Dazzling musicianship, riveting stage performances, more than 50 TV appearances (including, somewhat bizarrely, five episodes of Teletubbies) and 75 radio broadcasts have established them as the Kings of Swing.
What does the title ‘King Pleasure’ evoke? In this context it suggests eating, drinking, spending money, chasing chicks, having a good time, overdoing it more than somewhat and explaining the events of the night before to the judge on the morning after. All apt topics for song and celebration, especially in these grim times. So much pop music nowadays is full of anger and violence on the one hand, and slack-jawed stupidity on the other, and so much contemporary jazz is excessively earnest and glum, that we are in urgent need of music that comes with a cheer-up guarantee. That is exactly what King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys unfailingly deliver.
Sounds easy when put like that, but it isn’t - not to do it properly at any rate. Any bunch of fools can don zoot suits and pointy shoes that you could climb a chain-link fence in. It doesn’t take a lot to learn a few riffs and strike a few poses. But to create the kind of easy swing you hear on The Wrong Door, the precision and attack of Big Girl, the blend in Bring It On Baby takes talent, focus and a lot of working together. And when you experience it live you discover what a real show can be - wholehearted, full-on, exhausting and unforgettable.
But what kind of music is it? Well, if you’ll kindly lay aside that list of runners and riders once more, I’ll attempt a brief historical sketch. Ahem! When the great Swing Era ended, in the mid - 1940s, it broke apart and the various bits started growing into styles of their own. One of these dance-hall rhythm and blues, as performed by such names as Lucky Millinder, Buddy Johnson and Louis Jordan, at places like Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. This, I think, is the root of the Biscuit Boys’ style, although their own distinctive approach has by now developed quite a long way from there.
The King and the Boys have been around for quite a while, getting on for three decades in fact. But how can that be? Some of them look far too young. Well, it’s like the penknife with two new blades and three new handles. Individual members may change but the band stays the same. Think of Count Basie’s orchestra. Half a century with one tiny break. Only two members lasted the entire course, one of them Basie himself, but you could never mistake it for any other band. In the case of the Biscuit Boys, the King and Bullmoose have been there from the beginning. Changes have taken place, but not often. The latest recruit is dynamic pianist Mighty Matt Foundling, who took over from Crab - Claw Tromans shortly before the 'Hey Puerto Rico' album - the band’s ninth - was recorded. And, just as with the Basie band, details may change but the magic formula remains unchanged.
One result of being around for a while is that the King and the Boys have built themselves the kind of fan base that aspiring pop stars would kill for. The word ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic’, and the last count there were 2,500 people around the world sufficiently fanatical to join the band’s fan club. And if you’re talking about loyalty, how about the fifty - odd members who chartered their own plane to follow the boys to the Cork Jazz Festival?
Everywhere they go they hook more devotees. They’ve played all over Europe, up as far as Russia. Even more impressively, they’ve stormed across the US, much to the surprise of the natives. As one New York magazine put it: ‘Those who say that swing is a musical form best left to Americans, prepare to be proven wrong. This British combo is bullet proof!’.
Of course they are! They’re the genuine article, in full working order, dedicated to shaking you up and swinging you into the middle of next week. They’ve got King Pleasure’s inimitable stogies - and - bourbon voice, they’ve got a roaring band sound that comes at you like the Wabash Cannonball, and above all they’ve got that beat. In the words of the immortal Lord Buckley ‘Rhythm is the key to everything - runs the whole swingin’ thing’.
King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys
JOHNNY AND THE JAILBIRDS
In 1969 while serving as an apprentice in Kidbrooke London, Johnny met a couple of guys who were heavily into the 50s Rock and Roll scene, something Johnny knew very little about. They all had bikes and that's how he started getting more into the music because they were going to the Rock n Roll clubs in the London area, one in particular was the Hound Dog Club at the Fishmongers Arms in Wood Green, and they had some of the best Rock n RoII bands around at the time, and that included Shakin Stevens and the Sunsets, The Wild Angels, wth great rockin records played by DJs Tongue Tied Danny and Roy Williams, and thats where he first heard Johnny Bumette songs. It was packed every Saturday night and everyone was either a Ted or a Rocker and he still has mhis Hound Dog membership card after all these years.
In 1373 'moved from London to Wellingbomugh in Northamptonshire "hen F»ck n Roll thankful'v continued at the excellent RaiWvay C'ub.
