Friday, April 7, 2017

Keef Hartley - 1969 - The Battle Of North West Six

Keef Hartley Band
The Battle Of North West Six

01. The Dansette Kid / Hartley Jam For Bread 3:59
02. Don't Give Up 4:07
03. Me And My Woman 4:24
04. Hickory 2:45
05. Don't Be Afraid 4:25
06. Not Foolish, Not Wise 3:58
07. Waiting Around 2:29
08. Tadpole 7:06
09. Poor Mabel (You're Just Like Me) 3:11
10. Believe In You 5:23

Artwork – Art Wood

Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Barbara Thompson
Bass Guitar – Gary Thain
Drums, Percussion – Keef Hartley
Flute – Ray Warleigh
Guitar – Mick Taylor, Spit James
Vocals – Miller Anderson
Organ, Piano, Percussion – Mick Weaver
Tenor Saxophone – Chris Mercer, Jim Jewell
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Lynn Dobson
Trumpet – Mike Davis
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Harry Beckett
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Violin – Henry Lowther

The debut LP offered up a decent enough slice of blues-rock and to be truthful, I wasn't expecting much more from 1969's "The Battle of North West Six".  Judging by the liner notes and performance credits (former lead guitarist Spit Jones showed up on a number of the tracks),, the album seemingly featured quite a bit of material previously recorded and shelved ('The Dansette Kid Hartley Jam for Bread', 'Don't Be Afraid', and 'Not Foolish, Not Wise').   That wasn't necessarily a bad thing since the album had a far more diverse sound that the debut, including several tracks that featured commercial radio potential - check out the ballad 'Don't Give Up' and the closer 'Believe In You'.  And here's the funny thing about the album - namesake Hartley was largely relegated to the background.  Yeah, his playing was never less than professional (coupled with Gary Thain's excellent bass), but with the exception of a brief solo on 'Not Foolish, Not Wise' and a couple of brief breaks on 'Don't Give Up', there were no spotlight grabbing solos, or needless displays of exotic percussive instruments.  Kudos to Hartley for putting the spotlight on the band.

2nd album by the excellent Keef Hartley Band, one the best Blues / Rock / Jazz ensembles ever, founded by drummer Keef Hartley following his stint with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. This album was recorded shortly after the stunning debut and features most of the musicians present on that recording with the addition of some notable guests, like saxophonist / flautist Barbara Thompson, flautist Ray Warleigh, guitarist Mick Taylor and keyboardist Mick Weaver. In total 14 musicians are involved in this recording and it is definitely one of the best Blues-Rock albums ever recorded in Britain. Hartley's sensitive drumming drives the music through a set of fantastically well written and superbly arranged tunes, which are Blues based but extend often into Rock and Jazz. The guitar work is stunning, the brass arrangement just right on the money, in short heaven on earth for any Blues fan, but basically early Jazz-Rock Fusion enthusiasts will find here everything they need to make them happy. Definitely a classic of the genre and an essential piece of music if ever there was one!