Tag Archives: Ali MacKenzie

THE ALI MAC BAND — Live in Staines

Original Birdman ALI MACKENZIE with his renegade pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll talent — Strawbs drummer Richard Hudson, Glitter Band bassist Bill Phillips, and Renaissance guitarist Simon Bishop — form the ALI MAC BAND.

They play good-time rhythm and blues, replete with soul-thumping harmonies and the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness.

We saw their sold-out show this February 16 at the STAINES RIVERSIDE CLUB.

Their perfectly handled recreations included many favorites from the American soft-jazz songbook ( like Little Feat’sWeed, whites and wine…” flavoured ‘Willin‘ ) and teasing blues pieces like Willie Dixon’s provocative “Hoochie Coochie Man” or intelligently voiced soul-hits such as Eddie Floyd & Steve Cropper’sKnock on Wood.”

THE ALI MAC BAND - the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness... Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©
THE ALI MAC BAND – the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness…
Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©

In the mid sixties THE BIRDS were the biggest rhythm and blues act in London.

They appeared on TV’s Ready Steady Go and released four hit singles including the Holland-Dozier-Holland number “Leaving Here.”

That Birds song went onto inspire Lemmy’s Motörhead [Leaving Here was their debut single — 1977.]

Famous for their vocal harmonies and exciting live performances THE BIRDS came close to becoming as big as THE WHO.

They first ventured onto the scene in 1964 as The Thunderbirds but decided to change their band-name to The Birds to avoid confusion with Chris Farlowe’s band.

But when “America’s answer to the Beatles” aka the folk rock band THE BYRDS entered the UK Singles Chart with “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1965) the British BIRDS were forced to take action to defend their “trading” name.

Surrounded by an excited buzz of media coverage, the BIRDS manager began to take legal steps to prevent the American upstarts from using their name. But the court favored the Los Angeles “Byrds” and by 1967 the British band had faded.

Ali McKenzie was the original leader of that particular ensemble (voice and harmonica) along with Ronnie Wood (guitar) Tony Munroe (guitars) Kim Gardner (bass) and Pete McDaniels (drums).

At Staines, Ali Mac’s band — understandably — distanced themselves from the compositions of Dylan and McGuinn. Instead they played some lasting rockabilly hits (such as Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and Big Boy Crudup’s “That’s All Right”. )

With Simon’s effervescent guitar playing, Bill’s adventurous and tight bass and Hud’s precise rhythms, it was a night of class entertainment.

Ali’s remarkable vocal work — his mastery of tension and release — and controlled use of vibrato, was truly astonishing. It’s not often we witness vocal skills of this quality.

Another stunning show at Staines…

Support the RIVERSIDE CLUB and keep LIVE MUSIC alive…

Words & Pictures: Neil Mach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/StainesRiversideClub

Advertisements

LIZA MARSHALL with the Smokey Turtle Band

The country-music songwriter and guitarist Ray Peters usually fronts-up the talented Smokey Turtle Band with the excellent Dean Barnes on guitar and Hannah Cope on bass. But last night the good folks at Staines’s first-class Riverside Club were treated to the honeyed mellifluence of LIZA MARSHALL on vocals.

Liza’s voice is remarkable — husky with emotion it reminds us of early Carly Simon, but it also incorporates the trill and joy of Rita Coolidge.

Lynn Anderson was one of the many stars who covered “Drift Away” the song written by Mentor Williams. It was a good place to start. Liza’s voice was filled with cream and chocolate syrup for this. The song immediately delighted the crowd in Staines.

The Zutons creative number “Valerie” was super but most folk now contend that the Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse version is the “standard” recording of this high-bounce number. It was given superb balance together with tense and relaxed tones by Liza Marshall and the Smokey Turtles. Liza gave the song that same lively spirit and cool pop twinkle that we loved on the Winehouse variant.

Liza Marshall with the the Smokey Turtle Band vocalist Ali MacKenzie [inset]
Liza Marshall with the the Smokey Turtle Band vocalist Ali MacKenzie [inset]
Perhaps it is no surprise that Liza covered the Marvin Hamlisch James Bond number [with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager] — “Nobody Does It Better.”

Her voice is well suited to this type of vigorous hymn. With sexy cassis-flavoured low-notes, this number sent goosebumps down our spine and earned the biggest applause of the evening. Continuing this Carly theme, a James Taylor song was also covered.

