Monday, October 26, 2009

Georgie Fame and Alan Price: blink and you miss them

History barely remembers their collaborations, but Fame and Price deserve a rewrite.

Having both forged careers in the 1960s, both solo and fronting bands, Georgie Fame and Alan Price were found together for a few brief episodes in the early 1970s.

They are best known together for the 1970 song Rosetta ("...are you better, are you well, well, well"), a rambunctious song about an equally boisterous woman.  But they produced two albums*, a residency on The Two Ronnies... and 1974's gem, Don't Hit Me When I'm Down.  One of history's great forgotten pop songs, it is unlikely to have been a significant hit anywhere - and sadly never made it to CD - but it was so infectious the tune remains with me today.  It follows a strong tradition of the day, of white boys infusing a dose of obscure reggae rhythm to an otherwise white song (1973-74 was positively littered with these, which merits a whole extra post).

Watching them live, still young but well experienced, they displayed an ease and enjoyment together.  Their voices were so similar that they switched vocals verse by verse -moreover, switching lead and harmony - so smoothly that if you weren't watching them, it would be hard to tell the difference.

The scant legacy is a handful of videos that must have been culled from The Two Ronnies.  They took few risks with this gig, presenting mainly covers, but again at ease and consummate.

And the whole Fame/Price experience must have been a blithe interlude for Alan Price, who had a notable body of work both before and afterwards, including - again in 1974 - the marvellous Jarrow Song, about a 1936 unemployed worker's march to London from Jarrow, Price's home town.  Much respected since then (full discography here), too much overlooked for his time with Georgie Fame.

Discography - Georgie Fame and Alan Price
Rosetta/John & Mary (1971, CBS) UK#11, Aus#91, Wellington,NZ#15
Fame and Price, Price and Fame Together (1971, CBS):  Rosetta/Yellow Man/Dole Song/Time I Moved On/John And Mary/Here And Now/Home Is Where The Heart Is/Ballad Of Billy Joe/That's How Long My Love Is/Blue Condition/I Can't Take It Much Longer
Follow Me/Sergeant Jobsworth (1971, CBS)
Don't Hit Me When I'm Down/Street Lights (1974, Reprise) Wellington NZ#10

*For the life of me, I can't locate the other album. It certainly wasn't Superhits, which cobbles together some tracks from the first one plus a few of Fame's.


Anonymous said...

I have been trying to get a copy of don't hit me when I'm down for ages having only heard it on the radio once in 1973. I only remember the words "lost in confusion" and the reggae beat. Is it possible to upload it onto youtube?

S Simmonds said...

I like your optimism :)

I had the single once... but I don't know what happened to most of my old records. That's what comes of skipping the country...

"I was happy as a bumble bee when it finds itself surrounded by clover..."