This expertly compiled and beautifully packaged five-CD collection celebrates the early career of singer, Hammond organist and bandleader Georgie Fame, with four of the discs being based around his original albums and a fifth devoted to rarities including a June 1963 session taped at IBC studios.
Recorded with his band The Blues Flames, Fame’s excellent 1964 debut album Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo is an ice-cool covers set recorded in September 1963 live at the legendary Soho jazz venue where he honed his craft playing to black American GIs, West Indians, late night workers and young mods. Fame’s vision of R&B was groundbreaking, mixing blues, soul, jazz and ska into a coherent whole while singing in a voice reminiscent of his hero Mose Allison (whose Parchman Farm is covered). Highlights include Fame’s swinging takes on Rufus Thomas’ Stax R&B stomper Do The Dog, The Miracles’ early Tamla Motown soul hit Shop Around, Eric Morris’ joyous blue beat Humpty Dumpty and Mose Allison’s version of Big Joe Williams’ blues Baby Please Don’t Go.
Bonuses include three great outtakes from the album plus two 1964 live sets – one recorded for the BBC during which he is joined by Long John Baldry on BB King’s You’re Breaking My Heart and another drawn from a performance at The Blue Moon in Hayes, Middlesex.
Fame’s first studio set Fame At Last saw horns and backing singers added and features Fame’s superb versions of Ray Charles’ Get On The Right Track, Baby and Booker T And The MGs’ Green Onions. The latter in its original form was a prime inspiration for Fame taking up the Hammond organ, one of the first in England to do so. He was also among the first people to play ska in the UK and the four cuts from his exuberant Rhythm And Blue Beat EP are on disc two, alongside Fame’s first chart topper Yeh, Yeh which blended jazz with pop and knocked The Beatles’ I Feel Fine off the top of the charts.
Disc three focuses on The Blue Flames’ Sweet Things, which showed a greater soul influence and was also Fame’s biggest-selling album, reaching No.6 in 1966. The impressive young drummer on it was Mitch Mitchell, who would audition for Jimi Hendrix after The Blue Flames disbanded that year. Additions include Fame’s Fats Domino tribute EP, Fats For Fame, and the John Mayall-penned 1965 single Something.
Fame’s last album for Columbia, Sound Venture, another Top 10 hit, was a pioneering experiment credited to Georgie Fame & The Harry South Big Band, on which he was backed by the cream of British jazz musicians including Tubby Hayes and Dick Morrissey and features an amazing funky big-band version of James Brown’s Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag.
With copious rarities, a hardback book, poster and postcards included this is a near-perfect set and is a must-have for modernists of all ages.