Monday, January 30, 2012

Sixth 2Is show doesn't disappoint

The Tales From The Woods tribute to the famous 2Is coffee bar in Soho has become a regular event in the rock and roll calendar and last night's sixth annual show at the Borderline in London maintained the high standard of the last couple of years. I've never been a fan of British bands of the early years of rock, but the acts were varied and different from previous years (although still featuring mostly covers) and the backing band, with John Spencely on lead guitar, Claire Hamlin on keyboards, Robb Davis on bass and Brian 'Bunter' Clark on drums provided excellent support once again.
Topping the bill this time was Ted 'Kingsize' Taylor, a towering six foot five rocker with a powerful voice and real stage presence. After early success as Kingsize Taylor and the Dominos in his native Liverpool, with Cilla Black often singing with them, he played at the Star Club in Hamburg and it was there that he had his greatest success - indeed he still lives there today. His early, highly collectable, singles were nearly all covers of US hits and one of them - Stupidity (a Solomon Burke cover) - made it to number one in Germany. Kingsize kicked off with a vibrant version of Bobby Parker's Watch Your Step and his set included no fewer than four Larry Williams numbers (Dizzy Miss Lizzie, Bad Boy, Bony Moronie and, as an encore, Slow Down) plus a couple of Solomon Burke covers (Down In The Valley and his Stupidity hit), Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Sixteen and Mama Come Home, a track recorded by Ronnie Hawkins. So, nothing original, but with the Tales From The Woods band providing great support his was a set that really rocked and was a fitting climax to the evening. Saxman Alex Bland provided good support to Kingsize Taylor, plus several of the other acts.

Dave Sampson was something of a Cliff Richard clone in the early sixties when he released a number of singles on Columbia. Today he retains a smooth Elvis-like voice which was shown off to good effect on a couple of these early singles (It's Lonesome and If You Need Me) and Elvis covers including Mystery Train and Love Me. He also fitted in a jazzy version of Route 66, some rockabilly in the form of Boppin' The Blues, Phil Phillips' Sea Of Love and One After 909, a Lennon and McCartney song covered by Ricky Nelson.

Here's Claire Hamlin, keyboardist with the Tales From The Woods House Band, who provided great support throughout.

One of the highlights of last night's show, I thought, was early sixties pop star Garry Mills, who made it big in the US with Look For A Star, the theme from the Hammer film Circus of Horrors. I felt a certain affinity for Garry as he grew up in the same London suburb as me, West Wickham in Kent, and even dated my sister a couple of times apparently. Garry did no fewer than 13 numbers including many of the discs he recorded for Top Rank and, later, Decca, including his first record Hey Baby (not the Bruce Channel number), a cover of Johnny Preston's Running Bear, its B-side, a cover of Teen Angel (Mark Dinning), the rocking Comin' Down With Love, I'll Step Down, Top Teen Baby and, of course, Look For A Star. This was a pop set which didn't really fit the rock and roll criteria of the rest of the show, but Garry came across well and I enjoyed it. Other songs included Down The Line, Diana, Seven Little Girls (with singalong accompaniment), a couple of Billy Fury numbers written by Garry (I Think You're Swell and Once Upon A Dream) and Elvis's The Wonder Of You. Like so many acts of the time, Garry feels that he never got the royalties he deserved - particularly for his big hit Look For A Star, which was ripped off in the US with a cover version by the similarly named Garry Miles. But he showed he's still got what it takes.

The Allisons (John Alford and Bob Day) had a massive smash with the Eurovision song Are You Sure in 1961, but they have played together very little over the last 30 years or so. Unfortunately this lack of practice showed, as they struggled with no backing tape, as they had originally planned, and just John's guitar to fall back on (which promptly broke a string). Despite these handicaps, they harmonised well on their hit, plus the Crickets' Think It Over, Tommy Roe's Sheila, Ricky Nelson's Hello Mary Lou, the Everly Brothers' Dream and, as an encore, La Bamba. A valiant attempt under difficult circumstances.

Jackie Lynton (pictured below with John Spencely) has a strong link with the 2Is, having played there back in the day and having been managed by the club's owner. Jackie still plays regularly and John and I went to see him playing with his band at a pub near Guildford a few months ago. His appearance at last night's show was a direct result of that. He didn't disappoint, with lots of rather blue humour and some lively rock and roll covers, including Reelin' and Rockin', Keep a Knockin, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Rip It Up and My Babe.

First act at last night's show was rocker Cliff Edmonds (pictured below). I only caught his last two numbers - Matchbox and High School Confidential - but he came across strongly and by all accounts he got the evening's show off to a good rockin' start.

Overall, I thought the sixth 2Is reunion was one of the best to date, with lots of variation, some intriguing acts and excellent backing. Well done Keith Woods for another job well done, and to DJ 'Mr Angry' John Howard and MC 'Rockin' Ricky, who also performed a couple of numbers, including That'll Be The Day and Summertime Blues.


At 3:25 pm , Blogger Tony Papard said...

The show was better than I expected, having not heard of most of the acts on. My main gripe was the lack of seating for us mainly elderly patrons. Being required to stand for over 5 hours (in my case in winklepickers) spoilt my enjoyment of the show. I noticed many of us had to sit on the edge of the stage between acts. Only 7 chairs with a view of the stage were provided for the disabled. Hopefully a better venue will be chosen next year.

Cliff Edmonds, by the way, did a long rockin' set. The highlight for me, before Nick arrived, was Little Richard's 'Can't Believe You Wanna Leave' with Clair of course on piano. Cliff used to do false endings to this number, collapsing on the floor as though dead, then reviving and continuing the song. He doesn't do this anymore - Keith said he's getting too old. I doubt that, but it was a great rendition as ever. Kingsize Taylor was a great revelation especially with his covers of Larry Williams numbers, a much overlooked American rocker in my opinion.

At 12:04 am , Anonymous Alan Lloyd said...

Cliff to me was the highlight of last year's event. On Sunday KIngsize commented on what a good voice Cliff has.

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