Sunday, December 29, 2013

LP finds of the year

It hasn't been a vintage years for LP record finds at car boot sales and charity shops, but I've found a fair number over the last 12 months, some of which have been fairly valuable. Many of these I have sold on Ebay but I've kept quite a few. These are the top seven in terms of value, according to the Rare Record Guide.
1. Fairfield Parlour - From Home To Home. Released in 1970 on Vertigo. Mint value - £350.
I bought this one from a chap who had quite a large record collection, most of which were early 70s prog rock. This was the pick of the bunch by the successor band to Kaleidoscope.
2. The Champ - The Mohawks. Pama PMLP 5. Mint value £200.
This was one of nine reggae and rocksteady LPs that I bought at a car boot sale. Actually this one isn't reggae at all, despite being on the predominantly reggae Pama label, It's British soul/funk - not particularly good, but highly collectable. The band's leader The Hawk was organist Alan Hawkshaw, one time member of Emile Ford's Checkmates.
3. Crab's Biggest Hits Vol 1. Pama ECO 2. Mint value £100.
Crab, launched in 1968, was one of many Pama labels and featured recordings by various Jamaican and UK producers. Artists featured on this 'Best of' were Ernest Wilson, G G Grossett. the Ethiopians, the Versatiles, Derrick Morgan, the Viceroys, Val Bennet and the Tartans. This was another of the nine LPs mentioned above.
4.  The Kinks Live At Kelvin Hall. Pye NPL 18191. Mint value £100.
During the year I bought a great batch of 45s from a lady who I met at a car boot sale who I badgered until she let me into her garage! Most of them were on Pye related labels but one was Jim Dandy by Lavern Baker, which lists at a cool £350! Another visit six months later resulted in me obtaining several decent LPs, including this live one by The Kinks released in 1967.
5. Tommy Sands - Sands Storm. Released in 1958 on Capitol. Mint value - £80.
This was another LP from the same batch as Fairfield Parlour and is an excellent rock and roll LP from 1959.
6. The Lively Ones - Surf Drums. LP released on London in 1963. Mint value £70.
In August I picked up some great surf LPs including half a dozen by The Ventures, one by the California version of the Tornadoes and another by the Surfaris. This obscure UK surf instrumental LP on London was among them.
7. Tony Orlando - Bless You & 11 Other Great Hits. LP released in 1961 on Fontana in 1961. Mint value £60.
I make no apologies for saying that Tony's versions of Halfway To Paradise and I'd Never Find Another You are at least as good as Billy Fury's and what's more they predated his. He was only 16 when he recorded these tracks, which also included Bless You and Happy Times, and all the songs are excellent - not surprising, given that seven of them were written by Goffin and King. I found this comparative rarity in a chariry shop in Reading.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Soul from the Patterson Singers

I don't know much about the Patterson Singers, but their eponymous LP, released on Atco in 1972, is a cracker. I picked up a copy in a charity shop yesterday and I'm amazed that I haven't come across this soul classic before. It seems that they were a gospel group who had some records released in the
late sixties under the name of the Robert Patterson Singers but that this was pretty well their only secular recording. Produced by Wade Marcus, it was recorded at Criteria in Miami, Muscle Shoals and A&R Studios in New York, but there's no other info on the sleeve. A couple of tracks from the LP - Working Together, written by Ike Turner, and That's Understanding, were released on a 45, but all 11 tracks are excellent examples of deep soul. They include compositions by George Soule (My World Tumbles Down and Love Is Color Blind), Joe Hinton (How Can You Say That Ain't Love), Eddie Holland and Norman Whitfield (Throw A Farewell Kiss) Don Covay (A Letter Full Of Tears) and Mac Rebbennack and Jessie Hill (Your Love Is Something Else Again). All are excellent but many of them aren't on Youtube. Here is one that I've put on - track one, side one, My World Tumbles Down. 
As the year nears its end music deaths continue. One who I missed at the beginning of December was that of Rex Garvin, best known for his 1966 Northern soul/funk song Sock It To 'Em J.B, which is a tribute both to James Brown and James Bond. Rex had a couple of releases on Atlantic in the UK with his band the Mighty Cravers (the other being I Gotta Go Now (Up On The Floor), which were recorded originally for Link. His story began several years earlier when he teamed up with Zelma Sanders and helped formed doowop group the Hearts. Later he wrote Over The Mountain, Across The Sea for Johnnie and Joe, recorded a duet with Marie Adams (I Can't Sit Down), and had several successful records under his own name, including My Darling Dear and Emulsified.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Roy Orbison, the Big O

BBC4 showed a repeat of their programme on Roy Orbison this evening, which prompted me to get together my LPs by the Big O. Roy was such a brilliant singer that it's almost impossible to exaggerate his greatness. I saw him live a couple of times, including his tour of the UK when the Beatles were low down on the bill. His voice was exceptional and he was capable of holding an audience despite standing motionless throughout his performance. His death 25 years ago (on December 6, 1988) was particularly sad, as he had only recently been recognised for the great artist he was with the emergence of the Travelling Wilburys.
I wasn't aware of Roy when he recorded for Sun but the release of Only the Lonely in 1960 was a revelation. I rushed out to buy it, but my local record shop didn't have it in stock. I nagged them week after week and eventually got hold of a copy, and within a couple of weeks it had reached number one.
My photo shows 16 of Roy's best LPs. Details are below.
Top row (left to right): There Is Only One Roy Orbison - released on London 8252 (1965); Lonely And Blue - his first LP on London (2342) in 1960; Roy Orbison and others - Ember 2005 from 1965; Roy Orbison Sings - 1972 LP on London 8435.
Row 2: In Dreams released in 1963 on London 8108; Regeneration - 1977 LP on Monument; I'm Still In Love With You - Mercury LP from 1975; Crying - London 2437 released in 1962.
Row 3: Oh Pretty Woman - 1963 LP on London 8207; Cry Softly Lonely One - from 1967 on London 8357; The Fastest Gun Alive - soundtrack of Roy's acting debut on London 8358; The Classic Roy Orbison - London 8297 from 1965.
Row 4: The Orbison Way - 1965 LP on London 8279; Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson - London 8318 released in 1966; Roy Orbison, Big O - LP with the Art Movement released in 1969 on London 8406; Memphis - released in 1972 on London 8445.
Finally, proving that he had lost none of his magic, here is his comeback album Mystery Girl.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Great Train Robbery remembered

