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Two Faces of Fame / Third Face of Fame
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  • Georgie Fame is one of the most fascinating personalities and restless musicians ever to emerge from the British music scene of the early '60s, and continues his adventures in the 21st century -- most notably as a sideman with Van Morrison, who's lucky to have him. In any case, the BGO (Beat Goes On) label, which specializes in prime reissues, has done a wonder job here. While it's true that Fame's records have been reissued here and there since the dawn of CDs, most of what is available currently (2006) are compilations of his early- and mid-'60s hits. That's all well and good because the man released some real smokers. But it's not the same as being able to listen to the process, to be able to engage an entire album as it was assembled. And these two offerings, The Two Faces of Fame from 1967 and The Third Face of Fame from 1968, are fine examples. The former is named The Two Faces of Fame in that the first side was a live date with killer selections like his boss reads of "Greenback Dollar Bill," "River's Invitation," and "Bluesology." The second side, recorded in the studio, contains the stomping B-3 and horn-driven soul of "El Pussycat" and a couple of standards in Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen's "It Could Happen to You" and Rodgers & Hart's "Do It the Hard Way." The next album, The Third Face of Fame, contains Fame's only Stateside hit in his awesomely old-school vaudevillian "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde." Whereas Flatt & Scruggs were enjoying chart success -- again -- for "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," on the opening tune here Fame covered the Peter Callander and Mitch Murray song that told the entire story. And with horns, an upright piano, and a hip little bassline, he did a hepcat update of the old nugget and it was a smash. Other tracks include "Bullets Laverne," "St. James Infirmary" (which digs deep into the blues), Lennon and McCartney's "When I'm Sixty-Four," and Donovan's "Mellow Yellow." This is a great grab-bag of prime Fame and a fine place to start. ~ Thom Jurek
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