The Artwoods “Steady Getting’ It: The Complete Recordings 1964-67” has been long awaited. With a host of live BBC tracks and an entire live disk culled from a gig in
from 1967 it’s release has
been the subject of much anticipation here. Denmark
The big surprise of disc one for me are the four demos by The Art Wood Combo. The quality is amazing and sound surprisingly like the Graham Bond Organization sans saxophone. “Chicago Calling” being my fave of the four with a ska beat version of “Talkin’ About You” coming in as a close second. The rest of the tracks are the band’s A and B sides as well as the four cuts from their rare as hell E.P. “Jazz In Jeans” and their two cuts as The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. All these tracks are good, but you knew that already. All the mixes are Mono so they sound a bit cleaner than what we’ve been used to with a harder edge on quite a few tracks making even numbers I’d been previously unimpressed with sound “new” and “fresh”. The really big news on this disc is the BBC sessions from ’65-’66 (all in pristine quality, no hand held mikes up to the radio speaker like some Beeb tracks in other places). Solid, well executed versions of Artwood’s faves “Goodbye Sisters”, “She Knows What To Do” and “Can You Hear Me” swing as do previously unheard live BBC versions of “Smack Dab In The Middle” and “Jump Back” and there’s two brief interviews with lead singer Art Wood.
Disc Two comprises of the band’s rare 1966 LP “
and more BBC sessions from ’66-’67 (equally in amazing quality). It also brings to light one of the
difficulties of the band’s career: all twelve cuts on the “ Art Gallery ”
were covers and all the BBC cuts save “In The Deep End” are covers as well.
That said the LP is a great eclectic mix of Stax (Eddie Floyd and Booker T), Art Gallery Atlantic (two Solomon Burke tracks!), Jazz (Jimmy Smith),
Motown (Marvin Gaye), two Lee Dorsey numbers and others. The highlights from
the BBC sessions from 1966 being storming versions of Marvin Gaye’s “One More
Heartache”, Benny Spellman’s “I Feel Good”, Eddie Floyd’s “Things Get Better”
and what would be the B-side of their final single, a band original “In The
Deep End”. The 1967 session is equally powerful with “In The Deep End” again
with its A-side, a version of Marvin Jenkin’s “What Shall I Do”, Otis Redding’s
arrangement of The Fab’s “Day Tripper”, Billy Preston’s “Steady Gettin’ It” and
the Mitch Ryder melding of “Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly”.
The third and final disc is for bona fide Artwoods completists only. It's a 12 song live set from the interestingly named Funny Park in Denmark from 1967. The sound quality is atrocious to the point that Art Wood's vocals are nearly obliterated by all the instrumentation. It was a chore to actually listen to this entire disc in one sitting despite the fact the the band were a tight unit even this late in their game.