It's a delicious irony that on the very day that Ronnie Biggs, most famous of the Great Train Robbers, died aged 84, the BBC should screen the first part of its drama about the 'Crime of the Century' in 1963. As a teenager this, along with the Profumo Affair and the assassination of President Kennedy, was the biggest news event of the era. Even though the train driver was badly hurt, the robbers were regarded as heroes for getting away with £2.6 million, at a time when a million really was a million.
Bruce Reynolds, Buster Edwards, Gordon Goody, Charlie Wilson, Ronnie Biggs and the rest were household names, and many people, me included, were shocked at the length of their sentences when they were caught. 30 years in prison seemed a hell of a long time for men who seemed to be putting two fingers up to the Establishment. Secretly, or maybe not so secretly, most people wanted them to get away with it. And when Ronnie Biggs, who played a fairly minor role in the escapade, escaped from Wandsworth prison many people were delighted.
He went initially to Australia and then to Rio, where he lived the life of a celebrity for 30 years, with
the best efforts of  'Slipper of the Yard' failing to arrange his extradition. The high, or low, point, depending on your view, was when the remnants of the Sex Pistols, after Johnny Rotten had left and Sid Vicious had self-destructed, recorded No One Is Innocent and Belsen Was A Gas, which were included, appropriately enough, on the Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle album. No One Is Innocent reached the UK top ten, despite its dubious quality. Ronnie eventually came back to the UK and continued his prison sentence, before being released on compassionate grounds. He was never a hero perhaps, but he was certainly a personality and an infamous one at that.

HMV in Oxford Street

It's nearly a year since we learned that the HMV record shop chain was facing possible closure - part of the on-going decline of high street record stores and independents over the last few years.
Now I've received the following news from Dave Carroll:
'The HMV shop at 400 Oxford Street is due to close in January. A sale can be expected, but don't get too excited as the amount of stock on display appears to be reducing. This will leave just the much smaller shop at 363 Oxford Street (turn right as you come out of Bond Street station). My last visit to the cd section took me five minutes. Wikipedia states that the first HMV shop was opened in 1921. Does anybody know at what number? My earliest memory of an HMV shop is that it was also near Bond Street station. Has it always been at 363? Meanwhile, the HMV-owned Fopp, on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Earlham Street (near Cambridge Circus), continues to offer (occasionally worthwhile) bargain-priced cds on the first floor among its other stock.'
This has prompted the following from Alan Lloyd:
'I remember when I first came to London in 1972 the HMV was a little further down the road on the other side of Bond Street Station (but on the same side of the road). It was still there for some time after the one at 400 Oxford Street opened. After it closed, there was an HMV on the other side of the road for a short time which closed down as part of the cross-rail development. I discovered the one at 363 just a couple of weeks ago; it’s OK for DVD’s and video games but there’s not much of a CD selection.'
And from Gordon Fleming:
'I used the HMV on the south side of Oxford Street near Bond Street Station from the late 50s onwards, until the larger store between Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus opened. It had a fantastic basement full of vinyl (I believe the ground floor was devoted to "serious" music) with listening booths and large numbers of customers. Did you know that when HMV started mail order some decades ago (pre-internet) the freefone telephone number was 0800 33 45 78 (pretty cool, huh?)'
It seems we all have memories of the HMV stores in central London. I certainly used to enjoy trawling through the large selection of vinyl that they stocked before CDs took over completely. And of course Tower and Virgin also provided good opportunities - now sadly no more as well. According to the HMV website the first store in Oxford Street was opened on July 20, 1921 by Sir Edward Elgar. Their second flagship store - at 150 Oxford Street, near Oxford Circus -  became the largest record store in the world when it was opened by Bob Geldof in October 1986. Let's hope that at least one HMV store will remain in central London, as it seem that many of those that were located in high streets across the UK have closed as well.
Dave also has news of the 100 Club in London, the venue for many great gigs in the 80s and 90s but now a shadow of its former self in terms of the music to be found there. Dave comments: ‘In January the 100 Club will be closed while the toilets are refurbished. Is it trying to shed its earthy reputation? What they need to do is what they failed to following the last refurbishment: maintain them and clean them on a regular basis. Some hope, though I don't know why I should care, as my visits to this historic venue occur bi-annually these days’ 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Death List 2013 + Peter O'Toole

