Graham Bond: Live At The BBC And Other Stories

Overlooked pioneer gets second Pete Brown-curated time capsule.

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Late Hammond organ behemoth Graham Bond was a key figure in the evolution of British R&B and jazz-infused rock.

He nurtured future titans such as John McLaughlin, Ginger Baker, Jon Hiseman, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Jack Bruce in his bands, recorded seminal albums, pioneered the use of classical influences and was one of Britain’s earliest exponents of the Mellotron. When this reviewer was lucky enough to catch Bond live in 1970, he flamboyantly unleashed the organ templates that had already been picked up by the likes of Emerson and Lord with a charismatic power that was ragingly elemental and almost supernatural. Bond was also a mentally unstable heroin addict who threw himself under a Tube train in May 1974, leaving a towering legacy but often overlooked legend, which was tainted by his interest in infamous occultist Aleister Crowley. Former bandmate (and Cream lyricist) Pete Brown tried to set the record straight with 2013’s Wade In The Water collection of seminal tracks and albums. He’s now followed it with this stellar set charting Bond’s career through his BBC recordings, starting in the early 60s with Don Rendell’s Quintet, moving through his Quartet and Organisation to the mighty Initiation. There are also home recordings, previously unreleased obscurities and a beautifully bonkers Peel session by the short-lived Bond and Brown. While the early outings are fascinating, it’s the wild 1970 Peel sessions with Initiation that frequently astonish, the uproarious incantations including Walking In The Park, Love Is The Law and several incarnations of Bond’s epic signature song, Wade In The Water. While his jazz and R&B roots are still visible, Bond was now stretching into areas presaging and reaching beyond prog, as his Hammond became a roaring, ceremonial altar crackling with energy. Enhanced by memorabilia and Brown’s warm notes, this lovely artefact makes an essential companion to the previous set and will hopefully help reposition Bond as one of British music’s true idiosyncratic giants.