Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Find Of The Week

This is a real puzzler - and we do not mean the convoluted history of "Night Train", a blues instrumental that evolved from Johnny Hodges' 1940 opening riff to "That's The Blues, Man". Jimmy Forrest was part of Ellington's band when it performed this composition and used it for his original recording in 1952. Since then, it has been covered incountable times, and one of the less well known (and rocking instead of big band, soul or ska style)  renditions is featured here. 

From what we could gather about this version, it is not by an early Lemmy Kilmister (whose real name is Ian Fraser Kilmister and who indeed played guitar before joining Hawkwind), but by fellow Brit Ian Fraser, who was a pianist, composer, music director and conductor for the British Decca label. In addition, he also composed soundtracks, was an 8-time Emmy Award winner and had been nominated for an Oscar for Scrooge in 1970. 

In 1961, he produced and directed an album for Decca called "50 Fingers 5 Guitars". The virtuosity of the five guitar players, Alan Weighell*, Don SanfordEric FordJudd Proctor, and Terry Walsh was featured on tracks like Lullaby Of Birdland, Mack The Knife, Sleep Walk and Night Train. While most of the tracks are sleep-inducing easy-listening atrocities - they were even re-released by Hallmark in 2011, Night Train stands out as a wild reverb-and echo-laden rocker. British Decca was not allowed to use its name in North America, there already being an American Decca, so apparently Decca UK's American subsidiary London released it as a single in the US, omitted the "Orchestra" and added the exotic bongo-heavy, but guitar-less groover "African Waltze" (by Galt McDermot) as a non-LP bonus track. Nobody knows why they added an olde-fashioned "e" to "Waltz". Of course, any further information is highly appreciated.

Night Train:

African Waltze: 

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