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Humphrey LYTTELTON

Dusting Off the Archives, Rare Recordings 1948-55

Recorded 1948-55

LAKE LACD352 [78:47]

 

 

Snake Rag

Savoy Blues

I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate

I Wonder

Ice Cream

Wild Man Blues

Just A Closer Walk

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out

Falling Blues

I’m Crying Too

Choppin’ And Changin’

Bad Penny Blues

Canal Street Blues

Chicago Buzz

Randolph Turpin Stomp

Doctor Blues

Bessie Couldn’t Help It

Walking My Baby Back Home

Singing The Blues

Freight Train Blues

Steppin’ On The Blues

Memphis Shake

Pretty Baby

Ain’t Misbehavin’

After You’ve Gone.

Humphrey Lyttelton and his band

 

These 25 sides come from a formative time in Lyttelton’s musical life. The earliest date from 1948 with allies George Webb and Harry Brown and by the mid-50s his band had taken on board sophisticates like Bruce Turner and John Pickard, with a new stylistic alignment. The exciting thing for Humph collectors is that the tunes come from broadcasts, out-takes and private recordings. Even familiar-seeming items are much less so when considered in this context.

Lyttelton had a strong, punchy lead by 1949, as evidenced by I Wish I Could Shimmy, the product of an unissued side. Following the famous precedent of the George Lewis version Humph sits out Ice Cream allowing the clarinet of Wally Fawkes to be counterpointed by trombonist Harry Brown – I assume the notes are at fault when they refer to Keith Christie. Wild Man Blues is live but in poorer sound. It enshrines the vitality of the two-man clarinet team of Fawkes and Ian Christie. Parlophone never released this version of Nobody Knows You with Neva Raphaello, who for a time occupied the same kind of place in Humph’s band that Ottilie Paterson did in Chris Barber’s – albeit she was hardly Paterson’s superior.

When Johnny Parker took over the piano stool, things looked up. He brings his kinetic skill to bear on everything he plays, though Falling Blues will suffice for now. This disc is interesting for those pieces which were given airings only to be dropped, sometimes rapidly, from the band book never to reappear. I’m Crying Too is a case in point and experimental too – Humph plays clarinet, Fawkes the bass clarinet. An earlier version of Bad Penny Blues sees a more ‘noodling’ approach from Humph and obviously it’s before the Joe Meek sonic workover. Humph never recorded Doctor Blues commercially but here it is and an unlikely-seeming vehicle, Walking My Baby Back Home, is also heard in this unique incarnation. It’s Humph pretty much all the way in Singing the Blues, a piece he returned to later, but it’s plain that he begins to run out of ideas in this 1952 performance. Drummer George Hopkinson bashing away at the end is also no help. Humph and Turner are the front line in Pretty Baby, another unique recording of a piece not otherwise known in his discography – played in a South Side Chicago kind of way. There is also the significant bonus of two popular songs with unidentified musicians. Probably recorded around 1953-54 there’s no doubt that his confreres are good.

Whilst the recording quality can vary a little, there’s real rarity value to be encountered in these enjoyable and valuable sides. Only one small complaint. I wish Lake would cross reference tunes to personnel more helpfully. Each personnel listing has a letter in bold capitals but it doesn’t appear next to the tunes, only next to the brief text on the notes on following pages. Very fiddly.

Jonathan Woolf




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