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CYMANDE / BALHAM ALLIGATORS

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:12 pm
by Garth Cartwright
I've heard the Balham Alligators mentioned in passing as both the band that launched the wonderful Geraint Watkins and were favourites of Charlie. But until BAYOU-DEGRADABLE (Proper) arrived yesterday i had never heard them. It's a double CD compilation and it seems the reason i had never heard them before is that only their 4th (and last) album Gateway To The South had previously been released on CD. And by then they were disintegrating. The sleeve notes are passionately written by someone (can't find a name) who was obviously a real fan. From them i get the impression that the BAs were a fine live band albeit a rather chaotic one - he tells stories of the band messing up big chances by getting drunk and committing various misdemeanours. The music on the CDs is often pretty fabulous, the band having that British gift of possessing a real feel for music from the US South. This time it being Louisiana Cajun, swamp pop and R&B. Whoever sings Bobby Charles' Tennessee Blues has a fine voice and the band play with subtlety and finesse throughout. They do rely on a lot of covers - which may be the reason they never got a major label deal. Or else they just sounded too rootsy and downhome in an age of indie and rap and house music. I think it's safe to say most users of this forum would enjoy the Balham Alligators.

I knew of Cymande through one tune - Brothers On The Slide - that often turns up on funk compilations. At some point I found out they were a British rather than US band. And I recall Mark Lamaar having them on his show a few years back - so suggesting they had reformed. But I'd never heard any of their albums before. Now Cherry Red has reissued all 3 - CYMANDE, SECOND TIME AROUND, PROMISED HEIGHTS - with extra tracks and lots of sleeve notes for a geek like me to savour.

Well, I must state that having not previously owned Cymande albums has been an oversight. They are magnificent! A 9-piece band made up of black British musicians from the West Indies and Africa who mixed reggae and soca rhythms with a love of tense funk, they really developed a very distinctive sound. And the songwriting is strong. I almost see them as older brothers to Errol Linton. And like Errol they were not valued in the UK. It appears that their first album did very well in the US and they developed quite a following there but were never very well known in the UK. Notes also suggest that the reunion did not really take hold and they may be trying for another reunion this year - anyone have any idea if they are playing about? Again, music I think that would find favour with most forumistas.

Re: CYMANDE / BALHAM ALLIGATORS

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:11 am
by Adam Blake
Garth Cartwright wrote: I almost see them as older brothers to Errol Linton.


Cymande's drummer, Sam Kelly, played on Errol's first two albums. We did many many gigs with him. Lovely bloke.

Re: CYMANDE / BALHAM ALLIGATORS

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:34 am
by uiwangmike
Garth Cartwright wrote: I think it's safe to say most users of this forum would enjoy the Balham Alligators.

Whatever good things the sleeve notes said about them are true. They have been written about before on the forum, but I can confirm they were a brilliant live band.

Re: CYMANDE / BALHAM ALLIGATORS

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:02 pm
by alister prince
Yup, a big fan of the Alligators, often featured on Honky Tonk. Also like Cymande, well featured in Lloyd Bradley's Sounds Like London. Both exciting live bands.
Aly

Re: CYMANDE / BALHAM ALLIGATORS

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:26 am
by Hugh Weldon
Only just seen this Garth, though I did mention the Balham Alligators on the pub rock thread. They were usually pretty fabulous live, Geraint's showpiece 'No Particular Place To Go' being a highlight. Not 'shambolic' on stage, though they did have what you might call a relaxed attitude - the fiddler/vocalist (can't recall his name) would often bring his dog along which would lie there throughout the set.