At around this time every year the Vinyl Word raises a glass to those musicians and entertainers who have died during the year. As ever, 2013 has seen many greats pass on, and no doubt others will do so during the last two weeks of the year. And even as I am writing this, news has come through of the death, at 81, of Peter O'Toole, one of the greatest actors of the late 20th century, whose starring roles include Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion In Winter, The Ruling Class, Becket, Goodbye Mr Chips and My Favourite year. The Vinyl Word raises a glass, as I'm sure Peter himself would have done.
Here are some of the other more significant losses that we have seen this year.
Jewel Akens - Birds and the Bees singer; Patty Andrews - member of the Andrews Sisters; Kevin Ayres - Soft Machine; Kenny Ball - trad jazz man; Peter Banks - member of Yes; Sid Bernstein - US producer and promoter; Big Bopper Jr - rock and roll singer: Joe Bihari - Modern records co-founder; Karen Black -American actress and singer; Bobby 'Blue' Bland -  legendary soul and blues singer (pictured); Eddie Bond - rockabilly singer; Lee 'Sugarfoot' Bonner - Ohio Players; Richard Briers - comedy actor; Texas Johnny Brown - bluesman; Donald Byrd - jazz trumpeter; J J Cale - singer/songwriter from Tulsa; Roscoe Chenier - blues/zydeco guitarist; Cowboy Jack Clement - Sun singer and singwriter; Lewis Collins - Professionals actor and one time member of the Mojos; Mac Curtis - rockabilly singer; Jimmy Dawkins - bluesman; Bob Day - one half of the Allisons; Ray Dolby - recording engineer; Frank D'Rone - Strawberry Blonde singer; George Duke - jazz keyboard player, producer and singer; Deanna Durbin - 40s singer and actress; Bob Engemann - member of the Lettermen; T-Model Ford - bluesman; David Frost - TV interviewer, entertainer and presenter; Annette Funicello - US beach movie actress and singer (pictured); David Garrick - UK 60s pop singer: Eydie Gorme - singer and wife of Steve Lawrence; Jack Greene - country singer; Chico Hamilton - jazz drummer and bandleader; Hardrock Gunter - bluesman; Noel Harrison - Windmills of my Mind singer;  Richie Havens - singer/songwriter and guitarist;  Donna Hightower - soul and jazz singer; Rick Huxley - Dave Clark Five member; Roosevelt Jamison - Memphis songwriter and music manager: Roland Janes - Sun guitarist; Virgil Johnson - member of the Velvets; George Jones - country singer; Marvin Junior - member of the Dells; Claude King - country singer; Roger Lavern - member of the Tornados; Alvin Lee - Ten Years After; Terry Lightfoot - trad jazz man; Little Tony - Italian pop singer; Jackie Lomax - member of the Undertakers; Mary Love - soul singer; Lewis Lymon - rock an roll singer and brother of Frankie; Gloria Lynne - jazz and blues singer; Magic Slim - bluesman; Bobby Mansfield - member of the Wrens; Ray Manzarek - member of the Doors; Bobby Martin - Philly soul producer; Sammy Masters - rockabilly singer; Larry McKinley - co-founder of Minit records; Marion McPartland - jazz pianist and composer; Ready Teddy McQuiston - New Orleans presenter and DJ; Shadow Morton - girl group record producer and writer; Junior Murvin - reggae singer; Chicago Bob Nelson - bluesman; Bernie Nolan - member of the Nolans; Patti Page - 50s songstress; Bobby Parker - Watch Your Step bluesman; Bill Pertwee - Dad's Army actor; Piano Red - piano bluesman aka Dr Feelgood; Charles Pope - member of the Tams; Maxine Powell - Motown etiquette guru; Reg Presley - lead singer of the Troggs: Marvin Rainwater - rock and roll/country singer; Phil Ramone - record producer; Lou Reed - Velvet Underground and solo rock star; Joan Regan - 50s UKs singer; Dale Robertson - TV western actor; Bobby Rogers - Miracles; Sid Selvidge - folk singer and member of Mud Boy and the Neutrons; Paul Shane - Hi-Di-Hi actor; George Beverley Shea - gospel singer; Gary Shearston - Australian singer; Tony Sheridan - UK singer with early Beatles in Hamburg; Bobby Smith - member of the Spinners; Mel Smith - actor and comedian; Clyde Stacy - rockabilly singer; Cleotha Staples - member of Staple Singers; Gordon Stoker - member of the Jordanaires; Richard Street - member of the Monitors and Temptations; Frank Thornton - Are You Being Served actor; Stan Tracey - UK jazz pianist; Larry Verne - Mr Custer artist; Esther Williams - swimmer turned actress; Paul Williams - music author; Artie 'Blues Boy' White - bluesman; Ray Whitley - beach music singwriter; Slim Whitman - country singer; Tony Wilkinson - record collector, music writer and Woodie; Chick Willis - bluesman; Cecil Womack - member of Valentinos and one half of Womack and Womack. 
May you all rest in peace. And thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Joe Bihari

Thanks to Dave C for letting me know about another death: that of Joe Bihari, aged 88, last of the four Bihari brothers who founded Modern records. I'm surprised not to have seen obits in the UK press but maybe I missed them. Of Hungarian Jewish descent, the Biharis founded Modern in LA in 1945 and later set up the Meteor label in Memphis, RPM and Flair. They recorded many of the pioneers of blues and R and B, including Jesse Belvin, Richard Berry, Hadda Brooks, Charles Brown, The Cadets/Jacks, Lowell Fulson, Smokey Hogg, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, Etta James, Little Richard, Little Willie Littlefield, Jimmy McCracklin, Ike Turner, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson and Jimmy Witherspoon and made a star of B B King. The brothers had a long running feud with Chess, who they believed stole Jackie Brenston's Rocket 88 from them after Sam Phillips sold it to the Chicago
 They closed down their labels in the late 50s and set up the budget Crown label and the Kent label targetting the rock and roll market as well as some high quality blues and soul, including Z Z Hill, Johnny Otis and Ike and Tina Turner. The Modern name was revived in 1964 with artists such as the Ikettes and Little Richard but the Biharis later focused on budget reissues and eventually went out of business. Like most record owners of the time, they claimed royalties for songs they hadn't written and many artists received little in the way of financial reward, but there is no doubting the importance of Joe and his brothers. There's an interesting interview with him in John Broven's Record Makers and Breakers (see photo).

Monday, December 09, 2013

Lives to remember

Time to leave behind my memories of gigs of the nineties (about time too, say most readers I suspect!) and catch up on some recent music deaths - and there have been quite a few. There always are in December it seems. It's 46 years tomorrow since the death of Otis Redding in 1967, and 49 years since the shooting of Sam Cooke on December 11, 1964: two of the all time greats.
Chick Willis, who has died aged 79, was the cousin of Chuck Willis and was his chauffeur during his
50s success. Later he played with Elmore James and recorded some blues 45s in the sixties but he became best known for his controversial Stoop Down Baby in 1972. He went on record several excellent albums for Ichiban, including Chick Sings Chuck, Now, Footprints in My Bed, Back to the Blues, Holdin' Hands with the Blues, Nasty Chick and I Got a Big Fat Woman. He continued to record into the 2000s.
Larry McKinley, 85, was the founder of New Orleans record label Minit along with his partner Joe Banashak and employed Allen Toussaint as arranger, songwriter and producer, recording many of the New Orleans greats including Ernie K-Doe, Chris Kenner, Benny Spellman and Irma Thomas. A local radio personality, Larry was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
Although best known as an actor for his role of Bodie in The Professionals, and, before that, in the TV comedy The Cuckoo Waltz, Lewis Collins, who has died aged 67, formed a band called the Renegades in Liverpool and was a one time member of the Mojos, apparently turning down the chance of auditioning for the Beatles. He did, in fact, audition for the role of James Bond, but was rejected because he was too aggressive. Lewis was one of those people whose careers I've followed during my life because his birth date was close to mine (he was born six weeks later than me). Like George Best, another from the same era, he is now no more, which is a sobering thought. I am watching a third contemporary, Joanna Lumley, with interest. 
Reggae artist Junior Murvin was another from the same era and was believed to be 67 when he died. Born in St James Parish, Jamaica, he came to fame with Police and Thieves, produced by Lee 'Scratch' Perry in 1976 which was later covered by The Clash. Prior to that he had recorded under the name of Junior Soul and was a member of the Hippy Boys. Later albums included Bad Man Posse, Muggers in The Street and Apartheid.
From the jazz world, drummer and band leader Chico Hamilton has died at the age of 92. He played with many of the big bands of the 1940s before recording his first album as leader in 1955. Over the following 56 years he recorded dozens of albums with a variety of artists.
Another jazz man to pass on is British pianist and composer Stan Tracey at the age of 86. Stan played at Ronnie Scott's jazz club for several years, accompanying many of the jazz greats and is best known for his 1967 album Under Milk Wood and for Alice in Jazzland.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Tales From A Woodie (Part Eight): 1996/97

