Posts Tagged ‘John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers’

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Listen: Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson
Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson

I saw The Rolling Stones for the first time on October 30, 1965 at the Syracuse War Memorial. I had forged a press pass, a typed note actually, on letterhead from a weekly paper in my little hometown. My Dad had set me up with the pompous owner of it, as I wanted to interview the band for a feature.

Looking back it was quite a good idea on my part, but this self celebrating fellow was nasty and dismissive. Even though I ended up meeting the band, I still loathe him for his attitude, not towards me, but towards my Father. He was so busy being busy, running in and out of his pathetic office, that I just reached over and grabbed a few pages of letterhead when he wasn’t looking. I shook with fear at what I’d done. I was still a good Catholic boy, but too late, I’d done it. So he tells me, “We don’t need a piece on this dirty English combo”, and that was that, or so he thought. Indeed, they didn’t need a a kid in his late single digits writing a review.

To be exact, this was the Canastota Bee Journal, as close as you can get to Mayberry. He and the paper, I’m guessing, are long gone. Still, I composed this laughable letter, claiming to be a writer on assignment and needing to interview them for a feature.

In those days, arenas were filled with hysterical, screaming kids, so how I managed to slide backstage so easily still baffles. An usher fell for that forged letter, and brought me back, where Bill Wyman was wrapping up his cords. Bill reads it, stares me straight in the eye and says in hindsight with a knowing smirk, “Come on and we’ll meet the rest”.

Holy shit. Is this really happening? It was the first time I nearly blacked out. I seriously remember that vividly. We are suddenly walking up the steps to the dressing room, knees weak, where in years to follow, I would meet, more like pester, (here goes, I know this is all a bit name droppy, but it really, really happened. I met all these bands and I’m proud of it): The Mindbenders, Them, The Moody Blues, The Nashville Teens, The Ikettes, The Who, The Pretty Things, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Humble Pie, Heads Hands & Feet, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Steppenwolf, Canned Heat, Caravan, Toe Fat, Derek & The Dominoes, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad, Frampton’s Camel, Traffic, Wild Turkey, The Faces, Badfinger, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Mother Earth, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Chambers Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone, Savoy Brown, Iron Butterfly, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, even Vivian Green, who I worked with decades later, was in that very room when on tour with Maxwell. Talk about coming full circle.

The management knew me and my friends well early on, they must’ve gotten a kick out of these crazy little kids, who’s Mom’s & Dad’s would wait patiently for until the shows ended. Our parents befriended the office staff, and in turn, those nice ladies always let us backstage.

The Rolling Stones were great, so nice. No one was in their dressing room except the band, and one other guy, I’m guess Ian Stewart, the tour manager. No food, nothing but bottles of Coca Cola. They signed my copy of 12 X 5, it probably lasted all of a minute but I still can relive it to this day. Here I was, with this exotic band from England that changed my life, which prior I could only see on TV every three to four months tops. I thought at that very moment, “This is the life for me”. I’m completely convinced it led to my career in music. No question.

Their current album at the time, THE ROLLING STONES NOW, was not a real album at all. In those days, the English labels released singles and EPs, in addition to albums. Not only were the EP tracks not on the LPs, but the singles weren’t either. So the US companies were always dropping off intended LP tracks to make room for the singles and sometimes strong ones from those EPs. For this particular release, London Records basically cobbled together some singles and EP songs, as well as unused UK LP tracks. Remember, the UK LPs were 14 songs compared to our 10-12, thereby creating even more choices.

Probably by coincidence more than design, THE ROLLING STONES NOW actually works as a proper LP. It was certainly a big success, slowly but very solidly scaling the US LP charts and staying Top 10 for ages, as it deserved to. The record’s filled with dark, minor key classics like ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Pain In My Heart’ which they played on that night, Brian sitting at a huge B3 organ, wailing away.

It’s ok if you’re getting tingles. Take your time. You’ll need it. They were back, nine months later, during the AFTERMATH tour, and that’s whole ‘nother post waiting to be written.

This all leads us to ‘Down Home Girl’, a song on THE ROLLING STONES NOW. Little did I know then that it was a cover. I don’t even think I knew what that meant. They were all Rolling Stones songs to us. Years and years later I wised up, seeked out the original, and became a dangerous Alvin Robinson fanatic.

Here’s his version. Get any of his other releases. all of them actually.

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.

Georgie Fame

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Daylight / Georgie Fame

Listen: Daylight / Georgie Fame
Daylight

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.

