BRIAN AUGER: Street Noise, The Mod Years (Label: SPV)

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BRIAN AUGER: Street Noise, The Mod Years

Not too many British musicians have been honoured by the US Congress for their contribution to “the American Art Form Of Jazz”. Hammond maestro Brian Auger has… and sadly, it’s only recently that Auger has started to get his proper dues in the UK. I say “sadly” because for over forty years he’s been a dynamic, musical innovator who’s also done more than most to champion the causes of blues, jazz and soul and this new collection focuses on a period of his lengthy career when he was at his busiest doing just that. The first CD in this double pack, ‘Streetnoise,’ collects together 16 tracks from 1969 when Auger was fronting a band called the Trinity, which featured the wonderful vocals of the still-lovely and ever-iconic Julie Driscoll. Those of you (like me) who were there in the ’60s will know that by ’69, “progression” was the all the musical rage and here Auger and his team chase the musical boundaries on a set of originals and covers of which a take on Laura Nyro’s ‘Save The Country’ is superb – simple and pure as Nyro ( I think) intended. The second CD here, ‘The Mod Years’, is much more of a mixed bag. The first 12 tracks are again down to the Trinity and are mostly covers – including the hit version of Bob Dylan’s ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’, and Auger’s homages to Hammond heroes Jimmy McGriff and Booker T Jones. You also get a lovely swinging ’60s set piece – ‘Oh Baby Won’t You Come Back To Croydon’ … and those ’60s swingers will delight at the remaining cuts which feature the Steampacket – the UK’s first “super group”. Steampacket was essentially a vehicle for three great vocalists – Julie Driscoll, Long John Baldry and Rod “the Mod” Stewart (as he was then dubbed). They came together in ’64 and gigged constantly – playing a blistering set of soul, Motown, jazz, gospel, and blues covers to delighted mods in the famed cellar clubs. Their gigging schedule was so tight that there was little time to record properly and they only ever laid down nine tracks – all here. They include Auger’s jazz-soul version of ‘The In Crowd’ and fab ensemble covers of stuff like ‘Baby Take Me’ and ‘Can I Get A Witness’. I tell you, if you want to hear some authentic mid ’60s UK mod music – this is it! Great music, great memories and a great tribute a genuine UK musical giant.
(BB) 4/5