In 1996 I missed out on New Orleans and went to the Caribbean instead, also to Utrecht once more for the Blues Estafette. More good gigs in London, but there are few comments about them in my diary.
January 2: Jean Carne and Marlena Shaw at the Rhythmic in Islington. ‘Two soulful singers together.'
January 18: Percy Sledge at the Jazz Café. ‘Mesmerising soul.’
February 18: the Butler Twins at the 100 Club. ‘Quite good.’
February 25: Mighty Diamonds at the Rhythmic. ‘Excellent.’
March 3: Teddy Royal and Hank Crawford at the Rhythmic.
March 15: the Holmes Brothers at the Watermans. ‘Great stuff.’
March 23: Judy Boucher record launch at Rumours, Brixton. ‘Take Me As I Am.’
April 23: Rufus Thomas at the Rhythmic. ‘Fun but farcical, with Rufus wearing shorts.’
May 10: Eddie Lovette and Shadow at the Golden Star, Tobago. ‘Lively soft reggae and Soca.’
May 26: London Blues Festival at Blackheath. James Carr (‘intense, hypnotic, brilliant’), Corey Harris, Magic Slim, Johnny Rawls, Clara McDaniel and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
June 10. Bo Diddley at the Rhythmic. ‘Excellent show.’
June 12: War at the Jazz Café. ‘OK but not really my cup of tea.’
July 11: Concert for  Nelson Mandela at Royal Albert Hall with Phil Collins Big Band, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Hugh Masekela, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bayete.
July 16: Otis Rush at the Mean Fiddler.
July 24: Larry Garner at the 100 Club.
August 11: Erroll Linton Band at the 100 Club.
August 27: Tracey Nelson at the Borderline. ‘Average’.
September 29: Big Joe Turner Band at the 100 Club. ‘Pretty good.’
October 20: Eddie Lejeune at Cecil Sharp House. ‘Great Cajun music.’
November 4: Joe Louis Walker at the Jazz Café.
November 23: Blues Estafette in Utrecht. Stars included Charles Wilson (‘good soul’), Jimmy McCracklin (‘OK but a bit disappointing’), Sista Monica (‘very big’), the El Dorados with Andre Williams (‘the highlight’), Little Milton, the Carter Brothers and the Black Top show (Robert Ward, Guitar Shorty, Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon.)
December 17: Motown show at Wembley Arena. Edwin Starr, Mary Wilson, the Temptations and the Four Tops.
December 29: James Hunter at the 100 Club. ‘OK I guess.’
1997 was another good year music-wise, with trips to Jazzfest and Utrecht again plus my first visit to the Porretta Soul Festival. Not many diary entries so this list is probably incomplete.
January 19: Electric Bluebirds at the 100 Club.
April 23-May 5: New Orleans for Jazzfest. Evening shows included Irma at the Lion’s Den, Johnny Adams and Marva Wright at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl, the Bluebirds at the River Shack, the Neville Brothers at the House of Blues, Maria Muldaur at Jimmy’s, Ernie K-Doe at the Mother In Law Lounge (‘he was sitting on a sort of throne and was completely out of it. The only others there were his family – his new wife Antoinette complained that Jazzfest should be paying a legend more to perform’), also went there a few days later when (‘he performed some great blues’), Tab Benoit at the River Shack, King Floyd and Taj Mahal at the House of Blues (‘Floyd lacklustre but Taj Mahal a revelation’), Paula and the Pontiacs and Marcia Ball at Jimmy’s, Hackberry Ramblers and C C Adcock at the Mermaid Lounge and Davell Crawford at the Showcase.
At Jazzfest, artists I saw included Tabby Thomas, Rosie Ledet (‘sexy’), dual interview with Dr John and Allen Toussaint, Oliver Morgan, Chubby Carrier, Corey Harris, C J Chenier, James Taylor, Davell Crawford, Clancy Blues Boy Lewis, Keb Mo, Margaret Lewis with Kenny Bill Stinson, the Meters, Earth Wind and Fire, Frankie Ford, Sonny Landreth, Beausoleil, Frogman Henry, Eddie Bo, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Delbert McClinton, Ernie K-Doe was a no-show, Sherman Robertson, Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon, D L Menard, Al Jarreau, Cookie and the Cupcakes, Syl Johnson and Fats Domino (‘three great acts in succession – all of them fantastic’), Snooks Eaglin, Zion Harmonizers and George Clinton.
May 16: Nat Adderley at the Jazz Café.
May 25: Big Town Playboys at the 100 Club.
June 3: Toots and the Maytals at the Jazz Café. ‘Superb’.
June 12: Maxine Brown at the 100 Club. ‘Wonderful soul.’
July 25-27: Porretta Soul Festival. Bar-Kays, Mable John, Jackie Johnson, James Govan, Rufus Thomas, Isaac Hayes, Irma Thomas, J Blackfoot, Otis Clay.
August 13: Skatalites at the Jazz Café.
August 27: Percy Sledge at the Jazz Café.
November 22: Blues Estafette at Utrecht. Earl Gaines plus Herbert Hunter and Ted Jarrett, R L Burnside, the Cadillacs with Speedo (‘great’), Willie Clayton (‘also great’), Long John Hunter, Arthur Adams, Robert Bilbo Walker, Frankie Lee (’excellent’) and Syl Johnson.
November 30: Dale Hawkins at the Tennessee Club in Wood Green.
December 14: Bernard Allison at the 100 Club. ‘Tribute to his late father Luther.’
December 28: Courtney Pine at the Jazz Café.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Tales From A Woodie (Part Seven): 1994/95

