Jazz, RnB and Soul side of Mod.
The Jazz, R&B and Soul Side of 'Mod'.
In my earlier discourses (a much nicer word than 'groaning on' I think!) regarding 'Can blue men sing the whites' and 'It's a mod, mod, mod, mod world' I referred to the path taken by bands outside of the usual vox, guitar, bass and drums line up. These units generally featured an extended line up, sometimes with only a Hammond B3/Lesley added, others utilising several brass and/or horn players and, as a result, so began the process of initiating what we now call 'fusion' or even (gulp!) 'jazz rock'. However, American 'soul' would be the most common touchstone as many UK 'mod' bands sought to emulate the sounds and experience of, say, the famous Stax/Volt tour of 1967 which saw Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Eddie Floyd, Booker T and the MG's, the Markeys and newcomer Arthur Conley hit the British circuit. Many R&B bands too, realising that the 'blues' was now considered a touch 'passe' by some of the younger mods, started to integrate jazz, soul and Motown covers into their sets alongside the now common practice of band composed songs. It's these bands I'm going to concentrate on in this article; some will be familiar, others hopefully less so, and some probably fall outside the accepted category of a 'mod' band but, one thing in common was the attempt by these bands to broaden the palate of music played in the clubs and released on record. As usual, because of their scarcity at the time of release, buried away as they were in the usual avalanche of 45rpm releases each week, I've had to refer to some of my compilation albums and, once again any selections from CD's will be marked *. So, without further ado, here's another dip into probably my favourite era of music (and fashion too) which saw yours truly shaking his 'thang' at various youth clubs and Donny Top Rank most Saturdays, with the odd trip to Sheffield's famous Mojo just to liven things up.
*Alexis Korners Blues Incorporated-'Rain is such a lonesome sound'. Recorded mid-1962. Released Nov. 1962. From 'R&B from the Marquee' LP. Ace of Clubs label.
Decca must have been really confident that this album would be a success when it was released in 1962.... so confident they put it out on its budget imprint Ace of Clubs!! Not that AK was by himself there..... even a John Mayall album gained a release on the imprint. Parisian born Alexis moved to London at the outbreak of WW2 and became entranced with the blues thanks to records by blues pianist Jimmy Yancey. He began playing the guitar in 1949 and soon joined the Chris Barber Jazz Band, alongside harmonica player Cyril Davies. They became a duo, playing hybrid jazz and blues, and opened the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club in 1955 and that same year he made his recording debut on an EP by the Ken Colyer Skiffle Group. The next five years saw Korner and Davies bringing over many US musicians to play at the club as well as recording as the Breakdown Group. Moving to Ealing to start the legendary Ealing Blues Club, the duo formed the (Alexis Korner) Blues Incorporated, a unit designed specifically to nurture new, young musicians. Of course, were now familiar with those who made their debut with the band (Jagger, Richards, Jones (B), Watts, Baldry, Jones (P), Bruce, Baker, Bond etc, etc) and here, on this fine jazzy, bluesy number we have Long John Baldry, 'Big' Jim Sullivan and Dick Heckstall-Smith as well as Korner and Davies showing the way 'mod-jazz' would develop through Georgie Fame, Graham Bond and others. Shortly after the album’s release, Davies, ever the purist.... and not a little jealous of the Alexis Korner appendage to the band’s name, left declaring its jazzy output wasn't the 'true blues' and formed the Chicago blues-based Cyril Davies All Stars. However, this equally legendary units time was unfortunately short lived as, just as the blues was becoming more widely appreciated, Davies was struck down by leukaemia in 1964. Blues Incorporated continued its revolving door policy, signing Graham Bond, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker as replacements but, very shortly after, that trio left and, with Heckstall-Smith, they formed the Graham Bond Organisation. For the rest of his career Korner continued to castigate those musicians who 'slavishly' continued to plough the Chicago type of blues whilst continuing to integrate jazz into his later outfits. He moved into radio broadcasting (I'm overlooking his time with Ollie Beak and Muriel Young here!!) in the seventies whilst recording with new units (CCS, Free at Last, Snape etc) and was preparing a TV series for the BBC when he contracted cancer and died in 1984.
(This from 'Alexis Korner Easy Rider' CD which also includes a CD of his earlier recordings with Colyer, Beryl Bryden, Alan Lomax and Davey Graham.)
Mark Leeman Five- 'Green Onions'. Recorded mid 1963. Unreleased demo album. Taken from 'The Memorial Album'. See For Miles label, released 1991.
