Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some more pictures from the album

Here are some more pictures from my various albums. First the great James Carr, thought by many to be the greatest soul singer of all time, pictured at Blackheath Concert Hall in 1996. Another spine chilling moment. He died in 2001. Here's another all time great - Ike Turner, who co-starred with Joe Louis Walker at Shepherds Bush Empire a few years back. This was a great show, topped only by his brilliant performance at Ronnie Scotts a few years later. Ike died in 2007.
Here's Andre Williams, who played the Blues Estafette at Utrecht in 1998 with the El Dorados. He performed mostly blues and doowop, unlike his show at the Luminaire last year.
Now, here are a selection of photoes from the Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans in 2005. First here's Noklie Edwards, originally bass guitarist and later lead guitar with The Ventures.
This is the wild man of jump blues H Bomb Ferguson, who died in 2006.
Travis Wammack had a hit with Scratchy in 1964 and later played on many records at the Fame studio.
Scotty Moore backed Elvis from the very beginning and here he is at the Stomp. He backed Billy Swan (see photo below) who did an Elvis set and did it well. Billy's biggest hit was I Can Help.
The Rumble man Link Wray almost deafened the audience at the Stomp. But his moody, over powering guitar sound was as strong as ever. This was one of Link's last performances as he sadly died in November 2005.
This is early rockabilly performer Hayden Thompson - still a favourite with rock and roll fans.
Finally, here's Lady Bo, who was Bo Diddley's first female guitar player back in 1956.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Music memories 1991 to 1993

Here are some more pictures from my album of some of the great gigs that took place in London between 1991 and 1993. Yet another reminder of why we should see the great artists while they are still around, as many of them have sadly passed away.
First, here are some photos from the Malaco show at the Mean Fiddler on July 7, 1993. Anyone who was there will remember it as one of the best gigs ever. Here's Little Milton, who sadly died in 2005. On the same show here is Denise LaSalle who is best known for her top 10 hit with My Toot Toot in 1985, but made many other fine records.
This is Latimore, one of the great unsung soul singers of the late 60s and 70s, who made a string of superb records during that period and well into the 80s - also on the Malaco show. I must admit I only became aware of him when I first visited New Orleans in 1989 and heard some of his tracks on WWOZ. What a voice (and what hair)!
Richard Berry is best known as the composer and originator of Louie Louie but his contribution to rock and roll was immense, including being lead singer with the Flairs, singing the bass voice on the Robins' Riot in Cell Block No 9 and the male voice on Etta James's Dance With Me Henry. Berry played the 100 Club on October 19, 1993. He died in 1997.
Another under rated rock and roll originator: this is boogie woogie and western swing pianist Merrill Moore at the Town and Country 2 on July 17, 1991. Best known for Down The Road a Piece, made famous by Chuck Berry, Merrill died in 2000.
This is bluesman Jimmy Witherspoon at the 100 Club on September 6, 1991. Jimmy died in 1997.
Here is jazz and soul singer Jean Carne at the WKD Cafe in Camden Town on August 18, 1992.
Here is swamp blues boogie woogie queen Katie Webster at the Venue, New Cross, on October 19, 1991. Katie died in 1999.
This is country/folk singer Jerry Jeff Walker, who played the Mean Fiddler on August 3, 1993.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More photos from the album

Here are some more of the photos I've taken of great acts over the years. First up, here's Clarence Carter at the Grant Street Dance Hall in Lafayette in 1995. One of my spine tingling moments. Rock and roll pioneers Don and Dewey played the 100 Club back in the mid 90s. Great show. Don Sugarcane Harris died in 1999 and Dewey Terry in 2006.
Doris Troy also appeared at the 100 Club around the same time. Just One Look was just one of many great tracks she recorded. Doris died in 2004.
This is Joey Dee and the Starliters playing for free at the Riverfront inNew Orleans in 1995.
And here's Wilson Pickett. The Wicked Pickett played the Grand at Clapham Junction memorably in 1996. He died in January 2006.
Swamp pop legends Cookie and the Cupcakes reformed to play Utrecht in 1995 (another spine tingling moment) and the following year played at Jazzfest. Huey 'Cookie' Thierry died in 1997, putting an end to the group's revival.
Here's the late Eddie Bo at the Jazz Cafe. Eddie died earlier this year.
Also at the Jazz Cafe, here's Edwin Starr. Stop Her On Sight was one of the greatest ever soul records. Edwin died aged just 61 in 2003.
Rocker Dale Hawkins played the Tennessee Rock and Roll Club in good old Wood Green. Another great night.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Richard Barrett & the Chantels

Richard Barrett is not a name that immediately springs to mind when the history of doowop and girl groups is discussed. Yet he was central to its development, having discovered one of the very earliest girl groups the Chantels and the biggest name of the 70s the Three Degrees (who he discovered in 1963 - pictured below), not to mention in the doowop field Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and Little Anthony & the Imperials.
I came across a 45 by Richard Barrett & the Chantels at the weekend - a cover of Come Softly To me, made famous by the Fleetwoods - and not long ago I found Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Dickie Barrett (same man). Now I'm looking for one of the most influential 45s of the 60s British R and B scene - Some Other Guy by Ritchie Barrett (again the same guy) - which was covered by the likes of the Stones and the Big Three.

