Georgie Fame

TrackSingle / Album
Parchman FarmRhythm And Blues At The Flamingo
Work SongRhythm And Blues At The Flamingo
Yeh, YehColumbia DB 7428
Preach And TeachColumbia DB 7428
In The MeantimeColumbia DB 7494
Move It On OverMove It On Over EP
Get On The Right Track BabyFame At Last
Point Of No ReturnFame At Last
Gimme That WineFame At Last
Pink ChampagneFame At Last

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Georgie Fame photo

 

Contributor: Dave Stephens

I always think of Georgie Fame as existing in a kind of time bubble which ran from roughly 1963 when I first saw him live, to 1966/67 when my attention moved elsewhere. In articles on the period and specifically on the ‘Brit R&B Boom’, he usually gets mentioned alongside people like Geno Washington, Herbie Goins, Zoot Money, Chris Farlowe and Cliff Bennett; artists who were more interested in Stax and Motown than Chess and who sometimes even had a sax player or two in their bands. That’s a very broad-brush statement and while it’s not totally misleading in terms of Fame, whose first single was a cover of Rufus Thomas’ Stax disc, Do The Dog, it totally ignores other influences which he soaked up like a blotter in his early formative years. Chief of these was jazz but even that breaks down into sub-headings. Latin was never far away but perhaps more significantly, Fame was the first homegrown British artist to take on the new sounds coming out of Jamaica, initially labelled Blue Beat until Ska became the more common descriptor.

Check out that Fame take on Do The Dog, which saw release at the start of 1964:

A first listen will tell most people that it’s a cover of a black R&B record with a live audience possibly added afterwards. Further listening and a bit of digging might reveal the following:

* Although the record was the first of Rufus Thomas’ ‘Dog’ series of dance discs (it was actually released with the title The Dog) it didn’t see release in the UK. London American who were then responsible for distributing the US Stax label in this country were understandably cautious in their selections from a relatively new indie and chose not to go with the redoubtable Mr Thomas until he came out with his second doggie single, Walking The Dog, in Autumn ’63. Fame would have got hold of his copy of The Dog via one of the UK based GIs who flocked into the Soho Flamingo club for the all-nighter sessions on Fridays and Saturdays. It was via that route he picked up an earlier Stax record and, to quote the man himself (via Wiki): “They (the GIs) brought records with them and one of them gave me Green Onions by Booker T. & the M.G.’s. I had been playing piano up to that point but I bought a Hammond organ the next day.”

* There was nothing dubbed or simulated about that audience. Do The Dog was a track taken from the Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo LP which was recorded live at the Soho club in September 1963 and released in January the following year. There’ll be more on that album later but for now let’s just say that it was one of the tiny handful of British long playing records which you could call R&B and, more than that, one about which you could use adjectives like exhilarating and, yes, even creative.

* While Fame wasn’t the first British artist to come out with an uptown R&B (to distinguish it from electric blues) style single – he’d been beaten to the punch by both Farlowe and Bennett – he was arguably the most convincing so far. There was nothing deep about the material; it was a dance record but the majority of up tempo R&B records were aimed squarely at the dance floor and emulating them was nothing like as easy as you might have thought. Emulating such records and adding a dash of oneself was even harder but Georgie Fame and his band, the Blue Flames, did it with consummate ease.

That confidence in delivery was down to two factors: firstly the sheer professionalism of the Blue Flames – only Zoot Money and Cliff Bennett were leading outfits that bore any similarity to the Flames – and secondly the Fame voice. I should pause for a moment to ponder that voice. I have commented elsewhere on the phenomenon of “blue men singing the whites” or attempting to – see Footnotes if that phrase doesn’t ring a bell – but young Mr Fame just had to be one of the more extreme examples of this practice. All traces of his upbringing in Lancashire had been totally expunged and replaced by one part Mose Allison – an American white jazz singer & pianist who was fond of interpreting blues in a very individual manner – and a second part blending a whole host of black jazz, blues and R&B singers including, but not limited to, Jon Hendricks, Ray Charles, Willie Mabon and many more. That sounds like complete artifice and yes it was, but somehow it worked on songs whose authors ranged from James Brown to Carole King & Gerry Goffin but with a black American thread running through much of the time. I’m sure that voice has a marmite effect on some people but I’ve not met any who’ve hated it.

* Finally I should just mention that the flip of Do The Dog was a fine cover of Shop Around from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles though credited to just ‘The Miracles’ when it was released in 1960. Thus the single represented just that sourcing from Stax and Motown that I alluded to earlier though I must add that (a) Fame’s sources were much, much wider than this single would indicate, (b) the coming together of Stax and Motown numbers on one Fame single was never repeated to the best of my knowledge, and (c) the pairing of the two source labels was entirely fortuitous in terms of my previous comments. Let’s just say that seat-of-the-pants writing can sometimes produce surprising results!

No more dogging (as someone else once sang), that track Do The Dog wasn’t the best one on Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo but it helped to introduce Georgie Fame …

… or Clive Powell as he emerged blinking into the world in Leigh, Lancashire on June 26th 1943. He started piano lessons at the age of seven but didn’t take them too seriously until musical heroes like Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis captured his attention. At the age of fifteen he took a job at a cotton mill but also started playing piano for a local group named the Dominoes. The following summer while at a Butlin’s holiday camp in North Wales, he was talent spotted by Rory Blackwell – see Footnotes – who with his band, the Blackjacks, was providing entertainment at the camp. Young Clive gave up his job at the cotton mill and worked with the Blackjacks until the end of the summer season.

Come that time, Rory and the Blackjacks packed their bags and headed for London, their normal habitat. Convinced he could make it in the professional world, Clive went with them. Nothing happened immediately but in October that year (1959), Blackwell arranged for Clive to audition for Larry Parnes, the most famous manager and impresario of the early British rock and roll era. It was successful and as a result, Parnes took him on board as backing pianist to his stable of would-be superstars. In line with his habit of allocating new ‘professional names’ to the members of this stable – Marty Wilde, Dickie Pride, Vince Eager etc. – he gave Clive the alternate name of Georgie Fame, much to the lad’s disgust apparently. However he needn’t have moaned, within the next year or two he gained invaluable experience backing the likes of Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury and others on tours around the UK. Circa 1960, Fury selected Georgie and three other musicians to be his backing group which he christened ‘The Blue Flames’.

So things were starting to fall into place. After a difference of opinion with Bill (either in late ’61 or early ’62 depending which version you read), Georgie and the Flames left him to strike out on their own. By March of that year they managed to pick up what became a three year residency in the Flamingo Club in the section of Soho below Shaftesbury Avenue – the area now known as Chinatown, London. In August ’63, the band took a weekly slot at The Scene in Great William Street, a short walk away and, like the Flamingo, another club favoured by the fashion and music conscious mods.