The Alan Price Set

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

THE AMAZING ALAN PRICE / The Alan Price Set:

Side 1:

Listen: Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear / The Alan Price Set
Simon

Listen: Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo / The Alan Price Set
Hi-Lili,

Side 2:

Listen: I Put A Spell On You / The Alan Price Set
I

Listen: Iechyd-Da / The Alan Price Set
Iechyd-Da

THE AMAZING ALAN PRICE.

Speaking of amazing, it just doesn’t cease to, as they say, amaze me that on June 18, 1966, ‘I Put A Spell On You’ reached #1 at WLOF, Orlando Florida’s Top 40. Even before global warming, Orlando was one hot and sticky town that time of year.

But basically this record always reminds me of cold weather. You see my cousin Anne in London and I used to trade singles in the post. Actually, she stiffed me on a few, and I still regularly remind her of just that on the occasions when we speak. It’s a bit comical these days, but it wasn’t always. Stiffing me on a record swap creates a grudge decades long.

As a result of one of those successful fair exchanges though, I ended up with ‘I Put A Spell On You’ by the newly formed Alan Price Set. He was always my preferred member of The Animals, and so when departing to form his own more jazz influenced outfit, I became anxious for a copy. This was a few months earlier, when Winter still crippled upstate New York. Hence my connection with this record as a soundtrack to that season.

Of equal interest was the B side ‘Iechyd-Da’. Similar to The Graham Bond Organization’s ‘St. James Infirmary’ or anything from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers’ CRUSADE album, the single featured brass. That added component was then all the rage if you dug deep into the back pages of MELODY MAKER whereby reviews of live shows at Klooks Kleek and The Flamingo resided. Both were London all-nighter venues where my guess is, the air was sickly thick with smoke and the club rammed with liquor fueled servicemen getting belligerent regularly. Nonetheless they were still sharp enough to wander down Oxford Street or the specialty shops in London’s West End the next day buying just these type singles. That’s my dream anyway.

Each 7″ by The Alan Price Set from then forward was a no need to listen prior acquisition. I just wanted every last one upon release. And so when this EP recapped three recent A sides and the aforementioned signature ‘Iechyd-Da’ B side, I lost sleep until it arrived courtesy Anne, my dear sweet partially dependable UK cousin.

Willie Cobb

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Listen: You’re So Hard To Please / Willie Cobb
WillieCobb.mp3

Often referred to as Willie Cobbs, his Vee Jay singles all dropped the ‘s’, whereby Willie Cobb had his biggest selling, and most influential release from ’61. To be exact, it was Vee Jay VS 411. That record’s B side, ‘You Don’t Love Me’, unexpectedly became a most covered track half a decade later. Amongst others, The Allman Brothers Band and Quicksilver Messenger Service both lined up to incorporate it as a signature part of their respective sets.

Not being a guitarist myself, I would still venture to say, ‘You Don’t Love Me’ had both a universal message and musical simplicity that attracted many white players from the era. In fact, it was the version by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers that not only drew my attention to the name in the writer’s bracket beneath the song, but also the similarity in guitar tones to that band’s releases around ’65-’66, when Eric Clapton was a member.

The single’s A side, ‘You’re So Hard To Please’, even better exposed the above. Way before exploring details about Willie Cobb was only a few clicks away, my luck meant stumbling on this very single amongst a one-stop salesman’s cast-off pile, often sitting untouched at my uncle’s vending business office on a Saturday morning when my Dad could, I’m sure, take me pestering for a visit no longer. I never did understand what the big deal was. They’d all stand around for a good hour and talk sports and stuff, and I’d clean out the office shelves of those nasty promos no one wanted.

My guess is Vee Jay re-serviced ‘You’re So Hard To Please’ around the time of the B sides’ discovery, thereby hoping to skim off some profits from the British blues frenzy afire amongst US college kids, all blindly insatiable for any electric blues track being hammered by their local underground stations, hence landing the pressing above.

One listen and you’ll agree, if anything was a sonic model for the Eric Clapton era John Mayall’s Bluebreakers, ‘You’re So Hard To Please’ was it.

John Mayall

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Listen: Walking On Sunset (Mono) / John Mayall
Walking

I recall vividly awaiting each new album from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers during their vast and frequent output of the late 60′s. There was something very British about it all. Seemingly via coincidental osmosis, to me, this band personified the damp, cold and grimy UK club circuit. Photos of their decidedly uncomfortable, barely heated van imply a situation closer to say, a jail sentence than an accommodating overnight transportation mode. And that’s just the travel bit.

