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



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LOUIE BELLSON /
BUDDY RICH /
KENNY CLARE

Conversations; Repercussions

VOCALION CDLK 4436

 

 

CD1
Conversations
  1. Round and Round and Round Again
  2. Just Louie
  3. Son of Cuchulainn
  4. Conversations with B.L.K.
CD2
Repercussions
  1. Lawrence of Arabia
  2. Delaney's Delight
  3. Habanera
  4. Fragments
  5. Skin Deep
  6. The British Grenadiers
  7. 633 Squadron
  8. Blues March
  9. Scotland the Brave
  10. Under the Double Eagle
  11. St Louis Blues March
  12. Yellow Submarine

Louie Bellson, Buddy Rich and Kenny Clare (drums) with The Bobby Lamb and Ray Premru Orchestra (CD1); Anonymous band with Eric Delaney (drums) (CD2)
Recorded 1971 (Conversations) and 1966 (Repercussion)

 

The most important thing to note are the names of the three drummers who dominate proceedings in Vocalion's remastering of two British LPs: Louie Bellson, Buddy Rich and Kenny Clare. This is very much aimed squarely at the drum aficionado and those who appreciate the gladiatorial battles of the 50s, 60s and early 70s between legendary masters of the skin and cymbal.

The first disc is given over to the 1971 album called Conversations. Four titles survive on disc, though plainly more were performed and indeed referenced in the reprinted booklet notes. The band sports such well known names as those of Derek Watkins, Keith Christie, Nick Hill, Duncan Lamont, Ronnie Chamberlain and Steve Gray. Tristan Fry is percussionist.

They all swing powerfully, indeed righteously, in Round and Round and Round Again spurred on by Clare. There are some excellent duels and chases within the sections though they're not as closely recorded as the drums - I particularly liked the chase solos between altoists Chamberlain and Alan Branscombe. Eventually Clare gets a long solo. Next up is Louie Bellson and for those with a yen for such things his solo on Just Louie (it's his own tune) is replete with virtuosic flourishes aplenty. Buddy Rich then turns in a coruscating show on Son of Cuchulainn - drumnastics of a towering order. Conversations with B.L.K. lasts fully 26 minutes, a loose orchestral frame within which the drummers battle royally generating much laughter and applause. If you're not into drum battles, it's torture.

The second disc offers a series of marches, light opera tunes and modish stuff. The anonymous band does creditably but the star is drummer Eric Delaney who died back in 2011. There's a fey arrangement of the Jarre music for Lawrence of Arabia and an inconsequentially loping Yellow Submarine (why?) and in between a too chic Light Music version of the Habanera from Carmen. In fact this disc only really comes to life with Delaney's solo interspersed with (admittedly great) smart aleck Francophile quotations on Fragments, and his assault on Bellson's Skin Deep. 633 Squadron is hijacked in the middle by Delaney - poor Ron Goodwin - and sounds paltry all round. Benny Golson's Blues March offers a bit of grit, though I wish I knew who the soloists were - the band, as noted, is anonymous. Is it Skidmore?

So, really, this is almost exclusively for the drum fanatic, who can revel in the punishment handed out by three maestri of the skins.

Jonathan Woolf



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