Right from their inception in 1961, this London band showed their intention to be different. In this pre-beat(les) era. Whilst most groups were copying Riff Clichard, Adam Faff. Smarty Mild and others, the ML5 were blasting out Ray Charles, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and other blues and jazz-based songs in the clubs around the periphery of London. However, when they initially ventured into the studios in mid 1962, the band played safe with two very Joe Meek style band compositions which were only pressed in small numbers as a demo. Later that year, feeling more confident, they returned to Vic Keary's Chalk Farm studio to lay down another demo; this time the much more confident band comp 'Back Home' and club favourite, Barrett Strong's 'Money'. Bear in mind that, in mid-1962, neither the Beatles, Rolling Stones or even Bern Elliott and the Fenmen had released their versions of the song. In fact, the only other recorded version I can think of from that time would be the Beatles 'Decca Session' version, which was undertaken on the 1st January 1962 but even that was not released until September 1982. With their live appearances showing progress the band went for broke and managed to convince Pye Studios engineer Jim Goff to record an eleven track demo album in mid-1963 to showcase their stage act to prospective A&R men. At a time when the Stones were laying down the disappointing 'Come on' debut single, and before the Animals, Yardbirds, Pretty Things and others were within sight of a record deal, only Georgie Fame was playing this type of material, which was captured famously on his era defining 'Live at the Flamingo' album (recorded 25th September 1963, released January 1964). Here the band blew through 'Got my mojo working', 'Shame, Shame', 'Dr Feelgood' and others from their set which, if released at the time, would surely have put the band amongst the prime movers of the mod scene. Taken from that album I've selected the bands fine version of Booker T and the MG's 'Green Onions', a track which, at that time had also never been recorded by any other UK band that I can find. A December 1963 support slot with the up and coming Manfred Mann gave the band a significant boost and saw the Manfreds recommend the ML5 be signed to their management and become the support act at the Manfreds now legendary Marquee Club residency. Further prestigious gigs followed during 1964 (including the Cromwellian where all of the Beatles were in attendance) whilst the bands popularity led to a Columbia contract and the release of the Paul Jones produced 'Portland Town' single in January 1965. Critical approval followed, plus a tour with the Manfreds, Spencer Davis Group and the Soul Sisters in June but it was at this point that disaster struck the band. Whilst returning from a gig in Blackpool, Leeman decided to travel solo and visit his girlfriend, pop-ette Julie Grant, in Blackburn. During the journey, in a car driven by her assistant, he was involved in a crash which sadly took his life. The band bravely decided to keep his memory alive by continuing, albeit with another vocalist (Roger Peacock, late of the Cheynes), and went on to record several more worthy singles but when Peacock left to join Dave Antony's Moods in September 1966 the remaining members decided to go their own ways. A sad end to a group who deserve to be recognised as real innovators of the early mod era.
And speaking of Dave Anthony's Moods.....
Dave Anthony's Moods- 'New Directions'. Recorded early 1966. Released April 22nd 1966. Parlophone label. From 'The New Direction' EP. Released 2013. Acid Jazz.
Here's quite possibly one of the finest 'mod/soul' singles ever!!! How on earth.... well, you know the rest!!! This is a band with a long, convoluted history, despite only being formed (as a serious proposition) in 1961. It takes in much of the Bournemouth scene, Zoot Money, The Trendsetters (Mike and Peter Giles), The League of Gentlemen (Robert Fripp) and other outfits but, basically, the band were formed by Tony Head (AKA Dave Anthony) as Dave Anthony and the Rebels/Ravers (with the Giles Brothers) before Tony moved to Zoot Moneys 'Sands Combo'. When they failed, Money formed the Big Roll Band (Mk 1) and Tony moved on to L.O.G. just after Fripp relocated to London in 1965. Later in 1965 he joined Bob Michael's Band and, as lead vocalist, the name was duly changed to Dave Anthony's Moods. Picking up on the burgeoning mod scene, the band changed its repertoire entirely, taking in James Brown, Jimmy Reed and Otis Redding numbers and moved to London. In common with the Mark Leeman Five, they were signed by the Manfreds manager, Ken Pitt, and began playing all the top London Clubs. Their first visit to the studio saw the band record this absolute stormer, written by the Mann/Hugg team (and NOT Man/Mugg as the EP credits!!) which received a great review in the NME but zero publicity either on the radio or in the press. Disappointed, the band returned to the live scene and, with one exception, that was the only single they released in the UK. Even the exception is under dispute. Some discographies list the Patsy Cole (AKA 'Goldie'/Genya Ravan/Zelkowitz) single 'Disappointed Bride' as being backed by The Moods (minus Tony/Dave), others credit Steve Winwood, the Blue Flames and other friends. Whilst the Island singles listings are very vague regarding singles around the time of its release (Catalogue number WI 271). most listings do not show the single at all. However, some of those singles with numbers released around the same sequence seem to be 1966, and others listed as 1965 so, if it's '65, it may well be Winwood et al. What is certain is that the Moods did back Goldie on her European tour in 1966. However, back to Tony/Dave.... during early summer 1966, Tony had to return to Bournemouth to help his pregnant wife with her boarding house. His place was taken, short term, by Bob Downes but, just months after, the couples new-born baby died and Tony officially left the band. It was at this stage that Roger Peacock split from the Mark Leeman 5 and joined the band, just in time to re-locate to Italy (following a dispute with club owner Rik Gunnell.. that's ex-boxer and friend of the Krays Rik Gunnell!!) where, within a short period they became extremely popular in Milan. Whilst there they recorded just a couple more singles ('My Baby' and a pointless 'Whiter shade of pale) in 1967 which proved popular and saw the band gigging the length of Italy until cracks began to appear and band members found new opportunities back in the UK. It was left to Peacock to see out the remainder of their (Italian crewed) time before the eventual folding in 1968. (N.B. Tony/Dave did resurface in 1968 with mod/psychers (Les)The Fleur De Lys as well as recording some great soul singles with Sharon Tandy)
Zoot Moneys Big Roll Band- 'Bring it (on) home to me'. B-side to 'Good' single. Recorded early 1965. Released 26th March 1965. Columbia label.
