Back cover of “Blues From The Roundhouse” Tempo Records EPs
This photo is from an inner sleeve of the
limited re-issue edition of “Bootleg Him !” CD by Strange Days Record in
Alexis Korner Skiffle Group
“Blues From The Roundhouse Volume 1” (EXA76)
Sleeve photo from a website by Alan Pipes (http://www.geocities.com/fredpipes/blues.html)
Liner Notes by Charles Fox
At the corner of Brewer and Wardour
streets, hardly a stonesthrow from
Alexis Korner has been playing the guitar
for eight years and collecting race records for double that time. In 1949, as a
member of the Chris Barber Jazz Band, he played and sang with the first
Chicago-style race group ever to be heard in
Not many British guitarists have succeeded in playing blues with sympathy and understanding. One who has is Alexis Korner, another Cyril Davis. Cyril’s style of singing and the fact that he had a 12-string guitar specially built for him should be evidence enough of his regard for Leadbelly’s work. Yet although he employs many of Leadbelly’s phrases, Cyril always tries to use them in a personal manner.
Mike Collins, a civil servant and expert linguist, and 17-year-old Chris Capon complete the regular group. On two tracks of the EP they are joined by Dave Stevens. A chartered accountant by profession, Dave has been active as a pianist over the past eleven years, playing both jazz and blues with a variety of groups. His favourite pianists are Earl Hines and the late Cripple Clarence Lofton.
That great singer of country blues, Sleepy John Estes, recorded I Ain’t Gonna Worry No More in 1937; many of his cadences can be discerned in Alexis Korner’s interpretation. Easy Rider, a traditional blues, is best-known in Leadbelly’s version. “If I was a catfish swimming in the deep blue sea I’d have all you women diving after me” runs one stanza of this half-sorrowful, half-boastful song.
Although Kid Man and Country Jail
were originally recorded in 1944 by Big Maceo Merriweather, Dave Stevens’
piano playing on these tracks is entirely different from Maceo’s, just as
Alexis Korner’s guitar work differs completely from Tampa Red’s.
“I had a woman, had a woman, had a mouthful of shiny gold,” runs the
opening line of the exuberant Kid
When Big Bill Broonzy and Jimmy Rushing
visited the London Blues Club they not only sang but expressed their delight at
hearing genuine blues in the heart of
Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated
“Blues From The Roundhouse Volume 2” (EXA102)
sleeve photos courtesy by BARACCHI GIANLUIGI from Lodi, Italy
Sail On (Leadbelly)
National Defence Blues (Leadbelly)
Go Down Sunshine (Johnson)
Death Letter (Trad.arr. Leadbelly)
Alexis Korner: vocals (‘Go Down Sunshine’), acoustic guitar
Cyril Davies: vocals/acoustic guitar (except for ‘Go Down Sunshine’), harmonica (‘Go Down Sunshine’)
Jim Bray: string bass
Dave Stevens: piano (‘National Defence Blues’)
Mike Collins: washboard
Decca West Hampstead Studios,
Produced by Geoff Milne
Released: December 1958 (Tempo EP, EXA 102)
Liner Notes by Charles Fox
Once is was believed that only Americans
could play jazz. At one time this was true, but today jazz is becoming more and
more of an international idiom. Something very similar is now being said about
blues, and it must be admitted that it is more difficult for a non-American to sing
blues than to play jazz. It’s largely a question of accent; the rhymes in
many well-known Negro blues depend upon the words being sung in the way they
would be in
For many years these two British
musicians have been studying and playing blues. Their absorption in the idiom
has become so complete that now they can think and work naturally within it.
That explains why visiting American blues artists like Sonny Terry and Brownie
McGhee, Muddy Waters and Otis Spann, have been so enthusiastic about their
playing. Sonny Terry, in particular, is a great admire of Cyril Davis. Whenever
he and Brownie McGhee are in
Naturally enough, both Korner and Davis have been heavily influenced by the great Negro blues artists. There is a great deal of Blind Boy Fuller’s style (emphasized by the use of a steel guitar) in Alexis Korner’s performance of Go Down Sunshine. (Alexis uses the steel guitar again, incidentally, in Sail On.) In the case of Cyril Davis, it is Leadbelly who had provided the inspiration, and Sail On, Death Letter and National Defence have all been recorded, at one time or another, by Leadbelly himself. Dave Stevens was added to the group for the last-named track, but it’s noticeable that his piano-playing is much closer to Big Maceo Merriweather’s than to that of Willie “The Lion” Smith, the pianist who played on Leadbelly’s version.
Details of the musicians’ lives and opinions have already been outlined on the sleeve of a previous Alexis Korner EP (“Blues At The Roundhouse”, Tempo EXA76). To some people it may still seem strange that British performers like these can sound as authentic as some Negro blues artists. The only way of proving it is to shut your eyes and listen.