Friday, July 3, 2020

More Obscure U.K. 45's On U.S. Labels: The Graham Bond Organization

THE GRAHAM BOND ORGANIZATION-St. James Infirmary/Wade In The Water Ascot 2211 1966

Today's specimen is the first U.S. pressing of a Graham Bond single (and I believe the sole example of a U.S. Graham Bond Organization single).  "St. James Infirmary" was the A-side for the February 1966 release of Columbia DB 7838 back in the U.K. (where it was backed by "Soul Tango"). The band's line up at this juncture was Graham Bond (organ/vocals), Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax), Mike Falana (trumpet) and Ginger Baker (drums). The line up debuted on vinyl in February with the previously mentioned U.K. issue of "St. James Infirmary" and later recorded an instrumental under the moniker of The Who Orchestra called "Waltz For A Pig" in March of 1966 that was utilized by the Who as a B-side for "Substitute" . The results of this this entry's single were recorded in January 1966 and released here in the States in April.

"St. James Infirmary" is amazing and the G.B.O.'s version is probably my favorite interpretation of it. Bond wails like a bluesman possessed and sounds like he means every word he's singing as if he's in mourning.  Heckstall-Smith's sax and Mike Falana's trumpet are positively haunting turning the number into a mournful dirge and of course Ginger Baker's pounding drives it all along.

Graham Bond 1966

The version of "Wade In The Water"on this release is a completely different recording than it's U.K. cousin, January 1965's flip to the dreadful "Tammy" (Columbia DB 7471) that was also the version that was used on their debut LP "The Sound of '65". This new version was cut in January of 1966 minus Jack Bruce who was forced out by Ginger Baker (who had taken over the band's operations as Bond slipped further into heroin drenched ineptitude) in late 1965. Regardless of Bruce's absence it's still classic G.B.O. at their finest. Bond's "Phantom of the Opera" style intro on the B-3 kicks off one of their best instrumental tracks ever.  Every member of the band sweats blood on this, Bond is a wild man on the organ as Ginger Baker pounds the shit out of his kit doing his best Elvin Jones breaks while Dick Heckstall-Smith squeezes some bending notes out of his double sax parts and new member Mike Falana's trumpet adds to the revelry!

Both tracks would be the final G.B.O. single with Ginger Baker  as he would leave to form Cream in April/May of 1966. The G.B.O. would cut one more single one year later on the U.K. Page One label "You Gotta Have Love Babe" b/w "I Love You" (POP 014 February 1967).

Both tracks are featured as bonus tracks on the Repertoire CD reissue of the G.B.O's "There's A Bond Between Us" and on the essential "Wade In The Water" box set.

Hear "Wade In The Water":

Hear "St. James Infirmary":

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