GEORGIE FAME: Mod Classics (Label: BGP)

GEORGIE FAME: Mod Classics

Young soul shavers don’t really understand the past – especially the 60s. Too many pundits regularly trot out the trite “well, if you can remember the 60s, you weren’t there!”… How wrong they are!!! Let me tell you, I was there – and can remember every glorious minute (well, almost).Back then, soul – because it was rationed (in terms of airplay and physical availability) – was a true cult music; the music of the underground (metaphorically and physically). All cults have their heroes and icons and we sixties soul loving mods had dozens. Naturally American soulsters like The Impressions, Otis Redding, Major Lance, Marvin Gaye and Billy Stewart sat at the summit of our Olympus but because their visitations were so few and very far between we mainly had to survive with our own home grown soul heroes – and of those there was/is none greater nor more important than Georgie Fame. Born Clive Powell in Leigh, Lancashire, Georgie eventually found himself in residency at London’s legendary Flamingo Club fronting his own swinging band – the Blue Flames. The club’s audience (visiting American service men, Caribbean immigrants and savvy mods) demanded soul and Georgie provided it – though his sets also featured jazz and blue beat. This new BGP collection offers a glimpse of his soul repertoire at the time and it really is a heady mix – full of memories and as a snapshot of one moment in time, it’s absolutely spot on. Georgie’s secret was to find just the right material… catchy songs that were almost unknown in the UK, and then deliver them in his own distinctive way… a unique vocal fronting a swinging delivery. Here we can enjoy Georgie’s takes on stuff like Don Covay’s ‘See Saw’ , James Brown’s ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ and the Mar-Keys’ ‘Last Night’ and though we’d never argue that these versions are better than the originals they are still excellent and with little twists here and there Georgie makes them his own. Personal favourites on the set include a version of the Spinners’ ‘Sweet Thing’ (the original demo given to him when he was working on a UK Motown package tour), a superb take on Willie Nelson’s ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ ( Georgie, here, copies Joe Hinton’s rare soul version) and an admirable and joyous take on Major Lance’s ‘The Monkey Time’. It’s hard to believe that these recordings are over 45 years old … they still ooze vitality and what you hear is a man enjoying making the music he loves…. and he’s still doing just that. He regularly records new material and is usually out on the road – solo, with his sons, fronting the Blue Flames, playing with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings and as part of Van Morrison’s band. Catch him if you can!
(BB) 4/5