Various Artists - The Blue Horizon Story 1965-1970

Minggu, 10 Februari 2013

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Blue Horizon Records was a British blues record label founded by Mike Vernon in the mid 1960s.

Its roots lay in Vernon's mail order label Purdah Records, which released just four 7" singles; including "Flapjacks" by Stone's Masonry (featuring Martin Stone, later to join Savoy Brown and Mighty Baby); and another by John Mayall and Eric Clapton "Bernard Jenkins", and "Lonely Years". Only 99 copies of each are thought to have been pressed - limited originally to avoid purchase tax - although it has also been said that the number was as high as 500.

Hubert Sumlin - UK Single 1965
After briefly forming the Outasite label, Vernon switched to Blue Horizon in 1966, issuing singles and a small number of now-unobtainable albums by U.S. blues artists, including Doctor Ross. A world-wide licensing and distribution deal with CBS heralded the glory years of the label. Starting with two 7" singles with combined CBS/Blue Horizon stamps featuring Fleetwood Mac and Aynsley Dunbar there followed a string of singles and albums by both British and U.S. blues artists, both licenced and newly recorded. Some releases featured Mike Vernon-produced recordings of U.S. artists like Otis Spann and Champion Jack Dupree, backed by British Blues players such as Peter Green, Rory Gallagher, Paul Kossoff, Stan Webb, Pete Wingfield and Duster Bennett.

The label produced chart hit singles for Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack and a string of albums in imaginative sleeves. The distinctive blue label singles eventually gave way to red and then no-centre white labels as the blues boom died away. The label ceased production around 1971, and all its titles are highly collectible today. Later vinyl re-releases by both Sire Records in the US and Line Records kept interest alive, but CD reissues were very limited until Vernon himself re-emerged in the 21st Century to remaster the best material and do justice to the Blue Horizon legacy.

Mike Vernon was the leading producer of the British blues boom in the late '60s, working on discs by John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, Duster Bennett, Savoy Brown, and Ten Years After. Several of these recordings came out on Vernon's own Blue Horizon label, as well as the lesser-known Vernon-run labels, Purdah and Outasite, and Vernon also recorded some American artists for his companies. Although he's primarily associated with blues-rock and blues, Vernon has produced significant acts outside of the blues field as well, including David Bowie, Focus, and Bloodstone. 

Houston Boines - UK Single 1966
After playing for a while in the Mojo Men, Vernon started working for Decca Records in 1963, entering production with an album by Texan blues singer and pianist Curtis Jones, and following that up with projects by better-known American bluesmen, Champion Jack Dupree and Otis Spann. At a time when John Mayall and Eric Clapton had established their names live with the Bluesbreakers but had made relatively few recordings, Vernon encouraged Mayall to make an album with the Clapton Bluesbreakers lineup for Decca, which Mayall returned to after a brief sojourn at Immediate. 

In 1966, Vernon was in the producer's chair for the only album the Bluesbreakers made with Clapton as guitarist, Bluesbreakers, which is roundly recognized as the best British blues album. There had been several other great blues-soaked British recordings prior to this LP by bands such as the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and Animals, but all of those groups were indebted to R&B, pop, and rock as well as the blues. Bluesbreakers was almost all pure blues, bringing out some of Mayall and Clapton's best performances, sometimes augmented by a horn section. Vernon also produced the Bluesbreakers' only album with Clapton's replacement, Peter Green (A Hard Road). It was while working with the Bluesbreakers that Vernon became familiar with the musicians who were to become the nucleus of the most successful British blues-rock band, Fleetwood Mac, particularly Peter Green and bassist John McVie. Vernon produced Fleetwood Mac's first few albums and singles, including the hit "Albatross," and was on board for much of their most blues-centered work. Blue Horizon made a major mistake, though, and forgot to pick up their option for a second year on Fleetwood Mac's contract, which meant that the group left Blue Horizon in early 1969.

