British blues: part 2 Manchester

[This recollection was first published on my Geocities website in 2006 - but as the future of Geocities is uncertain, I thought I'd re-publish it here with a few tiny amendments.]

By this time I was in the sixth form at school and every Saturday night I was getting on the electric train from Bolton Street station to Manchester Victoria (now part of the Metro tram network) and going to the all-nighters at the Twisted Wheel and Oasis clubs, as well as the Cavern, Heaven and Hell (which had just ultra-violet lights downstairs in hell so all you could see was dandruff and bra straps!),

Expires 31st December 1964
the CubiKlub in Rochdale, the Boneyard in Bolton,

Expires 16 July 1965
and the Manchester Sports Guild for trad jazz.

I don't live there any more! 

Other cool cats (soon to become Mods) included Roy Henshall, Bob Stoney, Suki, Steph Minta, John Dickinson and Pete Entwistle.

'Wade in the water' – the B-side of 'Tammy', by the Graham Bond Organisation
This was before Northern Soul and clubs like the Twisted Wheel played an eclectic mix of music - Tamla and Stax soul (obviously), but also British beat, jazz (Jimmy Smith mainly), folk (Dylan) and blues (Jesse Fuller's 'San Francisco Bay Blues' was very popular). It's easy to forget but these clubs weren't licenced – there was only frothy coffee on sale, and we kept going with purple hearts, black bombers and dexies (all forms of speed I believe) along with the odd ten-bob deal of shit (draw). I was also going to Bury Palais to watch the Beat groups – saw them all, except The Beatles! All of the beat groups covered blues classics – even Blackburn band The Four Pennies had a hit with a Leadbelly tune – 'Black girl'. Then of course there was Manchester's own Victor Brox Blues Train, him with the pocket cornet or whatever it was! Most authentic in my opinion was Manfred Mann. Roy was buying Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley LPs by this time.

I saw the Graham Bond Organisation at the Oasis, and got all their autographs. It was Dick Heckstall-Smith on tenor sax, 'Europe's top drummer' Ginger Baker on drums and Jack Bruce on bass. We were queuing when he was struggling down the steps with his Hammond organ and he quipped that he should have taken up the mouth organ! He was awesome, and a great alto saxophonist too. I bought his single Tammy – for the B-side 'Wade in the water' and one of my favourite albums of all time is the 1964 Decca LP 'R&B' which also showcases Alexis Korner (with a sublime track 'Night time is the right time' featuring Ronnie Jones singing and Bond on sax), Zoot Money, John Mayall, and (the weakest) Dave Berry.

One of the greatest compilations of all time, not available on CD although many of the original tracks are on Decca mod and 'scene' compilations. Graham Bond's 'Hootchie Coochie Man' here is a much better version than on his Sound of 65 album.

1. Hi-heel sneakers - Graham Bond Organisation - R&B
2. Not fade away - Dave Berry - R&B
3. Early In The Morning - Alexis Korner - The Blues Scene
4. Walking The Dog - Zoot Money's Big Roll Band - The Mod Scene
5. Mr James - John Mayall and the Blues breakers - R&B
6. Long Legged Baby - Graham Bond Organisation - The Mod Scene Vol. 2
7. You better move on - Dave Berry - R&B
8. Diddley Daddy - Dave Berry - R&B
9. Hootchie Coochie Man - Graham Bond Organization - R&B
10. Get On The Right Track Baby - Zoot Money - The Blues Scene
11. Little Girl - Graham Bond Organisation - The Mod Scene
12. Crawling Up A Hill - John Mayall - The R&B Scene
13. Strut Around - Graham Bond Organisation - The Blues Scene
14. Night Time Is The Right Time - Alexis Korner (Ronnie Jones, vocal) - The Blues Scene

Another milestone album was Golden Guinea's 'Rhythm and Blues' with a mixture of black US bluesmen – Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and others.

At the Twisted Wheel I saw Sonny Boy Williamson (in his 'jester' suit), John Lee Hooker, Howling Wolf, Spencer Davis Group with Steve Winwood and many many others - one day I'll look up the Manchester Evening News archives to see who else was on in 1964-65! I also went to the Free Trade Hall on 29 September 1966 to see the American Folk Blues Festival '66, with Pete (Pedro) Entwistle, starring Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Roosevelt Sykes 'The Honeydipper' and Big Joe Turner.

Other reminiscences:
British Blues: part 1 Bury

British Blues: part 3 London
Glad Day and Guildford Arts Lab

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