|...[when i wrote this review,
but] as soon as i [could] afford to order some music, i [did], though.
However, i have strong and fond memories of the original album, so this
review is based on those (thus, i won't be discussing the bonus tracks
or the CD quality/packaging).
I guess that the saddest thing i have to report, to begin with, is that
Long John stepped on a rainbow two months before the release of this
disc, dying in hospital in Vancouver on July 21, 2005.
But the important thing is that great artists -- even mediocre or poor
artists, for that matter, live on after their deaths through their
An example -- I was just listening to a Fairport Convention live
recording from 1974 featuring the late great Sandy Denny, who died in
1978; but there was her incredible voice and music, right there for me
to hear for the very first time, thirty-one years later.
And so it will be with Long John; with any luck, as long as there are
blues fans, Baldry's work will be available to electrify our
Long John (at 6' 7", there weren't any other nicknames more likely)
Baldry was born in England in 1941, and by the time he was twenty, he
was spreading the gospel of the blues.
It is virtually certain that, without Baldry's influence, the growth of
British blues would have been rather different; one almost wonders if
there would have been any significant Brit blues movement (or English
Invasion, as we know it) at all.
Consider the following list of some of the early bands that Baldry
either formed or fronted vocally, and of some of the people who were in
Notes: Brian Jones, Keith Richards, and Paul Jones (also appeared with
1963-Cyril Davis and The All Stars
1964/65- Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men
1965/66- The Steam Packet
Reg Dwight (later known as Elton John)
(Reg Dwight took the "John" part of his stage name from Long John.)
So, when it came time to make this album (and "It Ain't Easy", which, i
believe, cme out the year before) there were a lot of old mates Long
John could call on, and two of them -- the afore-mentioned Messrs.
Stewart and Dwight -- each produced one side of both LPs, and
contributed performances, as well.
"Mother Ain't Dead", a folk-gospel, with Stewart and Baldry duetting,
is almost painfully beautiful.
"Wild Mountain Thyme" is a lovely reading of what i believe is a
semi-genuine Scottish folk song.
"Iko Iko" is a New Orleansy, hard-edged, percussion/guitar driven
call-and-response number (The MP3 can be downloaded at the official
Long John Baldry website, and i heartily recommend it.); somewhere in
my collection, i have a recording of "Iko Iko" featuring Professor
Longhair and Gatemouth Brown, and i think Baldry's is the better.
The title song is a British music hall number from some revue from the
30's or 40's -- a nice change of pace, and the intro, portraying Baldry
as a Power in the music industry (John Lennon is begging him to use one
of his songs on his next album...) being driven totally up the wall by
the pressures of fame, survivng the day only because "Everything Stops
for Tea" is nicely silly.
I haven't heard any of the bonus tracks, but if "I'm Just a Rake &
Ramblin' Boy" is the Ramblin' Jack Elliott song i suspect it is, i look
forward to it with great anticipation.
Based solely on the original content from 1972, let alone the
neet-sounding bonus tracks, you need this album.
(BTW -- the cover painting, portraying Baldry as the Mad Hatter in an
"Alice in Wonderland" setting, is by Ron Wood. Yes, that Ron Wood.)
[Having received the CD, the cover art,
while perfectly clear and crisp, seems somewhat faded from my memories
of my original LP; either Wood used colours that have faded, or they
couldn't get the original and shot from an album sleeve, i guess...]