A new 4 x CD collection from the small British record label Weinerworld collects ninety-six previously unreleased masters and demos from fifteen of those bands that sat on the undercard of 1960s blues clubs such as The Marquee in London, the Nag’s Head in High Wycombe, The Ealing Club and the Railway in Harrow. In comparison to the likes of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, Free, Alexis Korner and Chicken Shack, names such as Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts, Simon and Steve, Al Jones, The Nighthawks and Shakey Vick’s Big City Blues Band might not be more than footnotes in the history of British R & B. But they shared the same stages, the same songs and, sometimes, the same players as the bigger, better-known bands.
Something Inside Of Me, released last month, brings together a diverse selection of unreleased songs by these artists mostly from 1965 to 1968.
For those of you who have read my book Fleetwood Mac In The 1970s, you’ll recall that the mercurial talent of Danny Kirwan was a key element of the post-Peter Green, pre-Buckingham Nicks version of the band. Kirwan, with his band Boilerhouse, supported Fleetwood Mac as early as late 1967 – he was seventeen years old and his talent was considerable: Mac’s producer Mike Vernon later noted “Danny was outstanding. He played with an almost scary intensity. He had a guitar style that wasn’t like anyone else I’d heard in England.”
Kirwan was quickly co-opted into Fleetwood Mac. As a ‘farewell’ to Boilerhouse, the band recorded five tracks as a private memento in August 1968 at Dalmain Music Studios in Dulwich. Kirwan had just turned eighteen. Even after 53 years, these primitive recordings shimmer with life. The instrumental version of Otis Rush ‘All Your Love’ – as performed by Peter Green with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – displays a sensitivity of touch that astonishes. One can imagine Green hearing this in a smoky blues club in London and falling for Kirwan’s intense talent.
The collection as whole is uneven – there is a reason why many of these artists did not break though – but it opens the lid on a fascinating period in British music. A 150-page book accompanies the set. It is fully illustrated with most of the images having never before been published. Sessionography details, press clippings and posters are included, many reproduced here for the first time.