On to 1994. I made another visit to New Orleans for Jazzfest and to some excellent gigs in London, but rather fewer than in the past, mostly because of work commitments.
January 30: Diz and the Doormen at the 100 Club. ‘Professor Longhair memorial night. Pretty good.’
February 18: Ruth Brown at Ronnie Scott’s. ‘Terrific.’
April 17: Sonny Rhodes at the 100 Club. ‘Excellent blues.’
April 21-30: New Orleans for Jazzfest. Evening shows included, as ever, Irma Thomas at the Lion’s Den; New Orleans R and B Revue at Muddy Waters with Otis Jenkins (‘copyist’), Lee Bates (‘excellent soul’), Al ‘Carnival Time’ Johnson (‘great material’) and Tommy Ridgeley; Snooks Eaglin at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl; 5 Blind Boys of Alabama at the House of Blues; Delbert McClinton at Jimmy’s; Tinsley Ellis and Walter Washington at Muddy Waters. Highlights of Jazzfest included Frogman Henry, Katie Webster, Larry Garner, Beau Jocque, Frankie Ford, Oliver ‘La La’ Morgan, Jon King Cleary, Little Richard (‘beautiful as ever, with an amazing mixture of songs – from Grandma’s Apple Pie and Itsy Bitsy Spider to the greats’), Boz Scaggs, Lonnie Brooks, Dixie Cups, Mississippi Burnin’ Blues Review, Buddy Guy, Jessie Hill, Ernie K-Doe (‘drunk, but great’), Charles Brown, Doug Kershaw, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Sonny Landreth, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Taj Mahal, Willie Nelson, Robert Parker, Roland Stone, Solomon Burke (’wonderful, a real highlight, a throwback to the great 60s soul days’), Etta James (‘another excellent heavyweight’), Albertina Walker, the Meters, B B King, Robert Cray (‘Jazzfest was ruined by a downpour just as Robert was singing ‘The Forecast Is For Pain (nearly right)), R L Burnside, Jimmy Smith, Randy Newman, Staple Singers and Ry Cooder.
June 26: Anson Funderburgh at the 100 Club.
July 12: Earl King, Irma Thomas and Bobby Bland at the Astoria. ‘Great show, with Irma in particular on brilliant form.’
Sept 4: Jon King Cleary at the 100 Club.
Sept 9: Henry Gray at the Pizza Express. ‘Rather unsuitable venue.’
Sept 23: Genitorturers at The Marquee. ‘The most bizarre gig  I’ve ever been to: heavy metal and heavy S and M, with a rack, convincing whippings, dildo penetration etc culminating in needles in the testicles of a man rotated on the rack, then having his lips wired up. Lots of blood, breasts and noise. By contrast I then went to the Borderline to see Rosie Flores.’
October 23: John Primer at the 100 Club. ‘Good solid Chicago blues.’
November 13: Byther Smith at the 100 Club.
1995 continued to produce some great (and not so great) gigs and I made return visits to New Orleans Jazzfest (plus a family trip in the heat of August) and to Utrecht. My diary entries were getting less full however.
February 14: Butch Hancock at the Borderline. ‘Good but very crowded.’
February 17: Jimmy Witherspoon at the Jazz Café.
February 23: Fem 2 Fem at the Astoria. ‘Censored by Westminster Council but fairly boring.’
April 12: Long John Hunter at the 100 Club. ‘Good but not great.’
April 13: Henry Gray at the World’s End pub, Finsbury Park. ‘Strange venue for a legend.’
April 16: Billy Boy Arnold at the 100 Club. ‘Very good to start with but tailed off a bit.’
April 27-May 9: New Orleans for Jazzfest via Lafayette. Evening shows included Clarence Carter at Grant St Dance Hall, Lafayette (‘A great venue and Clarence was brilliant.); Irma Thomas at the Lion’s Den; Domino at Poets bar in Lafayette; Doug Sahm’s Last Texas Blues Band/ Texas Tornados with Roy Head at Tipitina’s (’Roy was excellent as was the whole band, although Freddy Fender wasn’t there.’); Bob Margolin and Michael Hill at Muddy Waters; Marcia Ball at Jimmy’s. Stars who I saw at Jazzfest included Rocking Sidney, Frogman Henry, Dr John, Pete Seeger with Peter, Paul and Mary, Tab Benoit, Beau Jocque, Little Milton, Wilson Pickett (‘brilliant and a real highlight’), Black Stalin, Gladys Knight, Clarence Carter, Jimmy Clanton with Frankie Ford, Allen Toussaint, Hackberry Ramblers, Chuck Berry (‘poor’), Lavelle White (‘excellent’), Ray Charles (‘MOR’), Magic Slim, Katie Webster, Alex Chilton (‘an uneven set’), James Taylor, Steve Riley, Eddie Bo, Bobby Marchan, Joe Clay, Eddie Lejeune, Al Green (‘ a highlight’), Tommy Ridgeley, Jo Cool Davis, Jean Knight, B B King and Irma.
May 19: Kim Fowley at the Mean Fiddler. ‘A cult but really quite boring.’
May 26: Junior Wells at the Watermans.
June 24: Jerry Lee Lewis at the Forum. ‘Very enjoyable, if rather bizarre set.’
June 30: William Bell and Trudi Lynn at the Bottom Line. ‘Both of them excellent.’ Also saw some of Robert Cray at the Shepherds Bush Empire next door.
July 2: Wilson Pickett at the Grand, Clapham. ‘The years rolled back. His voice a little rough but a great show.’
July 4: Dick Dale at the Forum. ‘Odd 60s surf guitar sub-cult.’
July 17: Neville Brothers at the Shepherds Bush Empire.
August 3: Doris Troy at the 100 Club. ‘Great soul singing.’
August 23: Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl, New Orleans.
August 25: Little Milton at the House of Blues.
October 17: Don & Dewey at the 100 Club. ‘Wonderful gig by 50s legends.’ With Big Town Playboys.
October 19: Mary Love at the 100 Club. ‘She didn’t start until late – was good but I wasn’t over-impressed.’
November 14: Jerry Jaye at the 100 Club. ‘Small crowd – average rockabilly.’
November 18: Blues Estafette at Utrecht. Highlights included Excello Legends – Clifford Curry (‘lively soul’), Roscoe Shelton (‘brilliant deep soul’), and Earl Gaines (‘great voice.’ Also Sugar Pie DeSanto (‘thin, weird, funny’), Tyrone Davis (‘good band, patchy songs’), Keb Mo (‘OK’), Cookie and the Cupcakes (‘fantastic, original line-up, utterly brilliant’), Jimmy Beasley (‘mostly covers’), Lavelle White (‘superb soul/blues’), Big Joe Burrell (‘I slept’), Levi Williams (‘average’).
December 3: Big Jay McNeely and Dana Gillespie at the 100 Club.
December 15: Guy Clark at the Union Chapel, Islington. (‘very cold venue’).

