The Steampacket - The Steampacket ( ) / VA -The First R & B Festival (1964)
Because their ranks included a future superstar, the Steampacket have received more attention than they really deserve. Featuring vocalists Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry, and Julie Driscoll, as well as organist Brian Auger, misleading reissues of the group's demos bill the act as "the first supergroup." That's simply not the case. They were an interesting conglomeration, and innovative in the respect of featuring several singers. But their true status is as a short-lived footnote, and not one that rates as a highlight of any of the principals' careers.
Though the Steampacket played gigs at small venues around London as early as 1962, the nucleus of the band formed in mid-1965, after the demise of Baldry's backing outfit, the Hoochie Coochie Men. Baldry envisioned a soul-type revue, each singer taking the material for which he or she was most suited. Management by Giorgio Gomelsky (who also handled the Yardbirds and several other interesting British groups) and a supporting slot on the Rolling Stones' summer 1965 British tour seemed to promise a bright future.
Their professional activities were complicated by the fact that Baldry and Stewart retained separate managers for their individual careers. Additionally, Baldry was already signed to United Artists as a solo act, thwarting Gomelsky's plans to record the band. This led to disputes between the different managers, and the Steampacket broke up before they managed to enter the studio.
Officially enter the studio, that is. Gomelsky did record some tapes with the band at a rehearsal at the famous Marquee club in London. These have been reissued numerous times since the 1970s, and show the band to be a competent but hardly thrilling soul-rock outfit, anchored instrumentally by Auger's jazz blues organ. Stewart moved on to the Jeff Beck Group, the Faces, and solo stardom; Baldry moved into middle-of-the-road pop, landing some British hit singles in the late '60s. Auger had recorded as a backup musician on Baldry's mid-'60s solo records, and his Brian Auger Trinity group continued working with Julie Driscoll, reaching the U.K. Top Five in 1968 with "This Wheel's on Fire."
The Roadrunners' earliest recorded output, You Can Make It If You Try and Mary Ann, comes from the First Annual R&B Festival at Birmingham Town Hall on February 28th, 1964. Organized by Georgio Gomelsky, this one-night festival featured Sonny Boy Williamson backed by the Yardbirds and supported by Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Blues Band, the Spencer Davis Rhythm & Blues Quartet, and, of course, the Roadrunners. The gig was recorded by Gomelsky, and this somewhat low-fidelity album has subsequently been released by Charly Records and on CD by Repertoire (Steampacket/First R&B Festival). Incidentally, Rod Stewart (then roadie for the Hoochie Coochie Men) also makes an early appearance on the album and the Roadrunners also appear as part of the "All Star" jam through "Got My Mojo Working" which closes the album. Around this time, the band were offered a deal by a major record label. However, Mike Hart seemed reluctant to get involved with "all this commercialism," and it fell through. The band returned to Liverpool and added the two sax players Nick Carver and Johnny Phillips, becoming a James Brown-style soul outfit. Following the second Star Club album, the band returned from Hamburg and appeared on one more disc, the Pantomania EP, which was made to raise money for the University rag week in 1965. It includes their version of the Bobby Bland classic "Cry, Cry, Cry" and a version of "The Leaving of Liverpool." Mike Hart left shortly afterwards to pursue a solo career, and the Roadrunners carried on for a while under the leadership of Pete Mackey
Bass Guitar – Chris Dreja (tracks: 17 to 20), Cliff Barton (tracks: 14, 15), Muff Winwood (tracks: 11, 16), Peter Mackey (tracks: 12, 13)
Drums – David Boyce (2) (tracks: 12, 13), Ernie O'Malley (tracks: 14, 15), Jim McCarty (tracks: 17 to 20), Pete York (tracks: 11, 16)
Guitar – Eric Clapton (tracks: 17 to 20), Jeff Bradford* (tracks: 14, 15), Michael Hart* (tracks: 12, 13), Paul Samwell-Smith (tracks: 17 to 20), Spencer Davis (tracks: 11, 16), Steve Winwood (tracks: 11, 16)
Harp – Keith Relf (tracks: 17 to 20)
Keyboards – John Peacock (5) (tracks: 12, 13), Johnny Parker (4) (tracks: 14, 15)
Saxophone – John Philips (4) (tracks: 12, 13), Nick Carver* (tracks: 12, 13)
Vocals – Long John Baldry (tracks: 14, 15), Michael Hart* (tracks: 12, 13), Rod Stewart (tracks: 14, 15), Sonny Boy Williamson II* (tracks: 17 to 20)