They were having Local Rockn Roll bands at the time so thought wu"d have a go and adveNised in 'o ca' paper for
Rock n musicians with great response muse say, and I formed the tirsa Johnny and the Jai;birds. Drums, Cu"ar and
electric Sass. We did great around the local c tubs and eventually persuaded Paul Sanen become our agent and on the
Rockn Roll circui we went, whit'! was a little •uetwhe\ming for a new band but did 0K. reckon that was the best
time to be in Rockn Roll band. Every gig was packed solid.
There several line up changes in the band over the years, The first tine up changed completely because they were
Rock n Roll at fitne so as the band got better known managed fo rep'ace *bem musicians who
had been Piaying in •ther Rockn ROI' bands. The firs! demo was made in 1373, We had a recording studio (Becks Stadia)
in Wellingborough which was in constanf use by many bands at the time so we thoughl we wou'd hire for a few
houm and give it a go. That was the session we recorded Flying Saucers and Endless Sleep, and ony records were
pressed at the studio-Afew Months on made ahother record and that was the original version of Slick Chick and on
the B side was and that was m car* ed the Duke Label. Pubiican from one afihe
villages paid for the recording session,the name of his pub was of course The Duke. "3 long •Her that we were
signed Chary Records recorded a ot singles, and the L.P. "Out On Bad." We did rea'iy well Wih Charw
records pushing us and we managed to get Radio One airplay plus many other U.K. Radio Stations, and more go" Rock n
clubs decided to booked us. The "Out On eair•album sold thousarda, especially in Fin land.
Then the Weekenders came along, First was the Caisterweekend, we played the second one with over three
thousand Teds going wild, I couldn't beiieue it, im sure it was IS 73. Our Cuita"sf Sob-de•banks had left the band by then
so advertised for a Guitarist and Richie Ball and im sav became a friend and a member of the Jai'birds in 1979
Richie and I sianed writing together and managed write eieht •f the founeen songs o r the "Out On Bait • L.P. which
was recorded i' 1973 and released in
We were offered in Hadand, Belgium, Frsnce, and toured Finland in 1930 that tour Waa iust over three weeks. have
been back so many times in recent years, and have a Finnish Teddy Rock n Ron band "Memphis" that always
back me plus The Italian Sand "The Rotten Fnckers and the German band "The Jangle Tigers" The Finish Rockers were
Kids 00 that first tour and im glad to say they sliti come ta see me a! the gigs now and some bring their kids because
they are nou Rock n
Johnny and the Jailbirds Mopped playing fora few years but we re formed the Band again in 2000, and Lead
Guitarist Richie Ball had an offer to release an Aibu•n so said ony do it if every song was 0" r own so thais
exa what we did and that C.D.was "Rockin the Blues Awav• which inciuded Roll On (Clickety Clack) which is a
Jive favorite an and the c'ubs, and has just been recorded by many int'uding Jerry Lee Lewis's sister Linda Gail Lewis,
and new we've heard from Dell Richardson that Hayden Thom. sen wants to record a version. That pa\icv continued
regarding ge"wriNen songs on next C.D. • •Who Taught Y •p To Rock" We were booked at the Great Yann outh
Weekender and played a set of all our own songs, some"ia; dent think has cver been done before or since.
The band continued to be 5"czessfuI. "Rockin• Y he Slues charted in the E.M.S. European Country Chans. "Lenesta;•
Sea;ie'• to No. S in Oceober 2000 and the "Red Eyc to Memphis" reached No. 3 in Januafy 2001. IVs the Highest
posNion any RD' k n band had achieved.
Richie Bail moved from his home town of Northampton to the i.O.W. and Johnny and the disbanded once
again. Then drummer and long time member of the Jailbirds, Jack Wright thought it a good idea to refonn band in 2006
and with a d*ierent line up were back once again. lost my long time friend and Jailbirts to-songwriter Richie Ball a
aner my Birthday on the 17th August 2eos it Waa an unnecessary and tragic end.
On March 2nd 2010 we re\eased a 32 track C.D • 'Tbe best of Johnny and the Jai'birds" (from the beginning) it
inciuded the very first recordings from Seck studio, unreleased songs, and great new versions of "Jailbird"
including a reewerked version •f "Rod On" kew c'ackj 3!' re-engineered wÉth added instrzments by Maho Bradley at
his Sradshack stu$io in Northamptonsh ire. This C.D was tribute Richie
a recent Album out on Foot Tagpiog Record' "Roll we are 'O" king forward to the future of one of the great
pioneer British Rock n ROY banes. Johnny 3rd the Jailbirds.
Bessie & The Zinc Buckets
Mons Wheeler & The Tone Kings
The Drugstore Cowboys
Phil Haley & His Comments
Ashley's Midnite Blues