[Review] Graham Bond: Live At The BBC And Other Stories (2015)

A four-disc, career-spanning set featuring pre- and post-peak live recordings that fill out the two proper Organisation discs nicely.

Kronomyth 8.3: I’m making a career of evil.

This is a four-disc set of various live performances featuring Graham Bond, dating from 1962 to 1972. During that decade, Bond morphed from competent alto sax player to organ-playing fiend, so the performances are predictably all over the place in terms of style and sound quality. As an historical document, Live at the BBC and Other Stories chronicles an important career in music. As a collection of new music, however, this isn’t the place to start if you’re interested in the story of Graham Bond. For that, you’d want to start with The Sound of 65, maybe snag There’s A Bond Between Us to fill in a few missing pieces and possibly pick up one of his weird occult albums like Love Is The Law or Holy Magick, since reading about them isn’t nearly as interesting as hearing them.

Of what’s included on this set, the opening BBC concerts from 1963 are likely to be the most interesting to fans, as they feature the Organisation with John McLaughlin on guitar. McLaughlin left the band before they recorded their first album, so these recordings are the only surviving copies of a remarkable combo. The 1963 BBC shows also feature the earliest performances of “Spanish Blues” and “Wade In The Water.” The first disc closes with some terrific jazz from the Don Rendell Quintet featuring both Bond and Dick Heckstall-Smith, also recorded in 1963.

The second disc features various incarnations of the Bond band over a ten-year span, including his strange encounter with Cream lyricist Pete Brown. Disc three showcases two mini BBC concerts in 1970 as the Graham Bond Initiation, while disc four brings the story back to the beginning to Bond’s roots as a sax player. The recording quality is, not surprisingly, on the muddy side, although I’ve heard worse. As a catch-all compilation of live tidbits, Live at the BBC is a better investment than those single-concert Bond discs (e.g., Klooks Kleek). Most people can live completely satisfying lives without hearing any of this, but for those few of us who find Bond a fascinating figure, you’ll want the whole story.

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The Songs

A1. Bluesology (Milt Jackson) (4:13)
A2. I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town (Casey Bill Weldon/Roy Jacobs) (3:56)
A3. Hello Little Girl (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) (2:18)
A4. Spanish Blues (Graham Bond) (4:13)
A5. Wade in the Water (traditional, arr. by Graham Bond) (5:28)
A6. Hallelujah I Love Her So (Ray Charles) (4:12)
A7. Every Day I Have The Blues (Pinetop Sparks/Milton Sparks) (3:40)
A8. I Saw Her Standing There (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) (2:26)
A9. I Got a Woman (Ray Charles/Renald Richard) (4:32)
A10. Summertime (George Gershwin) (3:59)
A11. Hallelujah I Love Her So (Ray Charles) (2:06)
A12. Things Are Getting Better (Julian Adderley) (5:40)
A13. Elsie and Ena (Graham Bond) (3:36)
A14. Richmond Festival (Don Rendell) (6:15)
A15. Kelly Blue (Wynton Kelly) (4:07)
A16. Troika (Johnny Burch) (3:34)
A17. Kazeef (Johnny Burch) (3:08)
A18. Persian Party (Don Rendell) (4:05)
B1. Wade in the Water (traditional, arr. by Graham Bond) (4:43)
B2. Only Sixteen (Graham Bond) (4:05)
B3. When Johnny Comes Marching Home (traditional, arr. by Graham Bond) (4:50)
B4. Macumbe (DeLisle Harper) (5:17)
B5. Milk Is Turning Sour in My Shoes (Pete Brown/Phil Ryan/Taff Williams) (7:15)
B6. Beak Suite (Graham Bond) (9:58)
B7. Improvisation (2:42)
B8. Moses in the Bullrushourses (Pete Brown/Dick Heckstall-Smith) (4:02)
B9. What’d I Say? (Ray Charles) (9:40)
B10. Wade in the Water (traditional, arr. by Graham Bond) (5:23)
B11. I Got a Woman (Ray Charles/Renald Richard) (2:42)
B12. Cabbage Greens (Champion Jack Dupree) (2:33)
B13. I Saw Her Standing There (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) (2:27)
B14. Spanish Blues (Graham Bond) (2:59)
C1. Walkin’ in the Park/I Want You (Segue) (Graham Bond) (7:17)
C2. Wade in the Water (traditional, arr. by Graham Bond) (13:44)
C3. Love Is the Law (Graham Bond) (8:16)
C4. Love Is the Law (Graham Bond) (10:21)
C5. Magic Mojo (Graham Bond) (9:52)
C6. The World Will Soon Be Free (Graham Bond) (8:23)
C7. Wade in the Water (traditional, arr. by Graham Bond) (12:51)
D1. Things Are Getting Better  (Julian Adderley) (4:12)
D2. Blew Through (Philamore Lincoln) (5:19)
D3. Sack O’ Woe (Julian Adderley) (8:34)
D4. Mack the Knife (Kurt Weill/Bertol Brecht) (5:48)
D5. Work Song (Nat Adderley) (13:30)
D6. Oleo (Sonny Rollins) (15:14)
D7. Things Are Getting Better (Julian Adderley) (18:10)

The Players

Graham Bond (vocals, Hammond organ, alto saxophone, electric piano) with Ginger Baker (drums on A1-A11, B1-B3), Jack Bruce (double bass, bass on A1-A11) with Tony Archer (bass on A12-A18), Keith Bailey (drums on B10, C1-C7), Hal Blaine (drums on D2), Bobby Breen (vocals on A3/A6), Bill Brown (bass on D3-D7), Pete Brown (vocals & percussion on B4-B6), Johnny Burch (piano on A12-A18), Malcolm Cecil (double bass on D1), Brian Dee (piano on D1), Dave Edwards (drums on D3-D7), Mike Falana (trumpet on B1-B3), DeLisle Harper (bass on B4-B6), Dick Heckstall-Smith (tenor saxophone on A12-A18, B7, saxophones on B1-B3, B8-B9), John Hiseman (drums on B9), Tony Mann (drums on D1), John McLaughlin (guitar on A1-A11), Joe Palin (piano on D3-D7), Ted Pope (drums on A12-A18), Duffy Power (vocals on A8-A11), Don Rendell (tenor & soprano saxophones on A12-A18), Ed Spevock (drums on B4-B6), Kevin Stacey (guitar on C4-C7), Diane Stewart (vocals & percussion on B4-B6, congas & vocals on C1-C3), Nigel Taylor (bass on C1-C7) Dave Usher (flute, tenor saxophone & guitar on C1-C7), Ken Wray (valve trombone on D3-D7).

The Plastic

Released on 4CD set on November 13, 2015 in the UK (Repertoire, REPUK 1279).

The Last Word

“There are extravagant stories. Of John McLaughlin passing out on stage. As he slowly collapses, his rasping guitar emits squalls of feedback. Rather than offering help, Jack Bruce stands back, notating the sounds for future reference. On another occasion, in mid-set, it’s Jack who shorts his bass against the microphone, receiving a flash electric shock that stuns him. As the gig progresses they calmly pick him up and lay him out on top of Graham’s organ until he revives.” — a snippet from Andrew Darlington’s wonderful Graham Bond page from his site, Eight Miles Higher.

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