Nelson Mandela RIP

I have been listening to the tributes that have been pouring forth today following the death of Nelson
Mandela. Mandela was a hero of mine, as I have said in the blog on several occasions (the other main ones being Martin Luther King and Sam Cooke). His statemanship and generosity of spirtit rightly earned him respect throughout the world and I recall the day in 1990 that he was released after 27 years in prison in South Africa as a day of great joy and hope.
I never met him face to face but I do recall seeing him in the flesh when he made his triumphal visit to London in 1996. I attended the concert at the Royal Albert Hall attended by the Queen and Prince Charles at which Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed. I was with a group of banking executives and journalists in a box and the royal party with Mandela was in a neighbouring box. Nelson got up and danced as the show went on, showing great rhythm and style. Prince Charles must have felt that it was his duty to join in and tried to emulate him by standing up and attempting to dance, but with rather less
grace and quite of bit of stiffness. At least he tried.
In 2007 I went to Cape Town for the first time and took the opportunity of visiting Robben Island, where Mandela spent much of his imprisonment. It was a moving experience and my photo shows the tiny cell where the great man was incarcerated.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Tales From A Woodie (Part Six): 1993

There were some wonderful gigs in 1993, and I also visited New Orleans for a fourth time and made my first trip to the Blues Estafette in Utrecht. Many future Woodies will remember these. Here are some of the highlights, as recorded in my diary:
January 13: Rainer at the Weavers. ‘Very crowded. He’s an excellent guitarist but unoriginal and somewhat over-rated.’
January 31: Sherman Robertson at the 100 Club. ‘Excellent once more.’
February 19: George Williams (ex-Tymes) at the 100 Club. ‘Disappointing – mostly jazz standards.’
February 21: Lazy Lester with Big Joe Louis at the 100 Club. ‘Excellent.’
February 28: Joe Walker at the 100 Club. ‘Good dancing zydeco.’
April 7: Marlena Shaw at the Jazz Factory. ‘Excellent on her soulful numbers, less so on the jazz standards, with a pianist who clearly didn’t know her songs.’
April 11: Ray Sharpe at the 100 Club. ‘He got better and better as he changed from blues to rock and roll.’
April 14: Magic Slim & the Teardrops at the 100 Club. ‘Slim was with the marvellous Lefty Dizz – a real cool dude. Super evening of blues.’
April 22 – May 3: New Orleans for Jazz Fest. Evening shows included: Irma Thomas at the refurbished Lion’s Den; Johnnie Taylor and Patti LaBelle at the Municipal Auditorium -  ‘Johnnie did a short, half-hearted performance and Patti was wonderfully over the top in front of a 90% black audience.’; Jumpin’ Johnny at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl; Doc Cheatham (88) and Danny Barker (83) at the Palm Court Jazz Club (where I interviewed owner Nina Buck for The Times); Walter Washington at Jimmy’s; Marva Wright at Muddy Waters; Barbara George at Maxwell’s - ‘the band was dreadful and Barbara struggled’; Black Top night at Jimmy’s with Lynn August, Bobby Parker, Maria Muldaur, Carol Fran, Guitar Shorty and Robert Ward; Dew Drop Inn Revisited at the Sheraton with Roland Stone (‘who turned out to be white and looked like an accountant’), George French, Bobby Marchan, Benny Spellman (‘crippled on his left side from a stroke but trying hard’) Marva Wright and Lloyd Price (‘excellent’); Jimmy Elledge at a bar in Hessmer, Metairie; and Zydeco Force at El Sid O’s in Lafayette on the drive back to Houston.
At Jazz Fest (first weekend) there were, among others, Anson Funderburgh & Sam Myers, Marcia Ball, Beausoleil, Bob Dylan (‘he started 10 minutes early and even though his vocal range is now down to about four notes he did a varied, interesting and quite enjoyable set’), Rockin’ Dopsie, Zachary Richard, Robert Lowery, Tyrone Davis (‘the dog’s bollocks, as John Jolliffe described him’), Johnny Adams, Kenny Neal, Earl Turbinton, Mighty Imperials, Allen Toussaint, Tabby Thomas, Dorothy Love Coates, Jessie Hill, Ernie K-Doe (‘drunk and dishevelled, looking particularly bad’), and Fats Domino (‘great set’).  Jazz Fest (second weekend) included Boozoo Chavis, Savoy Doucet Band, Snooks Eaglin, Nina Simone, Frogman Henry, Tommy Ridgeley, Al Johnson, Chuck Carbo, Henry Gray, the Meters, Lloyd Price, Delbert McClinton, Kenny Bill Stinson, Deacon John, Buddy Guy and the Dixie Cups. Rain stopped play and I didn’t go on the final Sunday.
May 16: Tinsley Ellis at the 100 Club. ‘Brilliant guitarist.’
May 30: Robert Ward at the Mean Fiddler. ‘Excellent as ever, backed by Otis Grand. Also saw a bit of Snooky Pryor in the Acoustic Room.’
June 27: Barrence Whitfield at the 100 Club. ‘Good fun.’
July 10: Dr John at The Forum. ‘Solid, varied two hour set with atmospheric Walk On Gilded Splinters.’
July 12: Latimore, Denise LaSalle and Little Milton at the Mean Fiddler. ‘Really great show – Latimore with his white lion’s mane of hair and wonderful voice, Denise, big and bouncy, and Milton, superb blues.’
July 13: Al Green & the London Community Gospel Choir at the Royal Festival Hall. ‘Thought he would just sing gospel but, surprise surprise, plenty of his old hits and tributes to Sam and Otis. The gospel people in the audience didn’t know what to make of it, but I sure did.’
July 21: Albert Collins, Otis Clay and John Hammond at the Royal Festival Hall. ‘An excellent show, especially Otis, but a difficult venue to bring to life.’
July 31: Geno Delafose and the Eunice Playboys at Burnley Mechanics. ‘Not an ideal venue but lively zydeco.’
August 3: Jerry Jeff Walker at the Mean Fiddler. ‘Pretty good apart from some sing along stuff. Mostly Americans there apart from John H and Jonathan.’
August 29: Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon at the 100 Club. ‘Very good, although the acoustic set was perhaps a little over long.’
September 7: Johnny Adams at the 100 Club. ‘Wonderful evening – Johnny in magnificent form.’
October 3: Larry Garner at the 100 Club. ‘Very easy on the ear and very good.’
October 19: Richard Berry at the 100 Club. ‘A fifties legend who is still going strong and very good.’
November 3: Jimmy McGriff and Hank Crawford at the Jazz Café. ‘Very good.’
November 20: Blues Estafette at Utrecht. Roscoe Chenier (‘OK, solid but unexciting blues’), Eddie Stout (‘harp player – ordinary stuff’), Mr Bo (‘old bluesman who did his stuff’), J R Reed (‘had out of tune guitar’), Carol Fran & Clarence Hollimon (‘on excellent form’), Bobby Robinson’s R & B revue featured Bob Gaddy (‘great on piano’), Wild Jimmy Spruill (‘extrovert’), Larry Dale (‘good blues’), Noble Watts (‘thin sound and body’). Dr Horse (‘amusing old guy’). Things really looked up with David Dee (excellent soul/blues’), Art Neville (did all his old stuff brilliantly’). Bobby Parker (‘not bad’), Irma Thomas (‘on sparkling form – wonderful to have the Irma experience yet again’), and Little Milton (‘good but worn out so left half way through’).