Sonny Boy Williamson And His Houserockers - UK Single 1967
There was still plenty of work for Vernon at Blue Horizon and other labels during the late '60s. These included recordings by Ten Years After, Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown, and several other lesser lights of the British blues boom. As a major blues/R&B enthusiast himself, Vernon seems to have allowed the bands to pretty much be as they were in the studio. With the best of his charges, such as Mayall and Fleetwood Mac, this worked very well; they got to make pure blues, or experiment within and without the form if they wished, without the sort of interference that might have been expected from more pop-conscious big labels and producers. There was also a good amount of routine, or even boring, material by artists and players that could not compare to the Americans they idolized. Vernon did champion Americans as well, recording a wide variety of solid talents in both the U.S. and U.K., like Eddie Boyd, Furry Lewis, and Bukka White, as well as leasing sides for U.K. release by greats like B.B. King and Elmore James. Vernon himself made a solo album for Blue Horizon in the early '70s, with Rory Gallagher as one of the guest guitarists.

Vernon's importance to British music went beyond the mixed results he achieved in the studio. In a period of about four years, during which Blue Horizon had distribution from CBS and Polydor, it issued about 60 singles and more than 100 albums, most of them blues records. This was a time when blues records were not too readily available in general, especially in Britain, and Vernon deserves much credit for raising the profile of the music in general in the UK. A good way to get acquainted with Vernon's work and sensibilities is on the double-LP Sire compilation History of British Blues, which covers British blues from the early '60s to the early '70s. Vernon assembled this anthology, which is largely comprised of sides he produced. Vernon has not solely worked on blues or blues-rock recordings. In 1967 he was the producer for David Bowie's self-titled debut album on Decca. Oddly, considering Vernon's own tastes and Bowie's past background (in which he had often sung and recorded R&B), there was no blues or R&B influence on the LP, which found Bowie in the midst of his Anthony Newley phase. 

B.B. King - UK Single 1968
Indeed, the arrangements were very much in the orchestrated music hall style, although Vernon was not fond of Bowie's Newleyesque direction. In the early '70s, Vernon produced Dutch progressive rock stars Focus, moving into soul in the mid-'70s with the American soul group Bloodstone (including their big hit "Natural High") and the Olympic Runners. Over the next couple of decades, Vernon maintained an active profile as a producer, although he didn't generate discs with the commercial or artistic impact of those he had overseen during the British blues boom. Generally, he kept his hands in the rootsy sector, working at various points with Dr. Feelgood, Chris Farlowe, Freddie King, Frankie Ford, and Jimmy Witherspoon. Outside of R&B there were projects with Level 42, Dexy's Midnight Runners, the Pasadenas, and the Proclaimers. He revived the Blue Horizon label in the late '80s, and in the '90s set up a couple of other blues-oriented labels, Indigo and Code Blue. 

While Blue Horizon gained its reputation as the home of great British blues (early Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, and others), its spiritual home was in America, and it released far more American artists than most people realize, beginning with its first disc -- 99 copies (for tax reasons) of a Hubert Sumlin single. And that largely set the tone for the first five years of the label admirably covered in this three-CD set. Label head Mike Vernon was a blues lover and he released the music he loved, often licensing a track and sometimes signing and developing artists, as he did with his British stable, most especially Fleetwood Mac, born after Green left employer John Mayall (who also released two cuts on Blue Horizon, both with another former blues-breaker, Eric Clapton, and both, thankfully, here). 

Chicken Shack - UK Promo Single 1968
Mac hit the big time with "Albatross," which definitely wasn't a blues, but their Chicago-influenced grit is apparent elsewhere, especially on "Temperature Is Rising (98.8F)," recorded with the legendary Otis Spann in the Windy City. But the label could easily move from the raw Delta sound of Bukka White to the electrifying slide of Hound Dog Taylor without it seeming unreasonable, while bringing on British artists like Duster Bennett, Jo Ann Kelly, and T.S. McPhee (who'd go on to head the Groundhogs) along the way. At best this can only be a taster, but it makes for a magnificent smorgasbord, not only of the real blues, but also of its very gritty and always authentic (at least on this label) British counterpart. 

