Archive for the ‘Brian Auger’ Category

Billy Preston

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Listen: Will It Go Round In Circles / Billy Preston
Will

I had no idea that huge Afro hairdo was a wig during the 1970′s when Billy Preston and his clavinet seemed omnipresent. Like no idea at all. Instead, I just became mesmerized by his seemingly effortless keyboard funk, possibly requiring the word chops be applied to a musician’s style for the first time.

The whole sound and image kind of outdid Sly Stone for me. Sans the seediness, which as it turns out was all there, he was my black Elton John, with the shiny pastel clothes, those glam meets Blaxploitation spade shoes and all the remaining trimmings.

Once I started researching his past, actually around the time of his Apple Records singles, I discovered his early mod organ releases with their wonderfully suggestive titles luring me in, for example THE MOST EXCITING ORGAN EVER and WILDEST ORGAN IN TOWN. Wow, these albums were right up there with Jimmy McGriff and Jimmy Smith, Brain Auger as well.

Like some of his contemporaries, he caught the musical ear of various British acts resulting in both recording and touring partnerships. Most notably were The Rolling Stones, who he worked with throughout the 70′s, all the while donning that fantastically oversized Afro wig. Then there were The Beatles, adding keyboard magic to yet another of their rather dull songs, ‘Get Back’, turning it into something special. Certainly for me the highlight was always his electric piano solo midway through. As soon as it finished, I dove for the dashboard to switch the station.

During his most successful mid 70′s stretch came the A&M years, and several huge singles including ‘Will It Go Round In Circles’. Although a US #1 during ’73, the record never charted in the UK despite heavy airplay on the BBC that summer. I mean, seriously, I was there and know for sure, it was played constantly. Maybe too much, because as a possible result, no one needed to buy it.

Sam Cooke

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Listen: Little Red Rooster / Sam Cooke
Little

Even if Sam Cooke hadn’t name checked “Billy” at the onset of the organ solo, he, being Billy Preston, would have been on my shortlist of guesses. Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Smith, Brian Auger, Hank Jacobs to also name a few too, they played in the same Hammond jazz/funk/soul, or whatever it’s called, pocket during the mid to late 60′s.

I was not initially attracted to this record, nor Sam Cooke for that matter, when current. Given the single came out in ’64, and peaked at #11, I’d never heard it. Not until decades later, when rummaging through a Salvation Army pile of discards did this remake of the Willie Dixon tune, a year later (’65) made popular by The Rolling Stones, seem a worthwhile 25ยข gamble.

For the longest time, the song’s swing shuffle approach sounded too dated, too safe and too like something my parents would listen to. Just recently did I give it a play and only because this UK promo pressing beauty entered my collection, thank you Vicki Wickham.

Boing. How did I not notice the organ playing ever before? Even as part of the song’s MOR slush style, it stands out.

Then that “Billy” namechack had me curious. So my world wide web digging began. Now I’m completely intrigued by the events of December 10, 1964. It was fun Google mapping all of Sam Cooke’s stops that night from his Los Angeles home on Ames Street to dinner and clubs on Sunset to a no tell motel on South Figueroa Street in South Central to the Los Angeles County morgue. Fun stuff.

And I found this too, confirming Billy Preston.

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Straight Ahead / Brian Auger's Oblivion Express

Listen: Straight Ahead / Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express
Straight Ahead / Brian Auger's Oblivion Express

Always the ultimate player, Brian Auger seems like he was a pro in the cradle. Go back to his earliest recordings, prior to the big success he had with ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’, billed as Julie Driscoll/Brian Auger & The Trinity. You’ll see his virtuosity was fully formed.

In the early 70′s, after Julie Driscoll went her solo route, he toured the world, initially as Brian Auger & The Trinity, quickly morphing into Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, gaining US momentum the whole while. Sharing bills with every type of band (Bruce Springsteen, The Allman Brothers Band., Roland Kirk, Santana, Chick Corea, Led Zeppelin, Earth Wind & Fire, Kiss, Herbie Hancock), they provided just the right amount of high brow musicianship to ecstatically turn both jazz and rock audiences on.

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, their many records fell pretty short on US airplay, but sold well nonetheless.

Fast forward to the present, Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express is still playing, dare I say better than ever. I sat smack dab in front of him a few years back, when he shared a bill with an equally stunning Savoy Brown at B.B. King’s in New York, and you could hardly see anything but a blur from those hands.

They just don’t make ‘em like Brian Auger anymore. Sorry.