So much better than the top side (which should perhaps have been called 'Good-ish') which saw Zoot straying firmly into Georgie Fame territory. Here though, Zoot shows a real affinity for Sam Cooke's classic and allows the band to stretch out, with Andy Summers in particular being allowed to display his technique on the middle eight. Born in Bournemouth in 1942, Zoot (his nickname was given after his constant raving about jazzer Zoot Sims) progressed through the school orchestra to playing banjo in a local jazz band. After hearing Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis he moved over to piano and joined rock and rollers The Stormers where he first befriended Summers who had joined just as the band was about to fold. After a couple more false starts, Money formed his first Big Roll Band in 1961 and, over the next two years it underwent several personnel changes until a more stable line up emerged which was spotted by Alexis Korner and asked to re-locate to London in late 1963. Within weeks they had replaced Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames at the Flamingo and began a hectic schedule of tour dates (including a 13 gig sequence in just eight days!!) which generally ended with Zoot de-bagging himself to show off a multi coloured pair of underpants, thus gaining himself the new nickname of 'Moon the Loon'. Decca signed the band for the ubiquitous 'one single' deal ('The Uncle Willie') and, following its failure the band moved to Columbia to begin a succession of popular but unsuccessful singles (except the smallish hit 'Big Time Operator'). Their stage act was replicated in the studio for the first album 'It should have been me', which failed to sell and, as a result, their management decided to capture the band live at the scene of one of their most popular gigs, the Klooks Kleek club in West Hampstead. This venue had been the site of other live r&b albums but here, thanks to Gus Dudgeons production, and spurred on by Eric Burdon, Chas Chandler, Brian Auger and Georgie Fame amongst the sold-out crowd, the band laid down one of the best live albums from the sixties. This time the record did chart (Number 23) in October 1966. However, to quote Mr Dylan, the times, they were a changin' and Zoot and Andy soon began to weird out thanks to their copious intake of LSD which saw the band slim down and rebrand as Dantalions Chariot...….. but that's another story for another time. Zoot continues to gig, generally in the London area with occasional dates in the provinces (even Spain at Christmas last year) and he remains one of the few people I am still waiting to catch on the nostalgia circuit.
Sounds Incorporated- 'Detroit'. B-side to 'The Spartans' single. Released mid 1964. Columbia label. This from 'Top Gear' EP. Released August 1964.
Not the first band to spring to mind when we're talking mod and r&b are they? However, I think this track does have everything needed to deserve inclusion here. Formed in Dartford in 1961, the band were fortunate to become Gene Vincent's backing unit when the Blue Caps were refused work visas. Their success led to further tours as back up for Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brenda Lee and Sam Cooke, a path that they followed for most of their subsequent career. Singles for Parlophone and Decca were unsuccessful and saw the band take the high road to Hamburg where they befriended the Beatles and, on their recommendation, they were signed by Brian Epstein's NEMS Agency in 1963. 'The Spartans' was their first single for Columbia and they were rewarded with a minor hit. The follow up ('Spanish Harlem') also achieved a minor placing and those two singles were the sum total of their success in UK chart terms. However, their next single, 'The William Tell Overture' did hit No 2...….. in Australia, and the band then became Cilla Black's back up for many of her sixties tours. Their finest hour, however, took place on 15th August 1965 when, along with Cannibal and the Headhunters, Brenda Holloway and the Young Rascals, they supported the Beatles at their legendary Shea Stadium gig in front of 55,000 ululating teenagers. Despite the continuing support of the 'Fabs' the bands career never took off in the same way that, say, Booker T or Junior Walkers did Stateside, despite the excellence of their musicianship. 1966 saw no domestic singles, despite an album released on EMI's experimental Studio 2 label (designed to show off stereo effects) and it wasn't surprising when original members began to drift away. They struggled on until 1971 by which time they had experimented with several vocalists in an effort to update their sound but to no avail. Looking back, 'Detroit' may be the bands attempt (or even homage) to the sounds emanating from the burgeoning Tamla Motown label although, to my ears, it does seem to nod more towards Booker T and the MG's early sixties output. A good EP, worth looking out for.
