on 31 August 2008
This is a really welcome re-issue from Rhino and at this price it's a total steal. Bond of course was originally a jazzer and famously replaced Cyril Davies in Alexis Korner's Blues Inc. He was equally at home on alto sax and hammond organ and we owe him a huge debt as he brought Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker together in the power house Graham Bond Organisation. When they departed, Jon Hiseman was recruited and met up with Dick Heckstall-Smith - of course they were later to form the excellent Collosseum, building on the Bond sound.
Unfortunately there are no sleeve notes or session details but this simply means that you can play your own game deciding the personnel on each track as clearly there are a couple of different line ups. One decidedly leans to jazz, the other to blistering 60's British RnB. Mclaughlin is easy to spot as is Heckstall-Smith but the drummers are so good that it is hard to tell between them. Research indicates that these are live recordings - if so I am amazed - the last couple of tracks are clearly live but the first few tracks are so clean and precise that it is hard to believe that they were recorded on stage.
Bond had a short, pretty mixed up life and a tragic early ending but he left a massive musical legacy - this is spirited, high energy musicianship of the first rank.
Ah the mighty Graham Bond. This was originally a double LP released in the early 70s. The bulk of the tracks feature a trio of Bond, Dick Hecksall-Smith and Jon Hiseman and although the cover emphasises Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and John McLaughlin - the tracks featuring them are live, extended jazz work-outs not really representative of Bond's other recorded work. Therefore for me this is not one of Bond's better records.
HOWEVER, at the ridiculous price of £3.98 this CD is totally worth it for one track "I can't stand it" one of, if not THE, best track that Bond ever recorded. Marvel how three people can produce so much noise, much of it coming from Hiseman's incredible drumming, be prepared to be amazed at Bond's soulful vocals.
If you are at all interested in Graham Bond and have not heard this track I urge you to get this CD, this track is as good as anything he ever recorded - raw, earthy and absolutely fantastic. You'll also get the excellent original version of "Walking through the park", which Hiseman did later with Colosseum, and other Bond stalwarts such as "Neighbour Neighbour", "It's not goodbye" and "Long legged baby". This trio may not have been as lauded as the Bruce/Baker lineup but the music they produced was just as good, emphasising the key central role played by Bond himself.
on 31 March 2011
The original vinyl 'gatefold' version of this album includes full notes and details of personnel. Basically, it comprises some early jazz tracks from '63 and some later R&B/rock material from '66. The latter were not released at the time because Graham took the advance from the record company (which was intended to pay for completing the recordings) and blew the lot on expanding his wardrobe of psychedelic robes and fancy boots. Then, with the tapes left in the studio unpaid, off he went to America, before coming back to the UK at the end of the 60s. This album was put together at that time, to presumably try to recoup the lost money! It never sold many copies - Richard Branson was remaindering them in his room above the shoe shop in Oxford Street, I bought my vinyl copy from there.
The original sleeve notes suggested that the band may have lost more than they gained by abandoning the relatively unstructured format of modern-ish jazz for the supposedly more restrictive pulse of rock...but the trouble with that line of argument is that cutting-edge jazz was (and remains) a highly specialised and esoteric area of music, for which the audience was always small and seems to get increasingly marginalised as time passes. Bond would never have been commercially successful going down that jazz path, even if the band had been cutting-edge. And to my non-expert jazz ears, I would say that they were not. So they decided to go commercial. It made sense.
It's sometimes claimed that Graham didn't care about commercial success, but I have never agreed with that view. They were probably the hardest working band on the UK club circuit in the '64 to '67 period, a huge draw wherever they appeared. Geno Washington was about the only performer who could pack the clubs more fully. But as Zoot Money and Geno both discovered, a highly-successful R&B-based club sound did not easily convert into commercial success, either in terms of singles or albums. Graham's music, on the 'Sound of 65' and 'There's a Bond between us' albums was not what the mainstream record buyer wanted. Ironically, his sales-focused 'Tammy' single (which was not considered 'proper' Graham Bond by the critics) actually sounds very good, to my ears at least.
