Thursday, 14 April 2016

"Everything Stops For Tea" by JOHN BALDRY [with Rod Stewart & Elton John] (2005 Warners Expanded CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Jubilee Cloud…" 

In June 1964 - Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men released an obscure UK 7" single on United Artists UP 1056. Its B-side - a raucous cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's gospel tune "Up Above My Head" featured an uncredited duet vocal with a sensational new singer. It was Rod Stewart's first vinyl appearance.

To repay such incalculable smarts and generosity and at the behest of Joe Smith (then President of Warners) – Rodders stepped up to the plate at the height of his Faces/Solo Career fame (1971) and produced two corking but long forgotten Blues-Rock LP gems for Baldry. Each record used the guts of his own studio band and those of Elton John's backing group – Hookfoot - with both Elton and Rod also having a hand in producing. The albums were "It Ain't Easy" (June 1971) and "Everything Stops For Tea" (May 1972). As well as Rod's and Elton's key players each LP featured a stellar cast of other notable Rock luminaries – all wanting to help out the much-respected and dapper darling of the UK R&B scene – John Baldry. And that's where this second of two Warner Brothers/Rhino expanded CD Remasters comes in. Here are the strange brew details...

UK and Europe released 29 August 2005 (September 2005 in the USA) – "Everything Stops For Tea" by JOHN BALDRY on Warner Brothers 8122784652 (Barcode 081227846527) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster and plays out as follows (54:19 minutes):

1. Intro: Come Back Again [Ross Wilson cover]
2. Seventh Son [Willie Dixon song – Willie Mabon cover]
3. Wild Mountain Thyme [Traditional Air, McPeake Family]
4. Iko Iko [The Dixie Cups cover]
5. Jubilee Cloud [John Kongos cover]
6. Everything Stops For Tea [Jack Buchanan cover of a 1935 song] - Side 2
7. You Can't Judge A Book [Willie Dixon Song – Muddy Waters cover]
8. Mother Ain't Dead [Traditional]
9. Hambone [Sam Mitchell cover]
10. Lord Remember Me
11. Armit's Trousers [Ian Armit of The Hoochie Coochie Men song]
Tracks 1 to 11 are his album "Everything Stops For Tea" – released May 1972 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46160 and Warner Brothers BS-2614 in the USA. Tracks 1 to 5 (Side 1) produced by ELTON JOHN in February 1972 with Tracks 6 to 11 (Side 2) produced by ROD STEWART between January and February 1972.

12. Radio Spot No. 1 (advertising the album)
13. Bring My Baby Back To Me (Live Mar-Y Sol Festival, Puerto Rico, April 1972) – first appeared on the 2LP set "Mar Y Sol" in 1972 on Atco SD 2-705 – Previously Unreleased on CD
14. Only Love Can Break Your Heart (album outtake, duet vocals with Joyce Eversion, a Neil Young cover) – Previously Unreleased
15. I'm Just A Rake & Ramblin' Boy (album outtake, duet vocals with Joyce Eversion, a Ron Davies cover) – Previously Unreleased
16. Radio Spot No. 2 (advertising Joyce Everson's "Crazy Lady" album, 1972)

The band for the ELTON JOHN sessions was (Side 1 – Track 1 to 5):
Lead Vocals - JOHN BALDRY
Vocal Accompaniment - ELTON JOHN (Tracks 1, 3, 4 and 5)
Percussion – RAY COOPER
Piano – IAN ARMIT (on "Jubilee Cloud")
Viola – STEFAN DELFT (on "Wild Mountain Thyme")

The band for the ROD STEWART sessions was (Side 2 – Tracks 6 to 11):
Lead Vocals - JOHN BALDRY (Guitar on "Mother Ain't Dead")
Duet Vocals – ROD STEWART (on "Mother Ain't Dead", Rod also plays Banjo)
Guitars – JAMES LITHERLAND and ROBERT WESTON (on "You Can't Judge A Book" and "Lord Remember Me")
Guitars – SAM MITCHELL (on "Hambone")
Piano - IAN ARMIT (on "You Can't Judge A Book", "Lord Remember Me" and "Armit's Trousers")
Bass – BILL SMITH (on "You Can't Judge A Book" and "Lord Remember Me")
Bass – JOHN PORTER (on "Hambone")
Drums – JOHN DENTITH (on "You Can't Judge A Book" and "Lord Remember Me")
Drums – JOHN PORTER (on "Hambone")
Percussion - MICKIE WALLER (of Steampacket) (on "You Can't Judge A Book")
Backing Vocals – MADELINE BELL, LIZA STRIKE and DORIS TROY (on "You Can't Judge A Book")
Backing Vocals – MADELINE BELL, LIZA STRIKE and BARRY St. JOHN (on "Lord Remember Me")

The original green label of the US and UK vinyl albums is aped on the CD label, the 12-page inlay has affectionate and informative liner notes by SID GRIFFIN. There's a "Dear Boy..." letter to fans from Baldry dated May 2002 on Pages 2 and 3 - while Griffin's notes go into the history of Steampacket, Baldry's solo career (as Long John Baldry) and of course his association with Rod and Elton. It's pretty and all the original album artwork is in place too. But the big news for fans is the quality Audio. Expert remastering has been carried out by Rhino's long-time tape associate DAN HERSH with sound produced by DAN HERSCH. This CD sounds fabulous with that great 70ts Classic Rock sound...

