Rock and roll will never die! That's the thinking behind the series of British Rock and Roll Heritage Shows which Keith Woods has organised over the last few years and which reached its eighth outing at the Borderline in London last night with some old favourites and a couple of more obscure acts. This time the show celebrated those artists who played the Star Club in Hamburg during the early sixties and quite a few of them hailed from the Liverpool beat scene. Once again the acts enjoyed fantastic backing from the Tales From The Woods House Band, with John Spencely on lead guitar, Claire Hamlin on keyboards, Brian 'Bunter' Clark on drums and Robb Davis on bass, augmented this time by two, rather than just one, great sax players - Alex Bland and Sid Phillips.
The show got off to a rousing start with Bobby Thompson
, a former member of Cliff Bennett's Rebel Rousers and Kingsize Taylor's Dominoes, whose powerful voice had a distinct Fats Domino feel to it and was excellent on several of the Fat Man's numbers including Let The Four Winds Blow, Wait and See and I'm Walkin', with some very genuine sounding Herb Hardesty-flavoured saxophone backing from Alex and Sid. He kicked off with Memphis and his set also included Sweet Little Little Rock and Roller from the Chuck Berry songbook, Party Doll, Don't Be Cruel, Wine Spo-dee-oh-dee and My Toot Toot. A really top notch start to the evening, with the band showing just how good they are.
Next act was another Liverpudlian and another man who played the Star Club - Karl Terry, once lead singer of The Cruisers. Karl may not possess a great voice, but he made up for this with a manic act which included Freddie-style leaps, hand actions and a huge smile throughout. Songs included Shake Rattle and Roll, But I Do, Hallelujah I Love Her so, Such A Night, You Never Can Tell (with Pulp Fiction-styled actions), Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie, Margie, the self-penned Cigarettes Cold Beer and Sexy Ladies, Bobby Rydell's Wild One, Baby I Don't Care and, as an encore, High School Confidential. Karl doesn't take himself too seriously and his act was a hoot from beginning to end, once again with great backing from the band, including drummer 'Bunter' - the 'lump with the thump' to quote Karl!
Next act was a big performer in every sense - Kingsize Taylor, a man who was so successful at the Star Club that he made Hamburg his home and who appeared at one of the earlier Tales From The Woods shows. He still retains a big voice and rocked through a number of high tempo Chuck Berry numbers, despite admitting that he didn't like Chuck personally. He kicked off with Watch Your Step and Dizzy Miss Lizzie but then launched into Nadine and Sweet Little Sixteen, before inviting fellow Liverpudlian Beryl Marsden, one of the stars of the last show back in January, for a duet on High Heel Sneakers. Then it was back to Chuck with Let It Rock, followed by one of his bigger records back in the day, Solomon Burke's Stupidity, Bony Moronie and finally You Can't Sit Down. A good set, and one which got the less than a full house audience going.
Here's Kingsize Taylor on stage with Beryl Marsden.
Penultimate act on the night was the Incredible Roy Young, also a star of an earlier show, who for my money was the best act of the night. He seemed to be really enjoying himself as he showed off his great boogie woogie piano skills and Little Richard style voice on Slow Down, I'm Ready, Mess Around, Blue Monday, Jambalaya, My Bonnie (a tribute to Tony Sheridan, who died recently, with much audience participation), Can't Believe You Wanna Leave, his own song Big Fat Mama, Blueberry Hill/Ain't That A Shame, I Saw Her Standing There and, finally, Ready Teddy. Once again the band coped brilliantly. Picture also shows Brian 'Bunter' Clark on drums.
Finishing the show and therefore presumably considered the biggest star, was Chas Hodges, another piano thumper, although without Roy Young's brilliance of touch. A former member of the Outlaws, he began as a bass player but after playing with Jerry Lee Lewis he turned to the piano, he said. He began with a rather pedestrian Roll Over Beethoven and then moved through a couple of Jerry Lee numbers - You Win Again and Breathless. By this time I was tiring and less than overwhelmed by Chas - his cockney sparrow persona is an acquired taste, I think, and one that I've never acquired - so I headed for home, thus missing the finale with all the acts on stage together.
But overall this was another excellent show which really rocked.
Here are the two excellent sax men - Alex Bland and Sid Phillips - with Claire Hamlin (left).
Wearing his customary hat, in the audience, here is show promoter Keith Woods with (left) Shaky Lee Wilkinson, the MC for the evening. I'm off to the States tomorrow with Lee, DJ for the night John Howard and TFTW committee member Alan Lloyd, for what promises to be an enjoyable road trip with loads of music.
And finally, here's John Spencely, the man who makes the House Band rock with his great guitar work.
Words and photos by Nick Cobban.