(4 / 5)
Ahh, good old Clive Powell, aka Georgie Fame. he has also been known as Georgie Fortune in his time, too. The man’s music career has endured seven decades – 1959 to today – and he has mainly stayed true to himself musically, apart from a few dodgy pop singles where he has had to go along with the choice of material forced on him by producers and record labels back in the day. But the majority of his output has been top notch.
One of the UK’s best R&B artists ever, in my humble opinion. Still sounding great and playing that organ like a demon, at the age of 74. Most recently with his musician sons. Fame was one of the most successful British solo artists of the Sixties and is still filling venues to this day, renowned for his ability to bridge the gap between jazz and pop.
In recent years, his music has been well treated, with a box set dedicated to his Columbia recordings 1963-66 and also a wider package devoted to his entire career. But his time with CBS Records hasn’t been revisited for several years.
“The Two Faces Of Fame” was Georgie’s debut album for CBS back in 1967, as part of the label’s high profile ‘Fame In ‘67’ campaign. Reflecting the fact that Georgie meant different things to different people, the album was split between live recordings from a show at London’s Royal Festival Hall and studio sessions. The LP sold well, reaching the UK Top 30.
Instead of marketing Georgie as an R&B artist with his backing band The Blue Flames, CBS saw Georgie solely as a solo star and promoted their new acquisition aggressively across the year, culminating in the #1 success of the single ‘The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde’. It followed earlier hits for the label, ‘Because I Love You’ (#15) and ‘Try My World’ (#37).
This remastered and expanded double-disc edition of “The Two Faces Of Fame”, offers both mono and stereo mixes of the original album. Also included are all of Georgie’s A and B sides from that year plus tracks from his stand-alone eponymous EP, various Italian language variants, a Brazilian-only International Pop Song Festival entrant (‘Celebration’) and a host of previously unissued tracks representing all of his recorded output from 1967 available at this time.
The package also boasts exhaustive sleeve-notes and a host of photos and rare images, offering a long-overdue reappraisal of Georgie Fame’s first year at CBS Records, capturing a star at the pinnacle of his success. Thereafter, he would enjoy a long and illustrious career, but he never again enjoyed being such a regular fixture on the pop charts.
As a youngster in the 60s, I soaked up tracks like “Yeh Yeh”, “Get Away” and the lovey “Sittin’ In The Park”. I liked the work he did with Van Morrison and with Bill Wyman’s Rhthym Kings. But my all time favourite album from Georgie, and I told him this on one of the several times our paths have crossed, is a killer solo album on the Go Jazz label called “Cool Cat Blues”, from 1990. Produced by Ben Sidran, and featuring a star studded line-up, including Robben Ford (who peels off a couple of stunning solos), Steve Gadd, Georgie’s hero Jon Hendricks, Will Lee, Ralph MacDonald, Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs, Richard Tee, Ronnie Cuber and more. If you get a chance, dig out a copy and you can thank me later.
But grab a copy of this new one first 57 tracks on three discs, and a great insight into Mr Fame’s tenure with one of the biggest record labels of the time. I need to check his date sheet, and see if he has any UK gigs anytime soon; I could with a fix of Fame.
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’