Monday, December 02, 2013

Tales From A Woodie (Part Five): 1992

1992 was another excellent year for gigs and here are some of them. I also made my third visit to New Orleans for JazzFest.
February 1: Fabulous Thunderbirds at the Mean Fiddler. ‘Enjoyable but the word ‘fabulous’ was a bit of an exaggeration I thought.’
February 21: Jean Carne at the Jazz Café. ‘Great voice but problems with sound and a band which didn’t know half the songs.’
March 11: Frankie Ford at the St Johns Tavern, Archway. ‘Sang some good New Orleans R and B and had a good backing band. I enjoyed it, even if the rockabillies there didn’t.'
April 1: Charlie Gracie at the RNA Club, Plaistow. ‘Backed by D J Fontana and Freddie Fingers Lee. John Howard DJ-ing. Great set.’
April 17: Charlie Musselwhite at the Mean Fiddler. ‘Not really any better than last time – samey and sterile.’
April 24-May 4: New Orleans for Jazzfest. Evenings shows included several at Irma Thomas’s Lion’s Den, including one with L J Hamilton on instead of Irma. Second night: ‘A great night – Irma in relaxed, full-voiced form, doing some new material. And Johnny Adams was a surprise guest – a great spot, displaying his vocal gymnastics to the full.’ Other shows includes the Neville Brothers at Tipitinas, the 5 Blind Boys of Alabama and Al Green at the Saenger Theatre: ‘Al was in fine form, his soft but powerful voice cruising through mostly gospel songs and a couple of oldies. A lot of sermonising but I can stand that to hear his voice.’ Also Robert Ward, Snooks Eaglin, Grady Gaines, Clarence Hollimon, Carol Fran, Earl King and Big Robert Smith at Black Top night at Tipitinas. ‘Highlight was Robert Ward – amazing guitar sound.’ Also Charles Brown at Charlie B’s, Marcia Ball, Clarence Hollimao and Carol Fran at Storyville; Johnny Adams at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl, and Ironing Board Sam in a bar on Bourbon St.
Jazzfest itself featured most of the above plus (first weekend) Eddie Bo, Little Freddie King, Robert Parker, Wayne Toups, Otis Clay, Ann Peebles, Zachary Richard, Marva Wright, Eddie Lejeune, Lynn August, Allen Toussaint, Ernie K-Doe, Jessie Hill, Gladys Knight, Clancy Blues Boy Lewis, D L Menard, Nathan’s Zydeco Cha Chas, Dr John. Second weekend: Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Henry Gray with Hubert Sumlin, Junior Walker, Albert King, Troy Turner, Frogman Henry, Tabby Thomas, Kenny Neal, Sugar Boy Crawford (first time at Jazzfest) with grandson Davell, Beausoleil, Tommy Ridgeley, Chuck Carbo, Al Johnson, C J Chenier, Bobby Womack, Walter Washington, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Dixie Cups, Linda Hopkins, Carl Sonny Leyland, C J Chenier. So much great music.
May 19: Dave Alvin and the Paladins. ‘Good stuff, especially from the former.’
May 28; 5 Blind Boys of Alabama at the Hackney Empire. ‘Excellent over the top act, great theatre.’
June 4: Joe Louis Walker at T&C2. ‘Very good blues band.’
July 4: Crystal Palace Blues festival. ‘The festival was not as good as last year, due to the weather (very overcast), and the line-up. John Campbell, Mose Allison, John Hammond, Terry Garland, Jimmy McGriff and Jimmy Smith and the star, Pop Staples. Finished in a downpour.’
July 7: Johnnie Johnson at the T&C2. ‘Enjoyable, varied set.’
July 8: Roy Rogers at the Mean Fiddler. ‘Excellent white blues guitarist.’
July 16: New Orleans Gala at Royal Festival Hall. ‘Johnny Adams first – vocally great but slightly disappointing; Eddie Bo – very good, great dancing; Willie De Ville – did a bad Ernie K-Doe impersonation; Dr John – in great form; Zachary Richard – lively zyde-cajun; Wild Magnolias – colourful. All on stage together for the Saints at the end.’
July 29: Steve Riley & Mamou Playboys. ‘Good traditional Cajun.’
August 18: Jean Carne at WKD Café, Camden Town. ‘Very enjoyable set but eventually gave up waiting for her second set.’
August 27: Short Fuse at the Weavers. ‘Went to see Henry Gray but he was stranded in Baton Rouge because of a hurricane. Instead watched a mediocre UK blues band with quite a tasty girl singer.’
September 6: Jimmy Witherspoon at the 100 Club. ‘Enjoyable, varied set (but no Evenin’’) – not bad for 70.’
September 20: Sherman Robertson at the 100 Club. ‘Excellent.’
September 27: Dwight Yoakam at Hammersmith Odeon. ‘Not bad once he moved away from the country stuff.’
October 3: Neville Brothers at Hammersmith Odeon. ‘On great form – Aaron’s voice was so beautiful I cried.’
October 18: Byther Smith at the 100 Club. ‘A rather indifferent B B King copyist.’
October 23: The Crickets at the Mean Fiddler. ‘Jerry Allison and Joe Maulden – a night of Buddy nostalgia.’
October 29: Katie Webster at the Venue, New Cross. ‘Got progressively better as her set went on, including Sea of Love.’
November 2: Etta James at the Town and Country. ‘Pretty good but didn’t seem to give it her all. Also Jay Owens, who was very good on his soul numbers.’
November 21: Austin, Texas. Buckwheat Zydeco at Antone’s – ‘A great club.’; then Butch Hancock and Jesse Guitar Taylor at the Cactus Café. ‘Butch was excellent and Jesse a brilliant guitarist.’
November 29: Southside Johnny and Sonny Landreth at the Town and Country. ‘Johnny and the Asbury Dukes were very good, including a great Havin’ A Party.’
December 5: Giants of Rock and Roll at Wembley Arena. ‘Absolutely brilliant – like watching my whole life pass before my eyes: Chris Montez, a white haired Johnny Preston and a big Little Eva went through their hits followed by a lively set from Bobby Vee and the Ricochets and big bouncy balls. Next was Lloyd Price – all his hits and a good band, although his voice was showing the years a bit. Then Duane Eddy – very much what you would expect. Next on was Little Richard – his 60th birthday: 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 – would have liked more. Finally Jerry Lee, looking pale and much fatter than in the past. He played a solid if unemotional set, until the end when Little Richard and Lloyd Price came on stage and he got up, smiled, danced around a bit and played a duet with Richard. First time these three had ever been on stage together apparently.’

