Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Giants of Rock and Roll, 1992

Continuing my occasional series of extracts from my 1990s diaries, here is my diary entry for the Giants of Rock and Roll concert at Wembley Arena in December, 1992. I managed to get a seat fairly close to the front so that I could get some decent photos but, cameras being what they were back then, the results are still rather grainy. Should be of interest to rock and roll fans though, many of whom will no doubt have been at the show.
December 5, 1992: 'In the evening went to the Giants of Rock and Roll Show at Wembley Arena. Absolutely brilliant - like watching my whole life pass before my eyes. There was Chris Montez, still with boyish good looks, a white haired Johnny Preston and a fairly big Little Eva, who ran through their hits. This was followed by a lively set by Bobby Vee and the Ricochets with big bouncy balls on stage.
Next on was Lloyd Price with all his hits and a good band, although his voice was showing the years a bit. Then came Duane Eddy with very much the twangy guitar set you would expect.
Then came Little Richard. It was his 60th birthday and he received a cake from Lloyd Price. A wonderful set - the man's as exciting as ever, eager to please. He played for an hour and I would have liked more.
Finally Jerry Lee Lewis, looking pale and much fatter than in the past. He played a solid if unemotional set until near the end when Little Richard and Lloyd Price came on stage and he stood up, smiled, danced around a bit and played a duet with Richard. It was the first time these three legends had ever been on stage together, according to compere Mike Reid.
Other highlights: there was a slightly embarrassing dance from Dr Rock in Richard's set, plus a group of people dancing on stage, including a Ted who kneeled down to worship Little Richard. Most of the audience were older even than me (I was 46 at the time), and there were religious books handed out on the way out - a present from Little Richard.'
Here is Chris Montez, who sang 'Let's Dance' among other songs.
Johnny Preston, famous for 'Running Bear', 'Cradle of Love' and 'Feel So Fine'.
This is Little Eva, whose hits included 'The Locomotion', 'Keep Your Hands Off My Baby' and 'Turkey Trot'.
Here's Bobby Vee.
This is Lloyd Price.
The king of the twangy guitar, Duane Eddy.
Here's Little Richard, acknowledging the applause atop his piano.
Little Richard receives his 60th birthday cake from Lloyd Price.
Jerry Lee Lewis.
Jerry Lee and Little Richard play a duet while Lloyd Price joins in the fun.
Finally here are Little Richard and Jerry Lee together.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Two ex Ikettes in two nights - Gloria Scott and P P Arnold

This week I've seen two ex members of the Ikettes in separate venues on successive evenings - Gloria Scott and P P Arnold. Both shows have been highly enjoyable and it's clear that both are still in top form.
Gloria Scott's appearance at the 100 Club was her first in London, so far as I know, and attracted a fair number of Northern soul fans to what turned out to be an enjoyable show, slightly spoilt by the PA man apparently turning up the bass towards the end. Gloria recorded a song called 'I Taught Him' with her group the Tonettes, produced by Sly Stone, in the sixties, after which she joined the Ikettes alongside Pat (P P) Arnold and Maxine Smith.She recorded a well regarded album called 'What Am I Gonna Do' in 1974 which was produced by Barry White and released on the fledgeling Casablanca label. However, a follow up album produced by H B Barnum went unreleased and that appeared to be the end of Gloria's recording career. But now she's back with a new album coming out soon.
Her set at the 100 Club featured songs from all these solo periods beginning with a couple of numbers from her 1974 album, including the title track and her biggest hit of the time, 'Just As Long As We're Together'. Next came a couple of numbers from her forthcoming album - ' Real' and 'Show Me', a song she said she had co-written with Pat Arnold. Backed by a six piece band, which I thought was a little heavy on the drums (band leader Andrew McGuinness is the drummer) and a girl singer, Gloria came across strongly and showed that she has a strong voice, a confident approach and some good songs in her locker. Other numbers included 'I Got To Have All Of You', 'Come Back Baby', 'Help Me Get Off This Merry Go Round', 'That's What You Say',  and 'Love Me Love Me Love Me or Leave Me Leave Me Leave Me', the last three of which were on her 1974 LP. 'All Of The Time You're On My Mind' and 'So Wonderful', both excellent songs, followed, but the encore '(A Case Of) Too Much Lovemaking', was the one that the crowd had been waiting for. Clearly a Northern soul favourite, as indeed is Gloria.
By coincidence, the following night I saw another singer who was in the Ikettes as the same time as Gloria but whose life since then has been very different: P P Arnold. She came to London with the Ikettes in 1966 and stayed, becoming friendly with Mick Jagger and others in the UK music scene. She made several successful records for Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label including Cat Stevens' 'First Cut Is The Deepest' and Chip Taylor's 'Angel Of The Morning'. She released two albums but tracks produced by Barry Gibb and Eric Clapton went unreleased at the time. Returning to the US her abusive relationship broke up and her daughter died and eventually she came back to the UK where she has been active in the music business, but with only sporadic recording opportunities.
Her latest tour, promoting 'The New Adventures of P P Arnold', has put her back in the spotlight. Backed by a good band led by Steve Cradock of Ocean Colour Scene I caught her show at the Arlington Arts Centre near Newbury, Berkshire, a venue new to me and one with excellent sound quality (especially compared with the 100 Club). Pat looks far younger than her age and her voice remains pure and emotional. She began with 'Though It Hurts Me Badly', from her Immediate years (and also on her new album) and followed with what I think is probably the best song on the new album, 'Baby Blue', which has a feel of Ronnie Spector about it. The Northern soul favourite 'Everything's Gonna Be Alright' followed, along with nineties recording 'Different Drum' and 'I Believe', a song written by her son Kodzo and recorded in her own studio at a time when she couldn't get a recording deal. Both are included on the 'New Adventures' album.
Other songs included the Small Faces-penned 'If You Think Your Groovy' (an Immediate release) and Traffic's 'Medicated Goo', along with some other rather pop orientated numbers including 'Eleanor Rigby', which was a track of her Immediate 'Kafunta' LP, Sandy Denny's 'I'm A Dreamer' and Paul Weller's 'Shoot The Dove'. Her two big Immediate hits went down well, as did the entire set, and although there was fairly little in the way of real soul on offer it's clear that P P Arnold is enjoying a new and successful phase of her career. I'm tempted to think that her appearance at one of the Tales From The Woods shows in 2016 played a part in that. In any event, it's good to see her prospering.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Photos from the Roots and Rhythm Festival, Bristol