1 –The Steampacket Back At The Chicken Shack
2 –The Steampacket The In-Crowd
3 –The Steampacket Baby Take Me
4 –The Steampacket Can Get A Witness
5 –The Steampacket Baby Baby
6 –The Steampacket Holy Smoke
7 –The Steampacket Cry Me A River
8 –The Steampacket Oh Baby, Don't You Do It
9 –The Steampacket Lord Remember Me
The First R & B Festival - Live at the Birmingham Town Hall, February 2nd, 1964
10 –Bob Wooler Introduction
11 –The Spencer Davies Rhythm & Blues Quartet* Dimples
12 –The Liverpool Roadrunners* You're Gonna Make It If You Try
13 –The Liverpool Roadrunners* Mary Ann
14 –Long John Baldry 's Hoochie Goochie Men* Bright Lights, Big City
15 –Long John Baldry 's Hoochie Goochie Men* The 2.19
16 –The Spencer Davies Rhythm & Blues Quartet* Night Time Is The Right Time
17 –The Yardbirds & Sonny Boy Williamson II* Slow Walk
18 –The Yardbirds & Sonny Boy Williamson II* Highway 69
19 –The Yardbirds & Sonny Boy Williamson II* My Little Cabin
20 –The Yardbirds & Sonny Boy Williamson II* Bye Bye Bird
21 –Various Mojo Working
Long John Baldry And The Hoochie Coochie Men - Long John`s Blues (1964-1966)
This legendary figure in the British R&B scene of the early 60s, without whom the history of English Rock'n'Roll and specially R&B would have been very different, was one of the most exciting live acts of the time. This, his first album, stands very proudly amongst the most essential British R&B / Blues albums of all times, and is certainly a must for any Mod / 60s R&B afficionado.
Like Cliff Richard, Chris Farlowe, Slade, Blur, and eel pie, Long John Baldry is one of those peculiarly British phenomena that doggedly resists American translation. As a historical figure, he has undeniable importance. When he began singing as a teenager in the 1950s, he was one of the first British vocalists to perform folk and blues music. In the early '60s, he sang in the band of British blues godfather Alexis Korner, Blues Incorporated, which also served as a starting point for future rock stars Mick Jagger, Jack Bruce, and others. As a member of Blues Incorporated, he contributed to the first British blues album, R&B at the Marquee (1962). He then joined the Cyril Davies R&B All Stars, taking over the group (renamed Long John Baldry and His Hoochie Coochie Men) after Davies' death in early 1964. This band featured Rod Stewart as a second vocalist, and also employed Geoff Bradford (who had been in an embryonic version of the Rolling Stones) on guitar.
In the mid-'60s, he helped form Steampacket, a proto-supergroup that also featured Stewart, Julie Driscoll, and Brian Auger. When Steampacket broke up, he fronted Bluesology, the band that gave keyboardist Reg Dwight -- soon to become Elton John -- his first prestigious gig. He was a well-liked figure on the London club circuit, and in fact the Beatles took him on as a guest on one of their 1964 British TV specials, at a time when the Fab Four could have been no bigger, and Baldry was virtually unknown.
Ironically, his greatest commercial success came not with blues, but orchestrated pop ballads that echoed Engelbert Humperdinck. The 1967 single "Let the Heartaches Begin" reached number one in Britain, and Baldry had several other small British hits in the late '60s, the biggest of which was "Mexico" (1968). (None of these made an impression in the U.S.)
It Ain't Easy The commercial success of his ballads led Baldry to forsake the blues on record for a few years. He returned to blues and rock in 1971 on It Ain't Easy, for which Rod Stewart and Elton John shared the production duties. The album contained a tiny American chart item, "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock'n'Roll," and Stewart and John split the production once again on the 1972 follow-up, Everything Stops for Tea. Baldry never caught on as an international figure, though, and by 1980 had become a Canadian citizen. He continued to record, and did commercial voice-overs as well as the voice of Doctor Robotnik in children's cartoons. After battling a severe chest infection for several months, Long John Baldry passed away on July 21, 2005, while hospitalized in Vancouver.
12 Classic Performances Recorded in London 1964-1966
Long John Baldry – Looking At Long John (1966)
Baldry's move from blues into pop/soul for his second album may have been viewed as something of a loss in integrity, given his purist blues stance on his debut. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea, given the British blues-rock field was crowded with many greater talents in the mid-'60s....
Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated – At The Cavern (1964)
Without Alexis Korner, there still might have been a British blues scene in the early 1960s, but chances are that it would have been very different from the one that spawned the Rolling Stones, nurtured the early talents of Eric Clapton, and made it possible for figures such as John Mayall to reach an audience. Born of mixed Turkish/Greek/Austrian descent, Korner spent the first decade of his life in France, Switzerland, and North Africa, and arrived in London in May of 1940, just in time for the German blitz, during which Korner discovered American blues. One of the most vivid memories of his teen years was listening to a record of bluesman Jimmy Yancey during a German air raid. "From then on," he recalled in an interview, "all I wanted to do was play the blues."
After the war, Korner started playing piano and then guitar, and in 1947 he tried playing electric blues, but didn't like the sound of the pick-ups that were then in use, and returned to acoustic playing. In 1949, he joined Chris Barber's Jazz Band and in 1952 he became part of the much larger Ken Colyer Jazz Group, which had merged with Barber's band. Among those whom Korner crossed paths with during this era was Cyril Davies, a guitarist and harmonica player. The two found their interests in American blues completely complementary, and in 1954 they began making the rounds of the jazz clubs as an electric blues duo. They started the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club, where, in addition to their own performances, Korner and Davies brought visiting American bluesmen to listen and play. Very soon they were attracting blues enthusiasts from all over England.
Korner and Davies made their first record in 1957, and in early 1962, they formed Blues Incorporated, a "supergroup" (for its time) consisting of the best players on the early-'60s British blues scene. Korner (guitar, vocals), Davies (harmonica, vocals), Ken Scott (piano), and Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophone) formed the core, with a revolving membership featuring Charlie Watts or Graham Burbridge on drums, Spike Heatley or Jack Bruce on bass, and a rotating coterie of guest vocalists including Long John Baldry, Ronnie Jones, and Art Wood (older brother of Ron Wood). Most London jazz clubs were closed to them, so in March of 1962 they opened their own club, which quickly began attracting large crowds of young enthusiasts, among them Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones, all of whom participated at some point with the group's performances; others included Ian Stewart, Steve Marriott, Paul Jones, and Manfred Mann. In May of 1962, Blues Incorporated was invited to a regular residency at London's Marquee Club, where the crowds grew even bigger and more enthusiastic. John Mayall later credited Blues Incorporated with giving him the inspiration to form his own Bluesbreakers group.
Record producers began to take notice, and in June of 1962 producer Jack Good arranged to record a live performance by the band. The resulting record, R&B from the Marquee, the first full-length album ever made by a British blues band, was released in November of 1962. The album consisted of largely of American standards, especially Willie Dixon numbers, rounded out with a few originals. At virtually the same time that Blues Incorporated's debut was going into stores, Cyril Davies left the group over Korner's decision to add horns to their sound. Korner soldiered on, but the explosion of British rock in 1963, and the wave of blues-based rock bands that followed, including the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Yardbirds undercut any chance he had for commercial success. His more studied brand of blues was left stranded in a commercial backwater -- there were still regular gigs and recordings, but no chart hits, and not much recognition. While his one-time acolytes the Rolling Stones and the Cream made the front pages of music magazines all over the world, Korner was relegated to the blues pages of England's music papers, and, though not yet 40, to the role of "elder statesman."
For a time, Korner hosted Five O'Clock Club, a children's television show that introduced a whole new generation of British youth to American blues and jazz. He also wrote about blues for the music papers, and was a detractor of the flashy, psychedelic, and commercialized blues-rock of the late '60s, which he resented for its focus on extended solos and its fixation on Chicago blues. He continued recording as well, cutting a never-completed album with future Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant in early 1968. Korner's performing career in England was limited, but he could always play to large audiences in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, and there were always new Korner records coming out. It was while touring Scandinavia that he first hooked up with vocalist Peter Thorup, who became Korner's collaborator over the next several years in the band New Church. After his dismissal from the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones considered joining New Church; Korner, however, rejected the idea, because he didn't want his new band to be caught up in any controversy. In 1972, he became peripherally involved in the breakup of another band, inheriting the services of Boz Burrell, Mel Collins, and Ian Wallace when they quit King Crimson.
It was during the '70s that Korner had his only major hit, as leader (with Peter Thorup) of the 25-member big-band ensemble CCS. Their version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" charted in England, and led to a tour and television appearances. In response, Korner released Bootleg Him, a retrospective compiled from tapes in his personal collection, including recordings with Robert Plant, Mick Jagger, and Charlie Watts. Korner played on the "supersession" album B.B. King in London, and cut his own, similar album, Get Off My Cloud, with Keith Richards, Peter Frampton, Nicky Hopkins, and members of Joe Cocker's Grease Band. When Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones in 1975, Korner was mentioned as a possible replacement, but the spot eventually went to Ron Wood. In 1978, for Korner's 50th birthday, an all-star concert was held featuring Eric Clapton, Paul Jones, Chris Farlowe, and Zoot Money, which was later released as a video.
