Posts Tagged ‘The Graham Bond Organization’

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.

Tommy Tucker

Friday, November 13th, 2015

tommytuckerhiheeleduka, Tommy Tucker, Checker, Chess, Don Covay, Pye

Listen: Hi-Heel Sneakers / Tommy Tucker TommyTuckerHighHeeled.mp3

It was very early on that I’d learned to depend on certain labels for a consistant style or quality. Many collectors focus on their entire runs, and Chess/Checker is easily one such company. Basically, I was never disappointed by their 60′s output. Must have been an early radio station handout that turned me on to Tommy Tucker, although this did reach #11 in ’64. His Jimmy Reed style was an instant magnet, and I’m happy to this day that I plonked down $5 for his one and only Checker album at the time.

Don Covay also comes to mind, he wrote ‘Long Tall Shorty’, Tommy Tucker’s followup to ‘High Heeled Sneakers’. Covered by The Kinks and The Graham Bond Organization, it was apparently a common staple in the London clubs for a bit. Not a hit at the time, it’s deservedly risen to an equal ‘classic’ position for Tommy Tucker through the years.

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.

The Birds

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Listen: No Good Without You Baby / The Birds

The Birds, like their leader Ronnie Wood, seemed forever destined to second tier, always in supporting roles. Yet years later, their lack of first division ideas wonderfully tarnished them with a rather perfect time period sound, ideally suited for the musical backdrop of some British beat boom documentary. But after all, they were on Decca, which in hindsight is regarded as one of the holy grail UK labels for the genre.

To many, Decca has forever been saddled as the company that passed on The Beatles. I however say that’s only one of their greatest achievements. Signing The Rolling Stones being the other. Whether by design or accident, it certainly led them down a path that attracted Them, The Moody Blues, The Graham Bond Organization, The Zombies, The Beazers, The Artwoods, The Small Faces, The Nashville Teens, Zoot Money, The Move and other such hard up heroes, of which The Birds were included.

Several years back, while in London for work, I had conveniently scheduled my trip around The Olympia Record Fair. Getting there somewhat early, but not when doors opened, the first dealer I encountered, off to the left most side of the venue, was not surprisingly unbothered by any customers. His make shift boxes of 7′s unattractively assembled across his table, with as many sloppy boxes below, about two dozen in all. No wall hangings highlighting high end items, no colorful signs, no sizzle of any kind. Everything was either £1, £3 or £5.

Having decided to systematically cover the entire event, I began with this fellow, technically the first dealer far left, with every intention of moving right across the entire lot to the other side. Despite his unkept presentation, I reminded myself there was a plan and not to abandon it by skipping his table, before even starting.

Barely through the first box, I realized it’s entire contents were Decca or Decca distributed A Labels. Temporarily skipping to the second and discovering it to be the same, I asked him about his wares, inquiring was it coincidence they were all Decca’s. Turns out he didn’t regularly sell at the fairs, pretty obvious from the shabby boxes alone, but had stumbled on a retired Decca employee with an attic full of records from his 60′s heyday, and here they all were.

Well, I nearly blacked out. Luckily, a friend had come along with me, and immediately had the defensive sense to inform any other customers wandering up that the entire table was being sold. This gave me time to plow through and grab pretty much all of them. In hindsight, I still stress about leaving Les Reed or Ted Heath type singles behind, and wonder constantly if there was something I’d missed.

The unexpected discovery was one of life’s greatest moments, and a reminder to never judge a book by it’s cover. Amongst the many, many, many incredible purchases that day at that table: ‘No Good Without You Baby’ as well the other two Decca singles from The Birds.

The London Olympia Record Fair, which happens regularly, is in fact this weekend. Never ever pass it up.

The Eyes

Saturday, December 7th, 2013


Side 1:

Listen: The Immediate Pleasure / The Eyes

Listen: I’m Rowed Out / The Eyes

Side 2:

Listen: When The Night Falls / The Eyes

Listen: My Degeneration / The Eyes

Originally a West London instrumental band, The Renegades added a vocalist and became Gerry Hart & The Hartbeats, before changing their name to The Eyes and recording a four song demo at Rayrik Sound Studios in Chalk Farm. Literally one block away from The Roundhouse, the apartment turned studio was used often by The Graham Bond Organization, and as well to record ‘Wrapping Paper’, the first single by The Cream. Trojan Records cut dozens of singles there as well, including Bob & Marcia’s hit ‘Young, Gifted And Black’.

Clearly influenced by The Creation and especially The Who, The Eyes didn’t appear to be the most original band around. A MELODY MAKER review of their stage show included sound effect tapes and colored visuals and despite rather lame soccer shirt uniforms that featured eyeball images, they managed to fit into the London Mod movement for a bit. By early 1965, The Eyes signed to Mercury, releasing ‘When The Night Falls’ and ‘I’m Rowed Out’ from those sessions as their debut single.

Like the follow up ‘The Immediate Pleasure’ and ‘My Degeneration’, both singles got decent airplay in the UK and so Mercury decided to couple them together as an EP in early 1966, when the EP market was still fairly healthy.

Apparently very few copies shifted out the door, making for one of the most valued EP’s from the era.

The Alan Price Set

Thursday, December 5th, 2013


Side 1:

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

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

Side 2:

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

Listen: Iechyd-Da / The Alan Price Set


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.

Alexander Jackson & The Turnkeys

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Listen: The Whip / Alexander Jackson & The Turnkeys
The Whip / Alexander Jackson & The Turnkeys

Guy Stevens, who ran Sue UK, was at his most adventurous around ’65 – ’66. Handfuls of obscure RnB records from small independent American labels were finding their way onto Sue and getting released in England monthly. One of the more bizarre chain of events involved this single.

Originally issued in the US as ‘Flea Pot’ by The Lala Wilson Band, Guy Stevens licensed the record and upon release as Sue (WI-386), changed both it’s title and artist to ‘The Whip’ by Alexander Jackson & The Turnkeys. One of the instrumentals that appealed to amphetamined Mods meant the band’s true identity started to become a topic.

Rumors of it being The Graham Bond Organization, with Eric Clapton sitting in on guitar sonically seemed possible given the single directly preceding it on Sue’s release schedule, Little Joe Cook’s ‘Stormy Monday Blues (Part 1 & 2)(WI-385), was an alias for Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds. As well, the two bands often shared nights at The Flamingo on Wardour Street. Seemed an easy possibility but alas, this was not the case.

Either way, with very few copies having sold, it’s value continues to perform like Apple stock, and rise with no end in sight.

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.

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.