When soul great Curtis Mayfield died the day after Christmas 1999 at the age of 57, his personal record collection was auctioned off. One of the LPs in the pile that stood out was a well-played copy of E.W. Wainwright’s African Roots Of Jazz, a work recently reissued by Japan’s Creole Stream Music label. What’s intriguing about the album being in Mayfield’s stash is not just the indie release’s relative obscurity (you probably wouldn’t be able to pick it up at your local chain store), but how closely Wainwright’s conga-led opening track, The Healer/Don’t Break
, mirrors Mayfield’s own uplifting Move On Up from his 1970 solo debut, Curtis, in both arrangement and overall spirit. Not to suggest anything untoward, but it makes you wonder whether Mayfield crossed paths with Wainwright at some point and exchanged notes. In any case, African Roots Of Jazz is a percussion-heavy monster that now runs a hefty three figures on the collectors’ market, so grab the Japanese reissue disc if you see it.
An unauthorized recording of the Velvet Underground’s legendary 1967 performance at the Gymnasium in New York is causing a stir among fans not just because of the above-average quality for a bootleg and the atypically switched-on performance by a snarling Lou Reed and crew sans Nico. The main reason for all the interest is that A Workout At The Gymnasium (Velvet Records) includes the otherwise unavailable groover I’m Not A Young Man Anymore and the first public performance of Sister Ray, which rages for 19 menacing minutes over the entire second side of the LP. For some reason, Venus In Furs, which Blondie’s Chris Stein recalls the Velvets knocking out that night, has been left off, but it’s doubtful anyone who hears the ding-dong dandy version of Sister Ray and the swinging alternate arrangement of I’m Waiting For The Man captured here will be complaining.
I'm Not a Young Man Anymore
Run Run Run
Two for T2
Everything seemed to be going T2’s way in 1970. John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix were coming backstage to hang out after a triumphant Marquee gig, followed by concerts with King Crimson, Free and Deep Purple, and BBC sessions to boot. But for some reason, T2’s It’ll All Work Out In Boomland (Decca) album never caught fire, and the demos for their second album were shelved for decades. Listening to T2’s debut and what was planned to be their eponymously titled follow-up just recirculated by Acme/Lion Productions, it’s hard to figure why this power trio never found a larger audience, particularly after playing the Isle of Wight Festival. Perhaps the jazzy prog/psych mix was a little too adventurous for those expecting conventional Cream-style blues rock from a group comprising Gun singer/drummer Peter Dunton, Buldog Breed bassist Bernard Jinks and guitar prodigy Keith Cross. In any case, fans of Yes and/or Rush will appreciate T2’s moves, and those already hip to T2’s trip should enjoy the BBC live sessions tacked on as bonus material. www.lionproductions.org.