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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Andrew Oldham Orchestra - Plays Lionel Bart’s Maggie May

The Andrew Oldham Orchestra - Plays Lionel Bart’s Maggie May
CD, Album, Reissue, Remastered, Japan, 2013

I didn’t even know that Plays Lionel Bart’s Maggie May existed, when some years back I walked into a small Shinjuku record shop, and there it was!  It was close to $50, and way too much for me to buy at the time.  Of course, I thought of that record whenever I closed my eyes at beddy-time.  So there was at least five years of regrets about passing up on this album, and very few people knew of it.  The most famous Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra album was their first one, which was Rolling Stones’ covers.  The Lionel Bart album was a weird one for me, because it was devoted to one songwriter, Lionel Bart, and one of his shows, who for most Americans, would be king obscure.   Which makes this album fascinating on a lot of levels.  Oldham was a friend and someone who looked up to Bart as both a music businessman as well as a music hustler of sorts.  He played the game, but I think the game won in the end.  Nevertheless he was a key figure in British rock before The Beatles broke big.  He wrote songs for Cliff Richard and most famously the musical “Oliver.”  

Here Oldham, John Paul Jones, and others, turns on their magic to the tunes from “Maggie May.” I don’t think there is an official OST of this musical or if it is, disappeared into vinyl heaven.  So this is what we take into existence, and thank god for the Japanese, they re-leased it with not only mono mixes, but stereo as well.  Plus 11 bonus cuts.  

The mono version of this album is the one to hear over and over again.  It’s classic Oldham vibe.  For instance, “It’s Yourself” has a killer lead bass sound, very Jet Harris.  But the stereo version, the bass is practically gone!  Nevertheless it’s a cool album, and this CD collection is incredible, mostly for the bonus cuts, which to be honest, are the highlights of this set.   

The rest of the album is recordings from around this time (1964) from the Andrew Oldham and Immediate Records world.  Totally essential songs like “Each and Every Day of the Year” (Jagger & Richards) and “All I Want Is My Baby” (Oldham & Richards) sung by Bobby Jameson and simply incredible recordings.   Not sure if the purpose was for the publishing end of the music business, but Jagger and Keith came up with wonderful tunes.  The other stand out by them is “(Walking Thru’ the) Sleepy City”, performed by The Mighty Avengers, but gawd, what a fantastic song.  The best $28 spent on a CD in my lifetime!