Remo Four- 'Sing Hallelujah' B-side to 'Live Like a Lady' single. Recorded and released Mid 1967 Unreleased in UK. Star Club label, Germany. This from 'That Driving Beat' compilation. Released 2002. Past and Present label.
Here's one Merseybeat band who managed to stick around a little longer than most, albeit by concentrating on their second home, the Star Club in Hamburg. Of course, that establishments fame is inextricably linked with the Beatles but it should be noted that, from the US alone, stars (no pun intended) such as Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, the Everly's, Jerry Lee Lewis and even Jimi Hendrix all graced the stage. Formed in 1961, band leader Colin Manley was a schoolfriend of Paul McCartney's who rated Manley as the best guitarist in Liverpool, a fact confirmed by Hank Marvin when the Remo Four blew the Shadows off the Cavern stage in late 1961. By that time Manley had already had a Bigsby tremolo arm and a DeArmond foot pedal (an early wah-wah device) imported from the States. They toured US bases in France as an extended six piece in 1962 and turned professional when they returned, thanks to the explosion of 'Merseybeat' bands. They were swept up by Brian Epstein, signed to Piccadilly Records and toured as back up for Cilla and Tommy Quickly, as well as releasing a well received, but unsuccessful single 'Lies' in 1963. Further tours, including the Star Club followed, and there were other fine singles, but little progress was made in the UK as regards popularity. In 1965, NEMS told the band that they owed both NEMS and HMRC an enormous (for the time) amount of money so the band relocated to Hamburg where a scheme by the German Government (the so called 'rock and dole' scheme) saw tours and gigs arranged without an agent and monies taxed at source. This allowed the band to settle its debts in the UK and, crucially, sign to Star Club Records and release the now sought after 'Smile' album, from which this superb moody cover of the old spiritual, which featured new signing Tony Ashton on organ, is taken. The band returned to the UK in 1967 but little progress was made until George Harrison used the band on some of the tracks for the 'Wonderwall' soundtrack. They then became Billy Fury's backing band until, in 1970, the band split with Manley joining Billy J Kramer, Georgie Fame and, latterly Freddie Starr and Clodagh Rodgers before becoming a member of the evergreen Swinging Blue Jeans until his death in 1999. Tony Ashton and drummer Roy Dyke went on to form Ashton Gardner and Dyke, who I saw 'bottled off' by an unappreciative Deep Purple audience at Sheffield's City Hall despite their being by far the better band (although I did leave after around half of the Purp's set!!). Dyke is equally famous, in some circles, for marrying Hawkwind 'dancer' Stacia..... eat yer heart out Tim!!!!!
Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers- 'I'll Be Doggone'. Recorded early 1966. Released mid 1966. Taken from 'Driving you wild' LP MFP label.
Strangely, this album first appeared on the EMI budget MFP label, only to be re-released the same year on EMI's other budget label Regal in an alternate sleeve for the export market. I'm going to pair this up with a single by his back-up band so let's, for once, just talk briefly about Cliff and this album and track before moving on. Cliff was a renowned disciplinarian and, over a period of time this had led to regular changes in the bands line up. They had been formed as early as 1957, releasing several unsuccessful singles which were produced by Joe Meek for the Parlophone label between 1961 and 1964's, top tenner 'One Way Love'. Many of Bennetts singles were cover versions but, because of the calibre of musicianship, each song featured a reworking from the original which should have seen the band recognised as on a par with, say, Georgie Fame's Blue Flames. It was during the '61-'64 period that the band, like many others, took the opportunities offered by the vibrant scene in Hamburg where they regularly shared the bill with the Beatles. This led to the band being signed by Brian Epstein and the success of 'One Way Love' but follow up singles 'I'll Take You Home' and 'Three Rooms With Running Water' barely dented the top 40 whilst several others failed entirely. Whilst supporting the Beatles on their final European tour in 1966 Bennett was offered 'Got To Get You Into My Life' which reached number 6 in the UK but the continuing revolving door of members was affecting the band and, again, follow up singles failed to chart. In 1967 Bennett rebranded the band in a vain attempt to present a more cogent image (to the 'hipper' Cliff Bennett Band nomenclature) and returned to the Beatles song book for 'Back in the USSR' but even this failed to appeal. By this time the band included the rabble-rousing Roy Young on piano and Chas Hodges on bass (and lead guitar in the studio) who negotiated a 'solo' band release in 1968 for Fontana. At the time of its release Bennett was on promotional duties in Germany and we'll move on to the Rebel Rousers next;
The Rebel Rousers- 'Should I'. Recorded early 1968. Released mid-1968. Fontana single a-side.