So that background sets the scene for my comments on his recordings from '66, which do not include either Ginger Baker or Jack Bruce, who were of course forming Cream. It seems to me that these tracks have a far more commercial dimension than do the two Graham Bond Organisation albums I've mentioned above. In particular, 'Springtime in the City' really is a great recording, with a truly superb instrumental middle section which is in a highly effective jazz-rock style. Graham's vocals can at times be too strained and intense for many ears, but on this track he sings much more freely, and the track gains a great deal from that. 'Walking in the park' is another excellent track, and fairly similar. Amazingly, one of the very few films of Graham's bands (excluding his stint with Airforce, for which TV recordings exist) is of this very period - his band are included in a nightclub scene in the film 'The Breaking of Bumbo' which featured a very young Joanna Lumley. They're performing 'Springtime in the City' as I recall. Once again, this shows the desire to be commercial.
These '66 tracks are a transition between the slightly earlier club-focused R&B material of the Bruce/Baker period, and his subsequent pair of more pop-styled albums recorded in America not too long after. 'Love is the Law' is the key track from that period - again, it is in a commercial style. Those albums were equally unsuccessful in terms of sales and led directly into his 'magical' period, with the two albums from '70 and '71. These in turn led to Bond and Brown (that album didn't sell either) and his final band 'Magus' with Carolanne Pegg, in which his late 60s/early 70s sound was combined with Pegg's folk-rock violin and vocals. The commercial failure of Magus, which never released any recordings, hurt Graham very badly and doubtless was a major factor in his death shortly afterwards.
So what we have here is an example of Graham's decade-long attempt to achieve commercial success for his exceptional talents, not all of which were restricted to music. He changed styles and band line-ups frequently, always seeking to ride the commercial wave, but he never succeeded in that goal. Of course, most bands never achieve success, so Graham is far from unique in that. But many bands are merely 'OK' when seen on stage, and by compaarison Graham was a remarkable talent. Not many people reading these reviews will have been fortunate enough to see Graham at a gig, in full flight. I saw him lots of times with 'Initiation', 'Magick', 'Bond and Brown', and also as part of the 'Jack Bruce Band'. Graham's albums never really came close to capturing his talent but oddly perhaps, the '66 recordings on 'Solid Bond' (it's not 'A Solid Bond') do seem to capture him more effectively than do most of the others. Especially 'Springtime in the City' and some of the others.
At the ridiculous price that this CD is being sold for, it's an absolute 'must'. The trouble with a lot of these old recordings from so long ago is that they're more use as historical documents than as music that one can actually listen to for pleasure. In my opinion, this isn't one of those - in fact it probably represents his most listenable album, alongside the 1964 live recording from Klooks Kleek. Buy it! Or should I say, buy the pair of them.
This is a glorious album from the days when Bands could be run by crazy people, and yet still attract brilliant musicians. In this case the members of Cream and Jon Hiseman's superb Colosseum, before they left Bond to launch their own bands. Graham Bond (like John Mayall) managed to fill his bands with all manner of future super stars, and this version of his band is a prime example. And the music is brilliant - and shows where Cream and Colosseum learnt their trade. Twin saxes from Bond and the amazing Heckstall-Smith, wonderful jazzy drumming from Hiseman and Baker, Jack Bruce's trademark bass sound - and John McLaughlin on guitar! What more could you want? Tracks such as "Walkin' in the Park" and "The Grass is Greener" are the roots of much of the later 60's and early 70's blues-jazz-rock bands. Listen and Smile!
on 19 November 2008
Having seen Bond's Holy Magick (1971ish) and having Colosseum and Spirit of John Morgan covers of his work in my collection, at this price I felt this was worth a try. Two days, two plays and I have to say I'm impressed. Originally released in 1970, the actual recordings appear to originate 1964-66ish, which only goes to show how forward thinking he was.
