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Roburt

Going, Going ..... GONE

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Posted (edited)

Everyone on here has slightly different interests ... as I reach my 70's, I am getting overly nostalgic & keep looking back to the 60's through rose coloured glasses.

I like to read of old clubs I attended or knew about ... about old soul records I knew / owned back then ... BUT .. my main interest is in details on soul acts.

I like to research artist bio's & find out some of the many curious events that they endured down the years of their career ... the missed opportunities (at least 3 male singers on the 60's  Balto soul claim it was they that was 1st asked by Otis Redding to travel down to Memphis to cut "Sweet Soul Music") ... the rip offs (managers running off with their gig money or record company advance) .... the double dealing (a beautiful female singer who had to sleep with an agent to get a try out with Stevie Wonder's Wonderlove backing singers) .. ETC  ETC.

I get really frustrated that the vast majority of such data is just about totally lost to us now (the singer having passed away or lost his memory, the venues closed & demolished, the old TV video tape lost / thrown away or taped over, the recording master tapes of unissued soul rotted away before anyone got the chance to listen to them) ...

BUT lots of info relating to US soul acts is difficult to get coz US media largely ignored them & their exploits till the end of the 60's and so, the detail was never really documented in the 1st place. I can (sort of) understand that ... why would a US music TV show host know who / what The Stones were on about when told they'd only appear on his show if they had Howling Wolf  with them.  WHAT REALLY GETS MY GOAT THOUGH is the vast amount of lost knowledge of the exploits of US soul artists here in the UK.

AS AN EXAMPLE .... take the case of Alvin Robinson ... maybe he didn't have any big pop hits but he was a mainstream artist who had years of success (in later years, in even toured the US as part of Dr. John's live band ... but little or nobody sat him down & asked him about his career in detail) ...

Alvin had his first UK 45 release in 1964 (Pye International), this was followed by "Fever" on Red Bird later that same year. Jump forward to summer 66 and he had a high profile release on the UK indie STRIKE RECORDS ... so by September 66 he had established a decent profile with UK soul fans. I guess his US manager (Joe Jones) came to a deal with the guys at STRIKE and a UK tour was organised. This ran for a number of weeks and featured a good few major shows at top venues ... HOWEVER ... most of the info on that tour now seems totally lost to us ... Never mind, what Alvin made of the UK, the clubs he played, the British band that backed him up, the food, the travel arrangements, the digs, the soul fans he met here, ETC.

All I've been able to establish is that he arrived here in September 66 and Roy Tempest selected the Noblemen (Motivation) to back him up on his dates (they had just backed up the Vibrations & Edwin Starr on similar UK gigs & would follow on by doing the same job behind the Coasters here). Included in the gigs the ensemble played were shows in Boston (the Gliderdrome), Birmingham (2 nights at the Cedar Club) and a show at Newcastle University (in early November). But just about everything else about his time in the UK now seems to be gone for good. ..... Did he do a London show ?  Did he get a reception from Strike Records, was he provided with copies of his newish UK 45 to hand out as promo items, were any press / radio interviews organised for him, do any photos exist of him in the UK (performing or otherwise) ... NO IDEA AT ALL !!!    SUCH IS LIFE I GUESS.

 

AlvinRobinson45mont.jpg

JoeJonesProd.jpg

Edited by Roburt

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Posted (edited)

I find it frustrating that there is much more documented info on the UK backing group (the Noblemen / Motivation) involved with these tours than there is about the soul acts they backed up ... but then, I guess their members are still around to ask - though why no one seems to have asked them about the US acts they supported or their impressions of the clubs (Gliderdrome, Wheel, Mojo, Tiles, Marqee, etc) I can't think ... SO FRUSTRATING ... 

A pic from 66 of the Noblemen ...

 

NoblemenPic.jpg

Edited by Roburt

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Rob

I understand your frustration but don't be too despairing.

Are you aware of the British Newspaper Archive project? They are scanning and uploading loads and loads of British local newspapers. They are only recently getting to the first ones for the 1960s so there is very little there as yet for that decade. But I thought I would try it - and bingo! here is another venue for Alvin Robinson in Autumn 1966.

