Archive for the ‘Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men’ Category

The Graham Bond Organization

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Listen: St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization
St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization

Around ’65/’66, The Graham Bond Organization were a most evil sounding jazz/blues mixture, not only as a band, but compared to any other group during the period. Their two albums, including the Jack Bruce / Ginger Baker / Dick Heckstall-Smith lineup, were released by Columbia UK but remained unissued in the US. In fact the only American release ever from this line-up and The Graham Bond Organization in general was this lone 7″ on Ascot, both sides from that Columbia UK period. The much covered ‘St. James Infirmary’, a single only A side in the UK from early ’66, likewise took on the A side position in the US.

This American folk song of anonymous origin dates back to early 1900 and has taken on many interpretations, one of which claims the song to be written about St. James Hospital in London, which was used to treat leprosy.

Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday, Bobby Hackett, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, Bobby Blue Bland, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Doc Watson, Janis Joplin and The White Stripes are amongst those who have recorded the track. Yet it’s this one that competes neck in neck with the Cops ‘N Robbers version as my personal favorite.

The soon-to-be direction John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Dick Heckstall-Smith would assume on BAREWIRES can be heard here.

Listen: Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization
Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization

‘Wade In The Water’, the band’s first A side single for Columbia UK was also included on their debut album, THE SOUND OF ’65. Here in the US, it was coupled, to complete this lone US single, as B side. I’m guessing Ascot Records had released it, with an option for an album, should they get any traction.

At the time, the label was having great success via Manfred Mann, during their initial RnB influenced period with Paul Jones as lead vocalist. They were also a Columbia UK act, and Ascot was releasing other singles from that label’s catalog, including those by Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, The Force Five and Madeline Bell.

The smooth mod rendition of ‘Wade In The Water’ from The Ramsey Lewis Trio stole all the airplay that same year, but this jazz leaning, late night version clearly counter balanced a then ubiquitous song that seemed insatiable to just about everyone in some form or another.

Long John Baldry

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Listen: When The Sun Comes Shining Thru’ / Long John Baldry

Long John Baldry, as with Georgie Fame and Alan Price, was another guy from the early 60′s London blues and soul club circuit. Then known as Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, he and his band can be found on numerous schedules from The Flamingo and The Marquee clubs, double billing with several similar up and coming American RnB music enthusiasts, all hell bent on reinterpreting their worshiped heroes.

Like with yesterday’s post, he too took a more commercial route as the 70′s approached, successfully achieving mainstream pop hits in England. A switch of labels in both the UK and US, as well a change in musical style and the recruitment of Tony Macaulay as producer resulted in ‘Let The Heartaches Begin’, which went to #1 in Britain during November of ’67. A year later, ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”, written by Manfred Mann’s lead vocalist Mike D’Abo, went Top 30, although neither caught much traction in America.

Around ’68, Tony Macaulay began cornering many of my favorite records, either as writer, producer and in some cases, both. Current day British pop had become his forte with Scott Walker, Pickettywitch, The Marmalade and The Foundations amongst his successes. I guess he had a sound, and quite frankly, in my world, these two were a perfect pair.

Come ’71 though, Long John Baldry had reverted back to his original boogie woogie style, as he called it. Teaming up with Elton John and Rod Stewart as producers, both struggling newcomers in the early 60′s but by then successful superstars, afforded their old friend some decent US traction. Good for John Baldry of course, but for me, the music wasn’t as much fun nor more memorable than that period anchored by Tony Macaulay and ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”.

The Shotgun Express

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

ShotgunExpress, The Shotgun Express, Rod Stewart, Peter Bardens, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, Columbia

Listen: I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Around / The Shotgun Express ShotgunExpress.mp3

’65 – ’66 was a busy time for so many major stars as they did a non stop jig of musical chairs, seeming all a bit desperate in hindsight.

In this internet age, where everything is at your fingertips instantly, and anyone can record some songs with only their laptop, it’s wildly ironic that in the 60′s, bands, records and record deals moved much faster than today. Within months you could jump ship to another company, with two, four or more singles under your arm ready to release. Yet nowadays, despite all our resources, it seems to take like sometimes two years for a band to issue a followup.

Again, none of that was the case back then. And talk about musical chairs, Jimmy Page is rumored to have been on dozens, maybe hundreds of hits and flops as an in demand session player and John Paul Jones too. Rod Stewart went from solo deal to a very short stint as vocalist with The Kinks (thank God and heaven above that didn’t work out) to Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Band, on to Steampacket – a sort of super star ensemble that featured Baldry, Stewart, Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, Micky Waller and others, back to a solo contract (this time recording ‘Shake’ with The Brian Auger Trinity on backup), then onto The Shotgun Express. Often viewed as a poor man’s Steampacket supergroup, with members Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Bardens (later of Camel) and female vocal sparring partner, the unknown Beryl Marsden, they lasted only a few months, but it didn’t hinder a singles deal with Columbia UK and this lone, flop 7′ release, by official NME chart position that is. Over at pirate station Radio Caroline, it had a decent first week at # 25, unfortunately also it’s peak, by two weeks later, it was gone from their Top 50.

Always collectable mostly due to it’s various members instead of the music, on first spin, it’s a big let down – more often a “what the hell did I spend all that money on this dog of a record for?” Even I thought that too, yet on second listen, I quite liked the obvious frustration of it’s members sounding ‘forced’ into recording a track against their instincts, back in the day when you obeyed your label, their chosen producer and accompanying material. I kinda think it’s pretty great now, and not only because of that tension, I like the song too. Plus it’s a co-write by a favorite: Heads, Hands & Feet vocalist/Taste producer Tony Colton.