Monday, October 3, 2011

Down at the Flamingo.....

GEORGIE FAME & THE BLUE FLAMES-"Rhythm & Blues" Night Train/Parchman Farm/Work Song/ Baby Please Don't Go U.K. Columbia SEG 8382 1964

Live records in the 60's by British artists are sometimes patchy affairs but none conveys the feeling of an intimate setting like Georgie Fame's debut LP recorded live at London's mod/jazz Mecca The Flamingo. No one else in the world is better associated with this famous London r&b night spot than Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames, so it should only seem fitting that Fame's debut 1964 LP should be recorded live at the club ("Rhythm & Blues at the Flamingo" Columbia 33SX 1599).  This was his second U.K. E.P. (his first was discussed over here:

The E.P. titled "Rhythm & Blues", was released in November 1964, exactly two months before his "Yeh Yeh" single took him to the  #1 slot in the U.K. for several weeks. It contained four tracks from the LP recorded one sweaty night live onstage to an appreciative, lively crowd.

Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames 1964
The Flamingo audience was a curious mix of Soho figures, U.S. servicemen (they can be heard shouting in between tracks on the album), West Indians, mods and seedy underworld types.  The U.S. servicemen were allegedly eventually banned from the club by the U.S. military after a stabbing occurred on the premises. One of my favorite blogs discusses the incident here, but this was BEFORE the recording of the LP/EP so who knows:

The E.P. opens with James Brown's "Night Train" (also the LP's opener) from the moment they're introduced and the band kick in you can almost feel the electricity just listening to the track as the band's horn section and Fame's Hammond put the number through the paces (and accented by Speedy Acquaye's conga drums).  It's followed by a reading of Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm" (punctuated with some excited shouts by Georgie's gang of U.S. fans present for the recording).  No one in the U.K. did Allison's work as well as Georgie Fame in my estimation and this track nails it.

Side Two opens with an interpretation of Oscar Brown Jr's reading of Nat Adderley's "Work Song" with full enthusiasm.  Mose Allison's "Baby Please Don't Go" closes the E.P. (it closed the L.P. as well) in all it's rawness and once again showcases Fame's adept skill at interpreting Allison's work masterfully adapting it with Hammond and horns. All four tracks are well executed, but sadly the recording quality sounds a bit muffled (not nearly as crisp as The Big Three's live E.P. from the Cavern a year earlier) with certain instruments sometimes being hard to hear as if the mics were far away from the stage, regardless it's a priceless piece of British r&B history that perfectly, no doubt, encapsulated a brilliant moment.

Georgie outside the Flamingo with his yoga mat.

The LP has never been officially released on CD but tracks from it appear on a host of Georgie Fame CD's in the U.K. "Parchman Farm" and "Work Song" were compiled on the essential Big Beat G.F. CD "Mod Classics 1964-1968"  whilst "Night Train" and "Baby Please Don't Go" appear of the CD "The Very Best Of..."

Hear "Night Train":

Hear "Parchman Farm:

Hear "Baby Please Don't Go":


Tarkus said...

Fantastic post!
Love Georgie.

MikeP said...

'The Flamingo audience was a curious mix of Soho figures, U.S. servicemen (they can be heard shouting in between tracks on the album), West Indians, mods and seedy underworld types.'
...and wide-eyed schoolboys from Southend whose parents had no idea of the company they were keeping! Went there a few times, caught the milk train home. Saw John Lee Hooker once I remember, backed by John Mayall - 1964, Google tells me.

Wilthomer said...

Mike, that must have been some experience! So was my description (of course only based on what I've read) of the clientele accurate?

MikeP said...

Well it's all a bit of a blur now, of course, but pretty much on the money I'd say - I certainly remember a lot of black guys in the audience. What I mostly remember is the trouble Mayall's mob had keeping up with Hooker's sometimes 10-bar, sometimes 14-bar blues! I also remember us being shooed by a plod into an all-night cafe on stilts on a bombsite in Old Compton St, on the grounds that we'd be safer there than on the streets. Even then, that seemed unlikely...