An original Ray Peters song was performed with clarity and energy, and the set played out with a smooth rendition of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” the 1966 Motown Records number made famous by Marvin Gaye.

In the second half of the show we were entertained by special guest vocalist Ali MacKenzie [his ALI MAC BAND have played the Riverside Club, see here for review) and when Liza returned to the stage we enjoyed a sensual version of “When a Man Loves a Woman” a song that was first recorded by Percy Sledge in 1966. [Sledge died in April last year.]

The show was, more-or-less, wrapped up with the George Harrison number “Here Comes the Sun” — a song that was written not far from here, in the country house of Eric Clapton. Liza performed this as a solemn prayer of supplication (after a week of dark, cloudy misery) rather than the contemplative meditation that had been outlined by the “dark horse” back in 1969. The arrangement was moving and effective.

This was music of the very highest calibre, with some excellent guitar-work and imaginative, sometimes jazzy, development and paraphrasing of much-loved and familiar songs. All brought to brilliant life by a truly transcendent singer.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2016 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/TheRayPetersBand/

 

WHITE_SQUARE_20

WHITE_SQUARE_20

 

Sentimentality Mixed with Power — THE ALI MAC BAND

THE ALI MAC BAND features vocalist Ali MacKenzie, who was the original singer with the legendary R&B group The Birds.

The Birds were a popular Brit band during the mid-1960s and were famous for having guitarist Ronnie Wood in their line-up. Another famous member of The Birds was Ronnie’s old comrade, the bassist Kim Gardner — who went on to have a success in 1971 with ‘Ashton, Gardner & Dyke‘ and the “Resurrection Shuffle.”

The fall of The Birds came in 1965, when the Los Angeles band — The Byrds — began to dominate the UK Chart. The Birds manager, Leo de Clerck, tried to take legal action to prevent the Americans from using the name. But his action failed. In 1967 the British group disbanded… Ronnie Wood went off to join The Creation with Gardner (1968.)

Now Ali MacKenzie (who reminds us, by the way, of a cross between Leo Sayer and David Essex) has formed his own ‘super-group’ consisting of rock’s most resilient survivors.

We saw the super-group performing at the Staines Riverside Club this week. The line-up includes Strawbs drummer Richard Hudson, Glitter Band bassist Bill Phillips, and Renaissance guitarist Simon Bishop. The band plays a selection of good-time rhythm and blues, with generous handfuls of soul and rock ‘n’ roll.

Ali MacKenzie (vocals) with Richard Hudson (drums) at Staines Riverside Club - "Heartfelt soul and eloquence..."
Ali MacKenzie (vocals) with Richard Hudson (drums) at Staines Riverside Club – “Heartfelt soul and eloquence…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a Little Bit‘ the Rosco Gordon R&B classic (1959) — but probably better known as an Animals (and, later, Slade ) hit — was the first song in the Ali Mac repertoire that really showed-off the true nature of the band… it revealed their emotional commitment. This song was filled with soul and eloquence right from the start — with some fine guitar-play by the extraordinarily creative Simon, plus a stirring reverberation in Ali’s voice that sent chill-waves through our hearts.

Another cover that made us sit-up-and-take-notice was the famous Little Feat number ‘Willin‘ (Lowell George) which had the perfect chemistry — sentimentality mixed with power. This song had some excellent guitar, wonderful percussion and a dramatic and intelligent voice.

The band’s renditions tended to be inventive and creative, not sticking to established formats — so even old & familiar songs became fresh and unpredictable.

The second half of their show was not as strong as the first (in our opinion). Maybe it was concern about an imminent fire that caused a lack of concentration. “I smell smoke …” Announced Ali. And we waited, temporarily (and sensibly) while all the amplifiers were checked.

The band’s on fire…” Yelled out one helpful punter!

The second half of the show had some curious choices (for a four-piece band that do not have resources such as rhythm guitar or keyboards) so covers of Little Richard and Lynyrd Skynyrd songs seemed thin and scattered.

We preferred the easy-smooth soul numbers that the band performed so eloquently in the first half. Those numbers seemed more consistent. Far more suitable.

No matter, this was another tip-top evening of high quality music, lovingly crafted by consummate professionals — and held at this precious Staines music venue.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2015 ©
Come and Check Out Steve Morrison & Alan Glen with BLUES ABUSE on Thursday 17th December. Not to be missed!