Georgie and the band had already paid plenty of dues supporting a host of people on stage and they were to pay more in the studio until anything came out with their own name on. Fame’s first appearance (on piano) in a studio came as early as 11th May 1960. The artist was Gene Vincent, the record was Pistol Packin’ Mama and the location was Abbey Road. Also present, Colin Green on guitar and Red Reece on drums, both of whom would be founder members of the Blue Flames.

Move forward a couple of years and Fame and the core Flames were providing backing for white R&B wannabe Perry Ford on Baby Baby (Don’t You Worry) coupled with Prince Of Fools on the Decca label, and this time our man was recognisably on Hammond. Next up, the boys were on board for Clive and Gloria’s Change Of Plan/Little Gloria on R & B Records (see Footnotes) in 1963. Side 2 on this one was ska with Fame and the Blue Flames’ sax section pumping away in a manner that would soon become familiar. That record was R & B JB 113. The next release from R & B Records, JB 114 was The Blue Flames with J.A. Blues/Orange Street. Both sides were instrumentals with J.A. Blues having such a similar relaxed ska feel to Little Gloria that one wonders if all four numbers were laid down in the same session. There was to be another Blue Flames single and another backing outing (for Ronnie Gordon, another resident Flamingo artist) prior to Fame and the boys signing with Columbia …

… which brings us to the remarkable Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo and the Do The Dog single. In terms of material, the usual suspects were present on the album, that is suspects in uptown R&B of a flavour you’d be less likely to get from, say, the Yardbirds or the Downliners Sect – James Brown, Rufus T (of course), the Miracles and numbers like Let The Good Times Roll and Philip Upchurch’s organ based instro, You Can’t Sit Down. But it was the other names which marked the album out as something extraordinary: Mose Allison, Oscar Brown Jr. and Eric Morris. Let’s take that last one first. Eric “Monty” Morris was one of the original ska artists, having been brought up in Kingston, Jamaica and having recorded with Prince Buster and Duke Reid. His Humpty Dumpty was a local hit in 1961 on the Blue Beat label. It was also the number that Fame chose to cover for the Flamingo set. The brass section came into their own on this and the congas – usually from Speedy Acquaye but from Tommy Thomas on the album – added a subtle exotic effect.

Mose Allison’s hand could be discerned on two numbers: Parchman Farm and the better-known Baby, Please Don’t Go. The latter is something of a rock blues standard these days due to versions from the likes of AC/DC and Aerosmith but the Fame version takes on board the Allison 1960 cut performed in the man’s inimitable cool style but blends it with more than a soupçon of R&B edge to produce something altogether punchier.

On Parchman Farm, he sticks more closely to the Allison original – and I feel I can just about say “original” in this instance since Allison adds plenty to the Bukka White song he based it on (see Footnotes) – only with Hammond replacing piano of course. Mose Allison, on what is possibly his best known number, is the epitome of cool here even if the element of disconnect with the lyrics is more pronounced than elsewhere in his oeuvre. While switching the environment to a basement club in London might have served to add an even greater lyrical distancing, Georgie and the band pull the whole thing off brilliantly.

Well I’m sittin’ over here on Parchman Farm (three times)
And I ain’t never done no man no harm

Well I’m puttin’ that cotton in an eleven foot sack (three times)
With a twelve gauge shotgun at my back

The origin of Work Song was similar but not identical. Trumpeter Nat Adderley was the younger brother of band leader and sax player Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. In the late fifties and early sixties, the Adderley band (and others) played a strand of jazz that got labelled soul jazz. Indeed, the band were largely responsible for launching the new sub-genre with a number called This Here written by their pianist Bobby Timmons in 1959. In the following year, the band was successful again with a number called Work Song written by Nat. Later that same year (1960), song writer and civil rights activist Oscar Brown Jr. wrote lyrics for Work Song and recorded it along with others from the Adderley band. The Fame version was tougher but cooler than the slightly more finger-snapping Brown take. Unfortunately, YouTube lacks a clip of the number with decent sound so you’ll have to go to Spotify for proof of that statement.

To today’s audience many of the other numbers on Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo might seem relatively mundane, corny even, but that wasn’t the case at the time. For example, the James Brown version of Night Train – and, no, it wasn’t the original though Mr Brown did his best to claim it for posterity – was only the third of his records released in the UK and only a relatively small number of in-the-know fans would have bought it on release in ’62. I don’t feel I’m going too far if I state that that the Fame/Flames versions of these numbers were better than anything we’d heard in this vein to date and that wasn’t only down to the high level of professionalism present, it was also due to the amount of themselves that they brought to the table. Georgie’s vocal maintained consistency and distinctiveness throughout the set – the Miracle’s Shop Around is a good illustration but the band too had a recognisable sound due to the Hammond plus horns combination with added Afro-Cuban conga spice. You Can’t Sit Down is a fine example with oodles of punch in the ensemble sections but plenty of space allowed for highly capable soloists to show what they could do without ever losing sight of that piledriver beat.

They didn’t hang around in those days. Fame At Last was the second album by Fame to be released in 1964. I would have said by Fame and his Blue Flames but that wouldn’t have been completely true; 4 out of the 12 tracks were with session musicians, or to be more precise “with accompaniment directed by Earl Guest” which is about all you can glean from the almost non-existent sleeve notes. As on the debut set, production was by Ian Samwell, the man who will forever be remembered as the guy who wrote Move It for Cliff Richard. I can add – though the sleeve doesn’t tell you – that the lady singers who backed Georgie on some of the Earl Guest numbers were the Breakaways.

In addition to containing fine performances of R&B material from an even wider set of sources than the first album, Fame At Last also introduced us to another of Mr Fame’s big musical heroes, Jon Hendricks, the man who was probably more responsible than anyone for introducing ‘vocalese’ into the language of jazz and music in general via the vocal group (Dave) Lambert. (Jon) Hendricks and (Annie) Ross (see also Footnotes). The term is used to denote a style of jazz singing where lyrics have been applied to existing instrumental melodies and, more specifically, solos. It differs from scat singing – at which Hendricks was also proficient – in that the latter utilises nonsense syllables rather than real words which, in vocalese, string together to form meaningful lyrics.

Gimme That Wine, the closing number on side one of the Fame At Last LP, can be found in its original Lambert, Hendricks and Ross glory on the 1959 album Lambert, Hendricks and Ross! The Hottest New Group In Jazz. Fame may not have captured every last nuance of the Hendricks delivery but the sheer enthusiasm of the approach and the beefy interjections from the horns make the result something he (and they) could be proud of, “Man, beat my head out of shape but leave me that grape”.

