Thanks to Bruce from Vinyl Connection for letting me join in on the various album fun.
This album went by many titles. The version I have is the Canadian version (There was a US version with the same title). It also went by Blues Anytime Vol. 3, An Anthology Of British Blues, Anthology of British Blues Vol. 3, British Blues Archive Series Vol. 3, and Best Of The British Blues Anthology Vol. 3. Phew. That was a lot of titles, but whatever it was called it is not only an early British blues album, but also a history lesson.
I picked this one up last year and looked at the players listed. Some I recognized and others I didn’t so I will fill you in as I go along.
I didn’t know who Cyril Davies was so I looked him up. He was one of the first people to bring Chicago-style blues to Britain. When the clubs in Britain refused to let electronic blues be played, he opened his own clubs. He held true to himself and failed to give in to the pressure to play more popular covers of the day such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. He only wanted to play the blues he loved. On the second night his new club was open, a young admirer named Mick Jagger was on hand, and even sang one song.
Side A features 6 songs focusing on Cyril Davies during his brief career in the British blues scene (he died in 1964 at the age of 31). His bands during this period often had a different set of players, some that went on to become more famous elsewhere. (The video below is not from this album, but it shows how awesome Cyril Davies was)
Someday Baby (Cyril Davies and the All-Stars) – Harmonica (which is what Cyril was best known for), keyboard and bass driven song. Has a jazz feel to it.
Steelin’ (The All-Stars featuring Jeff Beck) – A teenage Jeff Beck dominates this song. He has a less complex tone here, but as we know really grows into his sound later. It has sort of a Hawaiian guitar tone. The keys are pretty cool here too.
L.A. Breakdown (The All-Stars featuring Jimmy Page*) – The piano keys are very Jerry Lee Lewis like, with the stand up bass holding down the fort. Oh yeah, some guy named Jimmy Page.
Chuckles ( The All-Stars Featuring Jeff Beck) – This one surprisingly has a very Chuck Berry tone to it. I guess since it is still an original, he can still be true to the blues in his own way.
Down In The Boots (The All-Stars featuring Jimmy Page*) – Cool, jazzy hep cat blues instrumental is the order of the day here. Jimmy has never been so jazzy.
Piano Shuffle (The All-Stars) – It has a Don`t try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock N Roll tone to it. In fact, Long John Baldry was one of the earliest vocalists to sing for Cyril Davies. I can only assume this song was worked on by Long John, or was used as an influence for his song
I flip the record over and immediately realize this is a later period of the British blues than side A. The tone has changed, and in my opinion, for the better. The All-Stars carried on after Cyril died. Long John Baldry took over, and Rod Stewart was in the band for a time.
Miles Road (Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page) – I think I have heard of these guys before. Their names sound familiar. This was from a jam session Jimmy Page had asked Eric Clapton to be a part of. When the record company found out about them, they forced Jimmy to hand them over since it was in his contract to give them any recorded material. it sounds pretty sweet to me.
The next 3 songs are from a short lived band called Santa Barbera Machine Head. The band was formed and disbanded in 1967. The band consisted of John Twink Gardner on drums, Kim Gardner on bass, Ronnie Wood on guitar, and Jon Lord on keyboards ( I wonder if part of the band name was used by Jon Lord for the album Machine Head in his next band, Deep Purple). This may have been one of the first supergroups, even though that probably was not even a word then. The band only released these 3 instrumental songs. That is a crying shame.
Porcupine Juice (Santa Barbera Machine Head) – Pounding drums, amazingly fresh guitar tone, and soaring keyboards. Wonderful.
Albert (Santa Barbera Machine Head) – Do not let the slower pace fool you. This one will still lure you in with the awesomeness. The bass rears itself in the middle of this one to try and compete with Ron Wood and Jon Lord. Good luck with that.
Rubber Monkey (Santa Barbera Machine Head) – I would fill a shelf with rubber monkeys if they were half as awesome as this song.
Howlin For My Darling (Stuff Smith) – This is not the American jazz violinist. In this case it was a pseudonym for Dead Fred who went on to play in Hawkwind, Inner City Unit and others. It is kind of a strange, weaker addition to the end of this side, although it would have been hard for anyone to follow those players.
*not credited on the album