Saturday, February 14, 2015

Big Three - Cavern Stomp: Complete Recordings






Brian "Griff" Griffiths - guitar/vocals
Johnny "Gus" Gustafson - bass/vocals
Johnny "Hutch" Huthinson - drums


Around the time the Beatles started recording, the Big Three were one of their biggest Liverpool rivals. Their then-novel power trio attack was anchored by drummer Johnny "Hutch" Hutchinson, who actually filled the drum set for the Beatles as an emergency replacement on a few gigs. Managed by Brian Epstein as well, the Big Three were renowned locally as a tough, R&B-inflected outfit, but were made to cover pop material more suited for Gerry & the Pacemakers on most of their singles. The group only managed to cut four singles in 1963 and 1964, as well as a Live at the Cavern EP that was the only official release recorded at one of the most legendary rock clubs of all time. A couple of these singles dented the British Top 40 briefly, but the original lineup broke up in late 1963; bassist Johnny Gustafson went on to join the Merseybeats for a time and played on three albums by Roxy Music in the '70s. While eyewitness accounts affirm that the Big Three were a powerful live outfit, they were unsuccessful at translating this energy to record, which doomed their status to a footnote of the British Invasion.


Cavern Stomp: The Complete Recordings [31 Tracks]

2009 collection from the Merseybeat legends. Cavern Stomp includes all of The Big Three's recordings for Decca across 1963 and 1964: the classic At The Cavern Live EP plus four singles, compilation appearances and out-takes. These recordings have not been available on CD for a decade. The Big Three included bassist Johnny Gustafson, who would later enjoy fame with the likes of Roxy Music, the Ian Gillan Band and the Pirates in the 1970s and beyond. Drummer Johnny Hutchinson briefly played with The Beatles before they recruited Ringo Starr.


The Big Three were possibly the most highly respected musicians of all the Liverpool groups. They evolved from a group called Cass & The Cassanovas which were formed in the late 50's by Brian Casser. Although originally a four-piece outfit, by 1959 they had slimmed down to a trio comprising of Casser (guitar/vocals), Adrian Barber (guitar) and Johnny Hutchinson (drums). In need of a bass guitarist, Hutchinson brought in Johnny Gustafson. At that time Gustafson didn't have a proper bass guitar so Barber converted an acoustic for him. Late in 1960, Casser left the group and moved to London reducing them to a trio again. In January 1961 the Cassanovas re-emerged as the Big Three. Despite being a three-piece they were one of the loudest bands in Liverpool due to Barber's talents in the electronics field. He built the band giant amps, standing over five feet high, which were nicknamed "coffins". Brian Epstein signed them to his sable and sent them over to Hamburg. It was during that trip that Brian Griffiths joined the group, Barber left, and the best-known line-up of the Big Three was established. Their musicianship and attack were legendary and they exerted a considerable influence on their contemporaries. Epstein arranged for them to audition for Decca Records and they recorded "Some Other Guy". The group were not happy with the recording and appalled when they were told that Decca would be releasing it and wouldn't allow them a proper recording session so they could perform the song they way they wished it to be played. Instead of understanding why the Big Three were so popular - because of their aggressive sound, their wildness, their casual appearance on stage - he put them into suits and began to dilute their sound, choosing lightweight pop numbers and insisting, against their wishes, that they record them. The Big Three and Epstein terminated their partnership in July 1963, but the damage had been done. Gustafson and Griffiths quit, and with drummer Ian Broad from Rory Storm & the Hurricanes formed the Seniors and left for Germany. Hutchinson replaced them with Faron and Paddy Chambers from Faron's Flamingo's. By mid-'64 their days were numbered. Paddy Chambers left and was replaced by Paul Pilnick from the All Stars. Pilnick only stayed a short time before moving on to Tony Jackson & the Vibrations. Hutchinson received an offer to join Kingsixe Taylor & the Dominoes but declined, opting insted to hang up his drumsticks.

Thanks to Emerad

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