Rychard Carrington reports on Maximum Rhythm And Blues - Cambridge Corn Exchange, 28 September 2009

Alan Price
Cambridge Corn Exchange, The


For those under thirty, R'n'B might mean something rather different, but tonight it definitely meant the British mid-sixties take on Motown and Stax-style soul and blues (James Brown, Otis Redding etc.). The eveing was subtitled 'A Night At The Flamingo Club' - that club being a joint in Wardour Strret, London, where the hipsters of the day would hang out. The Corn Exchange in 2009 is surely a very different kind of venue, but the flavour and certainly the quality of the music was surely retained.

The band on stage was lead by Alan Price (pictured), whose Geordie dour humour added an extra flavour to proceedings. Zoot Money supplied further keyboards, with Bobby Tench on lead guitar, Peter Grant on bass and Colin Allen on drums. Chris Farlowe and Maggie Bell were guest vocalists. There were  a saxophonist and a trumpeter called Kim and Howie - Price never divulged their surnames, perhaps on account of their relative youth (they looked under forty; everyone else was over sixty).

Between them they played several R'n'B classics - Black Magic Woman, Stormy Monday Blues, In The Midnight Hour, Stand By Me. Money sang a James Brown medley, as well as his own hit, Big Time Operator. Price sang several of his hits: The House Of The Rising Sun, I Put A Spell On You, Hi Lilli Hi Lo, The Jarrow Song and the wonderful Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear. His best song though, for my money (or my price) was Changes, from the O Lucky Man! soundtrack of 1973, which borrows the tune of What A Friend We Have In Jesus.

Farlowe is slightly older than most of the others, yet his voice retains all its power. We got Handbags And Gladrags (a song that has become better known since his original small hit in 1967) and his number one Out Of Time (a strange theme to be still singing forty-three years later!).

Maggie Bell is always being compared to Janis Joplin, and I think these comparisons are completely right, and thoroughly to Bell's credit. She is a tremendous blues singer, still as strong as ever.

Not to be overlooked, Bobby Tench also contributed some great vocals, and choice blues-rock guitar throughout.

An ensemble version of The Animals' hit We Gotta Get Out Of This Place was a terrific climax to a thoroughly good evening. Thanks to all concerned for recreating the 60s rhythm and blues sound so proudly, successfully and enjoyably. 

Writer: Rychard Carrington