CCS was the brainchild of producer Mickie Most and arranger/composer John Cameron.|
The principal members of this rock-group-meets-big-band experiment were none other than Alexis Korner, known as the "Father of British Blues" and Danish singer Peter Thorup. The rest of the rock group was rounded out with seasoned session players such as Alan Parker (guitar), Herbie Flowers (bass), Barry Morgan and Tony Carr (drums).
On the big band side, the musicians included Spike Heatley (string bass) Harry Beckett, Henry Lowther, Kenny Wheeler, Les Condon, Tony Fisher and Greg Bowen (trumpets), Don Lusher, John Marshall, Brian Perrin and Bill Geldard (trombones), Neil Sanders (French horn) Ronnie Ross (baritone sax), Danny Moss (tenor sax), Ray Warleigh and Harold McNair (flute), Tony Coe, Pete King, Bob Efford (woodwind), and Bill le Sage and Jim Lawless (percussion).
Korner had been working on the Continent with Thorup in a band called New Church, and getting rave reviews. However, New Church had been prevented from playing in Britain. As The Bedford Recorder revealed, "The reason why British people don't get a chance to hear them is simple. Peter Thorup is Danish and various authorities, including those fearless champions of middle-aged second trombonists, the Musicians' Union, will not let him live and work in Britain."
They very quickly had a hit with their big band reworking of Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love, which is instantly familiar to a whole generation of Top Of The Tops viewers, as it was the theme song of the show for most of the seventies.
Further hits followed, and their first album, imaginatively titled CCS, was an ecclectic mix of self-penned songs and cover versions such as the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction and the classic John Lee Hooker track Boom Boom, all given a new spin...
CCSII was the second recording by the loose collection of session musicians Alexis Korner gathered together for his rock/big band fusion experiment...
Highlights are the duets by gravel-throated Korner and brilliant Danish vocalist Peter Thorup, as well as the tight bass work of Herbie Flowers, later to find fame in Sky. The songs range from brassy rock'n'roll reworkings of fifties classics to more Led Zeppelin covers (like the first album, CCS) and some powerful songs written by Korner, Thorup and arranger John Cameron.
There were only ever two live performances by this group, unsurprising given the number of players involved, and the fact that CCS was primarily a studio band. The first was at Ronnie Scott's, where they reportedly blew all the fuses while playing a benefit for the family of flautist Harold McNair. The second was at the Royal Albert Hall... By all accounts, the performance was a triumph (and pictures of the band in action can be seen on the CCS II album cover, including John Cameron in his famous pink shirt, and Peter Thorup in his equally notorious tight leather trousers).
The third album was called The Best Band In The Land or, in Australia, The Band Played The Boogie, after the hit single taken from the album. There was one last non-album single, Hurricane Coming, and that was the end of CCS.
Korner and Thorup went on to form SNAPE (Something Nasty 'Appens Practically Every day) with Boz Burrell, Ian Wallace and Mel Collins. SNAPE made their debut at the Great Western Festival in May 1972, and they were legendary for what they got up to on the road.
* When asked on the radio what "CCS" stood for, Alexis Korner promptly replied, "The Chigwell Co-operative Society". Within five minutes the radio station had received an indignant call stating that the correct title was "The Chigwell & District Co-operative Society".
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