HARRY STONEHAM: COLD WITH THE KEYS


Harry Stoneham: Move In
From Hammond My Way (Contour, 1971)

Ode to Billie Joe
From Fever (Tepee, 197?)

Coming Home Baby
From Superb (Tepee, 197?)

It’s a bit of understatement to say that London’s Harry Stoneham was prolific. He got his start in the early 1960s and by decade’s end, began churning out album after album of organ-powered, exploitation jazz albums. I can’t remotely do justice to his catalog but I’ve had two of his LPs for a minute and just picked up a third one and that seemed like a good enough excuse to write about ’em.

Harry’s on the Hammond on this first track, one of two songs on the LP that Stoneham writes and arranges himself (note: this is usually a good sign on exploitation albums). “Move In” is a solid, midtempo cooker and of these three songs, it’s the one where he lets loose the most.

For the next two songs, Stoneham switches over to the Lowrey, one of Hammond’s main competitors in the ’60s and ’70s though they never achieved the same kind of mainstream recognition that Hammond did. It’s not made explicit but it seems almost certain that Stoneham cut his Tepee albums on the Lowrey as a promotion for the manufacturer. I’m guessing this must have been an interesting switch since Stoneham was also so heavily identified with the Hammond (he references that manufacturer on many of his albums from the ’70s). In any case, what’s notable on “Ode to Billie Joe” isn’t really the organ though – it’s that ill bassline and drum combo that opens the song. Smoking! (No credit on who played this but I bet it’s some of the same sessioners who appear on umpteenth UK library records).

Speaking of smoking, the last song is my favorite out of these three, a smoky cover of Tucker and Dorough’s standard made famous in the early ’60s by Mel Torme. Here, Stoneham is more restrained but his cover shows a strong sense of rhythm and timing; it’s not unlike something Booker T. and the MGs might have messed around with.

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1 comment to HARRY STONEHAM: COLD WITH THE KEYS

  • Does anyone know who was in Harry’s quartet that played on Parkinson with Duke Ellington in early 1973?

    I need the personnel for my discography of Ellington.

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