Monday, 30 July 2012

Jimmy James & The Vagabonds

The Vagabonds, a Jamaican calypso outfit, had been together since 1960, but it wasn't until their singer Jimmy James moved the band to London in 1964 that things started to happen. Already a star in his native Jamaica, James' vocal dexterity provided the perfect foil for the high-octane performances of their MC Count Prince Miller. The band immediately attracted the attention of mod impressario Peter Meaden, who was licking his wounds following his inopportune displacement by the mercurial Lambert and Stamp in The Who camp. Meaden envisaged an authentic mod band, in a way that The Who could never be - black! 

Guy Stevens chose the songs for Meaden, and The Vagabonds delivered. The album 'A New Religion' spelt out Meaden's mod manifesto for the new generation, and the band became a live sensation. But chart hits proved hard to come by. The Vagabonds’ mod contemporaries were discovering their own songwriting voice, and whilst the Vags remained a big live draw, the lack of chart success eventually split the band.

Jimmy James, however, went back to basics. He recruited a new set of Vagabonds; some of the finest British soul musicians answered the call. Herb Prestige and John Roberts stepped across from The Ram Jam Band and were joined by David Tedstone and Art Regis from The Squires. 

The session on this EP was recorded in late 1967 and is taken from the original quarter inch tape – only recently rediscovered by guitarist Dave Tedstone. She’s Looking Good, the Albert Collins classic. Aunt Dora’s Soul Shack, Arthur Conerly's dancer. Soul Sister, Brown Sugar, the Sam and Dave raver and Why (Must I) the classy soul grover. 

The latest in the run of rare EPs in the Acid Jazz Records rare mod series. 

Check it.


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