In the previous post, I laid out a brief history of the British blues and gave you a few tasty tunes. In this post, I’ll lay out a few more songs as well as a 40-tune Spotify list. And rather than just dump tunes in Spotify, I’ll highlight a few things about some of those bands as well.
Wikipedia: “William Rory Gallagher 2 March 1948 – 14 June 1995), was an Irish blues and rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, and brought up in Cork, Gallagher recorded solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, after forming the band Taste (tune on Spotify list) during the late 1960s. His albums have sold over 30 million copies worldwide.
Gallagher received a liver transplant in 1995 but died of complications later that year in London at the age of 47.”
Despite having sold all those albums, Gallagher (at least here in the States) was never as well-known as the Beck/Page/Clapton crowd. He was, to us, more like one of those cult “guitarist’s guitarist” that you either knew of or you didn’t. You can search around and find him in a film called Irish Tour ’74. A great rock and blues player, he is on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 top guitarists.
Here is doing “Laundromat.”
I’ve spoken about John Mayall more than once on these pages. It’s impossible to overstate his influence on and importance to, the blues. In 1969 he released an album called Turning Point which was recorded live at Fillmore East. Members of that band included saxophonist John Almond and guitarist Jon Mark who later would have some success in the band Mark-Almond.
You couldn’t turn on the radio at one point in time without hearing “Room To Move,” a harmonica-fest if there ever was one:
Another band I wrote about a while back was the estimable Blodwyn Pig (pictured on top of post), an offshoot from Jethro Tull. Their album Ahead Rings Out is to this day one of the best British blues albums ever. This song, “Dear Jill,” features Mick Abraham’s delicious slide guitar along with a sweet sax solo by Jack Lancaster. An unusual combo, it just works:
Savoy Brown are (still around) another blues band, this time led by a Welshman, Kim Simmonds. Simmonds is currently the only remaining member of the original band and still tours pretty regularly. As I mentioned in the first post, Foghat was an offshoot from Savoy Brown. And as fellow blogger GreenPete mentioned in a comment on that post, top-hatted singer/songwriter Chris Youlden has a hell of a set of pipes. (Hmm, Simmonds and Youlden are still active. How about a reunion boys?)
BTW, I stumbled on this tidbit: “Bill Bruford auditioned for a place in Savoy Brown on 16 January 1968 at a pub in Battersea. After he was unsuccessful in being able to join the band, Bruford ‘hung around until the end and told them they had the wrong guy … I talked my way into it.’ His tenure lasted three gigs as he messed with the beat.”
From Blue Matter, love this Youlden tune, “She’s Got a Ring in His Nose and a Ring on Her Hand.” Crazy jazzy:
I saw Humble Pie in New York City once many moons ago. I won’t pretend to say I remember every minute of it but it definitely kicked some fearsome ass. Humble Pie were a blues-based band but definitely leaned more towards rock than blues. But it was all there and the combination of Steve Marriott’s voice and Peter Frampton’s guitar was an intoxicating one.
The album Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore was released in 1971 and had a lot of “groovy” radio-friendly stuff. Frampton had by then left the band and said it was one of the worst years of his life watching that album’s success while he was on the outside looking in. He later did ok right up until he hit the iceberg of the Sgt. Pepper’s movie. He still remains a terrific, active guitarist:
“I Don’t Need No Doctor.” We’ve really had a gas this time. It’s been a gas!
Last but hardly least is Robin Trower who I’ve seen and written about previously. As mentioned in the previous post, Trower was still churning out great stuff well into the 70s. This is “Messin’ the Blues.” I love the feel of this thing, the way it fades out, comes back in. Great stuff:
A few random notes on some of the Spotify bands/tunes, courtesy of Wikipedia:
- The Groundhogs are a British rock band founded in late 1963, that toured extensively in the 1960s, achieved prominence in the early 1970s, and continued sporadically into the 21st century. Tony McPhee (guitar and vocals) is the sole constant member of the group, which has gone through many personnel changes but usually records and performs as a power trio.
- Chicken Shack are a British blues band, founded in the mid-1960s by Stan Webb (guitar and vocals), Andy Silvester (bass guitar), and Alan Morley (drums), who were later joined by Christine Perfect (McVie) (vocals and keyboards) in 1967. Yes, that Christine McVie. She belts out some nice blues.
- Cat’s Squirrel” actually started life as “Cat Squirrel,” which is an actual type of squirrel. Typically performed as an instrumental, it was written (with lyrics) by an obscure bluesman named Charles Isaiah Ross (AKA Doctor Ross the Harmonica Boss.) Its timeless lyrics include this:
Lord, my baby, she got a way
Yes, like cat squirrel in some tree
She get up in the morning
Hawkin’ that thing, hawkin’ that thing, hawkin’ that thing on me
- I wanted to do a Thin Lizzy tune but they seemed more rock than blues to me. So I compromised and did a Gary Moore slow jam remake of a Thin Lizzy song on which Phil Lynott sings. So how about that?
Lastly, it would be criminal to have a tribute to British blues without including a tune by the “Father of British Blues,” Alexis Korner. So be it.
There you have it, gang. Listen to this Spotify list sometime and you’ll have, I think, a nice compendium of the best of British blues. And if you weren’t around then, well now you can hear how mum and dad were mis-spending their youth.