So by the release of the BLUES FROM LAURAL CANYON album, summer ’68, it was well fun to hear a bright, almost happy version of blues rock. In this case, documenting what must have been like the world changing from black and white to color, for an English band usually grinding through the drizzly UK and then suddenly ending up in Southern California performing a week of shows at Los Angeles’ Whisky A Go Go.

John Mayall himself returned, or maybe stayed on for a week or two, and hence the resulting documentation of the trip. References to The Mothers Of Invention, Canned Heat and The GTO’s make for fun musical name checks. But it’s the almost pop-like songs that entertain the most.

‘Walking On Sunset’ was always a favorite, along with ’2401′, a UK 7″. Again, having the promos of these means owning the scarce mono versions, as posted above.

‘Walking On Sunset’, to this day, can still invite you along for the stroll, envisioning what it must have been like, mid century architecture overloading one’s senses from all directions, and a list of upcoming club shows in the vicinity that could rival London’s Marquee with heart stopping effect.

Years later, having morphed from fan to A&R, I signed John Mayall and he made his terrific comeback album for Island, A SENSE OF PLACE. One of the nicest, most dependable, problem free guys you’d ever want to work with quite frankly.

Only a few years back, I ran into he and his family as we both waited for outbound flights at LAX. We sat for a good hour and caught up. John, as always, sharing endless details about those days. Love the guy.

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.

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

Friday, February 4th, 2011

I'm Your Witch Doctor / John Mayall's Bluesbreakers

Listen: I’m Your Witch Doctor / John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
I'm Your Witch Doctor / John Mayall's Bluesbreakers

Back during that second wave of late 60′s blues influenced UK acts like Savoy Brown, Ten Years After and Led Zeppelin, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers constantly evaded my collection. Those first several albums seemed to appear so quickly, and I always needed something other than their releases. Oddly, no one I knew had any copies either.

By ’66, I was already in a pattern of getting un-needed Rock and RnB singles off a little MOR station near my parent’s house. I turned up there one Friday claiming to be from the local Children’s Hospital and seeking out a donation…of records.

I knew about donations, having spent time in physical therapy rehab, learning to walk again, after jumping off our carport roof as a result of a childhood dare. So technically, I was in rehab at six years old. Spent half a year confined to a wheelchair, then another half doing the aforementioned physical therapy. Even though I was reaping great quantities of records as a result of the station’s donations, never once did a John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers single appear in their weekly handouts. Not until late ’67. And ‘I’m Your Witch Doctor’ was it – taken off that very first ANTHOLOGY OF BRITISH BLUES compilation on Immediate which was everywhere. CBS, Immediate’s US distributor, did the job back then as far as getting LPs into the stores.

Wow. What a single. I pretty quickly prioritized some of the band’s releases for purchase, the CRUSADE album in particular, with that top version of ‘Hideaway’. Little by little, I filled in those early London titles. They were pretty hard to find back then too.

Years later, I signed John to Island. He made a terrific album for us, A SENSE OF PLACE. It deservedly got much critical praise and sold well. Amongst the advantages of working at Island was the label’s credibility. John was considered passe at the time, but signing to Island was hip, and because he delivered such a strong album, it was a relatively smooth path to success.

A nicer man you will not meet. Dependable and honest. Generous too. He gave me a beautiful framed print of a photo he’d done. The subject: three of his handmade guitars, pictured many, many times in live shots and on album covers. No reason, just to say thanks for helping him.

Seatrain

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Listen: 13 Questions / Seatrain Seatrain13.mp3

Despite my preference for the British bands from the 60′s and 70′s, there’d many times be an American group as part of those three band live lineups so prevalent at the time. Like there were always three at The Fillmore. Three bands were kind of a given.

No recollection which bill Seatrain were part of, ’13 Questions’ was current at the time and I remember liking the set.

Besides, I did fancy the look of the Capitol label around this time: those lime green with purple/black logo albums, then the circular orange and red with graphically matching blue/yellow bullseye 7″ label/sleeve combos. Plus, Capitol used a lot of recycled vinyl, whereby they’d grind up and melt down returns and defectives with the label still affixed, hence ‘Capitol surface noise’ as we all coined it. Example: did you EVER hear a Quicksilver Messenger Service album without it during the quiet patches? There you go. The proof.

