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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Nine Below Zero Live at The Marquee Special Edition - OCT 22nd 2012

Live albums generally don't often count as anything but a filler inbetween the recordings of the old album and a new album and so it is a rare thing when the debut album of a band is a live release.

This was the case with South London Blues band Nine Below Zero. Originally formed in 1977 as Stan's Blues Band, for two solid years they built up a steady following around the pub and club circuit. In 1979 Mickey Modern became their manager after witnessing them lay down their blues magic at the Thomas A Beckett in the Old Kent Road. A name change and a connection to A&M Records via their new manger the band went full time in 1980 and on June 16th 1980 they played The Marquee Club in Soho and recorded what would become their debut classic.

What they were doing of course was not new, bands like Doctor Feelgood and even Eddie and the Hot Rods had blazed the trail for good old fashioned Rhythm and Blues between 1975 and 1976 prior to the explosion of punk. Nine Below Zero were doing it at a time when the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was rearing it's ugly head with bands like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Angelwitch, Samson, Tygers of Pang Tang, and many more ruling the live circuit, and so they seemed just a little out of step. But their shows were always packed from front to back with folks young and old enjoying the sound of the blues.

The debut release was a showcase of their talents mixing Blues standards like the brilliant Otis Rush track,  'I Can't Quit You Baby' with 1960's Motown classics like 'Can I Get a Witness' and 'I Can't Help Myself' and you can feel the energy of the crowd on a hot sweaty night in the Soho club.

It's great to see this album getting reissued and even better seeing that it actually contains the full set list (7 extra tracks) and a DVD as well. I have to admit to not remembering there being cameras at the show but I know that there's an old VHS Video that had done the rounds for many years of a performance at the Marquee Club that was broadcast on Italian TV and until I receive the album in the post I don't know if it's the same thing or wether or not that it was actually filmed the same night as the album was recorded. Whatever the case, it is in my mind one of the finest live albums (and I think that's just inspired me to do a few blogs about other great live albums) and hopefully it can be something that introduces the Blues to a new audience just like it did back in the day.

The Marquee Club 90 Wardour Street W1 in 1978
Marquee advert for one of the many 9 Below Zero shows (take note of Monday 15th Sept show by U2, this was one of the shows that was a part of their residency at the club)

Here's the track listing for the reissue and those highlighted in red are links to some audio and visual (the live vids are from the previously mentioned Italian TV VHS).
1) Tore Down
2) Straighten Her Out
3) Homework
4) I Can't Help Myself
5) Can I Get A Witness
6) Ridin' On The L&N
7) I Can't Quit You Baby
8) Stop You Naggin'
9) Hootchie Cootchie Coo
10) Wooly Bully
11) Got My Mojo Working
12) Pack Fair and Square
13) Watch Yourself
14) Swing Job

"The Encore"

15) Rocket 88
16) (Just A) Little Bit
17) Twenty Yards Behind
18) Stormy Monday
19) Is That You
20) Keep on Knocking
21) Madison Blues

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