Barrett started out as lead singer of the Valentines from 1954 to 1957 before becoming right hand man to George Goldner, owner of the Gee and Roulette labels and playing a key role in discovering and promoting the likes of Frankie Lymon, Little Anthony and the Bobbettes. The Chantels, with Arlene Smith singing lead, scored with He's Gone and Maybe and led the way for the girl groups that were to follow in the early 60s. After Arlene left, Richard took over as lead singer himself for Come Softly To Me (and the New Orleans influenced flipside Walking Through Dreamland), before bringing in Annette Smith of the Veneers for a second burst of hits on Carlton including Look In My Eyes and Well I Told You, an answer to Hit The Road Jack. Richard Barrett produced the Chantels final (minor) hit Eternally, issued on Capitol, a copy of which I also came across not long ago.

Barrett died in 2006 and I failed to mention his death on The Vinyl Word at the time. But he was without doubt a major name in the development of doowop and the girl group sound.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Vinyl in May

May is here and with it the car boot sale season. I've been scouting f0r vinyl and despite competition from an ever increasing number of dealers and collectors I've had a few successes. Today I picked up the only EP released by Zoot Money's Big Roll Band (on Columbia in 1966) and was pleasantly surprised to see that it's listed in the Rare Record Guide at £300. It's not in perfect condition but pretty good, but I won't be tempted to sell it just yet. Of all the British R and B bands of the 60s Zoot Money's was among the best, so I'll add it to my collection, until times get hard. The band played the Flamingo, as did Georgie Fame's band of course, and Zoot earned a reputation for his showmanship, and after flirting with the prog rock scene, a spell with Eric Burdon's new Animals and some time in the US he is still around making music.

Another single I picked up was the Guy Stevens produced I Keep Singing That Same Old Song by Heavy Jelly which was issued on the Island label in 1969. This eight minute epic - the longest 45 to have been issued up to that time - was in fact made by Skip Bifferty, who apparently wanted to escape from a contract with Don Arden and sign up with Chris Blackwell's label. But it was a one off and the band never recorded under that name again (although at least one other band did). The record is too prog for me, but I can forgive Guy Stevens for this error of judgment. After all he masterminded the UK Sue label and hosted the wonderful Scene club which, along with the Flamingo, was where you went for great music in London in the 60s.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More pictures from the album

Here are some photos of me with some of the great artists I've seen over the years. First, the great Ronnie Spector when she appeared at the Town and Country 2 in October 1991. A spine tingling moment! Here's Clarence 'Frogman' Henry at Jazzfest in the early 90s.
And me with the Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas, also at Jazzfest.
This is Myrna Smith of the Sweet Inspirations at the Porretta Soul festival in 2001.
Me and J Blackfoot at Porretta in 1997.
Mable John at Porretta the same year.
Otis Clay, Porretta, 1997.
Willie Mitchell at Royal Studios in Memphis in 1998.
The Carter Brothers, Ponderosa Stomp, New Orleans, 2005.
Pinetop Perkins with Ken Major and me at the Hopson Plantation, Clarksdale, Mississippi in 2005. It was a Sunday so Pinetop wasn't playing that day, as daddy wouldn't have approved.
Kim Weston at the Jazz Cafe, 2006.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Bobby 'Blue' Bland on the BBC

Full marks to BBC4 for broadcasting tonight's excellent documentary on the wonderful, and incredibly under appreciated Bobby Bland. The programme demonstrated Bobby's fantastic voice and smooth style - quite unlike anyone else - which led to a string of 51 R and B hits in the 50s and 60s, despite being almost totally ignored by the pop buying public. He started in Memphis at the same time as B B King, Junior Parker and Rufus Thomas and the programme explored the influence the early Sun blues sides had on Elvis and others. But it focused very much on Bobby's music, his gospel roots, his relationship with the notorious Don Robey at Duke and his later collaboration with B B King which took him to a new audience. There were worthwhile contributions from the likes of B B, Ira Tucker of theDixie Hummingbirds and Mick Hucknall.
I first became aware of Bobby in 1964 when Ain't Nothing You Can Do reached number 3 in my personal top ten and Yield Not To Temptation reached number 1 the next year. I think at the time he was primarily a soul singer for me and I associated him with James Brown in my mind, yet blues was always at the heart of his work. But Bobby was, and is, unique. I love his famous grunt and I could listen to great LPs like Two Steps From the Blues over and over again. I've seen him quite a few times over the years, including New Orleans Jazzfest. in London at the Astoria in the mid 90s (pictured) and at the House of Blues and he remains, at the age of 79, someone who I will not miss if he is appearing in any town I'm in. Many of his recordings were made with Wayne Bennett on guitar and my picture shows Wayne playing in New Orleans in 1991, a year before he died.
Before the Bland programme, the BBC's blues weekend featured a series of blues performances shown on BBC between 1964 (John Lee Hooker) and 1991 (Buddy Guy). In between there were some great performances from blues originals such as Champion Jack Dupree. T Bone Walker, Son House. Freddie King, B B King and Pops Staples, plus white artists such as the Kinks, Pretty Things, Long John Baldry, Delaney and Bonnie, Tony McPhee and Eric Clapton. It was followed by some more great blues from various Jools Holland programmes over the years with performances by among others, B B. Albert King, Katie Webster, Jimmie Vaughan and Bo Diddley.

