Archive for the ‘Chris Farlowe’ Category

Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band

Monday, April 11th, 2016

ZootWillie, Zoot Money, Decca

Listen: The Uncle Willie / Zoot Money ZootWillie.mp3

If you ever see the double LP, HARD UP HEROES, do yourself a favor, buy immediately. Released on UK Decca in ’74, the compilation is a proper collection of their deep 60′s catalog, mostly gritty blues leaning acts, and packaged beautifully. It was here that I first heard ‘The Uncle Willie’.

As with other tracks by The Graham Bond Organization, Alexis Korner, Them, The Birds and John Mayall, it epitomized what I imagined the seedy clubs of London’s Soho to sound like. I’ll never know, but bet I’m right.

Zoot Money already had his Big Roll Band rolling by then. For whatever reason, their moniker was left off the label copy, but their signature sound was sure there to be heard. Man, did I want to own this single from that first listen. Took me a few years, but I got it. Just as expected, the audio on the 7″ was even more authentic than the LP pressing, which in original mono, sounded pretty great already.

Years later, like thirty or so, a live cd from The Flamingo was issued. This band was clearly full and exciting live, as their rendition of ‘The Uncle Willie’ proved.

ZootBigTime, Zoot Money, Epic

Listen: Big Time Operator / Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band ZootBigTime.mp3

Pretty sure it was 2003, the Maximum Rhythm & Blues Tour, a yearly-ish event, played The Royal Albert Hall, and by sheer luck, I was there for work. Jackie Hyde arranged not only tickets, but passes to the after show. As if having just watched Manfred Mann, with both Paul Jones and Mike D’Abo doing their respective hits, Chris Farlowe, The Alan Price Set and Colin Blunstone wasn’t enough, the post show bit was a corucopia of their musician friends from the 60′s. I’m sure there were guys milling about, by now unrecognizable, that would’ve been great jukebox tab scores, but who could tell.

Not the case with Zoot Money. You couldn’t miss him. Jovial and very approachable, he laid a bunch of Marquee stories my way and had no idea ‘Big Time Operator’ came graced with a picture sleeve in the US.

ZootJukebox, Zoot Money, Jukebox Tab

What a great guy to talk with, and pretty good memory too. Wanting a jukebox tab, I didn’t know the B side to ‘The Uncle Willie’, but he did.

Georgie Fame

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Daylight / Georgie Fame

Listen: Daylight / Georgie Fame

I think this song may qualify as a bit of a guilty pleasure, as it is a touch schmaltzy, although my pal Phil, who has super taste in music, loves it. Then again, it was written by Bobby Womack and now a sought after hit on the Northern Soul circuit. Plus Georgie has such a great voice, and the whole idea that he perfected his sound doing all-nighters at the Flamingo Club on Wardour Street in London during the swinging 60′s alongside Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, is, well, all I really need. Basically he always emulated Mose Allison and conventiently helped invent mod-jazz in the process.

As with some of his early hits like ‘Get Away’, this was produced by the great Denny Cordell. When I worked at Island in the early 90′s, Chris Blackwell brought Denny in to oversee A&R. Most everybody got their noses out of joint by his arrival but not me. I mean this was the guy who had produced The Move. He did the whistle sound, fingers to mouth, on ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’, helped start Deram and Regal Zonophone, and then Shelter. So we hit it off immediately, and I often think of the many great times and meals we had together. He was a serious cook. Plus he introduced me to so many people from the UK, all of whom would stop by to see him when passing through town. I remember when he brought Tony Colton into my office. He was the vocalist for Heads Hands & Feet who I became an instant fan of when seeing them open for Humble Pie. Tony had also produced a then obscure, now kind of appreciated gem: ON THE BOARDS by Taste. So this was a big deal to me.

Yeah, Denny was a great great pal….he produced this track as part of the 2nd album Georgie made for Island that the company then proceeded not to issue, still. Seriously, what hasn’t been released at this point? Island was a great place in many ways, but they had a very bad habit of making albums and not releasing them. I know of a few still in the vaults from Marianne Faithfull, and unfortunately countless others from The Smoke to Don Covay.

So this track, ‘Daylight’, and it’s B side, ‘Three Legged Mule’ came out in ’77 as 7″ & 12″ singles, and has finally been reissued as part of the ISLAND YEARS ’74 – ’76 anthology.

