mon 23/09/2019

CD: Georgie Fame and the Last Blue Flames - Swan Songs | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Georgie Fame and the Last Blue Flames - Swan Songs

CD: Georgie Fame and the Last Blue Flames - Swan Songs

A valedictory tone from one of Britain's most underrated musical stars

Georgie Fame's last album

While many of his contemporaries make the most of their grizzled old men’s voices, Georgie Fame sounds as young and fresh as he did when he first burst on the London scene in the 1960s. This is supposedly his last album, and it sounds, in many ways, as if it had been made 50 years ago.

Accompanied by a group of top-drawer British jazzmen, including Guy Barker (trumpet), Alan Skidmore (tenor sax), Alec Dankworth (bass) and Anthony Kerr (vibes) – along with his sons Tristan on guitar and James on drums – the veteran delivers a very tasteful range of characteristically bluesy hard bop, blue beat-tinged instrumentals and the smooth vocals which have always made him instantly recognizable.

Like Van Morrison, with whom Georgie Fame has worked a good deal, he is one of those Brits who fell in love with American music in his teens: there is a homage here (“Mose Knows”) to his mentor Mose Allison, and echoes of Willie Mabon (on slow-grinding track “The Lurper”), Charles Brown and other smooth-voiced vocalists who had their greatest moment in the early Fifties. The mood is nostalgic and yet resolutely upbeat, perhaps a little too close to ‘dinner jazz’ at times, flawless, in good and occasionally all-too-predictable ways.

Most of the tracks are Georgie Fame originals – he is an accomplished songwriter – but the joy to be had here lies in the playing, not least Fame’s understated but always well-paced and articulate interventions on the piano and organ. “My Ship”, which closes the album, finds him in valedictory mood, but the melancholy here is tinged with the delight and sweetness that have always been so evident in this much-loved and underrated British music star.

He is one of those Brits who fell in love with American music in his teens

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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