Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tales From A Woodie (Part Three): 1990

In 1990 I missed out on Jazzfest but continued going to gigs frequently. Here are some of the highlights with my comments made at the time:
January 26: Booker T and the MGs and Eddie Floyd at the Town and Country. ‘Booker T was excellent (an under-rated keyboard player) as were Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn, but Eddie’s voice was none too good, not helped by over-powering bass.’
February 26: Dion at the Town and Country. ‘Dashed out in the evening and bought a £10 ticket for £15 from a tout. Inside they were filming a Channel 4 Rock Steady concert – Dave Edmunds, supported by Steve Cropper among others and ‘special guest’ – the wonderful Dion, who did as good a 30 minute set as you could ever hope to see. All of them joined together for a great version of I’m Ready.’
March 17: Curtis Mayfield at the Town and Country. ‘On fine form with an excellent band, great bongo player. Did most of his oldies plus one or two new ones and reprised on Move On Up.’
March 20: Fats Domino at the Royal Albert Hall. ‘First on was Alan Price, Zoot Money and a band and it was fairly boring so I went to the bar and met up with John Howard and his mate Tony Wilkinson. Fats was highly professional, the band rather more ragged than in New Orleans. Highlight was an excellent finishing version of Rosalie – the origins of ska.’
March 23: This Is Soul at the Dominion Theatre. ‘Dorothy Moore, wearing a black blouse which made her look like some strange bird, had a great voice and sang with emotion. Eddie Floyd got the crowd going but his voice was ropey. Ben E King started rather disappointingly but got into his stride with a tribute to Sam Cooke.’
May 3: Anson Funderburgh and Sam Myers at T&C2. ‘Sam shambled slowly onto the stage, blinked at the audience and went into great blues, occasionally swapping his harp for a cigarette. Brilliant guitar work by Anson.’
May 13: Albert King at the Town and Country. ‘Brilliant guitar work but spoiled by a band which was too quiet.’
May 22: Blues Brothers Band at Town and Country. ‘ Very slick and popular but loud. Larry Thurston pretty good, Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy excellent but Eddie Floyd off key as usual.’
May 29: Champion Jack Dupree at 100 Club. ‘Jack didn’t go down too well – too much talking, not enough singing. Dick Heckstall-Smith band improved matters at last.’
June 20: Neville Brothers at Town and Country. ‘Excellent as ever with a lot of new material from their next LP.’
June 24: New Orleans Blues Guitar Feast at Town and Country. ‘Caught 10 minutes of Bobby Radcliffe, a red hot guitarist. Then Earl King on very good, but not sparkling form. The star was Snooks Eaglin who was excellent – great blues guitar, even a bit of flamenco thrown in.’
June 27: Delbert McClinton at the Town and Country. ‘Pretty good, playing everything from country and western to soul and with a good band.’
July 12-15: North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague. ‘Ray Charles – good performance, as usual looking like a puppet on a string with head, arms, legs flying around. George Benson – efficient but bland. MyCoy Tyner Trio – enjoyed Freddie Hubbard’s trumpet playing – to my surprise. Etta James – the highlight. Sat behind some yanks who were shouting out like Showtime at the Apollo; excellent, funny, lowdown show; she really is huge! Arthur Prysock, with brother Red on sax – smooth. Rockin’ Dopsie – very lively zydeco. Sun-Ra – colourful. Johnny Guitar Watson – excellent, lively funk. B B King – very good, though not great, performance, finishing with awful crap about bringing peace to the world. Tower of Power – a white funk group. John Lee Hooker, who was rapturously received but as usual rather unexciting. Finished off with George Clinton – about 20 people on stage including a man wearing a large nappy; very colourful but monotonous.’
July 27: Joe Ely at the Mean Fiddler. ‘Excellent – he played and sang like an in-tune Bob Dylan crossed with Buddy Holly and Marty Robbins.’
August 10: Desmond Dekker at the Robey, Finsbury Park. ‘Great, but I didn’t know there were so many young skin heads around.’
September 9: Charlie Feathers at the Hibernian Club, Fulham. ‘A short set –clearly not a well man – but an excellent one. John and the Southend mob there, plus a variety of rockers and their molls – all platinum blondes like Ruth Ellis or Jayne Mansfield.’
September 16: Steve Earle & the Dukes at the Town and Country. ‘Proficient country rock, lots of greasy long hair, but not really soulful enough for me.’
September 21: Jimmy Cliff at the Town and Country. ‘Very good show – colourful, exciting.’
October 3: Bobby Womack at the Town and Country. ‘ Great soul singer and an excellent show, even though quite a few of the songs were unfamiliar.’
October 13: Memphis Soul Show at the Town and Country. ‘First on was Billy Always, a young darting whippet of a man with an excellent voice. Ann Peebles was better than last year – her voice powerful and soulful. David Hudson was pretty good but the real star for me was Otis Clay. He was brilliant, a song dedicated to his late brother John Clay heart-rending. What a great show, with Willie Mitchell and the Hi Horns great as ever.’
November 15: the Meters at the Town and Country. ‘Very good in parts (the funky groove and New Orleans stuff).’


At 1:33 pm , Anonymous Alan said...

I wonder if I was in the same bar for Alan Price? I remember smuggling full pints into the auditorium for Fats Domino's set.

At 6:53 pm , Blogger Dave C said...

Re the Albert King gig at the Town & Country, as a result of the number of audience complaints about the sound, there was an announcement made putting the blame on Albert King. Apparently, (and I hope I have this right), he had insisted that the band play through the PA system, thus causing the imbalance. In spite of the criticism, he did not alter the arrangement, which was typical Albert and why we loved him.

At 7:08 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Great to get your memories of these gigs Dave and Alan. I have very brief notes in my diary of the time. I do remember the Albert King gig and the fact that it was mostly Albert's fault that the band was too quiet. But, as you say, we loved him.


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