Cyril Davies... British Blues Harp Pioneer

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Knights of the Blues Table (Viceroy/Lightyear 54189-2)

Knights Of The Blues Table (1997) - Various Artists

Released: 1997-05-13
Recorded: 1996 unless otherwise indicated
Record Label: Viceroy/Lightyear
Catalogue Number: 54189-2
Running Time: 69:39

CD details and purchase here.

Introduction

Knights of the Blues Table (1997) was "Dedicated to Cyril Davies". Featuring a number of memorable moments, like the home recording of KC Moan by Cyril in 1954(!), the most satisfying track is 'Send For Me'. Written by Cyril, the song was performed by Cyril's Blues Inc. alumnus, Jack Bruce and the wonderful British guitarist, Clem Clempson.

What was unclear to us though was how Jack and Clem had learned the number. Had they got it from an unreleased demo of Cyril or was it something Jack remembered from his Blues Inc. days?

We contacted Clem in July 2009 about his memories of the song: His first response was that he had never heard a recording of this song by Cyril. He had just assumed it was something Jack remembered from working with him. He emailed Jack but Jack doesn't know of any recording of this by Cyril Davies. He can't remember why he knows the song, but assumes it's because they played it together in Blues Inc. days.

Tracklisting:

Soundboard Recording

  • K.C. Moan - Previously unreleased recording performed by Cyril Davies. This track is on the CD before the first track. To access the soundboard, insert CD and press play. Press and old rewind as the player scrolls to the beginning of the soundboard (approximately 4 minutes on your counter). Release rewind to hear these tracks. Note: some CD players may not access the soundboard. Included courtesy of Brian and Marie Knight. Recorded at home in 1954.
  • Oral History Of British Blues - Performed by Pete Brown - 1996

1) Send For Me - Performed by Jack Bruce (though listed as being by "Jack Bruce/Clem Clempson" in the CD booklet) - Running Time: 3:24. "I wanted to record "Send For Me" because the writer, Cyril Davies, was a tremendous influence on all of us lucky enough to play with him in Blues Incorporated. He showed me that it was valid to just be yourself - but I never dared to play harp while he was around!" - Jack Bruce

2) If You Live - performed by Georgie Fame - Running Time: 4:20

3) Go Down Sunshine - Performed by Duffy Power - Running Time: 4:53. "I wanted to find something a bit unusual for this project, something out of the usual guitar/bass/drums/harmonica lineup. Then I remembered hearing a lovely track called "Go Down Sunshine" that Alexis Korner recorded which I thought would be perfect." - Duffy Power

4) Racketeer Blues - Performed by Chris Jagger and featuring Mick Jagger (appears courtesy of Warner Music Benelux B.V.) Harmonica Overdubs recorded at Westside Studios, London. Running Time: 3:52

5) Rocks In My Bed - Performed by Pete Brown & Phil Ryan (though listed as being by "Pete Brown/Phil Ryan/Dick Heckstall-Smith" in the CD booklet) - Running Time: 3:28. "'Rocks In My Bed' is one of my all-time favorite blues tracks. Joe Turner was one of my biggest influences and he did a marvelous version of this song. Also, the song contains one of my favorite mad blues lines ever - 'My baby's gone and she ain't never comin' back, she's lower than a snake in a wagon track.' Brilliant!" - Pete Brown

6) Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Performed by Miller Anderson - Running Time: 3:47

7) Blind Man - Performed by Maggie Bell & Big Jim Sullivan - Running Time: 4:56 "I first heard "Blind Man" 27 years ago while living In Glasgow, At that time, there weren't a lot of places to go hear live music, especially blues, but there was one place called Lacaze that did. I went round there one night and heard Alex Harvey doing a very powerful, soulful version of "Blind Man" end that did it for me." - Maggie Bell

8) Travelling Riverside Blues - Performed by Peter Green & Nigel Watson - Running Time: 3:57.

9) Drop Down Mama - Performed by Tony McPhee - Running Time: 3:01

10) I've Got News For You - Performed by Clem Clempson/Jack Bruce - Running Time: 4:52

11) Nine Below Zero - Performed by Nine Below Zero - Running Time: 3:55. "The main reason for doing this track was because the band named themselves after the song, and it also seemed appropriate to the spirit of the project. Unfortunately, none of us ever had the opportunity of playing with Cyril Davies, so our use of acoustic harp instead of electric harp is our own small tribute to the man." - Gerry McAvoy

12) Judgment Day - Performed by The Pretty Things - Running Time: 3:43 "'Judgment Day' was one of the first songs we did as a band of 16-year old kids from Dartford, trying to get by in the world and playing the blues of Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Big Bill Broonzy our way. The song became a feature of our sets when we played with Cyril Davies." - Phil May

