimmy told Beat Instrumental “I think it will move more to free-form.  Mind you, it will be highly organized.  The whole thing must be done tastefully otherwise the Yardbirds’ sound would be ruined.

”Happenings Ten Years Time Ago was recorded with the twin guitar leads but its flipside, recorded at the same session, had Page back on bass.  The Yardbirds’ Stroll On was the only other recorded piece of Beck and Page both on lead that has come to light and it was a double surprise.  First, producer Michelangelo Antonioni wanted the Who for his movie Blow-Up, but when they were unavailable he went with the Yardbirds.  And second, it was intended that they would play The Train Kept A-rollin’ but the royalties were too high so the band just changed the lyrics.

When things were good they were very, very good and when they were bad … well, as critic Norrie Drummond put it in the New Music Express, it was “outrageous cacophony which completely drowned out Keith Relf’s voice.  Perhaps if Jeff Beck cut out the gymnastics with his guitar, the group might find some semblance of music!”

One night in Texas during a four week US tour, Beck got angry and threw down his Les Paul guitar, smashing it and quitting the band.  The group finished out the tour as a four-piece and when the it was over there was plenty of speculation regarding the makeup of the band.  Napier-Bell stated that Jeff left due to health issues, and that “There is no question of his being sacked”.  Beck responded to Disc and Music Echo, “It’s not true.  I’m still with the group” and Relf replied to the same magazine, “Jeff has left.  There won’t be a replacement.  We find we are working better as four – with Jimmy on lead guitar”.

One of the reasons for Napier-Bell’s replacement of Gomelsky was in hopes he would bring in more revenue to the band members and, when that did not happen, they again changed managers to a former road manger and pro wrestler, Harry Grant.  The Yardbirds were disappointed with the low ratings for the Happenings single and Grant sought out producer Mickie Most to keep that from recurring.  Most had had success with pop groups like Herman’s Hermits, Lulu and Donovan, but while he was picking music for the Animals they felt that what he handed them to record did not reflect the true nature of the band which was what they played on stage.

Most’s first attempt was Little Games backed by Glimpses but it fell short at #51.US and failed to even chart at home.  Coincidentally, Most was also responsible at the same time for Jeff Beck’s first solo release, a trivial little song Hi Ho Silver Lining which I must confess is a guilty pleasure of mine and reached a much more respectable #14 in the UK.  About the same time, the Greatest Hits LP was released stateside and by far outdid their previous albums at #28.

Most even had the bad taste to put session players backing Relf on their next release, Ha Ha Said the Clown, which had already been recorded by Manfred Mann and thus not released in the UK. Its B-side Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor featured Page using a violin bow on his guitar during the solo.  Little Games had the worst American showing of any Yardbirds single ever, but Clown was a close second worst at #45 and was stylistically definitely the bottom of the barrel.

The band was given a mere three days to record the rest of the Little Games album,, which was again deemed inferior and not released in the UK.  Page’s complaint, as told to Trouser Press in 1977, was that “It was just so bloody rushed.  Everything was done in one take because Mickie Most was basically interested in singles and didn’t believe it was worth the time to do the tracks right on the album.”  The album ranked a dismal #80 in the US.

Most’s next attempt was Ten Little Indians, backed by a standard Blues tune, Drinking Muddy Water.  I wonder if the release was a success would I still be crediting it to Most?  Needless to say, it was not and hit the American charts at #94.  The next release, Goodnight Sweet Josephine fared even worse with a high point of #126 US

So in the tenure of this supposedly masterful pop producer from early 1967 until the breakup of the band in mid-1968, the Yardbirds only released the one single in their home country.  Brilliant.  Page explained it to Hit Parader: “We had done Happenings Ten Years Time Ago on our own and then our manager decided to turn us over to a producer.  We thought it was a great idea because the producer just had tremendous success with Sunshine Superman.  We had tremendous confidence in him.  So we did Little Games and it didn’t do very well, but that was all right.  It was a reasonable number to do.  Then he gave us Ha Ha Said the Clown, which we didn’t like, but we still had confidence in him.  Over a period of time, his ideas started to kill us off.”

