Friday, 18 August 2017

GEORGIE FAME – THE TWO FACES OF FAME: THE COMPLETE 1967 RECORDINGS (DELUXE 2CD EDITION) (2017)


Georgie Fame’s back catalogue has been well served recently with 2015’s five-disc The Whole World’s Shaking: Complete Recordings 1963-1966 and last year’s Survival: A Career Anthology six-disc set. This latest addition, a more modest two-CD package, picks up where The Whole World’s Shaking left off to focus on Georgie’s first album for CBS, following a high-profile switch from Columbia, plus everything else he recorded during 1967.

The original The Two Faces of Fame, split between live and studio recordings, backed by a mix of big band sessions and his post-Blue Flames combo, is presented here in stereo and mono versions. Some folk might get the horn comparing the two, fill yer boots, I’ve no strong preference but what’s noticeable is both sound far punchier than the original LP. Yes, I know we’re all supposed to have a vinyl fetish – my penchant too – but it doesn’t always make the audio better.

As for the album, I’d always been lukewarm towards it. ‘Great Back Dollar Bill’ is a smart opener and ‘El Pussy Cat’ a fun instrumental but while the Harry South Big Band, rolling over from Fame’s previous Sound Venture, swing with a Who’s Who of British jazzers – Tubby Hayes, Dick Morrissey, Ronnie Scott, Pete King etc - Georgie tackling three Great American Songbook standards would then, and now, have many feeling underwhelmed. I can tolerate Bob Dylan’s recent attempts at crooning his way through these standards in his twilight years but Georgie was 23 years old. In ’67 Brian Auger had cannily teamed up with hip priestess Julie Driscoll, Zoot Money was running like a psychedelic madman in his kaftan with Dantalian’s Chariot and Graham Bond’s extreme nature was pushing the boundaries of tolerance for him and his music. Georgie Fame meanwhile was doing supper club jazz with ‘It Could Happen To You’ a hit for Bing Crosby in the 1940s. There’s a slight perversity I can appreciate now but it’s taken a long time. Listening repeatedly to The Two Faces of Fame again I’ve warmed to it. It’s not a classic but it’s better than I remember and helps I don’t expect everything to be ‘The Monkey Time’ anymore.

I wouldn’t unreservedly recommend purchasing the album on its own but this deluxe edition features an additional 24 tracks (seven previously unissued) and, as Nick Rossi suggests in his thorough liner notes, when taken as a whole, 1967 was as strong a year for Georgie as any and makes this a must-buy.

There’s so much to take in. A-sides, B-sides, EPs, storming instrumentals, swinging pop, up-tempo soul, sensitive ballads, a kitsch chart-topper (kitsch being polite, if I never hear ‘The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde’ again it’ll be too soon), Italian translations and even an International Pop Song Festival entry released for the Brazilian market.

A few highlights: the improved audio quality gives a massive boost to the Georgie Fame EP which originally sounded flat but now brings ‘Knock On Wood’ and ‘Close The Door’ to soul stomping life; ‘Roadrunner’ (the Bo Diddley one) is everything you’d imagine and was new to me; ‘Because I Love You’ and the dreamy ‘Try My World’ were excellent singles; ‘A Waiting Time’ a planned but dropped 45 – leaning towards an increased MOR style yet showing it could be done gracefully – remained unreleased until Survival and deserves repeating here for a wider audience; ‘Celebration’ is pop competition fun; the seven unreleased tracks show Georgie’s quality was consistently high – the version of ‘Tell It Like It Is’ is gorgeous; ‘Jumpin’ The Gun’ is in a similar vein to the old Hammond and horns fave ‘Beware of the Dog’; and – the length of this list tells you something - ‘Respoken’ and ‘Conquistador’ are class new discoveries for everyone.

One new discovery to me is ‘No Thanks’, the flip to ‘Try My World’. I can hear many of you now scoffing incredulously, “What? You’ve never heard it before? They played it every week down the Purple Bubblegum Curiosity Shop club in Camden on Thursday nights in the 90s when we were wearing bootcut cords and buzzing off our tits on cheap speed and Mad Dog 20/20”. I’m sure you did and quite right too. It includes every club classic ingredient and lands perfectly in the swirly/soul crossover dancefloor dynamite box, much like the later ‘Somebody Stole My Thunder’ which you’d only have to step outside your front door to hear throughout the Brit-Pop years.

This reissue (although it’s much more than simply that) is well packaged and, thanks to the abundance of bonus tracks, is bursting with great music. In 1967 alone Georgie proved he had more than two faces and, whichever one he showed, he did so with style.

The Two Faces of Fame is out now on RPM/Cherry Red.
A heavily edited version of this review appears in latest issue of Shindig magazine.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

I CALLED HIM MORGAN (2016)


On a snowy evening in 1972, trumpeter Lee Morgan was shot dead between sets in the New York club, Slug’s, where he was playing. Morgan was 33.

Kasper Collin’s recent documentary looks at the life, and especially death, of one the stars of the Blue Note stable. It’s established from the opening scenes that Lee’s wife, Helen Morgan, fired the shots which killed him, the film then retraces the route to that point using interviews with friends, fellow musicians and, crucially, Helen herself, who finally gave an interview in 1996 to Larry Reni Thomas - a jazz fan, radio announcer and fellow high school teacher – years after he first requested it and only a month before she died. This revealing taped conversation is central to the film.

Those wanting a blow by blow account of Lee Morgan’s music career will perhaps be disappointed. This isn’t one of those type of films. Yes, we hear how he was a confident star in Dizzy Gillespie’s band at a young age and how he played with Art Blakey but there’s precious little else. There are snatches of music of course (all untitled on screen) but viewers wishing a full insight into his musicianship, recording sessions, legacy and landmark recordings will need to look elsewhere. His classic, The Sidewinder, one of the most recognisable jazz numbers of the 60s, which unexpectedly dented the pop charts, and a “gateway” track for many (one of the first proper jazz records I liked: bluesy, soulful, with an understated finger-snapping funk; and by “proper” I mean without a Hammond organ, that always felt like cheating) isn’t even get mentioned. In fact, almost no individual tracks are mentioned and only a few covers of the dozens of albums he made briefly appear on screen.

