Tuesday, 16 September 2008

"The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" by CHAMPION JACK DUPREE featuring members of FREE and THE ROLLING STONES. A Superlative 2CD Reissue.

This fabulous 2005 double set finally makes available for the first time on CD both of Champion Jack Dupree's notoriously rare albums on the cult UK blues label Blue Horizon. And a typically superlative release it is too in this excellent on-going series.

Here's how the discs are laid out:

Disc 1 (76:13 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "When You Feel The Feeling You Was Feeling", 1968 on Blue Horizon 7-63206 (pictured above)
Tracks 11 and 12 are the 'non-album' A & B-sides of his 1st UK 7" single, 1968 on Blue Horizon 57-3140
Tracks 13 to 18 are previously unreleased studio out-takes from the April 1968 "When You Feel The Feeling..." album sessions

Disc 2 (75:33 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album "Scoobydoobydoo", 1969 on Blue Horizon 7-63214 (pictured above)
Tracks 13 and 14 are the 'non-album' A & B sides of his 2nd UK 7" single, 1969 on Blue Horizon 57-3512
Tracks 15 to 20 are previously unreleased 'live' tracks from a June 1969 gig in the UK

The original analogue tapes were transferred and remastered by Duncan Cowell and Mike Vernon and the sound quality is just gorgeous - lively, warm and clear. The booklet features both albums' artwork, full session discography, knowledgeable liner notes and even has a classy card wrap on the outside.

Champion Jack Dupree's style was boogie-woogie, his rolling piano licks accompanied by witty lyrics - often spoken before being sung (he wrote all tracks on Disc 1). You can just tell by looking at a photograph of his mischievous face - and the huge chomper of a cigar hanging out of the side of his mouth - that this man and his music are going to be infectious and endearing - and they are. Even when the recordings are just Dupree and his piano, the sound he makes is huge - and so entertaining - almost as if there's more going on than there is. And as if this wasn't good enough, both albums are bolstered up with heavy-hitter musicians from the British Rock, Blues and Jazz scene of the late Sixties. Four of the "When You Feel The Feeling..." tracks feature Paul Kossoff on Guitar and Simon Kirke on Drums of FREE. The songs are "Income Tax", "Roll On", "A Racehorse Called Mae" and "My Home's In Hell". STAN WEBB of CHICKEN SHACK contributes guitar on "I've Been Mistreated". Webb is also featured on the A-side of Dupree's 1st BH 7" single and Kossoff/Kirke on the B - the single being sought after for years for these reasons. The really cool news for FREE fans is the last two songs on Disc 1 which are previously unreleased - both contain Kossoff & Kirke in unheard songs. The takes are a bit rough and ready, but still fascinating to hear - even then with that `Free' feel they brought to everything. One of those last two tracks, "Black Cat Shuffle", also features fellow label mate DUSTER BENNETT on Guitar and a Deram label favourite, JOHNNY ALMOND on Sax - this is on top of the FREE types - bit of a Supergroup going there!

Moving on to Disc 2, the "Scoobydoobydoo" album featured Mick Taylor of THE ROLLING STONES on guitar on every track (including the A&B of the 2nd BH 7" single) - and the album also features turns from drummers KEEF HARTLEY and AYNSLEY DUNBAR. The last six live tracks were recorded on 1 June 1969 in The Angel Hotel in Goldaming in Surrey, England. My heart always sinks when I see live tracks, but these are great and the quality of the recordings is excellent - capturing the the crowd singing along to his cover of Sticks McGhee's "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee".

A great release then - I urge to take a chance on it - and top marks to all the good people involved. Long may Champion reign! And my God - when you think of the debt Rock owes to Black music and Black musicians!!

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