A well known and respected member of the original british underground blues scene, the various line ups of his band spawned at least two top class outfits, Baker and Bruce with Cream, while Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith formed Colosseum.
Bond's music is much more jazz orientated than his contempories at the time (Korner & Mayall), and for any fans of Colosseum, this would be a good buy, as it is a natural predecessor of their music. A good mix from slower bluesy numbers to some uptempo boogie/jazz with Bonds gruff vocals always nice to hear.
For any fans of the underground (post psychadelia) wishing to investigate its roots, I can think of no better example.
on 26 February 2011
The sound quality isn't always the best and the tracks are a mixture of recordings from 1963 and 1966, but this rather chaotic album is still worth every penny spent on it. To begin with, there are two superb originals, "Can't Stand It" and "Springtime in The City," which are not only great pieces of songwriting, but reminders of what a good singer Bond was (this is not talent-show "I'm-bellowing-therefore-I-really-mean it" singing, but quietly despairing). And the repeats (from the first two GBO albums and other R&B standards) are genuine re-thinking of the material, not just lazy covers, something particularly evident on "Green Onions," which has a smoky, sensual, faintly-menacing quality the original did not (mind you, I love both versions, but they are very different).
The last three cuts on the album come from a 1963 date, back when The Graham Bond Orgainsation was still The Graham Bond Quartet--guitarist John McLaughlin was the fourth member of the group (before he departed and was replaced by tenor-saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith). And a heck of a quartet they were, rambunctious, melodious and very cool. My mom, who is not what you would call a jazz fan, heard the last two cuts, "The Grass is Greener" and "Doxy" and said "how nice." And considering the depth of her general dislike of jazz, that is compliment indeed.
on 27 March 2009
There is no way that this prehistoric incubator of his own and many others' genius can possibly be given anything but the most stars available. Never achieving the great success he deserved and coming to an unfortunate end on the platform of a North London travel hub, his life veered between extremes. In his time he was one of the greatest, and viewed by his contemporaries as a leader and example. Erratic and doomed he lingers on in the memories of many a grey head.
on 10 September 2011
In the mid 60s I would go out of my way to be at any gig Graham Bond was playing. As a teenager I found his music absolutely compelling in its rawness. There is no doubt that he was iconic for his time and being at the clubs he played at in London was an amazing experience enriched by the ambiance and the "fellow travellers"; those who appreciated his music and his style. Being there was it. However, I haven't heard any Graham Bond for a very long time and although the CD transports me back it does not speak to me in the same way as Graham Bond's live performance which was something else. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed listening to his music again despite the time lapse since the 1960s and my last experience of a Bond gig. Fortunately I was of an age when I was able to experience the music of all those iconic bands before they became famous such the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, the Tridents and Jeff Bec, Georgie Fame, Zoot Money, Chris Farlow, Manfred Mann, John Mayall, and many others who became heroes of the 60s generation. Graham Bond was part of the scene of which I was a participant and having this CD in my collection even if it has some shortcomings allows me to reflect on a golden age of blues bands in London and regret old age.
on 15 March 2013
This disc is a most valuable re-issue of an early recording from the days when jazz-fusion was in the minds of many musicians. Graham Bond was one of the leading jazz-fusion musicians from Britain in the 1960s and this album contains recordings from two gigs. One is a rare opportunity to hear John McLaughlin before he went to America to work with Miles Davis. John plays on the last two tracks of the album. Other tracks are by Bond's band with jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Ken Trethewey.
on 27 January 2016
Not the most polished of recordings. Raucous, rollicking but some great playing shines through despite the rough edges. How can it be otherwise with the personnel on the album? It must have been a task getting this lot, pre Hiseman, to keep to gig schedules etc. given the lifestyles of the various members and Graham Bond's well documented chaotic existence. All except for Bond of course went on to achieve greater success with others. It's a real who's who of British jazz, rock and blues of the 60s and well worth a listen..