Brian Knight – A Dark Horse
A while back, I got an email from Boppin, sharing a new LP he’d got. I saw the list of players and knew I had to have a copy too, so not long after, my own copy arrived at the KMA’s Eastern offices. Time passed. We discussed doing simultaneous reviews on our sites the same day, always an idea I love. More time passed without this dual posting. But here we are today, finally with our act together and rarin’ to go!
First, the players.
– Brian Knight [vox, slide, harp] [bio bit at bottom of post]
– Geoff Bradford [Long John Baldry, Alexis Korner, etc]
– Peter Green [Fleetwood Mac, etc]
– Charlie Hart [just about everybody, it seems]
– Dick Heckstall-Smith [just about everybody, it seems]
– Ian Stewart [pianist for some band out of England]
– Art Theman [Jack Bruce, Alexis Korner, etc] [also: orthopaedic surgeon]
– Geraint Watkins [Nick Lowe, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, etc]
– Charlie Watts [drumer for some band out of England]
Other performers: Chris Tulloch, Dana Gillespie, Dave Farrell, Ed Deane, Geoff Bradford, George Kahn, Gillian Hogman, Jimmy Season, John Evans, Laurence Scott, Les Morgan, Mickie Waller, Pete Hogman, Simon Bladon, Troy Blakely, Valerie Dunn.
Right, now we got that out of the way. Lemme tell you how fucking amazing this LP is. Because it is fucking amazing.
You know how, sometimes, you wanna hear the blues and you want it done by folks who know what the hell they are doing? Like, no imitations, no 8th-remove blues wannabes, you want the real damn thing? This record has it in spades. It has soul, it swings, it’s jazzy, and it’s straight out of the club circuit and that amazing melting pot of bands and musicians in England in the 60s. And all this despite this album having been recorded in 1980. This is as if we’ve been transported back to that magic time, revelling in the joy to be found here.
As for what’s on this LP of bliss, all I gotta do is list the tracks for you…
Going Down Slow ~
Bring Your Corn To Me
Trouble In Mind
Honey Bee ^
Blues Is Rock And Roll
Mannish Boy ^
Got The Blues 4 U
Good Morning Blues *
Cabin In The Sky
Bright Lights, Big City %
~ St. Louis Jimmy
^ Muddy Waters
* Leadbelly (Huddie Leadbetter)
% Jimmy Reed
Any questions? Well, how about you try out a track? Give ‘er!
Also, I found this obit online, for more on Brian Knight…
Brian Knight, who has died of cancer aged 61 (in 2001), was a wonderful guitarist who came from that late-1950s repertory company of musicians who provided the cast for the 60s British rhythm and blues boom, but achieved little fame – or money – from it.
At the beginning of the 60s, he met Brian Jones at an Ealing r ‘n’ b club. Jones was forming a band, and Brian became its vocalist; but Brian was a devotee of Muddy Waters, while Jones favoured Chuck Berry, and down such sectarian divisions the band plunged. Jones departed for what became the Rolling Stones while Brian created Blues By Six. Electric blues was supplanting the “trad” jazz craze, and in clubs BBS – featuring drummer Charlie Watts – became immensely popular, and also backed touring American bluesmen. Overworked Watts, still holding down a day job, moved on, to Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated.
Brian was working class, born in north-west London. In the early 1950s, a radio era dominated by crooners, what impressed him was the black American blues singer Josh White, and interest had been sparked. In the mid-1950s, he got his first job as a panel beater in a London garage. Also employed there was the pioneer British blues harmonica player, Cyril Davies.
Davies invited Brian to visit the Wardour Street Roundhouse pub – the venue for Davies and Korner’s London Skiffle Club and the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club. It was there that Brian heard Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and Muddy Waters. He was there the night that Big Bill Broonzy had to be extricated from a passionate, if over-enthusiastic, Margaret Mead, the anthropologist, and he helped cart Bill off to my Waterloo flat.
In those days, aficionados of American music headed to its source by the cheapest route, by signing up on a merchant ship. So, like the jazzman Ken Colyer, a New Orleans enthusiast, Brian headed west. He spent two years in the US coastal trade, from the Gulf of Mexico to Maine, learning guitar and absorbing the music, visiting black clubs and gospel halls.
Back home in 1957 he played his first gig, at the White Hart in Southall. He turned down an invitation from Korner to join Blues Incorporated, as a vocalist. But then came Brian Jones and BBS.
The times did not treat Brian kindly. In 1964 Cyril Davies died of leukaemia. Two years later an exhausted Brian quit the music business and bought a garage. In 1967 he married Davies’s widow, Marie. He continued to work with bands, perfecting a slide guitar technique that earned the respect of musicians like Ronnie Wood, Peter Green and Eric Clapton – who recorded with him.
And then there was Terry and McGhee. Brian had the habit of showing up on their tours – and at their after-show jam sessions. One night, at the Half Moon pub in Putney in 1975, the two Americans were playing when in walked Brian. McGhee put down his guitar, and switched to piano. He was not playing, he announced, when “there was a proper guitarist” around.
In his later years he played acoustic guitar and harmonica in East Anglian pubs, inviting local musicians to join him on stage. Brian was an outstanding musician, and if his life history was closer to those of the black Americans who were his inspiration than those of the rock stars who admired him, well, that is perhaps the way he would have preferred it.
He is survived by Marie, their two daughters and his stepdaughter and stepson.
· Brian Knight, guitarist, born October 14 1939; died September 25 2001