April 23, 2013

The Graham Bond Organisation - Wade in the Water (1965)

Formed in the early ‘60s, this band was originally known as the Graham Bond Quartet. Mixing jazz with elements of rhythm & blues, the group was centered around frontman Graham Bond, a classically trained pianist who “dabbled” with the saxophone (he played it in a very avant-garde way). Not being entirely pleased with a deal they had received to sign with EMI, the band decided to sign with Decca Records in 1964. They opened for Marvin Gaye and toured the UK backing Chuck Berry, but were constantly in turmoil because of the clashing between drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce. Eventually, Graham Bond told Baker that he should ask Bruce to leave the band. When Bruce was asked to leave, he hadn’t been informed it was actually Bond’s request and thought it was merely Baker telling him to leave. Bruce felt he had just as much claim to the band as Baker did, so he kept showing up to perform at their concerts until Baker finally convinced him to quit for good at knifepoint backstage before a show in August 1965. Ironically, it was less than a year later in July 1966 when Ginger Baker quit the band and he and Bruce were reunited in the supergroup Cream with Eric Clapton. In late-1966, Graham Bond attempted to reform his band as a trio consisting of himself, original member Dick Heckstall-Smith, and newcomer Jon Hiseman; but, their commercial success was severely lacking. Although the band officially broke up in 1967, Bond would again unite with his original bandmates when he briefly played in Ginger Baker’s Air Force and toured with Jack Bruce in the 1970s. After years of substance abuse, it was reported that Bond had apparently been clean by this period, but also had a growing obsession with black magic and the occult. On May 8, 1974, Graham Bond died of an apparent suicide after lying down (or falling) in front of a train.

Released on the band’s first album, The Sound of ’65, this song is a traditional track that, for the sake of this band, was arranged by John Group and Paul Getty. Regarding the history of the song, it’s author is unknown, but it was first published in New Jubliee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers by brothers John Wesley Work, Jr. and Frederick J. Work in 1901. The song, which originally contained lyrics referencing the Bible, was a spiritual song for enslaved African Americans in the United States.

album art

The Graham Bond Organisation - Wade in the Water (1965)

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