Friday, March 25, 2011

The Mark Leeman Five

THE MARK LEEMAN FIVE-Going To Bluesville/Forbidden Fruit U.K. Columbia DB 7812 1966

The Mark Leeman Five were one of those 60's jazzy British r&b bands who were always gigging with bigger named acts at all the London haunts like The Marquee, The Flamingo or Klook's Kleek (they actually held a regular Monday night residency at the Marquee club in 1965 which flip flopped with The Moody Blues and Manfred Mann while The Who were packing them in every Tuesday night). They cut just four singles for Columbia. Shortly after their third single leader Mark Leeman was killed in a car accident on his way home from a gig, he was replaced on their fourth and final single by Roger Peacock for the storming "Gather Up the Pieces".  They were managed by Kenneth Pitt (who would later go on to manage a fledgling David Bowie) who spotted them in 1965 whilst playing with his charges Manfred Mann (Paul Jones would blow harp on their debut 45 "Portland Town").  He offered to manage them and got them a deal with EMI's Columbia branch.

They were: Mark Leeman (lead vocals), Alan Roskams (guitar), Terry Goldberg (keyboards), David Hyde (bass) and Brian Davidson (drums).

January 1966's "Going To Bluesville" is a mid tempo number with bluesy vocals and some cool but mild organ, not an r&b stormer in any way shape or form but still quite good.  The flip(which is actually the "A" side) is a cover of Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Forbidden Fruit".  As a big fan of O.B.J. I'm always curious to hear British 60's artists tackling his song.  This one is rather weak I'm afraid, not as bad as The Nashville Teens version issued in August 1966 (Decca F 12458) but still pointless and somewhat effortless.  Both sides were produced by the legendary Denny Cordell (Georgie Fame, The Move etc).

In the late 80's or early 90's See For Miles issued a full LP of their four singles plus a host of unreleased tracks provided by Kenneth Pitt. Sadly it has, to date, not seen any CD reissue. "Going To Bluesville" did surface on the CD compilation "That Driving Beat Volume Five".

Hear "Going To Bluesville":

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