I Called Him Morgan is instead a portrait of two people: Lee and Helen, who both lived fascinating lives and conscious of its focus, it’s simply told. There’s no voice over narration or, like so many music documentaries these days, gimmicky animation to flesh out the lack of artist footage (not that there’s much of that here either) nor mercifully, unlike recent movies based on fellow trumpeters Miles Davis and Chet Baker, will you cringe at hammy acting or clunky dialogue. This sensitive study examines what led to the tragedy in Slug’s and gently tries to make sense of it through the reminiscing of uniformly engaging interviewees. It’s almost like a murder mystery except there’s no mystery over whodunnit and, without spoiling it, the New York cops hardly needed to give Columbo a call to discover the motive.

I Called Him Morgan draws attention to Lee Morgan once again. We know what happened in the end, the fun part now for new listeners is discovering all the music he left behind (there's a lot). Oh Lee, just one more thing, where did you get that amazing coat?

I Called Him Morgan is now available on Netflix.

Friday, 28 July 2017

JULY PLAYLIST


1.  Harmonica Slim – ‘Hard Times’ (1960)
A wickedly funky workout from Travis Leonard Blaylock. Despite the raw harp style this, to me, sounds a bit later than 1960.

2.  Dion – ‘Two Ton Feather’ (1965)
Dion’s lost 1965 album Kickin’ Child has finally been released this month and it’s a cracker of Dylanesque folk-rock in the style of Bringing It All Back Home. Some of the tracks did see light of day at the time, including this playful romp.

3.  The Temptations – ‘You’re Not An Ordinary Girl’ (1965)
No mistaking the hand of Smokey Robinson here but the track is credited to all the Miracles. The flip of ‘Beauty Is Only Skin Deep’, with lead vocal by Eddie Kendricks, the backing track hints at the way forward for the Showstoppers’ ‘Ain’t Nothing But A Houseparty’.

4.  Fortson & Scott – ‘Sweet Lover’ (1968)
Sweetest soul on the Pzazz label (“Put some pzazz in your jazz!”) outta Hollywood. Fabulous. Nothing more to say.

5.  Guitar Ray – ‘You’re Gonna Wreck My Life’ (1970)
Talking of record labels, this one’s on Shagg, something Guitar Ray doesn’t seem to be getting much of listening to his beautifully sung soulful blues. No money, no place to go, old and grey, his woman can’t stand him no more. Still, he cut this 45 and so it wasn’t all in vain. Cheers Ray.

6.  Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – ‘I Should Be Proud’ (1970)
Martha’s Vietnam protest song doesn’t pull any punches as she tells how Johnny died not for her but “fighting for the evils of society”. Reeves believed the government put heat on radio stations not to play it and Berry Gordy to withdraw it. The other side of the record features the far less controversial, and more well known, ‘Love Guess Who’.

7.  Jr Walker & the All Stars – ‘Way Back Home’ (1971)
This down home countrified soul was blown in my direction care of Zyd Hockey’s recent Motown show on Fusion and has been a regular spin ever since. As I said at time, and think every play, this would have suited The Faces down to the ground.

8.  Spacemen 3 – ‘Rollercoaster’ (1986)
From their debut Sound of Confusion, Spacemen 3 set their aim higher than the sun with a thoroughly convincing bug-eyed interpretation of the 13th Floor Elevators classic.

9.  Redskins – ‘A Plateful of Hateful’ (1986)
It’s a pity the Redskins never made a second album. ‘A Plateful of Hateful’ featured on their final single, ‘It Can Be Done’, and hit a Brit-funk groove falling between The Jam’s ‘Precious’ and Pigbag’s ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag’.

10.  Benjamin Booker – ‘Witness’ (2017)
Booker’s sings about seeing a crime but Mavis Staples steals the show, no surprise there, witnessing something far more holy. Oh, by the way, Mavis’s show at the Union Chapel this month was, as always, sensational. Being in her presence is to experience very magical joy and happiness. And wow, can that lady still sing.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

THE REDSKINS - A FLAME THAT CAN'T BE DIMMED


“Inspired by The Clash and militant soul music the Redskins burnt brightly in the 1980s. They raged against capitalism with fire, passion and revolutionary politics. The 1984-5 miners’ strike was the pinnacle of their power, playing benefit gigs, appearing on TV and raising support for the strikers. This ten-minute tribute brings together the best of their songs, videos and interviews. The Redskins are gone but their legacy lives on with a message much needed today. Radical culture is a crucial component for any movement for mass social change. Thanks and solidarity to all the musicians and filmmakers who made this tribute possible. Take no heroes – only inspiration.”

By Open Eye Film and Revolting Films.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

MONKEY'S WANDERING WIRELESS SHOW - SUNDAY 16 JULY 2017


The Fusion DJ roulette has landed on my number so I’ll be back in the chair again this Sunday to host Monkey’s Wandering Wireless Show.

I’ve said it before but that one-hour slot every Sunday is one the highlights of the week no matter who’s entrusted to pick the records; there’s been a run of particularly brilliant shows in recent weeks. There’s always top-notch music and if you can listen live and join in the chat throughout the show it adds to the little Fusion family community vibe.

As usual the Wireless Show will be 60s-based but not tied to the decade, feature some classics, some semi-obscurities, some surprises maybe, and tracks will inevitably be followed by me saying how great they are or, to mix it up, saying they are great they are before playing them. I'm versatile like that.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

SIDEWALK SOCIETY - STRANGE ROADS: THE SONGS OF ROLLED GOLD (2017)


When The Action’s album’s worth of 1968 demos first sneaked out in the late 90s it offered an insight into their progression from exemplary covers band to a unit finally concentrating on their own material. With Reggie King still at the helm for a little longer, the songs were short and snappy, retaining elements of soul and incorporating a West Coast flavour influenced by The Byrds and The Association.

The Rolled Gold material was a work in progress with the audio quality less than pristine so, despite the obvious quality, there’s always been an element of ‘what if?’. What if the songs had been completed and recorded properly? What if it had been afforded a decent production? Would it sound more like The Notorious Byrd Brothers or Traffic’s second LP?

Sidewalk Society have taken up the challenge of rerecording the album. There’s no escaping this is the work of a Californian powerpop band (some of the cymbals crash a little loudly and there’s an occasional Who chord in the guitars) yet they’ve balanced being faithful to the originals and infusing them with extra touches: piano more prominent in the mix, a touch of brass here, a stirring of strings there. Few can sing like Reggie King so Dan Lawrence’s vocals are distracting at first but the ear gradually adapts and the songs are, even to a rabid Action fan, given a fresh sparkle with some of the original muddiness removed.

The Action were bold in their covers – Kentish Town lads take on The Temptations and The Marvelettes – and Sidewalk Society have been here, like the Action they’ve put themselves into the music. The brass and strings are highly effective, not too overpowering but enough to add extra layers so these recordings feel like the finished rather than simply copied versions.