There could well be more as the project proceeds.

Then of course there are all the British music papers. I know you are aware of that American Radio History website which has copies of Billboard. Cash Box etc. But have you noticed that a few British ones are starting to be added. Disc, Record Mirror, Melody Maker. NME. Again not much there as yet but hopefully that is a resource that will grow and grow.

Anyway hope my one actual contribution here is of use. :)

 

 

Alv.jpg

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Rob-Photos do exist of Alvin Robinson's 66' UK tour- two of them appear on the back cover of the 1980's Charly compilation LP 'Shine On'.Hopefully someone more computer-savvy  than me who has the LP can put them up. 

Alvin was a fine and  often overlooked artist with a fantastic voice-certainly one of New Orleans' forgotten Soul greats.

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Posted (edited)

Yep, more & more old stuff from newspapers & music mags is getting digitised & put online ... it's just taking so long for much of the stuff that interests us to turn up. That ad for the Granby Halls is great .........

Another gem of info that's out hiding on the net is this Alvin Robinson tit-bit  ...........

Alvin was from NO, la (New Orleans) and was a respected studio guitarist chasing sessions for himself as the featured artist (this was late 50's / early 60's). He wasn't too successful but was eventually signed to Imperial and enjoyed 3 x 45 releases on Imperial in 61/62 (before he moved to NY). Back then, he would hook up with all the other NO based musicians to play gigs / sessions (Alan Toussaint & his group of guys + Mac Rebennack / Dr.John). After his NY stint was over, Alvin moved to LA in early 66 and hooked up with other old NO guys there. Dr John got him involved with a bunch of NOla guys in the studio. This resulted in cuts attributed to The Zu Zu Blues Band (others were shopped around as by Jessie Hill and the Poopettes). The group members were :- Ike Williams, trumpet; Tank Jernigan, tenor sax; Mac Rebennack, piano; Alvin Robinson, guitar; Al Frazier, bass; John Boudreaux, drums; Jessie Hill, percussion and vocals. This band did some gigs,and then recorded. They cut a whole album of stuff but could only get A & M to put out a 45 (Scepter-Wand took some of the other cuts but didn’t put them out). The band broke up & some of the members went back to LA studio session work, hiring themselves out to anyone who wanted a NOla funk sound.

So, Alvin was on cuts laid down in LA in early 66 (just as a guitarist) but only 2 (?) of these escaped the vaults. These formed A &M 45 # 790 by the Zu Zu Blues Band -- "Zu Zu Man / Side Show" ... these sides got UK soul club plays and the A side was booted with a PART 2 version on the tuvaside.

Alvin's NY based manager had released existing tracks on his own label (see scan on 1st post) in April 66 which Strike had put out in the UK, so no doubt, Alvin focused on that after the Zu Zu Blues Band project didn't really work out. Preparations for his UK tour (discussions between Joe Jones & Roy Tempest must have taken place around August 66) and as a result, Alvin flew over here in September 66. No doubt he had a few days rehearsing with the Noblemen in London. As a long time US studio session guitar player, more used to working with NOla funkers, I just wonder what he made of the UK beat group guys selected to back him up.  

 

 

 

Edited by Roburt

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12 hours ago, Spain pete said:

Cool looking dudes / geezers 👏👍🎶🎶🎶

They weren't really mod types, just 'run of the mill' young Brits trying to break into the music biz. The shot above (& others taken the same day on Bognor Regis stn) were done by them & their manager. They'd decided on the style of dress as most of their work was backing up US soul acts or playing UK R&B clubs. So looking like mods was good for the image (as was playing covers of current soul hits at the time).

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Chris Turnbull said:

Just read this with interest before realising it's Al Robinson of 'Sho 'bout to drive me wild' fame on Pulsar, total stormer and one of my absolute faves

 

Yep, the guys involved with the Zu Zu Blues Band project hooked up again & (via Mercury) got Pulsar Records going in LA. Of course, one of the 1st acts they cut was Alvin (in 69, after his Atco released 45 tracks had been put out). The Pulsar 45 was also released as by Shine (Al's nickname). Guess that's why (the nickname) his UK comp LP was titled 'SHINE ON'.

