Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fame at the Flamingo

One of the few British R & B artists of the 60s that I had any time for was Georgie Fame and he was in good form on BBC2 last night celebrating his early days with the Blue Flames as resident band at the Flamingo in Soho. During the course of this live performance he paid tribute to New Orleans with Lawdy Miss Clawdy and to Eddie Cochran, who he toured with in the weeks leading up to his death in 1960 and who he credited with popularising Ray Charles' music in the UK. His version of On the right track baby sounded uncannily like the version he recorded on his 1964 LP Fame at Last - a tribute to Georgie's longevity. After singing a West African number he brought on vintage ska trombonist Rico Rodriguez and trumpeter Eddie Tan Tan Thornton as backing for Humpty Dumpty, originally performed by Eric Morris. He followed that with his biggest hit Yeah Yeah and then introduced fellow 60s legend Zoot Money who sang May the circle be unbroken, which called the names of some of the stars of the 60s who have departed, including Alexis Korner and Nina Simone. I always thought that Gene McDaniels did the best version of Point of no return, but Georgie reminded us how good his version was as well. Madeline Bell - a great soul name from the 60s - then guested to sing It's after hours, before Georgie launched into Getaway, which apparently was originally written as a promotional giveaway for National Benzole petrol (remember them?) Finally Zoot, Madeline and Georgie came together to pay tribute to some of the characters who frequented the Flamingo in the early 60s - American GIs, West Indian pimps, and celebrities of the day from Cassius Clay, to Christine Keeler and Percy Mayfield. Altogether a great show, and followed by a Fame and Price show from the late 60s featuring a very innocent looking Fame and a couple of numbers by Themla Houston, sporting what looked like a genuine beehive on her head.


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