Not many compilation series has enjoyed the longevity and success of Ace Records’ Heard Them Here First series. There’s a reason for this. The series allows music lovers to hear the music that influenced some of the biggest names in music. This has previously included The New York Dolls, The Ramones, David Bowie, Nick Cave, Elvis Presley and even Dusty Springfield. To celebrate the tenth instalment in the series, Ace Records have chosen Georgie Fame, Britain’s “original mod hero.”

This was back in the early sixties, when Georgie Fame’s was enjoying the most successful period of his career. He enjoyed a string of hit singles, and enjoyed three number singles. The first of these was Yeh Yeh in 1964. Get Away followed in 1966, with 1967s The Ballad Of Bonnie and Clyde being Georgie  Fame’s final number one single. However, by then, Georgie Fame was a popular live act.

That had been the case, ever since Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames were playing four or five sets a night at London’s Flamingo and Roaring 20s. Soon, Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames were one of the most popular British R&B bands. They toured the country. Often, Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames’ sets included singles Georgie had  had heard in clubs or bought as imports. 

Georgie Fame was, a keen record collector. In his free time, he searched London’s specialist record shops, looking for blues, jazz, R&B and soul singles. Other times, sound system operator Count Suckle would give Georgie Fame records to add to his burgeoning collection. Soon, Georgie Fame had an enviable collection. Since then, Georgie Fame’s love of music has never diminished. He’s still got an insatiable appetite for music, so when Ace Records asked him to pick twenty-five tracks for Georgie Fame Heard Them Here First, he was spoiled for choice. He could easily have chosen enough material for a box set. However, after much ruminating and reflecting, George Fame came up with the track list for Georgie Fame Heard Them Here First.

On Georgie Fame Heard Them Here First, there’s tracks from The Spinners, Major Lance, Rufus Thomas, Mose Allison Trio, Paul Anka, Fats Domino, William Bell, Lee Dorsey, The Miracles and Jimmy McGriff. It’s an eclectic selection of music, with everything from jazz, pop, R&B, reggae, soul and Southern Soul on Georgie Fame Heard Them Here First. It’s not going to be easy choosing the highlights of Georgie Fame Heard Them Here First.

A good enough place to start is with The Spinners’ Sweet Thing, which opens Georgie Fame Heard Them Here First. This was before commercial success came The Spinners way. They started their career at Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records. It was bought out by Motown, and between between 1964 and 1968, that was home to The Spinners. 

Their Motown debut was Sweet Thing, which was written and produced by William Stevenson. Three years later, in 1967, Sweet Thing featured on The Spinners’ only Motown album, The Original Spinners. Sadly,  success passed The Spinners by at Motown. While Sweet Thing was a taste of what they were capable of, it wasn’t until The Spinners met producer Thom Bell, that they fulfilled their potential.

Major Lance’s recording career began at Mercury in 1959, when he released I’ve Got A Girl. By 1962, he had signed to Okeh. His Okeh debut Delilah failed commerically. However, when Major Lance released a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Monkey Time in 1963, it was a case of third time lucky. Monkey Time reached number eight in the US Billboard 100 and number two in the US R&B charts. Despite its success in America, Monkey Time failed to chart in Britain. This soulful dancer became a favourite of discerning DJs, and  Georgie Fame,  who covered it on his 1964 album Fame At Last. 

A year after Titus Turner released the original version of Get On The Right Track Baby, Ray Charles covered the song in 1957. It was released on Atlantic, which had been home to Ray Charles throughout his career. However, Get On The Right Track wasn’t a commercial success. By the sixties, Get On The Right Track was a favourite in many clubs. That would be the case right through to the early seventies. Partly, that’s down to a vocal masterclass from Ray Charles. His delivery and phrasing are almost flawless.

By 1965, Joe Tex was signed to the Dial label. He had already enjoyed two number one singles in the US R&B charts. This would soon become three, when Joe Tex released A Sweet Woman Like You. It was another of Joe Tex’s compositions. When it entered the charts, it reached just twenty-nine in the US Billboard 100. However, it kept climbing the US R&B charts, right to the top stop. Two years later, in 1966, A Sweet Woman Like You was released as a single in the UK. On the B-Side was Close The Door. While A Sweet Woman Like You was a favourite of many DJs, some flipped over to the B-Side and discovered the stomping Close The Door. Quickly, this stomper became a favourite of DJs and Joe Tex’s fans.

In 1960, The Mose Allison Trio released their debut album on Columbia, I Love The Life I Live album on Columbia. Mose Alison was already an experienced musician. He had been signed to Prestige since he released Back Country Suite in 1957. By 1959, Mose Allison had released six albums. His seventh album, and Columbia debut was released in 1959.

