Saturday, February 28, 2015

VA - The Graham Dee Connection : The 60s Collection




He could be the king of British Northern Soul, a lost Mod icon, but Graham Dee's air of detached modesty says more about him than either soubriquet. He's just happy to finally see some of his work see the light of day when Acid Jazz release The Graham Dee Connection: The 60s Collection next month (SEPT19), rounding up just some of the hundreds of tracks he wrote, recorded and produced in that swinging decade when London was the capital of Cool and Graham rubbed shoulders with its most stellar in-crowd.

'I never thought any of this stuff would see the light of day, I didn't think anyone was interested - just shows you what I know, maybe that's why I never had a hit record!' he says, only half-joking.

These days, Graham revels in pastoral semi-retirement, although he is musically busier than he has been for years. As well as the 60s' set, Acid Jazz has an album of his 1970s' material coming out later in the year, he's writing new material and plays regularly at his Dorset village local.

This late blooming career is a triumph for natural justice. His song, Two Can Make It Together, released in 1969 by Tony and Tandy, has enjoyed cult status for years but its use on a TV advert last year rightly established it as a neglected 60s classic. Slick, sophisticated and defiantly upbeat it now opens The 60s Collection after Acid Jazz set its most tenacious musical archaeologists the task of sifting through Graham's archive of demo recordings, unreleased songs and studio out-takes for the 16 songs that make up the new album.

'They've done an amazing job. Some of these tracks were on old studio acetates that we cut at the time that were unplayable - they were so decayed you could see the metal through the plastic. It's wonderful the technology exists that can breathe new life into them after all these years.'

Most of the material comes from Graham's time as an in-house songwriter/producer for the British arm of Atlantic, the legendary American rhythm and blues label. From 1967 to 1970 he wrote and recorded hundreds of songs for artists as diverse as white South African soul singer Sharon Tandy, actor-singer Mike Berry, British crooner Dennis Lotis and US serviceman turned singer James Patterson. Among Graham's most renowned work was with the band The Fleur de Lys.

'They were great guys, should have been much bigger, but I was writing these uptown soulful songs and the British market wanted a much harder, more direct R&B sound. Everyone said I should be working in America so in the end I upped sticks and moved to the States.'

In the early 1970s Graham lived and worked in Los Angeles, Nashville and at the home of southern soul, Muscle Shoals in Alabama. But while his erstwhile songwriting partner Brian Potter went on to enjoy chart success with hits like Keeper of the Castle by The Four Tops, Graham was distracted by his life-long search for an answer to the involuntary twitching that has dogged his life. He lives with a neuromuscular disorder that manifests itself as a series of ticks, twitches and spasms linked to a weakness in his neck. In his late-30s it was diagnosed as a physical form of Tourette's Syndrome (he still contests the hypothesis). more :



Graham Dee was one of those who helped make the sixties great. He was there as writer, producer and session guitarist. He had played in the final line-up of The Moments with Steve Marriott and then continued with a Marriott connection by playing rhythm guitar on the East End Fab Four's debut single What'Cha Gonna Do About It. He joined bands such as Them, The Walker Brothers, The Gass, He even filled in the the "absent" Syd Barrett on some Pink Floyd shows. However, he was primarily a writer and producer. He teamed up with Brian Potter who had co-written What'Cha Gonna Do About It with Ian Samwell. They became the staff songwriters at Polydor Records. Some of the duo's work will already be familiar to fans of The Fleurs de Lys as they wrote tracks such as Daughter of the Sun which was sung by Sharon Tandy backed by The Fleurs de Lys. They also wrote a number of other tracks specifically for Sharon Tandy. Graham Dee has an extensive archive and this is CD is the first of three planned collections.

Graham met with Frank Fenter who was the Europe head of Atlantic Records. Fenter introduced Dee to some of his acts such as Tony Rivers & the Castaways, Sharon Tandy, The Fleurs de Lys and others. However, following the departure of Fenter to America to form Capricorn Records and Potter linking up with Denis Lambert things changed. Dee became staff songwriter to April Music where the acts included The Fantastics, Mike Berry and more.

The CD starts with two very strong tracks. Tony (Head) and (Sharon) Tandy were never going to rival Marvin Gaye's duets but this powerful track shows how good they were especially with the excellent Fleurs de Lys backing. The track received extensive airplay and sold well without managing to chart. Weygood Ellis's I Like What I'm Trying To Do will be familiar to those who have already heard the song on The Fleurs De Lys' Reflections compilation. The track was written as the first single for Dee and Potter's band The Storytellers but released under the name Waygood Ellis including Gerry Temple on lead vocals and Dee on guitar.

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