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RogerF

Chris Spedding - lost jazz album (re)-emerges

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Before Chris Spedding abandoned jazz in favour of pop and rock, he made some significant contributions to British jazz on albums by the likes of Mike Gibbs, Mike Westbrook, Jack Bruce and of course, Nucleus.So it's good news to hear that the jazz album he made but never released (because it coincided with the start of his rock career) Songs Without Words is now being (re)issued on the Hux label. It was actually released naughtily in Japan but apparently it had not been sanctioned by Spedding or for that matter properly mixed. This Hux version has been properly re-mixed and edited down by him and features amongst others John Marshall and the late Paul Rutherford on trombone. Full details are here: Songs Without Words

 

Edited by RogerF

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"I Thought I Heard Robert Johnson say" ... :D

He must have been aware of a lot of things in various directions. ;)

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I'd like to hear that.

There are some funny stories of Spedding not fitting in with the jazz musicians he was playing with in the early 70s. Lovely one about the Mike Gibbs band where tensions were rising. The band turned up for a gig all dressed down. Spedding arrives in a pink suit! 

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Sounds interesting. I'd like to hear it, too.

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 Spedding arrives in a pink suit! 

It was either that or a Womble suit I guess !

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Chris Spedding British jazz rock from 1970 - What's not to like?

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I have the Japanese LP; it's certainly interesting but don't recall being blown away by it.  Worth checking out for fans...

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EMI and odeon..it was issued at least a few times in Japan..my copy is the later EMI issue..relatively cheap and available on discogs usually 

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There's a funny story about this album - it was supposed to have lyrics, vocals and all this stuff, but - to Chrises surprise - there was just instrumental session released with no add-ons.

And lucky us! Have you heard "Backwood Progression" or "The Only Lick I Know"? The first one is, well, let's say accetable, but the latter is just awful.

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You get some idea of the differences of outlook between Spedding and the jazz world of the early 70s on his website.

The bit about the Nucleus composition '1916' made me smile. The different perspectives of Spedding and Carr are almost a mirror of the 'prog'/punk wars of 1976/7. 

...we had a thing that we used to rehearse when I first joined the band, and one bar of this particular piece had this strange time signature of 1916. So we came to refer to the piece as 1916, and it became a number on the album - 1916. But such is the state of Ian Carr's mind that he managed to convince himself that this song had been inspired 1916 Easter Revolution in Ireland, and he found a poem by Yeats on this subject, and on the following album he recited this poem over 1916. I said 'don't you think that's a bit pretentious Ian. do you have to have a literary justification for everything you do? ...' I'm not going to play a song and pretend that this song is 1916 the year, because I know it's about 1916 the time signature. That's pretentious. So I said 'I'm walking. I can't believe you guys would do this.

http://www.chrisspedding.com/bio/bio3.htm

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I've just been listening to Mike Gibbs' Just Ahead and Chris Spedding's contribution is astoundingly good. But like the old joke goes, what's  the difference between a rock guitarist and a jazz guitarist? One plays 3 chords to thousands, the other plays thousands of chords to 3 people.

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Spedding is a fantastic player, especially on stuff from this period. The stories quoted here are hilarious.

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Spedding is one of my absolute favorite guitarists (due in large part to his participation on Jack Bruce's early solo projects + The Battered Ornaments--whose two proper albums rank among the more idiosyncratic blends of free jazz and rock). This record has been a holy grail of mine for ages, despite the fact that Spedding has sort of disavowed it--I will most definitely be checking this out.

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What do you consider to be the best album(s) for appreciating Spedding?

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Frank Ricotti's 'Our Point of View' on CBS is as good as any IMO. The early Nucleus LPs and Westbrook's 'Love Songs' have great playing by him too.

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It all depends on what kind of Spedding you want IMO.

Back in the late 70s when (neo-)rockabilly Robert Gordon all of a sudden hit the charts and had some relatively successful albums, Chris Spedding worked a lot with him and there were quite a few bootleggish cassette dubs of Robert Gordon concerts around that feature quite amazing, straightforward, no-frills Chris Spedding playing. No idea if any of these have made it to more regular releases since.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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First time I heard him was on the first David Essex LP (and no, it wasn't mine).

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this was my first exposure to Spedding in 1975 followed by the two Vertigo Nucleus LP's (what a contrast) - couldn't work out whether he was taking the piss with this single - still I have a soft spot for this - the bike he is riding (BMW 75/5)  in the film clip is my current motorcycle

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the bike he is riding (BMW 75/5)  in the film clip is my current motorcycle

The very same one? :excited:  Or just an identical model? ;)

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I admit, I haven't spent as much time with "iconic thug rocker" Chris Spedding, though I enjoy much of what I've heard. There was a beef mentioned in the Jack Bruce biography regarding Spedding's alleged distaste for the more complex/less-accessible music that he was playing prior to his "turn" to more explicit rockisms (I'd grab the quote, but I don't have the book in front of me), but Spedding has made it clear in subsequent years that he didn't intend to decry the music he made with Jack. (Though he apparently despises Songs Without Words, for the reasons mentioned above.)

For pre-Motor Bikin' Spedding, the aforementioned Ricotti and Westbrook albums are great, as are his contributions to Nucleus. For my money, though, his playing on both Songs for A Tailor and Harmony Row is some of the clearest, most organic playing in the jazz-rock/prog/fusion canon. The Battered Ornaments stuff is more all over the place and messy, but (due to internal baggage) he makes most of the major vocal (and many of the instrumental) contributions to Mantle-PIece, and it's kind of a low-intensity classic. I think the synergy with Pete Brown was real and exciting, and it gave Spedding's semi-primitivist Curtis Mayfield/Hendrix shtick some real contextual heft.

Edited by ep1str0phy

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I really like 'Our Point of View', which I bought on LP when it first came out.  It's a shame that Frank Ricotti added an extra sleevenote for the CD reissue saying how much he now dislikes his own playing on the album.

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