July 8, 2014

Development of the British Blues & Rhythm
  --- recap ---     7-9-2014  
Because I’ve had a last minute change of musical direction on the eleventh show in this series, but mostly because I’ve fallen a little bit behind on my research and writing for these profiles, I figured a good way to get around it would be to do a show filled with some of my favorite choices from what we’ve heard so far.  The extra two weeks should put me back on course hopefully through the second half of the year, not that we won’t be continuing right on past the New Year.  I had always planned on the first show of next year to be a kind of refresher course for what we’ve discovered to that point anyway, so now we’ll just do it bi-annually.  (Semi-annually?  I always get those prefixes mixed up!  Anyway, twice a year.)

You might have noticed I have extended our title to Blues & Rhythm.  That is because I have allowed myself to fit in things I don’t think of as a purist’s definition of Blues but feel many are essential and some are just interesting or fun additions to complete the picture.  And we will even be following the careers of several of the “legitimate” Blues players as time pushes them to more radical Rock-like repertoires while they develop their styles, although Blues never is that far away and often returned to.  Also, on the back of my business card I have for twenty years defined my show as Blues and Rhythm.

So this blog entry is pretty much useless banter except for the following playlist for today’s show.  (Who said I was getting too full of myself?)

   The Animals
Times are Getting Tougher Than Tough
   Duffy Power
Hoochie Coochie Man
   Manfred Mann
I’m Ready
   Long John Baldry
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime
   The Artwoods
Lonely and Blue
   Downliners Sect
Easy Rider
   Alexis Korner’s Skiffle Group
Rock Island Line
   Lonnie Donegan
Long Black Train
   Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated
Midnight Train
   Spencer Davis Group
Smokestack Lightning
   Eric Clapton’s Yardbirds
Tobacco Road
   Nashville Teens
I Love the Life I Live
   Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames
Susie Q
   The Rolling Stones
Bye Bye Bird
   The Moody Blues

Early in the Morning
   The Graham Bond Organization
Can You Hear Me
   The Artwoods
It’s Got the Whole World Shaking
   Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames
It’s Gonna Work Out Fine
   Manfred Mann
Everybody Needs Somebody
   The Rolling Stones
When a Man Loves a Woman
   The Spencer Davis Group
A Shot of Rhythm and Blues
   Johnny Kidd and the Pirates
Why Don’t You Smile Now
   Downliners Sect
It Ain’t Necessarily So
   Duffy Power
Ride Your Pony
   Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames
Fifteen Past Three
   Jack Bruce

Old Time Religion
   The Clyde Valley Stompers
Up Above My Head
   Long John Baldry (with Otilie Patterson & Rod Stewart and Chris Barber’s Band)
Bury My Body
   The Animals
Where Could I Go
   The Chris Barber Skiffle Group
Lord Remember Me

Can’t You Line ‘em
   The Chris Barber Skiffle Group
County Jail
   The Alexis Korner Skiffle Group
Parchman Farm
   Duffy Power
Work Song
   Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames
Bring a Little Water, Susie
   Lonnie Donegan
Pick a Bale of Cotton
   The Vipers

   Jon “T-Bone” Tyler’s Bop Brothers
   Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds
Come See Me
   The Pretty Things
Woman Made Trouble
   Duffy Power
The World is Round
   Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames

Roll ‘em Pete
   Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men
Sun Dog
   The Nashville Teens
Kid Man
   The Alexis Korner Skiffle Group
Georgia on My Mind
   The Spencer Davis Group
Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut
   The Pretty Things
One Ugly Child
   The Downliners Sect
Just Stay Blue
   Duffy Power
Mystic Eyes
Talkin’ ‘Bout You
   The Animals

June 25, 2014

Development of the British Blues --- show 10 ---

Animals                                           1964-66
Georgie Fame                                  1964-66
Moody Blues                                   1964-67

I’m finalizing this show’s verbal entry Monday after an exhaustive weekend of participation in our 23rd annual Blues Marathon so my apologies if it still seems a little rough; I can’t imagine why I’m still tired!  Anyway, this is some music that I have been immersing myself in for the past two weeks, thoroughly enjoying it and looking forward to presenting it to you.  The Animals have been a favorite ever since they showed up on American AM radio, but Georgie Fame was a newfound treat as I discovered his music, and then there is a smattering of the earliest incarnation of the Moody Blues.

When we did our third show in this series about the British Blues, which paired the Animals and Manfred Mann, I made the determination to go only with what Animals material I had on CD rather than delve into my scratchy old LPs.  This decision has proved to be wise, since plugging the gaping holes in my Animals library has provided the opportunity to again present the band to you.

