From Top To Toe (CD)
- Rhythm With My Blues
- I Love The Life I Live
- Why Keep A Dog (And Bark Yourself?)
- It Ain’t Broke
- Saturday Night Fish Fry
- I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues
- I’m Walkin’
- Pink Champagne
- Closer To The Bone
- Couch Potato
- Let The Good Times Roll
- Flip Flop & Fly
- Willie & the Hand Jive
- From Top to Toe
It’s been a good while since I last heard from these pioneers of the British jump’n’jive scene. Band members may have come and gone, but sax and vocals man Packham has kept the faith and once again confirms his position at the very top of the compositional tree as far as this particular sub-genre of the blues is concerned.
There are five originals here – among the titles you will have recognised from old recordings by Louis Jordan, Fats Domino, Joe Liggins et al – and they’re all hip, lyrically nimble and droll. ‘Why Keep A Dog’ Is an especially good slackers’ anthem, featuring some scintillating piano from Perry White and a wealth of original verbal conceits (“…the album I recorded, which won me such acclaim / My only contribution was to lend my name”). ‘It Ain’t Broke’ and ‘Couch Potato’ are also amusing and entertaining numbers which both expand upon and celebrate the r&b tradition.
Packham’s current crop of accompanists are well up to standard and there is an extensive list of add-ons (mostly horn players) to the basic unit of Packham, White, Billy Jenkins (guitar), Ken Austen (bass), Kenrick Rowe (drums) and Tracey Mendham (sax, flute, clarinet). The overall feel is one of both jazz integrity and jivey whimsy, and the session impresses more with each successive play, as lyrics become familiar and solos are examined more closely. A very good album in short, highly recommended to old style R&B enthusiasts.
Paul Lewis (copyright 1999 Blueprint magazine)
This latest episode in the Kit Packham saga sees him and the One Jump Ahead gang exploring several musical avenues etched on the swing/jive route map. As well as the obligatory Louis Jordan numbers, this album, amongst other things, showcases the Latin-tinged overtones of “Why Keep a Dog (and Bark Yourself?)”, races down the New Orleans highway (courtesy of the wry Packham originals “It Ain’t Broke” and “Couch Potato”, Robert Parker’s 60s classic “Barefootin’” and Fats’ “I’m Walkin’”), then returns to the passing lane for the laid-back time-outs “From Top to Toe” (another Packham original), Willie Dixon’s “I Love the Life I Live” and the Duke Ellington-penned classic “I Ain’t Got Nothing But the Blues”.
Tributes to R&B icons Joe Liggins, Joe Turner and Johnny Otis are also made in the shape of “Pink Champagne”, “Flip Flop & Fly” and “Willie and the Hand Jive” respectively, all of which are given contemporary readings. Buy it, roll back the carpet and have some fun ‘til the clock strikes one…..
Pete O’Gorman (copyright 1999 Now Dig This)
This UK 6 piece band plays an irresistible blend of jazz, blues and jump& jive and they have fans from Israel to Germany. The band’s format is similar to forties jump& jive star Louis Jordan, with swinging tempos, sizzling horns and humour. The vocals by Kit Packham sound a lot like Georgie fame, very cool also.
This band does not stick to jump & jive only. “I Live the Life I Love” is a lean blues shuffle (famous in Big Twist’s version) and gets a smooth jazzy approach. “It Ain’t Broke” features some New Orleans second line funk, a bit similar to “Iko Iko”. Here, the band sounds like a subtle brass band. Also New Orleans, but then the rock’n’roll side is the cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’”, an uptempo steaming cover. From the pure jump & jive songs, the party time cover of “Let the Good Times Roll” and Johnny Otis’ “Willie and the Hand Jive” with a freaky guitar solo, stand out. “Why Keep a Dog (and Bark Yourself)?” is a cool Latin swinger (cha cha cha), sounding very sunny, while “Couch Potato” is a lazy shuffle. This is definitely one of the better jump & jive bands around and certainly one of the most varied.
(copyright 1999 NL Groovemaster webzine)