I must admit, it made all those records by Joy Of Cooking, The Band and yes, Seatrain sound a touch desirable to one person at least. I liked Capitol’s particular sound of crackle.

Listen: I’m Willin’ / Seatrain SeatrainWillin.mp3

Seems ’13 Questions’ had a fair share of airplay on the FM stations in it’s day. I know I heard it on occasion, as was the case with their version of Lowell George’s ‘I’m Willin”. Despite Seatrain’s general lack of lyrical ability, seems they were not alone. Lowell Geroge, on this particualr song at least, is clearly no poet. I mean, are these words supposed to be funny?

Still, I’d acquired a taste for violin in rock, when well done as in the case of Family, it can make one quite open minded. Then I saw The Flock support John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Jerry Goodman was setting the place ablaze. Really good stuff. Likewise with Seatrain. Richard Greene was a much more subtle but classy violinist. His playing was never overdone.

Live, they were pretty raw. In the studio though, with George Martin producing, no doubt wearing his signature shirt, tie and suit coat, they were sadly cleaned, polished and de-souled. He did have a knack for white washing things in the booth. See my post on The Action.

Got home that night after seeing the band and played both ’13 Questions’ and ‘I’m Willin” a good half dozen times each, until I could stand the ‘Capitol surface noise’ no longer.

Canned Heat

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Listen: Rollin’ And Tumblin’ / Canned Heat CannedHeatRollin.mp3

This wasn’t a huge favorite then, yet I did show off that sleeve at every turn. Lots of era bands covered ‘Rollin’ And Tumblin’, and I must admit, my favorite is by The Cream. But what’s great about this is Bob Hite on vocal. He may have been a big boy, but he was relentless on stage. Really superb. I remember them doing it the one and only time I got to see this lineup (who are on all three singles posted here).


Listen: Going Up The Country / Canned Heat CannedHeatCountry.mp3

That particular show was a real treat. Canned Heat were in the midst of this run of hit singles, can you believe it, hit Top 40 singles. Support that night were John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (during the BAREWIRES tour – fantastic) and Albert King. Now tell me you aren’t jealous and I’ll know you’re fibbing.

‘Going Up The Country’ had the unique voice of Al ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson on lead. He and Bob Hite seemed to share an equal 50/50 of those singing chores live. No star bullshit, just real blues lovers that band. In fact, Bob reportedly had one of the world’s largest and most complete blues vinyl collection at the time of his passing.

Blind Owl actually brought pop perfectly into the band via his voice. It’s just impossible to not love.

Listen: On The Road Again / Canned Heat CannedHeatRoad.mp3

So much appeal did indeed that voice have, that Canned Heat pulled off something similar in the US to what The Rolling Stones had in the UK with ‘Little Red Rooster’. Both singles, tried, true, plain and simple slow blues numbers, became smashes against every industry know-it-all warning.

Not sure about you, but I haven’t heard these for years. Really glad I pulled them out.

Betty Wright

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Listen: Shoorah Shoorah / Betty Wright 11 Shoorah_ Shoorah_.mp3

I was working at Discount Records in the early 70′s when this came in. Discount was a deep catalog chain between ’65 – ’75 or so. Their stores were concentrated in the northeast, and their home office was in Scarsdale. The location on the Syracuse University campus was always a haven for the most obscure albums, all the British and west coast names you’d heard of. When I finally got a job there in ’74, it was a real win. You see, each store could buy direct from the labels. So although it was a chain, you weren’t just allocated the hits. There was serious inventory maintenance and responsibility required. This was of course huge fun.

One weekend, I really got into the old BILLBOARD magazine collection and with intense detail, compiled a many-paged list of singles to order from each of the labels. The one that really came through was London Records. Unlike pretty much all the others, somewhere deep in their fulfillment warehouse were tucked sole copies of countless singles. I opened that big shipment box about a week after placing the order resulting from said weekend, to find crazy London, Parrot and Deram singles from years prior (Them, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Honeybus, The Attack, Hedgehoppers Anonymous, The Cryin’ Shames, Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, Savoy Brown). Ah, the good old days.

But back to Betty Wright’s version of ‘Shoorah Shoorah’. I was very into The Meters around this time and hence insatiable for all things Allen Toussaint. Reading that he had written this one in the BILLBOARD singles review section that particular week, I ordered myself a copy. Smart move. It was a classic. I proceeded to get in a box, and with in store play sold them through nicely. Wish I had kept a few more.

