Sixties Liverpool band the Dominoes
reformed for the first time in decades at the tenth Tales From The Woods Rock and Roll Heritage Show at the Borderline in London last night. Headliner Kingsize Taylor was joined on stage by former band members Bobby Thompson and Sam Hardie for the finale of a show which lived up to the excitement of previous shows and no doubt sent promoter Keith Woods home a satisfied man. Once again the backbone of the show was the excellent Tales From The Woods Band,
which, as the acts repeated several times, is the best little backing band around. Guitarist John Spencely, now thankfully recovered from recent illness, was back to his brilliant self, sax men Alec Bland and Sid Phillips blew up a storm, and key board maestro Claire Hamlin was note perfect as ever. Robb Davis was on bass and Jeff Tuck on drums.
The first act, and the only one not backed by the Tales From The Woods Band, was 83 year old Raye Duval
, former drummer with Emile Ford's Checkmates
, with other members of the group, Graham Frost and Adrian Gregory, who provided singalong versions of hits such as What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For, Slow Boat To China and Them There Eyes, plus When My Little Girl Is Smiling, (Raye played on the Jimmy Justice version), Brand New Cadillac and Lucky Old Sun. Raye, who once held the world record for non-stop drumming, showed he can still hit them with an excellent version of Let There Be Drums, but overall this was a rather limp start to the show. Better was to follow.
For me, the star of the show was Sam Hardie
, an excellent boogie woogie piano player whose set featured a dozen or so rocking numbers seldom, if ever, heard, performed live. He kicked off with an exciting version of Larry Donn's Honey Bun and continued in the same vein with Charlie Rich's Lonely Weekends, Where The Rio De Rosa Flows (originally by Jimmy Lloyd, but a new one to me), Blues Stay Away From Me and a surprisingly rocking version of Little Jimmy Dickens' I Got A Hole In My Pocket. Less obscure were an excellent version of Move It, featuring John's stunning guitar work, Rockin' Daddy, Sweet Sue and Got You On My Mind but Wolfboy, originally by Sammy Salvo, was a surprise inclusion. He went back to 1852 for a rocking version of Stephen Foster's Old Black Joe (a la Jerry Lee), and finished off with Thurston Harris's Do What You Did, before attacking Good Golly Miss Molly for his well deserved encore.
Running Sam a close second in terms of excitement was fellow Liverpudlian Bobby Thompson
, whose set was more mainstream, but also of top quality. Kicking off with Memphis Tennessee, he moved smoothly through Let The Four Winds Blow, The Fool (a great version of the Sanford Clark classic), Money Honey (Clyde McPhatter was a lovely man, Bobby said), Slippin' and Slidin', Sick And Tired, Sea Cruise, Drinkin' Wine Spo-dee-o-dee, No No, Down The Road Apiece, I'm Walkin' with Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain as an encore. Once again, a first rate rocking set, which got the crowd in the mood for what was to follow.
The Liverpool theme of the show was continued with the appearance on stage of Beryl Marsden
, who showed that her voice is as strong as ever and who brought a bit of the girl group sound to the show. She began with her first record, a cover of Barbara George's I Know, and then moved on to three numbers recorded by the Shirelles - Baby It's You, Everybody Loves A Lover and Boys - before moving smartly through Irma Thomas's Breakaway, Hi Heel Sneakers and, a song she said she had never performed on stage before, Let's Have A Party. Finally she was joined on stage by Sam's enthusiastic daughter Gillian for a rollocking version of Whole Lotta Shakin'. Great fun and a pretty sparkling set.
Headlining the show was the towering, gaunt figure of Hamburg-based Kingsize Taylor
, a popular act from previous shows, who tackled the Chuck Berry and Larry Williams songbook with gusto. He kicked off with Watch Your Step before tackling Dizzy Miss Lizzie, Sweet Little Sixteen, You Can't Sit Down, Let It Rock, You Can't Catch Me and, possibly Chuck Berry's worst ever record and one he said he hated, according to Kingsize, Broken Arrow. He finished off with Stupidity and Bony Moronie - predictable fare perhaps, but what the crowd undoubtedly wanted to hear.
Kingsize was joined on stage by former Dominoes members Bobby and Sam for a rocking finale in which they took turns belting out their songs, including Wait And See, Country Music and Sparkling Brown Eyes (Sam), Clarabella and Lipstick Powder and Paint (Bobby) and Ubangi Stomp and Eat Your Heart Out Annie (Kingsize).
Overall, this was another successful show for Keith Woods, although rather a sad one in other ways. Two of the acts scheduled to perform - Geoff Nugent, formerly of the Undertakers, and Rockin' Ricky Stevens, who compered previous shows - have died since the line up was announced, showing just how important it is that we see sixties acts while we can. Rock on Keith!