The only tune in our first set that I was not familiar with from those vinyl editions was Talking’ ‘Bout You.  The song actually was included on their first album (and our earlier show) in about a two minute snippet and was among my two favorites from their first LP (the other being Baby Let Me Take You Home) and was a great example of a song leaving you wanting so much more, especially as the last entry on the first side of the LP.  We heard a seven minute version a month ago when Eric Burdon shared the vocals with Sonny Boy Williamson; still, it was a long period of anticipation before I heard the seven minute original recording from which the short version was taken.  I swear I must have kept repeating the track almost ten times in the car before I even listened to any of the rest.  Similar to Johnny Kidd’s version of Shakin’ All Over, it took almost exactly half a century before I heard the full version.  Yup, I had to use it to start off the show rather than make you wait any longer.  The rest of the set consists of their take on some now-classic R&B and Blues tunes done by the likes of Ray Charles (The Right Time), Little Richard (The Girl Can’t Help It) and a couple by John Lee Hooker (I’m Mad Again and Maudie).  In fact, from the entire eponymous first album, there is only one tune that hasn’t gotten played on these two shows.  Likewise, their follow-up album On Tour was so well represented on our first show that only one tune has not been aired after we today added She Said Yeah, another favorite.  But these are the Animals; I have lots of favorites.  The same can be said for Animal Tracks when we here included Take It Easy Baby.  That’s only three songs of the 34 from the first three albums which we omitted.  Shows why I consider the band to have rarely, if ever, recorded a bad track.  Due to time restraints, that first show ended before their next albums, but we round out today’s show with a few tracks from succeeding releases.

Weirdly enough, I consider it a high tribute that my old Animals LPs are maybe the scratchiest in my library, a condition earned by the amount of time played on turntables of dubious quality combined with being the choice at parties where it was commonplace for my rowdy friends to bump into the furniture that housed the record player.  The good times were almost worth the damage done and must be a part of why it is so endearing to hear these songs again.  CDs, gotta love ’em, they just don’t get scratched easily.

Personally, I find  many similarities between Georgie Fame and Chris Farlowe.  To begin with, while I have been familiar with the names since the 60s, I was only aware of one song by each artist; for Farlowe it was Out of Time and Yeh Yeh is likely all I was exposed to by Fame.

  Therefore it was a pleasant surprise that, after purchasing one CD for each of them, I followed my desires for more and was able to make a couple of strong sets for their shows.  They were both close enough in age to have lived through much of the hell that was England during and after World War II and they are both pictured seated in front of a keyboard (I believe Farlowe always had a keyboard player in his band so perhaps it was just a comfortable place to sit!).  Their musics are not truly Blues but rather a combination of R&B and Jazz stylings and definitely not a part of the guitar-dominated trend that was what I had really been used to. 

Because of their proximity in age, many of the names and places appear in both profiles.  Fame also was managed by Rik Gunnell and played his nightclubs.  A 1966 ad for the Gunnell agency lists Fame at the top followed by Zoot Money, Chris Farlowe, The Alan Price Set, and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers as well as some lesser knowns.

Born Clive Powell in Leigh in Lancashire (near Manchester) on June 26th 1943, he was taking piano lessons by the age of seven.  In the mid-50s, Georgie heard and embraced the music of Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino and Little Richard.  After leaving school in 1958, he worked days and played in the Dominoes by night.  He left his job to join Rory Blackwell and the Blackjacks but the band quickly broke up.  The Powell family had moved to London in 1959 when he was 16 years old, so Georgie stayed on and was introduced to the musical impresario Larry Parnes, who made him pianist for many of his stable of singers.  Regarding his name change, Fame related, “(It) was very much against my will, but he said, ‘If you don’t use my name, I won’t use you in the show’.”

That year, he toured playing with Parnes’ people and others, including Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.  In 1961 Fame and three others, the original Blue Flames, were extracted from the larger band specifically to back Billy Fury; then Fury (and Parnes) dumped them in early 1962.  In the meantime, they had already recorded on Vincent’s Pistol Packin’ Mama single.

Georgie soon met his manager-to-be Rik Gunnell, who gave him Sunday afternoons at his Flamingo Club on London’s Wardour Street.  He then reformed the Blue Flames with Red Reese, bassist Ted Makins, guitarist Colin Green and sax player Mick Eve with Georgie’s B-3 and vocals headlining the ensemble.  Fame credited his early audiences at the Flamingo as being both an inspiration to his repertoire and also a great sounding board for his interpretations.  As he told Record Collector, “Until the Mods came in, the Flamingo was a black club.  It was full of West Indians, pimps and prostitutes – Christine Keeler and those – and black American servicemen.  It was their base in London for the weekend.  They could dance all night to Jazz and R&B and they used to give me the latest records.”  If it passed well on their ears, it was likely both quality and authentic.  Through them, Georgie became hooked on the sounds of Jimmy Smith, Groove Holmes and Booker T. and switched from piano to the more robust sound of the Hammond B-3 organ late in 1962.  Another Soulful influence was his 1965 UK tour with the Motown Revue.

Fame was also influential in the UK’s acceptance of Ska and I would like to pursue that at some time, if not Georgie’s music then others’ because it fits our timeline, but his earliest album Soul of Africa and two related singles, J.A. Blues / Orange Street and Stop Right Here / Rik’s Tune, are either hard to find or, more likely, never put out on CDs.  I presume them all to be Jamaica oriented.