Early in their 1968 tour, an attempt to record their March 30th appearance at New York’s Anderson Theater was made with the idea of a live album release, but sound quality issues made the band decide to trash the idea.  Still, after Page’s success with Led Zepelin, Epic overdubbed some applause and issued it in 1971 as Live Yardbirds!  Featuring Jimmy Page.  A displeased Page saw to it that the LP was taken off the market so it has kinda become a collector’s item.

There was a schism in the group with Relf and McCarty wanting to do more of a folk-oriented repertoire while Page and Dreja wished to remain solid rockers.  The last concert with these four was at Luton Technical College on July 7th 1968, following which Relf and McCarty formed the band Together while Page and Dreja tried to carry on some semblance of the Yardbirds.  I’m not sure how Dreja got out of the group but, ultimately, Page put together what would become Led Zepelin and fulfilled some Scandanavian contractual obligations.  But when they returned home to England, Dreja sued to keep them from using the name Yardbirds, and thus another band was born.  The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
*************************
Snowy Wood
Man of Stone
Driving Sideways
My Time After a While
Stand Back, Baby
The Death of J.B. Lenoir
Oh, Pretty Woman
I Can’t Quit You Baby
Checkin’ Up on My Baby
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Mick Taylor

It’s Okay with Me Baby
Lonesome Whistle
When My Left Eye Jumps
San Ho-Zay
Hey, Baby
When the Train Comes Back
The Right Way is My Way
King of the World
Webbed Feet
   Chicken Shack

Little Games
Drinking Muddy Water
White Summer
Stealing Stealing
Smile on Me
Stroll On
   The Yardbirds featuring Jimmy Page

Suspicions Part 2
Your Funeral and My Trial
Please Don’t Tell
Knockers Step Forward
Hartley Quits
No Reply
She’s Too Young
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Mick Taylor

What You Did Last Night
Baby’s Got Me Crying
Get Back Like You Used to Be
Tell Me
Worried Aout My Woman
I Wanna See My Baby
See See Baby
I’d Rather Go Blind
Remington Ride
   Chicken Shack

Vacation
Walking on Sunset
2401
The Bear
Miss James
Long Gone Midnight
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Mick Taylor 

*************************
By the time Clapton joined the Yardbirds, they had pretty much completed their formational phase.  The earliest assemblage would have been in the late fifties when the rhythm section of drummer Jim McCarty and bassist Paul Samwell-Smith, then playing guitar, joined some schoolmates in the Strollers.  After adding Paul’s brother, Brian Smith, the band renamed themselves after his Gretsch guitar, becoming the  Country Gentlemen and playing copies of basic American Rock ‘n’ Roll such as the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and Ricky Nelson plus the English chart toppers Cliff Richard and the Shadows, performing at high school dances and pubs until the individuals graduated in early 1962.

Later in 1962, Chris Dreja and Anthony “Top” Topham were getting together listening to and learning tunes by Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed, among others, while in attendance at Hollyfield Road School in Surbiton, coincidentally simultaneously being attended by Eric Clapton.  They put together an R&B group that stayed together until merging with the Metropolis Blues Quartet in May 1963.

The MBQ was an acoustic Blues group including Samwell-Smith, now on bass, and Keith Relf as its harmonica playing singer.  At the same time that McCarty rejoined Samwell-Smith, Topham and Dreja came into the fold.  Relf came up with the name Yardbirds (meaning hoboes who hung out around train yards) and the boys began to put together a repertoire based on American Blues such as Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters.

After a couple of weeks, they convinced Cyril Davies to put them in the intermission set at his Eel Pie Island Hotel gig and did well enough that they joined them similarly at his gig the next week at the Railway Hotel in Harrow.  This second showing earned them a Friday night residency and they soon picked up a regular spot at Ken Colyer’s 51 Club.  As a new band with a limited set of material combined with the fact that Colyer’s club was often an all-night affair, the songs had to often be extended well past their original three minutes or less to as long as twenty minutes while the band learned to improvise and progressively build up the dynamics into what would become their trademark “rave-ups”.

