Checked this off an old Want List. Thanks Tony! “Rockin’ with the Rockets” Tony Crombie and his Rockets Columbia Records (UK) (1957) Tracks: Stop / Stick And Stones / Hear My Plea / Rock Shuffle Boogie / Forgive Me Baby / Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster / Red For Danger / Take My Love / Rex Rocks / Brighton Rock
Anthony John “Tony” Crombie (27 August 1925 – 18 October 1999) was an English jazz drummer, pianist, bandleader and composer. He was regarded as one of the finest jazz drummers and bandleaders, and occasional but very capable pianist and vibraphonist, to emerge in Britain, and as an energizing influence on the British jazz scene across six decades.
In August 1956, Crombie set up a rock and roll band he called The Rockets, which at one point included future Shadows bassist Jet Harris. The group was modeled after Bill Haley’s Comets and Freddie Bell & the Bellboys. Tony Crombie and his Rockets released several singles for Decca Records and Columbia Records, including “Teach You To Rock” produced by Norrie Paramor, which is regarded as the first British rock and roll record and which made the Top 30 in the UK Singles Chart in October 1956. He is credited with introducing rock and roll music to Iceland, performing there in May 1957. By 1958 The Rockets had become a jazz group, including Scott and Tubby Hayes.
The following year Crombie started another group, Jazz Inc., featuring pianist Stan Tracey. In 1960, Crombie composed the score for the film The Tell-Tale Heart and established residency at a hotel in Monte Carlo. In May 1960 he toured the UK with Conway Twitty, Freddy Cannon, Johnny Preston, and Wee Willie Harris. On his return to England, he became the house drummer at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, where he accompanied visiting American stars like Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Jimmy Witherspoon. In September 1965 when Don Byas played at the club his performance was captured on tape, and is available on the CD, Autumn Leaves. Ronnie Scott announced the band saying: “…Tony Crombie is deputizing for our regular drummer, Jackie Dougan, who has unfortunately been taken suddenly drunk…” He also performed in Israel and the United States, and began writing for films and television. He also toured with artists like Lena Horne, Carmen McRae, Tony Bennett, and Jack Jones, and played piano on the Annie Ross album Skylark.
Bimini is a small island off the coast of Florida with a tiny air strip, a shark study center and fishing boats. Fresh conch is sold on the side of the dirt roads. There are a couple miles of sandy beach under bending mango trees, some tin shacks, a one floor motel, a couple airy bars with thatch roofs … and the Compleat Angler! I took a small plane to Bimini for a long weekend once. I recall the short flight over translucent blue waters. Like in a dream, sharks racing with plane’s shadow on the surface below. Each night, after long days drinking rum in the sun and then a short nap and shower, it was off to the Compleat Angler to see live music and dance. The house band played island music and covers, including a long, funky, Caribbean flavored arrangement of Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe”. It always brought the joint to an ecstatic, frenzied peak. Each night a dozen or so free-spirited, weekend revelers and island hoppers crowded the small dance floor until the wee hours of the morning. I remember one night stumbling out of the Angler under bright stars, my arms around a beautiful young marine biologist and our long, slow walk back to her dorm. Later I read that the Angler burnt to the ground. Finding this record over the weekend magically brings it all back.
Louis “Pops” Armstrong on the French Odeon label. Saint Louis blues / Mahogany Hall Stomp // After You’ve Gone / I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (1954). Louis was both pure joyful entertainment and the highest level of artistry. For five decades he was an American ambassador around the world for the music he helped create. In and out of style, he remained true to himself through the worst Jim Crow racism and blew down barriers with his genius. Good to go back and listen still!
The Japanese made beautiful record covers in the fifties and sixties. Japan reproduced American art, music and culture with care, affection, and detail. These Japanese pressings looked and sounded great. Here’s a Japanese Decca release with a vibrant cover shot of James Dean. James Dean only made three movies, but his image graced many records around the world. Like this one often the music was just a compilation of Hollywood movie music. This one, “The Glory of Victor Young”, starts off with the theme from “East of Eden,” but (thanks to LP cover lover, Roy, this shot is from his first film “Rebel Without a Cause”).
Here’s a cool one on the Roulette label from Japan! “To Play-Boys” or as it says in English on the back cover “Music for Playboys.” There are many records from the 50’s, 60’s and even the 1970’s with that same inviting title. This one is vintage mid-sixties and a new find for me. The cover model is Italian actress Lisa Gastoni. Wikipedia says: “The turning point in her film career was her role in Grazie, zia by Salvatore Samperi. (Ed., note: This may be a shot from that film. Maybe some sleuth out there can tell me). This would set the tone for the roles she would play for the next decade; bourgeois women who were seductive yet sexually frustrated, cruel and arrogant yet sad and sympathetic, manipulating the people around them to try and fill the emptiness in their own lives. The music on this is by Sam Marowitz and Sonny Lester, I’m told, (I can’t read the liner notes), but the titles in English suggest, typical bachelor pad glory — “Moon Nocturne,” “Chivas Regal,” “Sounds in the Night” and “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody”.