Being an Action nut, I was sceptical about this project. My initial reaction was to expect one listen and to question the point but sustained plays has altered that view. It offers a greater appreciation how incredible The Action were during this phase before they morphed into a far looser incarnation as Mighty Baby. Such is the standard of material it serves to strengthen the bewilderment as to how such a set of musicians achieved so little commercial success. Strange Roads should escalate – if that’s possible – the esteem The Action are held in and does no harm to Sidewalk Society either. That’s got to be considered a success.

Strange Roads by Sidewalk Society is released by Fruits de Mer Records.
An edited version of this review appears in Shindig magazine.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

JUNE PLAYLIST


Marshall Allen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Jazz Café, Camden, June 2017
1.  Sonny Rollins – ‘Saint Thomas’ (1956)
The opening track from Saxophone Colossus and from Rollins’ first notes instantly recognisable to me from Monkey Snr playing it countless times as I was growing up. Each play would have been swiftly followed by the shout of “Headphones!” from Ma Monkey so it’s only now I’ve heard the whole track.

2.  Sun Ra and his Myth Science Arkestra – ‘Angels and Demons at Play’ (1960)
Sun Ra reckoned his music could transform the world by the joy it would bring. Last week at the Jazz Café in Camden his Arkestra, now led by 93 year young “originator of avant-garde saxophone” Marshall Allen, which for at least the duration of their performance, banished the blues of the city and put beaming smiles on the faces of all those in attendance. It was a sight and sound to behold and, as impenetrable and intimidating the universe of Ra can seem, was far more inviting and accommodating in a live setting than the mountain of recordings and intergalactic gobbledegook may lead you to believe.

3.  Lula Reed – ‘What Makes You So Cold’ (1961)
Cracking R&B shuffler and just dig that twang. Honourable mention to the other side of this Federal 45 which wins Song Title of The Month: ‘Ain’t No Cotton Pickin’ Chicken (Gonna Break This Chicken Heart of Mine)’.

4.  Don Charles – ‘The Hermit of Misty Mountain’ (1962)
It’s songs like this – with Joe Meek’s superb production – that make me miss Brian Matthew and Sounds of the 60s on a Saturday morning.

5.  Madeline Bell – ‘Don’t Cross Over (To My Side Of The Street)’ (1964)
Ms Bell makes an appearance on the new Paul Weller album but from the other end of her career is this fabulous clippity-cloppity soulful pop from the flip of her debut 45.

6.  Tony Hestor – ‘Just Can’t Leave You’ (1966)
Detroit soul of the highest order by a man who managed to turn down the allure of Motown, not wishing to be tied down to a long contract. Released on the Karate label and includes the label credit ‘Features Mike Terry and his Adored Baritone Sax’. There’s nothing here to not adore.

7.  David Ruffin - 'I Could Never Be President' (1969)
Take David's advice, know your limits.

8.  The Dramatics – ‘The Devil Is Dope’ (1971)
More from the pen of Tony Hestor who knew at first-hand the dangers of the pusherman writing this and ‘Beware Of The Man (With The Candy In His Hand) for the Dramatics. Hestor was tragically robbed and slain on the streets of Detroit, aged 34.

9.  Thousand Yard Stare – ‘0-0 After Extra Time’ (1991)
Thousand Yard Stare seemed like such nice unassuming lads back in the day when they were the perennial local support act for bigger names passing through The Old Trout in Windsor in the early 90s. After seeing them at the 100 Club this month I can’t even dare to imagine what horrors have fallen upon them in the intervening years such was the air of dark unpleasantness they now emanate. Still, I did enjoy hearing this again.

10.  Cabbage - 'A Celebration of a Disease' (2017)
With the political bite of Dead Kennedys and the groove of Happy Mondays, Cabbage are the best band around at the moment.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

THE IMPRESSIONS at the UNION CHAPEL, ISLINGTON


I’ve not experienced emotion like it at a gig before. After a stunning rendition of ‘Choice of Colors’, a song banned by radio stations for daring to challenge racial prejudice, the audience rose as one for a standing ovation so long and heartfelt it reduced Impressions Fred Cash and then Sam Gooden to tears.

After 59 years “the most iconic soul group all time”, as described in their introduction and with no argument for me, are calling it a day and played London last night for the final time. It’ll be an evening no one in attendance will ever forget.

There is something truly magical about The Impressions. Not only the life-affirming, galvanising nature of their music but in the personalities of the group. Curtis Mayfield quite rightly takes the bulk of the plaudits but even without him on lead vocals, wingmen Fred and Sam amply demonstrated their vital contributions.

Young Jermaine Purifory was entrusted with the Curtis role, after long time Impression Reggie Torian died last year, and did it well but from the opening number, ‘It’s All Right’, the way Fred and Sam exuded sheer uncontrollable joy quite literally brought a tear to the eye. With their kind, beaming faces, gently rocking their shoulders and clapping their hands they looked like the two happiest men on earth, as if they’d hit the jackpot of life. Matched with Mayfield’s songs of comfort and hope and the result was soul stirring. Even the way the pair provided the gentle harmonies on ‘Gypsy Woman’, not even needing words, was spine tingling.

The set was packed with the irresistible dancers: ‘Woman’s Got Soul’, ‘I Need You’, ‘Can’t Satisfy’ ‘You Ought To Be In Heaven’ and ‘Stay Close To Me’ all sounding more Motownesque than on record while ‘You’ve Been Cheatin’’, with Fred handling the lead, brought the house down and another standing ovation, an occurrence which punctuated the show at regular intervals. The ballads including ‘I’ve Been Trying’ were no less affecting and let Purifory showcase his talent; there was a touch of Marvin Gaye about the way he soared on ‘I’m So Proud’.

The venue, the Union Chapel, was the perfect setting and the way a single purple spotlight shone down on Fred Cash at close of ‘People Get Ready’, when he sang the closing line “You just thank the Lord”, with his finger pointing skyward, moved even the sternness nonbeliever.

Before the close, on a count of one-two-three led by Purifory, another thunderous ovation. Grown men and women were weeping - on stage and, heaven help them, standing on the chapel pews. The finale of ‘Move On Up’ caught the band and group out of synch but it was understandable with emotions running so high.

No more tears do we cry and we have finally dried our eyes” they sang on ‘We’re A Winner’. I’m not sure that’s true yet, I’m welling up again just writing this. The Impressions - with your inspirational music, your message, your soul, your spirit - you’re winners. We might not see you again but you’ll live on forever. Thank you for everything.

