Take One: Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation – ‘Stone Crazy’ – Stewart, Green, Bruce -‘Crazy Blue’

by | Sep 18, 2020 | 0 comments

In the midst of the swelling white boy British blues boom of
the 1960’s there was a plethora of cross pollination between artists, bands and
songs. The guitarist’s chairs were almost always spinning as now legendary pickers bounded from group to group in addition to starting their own bands. Starting with  ‘Alexis Korner’s, Blues Incorporated and moving into and through the ‘Stones’ and ‘Yardbirds’’ in the early part of the 60’s, a number of
collaborative efforts followed suit. In the November of 1967 one of these short lived ‘supergroups’ came together, oh so briefly. Aynsley Dunbar, at this point drummer for ‘John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, then the ‘Jeff Beck Group’ and later of Zappa’s ‘Mother’s of Invention’ pulled together his own side project using a few of the musical connections he had made along the way.

In a lineup that is almost too good to be believed, Dunbar
enlisted Rod ‘the Mod’ Stewart who was later his band mate in the Jeff Beck Group to take
over vocal duties. He also asked Peter Green recently defected from John
Mayall’s Bluesbreaker to play lead guitar, and for Jack Bruce bassist for Graham
Bond Organization the Bluesbreakers, and most currently at the time ‘Cream’ to assist.
This aforementioned group was the blueprint for the first Aynsley Dunbar
Retaliation and for this particular session the band was believed to be named ‘Crazy Blue’. Obviously all of the participants of the band were soo to be in preparation
to springboard into bands of their own design. 
Stewart eventually to Faces, Green to found Fleetwood Mac, Bruce already in
Cream and Dunbar in a band that carried his name and later banging the kit Frank
Zappa.

This loose conglomerate of a band joined for one legendary and historic session in
November of 1967 which reportedly took place for the Blue Horizon’s label. Two
songs and three attempts were taken at recording a single for the band. ‘Stone
Crazy’ had two attempts and ‘Fly Right Baby’ with Jack Bruce playing piano had one and remains as of this writing unreleased. Who knows the actual reasons for the short term aspect of the band but one can assume that contractual obligations had something to do with it ending before it started. The subject of today’s ‘rock rant’ is the only track that exists for our ears from the session, ‘Stone Crazy’.

The song is a slow blues taken for leisurely drive on dark rain pocked cobblestone streets. Green’s candied tone is immediately recognizable as the
track begins to reveals itself. Bruce grumbles a idiosyncratic bass line with a
painter’s attention to detail. Dunbar holds it all together with a patient 12
bar on the hi hat and snare. Stewart soon comes in for the intro verse and the thougth crosses my mind that
he could have been the best white blues singer ever, if he chose to follow that
path.

Deftly weaving lyrics, with some that would later find a
home on the Jeff Beck Group track, ‘Blues Deluxe’ Stewart makes ya feel it, playing with husky dynamics while extracting a deep feeling from the groove like a blood draw.
  Peter
Green answers Stewart’s calls with silvery stringy bends. Green leaves just enough breathing room for each riff to marinate in your ears. It’s a fact that these British musicians held the American blues musicians in such high regard that their recreations can be nothing but authentic. While this song’s authorship cannot be determined, it is a straight blues with lyrical content hailing from an number of sources which was typical of the time.

First solo break Bruce and Green stream their respective
licks from the musical maypole. Bruce thumps with a puffed out chest while descending in time, growling out the changes.
In his typical fashion Green conjures a solo that amazes and medicates while
emanating a deep understanding of the blues. Patient, sugary, sleek like liquid night. The song rocks gently with a
secretive strength, the unique musical ability of each principal eliciting a power that does not require flash or musical posturing.

       Pic : Lars-Ewe Nilsson

Following the solo break Stewart returns with a sensual and gritty whisper. Regardless of your opinion of Stewart, it get’s you feeling funny and funky. Stewart follows the aforementioned lyric with an aggressive demanding response, one begging
to prove his love. Green tickles the fretboard with a scurrying yet perfectly slotted lick. The final lyric Stewart giggles during the break, a fitting end to what sounds and feels like a enjoyable exploration of the blues and a tentative musical relationship.

One track, five minutes, but a musical eternity contained within. Each member of this short lived conglomerate would go on to their own musical fame. Dunbar would go on to release a series of solo LP’s, in addition to each respective member of this particular group. But for a couple of shared moments and one powerful track that has revealed itself to listeners they got it together for a legendary what if?

STONE CRAZY – 1967 

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