Bond. Graham Bond
Listen – Graham Bond- Love Is the Law – MP3
Listen – Graham Bond- The Naz – MP3
I’m back from the road with a bellyful of lobster and a stack of new (old) vinyl.
The digging aspect of our journey was especially fruitful for the coffers of Iron Leg, with the acquisition of a fair amount of pop, rock and psych stuff, including a couple of want list items that will surely be featured in this space as soon as I get it all digi-ma-tized.
The tune I bring you today is something I picked up years ago because of the label.
Pulsar records was a California based imprint that was a home away from home for a number of New Orleans expatriates like Mac Rebennack (aka Dr John) and Jesse Hill.
When I saw a Graham Bond* 45 on Pulsar, my first instinct was that it might contain within its grooves a helping of Hammond Heat. Bond was one of the first wave of UK R&Beat organ masters with the Graham Bond Organisation (which included a young pair by the names of Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker) recorded some true heat, including one of my all time faves, the scorching ‘Harmonica’.
Bond’s early work is truly deserving of a wider audience, lacking in his own time likely due to his own anti-rockstar persona – Bond was a portly Oliver Hardy lookalike – and today to a lack of proper representation on the reissue market.
After tearing it up with R&B and the blues, Bond immersed himself in the occult (a devotee of Aleister Crowley) and moved to the US, where he met (and later married) singer Diane Stewart (also an occultist and the composer of today’s selection) and recorded two LPs for Pulsar.
The tune I bring you today , ‘Love Is the Law’ takes its title from one of the main precepts of Crowley’s cosmology, which he called Thelema.
The tune itself is a vaguely psych-y number with a typically wailing vocal by Bond. The music itself is atypical for those familiar with Bond’s earlier work. Though Bond does work the Hammond here, the most prominent sound is that of the Mellotron (which I’ve seen a reference which claims Bond was the first rock musician to use one), and the overall vibe is a lot more hippy and trippy. I’ve read that Bond played all of the instruments on this album, aside from the drums which were played by session master Hal Blaine.
The flip side of the single, and instrumental entitled ‘The Naz’ (one would assume that Crowley was borrowing from the mighty Lord Buckley) is a touch jazzier, with Bond doubling on organ and saxophone**.
After his time in the US Bond’s drug and psychological problems worsened. His life ended in 1974, an apparent suicide under the wheels of a train.
I hope you dig the tune(s) and I’ll be back later in the week with some proto-garage.
*I don’t know why, but the Pulsar 45s have his name spelled with an “e” at the end…
**Like the great Charles Earland, Bond was initially a sax man before moving on to the Hammond