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Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Alan Bown Set - Emergency 999 (1965-67 uk, effective soul drenched mod beat psych)

Alan Bown is most known -- certainly in the United States -- for his late '60s recordings as leader of a group (actually called the Alan Bown) that played psychedelic pop. 

The trumpeter had already been recording since 1965, however, with a group called the Alan Bown Set from 1965-1967 in a far more soul-influenced style. This compilation gathers both sides of all five singles the Alan Bown Set released on Pye in the U.K. during that time, along with the seven live songs from the London Swings: Live at the Marquee Club LP they shared with Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, and the French-only single "Jeu De Massacre (The Killing Game)," from the soundtrack of the French film of the same name. 

The group were in the same general territory as other British combiners of soul, jazz, and blues from the period, such as Georgie Fame and Zoot Money. However, they were more soul-oriented than either Fame or Money (and not nearly as good as Fame), though they too employed a brass section. 

This collection is fair but workmanlike British blue-eyed soul, with the horns and organ differentiating it from many other British bands of the day. But it's short on really good material, whether group originals or cover interpretations. Jess Roden, who handles most of the vocals, sounds quite a bit like Steve Marriott, though he's not as good or powerful. 

Those cuts with Jeff Bannister on lead suffer from his thin, uncertain vocals, though one of these, their 1965 debut single "I Can't Let Her Go," was the best tune they did, with its nicely melancholy melody and well-arranged blend of brass, organ, and backup harmonies. 
by Richie Unterberger

1. Can't Let Her Go (Leese) - 2:48
2. I'm The One (Mayfield) - 2:13
3. Baby Don't Push Me (Townsrow) - 2:15
4. Everything's Gonna Be Alright (Mitchell) - 2:21
5. Headline News (Hamilton, Morris, Hatcher) - 2:36
6. Mr Pleasure (Creighton, Stafford) - 2:12
7. Emergency 999 (Korda) - 2:30
8. Settle Down (Bown, Bannister) - 2:29
9. Gonna Fix You Good (Everytime You're Bad) (Randazzo, Pike) - 2:42
10.I Really, Really Care (Bown) - 2:42
11.Jeu De Massacre (The Killing Game) (J. Loussier, A. Jessua) - 4:19
12.Love Me (Unknown) - 2:47
13.Mr Job (Catchpole, Bown, Bannister) - 2:25
14.Gonna Fix You Good (Everytime You're Bad) (Demo Version) (Randazzo, Pike) - 2:47
15.It's Growing (Robinson Moore) - 3:12
16.Emergency 999 (Korda) - 2:39
17.I Need You (Mayfield) - 3:00
18.Sunny (Hebb) - 3:22
19.Headline News (Hamilton, Morris, Hatcher) - 2:35
20.Down In The Valley (Burke, Berns) - 2:47
21.The Boomerang (Ott, Covay) - 3:31
Tracks from 15-21 Live versions

The Alan Bown Set
*Alan Bown - Trumpet
*Dave Green - Saxophone, Flute
*Jeff Bannister - Organ, Vocals
*Stan Haldane - Bass
*Vic Sweeney - Drums
*Pete Burgess - Guitar
*Jess Roden - Vocals
*John Anthony Helliwell - Saxes

more Alan Bown 
1969  The Alan Bown! (2010 Esoteric remaster)
1970  Listen (2010 Esoteric remaster)
1971  Stretching Out (2010 Esoteric remaster)

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DanP said...

interesting from a historical perspective. Love the one called The Alan Bown! the other two original full-lengths are good but don't approach that one somehow IMHO

psychonaut said...


mscmichael said...

Thanks a lot...

sfdoomed said...

I used to think the other albums weren't that good, as DanP says, but in recent years I've grown to like them more. It's funny how tastes can evolve (or devolve?) over time.

Thanks for the excellent postings as always, Marios!

Terry said...

Thanks for the chance to hear this. I collected everything I could find by Alan Bown's various groups some years ago. This one either wasn't available at the time, or I missed it.

sorogan said...

Many thanks !!!!!

Jason D said...

It's a pity the video's been deleted, but you're on the money with your appraisal of the band and its limitations.

One supplement to your post is that when you're looking for some genuine 60's blue eyed soul, pickings are slim, as you imply in the comments. Especially raw tracks that haven't been overproduced, like so many were (and still are).

That's what The Alan Bown delivered: a rawness that makes you think that, like so many bands of the time, seeing them live was probably a whole lot more satisfying than buying the vinyl.

Outstanding live performances was very much a trait of Jimmy James and The Vagabonds, too, so you can see why someone would have wanted to put the two together on one disc.

Despite them not being in the same league as The Small Faces, The Action and maybe The Artwoods, every mod should at least give them a listen.

I have 5 albums, across the band's iterations (Listen, Outward Bown, Stretchin Out, The Alan Bown! and the A's & B's singles comp) and I wouldn't part with them for the world. Thanks to stumbling across this post, I think I may just go and play some - thank you!