After his 1963 signing with EMI Columbia, his next release was the live album Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo from early 1964 and we played a couple of chain gang-related tunes, Parchman Farm and Work Song (including lyrics I was unfamiliar with even existing).  Neither it nor the ensuing three singles fared all that well, but the Blue Flames’ stature as a club band was ever increasing.

Success came in late 1964 when his single Yeh Yeh / Preach and Teach charted #1.  His follow-up single Something (authored by John Mayall and Jon Mark) / Outrage charted in October and his earlier 1965 album Fame at Last hit the Top Twenty.  The year also included a couple of solid EPs – Fame for Fats which grouped together No, No / Blue Monday / So Long / Sick and Tired followed by Move It On Over / Walking the Dog / High Heel Sneakers / Rockin’ Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu.  We included Blue Monday, Sick and Tired and Move It On Over, but I’d really like to hear the rest of that second EP.  1966 saw another UK chart topper in Getaway / El Bandido and the May album Release Sweet Things went as high as #6 in its 22-week run.  This would be the final recording lineup (guitarist Colin Green, Cliff Barton on bass, John Mitchell behind the drums, Speedy Acquaye providing percussion, Glen Hughes & Peter Coe on saxes, and Edward “Tan Tan” Thornton playing trumpet) before Fame disbanded the Blue Flames to pursue a solo career.  Before signing with the CBS label, he took a bold step in recording Sound Venture (also 1966) with the big band backing of Harry South’s Orchestra, reaching #9 and setting the stage for a 1967 tour with Count Basie.

Georgie’s first album for the CBS label was Two Faces of Fame with a live half backed again by South’s ensemble.  There were more successful singles, but when his Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde went to #1 late in 1967, CBS began reigning in his artistic control of content and their choices were obviously based on salability.  The interesting-sounding 1971 collaboration with Alan Price, Fame & Price, was considered a middle of the road Pop waste of time.  He did again put together the Blue Flames in 1974 while with the Island label, but was more successful with jingle writing than his recordings.

Fame had a re-emergence with Van Morrison beginning in 1989 when he began a highly respectable run as the organ player (including a stint as Van’s musical director) on Avalon Sunset and every following Morrison album all the way through 1997 with The Healing Game.  When we took our break for St. Patrick’s Day earlier this year, we used the 1996 album How Long Has This Been Going On, with the shared billing of Fame and Morrison, as a major portion of the show. 

Georgie, once again having earned the respect he was due, still recorded under his own name and shared a duet of Moondance with Van on Fame’s 1991 Cool Cat Blues LP.  His 1995 Three Line Whip allowed him the extra pleasure of recording with his sons Tristan (on guitar) and James (drums) Powell.  Also critically acclaimed was his 1996 release, The Blues and Me.

In 1998, Fame ended his lengthy association with Morrison and signed on with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings as vocalist and organist on several albums.  By 2000, he was under Ben Sidran’s Jazz label, Go, where he put out another well respected album, Poet in New York.

The Moody Blues were essentially a throw in for today’s presentation because I generally like to use three bands for a bit of diversity on the shows.  I have never been a fan of orchestrated music when it comes to Rock ‘n’ Roll or Blues and that is definitely what I consider the Moody Blues to be.  I came across a copy of the Days of Future Passed LP at a Flea Market a long, long time ago and felt that I owed it to myself to spend the 25 cents and most likely never even got around to listening to it.  It is just not my style.  But this was an earlier iteration of the band; I always liked their song Go Now, and there had to be some redeeming quality to a band that used Blues as part of their name.  (By that logic, I should go see the Blue Man Group!)  And we have become more expansive as the series progresses as to what was influencing the Blues players.  After all, no one grows up in a vacuum.  And with fourteen bonus tracks added to the original album (representing the entire output of the band before personnel changes), there must be a fair amount to like.  And they do one of my all time favorite Blues tunes that I will play for you every chance I get, Sonny Boy Williamson’s Bye Bye Bird.  Boy, was I disappointed!  Even though Bye Bye Bird was a decent Blues track (and the only one in the CD), it bears no resemblance to the original except that the lead instrument is harmonica.  From the 26 tracks, only Bird and Go Now plus four others were suitable for this show, including two from James Brown’s repertoire.  Still, it makes an enjoyable (albeit short) set and this was before they decided to throw in woodwinds, violins, etc.

The band was assembled in May of 1964, but Ray Thomas (flute, harmonica and vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboards and vocals) had first played together in El Riot and the Rebels.  They got together again in 1963 in the Krew Cats and, like so many others, honed their skills in Germany, as Thomas later recalled, “We went to Germany and endured the madness and diabolical living conditions of the Hamburg and Hannover clubs”.  Upon their return home, they decided to pool the most suitable of the Birmingham talent.

