Friday, November 8, 2013

Pretty Beat Up

After a long break the Rolling Stones returned to the studio to continue work on the 40-odd songs they recorded during their November-December 1982 sessions at Pathé Marconi Studios. This time around (May-August, 1983) the band, along with sound engineer Chris Kimsey, gathered at The Hit Factory, New York City, a new place for the band.

During the New York Undercover sessions the Stones were joined by a lot of musicians, including Black Uhuru's rhythm section Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, the Sugar Hill horn section CHOPS, and new sax recruit David Sanborn.

All these musicians gathered on the "Undercover" album track 'Pretty Beat Up', with Chuck Leavell and Bill Wyman playing piano, while Ian Stewart took the organ part. Ron Wood wrote the song, with some support from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Marquee Silver Jubilee

On April 28-29, 1983, Alexis Korner and friends celebrated the 25th anniversary of London's Marquee club, the location of the Rolling Stones' first ever live performance on July 12, 1962. For the so-called '1958-1983 Silver Jubilee' concerts Korner, the governor of British blues, recruited some well-known names in British music, including old friends Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Ian Stewart.

Other members of the 'Alexis Korner and Friends' ensemble included Georgie Fame (piano), Nico Korner (guitar), Ruby Turner (vocals), Jaki Graham (backing vocals), and a brass section consisting of Dick Heckstall-Smith, Willie Garnett, John Picard, Mel Collins, and Ted Bunting.

Bill Wyman recalls: "At the end of April, Alexis Korner, Charlie, Stu and I rehearsed at the Half Moon pub in Putney for the Marquee's 25th anniversary. Our old mate Georgie Fame joined us along with a great horn section and we played at the Marquee on April 28-29. Among the songs we performed was 'Hoochie Coochie Man', written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Muddy Waters, who died the following day in Chicago". Alexis Korner himself died of lung cancer on January 1, 1984, aged 55.

Adapted from the following source: Bill Wyman, Rolling With The Stones, Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2002.

Rocket 88: On The Road

On March 25, 1983, Rocket 88, billed as Ian Stewart Band, performed a one-off concert at London's 100 Club. Line-up: Roger Sutton (vocals, bass), Jimmy Roche (guitar), Ian Stewart (piano), Clive Thacker (drums), Willie Garnett (saxophone), Mike Hogh (trombone), Jon Picard (trombone), Olaf Vas (trumpet), Don Weller (saxophone).

Throughout the year the band played some more shattered gigs in and around London, with Charlie Watts on drums during some shows. As it turned out, Stu, Charlie and trombone player Jon Picard were the only original members of Rocket 88's line-up that started out in 1979, underpinning the ad hoc character of the band.

Urban De Luxe

While there were no scheduled Stones activities, Ian Stewart took the opportunity to produce the De Luxe Blues Band's third album, "Urban De Luxe". In January 1983 the band, with sound engineer Mick McKenna, entered the Mobile Sound Limited, Shepperton Sound Stage, London, to record a set of blues, boogie and R&B covers, ranging from Freddy King's 'The Stumble' (with Stu on piano) and Pete Johnson's 'Roll 'Em Pete' to Chuck Berry's 'Promised Land'.

At the time, the De Luxe Blues Band consisted of original band members Bob Hall (piano), Danny Adler (vocals, guitar) and Bob Brunning (bass), together with familiar name and Rocket 88 member George Green (piano). Drummer Micky Waller had left the band, and on the record all drum parts were played by Charlie Watts, credited as Carlo Kilowatts!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Bye Bye Blues

Immediately after completing the Rolling Stones' Undercover recording sessions at Pathé Marconi Studios, Ian Stewart joined the Blues Band during live recordings at Richard Branson's The Venue, London (December 18, 1982). It must have been a relief for Stu to leave the Paris tensions behind and to join old pal Paul Jones' band during an R&B packed set.

Stu had been recording with the Blues Band before, most notably on the band's second album, "Ready", resulting in an immediate click with the band. At The Venue, with former Family drummer Rob Townsend replacing Hughie Flint, the band played an energetic set, showcasing Paul Jones' talents on vocals and harmonica. Remember, he could have been a Stone!

Other guest musicians during the show, which got released on the album "Bye Bye Blues" in 1983, included singer Jo-Ann Kelly, Pretty Things frontman Phil May, harmonica player Mark Feltham, the Rumour Horns' John Earle (saxophone) and Dick Hanson (trumpet), and last but not least the founding father of British blues, Alexis Korner. Just another who's who in British music!

Note: this post contains no less than ten hyperlinks. Read them all for full understanding of the British R&B music scene at the time!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cook Cook Blues

Although (or because?) the relationship between the Glimmer Twins wasn't too good at the time, in October 1982 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards decided to rent a small basement studio in Paris in an attempt to write and perform songs for a new studio album in the old style. When afterwards the Rolling Stones entered the familiar territory of EMI's Pathé Marconi Studios the band had some 40-odd songs to work on.

The so-called Undercover recording sessions at Pathé Marconi, with sound engineer Chris Kimsey, lasted from November 11-December 17, 1982, and continued, with intervals, in January-March, 1983. Both Ian Stewart and Chuck Leavell joined the band during the sessions. Stu played piano on some 10 songs, among which a couple of tunes that would make it to the final album, but also on some well-known outtakes like 'Cookin' Up' (aka 'Chainsaw Rocker'), 'Slide On' and Eddie Taylor's 'Looking For Trouble'.

Stu (on piano) and Chuck (on organ) joined forces on another outtake, the fine boogie and stroll tune 'Cook Cook Blues', which stayed in the can until it appeared as the B-side to the 1989 "Steel Wheels" single 'Rock And A Hard Place'. Here's the 1982/83 Pathé take, you can find the 1989 single version anywhere on the net.

Adapted from the following source: Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chantilly Lace

On May 26, 1982 the Rolling Stones, joined by Ian Stewart on piano and Chuck Leavell on keyboards, embarked on their Tattoo You European tour (Aberdeen, Scotland, May 26 - Leeds, England, July 25). The tour meant Leavell's live debut with the band, whereas it turned out to be the very last one for Stu. Saxophones during the tour were played by Bobby Keys and Gene Barge, another Stones newcomer.

Just like during the 1981 US tour, the main part of the setlist consisted of material from the Stones' last three albums, "Some Girls", "Emotional Rescue", and "Tattoo You". In the rock and roll covers section crowd pleasers 'Going To A Go Go' and 'Twenty Flight Rock' were supplemented with The Big Bopper's 'Chantilly Lace'. Listen to it here.....alright Stu! And here's the Bopper's original version:

During the tour Ian Stewart once again joined George Thorogood and the Destroyers on stage for a couple of times, on one occasion (The Hague, June 3) accompanied by Mick Jagger and Bobby Keys, performing a couple of Chuck Berry tunes. Completely unrehearsed....but rocking!