Wednesday, February 4, 2015

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Georgie Fame's Last Imperial Single

GEORGIE FAME and the BLUE FLAMES-Last Night/Funny How Time Slips Away U.S. Imperial 66299 1968

By the time Imperial records launched these leftover tracks as a 45 coupling in May 1968 to capitalize on the chart action of Georgie Fame's current single  "The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde" ( Epic 5-10283 January 1968) he had been with Epic records in the US and CBS in the U.K. for nearly a year and a half. "Bonnie And Clyde", dreadful as it is holds the distinction of being Fame's only U.S. top ten chart placing at #7 (the far superior "Yeh Yeh" topped out at #21 in early 1965 here).  Released on the coat tails of his success with "Bonnie...", today's subject did nothing commercially and became one of his least common Imperial releases.  It was also his last for the label after a run of  6 singles and two LP's.

"Last Night" (albeit an edited version here chopped down from it's original 5:05 to 2:32) is the band's rockhouse treatment of the Mar-Key's number that had first surfaced on Fame's third U.K. long player "Sweet Things" (Columbia SX 6043) and his 2nd U.S. one ("Getaway" Imperial records  LP-9331) in it's full length form. The edit retains the segment where the band launch into a few bars of The Rolling Stone's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction)" and fades out prior to their going into snatches of Martha and The Vandella's "Nowhere To Run". Regardless it's a masterpiece that easily surpasses the original (in my book anyway) thanks to the bands full sound accented by their solid brass section led by trumpeter Eddie "Tan Tan" Thorton, Fame's Hammond brilliance, improvisational shouts and phrases and in no small way the powerhouse drumming by one John "Mitch" Mitchell (who would join the Jimi Hendrix Experience when Fame dissolved the Blue Flames at the behest of his manager Rik Gunnell in October 1966). The rest of the Blue Flames on the session that resulted in this release were: Colin Green-guitar, Cliff Barton-bass, Peter Coe-tenor/alto saxophone, Glen Hughes baritone saxophone and Speedy Acquaye-percussion/congas. Curiously this edited mix had previously been utilized by the label as a B-side to their 1966 pressing of "Sitting In The Park" (Imperial 66220 December 1966).

Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames final line up 1966.
John "Mitch" Mitchell third from the left in shades.

A reading of Joe Hinton's working of a Willie Nelson composition "Funny How Time Slips Away" (recorded as "Funny" by Hinton in July 1964) had also previously received an airing on both of Fame's U.S. and U.K. '66 LP's.  The arrangement sticks to Hinton's but again it surpasses the original in my estimation in no small part due to producer Denny Cordell's  work and the sheer slickness of the Blue Flames horn section.

Both tracks are available on the highly recommended Georgie Fame CD compilation :Mod Classics: 1964-1966" on BGP.

Hear "Last Night" (single edit):

Hear "Last Night" (full length version):

Hear "Funny How Time Slips Away":

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