First addition was Jazz drummer Graeme Edge, who had known Thomas since their participation in Birmingham’s Youth Choir back in the mid-fifties.  Next recruited was Denny Laine

(real name Brian Arthur Hines; guitar, harmonica and vocals), who had been fronting the Diplomats for about a year and a half.  The last acquisition was bassist Clint Warwick.

Now the band needed a name.  There was a brewery that had a few venues that provided playing opportunities for bands and the guys thought they might be able to wangle extra gigs if they used the initials of the beer company, Mitchell & Butler.   As Blues was the current musical fad the second part of the name was chosen and apparently they were all pretty moody, so … More blatantly, they abbreviated the name to the M & B 5.  When the desired response didn’t come through they reverted back to the full name, the Moody Blues Five.

They first played at Birmingham’s Carlton Ballroom, then got a manager, soon acquired a recurring gig at the Marquee in London and ultimately a recording contract with Decca.  Their first single got them a spot on BBC’s Ready, Steady, Go, but it was the second release, Go Now, which reached the charts, and strongly, as it stayed there for 14 weeks in both the UK starting in November (topping the charts) and the US beginning in December (although my trusty reference book tells me it was released in February ’65) peaking at #10.  It was truly an international hit as it charted #8 in Holland and #14 in Australia, selling over a million copies.  Their next single reached #33 and the next one got to #22, but this ensemble never had anything more than Go Now of any consequence, including this July 1965 12-track LP, The Magnificent Moodies.  The band did participate in the 1965 concert for the New Music Express’ poll winners amid the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Seekers, Searchers, Cilla Black, Donovan and Tom Jones.

Though these guys never made a US tour, the band was recorded in concert at the Richmond-on-Thames Jazz Festival and portions were presented on American television’s Shindig program.  Strictly coincidentally, the Animals and Georgie Fame appeared on the same December 4th show.

Laine and Warwick departed the band by August with Denny going solo and eventually playing in Paul McCartney’s Wings between 1971 and 1979.  By November, their places in the band were taken by Justin Hayward providing guitar and vocals and John Lodge doing bass and vocals, Lodge having been one of El Riot’s (Thomas) Rebels.  Within a year, the altered group would release Days of Future Passed in November of 1967 and massive success ensued.

Regarding the original Moodies, as Graeme Edge put it, “We were tagged one-hit wonders.  We had nine months of glory and then went back to fifty pounds a night on the road.”

Key to the Highway
June 25th, 2014

Talkin’ ‘Bout You
The Right Time
The Girl Can’t Help It
She Said Yeah
I’m Mad Again
Club a-Go-Go
I’m in Love Again
   The Animals

Parchman Farm
Work Song
Get on the Right Track
Yeh Yeh
Do Re Mi (Forget About the Dough)
I Love the Life I Live
It’s Got the Whole World Shaking
Let the Sunshine In
   Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames

Inside Looking Out
Blue Feeling
See See Rider
Gin House Blues
Baby What’s Wrong
Don’t Worry Much
Don’t Bring Me Down
   The Animals

I’ll Go Crazy
Something You Got
Go Now
Bye Bye Bird
I Don’t Mind
And My Baby’s Gone
   The Moody Blues

Sick and Tired
Move It On Over
In the Meantime
Soul Stomp
See Saw
The World is Round
Last Night
El Bandido
Dawn Yawn
Ride Your Pony
   Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames

Memphis, Tennessee
Sweet Little Sixteen
I’m Gonna Change the World
Take It Easy Baby
That’s All I Am to You
Mama Told Me Not to Come
Squeeze Her, Tease Her
   The Animals

June 11, 2014

Development of the British Blues --- show 9 ---
Chris Farlowe                             1963-1968
Johnny Kidd and the Pirates       1969-1965
Them                                           1964-1966
Albert Lee                                      1966 ?
Here is something I’ve been pondering: what exactly is nostalgia?  I’ve always kinda figured it to be whatever it was for an individual that they enjoyed in their formative years, essentially the high school years, that brings to mind all the good times associated with that span of one’s life.  Most obvious for me would be music, but I imagine automobiles, fashion, furniture, baseball cards, anything that takes you back to that comfort zone before you had to really get a grip on the world would qualify.  Again, for me that would be the music of the sixties, more specifically many of the British Rhythm & Blues bands we’ve already covered this year: the Animals, Stones, Yardbirds, Spencer Davis Group, maybe even John Mayall …. and some of the more Rock groups like the Kinks, the Who, and most definitely the Beatles. 

But now we’re beginning to get to a point in our series which is more exposing ourselves to artists whom I had only been familiar with through their names but, in some cases, not even heard their music.  So does it qualify as nostalgia because it shows similarities of that particular era or does it have to be clearly recognizable to me as something I enjoyed way back when?  Oh well, whatever niche we wish to place it in, I hope you will find that our selections today still fit the category of good rockin’ music.