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Tales From A Woodie (Part Four): 1991

1991 was another year when great gigs came thick and fast, and I made a return trip to New Orleans. Here are some of the highlights:
January 9: Jimmy Witherspoon at the Jazz Cafe. ‘A slim moustachioed gent who clearly enjoyed himself in his two sets. Backing him, and also doing two sets, was the enormous, smiling Groove Holmes at the Hammond organ. Blues with a touch of jazz, or vice versa.’
January 13: Nina Simone at the Town and Country. ‘Great – much better than I expected. Her voice was clear and precise, her piano playing excellent. All the great songs were there, plus a few others, finishing with My Baby Just Cares For Me and I Love You Porgy.’
February 12: Robert Cray at the Town and Country. ‘Very enjoyable, smooth and soulful, especially on his O V Wright style numbers.
’February 20: Phil Guy at Willesden Green Library. ‘A set that got better as the evening progressed and support by the Bare Wires band wasn’t bad.’
February 28: Edwin Starr at the Jazz Café. ‘Really excellent – all his hits, loads of energy.’
March 7: Blasters at the T&C2. ‘Competent rock and roll, but not exceptional.’
March 31: George ‘Wild Child’ Butler at the 100 Club. ‘The ‘king of swamp blues’ – very good with a voice like Howlin’ Wolf.’
April 4: Joe Louis Walker at the T&C2: ‘Very impressive.’
April 25-May 6: New Orleans. Highlights included Two Creole Queen riverboat shows – Eddie Bo, backed by Wayne Bennett and Red Tyler, with Irma Thomas; and Ernie K-Doe with Barbara George and Jessie Hill. ‘Very thin crowd but Ernie was his usual cocky self – I sat next to him and he seemed subdued (or pissed) off-stage. Barbara gave it her all and I bought her new cassette only album. Jessie did a short but lively set.’ Other evening shows included Lonnie Brooks, Ko Ko Taylor and Lil Ed & The Imperials at Muddy Waters; Irma at the Lion’s Den (with Allen Toussaint and Lee Bates guesting on one occasion) and also at Tipitinas; Jon Cleary, Eddie Bo, Art Neville, Tommy Ridgeley and Willie Tee at Tipitinas; Buddy Guy at Jimmy’s; Marva Wright at Muddy Waters;  Johnny Adams at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl. Jazzfest included most of the above plus Jean Knight, Ohio Players, Rockin’ Dopsie, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Dr John, Snooks Eaglin,Bobby Marchan, Taj Mahal, C J Chenier, C P Love, Tommy McLain, Warren Storm, Marcia Ball, Kenny Neal, Wayne Toups, Dixie Cups, Mr Goggle-eyes, Oliver La La Morgan, Frankie Ford, Champion Jack Dupree, 5 Blind Boys of Alabama, Robert Cray and the Neville Brothers. So not much then.
June 14: Big Jay McNeely at the Jazz Café. ‘He wandered around playing to any girls he could find and even went outside onto the street at one point, still playing.’
June 18: Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington at the Jazz Café. ‘Very good, especially on his soul numbers.’
June 19: Bo Diddley at the Astoria. ‘A rather disappointing set – I can understand him saving his voice but some of the material, including a rap, was ropey.’
July 3: Linda Gail Lewis at the Royal Naval Club, Plaistow. ‘Good fun, great Wanda Jackson style voice.’
July 6: Blues Festival at Crystal Palace Park. ‘Larry McCray – good soulful voice; John Lee Hooker – same as ever; Walter Washington – good once again; Irma Thomas – brilliant.’
July 7: Texas Tornadoes at the Town and Country. ‘Doug Sahm, Freddy Fender, Augie Meyer and Flaco Jimenez. A really good Tex Mex/Swamp rockin’ night.’
July 17: Merrill Moore at the T&C2. ‘Rather discordant and out of tune but enjoyable in a way.’ I also bought my first ever CD that day – Fontella Bass and Sugar Pie DeSanto.
July 22: Charlie Musselwhite at the T&C2. ‘Disappointing – left before the end.’
August 21: Lonnie Brooks at T&C2. ‘Excellent show and virtually everyone from the New Orleans trip was there.’
October 15: Ronnie Spector at T&C2. ‘A short set but a wonderful night of nostalgia – memories of the slit-skirted Ronettes all those years ago. Had my picture taken with Ronnie afterwards.’
October 25: The Cramps at the Town and Country. ‘Post-punk psychobilly, noisy, tuneless with the weird Lux Interior and Poison Ivy. Lots of goths there.’
November 5: Stylistics at the Jazz Café. ‘Expected to see Junior Walker but discovered the Stylistics were on instead. They weren’t bad, considering.’
November 9: Betty Lavette at the Jazz Café. ‘Wonderful.’
November 12: Screaming Jay Hawkins at the Town and Country. ‘Very crowded, enjoyable but seemed a little dated.’
November 17: Buddy Guy at the Town and Country. ‘Messed around far too much.’
November 27: Johnnie Allen at the Weavers Arms. ‘The king of swamp pop – great stuff with good backing from the Alligator Bayou Band. Got a signed JA LP.’
December 1: James Brown at Wembley Arena. ‘The man’s still fit but the show was too glitzy, especially the first half. Got going towards the end.’
December 2: Chicago Blues Night at T&C2. ‘Trudi Lynn was excellent but too little of her. Star was Kenny Neal – good but not great.’
December 22: Jon Cleary at Weavers. ‘Very good piano.’