Chris Farlowe

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Listen: Air Travel / Chris Farlowe

A perfectly beautiful late Sunday afternoon in London during November, for me means cold, damp and drizzly, with plenty of grey. It was one such day in ’07 that Roger Armstrong 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. By many standards, the place needs a proper remolding. Not by my standards though. A half step down off the sidewalk onto the tatty, sticky carpet, the main room complete with that old England smell would convince anyone 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.

In addition, the food is great. 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.

Upon our exit on that particular day, 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 lived with his Mom just down the block for years.

More history in the making, not unlike this miserably rare UK EP, released in ’66 off the back of his new found chart success on Immediate that summer. Assembled from the A and B sides of his only solo single for Decca plus two unreleased songs from the same time. That time by the way, was ’64. Seemingly lifetimes prior to said summer and sounding it too. Pretty interesting to hear how unblemished his voice was just those few years earlier.

The Beazers

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Listen: Blue Beat / The Beazers BeazersBlueBeat.mp3

What it must have been like. Probably more glamorous as a fantasy than in actual reality. Like life on the chitlin circuit, or what this song has always captured for me: the Beat Group circuit, if I may. English touring combos, most with an undeservingly flop single or two out, driving up and down the UK in nasty, smelly, unheated vans, getting paid squat, existing on grease drenched, vile motorway fry-ups to compliment their dirty clothes, hair and fingernails…check the photo on the back cover of Decca’s compilation HARD UP HEROES to capture the essence. Why The Beazers’ ‘Blue Beat’, a Decca master, wasn’t included on that comp baffles me. It’s about my only criticism though, a superb, must have collection and package.

A slightly eerie and haunting soundtrack to that predominantly regretful lifestyle, ‘Blue Beat’ also marks one of Chris Farlowe’s earliest recordings, actually his third release, and second for Decca. Apparently recorded to cash in on the brief bluebeat movement, which seems to have resurfaced more times than we can all count, it’s a pretty fine record, faux ska guitar pattern and all.

About ten years back, armed with a page of blank jukebox tabs, I approached Alan Price for a signature at an after party for the 60′s Extravaganza show featuring his band, The Alan Price Set, plus The Zombies, Manfred Mann and Chris Farlowe at The Royal Albert Hall. Having done his jukebox tab duty with ‘Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear’, he was only too happy to volunteer Chris Farlowe sign one as well. Shouting across the room for him to come quick, our man B lined my way.

Upon arrival, Alan Price proclaims, “Chris, you have to do this, it’s a top idea”.

Baffled, Chris Farlowe obliged. Pretty handy that these guys were from a generation that would, sometimes catastrophically, sign anything, hence here was my chance:

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Chris Farlowe

Atomic Rooster

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Listen: Save Me / Atomic Rooster AtomicRoosterSaveMe.mp3

I do recall the excitement of booking Atomic Rooster at my college, December ’72. IN HEARING OF had been released a few months earlier and Elektra were falling all over themselves to support the show, sending loads of extra copies plus posters and glossy 8×10′s to the school radio station. Packaged together with Savoy Brown and Chicken Shack for a two month run, this was an Anglophile’s dream tour.

All three bands shared a common backstage area that night, the men’s locker room, attached to the school’s gymnasium where the show took place. Indeed a fun event for a college freshman concert chairman, but a hard one, forced constantly to decide between watching each band’s respective set or hanging out backstage pestering the crap out of the members. Somehow, I buzzed back and forth, balancing both.

Atomic Rooster had so many revolving door, lineup changes, and for what good I’m unclear. Personally, I liked their clumsy, over done, early 70′s productions. The drum sounds were particularly dreadful, which was common to most low budget Prog rock bands from the period. The more muddy and needlessly over thought the recording/production, the more I liked it. Despite all of leader Vincent Crane’s bad ideas, my interest only increased with each one. I’m guessing others agreed, as I was not alone in the Atomic Rooster cult.

By ’73, the lineup and new album, ATOMIC ROOSTER IV (renamed for the US as an alternative to NICE N GREASY, the UK title), featured Chris Farlowe on vocals, replacing Pete French.

Now here’s where it gets a bit confusing. ‘Save Me’ is actually an updated version of Atomic Rooster’s debut single ‘Friday The 13th’, when Nick Graham was their singer. Either some of his original take, or a newer vocal from Pete French (who replaced Nick Graham prior to Chris Farlowe joining) recorded for the album version of ‘Friday The 13th’, survived.

