Wednesday, September 15, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Jimmy Nicol

There are lots of stories in rock n' roll of people who failed to grab the golden ring, and then of those who did and had it snatched from them. This is no better illustrated than by the story of drummer Jimmy Nicol who was plucked from obscurity to fill Ringo Starr's seat for some European and Australian Beatles dates and then thrust straight back to obscurity. Nicol had played in a variety of bands and recorded with his own group, The Shubdubs". The first of which, today's subject, was first issued in the U.K. in February 1964 on Pye (7N 15623), to capitalize on his Beatles involvement it was released in America in May of 1964 on the short lived Mar Mar label. Both sides were played and recorded by Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames, which should come as no surprise because according to author Uli Twelker in his book "Georgie Fame: There's Nothing Else To Do", Nicol was occupying the drum stool in the Blue Flames when he got the fateful call asking to sub for Ringo AND returned to the Blue Flames for a spell after his brush with Beatlemania. 

As both side's of today's subject were tracks that were in the live repertoire of Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames (and included on his 1964 debut LP " Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo") it leads one to suspect that they made for obvious choices for Nicol to record. Both however owe little to the arrangements of GF and Co.  "Humpty Dumpty" has an almost big band feel to it with a large brass section that despite playing a ska rhythm reeks of TV show orchestra and the vocals sung in a fake Jamaican accent border on almost tasteless, but, alas those were the times. Interestingly the drums sound like someone banging on a garbage can lid throughout the whole track!

James Brown's "Night Train" is delivered in a similar "big TV show band" style but is catchy no less with a groovy combo organ and some very hard hitting drums and like the A-side can easily be imaged as being played during the intro to a U.K. 60's variety/music show. It would have been better suited for the A-side.

Both sides of the single are available on the CD compilation of U.K. 60's Pye singles "Beat Beat Beat 2: Fab Gear" while "Night Train" has appeared on a variety of CD comps such as Sequel's "Doin' The Mod 2: Jump And Dance" and "Instro Hipsters A Go-Go 2". 

Hear "Humpty Dumpty":

Hear "Night Train":

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