Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thank Heavens For The J.T.Q !

The James Taylor Quartet made us all get real in the 80's.  Think about it.  How many of you out there were like me, a(n) (American) mod with his head up his own ass, utterly oblivious to cool music that had emanated from his country?  Instead you were listening to some crappy pseudo-60's band that were in their 30's or 40's or some god awful dogshit British mod/60's band with the thinnest, worst production ever committed to vinyl (where was Toe Rag when you needed them back then?). Or some really pretty decent British band doing note for note Hammond instrumentals of...cover versions of U.S. 60's soul or jazz tracks!!!!!  Instead you could've been out plundering U.S. jazz LP's/45's that were probably quite plentiful and ripe for the taking learning where The J.T.Q. got it all from.

The James Taylor Quartet are, in retrospect, nothing monumental.  James Taylor is an amazing keyboard player, but their early records really aren't much more than carbon copy/xeroxes of the obvious, the originals are stunning though and once they'd found their feet with the debut long player "The Money Spyder", things were GO!  But they had their place for more reasons than being the first band to use a real Hammond and create kitschy soundtracks for films that never were.  At least for me they did.  Most important of all they sent me back to school, made me get an education in my own backyard and I went out and snapped up Jimmy McGriff LP's on Sue, some Jimmy Smith stuff, made me take a closer look at Booker T. & The M.G.'s 45's not only the early ones but even the one's from '67, a Herbie Hancock LP or two, not just the "Blow Up"  soundtrack and Ray Charle's god-like "Genuis + Jazz= Soul".  My pals in D.C. and P.A. were on the same wavelength and through them came Brother Jack McDuff, King Curtis and Wes Montgomery.  Back to the drawing board for a refit, a smartening up a "proper" musical education on eternally cool stuff, not plastic garbage 80's music.

When Acid Jazz manifested (or was it "festered"?) itself I was aghast, I'd just started to get into this jazz thing and somebody goes and turns it on it's head.  Thank god somebody started a war and I got called up and missed the whole thing, eventually getting demobbed and missing it all!  Hah!  But by then all the mods were gone, most of the ones I knew had moved on already anyway, but the rest were scattered.  They'd either gone to ground, fell in with the 500 DYI ska bands that were appearing like rabbits, became Manchester baggy/indies, proto Brit-poppers or Acid Jazz listening casuals...ack.  God the 90's were even worse than the 80's to be a mod. By the time I'd gotten back to work and Kuwait was firmly ours (read "the oil companies") and I once again shed my uniform for my cardigans, stripey t- shirts, Fred Perry's and pegged trousers I met this cool older retired Air Force African American gent at work who looked like Dizzy Gillespie and he turned me firmly onto the likes of Shirley Scott, Mose Allison etc and while in uniform in some god awful places I'd stumbled upon Dexter Gordon and Donald Byrd on good old radio and this gent gave me further recommendations by them.  But back home in the real world, now sharing a nice bachelor pad with two other guys by that point I'd entirely given up on the notion of "mod bands" or even bands for that matter (unless they were my friends).   Luckily I had the Empire State Soul Club in NYC and didn't need bands and started digging deeper into U.S. 60's soul music whilst continuing on my steady diet of U.K./Euro 60's sounds all the while digging up more jazz as time went along.  The quest still continues, 21 years later.................

Thanks James Taylor, who knows where I'd have been without you and your Medway misfits to show me the TRUE path......


Sebastián Vientos said...

Hi. I've just discovered your blog and find it quite interesting. I'm getting in touch because I'm doing myself a blog too and it's about songs. Great and forgotten songs!

I think we could be related as we seem to be swimming similar waters.

Please take a look at mine:

If you consider it's OK, I'd be happy if you add me to your list of blog links. Of course, I will add you to mine.

Regards from Spain.

Wilthomer said...

Thanks Sebastian, consider it done!