Thursday, 13 August 2015

"Georgie Does His Thing With Strings/Knock On Wood E.P./The CBS A's & B's" by GEORGE FAME (2015 Beat Goes On 2CD - Andrew Thompson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Love Will Be New Again..."

This is a bizarre one and in truth it's a very mixed bag musically. Firstly you certainly can't accuse this BGO reissue of not being generous. You get 37 remastered tracks across 2CDs - one whole LP – one four-track EP – and a second CD of 21 cuts with the A's & B's of 12 x 7" Singles (8 UK, 4 USA). But fans of Georgie Fame’s superb Mod period will be looking at this BGO 2CD set and scratching their heads because straight away they will see that the LP and the 45s differ wildly in styles (the good, the bad and the ugly). Some explanation is necessary...

The "Georgie Does His Thing With Strings" album is an Easy Listening smoocher album that came out in late 1969 on CBS Records in the UK (no US equivalent) and is one million years removed from his more hip and happening Sixties material. In the vein of Nat "King" Cole – our Leigh Powell (his real name) takes his considerable British voice and does oldies with a full String Orchestra. It’s nice in places (first time on CD too) if you like that sort of thing (and I do) – but for fans of this great R 'n' B singer it's awful hammy derivative stuff and even cringing in places. It is not something they will want on their turntable ever...

Worse – the rear card slipcase and Page 2 of the 16-page booklet clearly indicate - "Due to the original masters being unavailable, some tracks have been dubbed from disc..." Such is the case for the 'whole' 12-track album (and Tracks 9 and 18 to 21 on CD2). Dated girly cover artwork aside - the sonic results for the Stereo LP of "Georgie Does His Thing With Strings" are both weirdly superb and compromised. You can hear the orchestra clearly and the separation is nicely done - but every vocal has an audable crackle on the edge of it – like a needle ever so slightly damaged as it plays (Audio Enginner ANDREW THOMPSON has done his best here). The transfer is very clean for sure - but it is dubbed from discs and fans should know this and be prepared for less Audio than you usually get from BGO. But all that unfortunately that doesn’t stop the LP from being utterly naff. Thank God for the EP and Disc 2. Here are the full details...

UK released August 2015 – "Georgie Does His Thing With Strings/Knock On Wood E.P./The CBS A's & B's" by GEORGIE FAME on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1194 (Barcode 5017261211941) is a 2CD set in a card slipcase and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (49:44 minutes):
1. And I Love Her
2. Maybe In The Spring Again
3. In The Wee Small Hours
4. What's New?
5. Woe Is Me
6. A House Is Not A Home
7. This Guy's In Love With You [Side 2]
8. Girl Talk
9. Who's Kissing You Blues
10. Everything Happens To You
11. Guess Who I Saw Today
12. Need Your Love So Bad
Tracks 1 to 12 are the Stereo LP "Georgie Does His Thing With Strings" released 1969 in the UK on CBS Records S 63650

13. Knock On Wood
14. All I'm Asking
15. Didn't Want To Have To Do It
16. Close The Door
Tracks 13 to 16 are the 4-track "Knock On Wood E.P." released June 1967 in the UK on CBS Records EP 6363

Disc 2 – THE CBS A's & B's (60:42 minutes):
1. Because I Love You
2. Bidin' My Time ('Cos I Love You) (Tracks 1 & 2 are the A&B-sides of a March 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 202587)
3. Try My World
4. No Thanks (Tracks 3 and 4 are the A&B-sides of a August 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2945)
5. The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde
6. Beware Of The Dog (Tracks 5 and 6 are the A&B-sides of a December 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 3124)
7. By The Time I Get To Phoenix
8. For Your Pleasure (Tracks 7 and 8 are the A&B-sides of a May 1968 UK 7” single on CBS Records 3526)
9. Kentucky Child (Track 9 is the B-side of "Hideaway" - a 1968 USA 7” single on Epic 5-10347)
10. Peaceful
11. Hideaway (Tracks 10 and 11 are the A&B-sides of a June 1969 UK 7" single on CBS Records 4295)
12. Someone To Watch Over Me
13. Down Along The Cove
14. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (Tracks 13 and 14 are the A&B-sides of a USA-Only 1968 7" single on Epic 5-10477)
15. Seventh Son
16. Fully Booked (Tracks 15 and 16 are the A&B-sides of a November 1969 UK 7" single on CBS 4569)
17. Somebody Stole My Thunder
18. Entertaining Mr. Sloane (Tracks 17 and 18 are the A&B-sides of May 1970 UK 7" single on CBS 5035)
19. Fire And Rain
20. Someday Man (Tracks 19 and 20 are the A&B-sides of an August 1970 UK single on CBS 5131)
21. The Movie Star Song (B-side of "Fire And Rain" - a 1970 USA 7" single on Epic 1-10640)

On to the good news front - the 60ts R 'n' B punch of the "Knock On Wood E.P." (in Mono) which makes up Tracks 13 to 16 on Disc 1 is great. He does a tasty version of Eddie Floyd's "Knock On Wood", Joe Tex's "Close The Door" and a very sweet take on The Lovin' Spoonful's "Didn't Want To Have To Do It". The superb "All I'm Asking" is one of his own compositions (the sleeve is pictured in the booklet - along with a lovely colour collage on the last page of 16 singles from around the World - great Charles Waring liner notes too).

Disc 2 is a mixture of the sublime and the ordinary. The wickedly groovy B-side "No Thanks" is a perfect example of the upside – you can just smell the talcum powder and see those bodies jumping in some British club somewhere – a great Mod dancer (written by him and Tony Colton later of Heads, Hands & Feet). The wicked instrumental “Beware The Dog” on the flip of his big hit “The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde” is very Booker T & The MG’s with cool Organ sounds punctuated by Funky Brass fills (what a winner). But his slow take on Jimmy Webb’s “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” is a reminder of the cheesy Strings Album – better is the Bluesy B-side “For Your Pleasure” where he goes all Ray Charles on his piano (one of his best compositions featured here great Audio).

Things take a major nosedive when he does a truly dire version of the old standard "Someone To Watch Over Me" in a spoken cod Yorkshire accent where he sounds like William Shatner reciting "Lucy In The Sky In Diamonds" on his unintentionally hilarious "Transformed Man" LP from 1967. Thankfully the pace and Tom Jones Funk picks up on the American rarity "Down Along The Cove". Mod fans have loved "Seventh Son" since its Funky dancer release in 1969 b/w the equally cool "Fully Booked" where a Go-Go city smoothie rattles off his list of girlfriend's names with a little too much glee. A huge draw for fans (and lovers of fuzz guitar) will be Georgie's kicking "Somebody Stole My Thunder" single that regularly sells for in excess of £100 on the Northern Soul and Mod scenes. The Bacharach style B-side of "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" is another fan fave but fans should note that the dubbed-45 certainly shows its age (the Audio is good rather than great). And on it goes to the mellow cover of James Taylor's "Fire And Rain" as the 70s push aside the 60s...

So there you have it - a not-so-great LP - a sexy Soulful EP - and mostly good to great Single Sides on Disc 2. Obviously the EP and that second disc of 45s save this reissue. 

"Yeh Yeh..." as the man would say...

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