13) Play On Little Girl/T-Bone Shuffle - Performed by Paul Jones & Otis Grand. Running time: 6:02

14) One More Mile - Performed by Mick Clarke & Lou Martin - Running Time: 5:08 "When I was in Killing Floor, "One More Mile" was one of our favorite songs. It was the first song we ever rehearsed as Killing Floor, but sadly, we never got to record it properly, When this project came along, I thought that this would be an appropriate time to commit the song to tape." - Mick Clarke

15) You Shook Me - Performed by Mick Taylor & Max Middleton - Running Time: 10:21

Guest Appearances:

Robert (Crackle) Ahwai, Jeff Allen, Ed Deane, Jack Bruce (John Symon Asher), (Dave) Clem Clempson, Les Davidson, Pascal (Junior) Delmas, Mark Feltham, Kuma Harada, Charlie Hart, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Mike Hobart, Mick Jagger, Bob Jenkins, Alex Keen, Ronnie Leahy, Chico Lopez, Malcolm Mortimore, Tristan Powell, James Powell, Henry Thomas, Neal Wilkinson, Steve Wren

Click here for the CD Booklet Text

The following are reviews of the release:

1) Steve Marshall - The Night Owl Radio

Tribute CDs seem to be everywhere these days. Some are good; some are not. Knights of the Blues Table is one of the better ones, paying tribute to the British blues movement of the early 60's. All of the musicians appearing on the CD were asked to record either their favorite blues track, or a song that influenced them personally. The CD is dedicated to one of the founders of the British blues movement, Cyril Davies, and the musicians who followed in his footsteps that are no longer with us.

The disc starts with a rare, previously unreleased track from Davies entitled "KC Moan." Recorded at his home in 1954, this hidden track can only be heard on newer CD players by scanning backwards beyond the first track (instructions are on the CD). If your CD player can access this track, you'll also get to hear a brief history of British blues by Pete Brown (who is probably best known as the lyricist for Cream's "White Room")

Jack Bruce's rendition of Davies' "Send For Me" is the first 'real' cut on the CD, and its cool, shuffling rhythm makes for an excellent lead track. Georgie Fame's lounge take on "If You Live" almost sounds like a Ben Sidran cut from the mid-80's. Chris Jagger gets help from his older brother, Mick, on the acoustic "Racketeer Blues." Maggie Bell and Big Jim Sullivan turn in a powerful, gut wrenching performance of "Blind Man" that shouldn't be missed.

One of the best tracks on the CD is "Nine Below Zero," by Nine Below Zero, a new group headed by Dennis Greaves (formerly of The Truth). Since they named the group after the Sonny Boy Williamson tune, it was only appropriate that they do the song. Although they're newcomers to the blues circuit, they play with real authenticity. Last, but not least is the slow, burning take on "You Shook Me" by ex-Rolling Stone guitarist, Mick Taylor, and ace keyboardist, Max Middleton.

Knights of the Blues Table is an excellent disc for blues-rock fans, as well as those who are just discovering early 60's British blues. The liner notes are informative, and include photos of the recording sessions that produced the CD.

1997 Steve Marshall

2) Blues Town

"Knights of the Blues Table" is truly a labor of love. Originally conceived as a tribute to the "Godfathers of British Blues," Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner, the album ended up as a more general celebration of the genre's origins and rich history. The record includes uniformly great performances from members of virtually every important blues-influenced British rock group, including Humble Pie, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, Savoy Brown, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, the Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann, and scores of others. The disc is a rock family-tree lover's dream, as it reveals the incestuous nature of the scene.

What makes "Knights of the Blues Table" truly stand apart from other tribute records, though, is the obvious love and enthusiasm apparent in every performance. There are so many highlights it's hard to pick just a few, but obvious treats include great harmonica work from Mick Jagger on Lonnie Johnson's "Racketeer Blues" (with brother Chris Jagger on vocals), a rare vocal performance by Cream lyricist Pete Brown on Leroy Carr's "Rocks in My Head," an absolutely blistering take on "Blind Man" by ex-Stone the Crows vocalist Maggie Bell, and a sandpaper-voiced version of Robert Johnson's "Traveling Riverside Blues" by the legendarily reclusive and rarely recorded Peter Green.

To top it all off, the album also includes a 1954 home recording of "KC Moan" performed by Cyril Davies himself. In short, Knights of the Blues Table is a recording of extreme historical and cultural importance, a must-have treasure trove for lovers of British blues. CD was released in 1997 on Viceroy/Lightyear and features 15 tracks.

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