Mike Vernon (record producer):
Michael William Hugh Vernon (born 20 November 1944) professionally known as Mike Vernon is an English music executive studio owner, and record producer from Harrow, Middlesex, England.[1] He produced albums for British blues artists and groups during the late 1960s, working with the Bluesbreakers, David Bowie, Duster Bennett, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green, Danny Kirwan, John Mayall, Christine McVie and Ten Years After amongst others.

Otis Spann - UK Single 1968
Vernon is best known as founder of the blues record label, Blue Horizon. Several of his recordings appeared there, as well as on the lesser known labels, Purdah and Outasite. Although he is primarily associated with the blues, Vernon produced significant acts outside of that field, including Bowie, Focus, and Bloodstone.

After playing for a while in the Mo Jo Men, Vernon started working for Decca Records in 1963, entering production with an album by the Texan Curtis Jones, and following that up with projects by better known American bluesmen, Champion Jack Dupree and Otis Spann. Vernon encouraged John Mayall to record an album with Clapton for Decca, and in 1966, Vernon was in the producer's chair for Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton. Vernon also produced the Bluesbreakers' only album with Clapton's replacement, Peter Green, A Hard Road.

Vernon championed Americans as well, recording Eddie Boyd, Furry Lewis and Bukka White. In the early 1970s, Vernon released a solo album, Moment of Madness. He was also a member of The Olympic Runners (1974–1979) and acted as producer for them. He was a producer and member of Rocky Sharpe and the Replays (1979–1983). With the Replays he sang bass under the psudonym of Eric Rondo.

Earl Hooker - UK Promo Single 1969
Vernon's importance to British music went beyond the mixed results he achieved in the recording studio. In a period of about four years, during which Blue Horizon had distribution from CBS Records and Polydor Records, it issued about 60 singles and more than 100 albums, most of them blues records. In the early 1970s, Vernon produced Focus, before moving into soul music in the mid 1970s with Bloodstone and The Olympic Runners.

Over the next couple of decades, Vernon worked at various points with Dr. Feelgood, Chris Farlowe, Freddie King, Frankie Ford and Jimmy Witherspoon plus Level 42, Dexy's Midnight Runners, The Pasadenas, and The Proclaimers. He revived the Blue Horizon label in the late 1980s, and in the 1990s he set up a couple of other blues-oriented labels, Indigo and Code Blue.

Vernon came out of retirement to produce the second album by the British blues prodigy, Oli Brown. The album entitled Heads I Win, Tails You Lose was released in March 2010. [Source: AMG & Wikipedia]

Disc 1
01. Hubert Sumlin
- Across The Board (1964) 4.13
02. Hubert Sumlin
- Sumlin Boogie (1964) 3.36
03. Woodrow Adams - Baby
You Just Don't Know (1955) 2.56
04. Woodrow Adams - Wine Head Woman (1955) 2.42
05. Jimmy McCracklin - Christmas Time (1959) 3.362.17
06. J.B. Lenoir - Mojo Boogie (1960) 2.42
07. J.B. Lenoir - Amsterdam (1960) 3.19
08. Doctor Isaiah Ross - Mean Old World (1965) 2.30
09. T.S. McPhee - Someone To Love Me (1965) 2.18
10. Jo Ann Kelly - I Feel So Good (1965) 2.48
11. Drifting Slim - Good Morning Baby (1952) 2.49
12. Drifting Slim - My Sweet Woman (1952) 2.52
13. John Mayall & Eric Clapton - Lonely Tears (1966) 3.17
14. John Mayall & Eric Clapton - Bernard Jenkins (1966) 3.17
15. Houston Boines - Superintendet Blues (1952) 2.32
16. Houston Boines - Monkey Motion (1952) 2.22
17. Savoy Brown's Blues Band - Can't Quit You Baby (1966) 3.35
18. Champion Jack Dupree with T.S. McPhee
- Get Your Head Happy (1965) 2.17
19. Champion Jack Dupree with T.S. McPhee
- Talk All In My Sleep (1965) 3.24
20. Stone's Masonry - Hot Rock (1966) 3.27
21. Hound Dog Taylor - Christine (1962) 2.11
22. Little Mac Simmons & His Boys - Come Back (1959) 2.34
23. Little Mac Simmons & His Boys - My Walking Blues (1959) 3.11
24. Eddie Boyd - It's So Miserable To Be Alone (1967) 3.39
25. Eddie Boyd - Empty Arms (1967) 2.48