It opens well with an R&B one-two of "Come Back Again" and "Seventh Son" where the album feels like "It Ain't Easy" Part 2 (the LP that preceded it in 1971). But then he attempts a Scottish air – the McPeake Family's beautiful traditional "Wild Mountain Thyme" and along with a wishy-washy take on the Dixie Cups classic "Iko Iko" kills any real momentum the side might have had. Things recover big time with his rocking cover of "Jubilee Cloud" – a track from the 1971 "Kongos" album on Fly Records (by John Kongos). With the band rocking it out – you really wish the whole side was filled with these smart choices. But Side 2 makes the same mistake of including too many styles when really it would have been better to Rock or even Funk.

Preceded by some very silly dialogue about fans seeking signatures as he types a reluctant letter of apology – a hassled Baldry plays up his terribly aristocratic British accent on the intro to "Everything Stops For Tea". Written by Al Goodhart, Al Hoffman and Maurice Sigler – this ode to England's favourite tipple was first a witty vocal vehicle for Jack Buchanan alongside Fay Wray in the 1935 movie "Come Out Of The Pantry". Baldry keeps his version firmly in the music hall shuffle tradition – " remember Cleopatra...she had a date to meet Mark Anthony at three...but he came an hour late...she said you'll have to wait...because everything stops for tea..." – you get the audio picture.

There are tongue-in-cheek jabs at the outlandish garbs of Rod Stewart and Elton John in the lyrics of the superb cover of Willie Dixon's "You Can't Judge A Book" where the band finally rocks out – Jimmy Horowitz giving in some chunky Hammond chords while Madeline Bell, Liza Strike and Doris Troy give it some Soulful backing vocals. Baldry opens "Mother Ain't Dead" with a spoken intro about how he hadn't sung with Rod sing the Steampacket days back in 1965. They then duet on this rather lovely version of the Blues Traditional with Baldry playing Guitar and Rod doing an impressive Banjo backing. The funky drum-shuffle of "Hambone" turned up in 2002 on the "Right On! Volume 4" CD compilation on Warner Brothers - Soul Boys and Funksters alike digging its sexy groove. Written by guitarist Sam Mitchell – he also plays all guitars on this fantastically catchy tune (one of the album’s highlights). Written by Myrtle Jackson in the Forties and famously covered by Country Music star Hank Snow in 1966 - "But This I Pray, Oh Lord Remember Me" is reduced to "Lord Remember Me" - a slow Soulful Gospel rap that builds into a frantic preacher 'piano and ladies' chant. The album then fizzles out with Ian Armit's "Armit's Trousers" – a two-minute instrumental ditty with him on a lone piano (he was one of The Hoochie Coochie Men back in the 60ts day with Baldry).

The Bonus Tracks are a mixed bag. After a one-minute Radio Spot (No. 1) that uses the dialogue/typewriter gag at the beginning of "Everything Stops For Tea" (not a very convincing sales pitch I'd have to say) – we get something worth celebrating in a hard-hitting Blues Boogie similar to Muddy Waters/Johnny Winter. The self-penned Slow-Blues of "Bring My Baby Back To Me" was first released by Baldry as a British 45 on United Artists UP 1158 in 1966 – the B-side of "Cuckoo". This fantastic 6:25 minute version first appeared on Side 4 of the vinyl double-album "Mar Y Sol – The First International Puerto Rico Pop Festival" in 1972 on Atco SD 2-705. I don't know who's playing guitar – but it's a barnstormer (and first time on CD here too). This is followed by two album outtakes – covers of Neil Young's sorrowful "After The Gold Rush" classic "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" and Ron Davies' lesser-known "I'm Just A Rake & Ramblin' Boy". Both feature the vocals of Joyce Everson whose album "Crazy Lady" appeared in 1972 on Warner Brothers BS 2604 (the Radio Spot No. 2 advertises it using Baldry's voice). Although she's a good voice – her high pitch doesn't suit him and the Neil Young track comes across as mawkish rather than tuneful. The largely acoustic "I'm Just A Rake & Ramblin' Boy" is far better - but in truth you can see why both were left off an already confusing album.

Although the 2nd LP isn't as good as the first (too many conflicting styles and a couple of choices that simmered rather than sizzled) – I still see "Everything Stops For Tea" as a fabulous little CD reissue. And it perfectly compliments his first album for Warner Brothers "It Ain't Easy" from 1971 which Warners/Rhino 'Expanded' on a 2005 Remaster also (see separate review).

With John Baldry lost to us since 2005 – both CDs are a lovely way to remember him. 
And well done to all those involved for finally seeing it reissued. 
Rest in Peace you British beauty...

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