Georgie Fame ‘The Two Faces of Fame: The Complete 1967 Recordings’ 2CD (RPM) 5/5

With the official retirement of singer-songwriter and keyboardist Georgie Fame earlier this year, a retrospective of his work has been in order and this marvellous re-issue not only revisits one of his finest recordings, but adds to it with an extremely generous selection of bonus songs. A fully mature sounding Fame is in peak form here with a terrific cover of ‘Do it the hard way’, taking a definite leaf out of Chet Baker, and ‘El pussy cat’, a nod to the Latin-soul that Mongo Santamaria was championing. Some of the most interesting numbers are actually to be found among the bonus selections, and these include the jazz-tinged, ‘Bluesology’, which was a Milt Jackson original for the Modern Jazz Quartet, or a cover of arguably Fame’s seminal influence, Mose Allison, on ‘Fool’s paradise’. Soulful grooves from the then emerging stable of Stax are to be found on ‘Knock on wood’, or the New Orleans beat to the Neville’s opus, ‘Tell it like it is’. There is even an ode to Motown on ‘Road runner’, which Holland, Dozier and Holland crafted for Junior Walker. An interesting set of Italian vocals by Georgie Fame is highlighted by a take on ‘Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde’, now re-named ‘La ballata de Bonnie e Clyde’. One thing is clear. CBS, the UK arm of Columbia records, were determined to market Georgie Fame as an established musician and singer, and this is precisely what comes across here. Fame would go on to host his very own television show for the BBC. Making the re-issue all the more memorable are extensive liner notes courtesy of San Francisco resident Nick Rossi, with a plethora of memorabilia ranging from original club flyers, a CBS promotional campaign poster along with original 45 labels and album covers.

Tim Stenhouse