CD REVIEW: Georgie Fame and The Last Blue Flames – Swan Songs

Georgie Fame and The Last Blue Flames – Swan Songs
(Three Line Whip 010. CD Review by Brian Blain)

Released without a great deal of promo or hype, this really does seem to be the last time that the ‘Godfather of UK Soul’ has taken his magnificent Blue Flames – Guy Barker, Alan Skidmore, Anthony Kerr, Alec Dankworth, Tristan and James Powell – into the studio. The result is a satisfying mix of material from the rollicking shuffle beat of the frankly hedonistic Thinkin’ and Drinkin to the heartfelt tribute to the late Steve Gray. one of Britain’s finest ever arrangers, over an almost funereal march beat.

There’s a distinct feel of nostalgia running like a thread through this collection of songs, whether it’s The Diary Blues, beginning with Count Basie piano figures and and flares from the brass, which looks back on the life of a much travelled musician or the final My Ship (not the Kurt Weill one) a touching song written by an old friend from his Flamingo days, Mike O Neill, where he is joined by Madeline Bell and he intones a list of heroes like Gene Ammons, Oscar Brown Junior, Eddie Jefferson and Johnny Griffin under the final chorus as if to suggest that the music that has inspired him throughout his life is maybe over.

But it’s not all tinged with melancholy. If his wacky ‘trombone’ scat on a Floyd Dixon blues doesn’t make you laugh out loud maybe you shouldn’t be listening to jazz at all, and the killer track, Mose Knows, dedicated to his mentor and inspiration Mose Allison is just amazing. Here he goes into almost rap mode over a furious straight-ahead beat powered by Dankworth and the Powell brothers – his two sons – which allows Anthony Kerr to show what a magnificent vibes player he is, and us to wonder why he is so seldom seen around. This album wasn’t a review copy, so when I say this track alone is worth the price of the whole collection it’s not just a glib cliché, but, for me, a statement of fact.

Categories: miscellaneous

3 replies »

  1. Yes I really enjoyed this album. A long time fan going back to the Club a Gogo days in Newcastle I have never tired of his sound. I hope it's not his last album but if it is it's a great one to bow out on. Good luck Georgie and I hope to catch you live again soon.

  2. Loved his sound for over 50 years. Every time I hear a track for the first few bars I ask myself is it Georgie Fame or Mose Allison? Praise indeed and thanks for the memories.

  3. I was sad to read of Mose Allison's death earlier this year ( 2016 ) and happened to hear Georgie's Mose Knows yesterday on RNZ National NZ. I don't know whether Mose had died and this was a tribute to his mentor by Georgie, but it blew me away, love the album review, will make it my first CD purchase of 2017. Lets hope it's not his last album, seen Georgia perform a few times here, have always loved his work !

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