The Peddlers (back to front) Tab Martin, Roy Phillips, Trevor Morais
Listen – The Peddlers – What’ll I Do – MP3
Listen – The Peddlers – Delicious Lady – MP3
If you’ve been reading the Funky16Corners Blog for the last year or so you’ll already be well acquainted with my ongoing love affair with the Peddlers. Between the dawn of the Beat era and the early 70s the Peddlers – Roy Phillips (organ, vocals), Trevor Morais (drums) and Tab Martin (bass) recorded some of the most consistently interesting sounds to come out of the UK.
They also covered one of the widest stylistic ranges of almost any group I can think of, while managing to also be consistently good (two qualities that are often mutually exclusive).
There was always a jazzy edge to their sound – Phillips was a madman on the Hammond as well as a dynamite scat singer – but they managed to apply that basic building block to everything from pure R&Beat, Hammond grooves, pop, soul and progressive funk with equal facility.
As a result, the Peddlers are for me the ultimate group in that I could feature different tunes from different stages of their career on either Funky16Corners or Iron Leg.
The tunes I bring you today come from the mid-60s, both appearing on the Fontana LP ‘The Fantastic Peddlers’.
The top side of the 45 is a cover of an extremely old Irving Berlin song which also happens to be a favorite of mine.
The tune has a beautiful, wistful melody when taken at the traditional pace, but the Peddlers reframe it – with what I can only perceive of as a huge tip of the hat to Georgie Fame – in the style of Fame’s ‘Yeh Yeh’. The Georgie Fame reference is an important one. I can’t say for sure who came first, or if Fame influenced the Peddlers or if they were coming at a similar sound from the same roots, but if you dig Fame you should be out digging for the Peddlers.
This is not to say that they’re exactly the same either. Whereas Georgie Fame’s vocals draw heavily on sources like Fats Domino and Mose Allison, Roy Phillips was nothing if not dramatic, coming at almost everything with a fiery, Ray Charles influenced edge that Fame often lacked.
This contrast is displayed perfectly on the flipside of ‘What’ll I Do’, the Peddlers’ original ‘Delicious Lady’. There’s a vaguely Latin underpinning to the tune with driving bass and drums pushing the tune between the stop/start sections. It helps that both sides were produced by none other than the legendary Keith Mansfield.
Interestingly enough, both the Peddlers and Fame recorded versions of Teddy Randazzo’s ‘Let the Sunshine In’. I have no idea who covered it first.
I’ve only ever seen one video of the Peddlers, taken from a 1971 episode of the Roger Whittaker Show, tearing up ‘Walk On the Wild Side’, with Trevor Morais absolutely kicking ass on the drums. In addition to their experimentation in the studio, they were clearly a formidable live band. If anyone knows of a source for any other video of the group, please drop me a line.
That said, you can count on hearing more of the Peddlers on both blogs.
I hope you dig these tunes and I’ll be back on Monday.