“On The Move”
By Mark Troster
Although more than twelve years have passed since his tragically premature death on 1st January 1984 at the age of 55, it is fitting that much continues to be written and spoken about Alexis Korner's enormous contribution to the British popular music scene. I will, therefore, resist the strong temptation to exacerbate the world paper shortage by recounting here his achievements during a playing and radio broadcasting career spanning thirty years. Instead I would simply draw your attention to two very important points. Firstly, Alexis was in at the birth of the British rhythm & blues scene because from late 1961 through to early 1963 his band "Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated" was the British rhythm & blues scene and secondly, by inviting fresh-faced Blues vocalists such as Mick Jagger, Eric Burdon and Paul Jones to guest with Blues Incorporated at its ground-breaking Marquee Club appearances – thereby boosting their self confidence and belief in the marketability of their wares – he was largely responsible for the emergence of chart-topping rhythm & blues cabals such as The Rolling Stones, The Animals and Manfred Mann.
In selecting the material for this release I spent a great many hours sifting through mountains of dusty reels and cassettes of magnetic tape, many of which bore no dates or track listings. Not exactly a pleasureable experience I hear you cry, although if you are in any way an admirer of Alexis Korner's music you would be very much mistaken! To my delight the tapes contain a variety of unreleased live performances from Alexis's pilgrimages to Europe and a number of surprisingly relaxed studio out-takes from 1968 to 1982, all of which embrace his typically wide repertoire of musical styles and most of which have probably not been heard outside of the Korner family since the time they were recorded. To partially rectify the position "On The Move" is now home to a cross-section of this material – some of which has been painstakingly remastered from less than ideal sound sources (the gutsy 1968 live performance of "Little Bitty Gal Blues" being one example) – and for those of you with a penchant for in-depth information, full details of the recording date and the 'who plays what' has been supplied for each title.
Between August 1973 and October 1983 Damian Korner was assigned increasing responsibility for the engineering and production aspects of Alexis' studio albums, also taking the controls on one or two re-mixes of live recordings: "I've always considered my father's best work was performing in front of a live audience, that was when he felt most at ease." Alexis was undoubtedly inhibited by the relative sterility of the studio environment, where a common hazard was the repeated requests from 'technicians' for him to play the same thing over and over again; the virtually insuperable problem was that each of his performances was born of inspiration and, therefore, invariably unique. "I remember an engineer at one session asking my father to run through a particular acoustic guitar piece so that he could check for sound: 'O.K. Alexis that's great, now if you could do the same thing again we can record it.' My father's genuine response was 'What was I doing? I wasn't listening to it, I was playing it man!'" Despite all this Alexis did make some very good studio albums and, as you will hear on "Blood On The Saddle" and "Engine143", he obviously managed to really enjoy some of the time he spent in the studio with Damian.
Damian and I have worked on this project with a genuine commitment to Alexis' music and dedication to his memory. We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Mick Carpenter and his team at Essential for their faith and support and, most importantly, truly hope that you enjoy listening to this collection as much as we enjoyed assembling it.
with Damian Korner