As I mentioned above, Bennett was a strict disciplinarian. Any lateness, drunkenness or drugs was punished by being fired from the band! Obviously, this led to tensions between the band members (presumably only on a wage) and Bennett and, in Roy Young he certainly had his hands full. After a stint in the Merchant Navy Young successfully auditioned for Jack Goods 'Oh Boy' and appeared several times, playing in the style of Little Richard and billed as Roy 'Rock 'em' Young. Further TV shows followed,' Drumbeat' and 'Boy meets girl', and he released several singles on the Fontana and Ember labels. He also toured the UK as support to Riff and the Shadows before becoming friendly with Norwich ex-pat and all round trouble maker Tony Sheridan. He followed Sheridan to Hamburg's Top Ten Club where he joined the Beat Brothers line up, featuring Ringo Starr at that time. Moving over to the Star Club he became friends with the Beatles, so much so that, allegedly, he was offered a place in the band (presumably to replace Stuart Sutcliffe?) which he refused as he was under contract to the Star Club. He returned to the UK in 1964 and joined the Rebel Rousers, by that time signed to NEMS, and was regularly featured as joint lead vocalists on such tracks as those by Sam and Dave when playing live. Also in the band at this time were Chas Hodges and Mick Burt who found fame a few years later but, in 1968, they sided with Young when, at a time when Bennett was on promotional duties in Germany, they would perform a coup d'état and sack Bennett from his own band. The lack of success of the fine single they recorded, however, must have been a salutary lesson and around a year later Young defected to form his own band. Hodges, Burt and Dave Peacock then formed the short-lived Black Claw before finding a modicum of success in Chas and Dave.
A Band of Angels- 'Invitation'. A-side single. Recorded late '65. Released February 1966. Piccadilly label. This from 'Hitmakers' Marble Arch label released 1969.
Sometimes you do wonder why a single fails to click, and here's a case in point. It's a Mike D'Abo composition and he's backed here by the group themselves, unlike their earlier UA releases where they were replaced by top session men Bobby Graham, Eric Ford and 'Big' Jim Sullivan. In fact, the only other band member present (on back up vocals) on those tracks was John Gaydon. However, at that time it wasn't unusual to utilise session players, don't forget that's how Jimmy Page made a living for around five years. The band had formed at Harrow public school in 1963 and gigged around that area until they were spotted by a scout from Ember Records in March 1964. They were allowed plenty of studio time and recorded around 25 tracks, most still unreleased, except 'Hide 'n Seek' which made an appearance in 1964's teen movie 'Just for you'. They moved to United Artists that year for a further two singles and then to Piccadilly for a final brace in 1965 and '66. Of those eight tracks, five were D'Abo compositions which showed what a prolific composer he was even at that early age. Around the time that 'Invitation' was released the Manfred Mann group were secretly trying to find a replacement for Paul Jones who had 'handed in his notice' in mid-1965 but had agreed to stay until a suitable replacement was found. Meanwhile, A Band of Angels had split up following a disastrous tour of France and D'Abo had begun recording song writing demos. Several of these found their way to Manfred Mann who was impressed with the songs and, after seeing D'Abo on an episode of 'A Whole Scene Going', he quickly made contact and offered him the lead vocalist spot in the group. D'Abo remained with the band for the next three years, composing many of their hit singles and album tracks before the band finally split in 1969. From 'A Band of Angels' themselves, lead singer John Gaydon teamed up with manager David Enthoven to form EG Management (check out King Crimson, Roxy Music, ELP etc) and Andy Peters played in Timebox before (Admiral) John Halsey joined. D'Abo, of course, went on to pen many other hits and still tours as part of the Manfreds on occasion.
Ossie Layne Show- 'Midnight Hour'. Recorded and released 1969. 'Maddox 2' LP. Edigsa label Spain. From 'Barcelona '69' EP. Acid Jazz label. Released March 2015.
