Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jon Lord-R.I.P.

Today I learned that the legendary organist Jon Lord passed away.  Jon Lord was the very first British 60's organist I was impressed with, long before I'd discovered Graham Bond, Brian Auger, Zoot Money and was only scratching the surface on my Georgie Fame schooling.  Back in 1985 I became a devotee of Lord's 60's r&b outfit The Artwoods like many other of my friends thanks to Edsel's Artwoods compilation LP "100 Oxford Street". And it would be his treatment of a great deal of U.S. 60's r&b/soul/jazz organ numbers that would give me these tracks first exposure, ultimately leading me to seek out the originals.  After The Artwoods Jon Lord moved onto fame and fortune with heavies Deep Purple. Unlike the current crop of modernists who are all things "heavy" (as in "heavy, man") 1970's I don't really concern myself with what Mr. Lord did after the third Deep Purple album "III".

In his honor I've picked a few tracks for you where his organ playing shines, read on and rest in peace Jon Lord (all releases U.K. unless otherwise noted):

1. THE ARTWOODS-"Goodbye Sisters" A-side single Decca F 12206 1965
Leading off the band's third 45 Lord's subtle organ work breaks into a jazzy little solo halfway through the track.  It's restrained and totally at odds with everything else in the charts in August 1965 with the exception of Brian Auger.


2. THE ARTWOODS-"Be My Lady" L.P.  track "Art Gallery" Decca LK 4830 1966
I will own up and admit my first airing of this tune came via The Artwoods.  Lord and Co. pump it up a bit and play it considerably faster (providing a template for The James Taylor Quartet version some 20 years later). It's not so much of a cover as an interpretation and Lord's organ playing is more "churchy" sounding than Booker T's.


3. THE ARTWOODS-"Things Get Better" LP track "Art Gallery" Decca LK 4830 1966
Covering Stax tracks without encroaching on full on blasphemy in my book is no easy feat.  What makes this Eddie Floyd cover is Lord's playing. There's no organ on the original and it's mostly driven by horns.  The Artwoods version relies of Lord's groovy Hammond and guitarists Derek Griffith's fuzz guitar to carry it through.  Lord plays the horn breaks with swirling organ with stellar results.


E.P. sleeve scan c/o Reynaldo Moldonando

4. THE ARTWOODS-"A Taste Of Honey" E.P. track "Jazz In Jeans"  DFE 8654 1966
One of the crown jewels of the band's rare as hell "Jazz In Jeans" E.P. comes the bands instrumental take on "A Taste Of Honey", amid Griffith's Wes  Montgomery style licks Lord's tasty Hammond dominates the track.  I'm not sure whether it was inspired by another similar version or if this arrangement was all the band's own but regardless it's magical.


5. THE ARTWOODS-B.B.C. Session "Saturday Club" May 13, 1967
By the time The Artwoods cut this "Saturday Club" session they were truly behind the ball and falling fast.  They'd been dropped by Decca after a staggering three year run with 5 singles, an E.P. AND an LP and picked up an option with Parlophone who'd released what would be their final 45 ("What Shall I Do"/"In The Deep End", Parlophone R 5590) as The Artwoods a month earlier (another single would follow for Fontana as The St. Valentine's Day Massacre in November but that's another story). In the session the band serve up a somber "What Shall I Do" but it's their Otis Redding inspired version of "Day Tripper" and Billy Preston's "Steady Gettin' It" where Lord's Hammond virtuoso shines, clearly carrying the water for a band that was sadly, commercially past it.


The Artwoods at home base (The 100 Club) with Lord at the far right.

6. SANTA BARBARA MACHINE HEAD-"Rubber Monkey" LP track "Blues Anytime Volume Three" Immediate IMLP 019 1968
In November 1968 the world first heard of the result of when Birds (and future Creation men) Ron Wood and Kim Gardener (bass) convened in Decca's studio in late 1966 with Lord and In Crowd (later to morph into Tomorrow) stick man John "Twink" Alder on an Immediate budget compilation album. By then Wood was in The Jeff Beck Group (before again crossing paths with Gardener in The Creation), Lord was in Deep Purple and Twink was now a Pretty Thing.  Written by Lord and arranger/producer Gus Dudgeon (who'd recently began work engineering what would become David Bowie's debut LP) the number provides an excellent bridge between Lord's Booker T/Jimmy Smith/Billy Preston inspirations and his own personal style that would become a firm trademark for his next band, Deep Purple.


45 sleeve scan c/o http://www.45cat.com

7. DEEP PURPLE-"One More Rainy Day" B-Side single Parlophone R 5708 1968
Tucked away on the flip side of the band's June 1968 debut "Hush" comes this original Lord penned with the band's then vocalist Rod Evans.  Amid layers of multi tracked organ Lord takes his playing up a notch with classical trills replacing jazzy ones. No longer aping American B-3 players the man clearly his own sound going and this is one of the tracks that defined it.


8. DEEP PURPLE-"And The Address" LP track "Shades Of Deep Purple"  Parlophone PMC/PCS 7055 1968
The maniacal opening track to the first Deep Purple LP is this Lord/ Ritchie Blackmore original that kicks the guts out of you the first time you hear it. Lord's organ licks spin around your head till they're practically floating in the air no doubt spawning a host of both imitators and admirers.


9. DEEP PURPLE-"Emmaretta" A-side single Parlophone R 5763 1969
Setting a guitar/organ groove that along with "Hush" practically invented the whole Manchester indie organ scene's trademark, this 1969 single fully pumps it up into "heavy" turf. It's an original by Lord/Blackmore and Evans and in my book the last good thing they did on 45.


10. DEEP PURPLE- "Exposition:We Can Work It Out" LP track "The Book Of The Taliesyn" Harvest  SHVL 751 1969
From their second long player comes this two part number that begins, interestingly, with a track titled "Exposition" where Lord weaves some insane organ trills before it all lapses into a proper savaging of The Fab Four's "We Can Work It Out".  Lord's playing on the latter is somewhat restrained, but only just, many time appearing like an animal that might just burst it's cage.

Professor emeritus of the B-3, rest in peace sir.

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