Friday, 6 February 2015

winds of change and the scotch of st james

In spring 1965 a new club opened in what looked like a fairly typical West End public house. "The Scotch Of St James" was to become the centre of London for the next year or so, where rock stars and anyone who was anyone gravitated to the place as a matter of course.
Some of the northern groups had made the pilgrimage south to the city during the Beat Boom of 64 and like the other London bands, hanging out in between gigs in the West End (or Soho) where "The Scotch" was located (13 Masons Yard to be precise) was part of the off duty schedule. Just yards away from the unassuming exterior of "The Scotch" was the art gallery John Lennon first met Yoko. In very short time Masons Yard had become the bohemian hotspot of the West End. A couple of hundred yards away Soho begins proper where properties at the time were easy to get and affordable to rent. Hendrix on first arriving in the UK is said to have had his first flat near the market in Berwick St.
Jimi had first arrived in London at the beginning of September 1966 and took little time in making straight for the in-crowd and first played at "The Scotch" on 24 September. As someone once said the Swinging 60's was really just about 400 trendy people with everyone else looking on. It's a dead certainty that those 400 had ended up in "The Scotch" at one time or another during 1966.
Chris Welch, journalist with Melody Maker at the time -

    "Many groups shared apartments and flats for a while, including The Animals. But not for long. You can imagine the fights and rows after a hard days' night revelling and jamming. But to make sure he didn't miss any of the action, Eric Burdon got his own flat above the Scotch of St James, one of the West End's trendiest night clubs, where he could literally drop in and catch Jimi Hendrix jamming and share a brandy or three with The Rolling Stones and The Beatles".
By December 1966 the original Animals had split, with now Burdon entranced by Hendrix and the ever evolving London scene he mixed with at the club, had changed his musical ideas away from driving r&b beat and by 1967 formed the New Animals and his version of the new psychedelia in California, moving there that year. By June 1967, Hendrix, Burdon and many of the musicians and bands that had hung out at the "The Scotch" less than 12 months earlier were now lining up at The Monterey Pop Festival along with the American bands of Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, The Mammas and Pappas etc and marking the first real sign of the Summer Of Love and that Love Generation.
Monterey was to be Hendrix's debut in America with the Experience, who along with The Who, had been recommended to the organisers by McCartney when the Beatles declined an offer to play the festival. Which was hardly surprising given The Beatles were by now a studio concept only.
That year Hendrix released - Are You Experienced and Axis Bold AS Love, The Beatles - Sgt Pepper, The Rolling Stones - Her Satanic Majesties Request, Eric Burdon and the New Animals - Winds Of Change.
Burdon's barmy take on psychedelia and probably the lesser known of the bunch had him reciting poems and beat like pros against sitars, guitars and all manner of stuff on one side with a heavier psyche blues rock on the other. The idea of it was crazy. The idea of it also being born in it's embryonic form in some small West End bar 10 months earlier was completely crazy.

Eric Burdon & the Animals - Winds of Change has just been re-released on 180 Gram Vinyl (and CD) as a mono edition. We're also reliably informed by the Audiophile LP Round-Up in Record Collector that hearing it on a record deck with a specialist mono cartridge makes all the difference.
Oh yeah and where the dickens do you get one of those from? Anyway the album is available from Sundazed

The photograph at the top of The Scotch Of St James was purloined from Kathy Etchingham's website who was Jimi Hendrix's girlfriend at the time and also has some rather fun stories taken from her book.