Another of those bands who featured a member who went on to 'greater' things. On this occasion it's Norman Watt-Roy, later to star alongside Ian Dury, Wilko Johnson, Roger Daltrey and several other late 60's/early 70's psychedelic and prog wanna-be bands. Born in India, the Watt-Roy family moved to the UK when he was three years old and, by the time he was eight he was already playing guitar in his brother Garths band. In 1967 they formed the short-lived Living Daylights before, in 1968, they formed a nine-piece soul band to back visiting singers. After touring with Solomon Burke, they were contracted to back Layne at a residency at the Maddox nightclub in Platja D'Aro near Barcelona. Layne was born in New Orleans and moved to Italy in 1965. He then moved to the UK in 1966 and released a single on the R&B label ('Come Back'/'Never answer that phone') who had issued Georgie Fame's first two singles. That single now attracts prices around £100 and, after listening to it on Discogs, this proto Family Stone style track does seem to be a cracking mod/soul dancer. Judging by reviews however, it seems that Layne was an average singer at best and, as a result, he only appears on the first side of the 'Maddox 2' album, with flautist Colin Jennings taking over on the second sides four tracks. It's those tracks collected on the Acid Jazz EP and a mixed bag they are too! 'Midnight Hour' is high energy 60's soul at its best, but this is 1969 with prog, the 'bloos' and heavy rock spreading like a rash in the UK. Next up is a cover of Sly's 'Sing a simple song' followed by Jeff Beck and Rod Stewarts 'Rock my plimsoll' and, finally, a medley of psychers Moby Grapes 'Can't be so bad' and Spirit's 'Fresh Garbage' (at that time still in the Led Zep stage show!). Strange choices... and for that reason I've obviously gone with 'Midnight Hour'. Following the Spanish residency Layne returned to the US and the Watt-Roys formed The Greatest Show On Earth, who released two albums for Harvest before splitting, with organ grinder Michael Deacon going on to Vinegar Joe, Suzi Quatro and Darts(!!). Garth jig a jigged into East of Eden whilst Norman joined proggers Glencoe before forming Loving Awareness who eventually morphed into the Blockheads.
*Kenny Bernard and the Wranglers-'I'll go crazy'. Unreleased 1965 acetate. This from Kenney Bernard and the Wranglers 'Live '65'. Released 2011. Acid Jazz label.
Nearly every time I do one of these discourses, I find out something which comes as a huge surprise.... and this time it's no different (hope that goes for you too!!). But, I'll come to that shortly. First up, Kenny had come to Britain as a child in the 1950's from Trinidad. Even as a child he would sing on the street corners of Lewisham which bought him into contact with Peter London with whom he started his first group, The Thunderbeats in the late 50's. One of his friends at school was Bill Wyman (or William Perks Jnr as he was then!) who sat in with the band a few times. Kenny also befriended Albert Lee and sat in on several unofficial sessions which were recorded, but lost. In 1963 he formed the Wranglers (Mk 1) which included, for a few gigs, a young saxophonist called David Jones..... but of course he sort of disappeared for a few years, until he changed his name to Bowie that is. A visit to a local record shop exposed Kenny to James Brown, Ray Charles and Solomon Burke and by the following year the band, with its new musical policy, were signed to Parlophone. As 1965 dawned, they signed to Pye and secured a place in the film 'Somebody Help Me', performing two songs written by Pete Gage. Kenny was sounded out about joining a new band Gage was forming, but he turned it down, preferring to stick with the now increasingly popular Wranglers. That band was called The Ram Jam Band, who, after signing ex US serviceman Geno Washington, went on to huge success in clubs the length and breadth of the UK. It was at this time that a live album was proposed, to be recorded at London's Ad Lib Club where the Wranglers held a residency. Recording technology at Pye at that time was not up to a live recording but the band laid down their set in the studio, left the recordings in an 'untouched' state and merely recorded the audience at one of their Ad Lib gigs, which was later dubbed onto the recordings. It's from that disc that this energetic version of James Browns 'I'll Go Crazy' is taken. However, perhaps because of the popularity of the Ram Jam Band on Pye subsidiary Piccadilly, the album lay unreleased until 2011 when Mark Lamaar phoned Acid Jazz to ask if they were interested in an acetate he had for the album. They were and immediately set about trying to find Kenny, who had split the band in 1967 and gone solo. But where was Kenny? Apparently, in the Sunny Hunny area!. He was amazed when he heard the disc as, apparently, a former manager of the band was in attendance on the night and, without anyone noticing he stole the disc and left via a back door, never to be heard of again.... well, that's what Kenny says!! As I have mentioned, Kenny went solo in 1967 and many of these later recordings are popular on the Northern Soul scene (I even won one, autographed, when Kenny appeared on Watton Radio's Soul Show) but, here's the amazing story I discovered. In 1966, Kenny had heard the Tim Rose slowed down version of 'Hey Joe' and, in late 1966 recorded a re-write of the song entitled 'Hey Woman'. This was placed on the B-side of 'Ain't no sole left in these old shoes' which began to receive regular plays on the pirate radio stations. However, Chas Chandler had also heard Tim Rose sing his version on a visit to NYC's Café Wha (or perhaps seen the Creation play it live in a London club) and had been actively seeking a singer to do a 'rock' version. Another trip to Café Wha at the behest of Linda Keith, or Marianne Faithfull (some say), where Jimmy James and the Blue Flames were playing introduced Chandler to Jimmy James (Hendrix) and, in October 1966 Hendrix was in the studio laying down the track. Allegedly, Chandler then approached the pirate stations and asked them to pull the Bernard disc and replace it with the new release by Hendrix. The result... well, you know the rest!!!