When the Rolling Stones deserted their manager Giorgio Gomelsky in favor of Andrew Loog Oldham and gave up their engagement at Gomelsky’s Crawdaddy Club, Giorgio chose the Yardbirds as the new house band for his Sunday night shows starting September 29th, 1963, seamlessly replacing the Stones one week after their last appearance.  Having been brought up in France and Switzerland, upon immigrating to England in the mid-50s Giorgio’s endeavors would make him an important character on London’s Blues and Jazz scenes.  He had filmed the Chris Barber Band’s performance at the First Richmond Jazz Festival in August of 1961 and by mid-1962 took over occupancy of the back room of the Station Hotel every Sunday evening to promote Trad Jazz with an appreciation also for Blues.  After taking on the Stones in February, Giorgio moved to the larger Richmond Athletic Club and continued to sell out each week.  Following the release of the Stones’ first single, the band needed an even larger venue and the door opened for the Yardbirds.  Having been burned by the Stones, Gomelsky put the Yardbirds on a salary and made sure they signed a managerial contract.  A few weeks into their new gig, the 16-year-old Topham was convinced by his parents that his schoolwork was more important than his musical avocation, and that is where our story goes full circle back to Clapton, playing for the first time at the Crawdaddy on October 20th, 1963.  Keith Relf had been a schoolmate at Kingston Art College and, being familiar with his recent musical talents, invited Eric to consider joining the band.

Meantime, Gomelsky’s friendship with Horst Lippman and Fritz Rau, producers of the American Folk Blues Festival series of shows, often gave him first opportunity to promote the visiting musicians in the UK.  While in the country, Lippman and Sonny Boy Williamson attended a Yardbirds show in Croyden and were impressed so much with Clapton that they determined to come back after the festival tour and record shows with the band.  Giorgio convinced them his Crawdaddy Club would be the ideal venue and the shows happened on December 7th and 8th, 1963, but were not released until mid-1966, and then only in the US and with the picture of Jeff Beck rather than Clapton on the album cover.  The opening set of the band finally made it to vinyl much later, in 1981 on a German label.  We lead off our first Yardbirds set with two tracks from these opening sets, Let It Rock and You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover..

The Yardbirds also had a regular Saturday night slot at Croyden’s Star Club and began a Thursday residency on January 23rd, 1964 at the Marquee.  When the club moved to a larger venue, the band played the opening night of Friday March 13th (coincidentally the last of Sonny Boy’s concerts in the UK), and continued on Fridays rather than their previous Thursday shows.  The group also played at Birmingham’s town hall for the First Rhythm and Blues Festival in February, once again backing Sonny Boy.  Also on the lineup were Steampacket, the Spencer Davis Rhythm and Blues Quartet and Long John Baldry’s Hoochie Coochie Men (including Rod Stewart).

The Yardbirds were in the studio in December and January making three demo tracks that enabled Gomelsky to get the group signed with EMI.  They then put together I Wish You Would and A Certain Girl for their first single, released in May 1964. 

The band was booked for the August 9th Fourth National Jazz and Blues Festival in Richmond but, the evening before, Relf suffered a collapsed lung and nearly died.  Being the most important gig of their career thus far, the band went on to close the Festival utilizing Mick O’Neill, whose band Clapton would consider joining after his departure from the Yardbirds, as substitute vocalist.  The band’s finale was a jam session with Georgie Fame, Graham Bond, Ginger Baker and Mike Vernon joining them on stage.  With Relf’s health (he was a chronic asthmatic) putting the status of the band in limbo, they decided to go into the studio and lay down the instrumental foundation for their next single, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Contradicting his doctor’s recommendations for three months recovery time and against pleas from the band, Relf left the hospital after only two weeks and added the vocals and joined the band in recording the flip side, I Ain’t Got You.  The A-side was banned by the BBC but still reached #44 on the strength of their popularity on the club scene.  Much of the rest of the year was spent on package tours where Relf felt their portion of each show would be much less stressful than their normal full-night shows. 