Thanks to Glen Manners @Mamaroux78 for the photo.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

"I DON'T KNOW" by THE SHOOTS (2017)


After months of teasing The Shoots finally release their debut single.

The band are, in effect, the latest Paul Orwell project with lead vocal duties handed to Lord Essien.

‘I Don’t Know’ is two breathless minutes of the good Lord grabbing ya by the short and curlies as the combo snap and snarl like rabid dogs before Orwell unleashes the wildest onslaught of manic freakbeat guitar. On the flip they ‘Do The Jerk’ which could be very dangerous if you’re in close proximity.

Available only as a 7-inch single, with painstakingly period detail, on Heavy Soul Records. Limited to 300 copies, get ‘em while they’re hot. Out today.

Friday, 2 June 2017

MONKEY'S WANDERING WIRELESS SHOW - SUNDAY 4 JUNE 2017

After a few months of gremlins, Fusion are back on-line with their weekly Sunday night hour slot of fantastic music selected and increasingly presented by their listeners.

After Mick's flagship Kitchen Boogie show last week, Monkey's Wandering Wireless Show is back this Sunday. If you've listened before you'll know the format by now: loads of brilliant records from across the decades (admittedly heavy on the 60s) interrupted occasionally by me trying to speak in complete sentences with varying degrees of success. It'll be fun, trust me.

To tune in just hit this link - mixlr.com/fusion-on-air - in time for your wireless (okay, laptop/tablet/phone) to burst into sound at 8.30pm on the dot.

If you want to join in the chit-chat as the show goes on you'll made to feel more than welcome by the lovely folk in the Mixlr chatroom but if you just wanna sit back and relax that's equally cool. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Catch-up link: http://mixlr.com/fusion-on-air/showreel/monkeys-wandering-wireless-show-11/

Thursday, 1 June 2017

MAY PLAYLIST

Balls, ran outta time in May but this is a quick round up of some of the things spun in Monkey Mansions the last month. Healthy amount of new releases which is great. Check 'em.

1.  The King-Beats – ‘Same Way Every Day’ (1966)
Gloriously sunny pop from The King-Beats and featured on a terrific comp, German Measles: Sun Came Out At Seven: ‘60s Mod, Pop and Freakbeat from Germany.

2.  Eden Kane – ‘Gotta Get Through To You’ (1967)
An Australian only 45 from Kane now included on a 3-CD set from Cherry Red, Night Comes Down: 60’s British Mod, R&B, Freakbeat & Swinging London Nuggets. One of many highlights.

3.  Orange Deluxe – ‘Anti-Gravity Blues’ (1995)
I never really forgave Orange Deluxe (or the Nubiles) for not being Five Thirty but listening back to Necking it has more in common wit Paul Bassett’s previous band than I’d been willing to concede.

4.  The Bongolian – ‘Londinium Calling’ (2016)
Spend last Saturday afternoon down in Margate watching the Bongolian beat out funky jazzy instrumentals. Never been particularly sold on their records but unreservedly recommended as a live act.

5.  Paul Weller – ‘The Cranes Are Back’ (2017)
Ditched much of the squiggles and audio doodling (not that I’m adverse to those) A Kind Revolution is ten songs strong on melody. Forty years down the line and Paul Weller makes one of his best albums.

6.  Don Bryant – ‘I Got To Know’ (2017)
Don's still taking it to church.

7.  Daniel Romano - 'Roya' (2017)
The stand out tender moment from genre dodging Romano’s new Modern Pressure. Track of the month.

8.  The Primitives – ‘I’ll Trust The Wind’ (2017)
The Prims were on their usual sugar and spice form at the 229 Club on Friday. Super to hear a couple of tracks from their new EP, New Thrills, including this blockbuster.

9.  The Limboos – ‘Been A Whole Lot of Time’ (2017)
Exotic rhythm and blues from Spain and the Limboos’ second album, Limbootica. Simultaneously cool and hot. I'm desperate to see this lot live.

10.  BMX Bandits – ‘Saveoursmiles’ (2017)
Even though heartbreak and sadness permeate BMX Bandits’ world it always strikes me as a gentler and kinder place to live than this other world. From the wonderful BMX Bandits Forever.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

DON BRYANT - 'HOW DO I GET THERE?' (2017)


Here, straight outta Memphis, Tennessee, is Don Bryant with your Sunday sermon, ‘How Do I Get There?’

Don has cut a phenomenal amount of records – dating back to the late 50s with Willie Mitchell, to his soul sides for Hi Records in the 60s, before taking a backseat as a staff writer for the label in the 70s where his benefactors included Otis Clay and wife-to-be Ann Peebles.

This month, aged 75, Don has a new album, Don’t Give Up On Love, out on Fat Possum Records and it should rejuvenate his career in much the same way as fellow soul survivor William Bell's This I Where I Live did last year. It's an album in that bracket and that's praise.

Many thanks to congregation member @IanPople1 for bringing this home.

Monday, 8 May 2017

THE TRUTH at the 100 CLUB, LONDON



With a face like a bowl of mixed fruit Dennis Greaves was few teenager’s idea of a pop star but in 1983 there he was, kicking balloons skyward on Top of the Pops and splashed across the pages of Smash Hits as The Truth infiltrated the charts with their first two singles, ‘Confusion (Hits Us Every Time)’ and ‘A Step In The Right Direction’.

In the summer of ‘83 The Truth played an under-16s matinee show at the Marquee on Wardour Street. It was the first gig I ever attended. Not only was it a great gig, with the band giving it everything they had even though they had a ‘grown up’ show to do after, but the way they mingled and signed autographs for us kids beforehand left a lasting impression.

Despite Greaves’ claim “You won’t find our audience wearing parkas or Jam shoes” that’s precisely what you would have found them wearing. With a following born from the cooling ashes of the mod revival or, as I like to think of it, the lit match of a new post-Jam modernist movement, The Truth found favour with a young fan base searching for a fresh band to pin to their lapels. Ill plead not guilty to the parka, guilty to the Jam shoes.

After that initial success, they unfortunately released the limp ‘No Stone Unturned’, deservedly a flop in ‘84. Dropped from their label, increasingly keen to distance themselves from anything mod, they lost their way and their audience. By the time debut album, Playground, was released in ’85 it was too little, too late. The production was flat, there was no spark, the songs sounded tired and the bright happy faces of their early days had given way to the dark, cold, miserable looking scowls that adorned an uninviting album sleeve. Things then got really shit but let’s not go there.

