Georgie Fame, the Flamingo All-nighter, mods and GIs. These are the things that dreams are made of. Whilst a mid sixties Rod Stewart might have claimed that it was his ambition to sing with Count Basie, it was Georgie who actually did it. And whilst the Who and the Small Faces had a legion of moddy boy fans in the middle of the decade, it was Georgie who was championed by the Soho ace faces a couple of years earlier. Although the Fame monicker was the invention of Larry Parnes, it was the erstwhile Clive Powell who made it his own by taking a Jon Hendricks jazz song to the top of the UK jazz charts in 1964. Georgie had the hippest musical credentials and the ability to take jazz, soul and R&B to the top of the pop charts without compromising or selling out. Polydor Records has a wonderful “Beat Classics” CD available that covers Georgie’s biggest hits so we have devised our “Mod Classics” as an alternative view with only a little crossover with that release. We take in the period between early 1964 and late 1966 when Georgie’s records appeared on Columbia Records and he was backed on record by either the Blue Flames or the cream of the UK’s jazz musicians in the Harry South Big Band.
We have decided to pass by Georgie’s ska recordings as they are for another time and place, so we have filled the grooves with Georgie’s takes on soul, jazz and R&B hits. From his first LP “Live At The Flamingo” we have the band swinging their way through Oscar Brown’s ‘Work Song’ and ‘Parchman Farm’ whose composer, Mose Allison, was one of Georgie’s heroes and influences. By the time of his second album “Fame At Last” Georgie was tackling obscure records from the then unknown Stax label – William Bell’s ‘Monkeying Around’ – taking on Louis Jordan’s arrangement of ‘Point Of No Return’ and also numbers by Major Lance and Ray Charles. In each case he made each song his own, stamping his own vocal mark on each and every one. His next album was 1966s ‘Sweet Thing’ which featured less jazz and more soul, as Don Covay’s ‘See Saw’, the Spinners’ title track, cuts by Stevie Wonder, The Mar-Keys and Sam Cooke were all taken on. We’ve also included a version of Earl Van Dyke’s ‘Soul Stomp’ from around the same period that has only previously been released on a Japanese CD.
1966 saw a second album, “Sound Venture”, which is perhaps Georgie’s finest moment. Recorded with the Harry South Big Band, Georgie’s voice more than holds its own. On ‘Dawn Yawn’ Georgie writes a wonderfully evocative tale of Soho’s night-life and the inevitable come-down the day after, whilst his version of Willie Nelson’s ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ is a masterpiece of vocal delivery, and the best version of this much-covered song bar none.
We have also rounded up EP cuts from Georgie Fame’s Fats domino tribute EP, some excellent cuts that were only on 45 such as ‘Yeah Yeah’’s B-side ‘Preach and Teach’, the B-side of Georgie’s second Columbia number one ‘Getaway’ a thunderous latin-tinged instrumental called ‘El Bandido’ which is a sure-fire dancefloor winner, and the self-penned single ‘Something’. We feel that a compilation like this was a must for many years and we are very glad that we are the ones to have done it.
By Dean Rudland