Our next three shows will be getting away from the truly Blues music that was initially envisioned and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates reach the farthest towards Rock ‘n’ Roll.  It is a fact that I waited almost half a century to hear the original version of a song.  Shakin’ All Over became a Rock classic almost as soon as the Guess Who did it (I guess maybe as soon as Kidd did it) and became practically an anthem when the Who performed it on Live at Leeds, but I had never had the opportunity to hear the original until a few months ago when I bought a 2CD “Best of” pairing.  So you know I had to pick a few tunes from it if for no other reason than to justify the purchase.  Actually, a couple of full sets fit nicely into today’s show.

Frederick Albert Heath was the third of three children born to Margaret and Ernest Heath, his birth taking place on November 23rd 1935 in Willesden, North London.  (Does anybody really care about this stuff besides the biographers who make it seem obligatory because they likely get paid by the word?  You should see the useless trivia I have to wade through as I attempt to keep these notes less boring.  And why do so many of these Brits feel the need to change their names?  Oops, did I just say all that out loud?)  In 1956, Heath and some friends formed a Skiffle group that achieved some success, including an airing on the BBC radio show Skiffle Club and gigs at the popular 2 I’s coffee bar in Soho.

Somewhat unique among the Brit rockers of the time, he wrote some of his own material and even had one recorded by The Bachelors in 1959.  At the same time, Freddie Heath & the Nutters got a contract with EMI’s HMV label and recorded the same song, Please Don’t Touch, as their first single.  It was at this time that some management genius decided they would be better served with the name Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, suiting them up in buccaneer garb including an eye patch for Freddie, I mean Johnny.  The song reached into the Top 20, thanks in part to a live airing of it on BBC radio’s Saturday Club.

Of the several other recordings they made, only the original disc’s B-side Growl makes our playlist until 1960’s Shakin’ All Over, both penned by the lead singer.  The Pirates were a trio including drummer Clem Cattini, bassist Brian Gregg and guitarist Alan Caddy, but added studio guitarist Joe Moretti on the session for a remake of the 1925 hit Yes Sir, That’s My Baby, intended to be the A-side until Shakin’ was laid down.

Everything about the song happened quickly. It was written in six minutes in a coffee shop the day before the session.  The label rushed it to market and it charted immediately, reaching number one in seven weeks.  Two releases later, Linda Lu charted but Please Don’t Bring Me Down, in sound very similar to Shakin’ All Over, failed to go anywhere.  Disappointed, the Pirates abandoned ship and by 1962 they were all members of the band the Tornados with the trans-Atlantic chart topper Telstar. 

The new Pirates were put together in 1962 from the Redcaps, a band that had backed a guy named Cuddly Dudley.  They were comprised of drummer Frank Farley, bassist Johnny Spence and guitarist Johnny Patto.  In addition to dates around England, they performed at Hamburg, Germany’s renowned Star Club.  They were also popular in Liverpool and once headlined a Mersey riverboat shuttle whose lineup also included the up and coming group, the Beatles.

At the end of 1962, they put out A Shot of Rhythm and Blues with I Can Tell as Mick Green replaced Patto in the Pirates.  With new manager Gordon Mills, they recorded his composition I’ll Never Get Over You which took them to #5 but afterward, while they were still a popular live attraction, the band failed to chart significantly.  In April of 1966, Johnny was once again set adrift without a band.  The trio released a few records as the Pirates and we have included Casting My Spell (because I like it) which is confusingly patented in 1964 (likely a typo).  He formed a third batch of Pirates and was still doing well in the clubs, but before they could put out a song Johnny was killed in a car crash returning home from a gig.

Send for That Girl was released posthumously and went nowhere.  Despite relatively few hits, this two CD set contains lots of good music, some of them not available in his lifetime, including a version of the Muddy Waters / Willie Dixon Blues classic I Just Want to Make Love to You recorded three years before the Rolling Stones included it on their debut album.
Our show actually opens up with Chris Farlowe.  He came into the world with the name John Henry Deighton in Islington, London on October 13th 1940.  At the age of five he would accompany his mother on the piano and by the age of twelve he was absorbed in the Skiffle craze that swept the UK.  His band, John Henry’s Skiffle Group with whom he sang and played guitar, even won The All England Skiffle Championships at the Tottenham Royal.  Working as an apprentice carpenter in his teens, he would stop in at the local record shop on payday and immerse himself in Jazz and Blues and gradually added these stylings to his Lonnie Donegan influence.  By 1957, when the floor dropped out from the Skiffle scene, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Blues had taken his interest and his band adjusted accordingly.

As it was common practice to change one’s name, Deighton took the last name of American Jazz guitarist Tal Farlow (adding the e later) with the first name Chris just because it sounded good, and since all things American were what was cool in the UK those days, he took the name of his favorite car and put it on his band, the Thunderbirds.  The band gained popularity in its gigs around the UK and was one of many to take a turn in Hamburg, Germany in 1961 which strengthened their dedication to R&B.

Having sufficiently impressed Rik Gunnell to want to be their manager, the band had plenty of bookings at the entrepreneur’s many clubs, among them the Flamingo, the Ram Jam, and the Allnighter Club.  The band at that time included two holdovers from John Henry’s Skiffle Group, guitarist Bobby Taylor and drummer Johnny Wiseman, along with bassist Ricky Charman and Vic Cooper on the Hammond organ.

