Archive for the ‘Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds’ Category

The Graham Bond Organization

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Listen: Long Tall Shorty / The Graham Bond Organization
Long Tall Shorty / The Graham Bond Organization

Okay, I have a thing for The Graham Bond Organization. From three thousand miles away, they seemed the underdog’s underdog. Attached to the Flamingo/Marquee/Soho nightlife sleaze fueled by American blues and black music makes only for a romantic validation. Rubbing shoulders and sharing stages with Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Peter B’s Looners and Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band has me, many times, starring into space wishing I could turn back time.

Nice thing about this bunch, they always looks dirty, miserable and most capable of genuinely playing earthy RnB.

I had wanted a demo copy, well actually any copy, of ‘Long Tall Shorty’ for decades. Four going on five to be exact. Just last week, my luck changed. I scored the first one to pop up on eBay for ages. Man, does it sound spectacular, almost worth the wait and certainly worth every penny.

Listen: Long Legged Baby / The Graham Bond Organization
Long Legged Baby / The Graham Bond Organization

Having lived life without this record until now meant deprivation of it’s B side. I have many, basically all the remaining 7′s by the band, and this, given the authenticity of ‘Long Legged Baby’, now equals their US only Ascot single ‘St. James Infirmary’, posted elsewhere on SMRSLT, as tied for being their best.

The grime of late, late night smokey smelly 60′s London, devoid of 24 hour food options, convenient public transport and particularly omissions control standards, is wonderfully captured here, at least how I fantasize it to have been.

Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Listen: Dawn / Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds
Dawn / Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds

A perfectly beautiful late Sunday afternoon in London during November to me is cold, damp and drizzly, with plenty of grey. It was one such day in ’07 that Roger and I made our way to the long standing Agra Indian Restaurant on Whitfield Street just near the Warren Street tube station after a long day at his big wooden kitchen table, rigged up with a turntable, his 45 library room at arm’s reach, post that morning’s Record Fair on Great Portland Street.

Agra has been around for decades, and by many standards, needs a proper remolding. Not mine though. A half step down off the sidewalk onto the tatty, sticky carpet, the main room complete with that old England smell, convinces me the place has serious history. It’s too close to hundreds of historic music landmarks not to. Capitol Radio was just the other side of the tube, Jonathan King’s UK Records office on Warren at Whitfield, University College where David Bowie & The Lower Third, The Riot Squad, and Timebox amongst so many others played, not to mention the square adjacent, the precise spot where The Syn did their photo shoot on the tarmac of Whitfield Place.


Oh yeah, the food is great too. Not all fusion fussy and overly decorated. Not decorated at all really, just old fashioned home style Indian. Despite being about two blocks from where I lived that summer ’73, it wasn’t until decades later that Roger introduced me to the place. We took our time, covered a lot, as we do.

Upon our exit, what better than to find Chris Farlowe at that very first table, right near the doorway, sitting in front of a spread fit for three people. Apparently, he lives with his Mom just down the block. More history in the making.

Bobby Bland / Little Joe Cook / Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Listen: Stormy Monday Blues / Bobby Bland BobbyBlandStormyMondayBlues.mp3

Turns out Bobby Bland was the initial culprit, or at least the most well known one. His version of ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ is actually another song, simply titled ‘Stormy Monday’ or ‘Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad)’ written by T-Bone Walker. The real ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ was an Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine composition. Yet every time an artist covered the former and mislabeled it as ‘Stormy Monday Blues’, the wrong songwriters would get the royalties. What a mess.

Poor T-Bone Walker, he was apparently forever trying to get paid. The Allman Brothers Band, who without doubt earned him the most, correctly registered their release to ensure all would fall into place properly. Problem being the song itself was so good, it became a signature staple. The mislabeling, a domino after-effect.

Bobby Bland had the first hit at RnB and Pop in ’62. I was too young to hear this one on the wireless when current, but it must have sounded pretty sweet, especially at night. It’s a real night time record. I bet it was played a lot in the South.

Listen: Stormy Monday Blues (Part 1) / Little Joe Cook LittleJoeStormy1.mp3

Listen: Stormy Monday Blues (Part 2) / Little Joe Cook LittleJoeStormy2.mp3

Apparently, more than mislabeling happened with Little Joe Cook’s version, released by Guy Stevens on Sue Records in the UK. First of all, he and Chris Blackwell started this Island UK imprint to release American Sue releases in Britain. Somewhere along the line, they just began putting out any blues or RnB master they acquired from the States under the Sue moniker, unbeknownst to Juggy Murray, owner of Sue in New York. That fueled the first set of fireworks.

Fireworks display number two came when EMI’s Chis Farlowe & The Thunderbirds, now suddenly known as Little Joe Cook, found their studio rehearsal of ‘Stormy Monday’ had been taped, and subsequently released, without their knowledge or permission, on the Sue label by Guy Stevens. Story goes he and Chris Farlowe were quite close, and according to Albert Lee (guitartist in The Thunderbirds), it was meant to hide from EMI that their band was moonlighting on another label.

On top of all that, this release credited Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine correctly – if you go by the song title on the label. Problem was the music on the vinyl was again the T-Bone Walker composition of ‘Stormy Monday’, not ‘Stormy Monday Blues’. More headaches for T-Bone.

Some say Little Joe Cook’s version is the greatest UK blues record ever recorded. I’ve read this on a bunch of occasions. Who can say. Tell you one thing, it’s a shimmering take on an already late night, after hours classic. It may be one of my all time favorite blues numbers. It and ‘St. James Infirmary’.