Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames – Fame At Last (1964)

FrontCover1.jpgGeorgie Fame and the Blue Flames were a noted British rhythm and blues/soul, jazz, ska, pop group during the 1960s. They were also the backing band for Billy Fury. At the end of 1961, their piano player Georgie Fame took over as vocalist and they went on to enjoy great success without Fury. They were influenced by Jon Hendricks, Mose Allison and blues musicians such as Willie Mabon. The group found other influences in ska, which could be heard in Jamaican cafes in and around Ladbroke Grove frequented by the group’s Jamaican born trumpeter Eddie Thornton. During the group’s three-year residency at the Flamingo Club, Fame heard the latest jazz and blues from America, and it was Booker T. & the M.G.’s “Green Onions” which inspired him to take up playing Hammond organ with the band.

Colin Green and Georgie Fame (then known as Clive Powell) worked together in ‘Colin Green’s Beat Boys’, who had backed Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran during UK tours. In 1961 piano player Fame, drummer Red Reece, bassist Tex Makins and Green were hired by Larry Parnes to back Billy Fury as the Blue Flames. Fury’s Manager dismissed them in February 1962 as he felt they were “too jazzy” and replaced them with The Tornados.

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In December 1961 Alan “Earl” Watson fronted The Blue Flames, playing tenor saxophone and singing. In May 1962 the group was augmented by Ghanaian percussionist Neeomi “Speedy” Acquaye and Green left the group. Fame took over as the lead vocalist, Green was replaced by Joe Moretti and in turn was later replaced by John McLaughlin. During that time Rod “Boots” Slade had taken over as bass player while Makins toured with Johnny Hallyday. Saxophonist Mick Eve joined the group during 1962 and eventually the line up was completed by Johnny Marshall.

McLaughlin departed in April 1963 when he joined The Graham Bond Organisation, leaving the group without a guitarist for eighteen months and during this period Rik Gunnell took over the management of the band. In September 1963, they recorded their debut album Rhythm And Blues at the Flamingo which was produced by Ian Samwell, engineered by Glyn Johns and released on the Columbia label.

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Rhythm And Blues at the Flamingo failed to enter the UK chart, as did the single ‘Do The Dog’ which was taken from this album and released in 1964. Two other singles ‘Do Re Mi’, and ‘Bend A Little’ were also released during 1964, achieving no commercial success.

In July 1964, Peter Coe replaced Marshall and was soon joined by baritone saxist Glenn Hughes and trumpet player Eddie “Tan-Tan” Thornton who had previously appeared occasionally with them and Green rejoined the group in October 1964.

Reece became ill in 1964 and was replaced by Tommy Frost. Jimmie Nicol spent a brief period as drummer, then left to replace Ringo Starr for 13 days on a Beatles tour. Phil Seamen and Micky Waller sat in for Nicol until Bill Eyden became the band’s full-time drummer in September 1964.

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In October 1964 the album Fame at Last reached No.15 in the U.K. album chart. The band’s version of the song “Yeh Yeh” was released as a single in the U.K. on 14 January 1965 and reached No.1 on the U.K. Singles Chart for two weeks (out of a total of twelve weeks on the chart).

The song “In The Meantime” was released as a single in February 1965 and reached the U.K. Top Twenty, however the band’s next two single releases were not chart entries. Success followed with Fame’s self penned song Get Away (released on 17 June 1966),[9] which climbed to the top of the UK chart for a solitary week in late-July. The song was originally written as a jingle for a television petrol advertisement (National filling stations). It was later used as the theme tune for a long-running travel and lifestyle show on Australian television called Getaway. The two subsequent singles, “Sunny” and “Sitting in the Park” reached chart positions of No.13 and No.12 respectively. After the album Sweet Thing (1966) was released, Fame signed to CBS and became a solo artist.

Eyden and Makins remained as the group’s rhythm section until they were replaced in December 1965 by Cliff Barton and Mitch Mitchell. That lineup recorded the album Sweet Things, then on 1 October 1966 Fame disbanded the Blue Flames to pursue a solo career. Within a week Mitchell had been selected over Aynsley Dunbar to be the third member of what would be dubbed The Jimi Hendrix Experience. (by wikipedia)

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‘And here´s the second album of Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames:

Following on from the blazing live set that was his debut (listen here), Georgie Fame’s first studio album is one of those discs to which only one appellation can truly be applied — it’s dangerous. A blistering romp through Fame & His Blue Flames’ live repertoire of the day, fast and loose and driving, it captures one of Britain’s best-ever R&B troupes stepping so far beyond the customary precepts of the Beat Boom that, if you were to come to this record without knowing who it was, there’s no way you’d ever guess a bunch of (predominantly) Londoners were responsible. To pull out any highlights is to indicate that there are any corresponding low-lights — there aren’t. But a “Green Onions” so sweet that you can taste it captures the group in full flame, while Willie Dixon’s “I Love the Life I Live” has rarely sounded so supreme. Even the closing “I’m in the Mood for Love” — not a song one normally associates with heads-down blues boogie — is granted a cigarettes’n’alcohol ambience that could choke any passing puritan, and the whole disc adds up to one of the all-time great albums of its, or any other, R&B-blessed era. (by Dave Thompson)

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Personnel:
Speedy Acquaye (percussion)
Peter Coe (saxophone)
Georgie Fame (organ, vocals)
Anthony Paul ‘Tex’ Makins (bass) 
Phil Seamen (drums)
Edward ‘Eddie’ Thornton (trumpet)

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Tracklist:
01. Get On The Right Track, Baby (Turner) 2.52
02. Let The Sunshine In (Barberis/Weinstein/Randazzo) 2.38
03. The Monkey Time (Mayfield) 2.39
04. All About My Girl (McGriff) 4.27
05. Point Of No Return (Goffin/King) 2.26
06. Gimme That Wine (Hendricks) 3.06
07. Pink Champagne (Liggins) 3.51
08. Monkeying Around (Cropper/Bell) 2.12
09. Pride And Joy (Gaye/Whitfield/Stevenson) 2.24
10. Green Onions (Jackson/Jones/Steinberg/Cropper) 2.12
11. I Love The Life I Live (Dixon) 3.22
12. I’m In The Mood For Love (Moody’s Mood For Love) (Fields/McHugh) 4.23

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Georgie Fame … still alive and well …

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