Instead, let’s go back to 1984 and the second gig I ever went to, The Truth at the 100 Club on the night they recorded their Five Live EP, with a new rhythm section and where, a mere 33 years later, the band returned at the weekend. It’s a risky business, this nostalgia. Some things are best left in the past, memories intact, untainted by retrospective analysis, but this was reaffirmed everything I felt as boy. I didn’t get everything right but The Truth were, then and now, superb.

Their live shows always far outshone their records and they’d lost none of it. Swirling, snappy, bobbing and weaving Brit-Soul played from the heart. I’d love a new band like this to exist now. The Truth didn’t studiously examine Motown records and attempt to recreate them in sterile, laboratory-like conditions; they had a crack at them – both through covers and originals – in their own style, infusing them with vibrancy and earthy, geezerish charm; their frequent call and response exchanges less Detroit church and more London terrace.

The set was strikingly similar to those old shows – ‘From The Heart’, ‘Exception of Love’, ‘Second Time Lucky’, ‘Nothing’s Too Good For My Baby’, ‘Is There A Solution’, with a few later additions such as ‘Playground’ and ‘Spread A Little Sunshine’ thrown in. Plus the hits of course. No new songs. Dennis Greaves and Mick Lister led from the front, trading harmonies, keeping energy levels high, keen on audience participation. ‘I’m In Tune’, ‘Ain’t Nothing But A Houseparty’, ‘I Just Can’t Seem To Stop’, and ‘Reach Out, I’ll Be There’ were always big frenzied favourites but the more measured ‘You Play With My Emotions’ was stunning. Perhaps because it wasn’t one to jump around to I’d never fully appreciated how good that song is, real depth, and Dennis’s vocals packing a mighty punch.

The audience were less exuberant than 30-something years ago but despite not leaping around in a seething mass of sweaty teenage boys I enjoyed this just as much as I did as a pizza-faced 15-year-old in Jam shoes.  

Sunday, 7 May 2017

THE PRIMITIVES - NEW THRILLS EP (2017)


I once asked Paul Court what he did when not occupied with Primitives business. Paul’s a quiet man of few words anyway but he appeared particularly stumped by this question and I didn’t get a straight answer, more a feeling that he didn’t actually do anything if he could help it.

"I like to sit around” he sang tellingly on the Primitives ‘Working Isn’t Working’ from their 2014 Spin-O-Rama album, “I just want to sit doing nothing”.

It’s a theme the former Lazy recording artists continue on ‘I’ll Trust The Wind’ the storming lead track from their brand new 10-inch EP, New Thrills. ‘I think that I’ll just trust the wind, it might seem aimless but I’ll get there in the end”, sings Tracy Tracy before bursting into a typical buoyant Prims do-do-do-doo hook. Led by one of Paul’s sharpest razor guitar riffs and a thumping rhythm section ‘I’ll Trust The Wind’ will blow a gapping hole through many people’s Top 5 Primitives songs. It’s two and a half minutes of infectious fizzy, fuzzy fun. An instant classic.

'Squeak ‘n’ Squawk’ follows in the same manner and is sure to be a highlight in their live sets; Paul gets his usual quarter of lead vocal duties on the gently rocking ‘Oh Honey Sweet’; and ‘Same Stuff’ is Tracy back with a bang and a sugary twang.

Whatever Paul Court and the Primitives method of working, or not, it is working for me. This EP is as good as anything they’ve done. The only slight disappointment is this is an EP and not the first four songs on an album but who knows how long that would take so let’s not quibble about being gifted these ten minutes of new thrills.

New Thrills is out now on Elefant Records. The Primitives play the 229 Club, London on Friday 26 May 2017.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

APRIL PLAYLIST


1.  Los Aragon – ‘Zoologico Negro’ (1963)
No dancefloor should be without a touch of Mexican exotica with animal and monkey noises.

2.  Human Expression – ‘I Don’t Need Nobody’ (1967)
A messy production but haunting vocals from Jim Quarles and guitar playing that tears through to the soul with a million cuts prove here that garage punk doesn’t have to yell about putting-me-down. Their Manicsesque titled ‘Sweet Child of Nothingness’ covers similar moody territory on the flipside of an amazing double-sider.

3.  Paul Gayten – ‘For You My Love’ (1956)
Paul Gayten’s song was first cut on Larry Darnell in 1949 and as good as that is it’s his own pots and pans piano clattering New Orleans’ R&B that most excites. Unissued until Jukebox Jam stuck it out as a bogus Argo repro in recent years.

4.  Sonny Rollins – ‘Who Cares?’ (1958)
Who indeed? From the LP Brass/Trio, this Gershwin standard is the opening cut and the first recorded example of Rollins blowing with a large orchestral backing. The trio side of the LP is good but the brass side is great.

5.  Cleveland Robinson Jr – ‘A Man Goes Out’ (1965)
Robinson made a few singles for his local Cleveland label, Nosnibor Records, the best known being the superb and super-rare yet wonky ‘Love Is A Trap’ (feels like being on an unsteady ship whenever dancing to it). I’m also very partial to the smooth soul of ‘Mr Wishing Well’, which can be picked up for peanuts, and this one, the jazzy ‘A Man Goes Out’, the first release on the label.

6.  The Hygrades – ‘Rough Rider’ (1971)
Nigerian Afro-funk led by guitarist and producer Goddy Oku. Just check those mean licks and that taut sound on this irresistible instrumental groover.

7.  Fela Kuti & Africa 70 – ‘Expensive Shit’ (1975)
When cops planted a stick of marijuana on the self-styled Black President he swallowed it and the ‘evidence’ was only retrieved after Kuti had passed it through his bowels and the sample sent to the lab. On examination, it came back clean. Clever stuff.

8.  Five Thirty – ‘Barbie Ferrari’ (1992)
I'm confident Five Thirty’s Bed is the album I’ve played more than any other. For over 25 years it’s been a constant. Whenever stuck for something to listen to, on it goes and like a trusty friend it never lets me down. Modish power pop, throbbing sleazy blues, technicolour wah-wah, heavyweight looping drums, even one part that sounds like the Hovis advert; it’s got the lot. Album number two never got finished and the strength of this demo, which saw light of day on the 2013 reissue of Bed, we’ve all been robbed.

9.  Stone Foundation featuring Bettye LaVette – ‘Season of Change’ (2017)
It’s a fair bet Stone Foundation have in Street Rituals made the album many Weller watchers less than enamoured with his recent squiggly experimentalism will have wished him to make under his own name. The influence and contribution of Paul is dominant throughout (appearing on all tracks), echoing the laid-back soul groove of his debut solo album and peak Council meetings. ‘Season of Change’ hands the lead vocal to Bettye LaVette whose earthy rasp adds a welcome smudge to the polish.

10.  Kamasi Washington – ‘Truth’ (2017)
At well over 13 minutes the new Washington single isn’t going to be available on 7 inch any time soon. Despite the title this is no angry sermon but a breezy then soaring, heavenly journey from the acclaimed saxophonist.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

DANIEL ROMANO - 'WHEN I LEARNED YOUR NAME' (2017)


It’s difficult to keep up with Daniel Romano. Every few months he’s shifted style and image.

Romano’s latest album (following two last year alone), Modern Pressure, is released on 19 May and promises to be a long way from his country phase. New wave new single ‘When I Learned Your Name’ channels late 70s Costello/Lowe mixed with a Shot of Love Dylan. Like almost everything Romano touches, it’s fantastic.

Previous single ‘Roya’ is slower burner but even better and the live track, the unreleased ‘You’d Think, I’d Think, I Had Enough But Something Keeps Me Coming Back For More’, was probably something Daniel cooked up for breakfast that morning.

These three only touch the surface from a prolific period; check out also the pedal steel treatment given to his punk phase 'I Wanna Put My Tears Back In' and the super stylish video for 'I Had To Hide Your Poem (In A Song)' filmed on the Queen Mary II.  

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

STAN FIRM INNA INGLAN: BLACK DIASPORA IN LONDON, 1960-1970s at TATE BRITAIN


Photographs by Neil Kenlock
One of the rewarding things about having a mooch around Tate Britain – apart from having a gander at the various pieces by Bacon, Blake, Tilson, Riley and the rest - is it throws up unexpected temporary mini-exhibitions tucked away within the more permanent works.

A case in point is the current BP Spotlight sponsored Stan Firm inna Inglan: Black Diaspora in London, 1960-1970s, its title taken from the poem ‘'It Dread inna Inglan' by Linton Kwesi Johnson, which selects work by eight photographers who documented black communities in London during those years.

Neil Kenlock, along with Linton Kwesi Johnson and Darcus Howe, who died this month, was a member of the British Black Panthers, loosely modelled on their more illustrious American counterparts. These London Panthers existed between 1968 and 1972 and Kenlock adopted the role of official photographer, documenting their meetings, marches and members as well as the hostility faced by new immigrants in the UK as exemplified in his ‘Keep Britain White’ Graffiti, Balham image. 

When Saffiyah Khan calmly smiled in the ugly faces of the EDL last Saturday while wearing a Specials t-shirt, an image since 'gone viral', it recalled the Rock Against Racism campaign of the late 70s. Syd Shelton documented that fight against the National Front via demonstrations, carnivals and gigs and, by chance, a fertile period in youth movements with rude boys, skinheads, punks and mods embroiled in Britain’s political turmoil.

Colin Jones is best known around these parts for his 60s photos of The Who but his series The Black House, commissioned by The Sunday Times, features the conditions of Islington Council’s project Harambee, a halfway house for vulnerable young people. Despite daubing ‘Black Power’ on the outside of the property these people, according to Jones, “weren’t interested in politics – it was the black middle class who tried to get them involved in black power – they were too busy trying to survive from day to day.” Even with that struggle it’s impossible to miss how visually striking they were, as Jones told Time Out in 2007, “Style came naturally to them. They would look good in anything. The women loved clothes and all borrowed each other’s dresses, although they were too proud to accept hand-me-downs – especially from white people. They liked being photographed as it gave them a feeling of importance and broke up the monotony of the day.”

Dennis Morris captures Hackney and Dalston when they were still desolate areas, a far cry from their recent gentrification. Less overtly political, James Barnor’s portraits for Ghana’s Drum magazine show African culture embracing Swinging London (psychedelic fabrics, red pillar boxes, pigeons in Leicester Square); Raphael Albert depicts beauty contests and the glamour of everyday folk; Bandele ‘Tex’ Ajetunmobi photographs include integrated couples enjoying the hospitality of a Whitechapel nightclub; and Al Vandenberg scoured the streets looking for interesting people to photograph.

Stan Firm Inna Inglan: Black Diaspora In London, 1960-1970s is at Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RQ until 19 November 2017, admission free.
Top left & right by Syd Shelton
Bottom left & right by Raphael Albert
Photo by Colin Jones

Monday, 3 April 2017

THE SUNSHINE MAKERS (2017)


The names Timothy Scully and Nicholas Sand might not be at the tip of your tongue but if you’d taken acid in the late 60s then their brand, Orange Sunshine, possibly would’ve been.

Cosmo Feilding-Mellen’s documentary (and with a name like that I’m guessing Cosmo’s parents were no strangers to recreational drugs) tells how the pair attempted to change the world via lysergic acid diethylamide. Scully and Sand possessed a heady mix of idealism and ambition believing if they, as patriotic American citizens, “could turn on everyone in the world then maybe we could have a new world of peace and love”.

Having served as apprentices under Timothy Leary and Owsley Stanley, when LSD became illegal in California in ’66, Scully and Sand set up their own factory in Denver and proceeded to manufacture 3-4 million doses of their market leader, Orange Sunshine. As they witnessed a psychedelic nation expanding around them they estimated – based on little more than intuition - three-quarters of a billion people would be willing to take a trip and it might take a couple of years to reach them.

Their distribution network was run by the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the so-called hippie mafia, who according their leader, Mike Randall, ruled by love rather than fear. These previous stickup men allegedly turned in their guns to instead smuggle mind altering substances throughout America, Europe, India, Afghanistan and beyond. Randall, who even now you'd be wary of accepting a glass of water from, looking back says, “You have to break some eggs to make an omelette; you’re gonna have to break some laws to make a revolution”.

The real stars though are Tim Scully and Nick Sand – both thankfully still alive to tell their story – who make an odd partnership. Scully is a shy, bookish, nerdy, scientific genius with a touch of Asperger’s, who lived for 30 years on a diet of white spaghetti and white cheese until medically unsafe to continue while Sand is all New York hustle, bold and bullish, a stirrer of the pot, a ‘madman psychedelic commando’ who wanted to become The King of LSD and is happy to let it all hang out and practice yoga, naked, in front of the camera.

