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Feature Review #2
I [Hadn't Got] This CD yet...
Everything Stops for Tea
Long John Baldry

reviewed 11/7/2005
...[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 works.

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 consciousness.

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 them:

1962-Blues Incorporated
Mick Jagger
Alexis Korner
Jack Bruce
Charlie Watts
Notes: Brian Jones, Keith Richards, and Paul Jones (also appeared with Blues Incorporated)

1963-Cyril Davis and The All Stars
Jimmy Page
Nicky Hopkins

1964/65- Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men
Rod Stewart

1965/66- The Steam Packet
Rod Stewart
Brian Auger

1966-1968 -Bluesology
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...]