In 1981, Korner formed the last and greatest "supergroup" of his career, Rocket 88, featuring himself on guitar, Jack Bruce on upright bass, Ian Stewart on piano, and Charlie Watts on drums, backed by trombonists and saxmen, and one or two additional keyboard players. They toured Europe and recorded several gigs, the highlights of which were included on a self-titled album released by Atlantic Records. In contrast to the many blues-rock fusion records with which Korner had been associated, Rocket 88 mixed blues with boogie-woogie jazz, the group's repertory consisting largely of songs written by W. C. Handy and Pete Johnson.
After a well-received appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival in the early '80s, there were rumors afterward that he intended to become more active musically, but his health was in decline by this time.
- [04:00] 01. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Overdrive [04:33] 02. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Whoa Baby [04:13] 03. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Every Day I Have The Blues [05:35] 04. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Hoochie Coochie Man [07:39] 05. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Herbie's Tune (Aka Dooji Wooji) [05:32] 06. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Little Bitty Gal Blues [03:15] 07. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Well All Right, Ok, You Win [04:28] 08. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Kansas City [00:13] 09. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Announcement [BBC Session] [02:20] 10. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Overdrive [BBC Session] [01:15] 11. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Brief Interview [BBC Session] [02:10] 12. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - I Need Your Lovin' [BBC Session] [02:25] 13. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Turn On Your Lovelight [BBC Session] [01:07] 14. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Brief Interview [BBC Session] [02:50] 15. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Please, Please, Please [BBC Session] [00:05] 16. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Announcement [BBC Session] [02:21] 17. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Roberta [BBC Session] [02:01] 18. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Every Day I Have The Blues [BBC Session] [02:16] 19. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - I Need Your Lovin' [02:32] 20. Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated - Please, Please, Please
Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated - R&B From The Marquee (1962)
Its title notwithstanding, R&B from the Marquee was not a live album, nor was it cut at the Marquee: it was actually done at Decca Records' London studio, albeit in one long day's work and effectively live-in-the-studio. It was also the place where British blues began, at least as a recording proposition. Blues played by Britons had been part of the underground music scene since the mid-'50s, and Blues Incorporated had been a going concern in one form or another, initially guitarist Alexis Korner and harpist/singer Cyril Davies (actually, maybe the first two Britons to play blues); but by this time, the group also included Dick Heckstall-Smith (tenor sax, backing vocals), Keith Scott (piano), Spike Heatley (upright bass), and Graham Burbridge (drums), with Long John Baldry handling some lead vocals. For this record, Big Jim Sullivan also sang backup, and Teddy Wadmore provides a key cameo appearance for the electric bass guitar (then a new and alien instrument in this music). The sound here is mostly out of late-'40s and early-'50s Chicago blues; in later years -- Blues Incorporated would embrace more diverse branches of the music in their performances -- and the outfit swings with a surprising degree of authenticity; they're somewhat stiffer than any actual Chicago outfit would be, but in England in 1962, this was as down-and-dirty as any homegrown outfit ever sounded. Korner's guitar leads things off with his own "Gotta Move," an instrumental that showcases the whole outfit, including a bracing duet between Davies' harmonica and Heckstall-Smith's sax: they give each give plenty of space to work around the other, here and also on Davies' own "Spooky But Nice," and it's easy to see why the two got along so well despite Davies' well-known antipathy to reed instruments and horns. Blues Incorporated was at its peak during the time this album was done, with its best and most powerful lineup, and never stronger in the vocal department -- Baldry has more flexibility, and is more a potential star (which he became) for his singing, while Davies is a pure, raw bluesman, with no concessions to pop music, and he sounds uncannily like Muddy Waters on "I Got My Brand on You." And this band swings, but it also rocks. "I Wanna Put a Tiger in Your Tank" is a forceful blues workout for its time, and when Wadmore's electric bass shows up on "Got My Mojo Working," you can hear the first recorded manifestation of what would become blues-rock in the hands of Blues Incorporated member/acolytes the Rolling Stones and the Pretty Things. Spike Heatley gets the spotlight briefly on the instrumental "Down Town," and lest anyone think that Alexis Korner is only a supporting player in his own band, nothing could be farther from the truth: his guitar, acoustic and mostly unamplified, helps drive everything here, and "Finkle's Café" and "Hoochie Coochie Man," among other tracks, give him the spotlight.