A few months ago, a chance meeting on a music discussion forum led to an actual meeting in London and the release of a Gordon Beck 3CD 1964-84 anthology and a single CD set of unreleased gold from Joy Marshall (d.1970) backed by the Gordon Beck Quartet (with John McLaughlin) from spring 1968: ‘When Sunny Gets Blues’ – out now with notes from Simon Spillet and and recommended. That in turn led me to explore a seam of McLaughlin research I had somehow missed: Gordon Beck’s recordings for the BBC in that brief period in which John was among his circle of collaborators.
It proved a very rich seam indeed: between March and May 1968, Gordon’s Quartet with John recorded around five hours of music for the corporation, backing singers Mark Murphy and Joy Marshall along with numerous instrumentals. Most of it drifted out on late-night radio 2 shows hosted by the likes of Terry Wogan…
‘Echoes From Then’, my second book on John, with a substantial series of discographies, sessionographies and concert listings (only four known with Gordon Beck), was already printed. I’m currently awaiting delivery of a second printing with a new 5,000-word Addendum detailing the Beck Quartet BBC sessions and a few other late items.
The new Addendum to ‘Echoes From Then’ is also available here as a typeset free download: http://colin-harper.com/…/06/ECHOES-FROM-THEN-addendum.pdf
And yet more amazingly, to me at least, for all the trawling of British music papers I’ve done in the past, only last week I came across for the first time a photo of John McLaughlin in ‘Melody Maker’ 11/1/69 – albeit the size of a postage stamp – on a page highlighting 14 acts or individuals in jazz, rock and cabaret to look out for in 1969. It is, I believe, the only McLaughlin photo in any British music paper prior to 1970.
These 14 acts tipped for some kind of success were (in the ‘good call’ camp): Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum, Yes, Led Zeppelin, the Liverpool Scene, Phillip Goodhand-Tait, Mike Osborne, Al Stewart, Billy Cobham, John McLaughlin. Okay, some of those took a few years to make an impact but others did so that year. In the ‘perhaps not…’ camp we had: also-ran Irish rockers Eire Apparent, fleetingly popular jazz guitarist Amancio D’Silva (whose two LPs of 1969 are now valued at £600 and £1000, giving some idea of how many were sold at the time), instantly forgotten cabaret artiste Oriel Clare, utterly unknown band The Web, and Caribbean duo Root & Jenny Johnson.
That’s a pretty good hit rate. And in featuring both Billy Cobham (then besuited drummer with Horace Silver’s Quintet) and John McLaughlin (on the cusp of his first solo LP ‘Extrapolation’ being released, but also on the cusp of emigrating to New York where his star would swiftly ascend), it brings a smile to a fusion biographer’s face. Here, on one page, probably seen at the time by neither man – and with the pair very likely never having met at this point – was a glimpse of the soon-coming partnership that would make the Mahavishnu Orchestra the most awe-inspiring musical act of their day (1971-73). Amazing…
I’ll create a video montage for one of the Joy Marshall & GBQ tracks in due course. Meanwhile, here’s a performance from her on Dutch TV in 1965 with Rob Madna on piano and a small orchestra: