Monday, January 28, 2019

'Fabulous' Ronnie Spector at The Roundhouse

Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes were 'fabulous' when they burst onto the scene with 'Be My Baby' in 1963, according to their first LP, and it's fair to say that Ronnie, along with two young Ronettes, is still fabulous today. Her show at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, just up the road from Camden, last night told her life story with photos, clips from black and white TV shows and her memories, but it was Ronnie's raspy but still very sexy voice that made it such an enjoyable show, although it has to be said that her beehive hair is still in fine shape, and the new Ronettes and an excellent band added to the feeling of exhilaration.
Ronnie, dressed in black and still looking good despite her 75 years, began with her second smash 'Baby I Love You' and then settled onto a stool to begin a series of reminiscences, starting with her first tour of the UK and her travels with the Beatles, Swinging Blue Jeans, Rolling Stones and others. Her second song, 'Because', was a product of those days as it was recorded by the Dave Clark Five and became a big hit in the US for them despite being a mere B side in the UK. Moving on through 'Do I Love You', Ronnie recalled the group's first appearance on the Dick Clark Show and talked about her love of doo wop, especially Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, leading in to 'I Have A Boyfriend', a song originally by the Students. Before they were famous the Ronettes got themselves a a spot at the Peppermint Lounge in New York as dancers and took the opportunity to sing, with 'What'd I Say' featuring from that period.
Next it was 'Walking In The Rain', with the Round House Choir appearing on stage to give added voice, and then 'Don't Worry Baby', a Brian Wilson song which was dedicated to the Ronettes as something of an answer to 'Be My Baby'. Ronnie glossed over her desperate time with husband Phil saying only that it was a difficult seven or eight years. Her next number was 'I'd Much Rather Be With The Girls', a song written for her by Keith Richards but which she didn't record until many years later. She took a short break while the Ronettes did a more than passable version of Sam and Dave's 'I Take What I Want'  before returning for an excellent cover of the Bee Gees' 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart'.
After a brief throwback to last month's Christmas festival with 'Sleigh Ride', Ronnie's next song was a cover of Johnny Thunders' 'You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory', a poignant song she recorded in 1999. Next came the song that everyone was waiting for - 'Be My Baby' - still as brilliant as ever. And, appropriately as she was in Camden, a tribute to Amy Winehouse, who was herself a fan of Ronnie, with 'Back To Black'. Amy's mum was in the audience apparently. 'I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine' came next and then as an encore it was inevitable that it would be 'I Can Hear Music'.

Ronnie has become a fairly regular visitor to the UK in recent years and this show was quite similar to the one at the Barbican a few years back, But the 'in the round' theatre set up and her new Ronettes made this a show to remember. Fabulous, as ever, and Ronnie you're always welcome in the UK.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Clydie King RIP

The new year is only a few days old but already there have been several music deaths. The latest is Clydie King at the age of 75. Clydie will be well known to fans of girl groups, soul music and Bob Dylan, but spent much of her career as an in demand background singer. Her recording career goes back to 1956 when she was discovered by Richard Berry and made a record under the name of Little Clydie and the Teens for the RPM label. She followed this with records under her own name for Specialty and Phillips as well as being a member of the Meadowlarks and recording 'Who Do You Love', a duet with Mel Carter. In 1965 she recorded 'Home of the Brave' as a member of Bonnie and the Treasures for Phil Spector.
Later in the sixties she recorded some fine soul records for Imperial and Minit and had some success with 'Ready Willing and Able', a duet
with Jimmy Holiday. She was a member of the Brothers and Sisters of Los Angeles who recorded an album called 'Dylan's Gospel' in 1969 and did some background work for Bob himself at around that time. She was a member of the Blackberries who recorded several tracks for Motown which weren't released and had a solo LP released called 'Direct Me' and another called 'Brown Sugar featuring Clydie King'. As a backing singer she supported Little Richard, Humble Pie, Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones, the Supremes
and Ray Charles among others and in 1980 she became a regular part of Bob Dylan's touring band, singing duets with him on most shows and backing him on several albums in the eighties. It's said that she was Bob's girlfriend and had two children by him.
Another death is that of Eric Haydock, bass player with the Hollies from 1962 to 1966, who was one of the first British musicians to play the Fender Bass VI.
Also passed on, at the very end of last year, is Dean Ford, who was lead singer of the Marmalade from 1966 to 1974 and who co-wrote their big  hit 'Reflections of my Life'. Born in Scotland, he formed a group called the Gaylords, which became the Marmalade. Other hits included 'I See The Rain' and 'Rainbow'.After recording an unsuccessful solo album in 1975 he moved to LA where he battled alcoholism.