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Renowned British blues guy Alexis Korner had something of a prolific career up to his untimely passing at the start of 1984. Along with a later, concurrent career in broadcasting, he performed within various bands and ensembles with luminaries and legends in the making, such as Jimmy Page, Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, John Mayall, as well as irrefutably one of the most seminal artists of the twenty first century, Jimi Hendrix. It seems Korner was a widely respected, much lauded guitarist so, just a few months after his death, a tribute show for the man took place on 5th June at The Palais in Nottingham, with a ten piece band that featured musicians with whom he’d been associated over the years. Cue Jimmy Page; Jack Bruce; Ian Stewart; Charlie Watts; Paul Jones; Roger Sutton; Ruby Turner; et al. With the gig originally broadcast on Radio Trent, here we have its release on the CD format across two discs, billed under the attention grabbing, ‘Jimmy Page & Friends’.

An unnamed person (simply listed within the digipak as ‘Intro - Non Musical Content’) appears on stage prior to the band’s entrance, and speaks to the crowd about the essence of the evening: “Firstly, to pay tribute to Alexis Korner for everything that he did for the British music scene… Secondly, to raise money for Cancer Research… And thirdly, because of the person that Alexis was, this shouldn’t be a sad occasion; it’s a celebration of the fact that he was here in the first place, and it’s a party.” What transpires across the two discs does, indeed, feel like a celebration through music. Blues with a brass section is the order of the day, and this illustrious ensemble sound like they were having a blast with the songs, including versions of tracks by the likes of Robert Johnson, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Muddy Waters. This is mainly old style blues here so don’t expect a rocked up Page-led outing as implied by the branding of this release. It’s all about the ensemble, but I guess Page’s name and photo on the front will garner a lot more attention. And rightfully so, as it states within the package that, “All artists’ royalties are paid to Cancer Research”.

Sound-wise, there’s zero info available about what kind of clean-up work took place, but the recordings sound in very decent shape. Despite a few wobbles here and there (notably, early on in ‘Sweet Home Chicago’), all tracks have a great stereo mix and a resonant sound, with a nice mastering job. Sure, it doesn’t sparkle with all kinds of modern dynamics but, for what it is, it sounds pretty good. And the retro nature of the sound kind of fits the retro nature of the music that Page and co. perform. Overall then, a very commendable release of a long-lost rarity. Well worth checking out, whether you be a Korner fan, a Zeppelin aficionado, a Stones buff, or just like old blues.
Angel Air
Review by Mark Holmes
57:54 & 55:30
29th November 2019
CD1: 1) Intro; 2) Sweet Home Chicago; 3) When it All Comes Down; 4) Early Morning Groove; 5) Introducing the Band; 6) Bring it On Home; 7) How Long Blues; 8) Blue Monday; 9) Let the Good Times Roll; 10) Stormy Monday; 11) Splanky
12) Big Boss Man
CD2: 1) My Countey Man; 2) Million Dollar Secret; 3) River's Invitation; 4) Jimmy Page Jam; 5) Money's Getting Cheaper; 6) King of All I Survey; 7) Got My Mojo Working; 8) Every Day I Have the Blues; 9) Encore Intro; 10) Hoochie Koochie Man
"...a very commendable release of a long-lost rarity."