The rather ponderously titled I’m In The Mood For Love (Moody’s Mood For Love) took the whole vocalese thing back to its roots. In this case the lyrics which were written by singer and lyricist Eddie Jefferson largely ignore the original words to I’m In The Mood For Love, instead they’re based on the melody line from a tenor sax solo by James Moody from a 1949 recording of that song. While Eddie Jefferson wrote the number (and got himself into legal trouble with the I’m In The Mood For Love writers), the first recorded version came from King Pleasure in 1952. I do recall that my first play of the Fame At Last version way back when, was almost a step too far for me – unlike Gimme That Wine where all the clever vocal stuff is surrounded by a lovely rabble rousing chorus with Hendricks/Fame just pleading for more of that grape. Repeated plays of “Mood For Love” did convert me but I do find the minimalist organ backdrop on the stark side in comparison to the delicious sax counterpoint on the King Pleasure cut (not to mention the delightful lady who appears towards the end on that record). To Georgie’s credit though, he retains that final line and very much enjoys delivering it:

James Moody, you can come on in
And you can blow now if you want to

The more conventional material on the album is evidence of Fame having dug a little deeper this time. There’s one Motown number – a fine, charging Pride And Joy which does more than justice to the Gaye original – and the Stax input – apart from a take on Green Onions which, although perfectly well delivered, doesn’t differ significantly from a recording that even Booker and the boys weren’t able to improve on in subsequent live versions – is limited to a rather obscure but excellent Monkeying Around originally written and performed by William Bell. Fame also dips into the Major Lance song bag for a slightly better-known monkey ditty. Of the up tempo jumpers I’ve picked two, which got to open sides 1 & 2 respectively on the original LP which probably tells us something.

Get On The Right Track Baby was originally a Ray Charles flip side from as far back as 1957 but it didn’t see release here at the time. The great London American label got very few things wrong but they didn’t pick up on Ray till ’58 (and he’d been recording for Atlantic since 1952). Mr Charles was one of Fame’s earliest influences (see Footnotes) and he pays tribute to him here in a fulsome manner with Hammond, horns and congas plus the Fame voice fitting the material to perfection. Dare I say it, he almost blows the great Ray Charles out of the water.

With Pink Champagne, Georgie is back with that stuff that just gets in the mouth. A great piano based original from Joe Liggins gets turned into another superb organ and saxes blast. For me it’s this last pair of numbers which epitomise the ‘Fame and the Blue Flames at the Flamingo’ era.

But I might have saved the best of Fame At Last till last (and apologies for the unintentional pun). Point Of No Return in its original incarnation was a single from Gene McDaniels written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, which was released in the UK in July ’62. Unfortunately, the UK never really took to Gene. Wiki tells me that his earlier single Tower Of Strength only made #49 in our chart and that was it. I don’t even recall his Point Of No Return getting radio plays. Shame. It deserved them and a chart placing. The Fame version tones back some of the McDaniels vocal flamboyance and eschews the poppier aspects of the backing, replacing it with that something like a stroll with congas. Whether this was a pointer to Fame on more poppy material in the future I know not, but the arrangement here worked like a dream and didn’t at all jar with other tracks on the album.

Fame At Last was so good that other tracks jostled for attention in terms of the ten. I Love The Life I Live was a song written by the great Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters with an all-star band comprising Hubert Sumlin and Pat Hare on guitars, Otis Spann on piano, Little Walter on harmonica, Dixon himself on bass and Francis Clay on drums; Got My Mojo Working was cut at the same session. Mose Allison ignored the all-star bit and cut his take in his usual near unplugged manner. Fame of course used the Allison model but with added grits. Georgie’s choice of Teddy Randazzo’s Let The Sunshine In (not to be confused with the later number from the show Hair or the oldie, You Are My Sunshine) might well have been unexpected but it worked surprisingly well, with the Fame Hammond upping the funk quotient even if this was one of the non Blue Flames cuts.

1965 passed by without a new album though there were several singles which we’ll look at later. In 1966, though, we had a brace of new LPs; firstly Sweet Things followed a few months later by Sound Venture. AllMusic gave the former something of a rave review using words and phrases like “pounding”, “rattling”, “percussively swaying” and “electrifyingly note-perfect”. I differ but only slightly. It’s good but not quite as striking as the first two albums. It follows broadly the format of Fame At Last with two organ-based instrumentals, a semi-obscure number from one of the early soul greats, in this instance, Sam Cooke with The Whole World’s Shaking (a marginal change in title from the original), touches of Stax and Motown, one song – Billy Stewart’s Sitting In The Park – which allowed him to use a near vocalese approach, some obscure R&B like Rufus Thomas’s The World Is Round (from in-between his dog records and his dance king supreme phase) and some considerably less obscure, and, echoing Fame’s first album, a reminder of the Caribbean with Dr Kitch, though more calypso than ska this time and originating in Trinidad with Lord Kitchener, rather than Jamaica.

Possibly my favourite track on the set is the near title number, Sweet Thing which happens to span a couple of the above categories – Motown and obscure (to me anyway but I’m far from being a Motown expert). I suspect Georgie got hooked on the (Detroit) Spinners’ Sweet Thing by those great blasts of brass near the start, but the resulting end product was R&B with more than a hint of lounge style jazz, a mix at which he and the Blue Flames excelled.

Sound Venture was Fame’s second LP release in 1966. It was recorded without the Blue Flames but with the Harry South Big Band which was something of a who’s who of British jazz including names like Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott, Dick Morrissey, Jimmy Deuchar, Stan Tracey and Phil Seamen. Though I do note from the feature in Wiki that one of the original Flames, guitarist Colin Green, someone who Fame has referred to as a musical mentor, did manage to sneak in there as well. At this stage in our man’s career, the project could well have been viewed as a brave gesture and one wonders how Columbia sanctioned it. Fame himself is on record as saying that his manager at the time, Rik Gunnell, was totally against the project and that “I financed the first big band album I did in England” (source: interview with Jazzwize in 2017). It’s an album I like rather than love. The Hendricks name is writ overlarge in the credits suggesting that he, Georgie, is too dependent on JH, and those illustrious band members don’t get enough solo space – only three of the numbers stretch beyond the three minute mark and two of those by not a lot.

For me the two least successful tracks in the set are Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag and Lovey Dovey (Clyde McPhatter). One got the impression that someone must have said, “let’s see what a real band can do with these R&B numbers” but the first sounds decidedly odd in the context of the rest of the set while the second, which was probably the closest the band got to a Blue Flames arrangement, still comes off second best compared to that splendid Atlantic house band on the original not to mention the understated but still smouldering McPhatter vocal.

A couple of the numbers on the album were candidates for my ten but eventually got dropped. Lil’ Pony, perhaps the ultimate Hendricks workout with superfast vocal, was based on a Count Basie/Neal Hefti original. It was a number that Fame was to revisit (on 1991’s Cool Cat Blues, produced by Ben Sidran) but I’m happy with this version. My second was one of a pair of Fame penned numbers, Dawn Yawn which evokes that 6 a.m. Sunday morning feel, leaving the Flamingo and blinking in the unexpected daylight, a theme he would touch on decades later in a song titled Flamingo Allnighter.

The overall style of the LP (though not necessarily always with a big band present), was broadly the Fame approach on album from some time in the seventies onwards, though his influences expanded with tributes to Hoagy Carmichael (with Annie Ross in tow), Benny Goodman and Chet Baker along the way, as well as the more predictable Mose Allison. His vocal style became more refined but the attitude and, indeed, the confidence was there in Sound Venture and the more jazz inclined numbers on the earlier albums.

I need to back up a couple of years or so to do justice to the singles. His debut Columbia disc, Do The Dog, was followed by a slab of New Orleans R&B, Do-Re-Mi which in its original format was a hit for Lee Dorsey in the US. The flip was Green Onions which was to reappear, of course, on Fame At Last though it was noticeable that from there on up to late ’66, there was no overlap between singles and LPs. Do-Re-Mi was followed by what is probably Fame’s most obscure pairing ever. The flip, Bend A Little, originally came from a gent called Shorty Billups who doesn’t even warrant a Wiki entry. The A-side, I’m In Love With You, was a quasi doo wop affair written by Richie Barrett, the Some Other Guy man with a strong fifties ballad feel about it. Both sides were arranged by Earl Guest so could well have been from the same sessions that produced Fame At Last. And to add a note of irony, I find the Shorty Billups original take of Bend A Little more in tune with the usual Fame/Blue Flames style than the more poppy Guest arranged disc.

Not one of these singles did a thing and there could well have been a feeling at Columbia and even in Fame’s own management that our man’s success was limited to a cult audience in London and the south east. Something drastic was called for. So what did Columbia do? They gave Georgie his head and he pulled out a Jon Hendricks number that he and the Flames were already playing in their live set. That number was Yeh, Yeh – and yeah, I oversimplified things by saying it was a Hendricks song; it actually started out as a fairly typical but catchy latin outing from the Mongo Santamaria band (and it can be found on the 1963 LP, Watermelon Man). Hendricks then wrote lyrics for it and gave it a new name. The song’s first public outing came at the Newport Jazz Festival in July that year. The performance came from Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan (Yolande Bavan having replaced Annie Ross) and it was captured on record with Coleman Hawkins on tenor and Clark Terry on trumpet, and Mr Hendricks contributing some cheerleading on their solos. Fame had always had a penchant for latin – I managed not to mention his fine version of Eso Beso on Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo – and this, coupled with his already established love for anything that Jon Hendricks touched, ensured a version of Yeh, Yeh which had already been honed to perfection in the clubs.

In the week ending January 30th 1965, Yeh, Yeh climbed to the numero uno spot in the UK Hit Parade. It was preceded by the Beatles’ I Feel Fine and followed by the Moody Blues’ Go Now. Perhaps even more worthy of note was that the record hit #21 in the US. Absolutely no one had anticipated this level of success for the record.

The flip side, Preach And Teach, was a more than welcome addition to Fame and the Blue Flames canon. While it had the feel of another Jon Hendricks up tempo vocalese item, in fact it was an original from English song writer and musician John Burch based on a twelve bar structure with a rhythmic effect that was slightly evocative of slide pianistics. That all might sound technical but, in the hands of the Blue Flames, it drove along like one of those mighty steam trains. The only complaint I have about this record is that it was so short that it only contained one brief solo (from Fame himself duetting with riffing horns). It was good to see a homegrown composer used; we’d have to wait a few more months until Fame exposed his own compositional capabilities to the public at large.

For the follow-up, In The Meantime/Telegram, Columbia went to John Burch again but for both sides this time. The broad flavour of jazz imbued R&B was à la the previous record with “Meantime” being the catchier of the twosome. I suspect that final line might be a reference back to Gimme That Wine on Fame At Last.

Some day baby, gonna hit on you
And together we will live life through
But in the meantime I’ve such a lean time
You have a hard time
Because I wanna live it up this way
That’s why I gotta change my style you say
Give up my gals and wine

The UK public was sometimes a little wary of soundalike follow-ups and “Meantime” only managed to clamber to #22 in our chart.

Fame’s next two singles, Like We Used To Be and the John Mayall penned Something achieved Top 30/40 chart placings but the former is deserving of some attention. Both Like We Used To Be and the flip, It Ain’t Right, had Clive Powell (i.e. Fame) in the writing credits slot on the labels, and both were more than respectable songs and performances if not quite world shattering. He’d used the common technique of using a well-used phrase or saying for the title on each and extemporised on the lyrics. The flip side was unusual in that it was a slow blues, something we hadn’t heard from Georgie up to now. I find that his break reminds me of Booker T and do wonder if the MG’s Behave Yourself (flip of Green Onions) had some conscious or unconscious effect on Georgie/Clive. What Georgie didn’t have on his record though was that descending arpeggio from Steve Cropper on Behave Yourself at roughly one minute twenty seconds in which catches anyone possibly nodding off.

Columbia single #8, Get Away (sometimes Getaway) in June ’66 was the second number one hit for Fame. It was a few other things too: his last disc with the Blue Flames, the first time he played guitar on record – well he did on television anyway – and his chirpiest record yet. There was a reason for that last comment; the song was originally written (by Georgie) for a TV ad for National Benzole petrol though I haven’t seen an account yet which tells me why anyone should have given him a commission for such work with his then limited experience. No matter, I didn’t see the ad but I’m sure it worked very well. I’m less sure of the qualities of the song as a pop disc and would be inclined to view it as disposable had it not been for the interjections of the Blue Flames who added at least a smidgeon of the edge, or maybe even funk, that we found oozing out of so many of his R&B efforts. But am I in a minority of one? The paying punters lapped it up at the time.

I think it was about then that that the parting of ways between Fame and yours truly started happening. Singles that followed didn’t really register (and that period included a switch to CBS). His last #1, The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde, didn’t exactly help either. Immaculately performed of course but wasn’t this sliding even closer to easy listening? As partings went it was reasonably amicable. I was as much at fault as the other party, being seduced by the other-worldliness of the psych era although, even then, I recognised that Fame had to earn a penny or two just like the rest of us. The fifties had taught me that heroes had a tendency not to last.

Before I get too maudlin, I have to mention that there were a few rather special EPs from Fame and the Blue Flames in the Columbia days. Thankfully the label seemed to recognise that the EP format could be used for more than chop-ups of long players though there were a couple of those as well. But praise be for 1964’s Rhythm And Bluebeat which must have been the first EP from a white artist devoted to ska/bluebeat. Take a listen to the near instrumental Tom Hark Goes Bluebeat or One Whole Year Baby in which elements of his love for Jon Hendricks stylisms would seem to have found their way into the mix.

Fats For Fame from May ’65 gave us four tracks devoted to the fabulous Mr D (and, yes, Fats spotters, that was the title of one of his albums). The Fame voice proved to be an ideal match for the instantly recognisable creole lilt of the great man himself. Georgie’s Blue Monday is the best I’ve heard from anyone other than Domino himself but it’s the irresistible rhumba rhythm of Sick And Tired which always gets me from this small but perfectly formed set.

The final goodie in this mini-series was, along with Sweet Things, part of the extended farewell to the Blue Flames and was as good an evocation of live Fame + Flames experience as anything on record including Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo. Move It On Over featured three R&B ‘standards’ (with hardly a hint of clever jazzy vocals) plus a title track which took the famous Hank Williams song – often mentioned in discussions of the origins of rock and roll – gave it a spanking new brassy arrangement with snorting punctuation from the Blue Flames, and those same guys – well I assume it was them – answering Georgie’s vocal in line with those sax and piano players etc. echoing their front man vocally on many a jump blues classic. “Move over cold dog ’cause a hot dog’s moving in.”

And you might have thought that Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns were so unique as to be virtually non-coverable but Fame and the boys took their Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu and made something new out of it without ever ignoring those deep Crescent City origins. Can you beat this. A great EP which, with hindsight, feels like it was “we’re going to do these great songs and maybe then we’ll go.”

The split between Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames appeared to have been amicable. However, it’s all too easy to imagine Fame being given advice by individuals who were convinced they were infinitely more experienced in the music business, with words like “broadening your horizons” and “this R&B band thing has run its course”. Maybe it had but with Northern Soul not a million years down the track, perhaps there was an audience for a live band of this nature.

Fame continued in an easy listening cum soft rock cum soft R&B mode for several years with the occasional diversion into jazz vocals on album. His last real hit of any note came from a period working with another northern lad clinging on to mid sixties success, Alan Price. Both were keyboardists and had some overlap in taste. Rosetta was a sprightly affair and showed that Georgie could still hack it (shame about that jersey though). I stumbled over a live outing for the pair going back to their roots on Bony Moronie (shame about the backing; the Blue Flames were sorely missed).

As the years passed, Georgie’s excursions into jazzland started to move more into the foreground of his career and recognition grew within critics and record buyers alike that, in Mr Fame, Britain had someone who could compete with the young jazz-orientated singers who seemed to emerge with some regularity from the US. Harry Connick Jr. is a good example. Fame, though, never seemed to have the desire to be a self-promoting front man like Michael Bublé (and yes, I know he’s from Canada not the US). Albums like A Portrait Of Chet (with Chet, of course, being Chet Baker) and Poet In New York cemented his reputation with the jazz audience.

Everything Happens To Me is a fine sample off the former. In addition, he spent a long spell on the road (and in the studio) as keyboards man for Van Morrison which possibly satisfied a need to keep in touch with more roots based music. A relatively recent (2010) live and delightful Vanlose Stairway gives an idea of the duo live. “Like the man said” these guys were seriously enjoying themselves (and note the Little Richard reference from Van).

It was a shame that Fame was never overly prolific in his song writing, otherwise he might have fitted more neatly under one of those headings we like to use, ‘singer/songwriter’, which for many decades has been seen, wrongly in my view, as being more important than that of interpreter. Every now and again though he managed to come up with something of real note, like Eros Hotel which was based on a poem by the late Fran Landesman, an American lyricist and poet. This take comes from the live at Ronnie Scott’s 1998 album Walking Wounded rather than the album on which it originally appeared, 1979’s Right Now and it features Georgie alone on his piano.

Let me give you a couple of quotes, both from the JazzTimes review of Poet In New York in December 2000:

“It’s difficult to explain why English singer-songwriter-keyboardist-arranger Georgie Fame isn’t regarded as a topflight male jazz vocalist.”

and

“With his appealing sound, bulls-eye pitch and infallible sense of swing, Fame smoothly negotiates a series of musical and verbal challenges that would ground all but his most accomplished contemporaries. In an era of numbing, sound-alike jazz-vocal albums, Poet In New York delivers the goods.”

That’s, perhaps, as good a place to stop as any.

PS: You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the Jools Holland, November 2000 airing of Yeh, Yeh. This was the one with the arrangement which had been created by Tubby Hayes for Fame’s 1967 tour with Count Basie (source: interview with Fame by Jazzwise).

PPS: Where’s the Fame knighthood?

 

 

FOOTNOTES

1. Can Blue Men Sing The Whites was the title of a song from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, an English comedy-with-surreal-touches outfit which flourished in the late sixties (and beyond if you include the reunions). If the title is still puzzling, try switching the two colours.

2. Willie Mabon was a blues and R&B singer and pianist with a particularly laconic mode of vocal delivery. He was born and brought up in Memphis but spent much of his working life in Chicago. Sue UK issued his Got To Have Some, a typically laid back offering. He was the first to record Willie Dixon’s The Seventh Son (on Chess in ’55) but the number was subsequently recorded by Mose Allison and Georgie Fame.

3. The gentleman who sang No More Dogging or, to be more precise, No More Doggin’, way back in 1959 was the semi-obscure R&B man Rosco Gordon, another gent who’d mastered the semi-reclined approach.

4. Rory Blackwell, leader of the Blackjacks, was one of the earliest of the Brit rock and roll singers having started out working in places like the 2i’s Coffee Bar in Soho. He and the boys recorded a cover of the Everlys’ Bye Bye Love for Parlophone. There’s also a fascinating clip of the band appearing in the British 1958 rock exploitation film Rock You Sinners performing a number called Rockin’ With Rory (which improves once the sax player gets going).

There’s an interesting Fame connection in that the associate producer for the film is Jeffrey Kruger who is the man who owned the Flamingo.

5. Instrumental in urging Larry Parnes to see Clive Powell (as he then was), was Lionel Bart who was heavily involved in British fifties pop prior to switching to musicals and becoming a household name.

6. The song that Clive Powell chose for his Larry Parnes audition was Jerry Lee’s High School Confidential (source: the Georgie Fame website).

7. If you ever get a question in a pub quiz, “What is the connection between Georgie Fame and the Emperor Nero?”, I can tell you that the answer is that Fame (in the early days) often stayed at Nero’s Soho flat. Some explanation is required: a friend of Fame from his Powell days oop north called Mike O’Neill had made the move to London earlier and was already well established on the scene. When someone told O’Neill that he looked like Nero he promptly took over the role (complete with plastic toga), got himself a band and had a couple of minor hits as “Nero and the Gladiators”. The records were Entry Of The Gladiators and In The Hall Of The Mountain King, both released in 1961. And yes, Georgie did stay in Mike/Nero’s flat (source: the Dennis Munday articles).

8. The Flamingo Club was initially opened in 1952 by Jeff Kruger and his father Sam. Its original location was the basement of the Mapleton Restaurant in Coventry Street but it moved to a new home, again sited in a basement, at 33–37 Wardour Street in 1957. The original intention of the owners was to provide a place to hear jazz and they achieved considerable success with that aim, using people like Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes in the house band and attracting visiting stars like Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday. In 1959, management for the club was taken over by Rik Gunnell who, over the years, introduced more of the R&B style of music that emerged in the early to mid sixties in the UK. Fame was very much the pioneer of this switch. I should emphasise that the “switch” that I’ve just referred to was gradual. Unlike several of the other London clubs which started to host electric blues and R&B bands in the early/mid sixties, the Flamingo didn’t lose touch with jazz and tended to favour the more jazz oriented R&B bands, though such differences got less pronounced as the sixties rolled forward. Broadly coincidental with the Fame residency, the club started to grow a new reputation as the centre of the UK mod subculture.

9. There’s a long and fascinating article on the mods and their history in Wiki. In the subsection on music, the writer notes that in the late fifties when mods first started to appear, their favoured music was modern jazz which tied in neatly with the sharp Italian style fashions that they wore (at least, initially). As the decade ticked over, such musical interest widened to include both R&B and ska. Hence the Flamingo could be viewed as a natural home for this new subculture with Fame invariably including ska material in his sets.

10. Perry Ford, real name Brian Pugh, was an aspiring singer in the early sixties but mainly did session work backing up other artists. In 1964, he and two other session singers – John Carter and Ken Lewis who’d had a brief mini-flirtation with fame as members of Carter-Lewis and the Southerners – formed a vocal trio called The Ivy League who had several hits kicking off with Funny How Love Can Be in 1965.

11. R & B Discs Ltd., to give its correct name, was founded in 1959 by Rita and Benny Izens, a husband and wife team who were Jewish immigrants to the UK. They also ran a record shop at 282 Stamford Hill, London. They set up a host of sub-labels in addition to R & B. Artists on the label included the Maytals, Delroy Wilson and Derrick Morgan.

12. Clive and Gloria were a UK based ska duo who made a tiny handful of records of which the gently rolling Money, Money, Money was a good example.

13. According to 45cat, Ronnie Gordon only made one record, Shake Some Time/Comin’ Home. The A-side was typical of the early Flamingo R&B sound with Fame’s Hammond very prominent and the Blue Flames’ horns interjecting with riffs and snorts.

14. According to Dennis Munday in his information-packed and excellent three part feature on Fame and the Blue Flames in Zani (“online optimism for the new beat generation”), Georgie played on Prince Buster’s Wash All Your Troubles Away and Derrick Morgan’s Telephone.

15. Another snippet of interest from the Dennis Munday article is that two members of the Blue Flames who were on the Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo sessions were late replacements: guitarist Big Jim Sullivan replaced John McLaughlin (yes, the John McLaughlin) who’d very recently left, and “Tommy” Thomas on congas replaced Speedy Acquaye who “was enjoying a short holiday at Her Majesty’s pleasure” for a drugs bust.

16. Many readers will be aware of the song Baby Please Don’t Go via the excellent version from Them which was released in late ’64 (together with flip side Gloria) and became the first hit for the band early in the following year. Morrison claims that the Them arrangement was based on a version of the song cut in 1949 as Don’t Go Baby by John Lee Hooker using the pseudonym, Texas Slim (source: Wiki). The origins of the song go back well before that date with various strains of music extending even to vaudeville, coming together to appear in what seems to be the generally agreed (according to Wiki in that same article) first recognisable version of the song, recorded in 1935 by Big Joe Williams. However, it’s likely to be the 1953 electric cut from Muddy Waters and band including Little Walter on mouth harp that went on to influence most of the subsequent takes from (mainly) white blues and rock bands.

Mose Allison’s jazzier styling of Baby Please Don’t Go first appeared on his 1960 album, Transfiguration Of Hiram Brown.

17. Allison’s Parchman Farm was inspired by a 1940 recording by Bukka White entitled Parchman Farm Blues which was based on his own experience in the Mississippi State Penitentiary. I used the word inspired for the Allison song since, although the lyrics are largely different, the positional stance of the narrator/singer remains the same. In addition there’s an evocation of the Bukka White choppy beat in Allison’s arrangement though the rhythm in the two performances is by no means identical.

18. Both Nat and Cannonball Adderley played with Ray Charles early on in the latter’s career in Tallahassee (source: Michael Lydon’s “Ray Charles: Man And Music” via Wiki).

19. Soul Jazz was a term that started to be used in the late fifties and early sixties to denote a form of jazz wherein blues, gospel and work song references were more explicit than hitherto. Artists that got listed under this heading included Cannonball Adderley, Bobby Timmons – his Moanin’ often gets mentions – and Horace Silver. The term later got expanded to include the music from organ-led outfits like the one led by Jimmy Smith. Typically, but not always, the second soloist in such an outfit would be a tenor sax player. The New York label Blue Note Records was associated with both streams of soul jazz particularly the organ/sax outfits. They introduced several new contenders for the Hammond organ crown after Jimmy Smith left them to go to the Verve label in 1962.

20. Well covered just doesn’t do justice to the number of versions spawned by Work Song, both in its vocal and instrumental variants. These have included soul man Tommy Hunt in ’62, Billy Lee Riley on mouth harp in ’64, Nina Simone in ’66, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band on East-West in ’68, and bringing us almost up to date, Gregory Porter live in 2014.

21. There’s a perfectly fine entry on Vocalese in Wiki which I’d point the reader to. Suffice to say here that Eddie Jefferson (see below) is widely credited with being the inventor of this form of music though the trio of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross are its best-known practitioners.

22. Eddie Jefferson was a jazz singer and lyricist who, as already noted, is often referenced as the man who introduced the vocalese style of singing. Jefferson claimed that he, in turn, was strongly influenced by Leo Watson. A good example of the Jefferson style can be heard on his version of the number So What which, in its instrumental form, was the track that kicked off 1959’s Kind Of Blue from Miles Davis. The track includes both vocalese and a small sample of scat singing (and my thanks to Wiki for pointing me at this one.)

23. King Pleasure was a jazz vocalist who also gained some renown due to his proficiency in the field of vocalese. It was his 1952 recording of Moody’s Mood For Love which was his breakthrough into the charts. The lady who appears approximately two minutes in on that recording is Blossom Dearie.

24. The late Amy Winehouse included a cover of Moody’s Mood For Love on her 2003 debut album, Frank. Opinions are divided about its merits; the drum part certainly doesn’t please everyone.

25. Georgie Fame might well have picked up Ray Charles’ Get On The Right Track Baby from his spell with Billy Fury. This is Bill singing the song from a Live at the Beeb session in 1961 (and making a fine job of it too).

26. Joe Liggins was an R&B/jump blues singer, pianist and bandleader who operated out of Los Angeles. He hit the R&B Chart with some regularity in the forties and early fifties gaining gold records for several of his singles. He’s known particularly for The Honeydripper, a title that he also gave to his band, as in Joe Liggins and the Honeydrippers.

27. Commentator DRIVEIN101, on the 45cat website, in his remarks on the Gene McDaniels’ single Point Of No Return states: “On November 22nd 1963, Point Of No Return was the last pop song played in its entirety on KLIF 1190 Radio in Dallas, Texas before KLIF News began non-stop coverage of the shootings of President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally in Dallas.”

28. I’m grateful to Dennis Munday – see above – for alerting me to the fact that there was another version of Point Of New Return which Fame is very likely to have heard judging by similarities in the phrasing. It also happened to be from one of his favourite artists, Louis Jordan late in his career (1963).

29. Teddy Randazzo was a white singer and song writer who had several US hits in the early sixties but perhaps rather strangely meant nothing over here. And I only include “white” as an adjective since most of the other US artists I cover in these footnotes are/were black. Teddy went on to write several songs for Anthony and the Imperials including Goin’ Out Of My Head which has become something of a pop standard.

30. Only during the course of putting this post together did I discover that Ace Records UK released in 2015 an album entitled Georgie Fame Heard Them Here First which contains a lot of originals of the numbers that Fame recorded in the sixties.

31. For the sake of completeness I should note that, in the mode of covering each other’s songs for the label which wasn’t at all unusual at Motown, Marvin Gaye also put out a version of Sweet Thing.

32. Harry South was a jazz pianist, composer and arranger. He started working musically in the fifties rubbing shoulders with several of the British jazz names who were emerging at that time. In ’54 he spent a spell in the Tony Crombie orchestra and subsequently worked in the Dick Morrissey Quartet, writing and arranging material for four of their albums. In 1966, he formed the Harry South Big Band and recorded an album for Mercury in addition to Sound Venture. In later years he made the switch to a successful career in film and television music.

33. I’m grateful to Our Esteemed Editor for unearthing a little bit more of the story behind the record, Getaway. In 45cat under the “Promo Only 7” category, there’s a quote which is attributed to Georgie Fame which runs as follows:

“I was asked to write a happy piece of music which would encourage young kids with their first cars to buy National Benzole petrol. They would give away our record to people who bought four gallons of petrol. It was a big promotion campaign and because we didn’t mention the name of the company in the song, we were able to release it as a single.”

34. John Burch whose real name was John Alexander Burchell, and who died in 2006, was a pianist, composer and bandleader with his feet variously in the jazz, rock and blues camps with a diversion into skiffle in the fifties. An idea of the company he kept can be gleaned from the fact that in the early sixties, he led a band whose members included, at various times, Graham Bond, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. He would go on to work with people like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and Freddie Hubbard plus a wide range of British jazzers (source: Wiki).

35. I’m grateful to Richard Williams for alerting me to the song Eros Hotel. He gave the original version a mention in his review of the career overview of Fame which came out in 2016 entitled Survival. Richard’s fine essay on the box set is contained in his Blue Moment blog and it’s one of several devoted to the man in Richard’s Blue Moment series.

36. Survival was preceded (in 2015) by a 5CD Box Set entitled The Whole World’s Shaking which included his four Columbia albums, plus his A- and B-sides of singles plus EPs plus bonus tracks recorded for the label. It’s pretty much my time bubble encapsulated.

37. Over the years, Fame has had a habit of including anecdotes in his stage performances, often with ‘names’ sprinkled in. I certainly think that one included in the 2017 interview in Jazzwize (see earlier) going back to his very early days, warrants repetition:

“We were called to a rehearsal in Gerrard Street, Soho by Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, and it was there, along with a pool of musicians that Larry Parnes employed and Marty Wilde’s band the Wildcats, that we found out who was gonna play with who. Eddie was sat on a stool with a Gretsch guitar and asked if anyone had heard of Ray Charles and nobody put their hand up. So he started to play the intro to ‘What’d I Say’ on his guitar and we all flipped. As it happened, the Wildcats were chosen to play with Eddie and we were selected to back Gene Vincent, but that was not how it worked out. You can ask any of the Beatles that are still alive, or Tom Jones who remembers me playing ‘What’d I Say’ with Eddie Cochran in Cardiff in 1960. Eddie Cochran was responsible for introducing the music of Ray Charles to the masses of this country. The Beatles were in the audience when we played at the Liverpool Empire and within three months of that tour every guitar player in Britain was trying to play ‘What’d I Say’, most of them were playing it wrong too! Eddie played it perfectly.”

38. During my (or his) time bubble period, Fame and the boys displayed quite a liking for R&B/jazz organ instrumentals which I haven’t given much space to in the main text. Fame At Last had both Green Onions and Jimmy McGriff’s mod favourite All About My Girl present and correct, with the latter including pleasing cameos for both sax players with neither being rushed to get off the mike to let the main man back. I also recall an encore (at Rochester of all places, after a dance) when he played not one but two numbers from organist Big John Patton’s Along Came John Blue Note album. A good example of GF & the BF’s being let loose on numbers of this type is their reading of Booker T.’s Outrage. The original kicked off with a catchy riff played with big blocky chords and that semi-aggressive sound that they specialised in. After some variation in verse two they did seem to run out of ideas, though unusually for a 12 bar affair, there was a middle eight. Georgie and co did everything but run out of ideas. Their version upped the speed and adrenaline, made a feature of that middle eight building to a crashing climax, and that trumpet solo was something to wonder at. Marvellous.