They weren’t driven by financial profit but by the sheer idealism. Scully wanted to give all their product away for free; Sand was less keen although his main motivation wasn’t money either, saying he heard a voice while tripping, “Your job on this planet is to make psychedelics and turn on the world”.

Centred around new interviews with Scully, Sand, plus their former girlfriends, associates and even the drug cops looking to bust their sorry asses for the degradation of mankind, The Sunshine Makers is a well-made and engaging film with a cracking soundtrack (Charles Sheffield, Slim Harpo, Cymande, Joubert Singers etc). With the protagonists now able to view their escapades with a mixture of mild embarrassment (Scully) and pride (Sand) this is a look at a different innocent age.

Running a huge scale drug production factory is morally open for debate but these outlaw chemists, with charming 60s naivety, genuinely believed they could change the consciousness of the world in a positive way, create a revolution of the mind, that people would become gentler and the planet would not be destroyed through recklessness and war. You’ve got to admire that.

The Sunshine Makers is available on Netflix.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

MARCH PLAYLIST



1.  Chuck Jackson – ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ (1962)
So many versions – far too many for me to trawl through – but Chuck’s smoky, late night cabaret effort must be among the best.

2.  Link Wray and the Ray Men – ‘Girl From The North Country’ (1965)
Chain rattling, looping, woozy harp version of the Dylan song. Bob, for his part, adopted the melody after hearing Martin Carthy’s arrangement of (pre-Paul Simon) ‘Scarborough Fair’ and releases 30 new covers this Friday on his Triplicate triple album.

3.  The Afro-Blues Quintet Plus One – ‘The Monkey Time’ (1965)
The Curtis Mayfield's Major Lance song given a swinging party feel and driven along by the vibes of Joe De Aguero and piano of Bill Henderson. Think Ramsey Lewis, Young-Holt Unlimited or even, a bit, MJQ.

4.  Angelica Maria – ‘Cansada De Esperar’ (1965)
Mexican ‘Tired of Waiting’. Sounds like it was recorded in a kitchen. If, like me, you’ve never heard of Angelica Maria she’s apparently such a humongous star of stage, screen and music that when she married Venezuelan singer/comedian Raúl Vale in 1975 it was the first wedding to be televised in Mexico. They divorced in 1988. None of this is relevant. Enjoy the song.

5.  The Soul Mates – ‘Too Late To Say You’re Sorry’ (1965)
Not a cover but as Darlene Love cut a version around the same time it sounds like one. When released on Chicago’s Marina Records the label proudly boasted ‘Recorded in Great Britain’ and ‘With Orchestra Conducted by Norman Smith’, he later of The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn fame. It’s all very British, very Dusty Springfield and very good.

6.  Joe Williams – ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)’ (1966)
As his early albums show Marvin Gaye always fancied himself as a jazz crooner so I can imagine he’d have approved of the big band treatment afforded here on Presenting Joe Williams and Thad Jones with the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. ‘Woman’s Got Soul’, ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’ and ‘Get Out My Life Woman’ and more also tackled the same way.

7.  Downliners Sect – ‘Glendora’ (1966)
The Sect brutalise poor old Perry Como behind the lingerie department. That said, I do love Como’s original and it’s even more bizarre hearing him sing about falling in love with a shop mannequin. Check out also the Billy Young version which came between these two.

8.  Eddie Jefferson – ‘Filthy McNasty’ (1968)
It’s been hammered in clubs so much over the years I’d happily never listen to ‘Psychedelic Sally’ again. The rest of Jefferson’s Body and Soul is more than worth investigating as he adds his elasticated vocalese to numbers better known as instrumentals, including ‘So What’ and this Horace Silver classic given a humorous makeover.

9.  Lloyd Price – ‘Feeling Good’ (1969)
Lloyd goes for a funky calypso tinged version of the Nina Simone standard.

10.  Terry Callier – ‘And I Love Her’ (2004)
So intimate it feels like intruding just listening. Breath-taking.

Monday, 20 March 2017

THE WHO'S MY GENERATION painted by EDDIE ARGOS (2017)


Eddie Argos sings in the mildly popular punk-beat combo Art Brut. Ed does other stuff too, like writing and painting, which is fortunate as the last Brut album, Brilliant! Tragic!, came out in 2011.

Late last year, Eddie started to accept commissions to paint peoples’ favourite album sleeves. Anything they wanted – even the Stone Roses or REM - he’d do and listen to the album whilst working on it. Once completed, Ed would write his thoughts on the record.

I requested The Who’s 1965 debut My Generation. Not only is it one of my favourite albums but also one of my favourite sleeves. That was in November. Today it arrived and I’m chuffed to bits.

Not only am I delighted with the art, which means there's now an Argos hanging in four rooms of Monkey Mansions, but with Eddie’s response to the album as it – and The Who in general – was something he’d never previously taken an interest in. Here’s what he had to say.

“Wow! What a great album. I’ve never really thought about the lyrics to My Generation before they are punk as fuck, ditto for The Kids Are Alright. I’d just sort of filed The Who away as ‘classic rock’ and not investigated it properly. This is much harder and sexier than I imagined. I’d always seen Daltrey as a pretty boy with no charisma, the only band where the lead singer is the least interesting member, but here he sounds awesome and like someone I’d like to get drunk and hang about with. I never realised that The Who were an awesome punk rock Nuggets style garage band. I feel like an idiot. THIS IS GREAT.

I played it over and over even after I’d finished the painting, I’ve tried really hard but still can’t imagine Roger Daltrey being that cool. So I imagine a totally different person being the front man. Makes it easier.

I can totally see this becoming one of my favourite albums too. Thanks for introducing me to it.

Eddie Argos x”

Find out more at The Eddie Argos Resource. or @EddieArgos on Twitter. And if you've not listened to Art Brut start with their debut Bang Bang Rock & Roll and work through.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

HELP THE LUCID DREAM RECOVER FROM PARISIAN NIGHTMARE

This week was shaping up nicely for Cumbrian psychedelic pioneers The Lucid Dream. On Wednesday, they played to a full and appreciative London audience at the Victoria in Dalston before heading to Paris the following night. After the Paris gig (pre-match photo above), the next morning the band posted an emotional message on their social media accounts.

"Our van was broken into in Paris through the night. Every last piece of equipment has been stolen. We are sorry for those travelling from Britain for the shows but we have nothing. We are in bits and may be the last you see of us. We've lost equipment we've had since 14 years old. For us it is irreplaceable. We are fucking devastated. Anybody that knows us knows we are a hard-working, grounded band, who self-finance everything.”

