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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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With Alex Welsh and his Band

Lake LACD 279




  1. Beale Street Blues
  2. Sugar
  3. Surf Side Samba
  4. Oh, Baby!
  5. Blue Again
  6. Love Is Just Around The Corner
  7. That’s A-Plenty
  8. If I Had You
  9. Sweet Georgia Brown
  10. Blue and Broken-hearted
  11. After You’ve Gone
  12. Royal Garden Blues

Wild Bill Davison (cornet) with Alex Welsh (trumpet), John Barnes (clarinet, alto and baritone saxophone), Roy Williams (trombone), Fred Hunt (piano), Jim Douglas (guitar), Gerry Higgins (bass) Lennie Hastings (drums)
Recorded Manchester Sports Guild, December 1966

Lake will doubtless be mortified by the typo that wrongly spells the hero’s name. It’s Davison of course not Davidson, but once past that we can settle down to the music. He was taped at the famed Manchester Sports Guild in 1966, paired with the native band that most obviously complemented his hard driving Chicagoan ethos, that of Alex Welsh.

The live session produced the usual and expected verve. The bustling opener parcels out some good solos; Davison first, then marvellous Fred Hunt on a wretchedly out of tune piano (and distantly balanced into the bargain) and then Jim Douglas’s excellent guitar. The band was one of Welsh’s very finest, with John Barnes’s baritone strongly propping up Sugar where Bill comes on with his big, fat vibrato and Roy Williams executes one of his precision tooled stop choruses. Surf Side Samba is unusual repertoire for the band and not especially good, although Barnes proves sinuous on alto. Hunt’s intro to Blue Again is vitiated by the execrable piano but Davison and Williams shine soloistically on this pretty ballad.

Love Is Just Around The Corner is brisk and breezy and just a little on the brash side but That’s A-Plenty is a staple, a Condon staple that is, and encourages a go-round of trading choruses at the end, some - it has to be said - a touch tentative. But the verve and energy are palpable. Barnes shines on clarinet on If I Had You and there’s some horse-play on Blue and Broken-hearted where Welsh – I think – says sardonically ‘It’s so sad!’ behind Davison’s deliberately maudlin cornet introduction, doubtless a well-worn routine. After You’ve Gone is straight out of Eddie Condon’s rule book and elicits huge cheers, which inspires the galvanic Lennie ‘Ooo-yah’ Hastings to drive frantically into Royal Garden Blues with its pass-the-parcel front line solos; very brief but exciting.

So ends an invigorating set that is only diminished by an imperfectly recorded set up and a miserable piano. The Welsh band was always one of the great movers on the British scene and their illustrious visitor kept them fine company. Not essential by any means but enjoyable.

Jonathan Woolf


See an additional review by Tony Augarde...



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