Thursday, 25 September 2008

"First Slice" by JELLYBREAD. Their 1970 Album Rarity on Blue Horizon Gets A Top Overhaul & Genuinely Rare Bonuses...

Taking their name from a 1963 Stax single by Booker T & The MG's – JELLYBREAD were...

PETE WINGFIELD on Piano and Vocals

JELLYBREAD did 3 albums and 6 singles for the cult UK blues label - which throws up an unintentional glitch in this CD's claim to be "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" - it isn't. What this 15 September 2008 UK released 24-track reissue covers is only the first album and 3 of the 7" singles that surrounded it. The anomaly lies in distribution rights - then and now. "65 Parkway", their 2nd album, came out in 1971 on Blue Horizon 2431 002, while their 3rd and last album "Back To The Beginning Again" followed in 1972 on Blue Horizon 2931 004. Unfortunately their issue and distribution was handled by the Polydor group at the time - and still is. Therefore those albums and the other three singles are out of the scope of this Sony/CBS release. They may be issued at some point in the future by Universal - but that remains to be seen. However there are plenty of other goodies on this unassuming little nugget that more than compensate...

UK released September 2008 - here's the full layout for Sony/Blue Horizon 88697192182 (Barcode 886971921823) by JELLYBREAD (78:51 minutes):

1. River’s Invitation
2. I Pity The Fool
3. Never Say No
4. Chairman Mao’s Boogaloo
5. Evening
6. I’ve Got To Forget You
7. Boogie Sandwich
8. Rusty Blade
9. No Brag Just Facts (Pts. 1 & 2)
10. No One Else
11. Don’t Pay Them No Mind
Tracks 1 to 11 make up the album "First Slice" issued early 1970 on Blue Horizon S 7-63853 in the UK and Blue Horizon BH 4801 in the USA
(Tracks 2 and 10 off the album, "Chairman Mao's Boogaloo" b/w "No One Else", were issued as their first UK 7" single on Blue Horizon 57-3162 in late September 1969. The A is a piano-driven instrumental; both tracks are Butler/Wingfield originals)

Tracks 12 and 13 are "Comment" b/w "Funky Wasp", which was their 2nd UK 7" single on Blue Horizon 57-3169 issued in January 1970 - both songs are non-album. "Comment" is a Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band cover version, an obscure B-side to the "Must Be Your Thing" 7" single from 1969 on US Warner Brothers; the B-side to "Comment" is a rocking original, a New Orleans styled instrumental peppered with superb piano playing by Pete Wingfield.

Tracks 14 and 15 are "Rockin' Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu" b/w "Readin' The Meters", which was their 3rd UK 7" single on Blue Horizon 57-374 issued in April 1970 - and again both songs are non-album. The A is a cover of the 1957 Huey Smith classic while the B is a funky wah-wah guitar instrumental written by the whole band

Tracks 16 and 17 are "Old Man Hank" b/w "Faded Grace", which was their 4th UK 7" single issued 4 December 1970 on Blue Horizon 57-3180 - again, both tracks were non-album at the time (Butler and Wingfield originals) and are more pop than blues.

Then comes a genuine treat for blues collectors....

Tracks 18 to 22 are five of the six songs issued on their privately pressed mini-LP "Jellybread", issued March 1969 on Liphook Records LIPHOOK 1. Due to time restraints on this CD, the Royce Swain song "Evening" has been left off (their excellent re-recording of it is Track 5 on the album anyway). Featuring covers of Jimmy Roger's "That's Alright", Don Robey's "Don't Want No Woman", Roosevelt Syke's "Drivin' Wheel", Percy Mayfield's "Never Say No" and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Sugar Mama" - 99 copies only were pressed up and given a stamped handmade sleeve. It was sold at gigs and in specialist shops and used as a showcase for the band. Impossible to find (I've never seen one) and with a £100+ rarity value, its inclusion here is a genuine bonus for collectors of rare blues. Their superb cover of Percy Mayfield's "Never Say No" is actually ballsier than the re-recorded version on the album for my money and given the rocking bluesy nature of the other recordings - it's easy to see why BH signed them.

The original tapes are remastered to the usual SUPERB standard by DUNCAN COWELL at Sound Mastering, the detailed 12-page booklet has a stylish and informative essay on the group by label boss MIKE VERNON, all of it supplemented with advert reproductions, band photos, the record sleeves, session details etc. Finally, a tasty card wrap covers the outside jewel case - and even the tracks are typeset on the cover as the album in the left column, and the bonuses in the right - so you can see where the natural break is - all of it typical of the excellence that has surrounded every BH release to date.

Highlights include a slow and brassy version of Bobby Bland's 1961 Duke Records classic "I Pity The Fool" and the epic seven-minute "Evening" which could have been a moody Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac classic in the hands of someone else (Gary Moore did a wonderfully slow and evocative cover of it on his excellent "Close As You Get" album from last year).

Which brings me to another anomaly as I listen to the excellent slow blues of "No One Else" - from my days as Mail-Order/Rarities Manager in Reckless Records in both their Islington and Soho branches, I recall Jellybread not being held in the highest regard by BH collectors anywhere. It isn't that the album is awful; it's just perceived as a little dull and lifeless - white boys doing lackluster versions of black man's blues. I think this superb release may well change that - because like the Christine Perfect album and CD reissue in this series (see separate review), this is essentially a 3-star album pushed up to a bona-fide 4-star release by its genuinely excellent bonus tracks and quality audio presentation.

There's excellent stuff on this reissue and I hope it will lead to a reappraisal of this forgotten but rather cool and funky British blues band... 

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