6
Feb 05

GEORGIE FAME AND THE BLUE FLAMES – “Yeh Yeh”

Popular13 comments • 1,719 views

#184, 16th January 1965

The sound of the pirates – Georgie Fame’s promoter was so frustrated by the lack of establishment airplay for his acts that he set up Radio Caroline, helping start the domino topple which led to the state-sanctioned Radio 1 on the one hand, and the vital tradition of illegal UK pop broadcasting on the other.

Unsurprisingly then, “Yeh Yeh” sounds ineffably hip, living up to its pointedly dropped ‘a’s with an appropriately smoky, aloof vibe. The organ-led backbeat is concentrated essence of nightclub, a whiff of a mysterious and illicit world made safe by a square-friendly chorus. When I listen to it I think of an old Jules Feiffer strip where a Marlon Brando lookalike fingersnaps, mumbles and jives through a page of fluid panels, cool but slightly preposterous.

5

Comments

  1. 1
    Tooncgull on 25 Sep 2009 #

    I used to have an old video of Ready Steady Go – this was on it, nestled between the brooding Van Morrison and Them, and the Stones. It intrigued me, seeming strangely out of place, an impossible young looking Georgie Fame, far too young to be able to play in smokey jazz clubs, gasping out the almost gabbled lyrics, too posh for rock n roll.

    Catchy tune though. I’d give it more than 5.

  2. 2
    Billy Smart on 20 Sep 2010 #

    TOTPWatch: Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames twice performed Yeh Yeh on Top Of The Pops;

    10 December 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Sandie Shaw, The Bachelors and Twinkle. Alan Freeman was the host.

    25 December 1965. Also in the studio that Christmas were; Jackie Trent, The Hollies, The Kinks, The Seekers, The Walker Brothers and Unit 4 + 2. Jimmy Saville, Alan Freeman, Pete Murray & David Jacobs were the hosts.

    Neither edition survives.

  3. 3
    Chelovek na lune on 9 Oct 2010 #

    More than a five to me too. I first heard this as a child (not having been born til 10 years later than this was number one) on a reel-to-reel tape recording, and I loved it then. It still conjures up memories of Sunday evening hot bathtime and I guess just the general comfort of childhood. (A long way from smokey jazz clubs or not? Same mellowness is imnplied, I suppose) It’s a fun song, great backing, an arrangement that is clever but not lifelessly or pedantically so and a tune that climbs when it should climb and does the odd unexpected thing too.

  4. 4
    Erithian on 10 Oct 2010 #

    Someone did this song on the X Factor a couple of years ago and got voted out in the first week as a result, the judges saying he’d picked a rotten song. I like it even more as a result. A time capsule of the kind of places young Clive Powell was going to, hipper than most, as Jamaican culture was heading uptown and white kids were starting to buy into the influence. Nifty 80s reworking by Matt Bianco too.

  5. 5
    wichita lineman on 10 Oct 2010 #

    It’s not a rotten song, but it’s way too pleased with itself. I’d guess it’s the first hit to use the word “groovy”. Georgie isn’t quite the laidback dude the backing suggests – he clearly can’t wait to get his end away while being gauche enough to mention all his other girlfriends (“I’m even ready to leave those others alone”). The girl just wants a night in with “supper” (probably the first hit to use that word, too), a kiss and a cuddle.

    I find this a slightly painful listen because Georgie fails to hit so many notes, struggles to cram all the words in, and only sounds comfortable on the bridge.

    Copies exist without the jazzbo spelling – presumably EMI weren’t as hip to the lip as Georgie.

  6. 6
    rosie on 10 Oct 2010 #

    Thought I’d already said this but I probably got lost in the Great Haloscandal.

    I loved this at the time. So did other members of my little coven at junior school. Maybe we were odd, maybe we were ahead of our time. It stands up remarkably well, I think. It’s not a crap song at all, just not a big noisy crowd sort of song.

    Don’t mind me though; I always liked smoky late-night cabaret bars.

  7. 7
    Mutley on 10 Oct 2010 #

    #5. The word “supper” (or suppertime?) features in the 1958 hit “Sugertime”, a US number one by the McGuire Sisters but probably better remembered in the UK for the Alma Cogan cover version. I’m surprised that Alma doesn’t feature more frequently in these charts in the immediate pre-rock’n’roll era when she seemed to be heard everywhere. Everything she did seemed to be a cover version, which was typical of British singers at that time.

  8. 8
    Erithian on 1 Jul 2014 #

    So farewell then, Count Suckle. Not a very well-known name but an influential one – Georgie Fame was in his house band and his club established Jamaican sounds in swinging London. http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jun/04/count-suckle

  9. 9
    lonepilgrim on 21 Jul 2015 #

    after several stomping Number 1s in 1964 I find it refreshing to hear something that swings as enjoyably as this. I went back and listened to the original Mongo Santamaria instrumental and then the tune with lyrics added by Jon Hendricks (of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross) and to my ears it sounds as if Georgie Fame has streamlined the jazzy qualities for a poppier sound. This sounds like music aimed at a slightly older crowd than the teens and pre-teens who were screaming at the Beatles. Interesting to see that Wikipedia makes a link between this and the French ‘yé-yé’ scene.

  10. 10
    Phil on 21 Jul 2015 #

    Found out this evening that Georgie Fame used to work with Gary Aspey. Gary who? I hear you cry. “A Taste of Hotpot” I say to you. Google it. Thank me later.

    As for the song, my sister had it. I’d need to re-listen, but memory says 7 minimum. There’s a point where trying to be cool *is* cool.

  11. 11
    Tommy Mack on 22 Jul 2015 #

    Never dug Georgie. Bought a second hand 7″ with this and Get Away on as I was intrigued there was a guy I’d never heard of who’d had three #1s during the mid 60s.

    I can’t get past the feel of this as Austin Powers music: a vaguely hip background soundtrack for space-age shagadelic bachelor pads. Like a 60s equivalent to Texas or Morcheeba in the sense of mainly being played in the background by people who are old enough to sit out the latest Pop Trends (c.f. Sean Connery’s quip about listening to The Beatles without earmuffs in Goldfinger (or is it FRWL?)) but young enough to want some contemporary sounds for chilling to.

    This is based purely on his hits mind, I understand he was an absolute demon on the live circuit.

  12. 12
    Phil on 22 Jul 2015 #

    a vaguely hip background soundtrack for space-age shagadelic bachelor pads

    You say that like it’s a bad thing! To get Georgie Fame you need to think less Austin Powers, more Stereolab – or just think back to the Avengers, which was well aware of its own ridiculousness even while it was in love with its own vision. Or think John Cooper Clarke…

    Expresso Bongo, snaps her own
    In the Latin Quarter of the Ideal Home
    Sunday, sleeps alone
    Just a tiger rug and a telephone,
    The post-war glamour girl’s never alone…

  13. 13
    Tommy Mack on 22 Jul 2015 #

    I should check out Stereolab, a few people have recommended them to me now.

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