Saturday, 10 December 2011

Jammë - Jammë (1970)

The sleeve of the self titled Jammë LP would lead you to believe that the album was solely the work of two British brothers Keith and Don Adey.  That's was what I thought for years but the story runs a little deeper than that.

Don Adey was playing a gig with his band Churchill Downs in 1967 when he met up with fellow ex-pat Hard Times guitarist Paul Downing who were sharing the bill that night.  Downing had recently played guitar on the Mamas & Papas album "The Papas & the Mamas" when Papa John Phillips suggested Downing put a group of his own together , which he quickly did with ex British Walkers, Tim Smyser on Bass and Terry Rae (ex Palace Guard) on drums along with Don Adey on guitar.

Phillips was impressed with the band and secured them a recording contract with Dunhill on the basis that he and Terry Melcher produce the album (Melcher would not last the duration following tensions between the pair).  The recording sessions took place at Phillips' own home studio/24 hour party drug den in Bel Air which allegedly saw George Harrison and Keith Richards drop by for a visit!  Phillips was going through a rough patch at the time, with the Mamas & Papas on the verge of splitting and his marriage with Michelle on the rocks. These personal problems would take it's toll on the Jammë sessions.  

Terry Rae was the first to be kicked out of the band by a jealous Phillips after he'd overheard Michelle and friend Mia Farrow, tripping on acid at the time, promise to take Rae on a trip to France.  The drums were taken over by ex Them, Dave Tuffrey, then Jim Gordon (Derek & the Dominoes) and finally Jerry Allison (the Crickets).  Phillips then turned on Smyser and getting Downing to do the dirty work of kicking the bass player out of the band, which was done with much hesitation.  Bass duties were handed over to the Wrecking Crew's Larry Knechtel and then eventually Don Adey's sibling Keith whose contributions on the album stretched as far as a few vocal harmonies and bass on two tracks!  The two brothers were only surviving members by the time the recording was finished nine months later, hence them being the only two on the cover.

The record was released in 1970 and bombed, most probably due to it sounding years out of step with the current music scene at the time.  It also got a UK release where it died a similar death.

Surprisingly, despite the chaotic recording sessions the resulting album comes across as a sweet collection of popsike nuggets with a similar vibe to the (equally chaotic) Left Banke or Rubber Soul period Beatles complete with nasally Lennonesque vocals.  Personal highlights include the Merry Go Round-alike "She Sits There" and the lyrics on "Strawberry Jam Man", "would you like to sail a boat, way out on the sea? would you like an ice cream float or a cup of tea?

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So much info on this bands sorted past. I always assumed that they were a duo, and that the album was recorded a few years before 1970. Also never knew there was a connection with the Hard Times -- some great tunes on their sole album. Any idea where the name Jamme comes from? Sounds Swedish or something. Certainly a name like that didn't contribute to their success -- or lack thereof. The Jam had better luck by dropping the "me."