Manager and agent Gunnell acquired a session with Decca and in November 1962 the single Air Travel was issued with Chris backed by studio musicians.  This effort was insufficient for Decca to proceed further at that time and Farlowe’s next 45 was issued for Columbia, the Farlowe-written I Remember with the B-side Push Push in September 1963.  By now well under contract to Columbia but, similar to the true tradition of so many American bluesmen, Chris did not let that stop him from recording another single for Decca.  The two sides were released in January and are said to be of a Ska foundation.  I don’t know much about Ska except that I perceive it to be similar to Reggae.  I like the A-side The Blue Beat very much but its reverse is remarkably forgettable.  Still, particularly Georgie Fame’s appreciation of the genre piques my curiosity and by the time we get to Fame’s entry in our series perhaps I will have acquired some.  Anyway, for obvious contractual reasons the single was released as performed by the Beazers.

The band returned to their R&B leanings with Girl Trouble and Itty Bitty Pieces for Columbia and I believe was marketed as Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds.  Perhaps because of the lackluster reception to this single, Farlowe decided to shake up the band.  “We had guitar players up to audition after the old boys stood down … Albert Lee walked in, got up there, plugged in and did his thing.  ‘Don’t get down, you might as well stay up there’, I shouted up to him.  He was phenomenal.”  Joining Lee and bassist Charman were Hammond organist Dave Greenslade and drummer Neil Hague.  Saxophonist Bernie Greenwood also signed on but shortly decided to join Eric Clapton in his escapades in Greece (which will likely be divulged in the Mayall/Clapton section) and was replaced by Dave Quincy.

The next release’s B-side What You Gonna Do and the following A-side Hey Hey Hey Hey (a modification of Billy Boy Arnold’s I Wish You Would) were both penned by Farlowe (credited to Deighton) and begin a group of the CD’s remaining songs that impressed well enough to all make airplay today.  These included almost obligatory though fun versions of Rock ’n’ Roll tunes, Big Mama Thornton’s Hound Dog and Chuck Berry’s Reelin’ and Rockin’, followed by my personal favorite Voodoo.  The band was still in high demand on the road but none of their 45s achieved any significant sales level.  Then Farlowe came out with Buzz with the Fuzz, filled with hip slang that made it very popular with those who heard it but, because it contained the phrase “rolling up a joint”, the record was banned from the airwaves which served as the death knell with Columbia Records.

The next foray into the record sales world was with Sue Records’ double sided version of T-Bone Walker’s classic Stormy Monday Blues.  Seemingly free of any contractual obligations, it is curious why it was released under the pseudonym Little Joe Cook but perhaps it was to achieve the result that Chris mentioned after their appearance on the TV show Ready Steady Go, “People refused to believe it was a white singer”.  No less an authority than Otis Redding praised Farlowe as a “Soul Brother”.  Still, there were many who believed a white person could not sing the Blues, to which Chris would reply, “Listen here.  I’ve lived through the war and been bombed.  You say we ain’t had the Blues?”

Up to now, the songs have been taken from the single CD Dig the Buzz; First Recordings ‘62-’65.  We now move on to the double CD Ride On Baby; The Best of… for our second set.  Chris had known Mick Jagger from his travels on the British music trails and also one of the kitchen staff at the Flamingo, Andrew Loog Oldham.  Once Oldham became manager of the Rolling Stones, one of his next steps was to start a record label, Immediate.  Now that Chris was without a recording contract Oldham asked him to sign on with his new label.  Figuring it certainly couldn’t hurt to be associated with the Stones, Farlowe accepted.  Very quickly (I’m tempted to say Immediately, but that wouldn’t quite be the case), he was given the opportunity to record several Jagger-Richard written songs but his first release came in October of 1965 with Lee Hazelwood’s The Fool and Treat Her Good, the latter a slightly modified version of Roy Head’s Treat Her Right for which Chris claimed authorship.  Then came the handiwork of the Stones’ duo as he released versions of Think, Out of Time, Ride On Baby, Yesterday’s Papers, I’m Free, Paint It Black and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.  Think hit #37 on the singles chart, and even though we won’t here Yesterday’s Papers today, Chris’ versions of these two songs are much more to my taste than those by the Stones which never appealed to me.