Friday, May 01, 2009

What we missed

Here's a report on this year's Ponderosa Stomp for all those, like me, who couldn't be there.
Wanda Jackson sang for Bonnie Raitt at the Ponderosa Stomp
by Keith Spera, Music writer, The Times-Picayune
Thursday April 30, 2009, 12:10 PM
The Ponderosa Stomp consumed the whole of the House of Blues on Wednesday for the second of two nights of music overload between Jazz Fest weekends. Like its predecessors, the eighth Stomp lived up to its promise of celebrating the -- mostly -- unsung heroes of American music.
The 77-year-old Little Willie Littlefield, one of the last survivors of the West Coast's boogie-woogie blues era, flew in from Amsterdam for the Stomp. Alone at an electric keyboard in the HOB's Parish, he sang in the breathy style of Charles Brown and showcased the sort of piano triplets Fats Domino later borrowed.

Bobby Patterson, in a checked sport coat and matching hat, barked James Brown-style soul over a horn-laden band and chiming guitars; his 1969 single "TCB or TYA" -- short for "take care of business or turn yourself around" -- was a highlight.
The likes of Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke and the Box Tops have covered acoustic guitarist and Southern soul songwriter Dan Penn's work. Memphis session keyboardist Bobby Emmons' songs have found a voice with Norah Jones and George Strait, among others. On stage together, Penn and Emmons unspooled song after song from their catalogs, demonstrating the quiet dignity of the compositions.
Most everyone squeezed into the big room for Wanda Jackson, the pioneering rockabilly and rock 'n roll singer. Inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame this spring as an "early influence," the 71-year-old Jackson rocked a red fringed top, black slacks and sparkling earrings.
Between gracious song introductions and big smiles, she navigated "Jambalaya," "Riot in Cell Block No. 9" and her early hit "I Gotta Know," which shifted from a country waltz in the chorus to an uptempo, rock 'n roll vamp in verse. In honor of her 1970s conversion to Christianity, she testified with "I Saw the Light."
Her voice is still rich and nuanced. Nouveau rockabilly guitar hero Deke Dickerson, armed with his custom double-neck guitar, and his Eccofonics trio -- bare-bones drums, upright bass -- hewed closely to the original arrangements and feel.
James Burton ranks among the most influential and widely recorded guitarists of the 1960s and '70s -- he backed everyone from Ricky Nelson to Johnny Cash to John Denver to Elvis Presley in the last few years of Presley's life. Burton showcased several times at the Stomp on Wednesday, including a sit-in with Jackson. They share an Elvis connection: Jackson toured with, and briefly dated, the King. On "Good Rockin' Tonight," she strummed a pink acoustic guitar as Burton picked an electric decorated with flames. They also revisited Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."
Bonnie Raitt, in town early for her Friday set at Jazz Fest, took it all in from the House of Blues balcony; her own musical lineage includes Jackson. "She says she likes my little rock 'n roll songs," Jackson said, "and that makes me very happy." Jackson declared she would sing one of Raitt's favorites. She kicked off "Let's Have a Party," stopped, glanced at the balcony to confirm with Raitt that this was the right song, then continued.
Still later on the main stage, Roy Loney and Cyril Jordan of pioneering '60s garage rock band the Flamin' Groovies reunited for the first time since 1971. They banged out raw, fast anthems backed by the A-Bones, which featured Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan on keyboards. Kaplan is another Stomp regular, though mostly in the audience.
When I left around 1:30 a.m., Burton was outside the HOB posing for pictures and signing autographs, and Question Mark & the Mysterians -- a Ponderosa Stomp favorite -- were still 90 minutes away from taking the stage. Once again, the Stomp outlasted my stamina.

* Interesting feature on Island Records' 50th anniversary in today's Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/island-the-record-label-that-changed-the-world-1676691.html Don't forget the BBC4 programme on Bobby 'Blue' Bland at 9pm tomorrow.