 Realizing the minimal success of their first two singles, especially compared to the vitality of the live performances, the band decided their debut album should be a live recording.  The natural choice for a venue would be the Marquee so in March of 1964, everything was set up for the resulting Five Live Yardbirds album, released in its entirety in the UK in December and only partially in the US as one side of the Rave Up album.  Rolling Stone writer Lester Banks later considered it “without a doubt one of the four or five most exciting rock concerts ever recorded. The early Yardbirds were loose and raw and played with a breathtaking natural energy that has never been matched by any of their progeny.”  I would like to know the others he has in mind to consider adding to my collection.  In spite of having half of it already on the American Rave Up LP, I purchased the import around 1968 along with Graham Bond’s Sounds of ’65 to listen to some pre-Cream material and I have never come close to regretting either purchase.  Because I consider it that good, the whole Five Live album is used to close today’s show.

 In May of 1964, Clapton had the opportunity to share guitar duties with Muddy Waters on a session for his longtime piano player, Otis Spann.  Apparently two tracks featuring Clapton were released but I have only one in my collection, Pretty Girls Everywhere, a song that I have heard done by many artists since and seemingly always done well, but this is my favorite version.  Because it was not with the Yardbirds, I have opted to include the track in an upcoming show.  For the Yardbirds next 45, Clapton wanted to do an Otis Redding tune, but Samwell-Smith had more sway over the rest of the band and he wanted to go with a more commercially viable song they been asked to record by the teenage songwriter, Graham Gouldman, titled For Your Love.  Clapton disapproved vehemently and refused to take part in the recording, agreeing at the last minute to put a lead in the instrumental break.  Along with Relf’s vocal, the song utilized an outside bongo player and bass player (Samwell-Smith instead was on the production end) and Brian Auger playing harpsichord.  As it turned out, by totally dropping their R&B roots for Pop drivel, the Yardbirds finally achieved the success they were hoping for when the March UK release climbed to the number three spot while its May US debut reached #6.  Got to Hurry was a Clapton-penned R&B instrumental that was the flip side and Eric’s first recorded composition.  It was Samwell-Smith’s opinion that “the R&B sound is a bit dated now” and Relf confided that, regarding the public’s musical appetite, “If they want more pop numbers, we’ll play them.” 

 Disillusioned, Clapton gave public notice in March 1965 that the Yardbirds no longer had his services.  Where would he find a home and be allowed to develop his Blues skills?  And who could possibly replace Clapton and keep the Yardbirds whole?  Hint: it wouldn’t be Brian Auger or any other harpsichord player.

October 22, 2014


Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
   --- show 17 ---   10-22-2014

Graham Bond   1966   (Solid Bond)
Jimi Hendrix     1967
Mayall with Green 1967

Just when I think we’ve seen the last of Alexis Korner until we get to the 1984 tribute concert in his honor, here he appears again at the end of our opening set in his role as radio host with none other than Jimi Hendrix as his guest.  Granted, Korner is only represented on one track, but he does accept Jimi’s invitation to add some bottleneck guitar to the session.  This and the entire first set are taken from Radio One, a collection of Jimi’s BBC broadcasts.  The reason there is only the one tune from Alexis Korner’s Rhythm & Blues Show is that it was only a twenty minute session that was broadcast three times each week over the BBC’s World Service network, while the other programs (Saturday Club and Top Gear) were at least two hour weekly airings.  This is maybe my favorite Hendrix CD because it best shows his Blues and R&B roots and after his first album (which is more likely my very favorite because it recreated the mood he set at Monterey and I have had it for so long) he went away from the driving Rock to embrace the psychedelia in whose development he was so prominent in defining.

A 45 released to UK audiences in December 1966, climbing to number 6,  led to a February BBC session where the band played the two songs, Hey Joe and Stone Free along with Foxy Lady.  That was followed up by the #3 single of Purple Haze and 51st Anniversary in March of 67, leading to a second Saturday Club taping the end of that month with Killing Floor, Fire and Purple Haze, all to show up today but in different versions.

Also that March was the first American release, Hey Joe backed by 51st Anniversary, which didn’t even chart.  The Wind Cries Mary and Highway Chile climbed to #6 upon its May UK release, the same month that the UK version of the Are You Experienced album reached #2.

