Alexis Korner was a blues fan from an early age, and in the 1950s he met up with harmonica player Cyril Davies. The two performed together in London jazz clubs, and then opened their own venue in 1955 - The London Blues & Barrelhouse Club. The club regularly featured various visiting American blues artists, and Korner became known as one of the first champions of American blues music in Britain.
In 1961 Korner and Davis formed Blues Incorporated, featuring a non-permanent cast of upcoming British blues musicians (and many talented jazz players as well). Their first album, R&B From The Marquee, recorded and released in 1962, consisted of some gritty, raw blues played with convincing authenticity. The line-up consisted of Korner (guitar), Davies (vocals/harmonica), Long John Baldry (vocals), Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax), Keith Scott (piano), Spike Heatley (acoustic bass) and Graham Burbridge (drums). The vocals were shared by Davies and Baldry, the former singing five songs and the latter three (the other four songs were instrumentals).
The album unsurprisingly was not a commercial success, but proved highly influential in the then-upcoming British blues scene. Many of the musicians went on to great things - Long John Baldry in particular had commercial success through the 60s and beyond. Dick Heckstall-Smith went on to play with the Graham Bond Organization, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Colosseum. Cyril Davies left Blues Incorporated after this one album and formed his own group, the Cyril Davies All Stars, but he died in 1964.
R&B From The Marquee is often referred to as the first British blues album, and for a brief time Blues Incorporated were the standard bearers of the genre in Britain. However their legion of young fans were soon to eclipse them in popularity, as The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Animals and others brought American blues to the British pop market.
|> At The Cavern (1964)
More from Blues Incorporated