Since 2012 I've regularly championed the band here, interviewing them in October, and they’ve always struck me as a straight-ahead bunch so, like many others, was absolutely gutted for them. Some bright spark quickly set up a Crowdfunder page to help them get back on the feet and keep making music. “As everyone knows music is what we live for and it breaks our hearts to think of letting the band suffer because of the act of some ignorant thieves.”

If you wish to donate anything at all I’m sure the band will be extremely grateful. Compulsion Songs was one the albums of 2016 and the Lucid Dream’s gigs go from strength to strength. They can’t stop now. Good luck.

The Lucid Dream: Crowdfunder account

Sunday, 26 February 2017

FEBRUARY PLAYLIST


1.  The Sinceres – ‘Please Don’t Cheat On Me’ (1961)
Prolonged exposure to doowop can make me feel like I’m trapped in an episode of Happy Days with only Ralph and Potsie as company but it’s worth slinging a dime in Arnold’s jukebox occasionally. 

2.  The Emperor’s – ‘I Want My Woman’ (1965)
The Emperor’s what? Sore throat? This growling garage prototype stalks menacingly for two and half minutes while said woman presumably hides in a cave.

3.  The Grass Roots – ‘Heaven Knows’ (1969)
Difficult to not sing parts of the Box Tops’ ‘Soul Deep’ through this equally infectious ray of sunshine.

4.  Manfred Mann Chapter Three – ‘One Way Glass’ (1969)
Anyone encountering Manfred Mann Chapter Three on a night out expecting to hear ‘Pretty Flamingo’ would’ve been in a rude awakening. Mann and Mike Hugg led this line-up down a progressive jazz route and there are plenty of freaky, squalling moments on their eponymous debut LP. The trippy, horn laden ‘One Way Glass’ isn’t at the extreme end and makes for an ideal psych club tune. Both their albums worth investigating.

5.  Grant Green – ‘Jan Jan’ (1971)
Blue Note had so many Grant Green recordings they ended up with a backlog of stuff that either never got released or had to wait many years, as in the case of Live At Club Mozambique. Recorded in January 1971, but only issued in 2006, Houston Person (tenor), Clarence Thomas (tenor/soprano), Ronnie Foster (organ) and Idris Muhammad (drums) join guitarist Green (pictured above) for a thrilling club set.

6. Richard Caiton – ‘I Like To Get Near You’ (1969)
Sweeping soul out of New Orleans from local lad Caiton.

7.  Frederick Hymes III – ‘Time Ain’t Gonna Do Me No Favor’ (1970)
Only available from Hymes at his gigs this super-collectable 45 is a gem. ‘Tighten Up’ style guitars, funky drumming, punchy horns and a fantastic vocal.

8.  El Michels Affair featuring The Shacks – ‘Strange Boy’ (2016)
Wow! Love this collaboration between two acts on New York’s Big Crown Records: the instrumental funk band El Michels Affair and the breathy boy-girl duo The Shacks. Absolutely gorgeous and more than a touch of Camera Obscura about it.

9.  Paul Orwell – ‘Loaded Street Syrup’ (2017)
I presume the four tracks on Paul Orwell Presents Hard Shakes were leftovers from Paul’s Organized Blues phase. Like the tracks on that LP these are short, in-your-face, fuzz and Farfisa instrumental nibbles. All good fun but merely a tasty snack before the more substantial offerings of Paul’s The Shoots project – coming soon - and his second ‘proper’ solo album. Trust me, I’ve had sneaky preview, these are gonna be the real deal.

10.  Pasapogas Hammond Quartet – ‘Modern Hall’ (2017)
Pasapogas Hammond Quartet are Ángel Soriano - Hammond Organ, Jero Colomina - guitar, Santiago Vilella - drums, Riard Chumillas - tenor sax and flute, J.M. Maldo – percussion, and what these Spaniards lack in arithmetic they make up for in slick soul-jazz. With three very stylish EPs to their name (check the artwork), Modern Hall the lead track from their latest. Fans of JTQ and even early Style Council form a queue.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

BETTY HARRIS at the 100 CLUB, LONDON


“It’s taken a long time, a real long time, but we made it.” When Betty Harris retired from performing in 1970 she could have had no inkling nearly 50 years later she’d be headlining a sell-out London show.

Buoyed by the upturn in interest since last year’s Soul Jazz Records’ The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul, which gathered 17 tracks issued between 1965 and 1969 for Sansu under the direction of the legendary Allen Toussaint, Betty was afforded one of those hero receptions UK soul audiences are renown for.

As that collection showed, Betty was equally adept at R&B dancers, soul ballads and the lolloping New Orleans rhythms intrinsic to music from Louisiana’s Crescent City. Although despite Soul Jazz’s crown, Betty was not from nor ever lived in New Orleans, she was flown in from Florida to record. But that's splitting a beignet.

Shaky opening numbers ‘Mean Man’ and ’12 Red Roses’ indicated this might be a gig where fans were simply glad to be in the rare presence of someone whose records they’ve enjoyed over the years. As Betty told us, these were songs she recorded when she was 19-20 (born in 1939 she was older but you didn't hear that from me) and hasn’t sung some since, but come the third song, a rollicking ‘I Don’t Wanna Hear It’, Betty loosened up, that soulful rasp was to the fore, and we were cooking from there on in.

Backed by the Disposable Breaks, doing their best attempt at hitting the funk of the Meters, ‘Trouble With My Lover’, ‘Bad Luck’ and ‘Close To Me’ caught a groove and Betty’s slower take on Solomon Burke’s ‘Cry To Me’ – the closest she came to a real hit in 1963 – carried real emotion and experience.

Whilst fans were there to give something back, Betty, resplendent in glamourous gown and wearing her best hair, also had her own giving to do. Of her three backing singers, two were young teenage girls who’d not had the best start in life but had been offered a chance to come to the UK and sing. Betty acknowledged they found her intimidating but countered nobody was there to help guide her early in her career. Apologies for not catching the girls’ names but they should be proud of the job they did especially when handed the entire lead for ‘Can’t Last Much Longer’. The baton was passed.

Few people recorded a better version of ‘Ride Your Pony’ and after that irresistible mover Betty was brought back for a well-earned encore with the heavy funk bomb ‘There’s A Break In The Road’.

A cackling, engaging presence throughout, it was a joy to spend an hour in Betty’s company and this gig was everything, if not more, anyone could’ve hoped for. Betty was correct, it did take a long time but she made it.