Julien Covey & The Machine / Wynder K. Frog / Jimmy Miller

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

juliencoveyuk, Julien Covey & The Machine, Wynder K. Frog, The Spencer Davis Group, The Kinks, Ray Davies, Jimmy Miller, Island, Philips

Listen: A Little Bit Hurt / Julien Covey & The Machine
A Little Bit Hurt / Julien Covey & The Machine

I guess you might call them a supergroup. Julien Covey, real name Phil Kinorra, played with Brian Auger in his early days. As well as fronting the band vocally, he also drummed. Amongst it’s members were John Moreshead on guitar, who played with Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, The Shotgun Express and The Ansley Dunbar Retaliation. In addition, the band included Peter Bardens (Them, Camel), Jim Creagan (Blossom Toes, Family) and Dave Mason at various times. Their lone release, ‘A Little Bit Hurt’, was co-written and produced by Jimmy Miller in ’67, who brought along his freshly used prodcution techniques, successful on The Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Gimme Some Lovin” and applied them to The Kinks ‘You Really Got Me’ riff, to help create this now, Northern soul classic, according the Northern soul classic experts.

wyndergreen,  Wynder K. Frog, Island, Jimmy Miller, Mick Weaver

Listen: Green Door / Wynder K. Frog
Green Door / Wynder K. Frog

Between ’64 – ’67, the sound of the Jimmy Smith/Jimmy McGriff hammond B3 was the prevalent connection that bridged hip rock and soul, bringing the jazzy black Flamingo club stuff (Brian Auger & The Trinity, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, The Graham Bond Organization) to a more mainstream public, as with The Spencer Davis Group. Jimmy Miller’s production played a part. He worked as house producer for Chris Blackwell then and recorded some successful and some less successful, well commercially for the time that is, singles, like the aforementioned Julien Covey & The Machine track, and ‘Green Door’ by Wynder K. Frog. Although not chart records, they became club hits, and apparently still are to this day, on the Northern circuit, wherever that is.

Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

This Wheel's On Fire / Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity

Listen: This Wheel's On Fire / Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity 11 This Wheel's On Fire.mp3

This single had a groundbreaking drug feel to it at the time (’68). I remember in the late 77, when my then girlfriend Corinne & I made our first trip to London together, shopping in Hammersmith’s outdoor market, full of cheap clothing stalls, really greasy food, used everything (including records), reggae stalls, fruits/vegetables outdoor market stuff. This was in March, perfectly cold, damp, drizzly, all the dealers drinking tea from chipped stained cups, kleenex stuffed into their cuffs for ever dripping noses and transistor radios going, all blaring BBC Radio 1. On comes ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’. Despite everything I just described, I was in heaven, now especially. We were in England! And that record playing at that very moment is forever burned into my memory. Timing was perfect.

This version is a pretty well known one, and like many songs it got a bit of a deserved break years later when ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS used it as their theme, despite a re-recorded version but still sung nonetheless by Julie but sans Brian Auger. Long before the Ab Fab usage, she was adamant about using her married name, Tippett instead of Driscoll, fair enough I guess. But, I hear she refuses to perform this song live, claims it’s too pop (she only sings jazz now). If that’s true, I say lighten up Jools. For me, it’s her best recorded performance, although the STREETNOISE album is pretty stellar. It’s a double LP, quite rare in those days, and I remember my Aunt Carm, God love her, buying it as a present for passing all my Regents Exams that June. I warned her it was a double album and therefore twice the price. She said I was worth it and just wanted me to be happy, even though she couldn’t really afford it. Is that great or what? As you can see, I’ve never forgotten.

Jimmy Smith

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

JimmySmithPorkChop, Jimmy Smith, Blue Note, Verve

Listen: Pork Chop (Part 1) / Jimmy Smith JimmySmithPorkChop.mp3

It is just not possible to walk away from any Blue Note single titled ‘Pork Chop’. Doesn’t matter who it’s by.

Jimmy Smith, credited for having revolutionized the way Hammond B3′s could be played, set the bar for an early 60′s Mod style that was as much a part of that scene as bulls eye jackets. When attacking it wild, he’s sometimes hard to tell apart from Brian Auger or closely named Jimmy McGriff, but a bunch of his singles play ever so smooth, especially on my Seeburg 222, like ‘Pork Chop’. Want to go straight back and pretend you’re at The Flamingo, or a 60′s dive in Harlem very late – just combine a jukebox with this single – and you are there.