This was the Transfiguration of Hiram Brown. A year later, in 1960, came The Mose Allison Trio’s debut I Love The Life I Live. The title-track was a cover of a song penned by Willie Dixon. However, when Muddy Waters covered the song for Chess Records, it was as I Live The Life I Live. The Mose Allison Trio’s version is very different. This a slinky slice of blues-tinged, jazz struck a nerve with Georgie Fame. Four years later, he covered I Live The Life I Live on his 1964 album Fame At Last.

Billy Stewart started life with The Rainbows, a vocal group. That was his introduction to secular music. It was also where Billy Stewart met Don Covay. The two men would forge careers as soul singers in the sixties. By 1965, Billy Stewart was signed to Chicago’s Chess Records. He had spent most of his career at Chess Records, and repaid them with a string of hits. This included Sitting In The Park, which reached number twenty-four in the US Billboard 100 and four in the US R&B charts. Sitting In The Park was one of the biggest hits of Billy Stewart’s career. Sadly, five years later, Billy Stewart was dead, aged just thirty-three. A reminder of his talent is Sitting In The Park, a truly beautiful ballad that’s the best track on Georgie Fame Heard The Here First.

Fats Domino influenced many British artists. This included everyone from The Beatles and Rolling Stones to Van Morrison and Georgie Fame. For this generation, they had never experienced anything like Fats Domino. He was seen as a breath of fresh in air to these aspiring musicians. In April 1958, Fats Domino released Sick and Tired on Imperial. It reached number twenty-two in the US Billboard 100 and fourteen in the US R&B charts, and featured on The Fabulous Mr. D album. A few years later, these artists were rubbing shoulders with Fats Domino. This included Georgie Fame, who covered Sick and Tired in 1964.  

Most people asked to name their favourite Lee Dorsey song, would choose Working In The Coal Mine. Not Georgie Fame. He throws a curveball, choosing Do-Re-Mi. This was Earl King composition became Lee Dorsey’s sophomore single. It was the followup to Ya Ya, which had given Lee Dorsey a number one single in the US R&B charts. Lightning didn’t strike twice, and Do-Re-Mi reached just number twenty-seven in the US Billboard 100 and twenty-two in the US R&B charts. It’s an often overlooked track, that’s a welcome addition to Georgie Fame Heard The Here First.

Berry Gordy and William Robinson penned The Miracles’ 1960 single Shop Around. It gave The Miracles the biggest single of their nascent career, when it reached number two in the US Billboard 100 and one in the US R&B charts. Shop Around transformed The Miracles’ career, and after that, they were on the road to becoming one of the Motown’s biggest success stories.

In 1964, Joe Hinton covered a Willie Nelson song, Funny. It had originally been recorded by country singer Billy Walker in 1961. Three years later, in 1964, Joe Hinton released Funny as a single on Back Beat. By the time Joe Hinton released his debut album in 1965, the song had been rechristened Funny How Time Slips Away. was released on Back Beat in America, the song was entitled Funny. It wasn’t until Joe Hinton released his debut album that the song had been rechristened. His reading of this wistful R&B ballad is one of the album’s highlights, and one of the highlights of Georgie Fame Heard The Here First.

Closing Georgie Fame Heard The Here First, is  Jimmy McGriff’s All About My Girl. It was released on the Sue label in 1963, and showcases one of the finest Hammond organ players of his generation. Jimmy McGriff showcases his considerable skills on the ‘big burner’ and makes All About My Girl swing. In doing so, he leaves the listener wanting more. That’s how every compilation should finish.

Georgie Fame Heard The Here First is the tenth instalment in Ace Records’ Heard It Here First series. It’s certainly one of the most eclectic in the Heard Them Here series. There’s everything from blues, jazz, pop, R&B, reggae, soul, soul jazz and Southern Soul. Everyone from The Spinners and Major Lance, through Rufus Thomas and Mose Allison Trio to Paul Anka, Fats Domino, William Bell, Lee Dorsey, The Miracles and Jimmy McGriff make an appearance on Georgie Fame Heard The Here First. That’s not all.

Billy Stewart makes a very welcome appearance with Sitting In The Park. He’s an artist. So do Joe Tex,  Marvin Gaye, William Bell and Earl Van Dyke. Never, does your hand stray towards the remote control. Instead, you’re captivated, as Georgie Fame takes you on a guided tour through the music that influenced and shaped him musically. His taste is not just eclectic, but impeccable. Georgie Fame digs out singles, hidden gems, B-Sides, instrumentals and album tracks for Georgie Fame Heard The Here First, which is a fitting way for Ace Records to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Heard It Hear series.

















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