Sales success finally hit stateside in August of 1967, two months after the band’s Monterey debut, when the LP was the fifth-best seller.  The same month’s release of Purple Haze and The Wind Cries Mary was likely stymied at #65 due to Hendrix being such a talked about commodity that people wanted as much as they could get and chose the album which contained both those tracks.

By now, Jimi was able to work about as much as he cared to and October is very well represented in my library, beginning the sixth with the first of two Top Gear sessions which produced Driving South and Catfish Blues and a couple of tunes we left out, Hound Dog and Burning of the Midnight Lamp.  That recording was done on a Friday and by the next Thursday he began a three day gig in San Francisco, well represented on the album Live at Winterland even though we opted against using it due to time constraints.  And the next Thursday, here he was again at the BBC to record Hoochie Koochie Man along with Korner.  A busy twelve days!  The December recording for Top Gear brought the Radio One Theme we opened with and Hear My Train a-Comin’. as well as a trio of unused tunes, Day Tripper, Wait Until Tomorrow and Spanish Castle Magic  There are also a half dozen tunes from the Experinced album for our second Hendrix set (four more show up in the final set’s live Monterey versions, played in full).

Backtracking in time a little bit for our closing set, allow me to tell you my own experiences surrounding Sunday’s Monterey Pop Festival.  It was not unusual when my friends’ band, the Druids, played a gig for me to be hanging out, as was the case on a summer Saturday evening in 1967, but after this particular night three of us decided to go down to catch the Who as they performed at the Monterey Pop Festival.  After we all gathered changes of clothes, we took the post-midnight drive in Mark’s car, which was so small he wouldn’t allow me to tap my feet to the music because it shook the vehicle.  Seriously.  So when we got to the fairgrounds well before sunrise, it wasn’t very comfortable for me trying to grab some shut eye in the back seat or Mark taking over the front.  Most likely, Steve got the best rest by laying his body down outside.

So when the daylight began to shine through, we went to the sales window expecting to get tickets but none were available.  The lady said, however, to check back again and they would hold the first cancellation of a set of three for us.  The fairgrounds was a new type of experience to me as everything was geared to the youthful musically-inclined crowd with booths filled with hippie crafts, posters and sundry types of paraphernalia.

When we went back to see about the tickets, indeed a cancellation had come in and we were set for the evening show.  Now secure in our quest, we roamed about the grounds soaking in the afternoon’s atmosphere including Ravi Shankar in the background, who performed for the entire afternoon show.  We ran into a knowledgeable musician friend of Steve’s from high school who told us, yeah, the Who are going to be great, but get ready for this black cat coming back from England with his new band.

Actually, the whole lineup was of the highest calibre.  The Blues Project opened the show, followed by Buffalo Springfield.  I don’t remember anything really about the Band with No Name, but if they weren’t up to snuff I’m sure I would recall.  Janis Joplin and Big Brother had impressed well enough the day before to be given a return set, I believe because one of the scheduled bands couldn’t make it.  I had never seen them better, and they set the stage for the headlining Who.  Actually, I don’t think either Hendrix or the Who were considered the feature artist and, legend has it, neither wanted to follow the other but Jimi lost out in a coin toss or some such thing.  The Who were fantastic, everything we were expecting and more and, as was their norm, finished up My Generation with Peter Townsend smashing his guitar to wind up a full set of Roger Daltry flinging his microphone around his head like a cowboy’s lariat, John Entwhistle running ridiculously rapid riffs on the bass guitar and Kieth Moon flailing furiously away at his drum kit like no one else could.

I’ve never been a fan of the Grateful Dead, and the letdown in energy that they showed sandwiched in between the Who and Hendrix did not raise my esteem for them at all.  So when Jimi came on stage, he had no problem getting the crowd worked back into a frenzy.  Everyone is likely aware of the burning of his guitar to counteract the Who’s destructive exhibition.

