GEORGIE FAME : Tone-Wheels A Turnin’ (Label: Three Line Whip)

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GEORGIE FAME : Tone-Wheels A Turnin'

Never mind Cliff Richard, Elton John or – God love us! – Morrissey… Georgie Fame is, without doubt, the UK’s greatest national music treasure. The man born Clive Powell in Leigh, Lancashire 66 years ago has done more to further the cause of “proper” popular music than anyone else – and what’s more he’s done it without courting controversy, throwing tantrums or amassing huge personal and extravagant wealth. Re-christened Georgie Fame by notorious music biz entrepreneur Larry Parnes, young Clive formed his first Blue Flames in 1961 (as a backing group for Billy Fury) and since then the group’s gone through numerous incarnations but whoever and whatever, they’ve stayed true to Georgie’s game plan; i.e. to play and create only the best soul and jazz, and, in doing so, honouring and respecting the great names of the genres. Georgie’s latest Blue Flames have been together for 15 years now and number Alan Skidmore (sax), Guy Barker (trumpet), Anthony Kerr (vibes), Alan Dankworth (bass) and Georgie’s sons, Tristan and James on guitar and drums respectively. That band give this latest album a real consistency of sound though the music is as varied as you’d expect from someone with Georgie’s pedigree. Throughout the album you’ll hear echoes of all the man’s heroes – from Louis Jordan to Mose Allison, Hoagy Carmichael and onto Hendricks and Ross and more besides. But Georgie’s famed vocal makes everything his very own. Hear those laconic, laid back, relaxed tones at their best on the opener, ‘All I Know’. It’s a lovely Latin-esque swayer with a brass riff that owes something to ‘It’s Not Unusual’. The lyrics take a humorous swipe at the “joys” of growing old. The lyrics are more serious on ‘Guantanamo By The Sea’ – a provocative song with a blues undertow that perfectly matches the theme. There are plenty of “up” items too. ‘The Burdee Song’ is a swinging jump-jive; ‘Enkosi Dumisani’ (don’t ask!) is a big Caribbean number that harks back to the great days of the Flamingo when Georgie always included a ska number in his set; while ‘Big Easy’ is a tribute to the sparser sound of New Orleans funk. There are lots more to enjoy besides and we still haven’t mentioned the man’s virtuosity on the Hammond. Indeed the album’s intriguing title is a reference to the instrument’s inner workings – Fame’s used the same Hammond since 1966 and the music the old friends make together is to be treasured by all.
(BB) 4/5