I've reached the end of the road, the last set of photos from our US trip, this time focusing on the Roots and Rhythm Reunion Festival in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia. The first act we saw was billed as the 'Queen of Austin soul' - Tameca Jones.
There's a marker in town to the 'Bristol Sessions' which are seen as the beginning of recorded country music, but also included gospel and blues.
Lee and Dave enjoying some of the street food at the festival, and the back of Alan's head.
Here's the star of the first day, Marty Stuart. The second photo shows Marty with his guitarist (a member of the Fabulous Superlatives) Kenny Vaughan.
Ranging from bluegrass to rock, here is Sam Bush.
Much hyped, but rather disappointing, here are St Paul and the Broken Bones.
This is country singer Jason Eady.
One of the stand out acts on day two was Mike Farris.
The Darrell Scott Bluegrass Band were impressive.
Headliner on day two was Wynonna (Judd) and the Big Noise, with a band led by husband and drummer Cactus Moser.
This is Lauren Morrow.
Rockabilly singer Jason 'Hoss' Hicks.
On the final day, here is singer/songwriter Jamie Lin Wilson.
For the third time on our trip, here is Jim Lauderdale.
Star of the final day, here is Ray Wylie Hubbard.
Driving back from Bristol we stopped off at Knoxville overnight and then on the final day in Cookeville, where I bought some 45s and where there is a small railway museum.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Photos from Tennessee and Kentucky

After Nashville we spent a few days touring around Tennessee and Kentucky en route to Bristol, which is on the border of Tennessee and Virginia. Here is a batch of photos from this part of our trip. First, here are some taken in Jackson, Tennessee, home town of Carl Perkins and the place that claims to be the birthplace of rockabilly, here's a mural in the town.
Here's Lee in the small square near the Rockabilly Museum/
Plaque to Carl Perkins at the Casey Jones Village.
Another Jackson resident was Sonny Boy Williamson the first. Here's a marker to him a few miles south of town.
Here are a few pictures inside the Rockabilly Museum, which is due to close soon. Carl Perkins' original blue suede shoes (allegedly), a broken pair of Roy Orbison's sun glasses (allegedly) and a display in the museum.
From Jackson we went to Central City, Kentucky, where there is a museum focusing on local boys the Everly Brothers. Here are a couple of photos of the museum plus one of Phil Everly's grave stone nearby.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, the fast food that is now available everywhere, started life in this diner in rural Kentucky.
We moved on Middlesboro which, as Lonnie Donegan fans will know, is 15 miles from the Cumberland Gap. First picture is taken at The Pinnacle, a viewpoint just outside town where you can see three states.
Back in Tennessee we came across the birthplace of Davy Crockett. We discovered that he wasn't born on a mountain top and we have doubts that he really killed him a bear when he was only three.
We arrived in Bristol and visited the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, which celebrates the famous recording sessions of 1927 which saw the first recordings by Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family and others.
Finally in this batch, here's a photo of Lee and I with Marty Stuart who was visiting the museum, where he has an exhibition of his very fine photographs.