Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sire Records: Hey Mama

Before they started having a couple of hit records, the Climax Blues Band was just that – a blues band. In fact, so influenced by the Chicago blues, they called themselves the Climax Chicago Blues Band. They dropped the “Chicago” moniker to avoid confusion with Chicago Transit Authority with the band’s release of their fourth LP: “Tightly Knit.”

It is that album from 1971 that we pull the lead cut to help fulfill our look at Sire Records. “Hey Mama,” the lead track, showcases the talent of this band that doesn’t normally get the recognition they deserve. Guitarist Pete Haycock takes the lead vocals on this cut while his fantastic lead guitar work interplays with a variety of instrumentation handled by Colin Cooper. Cooper plays all of the horn parts and the fantastic amplified harmonica parts.

Not to be forgotten, the glue of the song is laid down by keyboardist Arthur Wood, bassist Derek Holt, and drummer George Newsome. The rhythm section of the Climax Blues Band provides some great kicks in “Hey Mama.” This 1971 release was made when musicians were musicians. The album was re-released in 1976 with the addition of the band’s take on the Willie Dixon classic, “Spoonful.”

“Tightly Knit,” with its unique cover, was originally released in Britain on Harvest Records, an EMI subsidiary. Capitol, who was the EMI arm in the US, did not pick up the option for the Climax Blues Band; therefore, the independent Sire Records was their label in North America.

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