The Who had played the weekend before at the old Fillmore and Hendrix was there the weekend after to make their California visits feasible and, while I can’t recall who I went with, there was no way I was going to miss a second opportunity to see Hendrix.  The only other time I saw him was on the same bill (at Winterland to my best recollection) as Albert King and John Mayall.  Since Hendrix had moved more psychedelic than I prefer, it was the Bluesbreakers I went mainly to see, a disappointment because Mick Taylor’s amp was messed up that night and you could not hear his guitar well at all.  But the left-handed guitars of Albert and Jimi certainly made up for it in their performances.  As a closing thought, it occurs to me I should mention that drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding were the other components in the Hendrix trio.
*************************
The smallest portion of today’s show is another grouping of the Graham Bond ORGANization.  This was at the time (1966, from the Solid Bond CD) when Baker and Bruce had just departed to form Cream.  I’m not sure who is playing bass or if it might even be from Bond’s organ, making it a three piece with holdover Dick Heckstall-Smith on saxophones and Jon Hiseman taking over behind the drum kit.  To my knowledge this is the first pairing of Dick and Jon, but the two would move next to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (including the recording of the Bare Wires LP) and then put together a very interesting group, Colosseum. 

I will have to check out the Bare Wires LP again because it didn’t grab me as the follow-up to the Bluesbreakers’ first three American LPs, but Hiseman has impressed me so with what, at least to my limited exposure to Jazz drumming, appears to be a unique rolling style that makes me wish to hear more. Another Jazz-based drummer, and the mentor of Ginger Baker, I am trying to learn more of is Phil Seamen, although his heroin addiction greatly hindered his career.  Hopefully, there will be more to come on him as well.
*************************
While we should be hearing things from the Bare Wires album next show, Mayall is presented today with Peter Green, joining the Bluesbreakers for the second time now that Eric Clapton moved on becoming the best-known character in Cream.  I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but Clapton had departed the Bluesbreakers earlier to try his hand at playing in Greece and Green actively pursued Mayall to let him join the band as his replacement.  Mayall was hesitant but finally gave in to Green’s persistence, only to have to release him after about a week when his established star Clapton returned to the fold.  The experience disappointed Green immensely and he was justifiably reluctant to rejoin but finally gave in.  It was while with the Bluesbreakers that he met Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, the rhythm section that would soon become Fleetwood Mac upon Peter’s leaving Mayall in May of 1967 after less than a year   

The foundation for our sets are the LP A Hard Road, but the CDs Looking Back and Thru the Years provide us with extra material, mostly singles from many Bluesbreaker ensembles but a strong smattering with Peter Green.  While Aynsley Dunbar was the drummer most often (including the LP), Mick Fleetwood does show up on two sides, Double Trouble and It Hurts Me Too, not presented today.  The album sessions also included the horns of Johnny Almond, Alan Skidmore and Ray Warleigh.  Since we’re getting pedantic about the players, and it seems to me that by including their names is about the only way to give validity to the idea of this showing the development of the British music scene, it seems proper to mention that I have an oddity with the dates.  Clearly after Mick Taylor had joined the band, Green came back in early December to record two sides of the ninth Mayall single, Jenny featuring only Mayall and Green and its B-side Pictures, which added Keef Hartley but only providing percussive tapping on the back of a guitar.
*************************
Radio One Theme
Stone Free
Driving South
Catfish Blues
Hear My Train a-Comin’
(I’m Your) Hoochie Koochie Man
   The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Looking Back
So Many Roads
Sitting in the Rain
Evil Woman Blues
Out of Reach
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

Manic Depression
Love or Confusion
May This Be Love
I Don’t Live Today
Fire
Are You Experienced
   The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Green Onions
Springtime in the City
Only Sixteen
Long Legged Baby
It’s Not Goodbye
   The Graham Bond ORGANization

You Don’t Love Me
The Stumble
Dust My Broom
There’s Always Work    (only if time permits)
The Same Way
The Supernatural
Mama Talk to Your Daughter
Greeny
Missing You
Curly
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

Killing Floor
Foxy Lady
Like a Rolling Stone
Rock Me Baby
Hey Joe
Can You See Me
The Wind Cries Mary
Purple Haze
Wild Thing
   The Jimi Hendrix Experience

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
Choker
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
Think
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
Hideaway
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