Friday, March 13, 2009

Lost and Found- UK Soul Band KOKOMO (1975)

In 1974 I was in the USAF stationed in the UK, and as told in an earlier post was in attendance of Alvin Lee's solo appearance at the RAINBOW in London for the recording of his live album IN FLIGHT. Among his backup band were former KING CRIMSON sax player Mel Collins, bassist Alan Spenner (formerly of JOE COCKER and THE GREASE BAND, and singers Dyan Birch, Paddie McHugh, and Frank Collins. I was impressed with the group, and was surprised to find that they were among the main components of a blue eyed soul band called Kokomo.

The other members of Kokomo were Neil Hubbard, guitar; former guitarist with BRIAN AUGER'S OBLIVION EXPRESS Jim Mullen; Joan Linscott on congas; Terry Stannard , drums; and Tony O'Malley piano and lead vocals. The group was breaking in right about the same time as other blue eyed soul acts, likeThe Average White Band and Hall and Oates, they were very talented, and appeared poised for great success in the UK. There was alot of buzz at the time about a new sound of "pub rockers", among them Hatfield and The North, Brinsley Schwartz, and Kilbourn and the High Roads. Kokomo went on the so called "Naughty Rhythms Tour" in early 1975...and that's when I saw the group at the CORN EXCHANGE in Cambridge, along with Dr. Feelgood and Chili Willi and the Red Hot Peppers.

That was one of the greatest and most memorable shows I have ever seen in 30 plus years of concert going. The place erupted into a dance party...Paddy, Frankie, and Dyan were superb, as was Tony. And there was no better sax player on the planet than Mel Collins. I bought their first album returned to the States, and championed their cause to anyone willing to listen.

Sadly, success was not to be for Kokomo. By 1977 the group had split, with most members going on to other projects, most notably Tony O'Malley joining 10cc for one of their last hits, The Things We Do For Love, and then on to a solo career.

They reunited briefly in the late 1980's, and members of the group still get together and perform as KOKOMO to a devoted following in Europe.

Below are some You Tube vids...leading off, from the self titled first album isAngel sung by Paddie McHugh, with slide show of the group, then and now.

Next, an audio only of the late Alan Spenner singing I'm Sorry Babe

Finally, a couple of videos from Tony O'Malley, with a recent reunion of original members Tony, Frankie, Paddy, Dyan, Mel,and Neil performing Bobby Womack's I Can Understand It in two parts....ENJOY!!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you have very good taste, my friend, to have recognized the musicianship on display at that alvin lee gig. i followed kokomo around london for a couple of years after discovering them in early 1973. i quickly gave up trying to champion them in the states -- certain musicians "got it," but few others at the time warmed to kokomo's funky soul music. btw, kokomo were captured at their very best on "to be cool," a CD of one of their early rehearsals -- taped before some key players were fired in an attempt to follow AWB's footsteps in the U.S.

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