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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Keef Hartley Band - Not Foolish Not Wise (1968-72 uk, great rock blues psych, live recordings for BBC)

Recorded at the BBC Studios, London, England between 1968 and 1972 and issued in England in 1999, Keef Hartley's Not Foolish Not Wise is, apparently, a compilation of sorts of old live recordings and some from the studio. What is maddening is that apart from a personal reminiscence by Neil Slaven that covers some of Hartley's career, there isn't one iota of information -- other than titles and songwriting credits -- as to when or where these recordings were made, or even who played on them.

One can deduce with a degree of certainty that many of these recordings were live gigs featuring outtakes and alternate material from the Halfbreed era that included the four-piece horn section of Henry Lowther (trumpet, violin), Harry Beckett (trumpet), Lyn Dobson (tenor sax, flute), and Chris Mercer (tenor sax), with Hartley on drums, the late bassist Gary Thain (formerly of Uriah Heep!), Dino Dines on keyboards, and Miller Anderson (who also served as vocalist) and Spit James on guitars.

Some come from a later edition of the band with only two horns. The music is rooted deeply in the progressive blues of the early '70s, where the influence of John Mayall's Jazz Blues Fusion project was just making itself known. But Hartley's band was deeper into a more raucous form of blues and R&B than jazz, though the horn charts are fairly sophisticated, as evidenced by the title track, "Marin County," "Too Much Thinking" with its subtly shaded trumpets shimmering over the saxophones, and the slippery funk groove of "Don't You Belong," driven by Thain's bass thud and punched up by the horns Famous Flames style. Given that many of these are live cuts and the rest are outtakes, the sound can be a tad muddy, but it only adds to the overall presence of the music.

Despite the dodgy omissions in credits, this is a vital and thoroughly engaging release, capturing a band at the stellar height of its power both live and in the studio. As Slaven put it in his liner notes, this "was a no nonsense band that played no nonsense music." Recommended for anyone ever interested in Hartley or in the evolution of British blues.
by Thom Jurek

1. Sinning for You - 3:36
2. Spanish Fly - 6:05
3. Me and My Woman - 5:21
4. Too Much Thinking - 6:47
5. Not Foolish Not Wise - 4:33
6. Don't You Belong - 5:55
7. Marin County - 4:05
8. Always Thinking of You - 4:31
9. Don't Sing It - 5:05
10.Colours - 6:04
11.Roundabout - 6:19
12.You Can't Take it With You - 7:46
13.Just a Cry - 7:59


*Henry Lowther - Trumpet, Violin
*Harry Beckett - Trumpet
*Lyn Dobson - Tenor Sax, Flute
*Chris Mercer - Tenor Sax
*Keef Hartley - Drums
*Gary Thain - Bass
*Dino Dines - Keyboards
*Miller Anderson - Vocals, Guitars
*Spit James - Guitars

Keef Hartley's brands
1969  Halfbreed (2008 Esoteric)
1969  The Battle Of North West Six  (2008 Esoteric)
1970  The Time Is Near (2008 Esoteric)
1970  Overdog (2005 Eclectic)
1971  Little Big Band
1972  Seventy Second Brave (2009 Esoteric)
1972  Lancashire Hustler (2008 Esoteric)

Related Act
1971  Miller Anderson - Bright City

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