Anyone know if the UK LP sleeve notes make mention of events on the UK tour ?

AlRobnsonLPpic.jpg

Edited by Roburt

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Alvin / Al / Shine continued to work with Dr. John (after the Zu Zu Band & Pulsar Records) and was in Dr. John's Gumbo band, the outfit that cut the tracks on his big selling GUMBO LP.

Before (& after) the sessions that resulted in that album (which incidently also featured Tami Lynn on vocals), Dr. John & his live band toured the UK. Alvin didn't come along on either of those UK tours, I don't know whether this was coz he had bad memories of his 66 UK tour of if he just didn't want to tour all over at those times (1970 & 72).    

 

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The text above mentions the 1966 tour in passing, only to say that he was already a veteran of "gruelling tours" and so impressed Derek Brandon with the professional way he handled things as an artist in his own right. Also mentions Robinson as part of Dr John's European tour band in 1986.

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Posted (edited)

Another quote from Dr. John that's on-line ... this was in the early 70's but he was talking about his time in New Orleans record studios at the end of the 50's & into the 60's ...

 I recorded some single records for Ace around '59, some of them was released. Then I recorded an album for AFO Records, that was Jimmy Battiste and Melvin Lastie's company, I was like the first white act on an all black company.

"At the time I was workin' with Battiste and Melvin and those guys, it was a part of their company. But by being an artist, I was tryin' to help them keep their company, their artists, which consisted of Barbara George – she had that 'I Know' record – Prince La-La, who had that 'She Put the Hurt On Me', and there was a few others. There was quite a few artists that they had you know, Tammi Lynn was one of them. Like she was one of the best artists they ever had that they could never get off the ground.

"Same with Willie Tee (who had a minor hit with 'Teasin' You'). Willie Tee still has a band in New Aw-lens. He had some good records but they never did get that action. He since then has cut a big band album with H.B.Barnum in L.A. but nothin' happened with it. But I mean, these are artists that just because they don't have a hit Top 40 record, that don't take nothin' away from 'em.

And that was it. In the mid-'60's, as Minit was bought out by L.A. based Imperial, as the Lasties and Battistes headed for Los Angeles, the era of New Orleans as a recording center had come to an end.

He left New Orleans towards the end of 64, and Tammi Lynn, Earl King + WillieTee were already well know to him before then. As Mac worked a lot with Harold Battiste (AFO), he must have played on Willie Tee's first 3 single releases. Maybe even on "Teasin You", as that was through Earl King. Tammi's first record was also on AFO, so he'd have played on those tracks too. The AFO studio group (ALL FOR ONE) was just about the same set of musicians that Allen Toussaint used on all the Minit / Imperial tracks cut in NOla ... The Minit Men 1960-63  -- Lee Allen, tenor; Red Tyler, bari; Allen Toussaint, piano (replacing Mac who played piano in the AFO band); Roy Montrell or Snooks Eaglin, guitar; Chuck Badie, bass; John Boudreaux, drums. These guys would have played on Alvin's Imperial tracks.

After Mac had arrived in LA, he played on loads of pop cuts (Sonny & Cher, etc) plus soul stuff from the Valentinos, Olympics, Sims Twins, Billy Preston & more.

Edited by Roburt

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I don't recall this being played here back in the 60's (am I wrong ?) ... Dr. John -- The Point (wonder if Alvin is mixed up in there on guitar) ...

 

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Posted (edited)

By all accounts, Alvin was responsible for getting Shorty Long's music career started. It seems Alvin taught Shorty how to play the guitar & gave him encouragement that helped him land gigs at the Old Stables club in Birmingham (late 50's). Again how & where this happened now seems to be lost in the mist of time. Back then, Alvin was in NOla, while Shorty was in Birmingham and the cities are almost 350 miles apart.   

 

AlvinRobnsn65.jpg

Edited by Roburt

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