We present many of these to lead off our next set and, since Satisfaction was done in the style of Otis Redding, we continue with a Soulful segment including Mr. Pitiful, In the Midnight Hour (these three were part of a December EP which reached #6) and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.  North, South, East, West was on the cusp of being eliminated from today’s airing until I read that it was Tina Turner and the Ikettes who provided the vocal backup that I initially disliked.  I guess I’m not beyond letting a big name decide whether I like something or not.  The first Immediate 45 precedes the Bob Dylan tune It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue which is a song I think is so nice I’ll play it twice (okay, even I know that comment was lame) when it appears again by Them

The UK top-charting single Out of Time, which showed up originally on the #19 rated LP 14 Things to Think About from April, was Farlowe’s big hit as it made other European charts and opened up many tours of the continent.  The next album, The Art of Chris Farlowe, reached #37 after its December release.  Mick Jagger, who had produced many of Farlowe’s tracks, dropped Oldham as the Stones’ manager and his last collaboration with Chris was on Yesterday’s Papers in May of 1967.   There were a few more attempts through 1968 before Immediate went under, none with much significance and none appearing in our show.
AHA!  At last, a familiar group!  While all the other Brits were seemingly changing their names, the name changes in the band known as Them were due to wholesale revisions of personnel.  Aside from lead singer Van Morrison, you couldn’t tell the players in this Irish band without the proverbial scorecard.  You think I exaggerate?  Just try to keep this straight.  When the first single was released in August 1964, Morrison was fronting a band featuring drummer Ronnie Mellings, bassist Alan Henderson, keyboardist Eric Wiksen (or Wrixen?) and guitarist Billy Harrison, who had been together since 1963.  We’ll work our way back up to this point in time.

George Ivan Morrison was born in Belfast, Ireland on August 31st, 1945 to a pair of Jazz and Blues loving parents, his father a collector and his mother a singer.  By age 11, Van was singing in a Skiffle group while he also was learning to play guitar, harmonica and soprano saxophone.  Shortly after leaving school when he was fifteen, he joined the Monarchs and played tenor sax with them for three years as they gigged through Europe, especially Germany where there were many US military bases.

Once he got back to Belfast, he used his experience to put together his own R&B combo along with two of the Monarchs who have not been identified in my reading.  An early 1964 studio session meant to create a demo tape to hawk around to the record companies brought forth The Story of Them, but by the time they got back in the studio again, Morrison and Henderson were joined by Ireland’s leading session guitarist Jim Armstrong, drummer John Wilson and pianist and saxman Ray Elliott.  They put out an EP in Holland that seems very interesting with Blues classics Times Getting Tougher Than Tough, Stormy Monday and Baby What You Want Me to Do along with the Morrison composition Friday’s Child, but they are not contained in the CDs of their first two albums which grace my collection.   

Nonetheless the band was signed to Decca / London, now with brothers Jack and Pat McCauley handling the keys and drums respectively.  Three songs from a July 5th session were discarded and wiped from the tape to make room for the two songs from their first 45, Don’t Start Crying Now and One Two Brown Eyes.  It received a strong Irish backing but still failed to chart nationally.  Two other songs were saved, Philosophy making it onto a later EP and a little tune named Gloria.  Their producers then brought in studio musicians Peter Bardens on keys and Jimmy Page on guitar for their smokin’ version of Baby Please Don’t Go, but it was the B-side, Gloria, which made Rock history, which is strange because the twin pairing only reached #10 UK and 93 US.  A strong part of its success in Britain can be credited to the band’s appearance on BBC’s Ready Steady Go and the TV show’s immediate adoption as its theme song.  Fairly quickly, the first 45’s two sides plus Philosophy and Baby Please Don’t Go were released on the aforementioned extended player.

Visiting American Bert Berns was invited to produce the next A-side, a version of his Here Comes the Night, which had also been recorded by Lulu.  Backed by All for Myself, its twelve week run was stalled at number two behind the Beatles’ Ticket to Ride.  The American version had a ten week stay and topped out at #23.  The list of participants for the eponymous first album was difficult to keep track of and even Jimmy Page expressed, “as another number passed, another member of the band would be substituted for a session musician”.  While the UK market pretty much ignored the LP, its similar version here rose to number 54 during its 23 weeks on the charts.

After a couple more 45s another fine tune, Mystic Eyes, was taken from the album for a November single release but failed to chart in the UK and only reached #33 US.  Aside from the LP and the three 45s we have mentioned, none of their other releases, including the January 1966 follow-up album Them Again, managed to get on the charts at all.  For that album, pianist and saxman Ray Elliott replaced Bardens and Jim Armstrong replaced the original guitarist Harrison.  In January, Terry Noone replaced drummer Jimmy Wilson (it was also stated that Wilson was replaced by Pat McCauley, so don’t feel that you are the only one getting confused) and was then replaced himself by Dave Harvey in April. 

During the spring of 1966, Them made an American tour which was seemingly dominated by stays in California.  They had a residency between June 2nd and 18th at LA’s Whiskey a-Go-Go, where they appeared with both the Doors and Captain Beefheart.  They headed north to San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium on June 23rd, and it must have been around this time that I had the opportunity to see them here in San Jose at Losers South on Almaden Expressway.

In conjunction with the tour, a reissue of Gloria on April 23rd had the song climbing slightly higher to #71.  I would have guessed that it was much more popular, but its charting this time was undoubtedly hindered by the Chicago band Shadows of Knight version reaching the American top ten.  Still, it is Them’s song that received the most airplay.  Their rendition was played over and over and over ad infinitum, to my recollection, while the Shadow’s disc is merely a faint memory. 