Alice Cooper

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

alicecaughtusa, Alice Cooper, Straight, Frank Zappa, Warner Brothers

Listen: Caught In A Dream / Alice Cooper AliceCooperCaught.mp3

I became pretty friendly with a couple of Syracuse University students, Fred Perry and Harry Fagenbaum, via their Sunday evening late night show on WAER, the student run radio station. It was as much a case of me finding them as them finding me.

I couldn’t sleep, it was late on a very cold Sunday night and despite school beckoning the next morning, I started fiddling with the wireless part of the TV/stereo/radio combination counsel, as much a piece of time period furniture as it was a media center. This was 1968, and I was so desperate to hear the new single by The Move, ‘Fire Brigade’, that I actually believed I’d find it on some far away radio station, beaming it’s way to me back when late night signals bounced to unlikely places. Lo and behold, I found my first ever college radio station, and was stunned. These two guys were playing some fantastic music: Ten Years After, John Mayall’s Bluesbreaker and The Kinks. I could not believe my luck.

Twenty minutes into the bliss, onto the air comes ‘Fire Brigade’ by The Move. Holy fucking shit. It was like I was possessed or something. Having tossed and turned, feeling frustrated to be growing up in a town and country where the radio stunk, I get out of bed and find what I was looking for. I know you’re thinking this is being exaggerated to make for better copy, but I swear, it’s true. Yes, be careful what you wish – it can be a little unsettling when it comes true.

So I made a low volume, long distance call to these DJ’s. Not only had I found a weekly oasis for my musical desires, they’d finally found a listener who wanted to hear the stuff. We agreed to meet up and talk English groups.

A year or so later, Harry became the Warner Brothers college rep, and would occasionally let me troll through his trunk full of promos, not anywhere near as often as I wanted, or as often as I’d have let him had the situation been reversed. Still, I was appreciative for the high.

One of those Saturday trunk scores included white label promos by Deep Purple ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’, John & Beverly Martyn ‘Road To Ruin’ and Alice Cooper ‘Caught In A Dream’, back when the name of the band, not the guy, was Alice Cooper. The Zappa partnership still seamed strong, with the WB label prominently including Frank’s Straight logo. Lots of good singles from Alice Cooper were still to come, but I think this one remains their best.

McGuinness Flint

Friday, July 24th, 2009

mcguinesswhen, mcguiness flint, tom mcguiness, capitol, manfred mann

Listen: When I’m Dead And Gone / McGuinness Flint McGuinnessWhen.mp3

mcguinessmalt, mcguiness flint, tom mcguiness, capitol, manfred mann

Listen: Malt And Barley Blues / McGuinness Flint McGuinessMalt.mp3

Manfred Mann, despite having several massive US hits, would always find it hard getting radio attention for the two or three followups each time. US radio never had any loyalty to many artists or it’s listeners. The audience takes a record to #1, but there’s no responsibility to let that same loyal customer hear the followup – unless of course the station was brown bagged an incentive. Manfred Mann were no exception. So it was really surprising when the McGuinness Flint (featuring Manfred Mann’s Tom McGuinness and Hughie Flint from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers) debut, a very British sounding single ‘When I’m Dead And Gone’, got immediate play – and became a bit of a hit (#47). Guess what, it didn’t last. The above pattern fell right into place. It’s followup, the equally great ‘Malt And Barley Blues’ got not an airing.

Long forgotten, I was reminded how much I valued them and as ‘When I’m Dead And Gone’ suddenly came in to my head the other night, I couldn’t get home fast enough to pull it out of the library. There next to it was ‘Malt And Barley Blues’. Been playing them both steady for a good couple of days ever since.

Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Never Ending Song Of Love - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

Listen: Never Ending Song Of Love – Delaney & Bonnie & Friends 06 Never Ending Song Of Lov.mp3

I never got too deeply into that American country sound, the occasional single by The Band or Poco once in a while, I guess. In hindsight, the more country/blues, loosely shambled records actually appeal from time to time. Seems like everybody has forgotten about Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Probably best known for letting Eric Clapton join their band after the success of The Cream, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Yardbirds was just too much to handle, they seemed to fade away as soon as he left. Don’t know about you, but I never hear them anywhere. Bonnie Bramlett got into a scrabble with Elvis Costello after he’d made a racial slur towards blacks in a hotel bar once. So I do give her props for that. Once in a while, I like the laziness of their back porch sound to be honest.