GEORGIE FAME: Yeh, Yeh: Get Away: Hall Of Fame (BGO)

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UK reissue specialist label BGO has released 1,499  albums. For their landmark 1,500 edition, label bosses wanted something a little special, so they’ve decided to turn their reissue spotlight on a real UK music treasure – GEORGIE FAME. Label head boy, Andy Gray explains the logic. In the notes he recalls that it was just over 50 years ago that he saw Georgie and the redoubtable Blue Flames live in Felixstowe and it made quite an impression on young Mr Gray.  Since then, the Leigh lad went on to record a plethora of acclaimed music and he now boasts a back catalogue second to none. But Andy Gray suggests that it was during the mid-60s (the time of that Felixstowe gig) that Georgie was at his  peak and so  to celebrate  that wonderful time and to mark his label’s 1,500th release, Andy has here anthologised three Fame albums from that era. They are ‘Yeh, Yeh’ from 1964, 1966’s ‘Get Away’ and ‘Hall Of Fame’ from ‘67.

The first two were American albums, released on the Imperial label. Record collectors will know that when UK albums were released in the States in the 60s, the US label bosses often gave them new titles, new covers and different running orders and tracks. The Beatles first albums are good examples of this. So the US Imperial issue of  Fames’ ‘Yeh, Yeh’ LP took ten tracks from Georgie’s UK ‘ Fame At Last’ album and added ‘Yeh, Yeh’ and ‘Preach And Teach’ while the  US ‘Get Away’ set  was essentially a re-jigged version of Georgie’s UK ‘Sweet Things’ long player with some additions, notably ‘Get Away’. ‘Hall Of Fame’ was a UK album. Released on the singer’s then label, Columbia, it was the first Georgie Fame retrospective  and for this  BGO version, to avoid pointless repetition, the compliers have left out songs that featured on the above-mentioned ‘Yeh, Yeh’ and ‘Get Away’ and replaced them with “bonuses” like Fame’s pre ‘Yeh, Yeh’ singles.

Georgie Fame fans will know each of the 40 tracks and highlights abound – ‘Yeh, Yeh’, of course; then there’s  the wonderful version of Goffin/King’s ‘Point Of No Return’ (still featured in the singer’s live shows) and Georgie’s cover of Joe Hinton’s cover of Willie Nelson’s ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ – a landmark track in the evolution of Brit soul, as is the magnificent  cover of the Spinners’ ‘Sweet Thing’ which many soul commentators consider one of the best ever UK soul covers. In an interview  with this writer George told me he was amazed that Columbia refused to release it as a single. He also  confided to me that he’s always disliked ‘Get Away’  – a song he originally wrote and recorded for a TV petrol ad. He was honest enough to add, though, that royalties  from that no. 1 hit have kept his pension fund healthy!

Sleeve notes for this splendid collection come from my esteemed SJF colleague Charles Waring, so you know that the words match the quality of the music. Congrats to BGO on reaching 1,500 albums! Here’s to the next couple of thousand!

(BB) 4/5