In June of 1966 everything fell apart when Morrison quit the band to go out on his own, bassist Henderson being the only other original member to have stayed through it all.  This was not the last the world would hear of Van and, even though I have no particular plans, don’t be surprised if he appears again in our profiles, especially now that I seem to be broadening the stylistic parameters. 

We probably won’t have time to fit this into today’s show, but just in case:

As we mentioned, Albert Lee was a member in long standing of the Thunderbirds throughout most of the 60s and he backed Chris Farlowe in the studio even afterwards.  I became familiar with him from these three songs he did with Tony Colton and Ray Smith on the Immediate multi-artist albums of the late 60s and recall him as a key contributor to the British portion of the Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues seven movie series broadcast on PBS sometime ago, but All Music’s biography by Bruce Eder paints us a much wider picture than my mere recollections.

As Eder points out, Lee was born in Leominster in 1943, and since his father played piano and accordion it is not surprising that Albert’s first instrument would be the piano which he took up at age seven.  His earliest influence was Jerry Lee Lewis but it was only a couple of years before Albert switched instruments and began to pick the lead guitar parts from records by Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Ricky Nelson, and the Everly Brothers.

By the age of 16, Albert was playing in the backup bands for many of the artists under contract to Larry Parnes.  In 1964, he would join Farlowe’s Thunderbirds for four years until he changed his focus back to Country and Rockabilly music, backing various touring Americans and ultimately recording on Jerry Lee Lewis’ London Sessions.  He would soon replace Glen D. Hardin in the Crickets on tours as well on their Nashville-recorded album Long Way From Lubbock, and ultimately wound up being based in Los Angeles.  While there, he met Don and Phil Everly, joining Don’s band and recording on his Sunset Towers album.

Next in his musical journey was joining Joe Cocker's band leading to Cocker’s label, A&M, offering him a contract in 1975 for a solo album.  Before its completion, he began gigging and recording with Emmylou Harris for a couple of years through 1978, and Harris wound assist Albert by joining in on his LP Home as a guest artist.  Now with a solo contract with Polydor, Lee was a highly sought after studio musician and appeared on recordings by artists as varied as

Jackson Browne, Bo Diddley and Herbie Mann. The icing on the cake was his recording and the follow-up tour for Eric Clapton’s Just One Night LP.  He then joined the Everly Brothers in a reunion concert, live album and video.

Albert continued with his solo recordings, Speechless in1987 and Gagged but Not Bound in 1988, and later teamed up with the Bluegrass band (Gerry) Hogan’s Heroes.  He also toured and recorded with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings and played with Eddie Van Halen and Steve Morse in a supergroup called the Biff Baby All-Stars.  Most recently, Lee recorded a couple of albums for Sugar Hill, Heartbreak Hotel in 2003 and Road Runner in 2006.

Quite a remarkable and diversified career!  I almost hope we don’t have time for those three songs so I can further explore his recordings and perhaps profile him in more detail in a future show. 

Just to clarify, my dictionary lists three definitions for nostalgia.  Two are similar, the best for our purposes being “a longing for familiar or beloved circumstances that are now remote or irrecoverable”.  Sounds right to me.

Needless to say, I was in a rather irreverent mood for at least some of the Johnny Kidd portion of this writing.  I’d ask your forgiveness, but … Nah!
Key to the Highway
June 11th, 2014

The Blue Beat
Itty Bitty Pieces
What You Gonna Do
Hey Hey Hey Hey
Hound Dog
Reelin’ and Rockin’
Buzz with the Fuzz
You’re the One
Stormy Monday Blues (parts 1 & 2)
She’s All Right
   Chris Farlowe

Shakin’ All Over
Yes Sir, That’s My Baby
Linda Lu
Big Blon’ Baby
I Just Want to Make Love to You
Please Don’t Bring Me Down
I Can Tell
A Shot of Rhythm and Blues
Some Other Guy
I’ll Never Get Over You
   Johnny Kidd and the Pirates

Baby Please Don’t Go
Here Comes the Night
Mystic Eyes
Little Girl
I Just Want a Little Bit
I Gave My Love a Diamond
Bright Lights, Big City

Out of Time
Paint It Black
Ride On Baby
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Mr. Pitiful
In The Midnight Hour
North, South, East, West
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
The Fool
Treat Her Good
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
   Chris Farlowe

Casting My Spell
Oh Boy
Whole Lotta Woman
Right String But the Wrong Yo Yo
Gotta Travel On
You Can Have Her
   Johnny Kidd and the Pirates

You Just Can’t Win
Go On Home Baby
I Got a Woman
Could You, Would You
Turn On Your Lovelight
Call My Name
I Can Only Give You Everything
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Water on My Fire
The Next Milestone
Crosstown Link
   Albert Lee

NOTE: Because of time spent promoting next weekend’s blues marathon, we omitted Bright Lights, Big City from Them’s first set and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted from Chris Farlowe’s second set.  We also did not get around to Albert Lee