Disc 2
01. Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac
- I Believe My Time Ain't Long (1967) 2.54
02. Anysley Dunbar Retaliation - Warning (1967) 3.22
03. The Chicken Shack feat. Stan Webb
- When My Left Eye Jumps (1967) 6.26
04. Arthur K. Adams
- She Drives Me Out Of My Mind (1967) 3.03
05. Eddie Boyd - The Big Boat (1968) 2.36
06. Fleetwood Mac - Black Magic Woman (1968) 2.46
07. Roosevelt Holts - Prison Bound Blues (1966) 2.37
08. Fleetwood Mac - Need Your Love So Bad (1968) 3.53
09. Champion Jack Dupree with Stan Webb
- How Am I Doing It (1968) 2.45
10. Otis Spann - Can't Do Me No Good (1968) 2.18
11. B.B. King - The Woman I Love (1958) 3.01
12. Curtis Jones - You Don't Have To Go (1968) 3.38
13. Fleetwood Mac - Albatross (1968) 3.10
14. Guitar Crusher & Jimmy Spruill
- Since My Baby Hit The Numbers (1968) 2.16
15. Garfield Love & Jimmy Spruill
- Next Time You See Me (1968) 2.32
16. Johnny Shines - Solid Gold (1968) 3.10
17. Sunnland Slim - Layin' In My Cell, Sleepin' (1968) 3.10
18. Bobby Parker - It's Hard But It's Fair (1968) 2.16
19. Bobby Parker - I Couldn't Quit My Baby (1968) 4.52
20. Champion Jack Dupree - Stumbling Block (1969) 2.24
21. Chicken Shack - I'd Rather Go Blind (1969) 3.14
22. Otis Spann with Fleetwood Mac
- Temperature Is Rising (1969) 5.11
23. Otis Rush & His Band - All Your Love (1958) 2.34

Disc 3
01. Magic Sam - Everything Gonna Be Alright (1957) 2.50
02. Chicken Shack - Hideaway (1969) 3.03
03. David 'Honeyboy' Edwards - My Baby's Gone (1969) 4.02
04. Coyne Clague Band - Mandy Lee (1969) 2.41
05. Gordon Smith - Too Long (1969) 2.42
06. Mississippi Joe Callicott
- You Don't Know My Mind (1968) 5.12
07. Furry Lewis - Judge Harsh Blues (1968) 4.36
08. Bukka White - Drifting Blues (1968) 3.51
09. Larry Johnson - Southern Train (1966) 2.45
10. Chicken Shack - Tears In The Wind (1969) 2.40
11. Duster Bennett
- I'm Gonna Wind Up Ending Up With You (1969) 2.54
12. Harmonica Slim - She Wants To Rock 'n' Roll (1969) 3.45
13. Johnny Young - Moaning And Groaning (1969) 3.08
14. George 'Harmonica' Smith
- Someday You're Gonna Learn (1969) 4.13
15. Top Topham - Ridin' The Blinds (1969) 2.29
16. Bacon Fat - Boom Boom (Out Goes The Light) (1969) 3.47
17. Jellybread
- Rockin' Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu (1969) 2.44
18. Christine Perfect - Crazy 'Bout You Baby (1969) 3.01
19. Key Largo - Voodoo Rhythm (1970) 2.59
20. Duster Bennett - I Want You To Love Me (1969) 3.32
21. Martha Velez - I'm Gonna Leave You (1969) 4.06
22. Bacon Fat - Blues Feeling (1970) 3.59

Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
Part 3: Link
Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
Part 3: Link
Guitar Crusher - UK Single 1969

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