Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jimmy Powell & The 5 Dimensions - Sugar Babe


Jimmy Powell was one of the true veterans of the British blues scene, having cut his first single ("Sugar Babe" Pts. 1 and 2) for Decca in 1962, when Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies had barely established themselves. Powell formed the Dimensions in 1963 as his backing band, and within its ranks at the start was a young Rod Stewart on vocals and blues harp. The band played the Crawdaddy Club, one of the Meccas of the early blues boom, and were signed to Pye Records, but their singles failed to register with the public despite a high-energy sound strongly reminiscent of the early Stones, solid attack on their instruments (check out "I'm Looking For A Woman"), and a good feel for the blues.
the Dimensions split up in 1965 and Powell continued as a solo backed by various bands that he invariably called the Dimensions at his live gigs. He left Pye to record for the Strike label, and was back on Decca later in the 1960's. As late as 1969, he was still recording singles and his early work on Decca was getting reissued.

Jimmy Powell grew up in the West Heath area of Birmingham. After leaving school, he apprenticed as a lathe operator in Kings Norton while at night he fronted a local band called The Detours. His powerful vocal style soon began to attract attention and in 1961 he turned "pro" after joining an up-and-coming local group called The Rockin' Berries.

The Dimensions #5, London, summer 1963, left to right: Mike Webb, Gary Leport, Louis Cennamo, Rod Stewart, Brian Kattenhorn

In November of 1961, the Rockin' Berries went over to Germany with the group by this time including local singer Clive Lea as well as Jimmy Powell. The band had a residency at Hamburg's famous Star Club where they shared the stage with The Beatles amongst many others. The following year, The Rockin' Berries were auditioned by TV pop producer/Decca Records talent scout Jack Goode who showed little interest in signing the band to a contract but indicated that their vocalist Jimmy Powell had some potential. The rejected group went back to Germany to continue their bookings at the Star Club but by the summer of 1962, Jimmy Powell along with two other group members left and returned to Birmingham. Jimmy Powell soon contacted Jack Goode who promptly signed him up to a recording contract.

Jimmy Powell and The Five Dimensions #1, Scotland, September 1963 - left to right: Brian Kattenhorn, Rod Stewart, Mike Webb, Jimmy Powell, Louis Cennamo, Gary Leport

The first record release for Jimmy Powell on the Decca Records label was an energetic cover of Buster Brown's Sugar Baby which showcased Jimmy's considerable talent as a raunchy R&B performer. This was also highly significant as it can be considered the first "Brum Beat" single. While the record did not chart, it is likely Jimmy Powell's best known song and got his career off to a good start. Two more good singles soon followed but by 1963, The Beatles were making a big impact on the British charts and singing "groups" - not solo performers were now the "in" thing.

London, 1963/64 - Jimmy Powell and The Five Dimensions #4, left to right: Brian Kattenhorn, Pete Hogman, Martin Shaw, Louis Cennamo, Kenny White and Jimmy Powell

Jimmy Powell went down to London where he became involved with the local blues scene at London's famous Marquee Club. Jimmy's new manager Malcolm Nixon, introduced him to a hot blues act that he'd named "The Five Dimensions" and Jimmy was soon given the position of lead vocalist. About 6 months later, Jimmy Powell added a second vocalist/harmonica player whose name was Rod Stewart. According to Jimmy Powell, Rod stayed as part of the line-up for about a year. Rivalry between the two singers led to Rod leaving and taking some of the band with him to back Chuck Berry on a British tour (the Dimensions were unable to do the tour because of contractual commitments). Unfortunately, there's no recordings of Rod Stewart performing with The Dimensions.

Jimmy Powell lead vocal, harmonica
Rod Stewart lead vocal, harmonica
Chick Catterhorn drums
Louis Cennamo bass guitar
Gary LePorte lead guitar
Pete Hogman harmonica
Kenny White rhythm guitar
Martin Shaw guitar
Tim Munns bass guitar
Dave Fullford vocal, guitar
Alan Stone bass guitar, vocal
Steve Bolton guitar, vocal
Mick Green drums
Paul Smith saxophone
Rod Godwin guitar
Alan "Ted" Shepherd tenor saxophone, flute
Will Morris bass guitar
Tom "Duke" Russell drums
Stan Byers trumpet
Tony Lucas bass guitar
Ray Spiteri lead guitar, vocal
Bob Spiteri bass guitar, vocal
Derek Bunt drums
Clem Lee drums
Fred Seddon Hammond organ

Jimmy Powell 1960s Record Releases


Sugar Babe Part 1/Sugar Babe Part 2 (Decca F 11447) 1962
Tom Hark/Dance Her By Me (Decca F 11544) 1962
Remember Them/Everyone But You (Decca F 11570) 1963
That's Alright/I'm Looking For A Woman (Pye 7N 15663) 1964
Sugar Babe/I've Been Watching You (Pye 7N 15735) 1964
I Can Go Down/Love Me Right (Strike JH 309) 1966
Unexpected Mirrors/Time Mends Broken Hearts (Decca F 12664) 1967
I Just Can't Get Over You/Real Cool (Decca F 12751) 1968
I Can Go Down/Captain Man (Young Blood YB 1002) 1969
House Of The Rising Sun/That's Love (Young Blood YB 1006) 1969
Sugar Man/Slow Down (Young Blood YB 1008) 1969

Jimmy Powell and The Five Dimensions #8, 1965 - left to right (top): ?, Jimmy Powell, Martin Shaw, left to right (bottom): Tim Munns, Kenny White, BJ Wilson

I'm looking for any albums Jimmy Powell

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