What happens when you mix what is - arguably - the world's most interesting record company, with an anarchist manic-depressive rock music historian polymath, and a method of dissemination which means that a daily rock-music magazine can be almost instantaneous?

Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

MICHAEL DES BARRES: And the beat goes on...

The ongoing dialogue between me and Michael as regards the funky rock/soul music of Britain during the middle years of the 1960s continues apace. I asked him for his five favourite albums of the era, and he replied almost as soon as I had pressed the 'send' button.

1. TERRY REID: Bang Bang You're Terry Reid

The 1968 debut album by the criminally under-rated Reid, who - famously - once turned down the job of vocalist with Led Zeppelin, believing that he would have better commercial success as a solo singer.

2. ZOOT MONEY: Zoot! Live at Klooks Kleek
Klooks Kleek was a jazz/R&B club in the 1960s, based in The Railway Hotel, West Hampstead , North West London, next to the Decca Records studio. The club was named after a 1956 album by Kenny Clarke (Klook Clique, Savoy Records 12006). Zoot Money, one of my favourite keyboard players recorded a live album here in 1966. Rather than post a Youtube clip of a song from the album, we have gone one better. Here is the almighty Zoot live there a year later.

But when I saw only 18 people had watched it, I felt sorry for George Bruno Money. Here is a track from the album itself:

12 X 5 is the second American album by The Rolling Stones, released in 1964 following the massive success of their debut The Rolling Stones in the UK and the promising sales of its American substitute, The Rolling Stones (England's Newest Hit Makers), sometimes title as England's Newest Hit Makers or just The Rolling Stones.

4. OTIS REDDING: Otis Blue

The third studio album by soul singer Otis Redding, released September 15, 1965 on Stax Records. Written in a 24-hour period, except "I've Been Loving You Too Long", Otis Blue mainly features cover songs by popular R&B and soul artists. Most recording sessions took place in April and July 1965 at Stax Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Otis Blue was both critically and commercially successful. The studio album became Redding's most successful to date, peaking at number 6 on the UK Albums Chart and becoming Redding's first to reach the top spot of the Billboard R&B chart.

5. WILSON PICKETT: The exciting Wilson Pickett

The Exciting Wilson Pickett, released in 1966, was the second album by R&B and soul singer Wilson Pickett. The album charted at #3 on the U.S. Billboard R&B albums chart and #21 on the popular albums chart. According to All Music, this second album firmly established Picket's "stature as a major '60s soul man". The album launched four major hits for Pickett, but All Music emphasizes that the non-hit cuts, "of nearly an equal level", will be of more interest to collectors.

All in all - as I am sure you will agree - a very creditable set of choices. Several of these albums are in my record collection as well, so I suppose I would have to say that. However, listening to this music again, back to back with the latest song from Michael Des Barres himself which I posted a few days ago and one begins to get a glimpse into the music that first inspired Michael, and which he is revisiting on the new album.

I think I was born about fifteen years too late. I was seven years old and living in Colonial Hong Kong in 1966, and so the swinging sixties didn't really touch me. But it is important to see that in those years came the seeds of so much that we take for granted in the Britain of today. Sexual liberation, musical liberation and political liberation walked hand in hand. This was the first generation of black musicians who were socially on equal terms with their white listeners in the UK, and this new musical and racial equality had a massive effect on a whole generation.

I hope this doesn't come over as me over-intellectualising the whole thing. After all, one can still respond to music on a visceral level without even approaching the history or historiography of the whole thing, but I like to do both. I think it was George Clinton who first said Free Your Mind... and Your Ass Will Follow. But I think it works equally well the other way around.

Happy Easter.

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