Alan Price- 'Barefootin'. Recorded late 1966. Released December 1966. From 'The Price to play' album. Decca Records.
In common with Sounds Orchestral and the Rebel Rousers, here's another fairly unlikely entrant into the 'mod/soul' genre but, if it's the music that is important (and it is!), then this track from Price deserves an entry. Price had formed The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo in 1960 after spending time, and sharing the stage with Eric Burdon, John Stelle and Chas Chandler, in the Kansas City Five and the Kon-Tours. Burdon, Steele and Chas were all members of the Rhythm and Blues Combo, with Hilton Valentine providing the missing link in September 1963 when they went in to the small local studio to record a four-track demo. It was after this recording that the band changed their name to the Animals, a 'nickname' allegedly given to them by their rabid fans at the Club A Go Go in Newcastle but disputed by Burdon who says the band took the name themselves as tribute to their friend 'Animal' Hogg. The band were never adequately managed and, in mid-1965, just after ensuring that his name was enshrined as the arranger of their million selling 'House of the Rising Sun' (without the bands knowledge), Price left the group. Whilst the Animals toyed with the idea of a big band (just one live gig), Price formed the Alan Price Set in late '65 which featured Clive Burrows (baritone saxophone), Steve Gregory (tenor saxophone), John Walters (trumpet), Peter Kirtley (guitar), Rod "Boots" Slade (bass) and "Little" Roy Mills (drums). Early success came with 'I Put a Spell on You' and 'Hi Lili, Hi Lo', charting in 1966, with further singles hitting the charts in '67. His debut album, 'The Price to Play, was released in December and strangely, bearing in mind the supposed animosity the Animals felt towards Price, the effusive and touching sleeve notes were penned by Eric Burdon. The album comprises cover versions of London's club-land soul favourites ('Getting Mighty Crowded', 'Ain't That Peculiar', 'I Can't Turn You Loose' etc), a couple of blues tunes, a Goffin and King/Righteous Brothers song and even a film theme (Hi Lili, Hi Lo from 'Lili' starring Leslie Caron). However, it's on 'Barefootin'' that Price seems most comfortable to my mind (throwing in a medley of 'Let's Go Baby' and 'Land of a Thousand Dances') with the band sounding really relaxed and the brass well to the fore. Of course, the track had only recently been in the US and UK charts via Robert Parker, selling over a million copies, but here the Set do come to the fore and it's a pity that Price didn't stick with the outfit for longer. His 1967 follow up was almost entirely composed of songs by then unknown Randy Newman, alongside a Dylan cover, another Goffin/King song and several Price composed Newman sound-a-likes. Of course, after that there were his 'social-conscience' albums and, horror of horror, a 'Fame and Price' album that did no favours to either artist concerned. There have been regular gigs, including a tour with the Manfreds which I missed but I, for one, would love to see him back touring regularly and playing tracks from this fine debut.
*Alex Harvey and his Soul Band - 'Framed'. Recorded October 13th 1963. Released early 1964. From 'Alex Harvey and his Soul Band'. Polydor Germany.
