mon 15/07/2024

Reissue CDs Weekly: King Size Taylor and the Dominoes | reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: King Size Taylor and the Dominoes

Reissue CDs Weekly: King Size Taylor and the Dominoes

‘Dr. Feelgood’, the complete recordings of the Merseybeat legends, is a blast.

On stage and rocking. King Size Taylor and the Dominoes, with Ted Taylor on the right

The enduring status of The Beatles shouldn’t distract from them having been one amongst many Liverpool bands while they found their feet.

In October 1961, local impresario and Cavern Club DJ/MC Bob Wooler worked out that there were 125 active bands in Liverpool and its environs, and that he knew of 249 overall since he began working with music in the city.

At that point, like The Beatles, King Size Taylor and the Dominoes were on the rise. They had come together in 1958 in Seaforth, north of Liverpool, as a union of rock ’n rollers The Dominoes and six-foot-five guitarist Ted “Kingsize” Taylor. When Wooler was collating his information, the band was a regular live draw: their staple venues then were the Aintree Institute and the Orrell Park Ballroom. On 10 November 1961, they were part of the Operation Big Beat bill. The headliners were The Beatles. Also playing were Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Gerry & the Pacemakers and The Remo Four.

King Size Taylor and the Dominoes Dr. FeelgoodKing Size Taylor and the Dominoes were integral to Merseybeat. Unlike some of their contemporaries, their records didn’t make a mark. Hardly surprising, as what they recorded was for release in Germany and any British records which seeped out were afterthoughts, extracted from these continental releases. The band had followed The Beatles lead and began playing Hamburg in July 1962. From then on, much of their energy was directed towards German audiences. The new compilation Dr. Feelgood (the third release in a series sub-titled The Brits Are Rocking) collects all their Hamburg recordings (taped in 1963 and 1964), along with four tracks recorded for two acetates in 1958. This is historic stuff. Happily, it’s also great.

Hamburg became Taylor and co’s stamping ground. In September 1963, the city’s Star-Club published a list quantifying appearances at the venue. It had opened in April 1962, and The Beatles first played there from 13 April to the end of May. In that list of 18 months of activity, Tony Sheridan was shown to have appeared there 394 times – The Beatles had backed him on record in 1961. King Size Taylor and the Dominoes were in second place at 332. Next were Hamburg’s own Rattles at 154. The Beatles came 10th with 79; the homeland success they gained from the end of 1962 meant they was no need to return to Hamburg in 1963. While The Beatles conquered America, the Dominoes were in Germany for the whole of January to April 1964.

King Size Taylor and the Dominoes Dr. Feelgood_operation big beatUnlike The Beatles, King Size Taylor and the Dominoes did not break through to become stars in their home country. Even so, in December 1962 history was inadvertently made by Taylor when he taped The Beatles’ Star-Club performances subsequently issued in various forms. His own band, though, did not receive such a wide hearing due to their associations with German labels. That wasn’t unusual. Liverpool’s Liverbirds and Remo Four were fellow Hamburg regulars who recorded specifically for the German market. But at least their records were came out under their own name. When King Size Taylor and the Dominoes recorded an album in September 1963, it was released in Germany as by The Shakers. Their Liverpool fans would not have known who it was by.

Irrespective of the original records falling between the Merseybeat cracks, what’s on Dr Feelgood is full-bore gear. King Size Taylor and the Dominoes rock like the clappers. Only the under-recorded fellow Liverpool band The Undertakers come to mind as a comparison. Indeed, “Mashed Potatoes”, “Money” and “Stupidity”, heard here, were also recorded by The Undertakers. The Taylor band’s staple approach was a ragged mix-’n-match of Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Little Richard with dashes of hard-edged blues and soul. Fittingly, The Shakers album was recorded in as long as it took to play (under an hour): early in the morning immediately after an all-night session at the Star-Club. This is unmediated music

Such music could possibly have been repurposed in 1963 for the UK’s burgeoning R&B boom. Accordingly, they were billed as “Liverpool’s latest R&B sensation” for a UK tour in May 1964. Along with them on the dates were Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, The Swinging Bluejeans and The Animals. Rock ’n roll, Merseybeat and the new R&B wave all in one place. The Animals did rock ’n roll covers, but evolved. Despite a fantastic, soul-inclined British solo Taylor single in 1964, Dr. Feelgood shows that rock ’n roll was always where it was at for King Size Taylor and the Dominoes. Get this. It’s a blast.

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