39. In 1967, on an album recorded at Ronnie Scott’s, Blossom Dearie sang a song for which Sandra Harris supplied the lyrics. This is how it started:

Words and music are all that I need
I will follow wherever they lead
And I’m finding more fun in the game
A darling boy has brought me joy, sweet Georgie Fame

40. In Georgie’s own words: “Some people think I’m a rock ‘n’ roll musician and some think I’m a jazz musician but, for me, there is no difference.” (The Independent’s Five Minute Interview with Georgie Fame)

 

 

Georgie Fame official website

The Georgie Fame Website

The Georgie Fame Discography

Georgie Fame biography (iTunes)

Dave Stephens is the author of two books on popular music. His first, “RocknRoll”, is described by one reviewer as “probably the most useful single source of information on 50s & 60s music I’ve come across”. Dave followed this up with “London Rocks” in 2016, an analysis of the early years of the London (American) record label in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @DangerousDaveXX

TopperPost #735

10 Comments

  1. Andrew Shields
    Aug 16, 2018

    Thanks for this excellent piece. Have always thought that Georgie is one of the very best of the English blues/jazz men. And he can make Van Morrison laugh in public. Even saw him sing “Happy Birthday’ once for Van at a brilliant gig in Dublin…

  2. Keith Shackleton
    Aug 17, 2018

    Ah, Seventh Son, the greatest ever Top of the Pops performance, from the 1969 album of the same name, from which also comes my personal favourite Fame track, which goes down well on any occasion!

  3. Willie Wilson
    Aug 17, 2018

    Great piece. Managed to catch GF live twice recently, the man still has it!

  4. Cal Taylor
    Aug 20, 2018

    If anyone wants to know about Georgie Fame it’s hard to see that they will find a better article on him. This is very well researched, extremely well written and it’s comprehensive. I learned things I didn’t know and it made sense of things that didn’t seem to make sense when they happened in the mid-‘60s. I saw Georgie in March 1965 when he appeared in Motown’s first tour of the UK. I thought at the time that Georgie was a bit of an odd choice for inclusion on that tour and I’m not convinced it was the right platform for him, despite him having previously recorded Motown songs. He closed the first half but every one of the other five acts were Motown artists. Georgie had got to no.1 in the charts just two months earlier with Yeh Yeh and I think the promoters felt the show needed a ‘big name’ to bolster what-were-then virtually unknown acts to UK audiences.
    Until I read this Toppermost I didn’t realise the history of Yeh Yeh (Mongo Santamaria/Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan) and what such diverse sources Georgie used. I always thought Georgie’s liaison with Blossom Dearie (that was her real name!) was a strange one at the time. She was from a different generation (born 1924) but after reading Dave’s piece, it makes a lot more sense now, knowing more about Georgie’s eclectic musical background.

    • Dave Stephens
      Aug 23, 2018

      Many thanks gentlemen. (As usual) this piece ended up being much bigger than planned but there were so many good snippets I just couldn’t leave out. In particular that separation between 50s rock and roll and the music that followed it (and that which preceded it) seems fairly well defined in many of the music books we grew up with but in the Fame story the whole thing is more complex and inter-related than one expects. Check out “Pistol Packin’ Mama” again.

  5. Peter Viney
    Aug 24, 2018

    A splendid piece by Dave. Before I read it the three in my mind were Pink Champagne, Point of No Return, and Tom Hark Goes Blue Beat from the EP. When Georgie Fame moved from Columbia (EMI) to CBS (CBS could not use the Columbia name in the UK because of EMI’s label), he received then rare accolade of his own logo stamped on the centre of singles FAME IN 67 ON CBS with a picture. That’s how much CBS wanted him. However, I agree that the Columbia (EMI) material is the cream, though I guess Bonnie & Clyde is iconic. I’ve seen him many times with Van Morrison. It’s an argument I’ve had before, but I think he has a mildly negative effect on Van, in that they get on so well, but with Georgie on board, Van goes for jazzy numbers and versions rather than the getting “into the mystic” which I’m always hoping for. Georgie Fame is touring the UK in Autumn 2018 with The Manfreds (as Zoot Money did). That should mean a few solo numbers as well as being part of the band.

  6. Paul F Newman
    Aug 24, 2018

    As a footnote to Footnote 33, although I don’t remember the free giveaway with four gallons of petrol – I didn’t have a car until 1966 – the ‘Super National’ adverts were the direct inspiration for one of the last of our Record Books in 1964: a series of notebooks created by my brother and I. The photos here show the endpapers of my brother’s ‘Getaway’ Record Book – cut-out ads for Super National which through the pages are combined with surfing art and our band, the Surfin’ Gremmies’ songs. The actual writing down of Luxembourg shows fades out in this summer of ’64 (the twilight of the Record Books) to become a more abstract art-inspired set of personal adverts for favourite records (and Super National adverts).
    I believe Georgie Fame’s ‘Getaway’ hit was two years later in 1966 and I’m not sure that it was being used in the petrol adverts on television as early as these Record Book pictures from 1964. But ‘Getaway’ was a big thing for us.
    I’ve also found a list of my brother’s personal Top Ten records from a 1963 Record Book that shows The Super National Theme by Barry Fox at number 7. So Georgie’s Getaway was probably not the first soundtrack for the advert.

    Getaway 1

    Getaway 2

  7. Peter Viney
    Aug 24, 2018

    Marvellous pics, Paul. Muddy Waters recorded ‘I’ll Put A Tiger In Your Tank’ (by Willie Dixon) inspired by Esso’s campaign which had started in 1959. Then Buck Owens recorded I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail inspired by the same adverts. I had tiger tails on my Vespa scooter, so Georgie Fame was in good company with Getaway.

  8. Peter Viney
    Aug 24, 2018

    Dave, on footnotes … Bobby Darin’s version of “Work Song” from Earthy is my favourite (and is in Toppermost 42).
    On Gene McDaniels, he suffered from UK singers improving his stuff. I prefer Georgie Fame’s take on Point of No Return. Also Frankie Vaughan improved Tower of Strength. We recorded a version a few years ago for an ELT series, and sat with the producer comparing Gene McDaniels and Frankie Vaughan discs. We were all surprised that Frankie sang it better. Then we couldn’t find a cover version singer who could get near Frankie’s vocal power. We used an Elvis impersonator in the end.

    • Dave Stephens
      Aug 26, 2018

      I hadn’t previously heard the Darin take on “Work Song” but that’s now been rectified. Great version. BD with lounge lizard hat on maybe but with mucho style and intelligence. Slightly reminiscent of the later Fame.
      And yes, I do recall the power of the Vaughan voice though my memory of the great Frank is always tinged by a sacreligious joke told by a certain ex-flatmate of mine – the gent who has a walk-on role in “London Rocks” – in which Jesus Christ comes back to Earth but is mistaken for FV. The punchline was “Gimme the moonlight”.

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