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Somebody Else´s Arms / Love Is

The package, posted from Inglewood in California, dropped through my letter box…
I was looking forward to seeing this, the VHS of the then relatively ‘unknown’ but now legendary live show at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. But when I fed it into my VHS player, I was disappointed. I could not quite figure out why. The band were tight, each musician sounded great, the product of being on the road, year after year, club after club in the States, sometimes playing five shows a night, all propped up by one of the best soulful voices we had ever heard, the maestro Frankie Beverly. 

It took a second play to realise what was missing. It was ‘too comfortable’ an atmosphere. A few wealthy customers sat around coffee tables quaffing champagne. It seemed to me that this audience, somehow, did not fit the band. 

Paul Fenn at Asgard promotions received the contract from the band to appear live in London and Manchester. I became more and more convinced that his UK fans were going to be a lot more responsive than those from New Orleans.

We put the word out with just a couple of exclusive ‘shout outs’ by Robbie Vincent on his Radio London Soul programme. Those two plugs were enough to sell out all four shows at London’s premier music venue, the Hammersmith Odeon. The ticket office was rammed and the queue six deep, stretched halfway down Queen Caroline Street.

“I have never seen anything like it” expressed the manager of the theatre as he rolled down the shutters and turned on the “Sorry, SOLD OUT” notice above the theatre box office.

I was curious, so I went up and stood in the wings of the Hammersmith stage on that first show. Frankie, introduced to the stage by his sound engineer, Greg Blockman, sauntered past me, strumming his rhythm guitar, dressed in a casual dark green towelling suit, a brown leather visor and flip flops…and then five seconds later, he suddenly stopped. He seemed suddenly to be aware of the thunderous ’Welcome to London Maze’ roar, circling around the theatre about to engulf him. He slapped every black and white hand offered up to him that night, with a huge smile as he circled the edge of that stage. We wanted to get next to him, even if it meant climbing over rows of seats in front of us to do so.

That was the beginning of our love affair with Maze and Frankie Beverly. It certainly wasn’t New Orleans comfort; it was more like a crazy, but friendly, London riot.

Five albums on from the “Live in New Orleans” LP, Frankie sauntered into the California recording studio, probably with the same swagger as in London, to cut the delightful A-side here, “Somebody Else’s Arms”, from his aptly named ‘Silky Soul’ album. Along with the B-side, ‘Love is’ (from the “Back To Basics” CD, 1993) both are so delicious you might want to relax and pour yourself that London glass of champagne, 1983 vintage. Tell your mates your Maze/Hammersmith story too. You deserve it.

(Grahame Joyce)



SKU: JAR13 Categories: , Tags: , , ,

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Weight 0,1 kg

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