Hence, either the voice of Nick Graham or Pete French is included on ‘Save Me’. You could loosely say that one of these chaps is dueting, although clearly not by choice, with Chris Farlowe on the above rendition.

Listen: Save Me (Mono) / Atomic Rooster AtomicRoosterSaveMe (Mono).mp3

Just to complicate things further, the US release of ‘Save Me’, here in it’s promo only mono version, features less of Chris Farlowe and more of whoever the fuck sang it prior. You’d logically expect the opposite given a) it was released after the UK single and b) Chris Farlowe was by then the band’s current, full time vocalist.

Vincent Crane clearly over thought all this nonsense. Perfectly bloated (as Prog should be) and quite frankly, hysterically fascinating.

Time eroded their following quite quickly though. As the recordings got messier, so too did trying to stay current with their members. Most fans gave up, as did the entire lineup – all of who walked by the time ATOMIC ROOSTER IV hit the shelves in the US.

Don’t get me wrong though, as I do love the crazy world of Vincent Crane.

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’.

Solomon Burke

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Listen: You Can Make It If You Try / Solomon Burke01 You Can Make It If You Try.mp3

A Philadelphia native, and trained in gospel, Solomon Burke had his biggest success during the ’60′s in the south, where they coined his sound ‘river deep country fried buttercream soul’. Who on earth would not want to hear this guy after a description like that?

I found out about Solomon Burke like every other white kid in the day, through the English groups covering all the classic blues and RnB hits. Yes, the originals were right here in my own back yard. Occasionally one of these would slip into the pop stations’ playlists, but not near enough. At the time, I would have probably dismissed the original anyways, preferring all the hepped up excitement of the British Invasion version and how that movement was changing my culture, my haircut and my clothes.

But on further investigation in the early 70′s, it was fantastic to find a whole world of great records yet to own and cherish. The Rolling Stones were clearly Solomon Burke fans, covering a bunch of the songs he had RnB success with. Those covers were spread out over the first 5 US albums including this one ‘You Can Make It If You Try’ (on their debut, ENGLAND’S NEWEST HIT MAKERS). So really, it’s through The Rolling Stones that I discovered him. The flip side of this single is equally great: ‘If You Need Me’, also recorded by them and included on 12 X 5 (as is his ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’). OUT OF OUR HEADS included ‘Cry To Me’, although The Pretty Things’ version is true to Solomon’s exactly.

Listen: The Price / Solomon Burke 01 The Price.mp3

The covers of Solomon Burke’s catalog are many, from Dr. Feelgood’s ‘Stupidity’ to The Herd’s ‘Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)’. So fierce was his vocal bite, that certain songs were just not even tried by others. One such favorite of mine, ‘The Price’, arranged by Northern Soul great Teacho Wilshire and produced by Bert Berns, could certainly have been served well at that time by Janis Joplin or maybe Chris Farlowe, but no other white voices that I know of. Great news: Solomon Burke is still alive. Go see him sing and get ready to lose it.


Sunday, December 7th, 2008

St. James Infirmary / Cops 'N Robbers

Listen: St. James Infirmary / Cops 'N Robbers 23 St. James Infirmary.mp3

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue / Cops 'N Robbers

Listen: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue / Cops 'N Robbers 01 Its All Over Now Baby Blue.mp3

Get Yourself Home / The Fairies

Listen: Get Yourself Home / The Fairies 21 Get Yourself Home.mp3

Cops ‘N Robbers ‘St. James Infirmary’ always felt authentic, probably because of that reverb wash. From the first listen, it captured my imagination about the damp seedy blues clubs of London’s Soho, sitting nicely beside the sound of The Downliners Sect or Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds. Plus it was a UK Decca release, hence it’s US issue through sister label, Parrot. With Brian “Smudger” Smith on lead vocals, how can you go wrong? Young “Smudger” (he insisted on the quotes) went on to sing for The Fairies thereby delivering the great Pretty Things mimic ‘Get Yourself Home’. Meanwhile, in what was clearly fair exchange, The Fairies vocalist Dane Stephens made the switch and became Cops ‘N Robbers singer, recording ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ with them for UK Pye/US Coral, nicely retaining their London nightlife aura. Meanwhile drummer Henry Harrison proceeded to form The New Vaudeville Band. Yes much aloof upward nose turning is pointed them, but listen again – they clearly had a lot in common with The Bonzo Dog Band, recording some terrific singles which will be posted soon as proof.