Definitely not what is says on the tin in several ways. Firstly, this purports to be a 'live' album recorded at Hamburg's Top Ten Club. It may well have been recorded in Hamburg, perhaps Polydor's Studio Rahlstedt, but it certainly wasn't 'live' as the applause was added on later (not that unusual at the time, remember Kenny Bernard above?). And the 'Soul Band'? Well.... no!!! Due to 'contractual reasons(?), most of Alex's own band were not allowed to appear on the disc so it's King Size Taylors band, the Dominos, who make up the numbers. Of course, King Size himself was no stranger to 'masquerading' as he released the 'Let's do the slop, twist, Madison, hully gully' album as 'The Shakers' on Polydor, despite being signed to, and recording for, Decca Germany and Ariola!! You may also notice that Alex's normally pronounced 'brogue' has been replaced by a 'mid Atlantic' twang.... strange. Still, it was a long way from opening for the Beatles (or Johnny Gentle and his group as they were billed) at Alloa Town Hall on May 20th 1960 and one can only presume that the 'lads' remembered Alex from that date when chatting in the Top Ten Club..... well, maybe. It was also a long way from his time in The Kansas City Counts and Alex Harvey and The New Saints, bedecked in silver crushed velvet suits and stack heeled boots, as well as his earlier reputation as 'Scotland's Tommy Steele'!!! Anyway, back to 'Framed', perhaps Alex's best-known number and a cover of the Coasters 1957 album track, and here Alex is, if not ahead of the curve, he must certainly have been aware of the changes occurring in London's clubs thanks to Fame, Bond et al. The use of 'soul' in any sense at that time was extremely rare, particularly for white musicians, and his extended line up (guitar, bass, drums and two saxophones') has echoes Georgie Fames line up, although his choice of material leans more towards r&b than Georgie's output at that time. But, the performances on 'Framed', 'Shout' (two years earlier than Lulu's, a great friend of Harvey who admitted hearing him sing it) and 'I Just Wanna Make Love To You', released by the Stones some months after this album was originally recorded, do show a band that probably would not have sounded amiss at the Flamingo or the Scene in late 1963, early '64. I was never a great fan of his later work but, I must admit, the CD this is taken from has piqued my interest somewhat and made me want to track down the 'Live' album and the Bear Family '...Soul Band' unreleased tracks.
Taken from 'Considering the situation' double CD. Released 2003. Mercury label.
Wynder K Frog- 'Green Door'. Recorded late 1966. Released February 1967. Island label single a-side. This from bootleg shared single with Julian Covay 'A little bit hurt'
Mr Frog, or Mick/Derek/Blue Weaver (take your pick!!) as he was more prosaically known, was an original member of Cardiff soul group Amen Corner who were named after a weekly 'disc spin' room at the Scene Club in Cardiff which specialised in the latest soul and blues imports from the US. Originally a hard-core soul band, their label (Decca) steered them towards a more commercial sound which saw them in the charts with their first single 'Gin House'. They were poached by Andrew Loog Oldham for his new label, Immediate, and were rewarded with a number 1 single with '(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice'. Further singles followed (with diminishing returns) and, despite an appearance in the spoof horror film 'Scream and scream again' featuring the (un)holy trinity of Lee, Price and Cushing, the band finally split in 1969. Lead singer Andy Fairweather Low (born exactly one year after yours truly, fact and trivia fans!) had a modicum of success with his band, errrr, Fairweather (wonder which bright spark thought of that one?), went solo and then became the go-to back up guitarist for Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Bill Wyman amongst others. Meanwhile Blue/Frog (copyright AJW) re-invented himself as the UK's answer to Jimmy Smith and Booker T. by forming Wynder K Frog alongside Neil Hubbard (ex Bluesology), Bruce Rowland, Alan Spenner, Reebop Kwaku Baah (Blue Flames) and Chris Mercer (Bluebreakers/Juicy Lucy). Quite some pedigree and it's no surprise that the band went on to lay down some of the best organ based soul instrumentals this side of the Atlantic...….. except that their debut album on Island Records, 'Sunshine Superfrog' was recorded in NYC with some of the top session men around and produced by Island records top man Jimmy Miller. Still, when the band did hit the stage in London's top clubs in 1967 they were immediately a huge draw. However, as with other 'mod' era bands (Action, Graham Bond, Geno Washington, Jimmy Powell etc), that popularity never transferred to actual sales and, after just one more Island album ('Out of the Frying Pan') the band fell apart with Wynder teaming up with the remnants of label mates Traffic, for a short time, as Mason, Wood, Capaldi and Frog until Stevie Winwood re-joined after the blind alley of Blind Faith. There was a posthumous album release ('Into the Fire') strangely released on United Artists and, as none of the three albums sold in large quantities, coupled with the resurgence in all things 'organ-tastic' since the 1990's, all three now command respectable prices. However, thanks to those nice people at RPM (Sheffield record label, of course) all three were released in a CD box set in 2018 entitled 'Shook, Shimmy and Shake)……. and I never even mentioned Frankie Vaughan once!!!!
So, that's all for this expedition into the jazz, blues and soul side of 'mod', no room this time for Georgie, Geno and Bond... and others, so I'll leave them for another time perhaps?