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The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions - Duster (Tony/Anthony) Bennett


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The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (2005) - Duster (Tony/Anthony) Bennett


    Featuring »

Duster (Tony/Anthony) Bennett

    Tracklisting »

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Disc One:
Hard To Resist
  Date Performance: 1968-05-15, Running Time: 2:23
  Comments: (Previously Unreleased) Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London
It's A Man Down There
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 2:48
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968. Originally released as a single: Blue Horizon 57-3141
Things Are Changing
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 3:25
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968. Originally released as a single: Blue Horizon 57-3141
Worried Mind
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 3:00
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
Life Is A Dirty Deal
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 3:58
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
Country Jam
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 2:29
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
Trying To Paint It In The Sky
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 3:37
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
Times Like These
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 3:37
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
My Lucky Day
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 2:41
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
Got A Tongue In Your Head!
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 3:18
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
Jumping At ShadowsLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 3:26
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
40 Minutes From Town
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 3:33
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
Shame, Shame, ShameLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 2:37
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
My Love Is Your Love
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 4:15
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
Shady Little Baby
  Date Performance: 1968, Running Time: 4:04
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, mid 1968.
Raining In My Heart
  Date Performance: 1968-12-04, Running Time: 2:35
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released as a single: Blue Horizon 57-3148
Jumpin' For Joy
  Date Performance: 1968-12-04, Running Time: 3:02
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London.
God Save The Queen
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15
  Comments: Part 1 of the "God Save The Queen/Introductions/She Lived Her Life Too Fast" track. Total running time of track is 3:29 Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Traditional. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
Introductions
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15
  Comments: Part 2 of the "God Save The Queen/Introductions/She Lived Her Life Too Fast" track. Total running time of track is 3:29 Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
She Lived Her Life Too Fast
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15
  Comments: Part 3 of the "God Save The Queen/Introductions/She Lived Her Life Too Fast" track. Total running time of track is 3:29 Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
Just Like A Fish
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15, Running Time: 4:19
  Comments: Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
What A Dream
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15, Running Time: 4:21
  Comments: Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
Just Like I Treat You
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15, Running Time: 4:43
  Comments: Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
Talk To Me
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15, Running Time: 3:58
  Comments: Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Peter Green billed as "Peter Blue". Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.

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Disc Two:
I'm The One
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15, Running Time: 3:17
  Comments: Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
I Wonder If You Know (How It Is)
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15, Running Time: 5:44
  Comments: Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
My Babe
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15
  Comments: Part 1 of the "My Babe/She's My Baby" track. Total running time of track is 6:14 Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
She's My Baby
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15
  Comments: Part 2 of the "My Babe/She's My Baby" track. Total running time of track is 6:14 Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
Honest I Do
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15, Running Time: 3:30
  Comments: Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
Bright Lights, Big City
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15, Running Time: 5:34
  Comments: Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Peter Green billed as "Peter Blue". Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
Fresh Country Jam
  Date Performance: 1969-04-15, Running Time: 4:49
  Comments: Recorded at The Angel, Godalming, Surrey. Mobile Engineers for Vista Productions.
I'm Gonna Wind Up Ending Up Or I'm Gonna End Up Winding Up With You
  Date Performance: 1969-05-06, Running Time: 2:56
  Comments: Stereo Version. Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released as a single: Blue Horizon (#57-3164) (A-Side). Source: Original analogue tape.
Rock Of AgesLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1969-05-06, Running Time: 4:12
  Comments: Billed as "Rock Of Ages Cleft For Me". Traditional. Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released as a single: Blue Horizon 57-3164.
Slim's Tune
  Date Performance: 1969-06-27, Running Time: 3:27
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
I Chose To Sing The Blues
  Date Performance: 1970-04-17, Running Time: 2:56
  Comments: Recorded at Sue Recording Studio, West 54th Street, NYC. Originally released as a single: Blue Horizon 57-3164 Also available on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
Sugar Beet
  Date Performance: 1969-05-06, Running Time: 2:54
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
I Love My Baby
  Date Performance: 1970-06-22, Running Time: 3:04
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
Vitamin Pills
  Date Performance: 1970-01-07, Running Time: 2:47
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
Everyday
  Date Performance: 1970-08-23, Running Time: 3:51
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
Act Nice And Gentle
  Date Performance: 1970-07-30, Running Time: 2:27
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
Woman Without Love
  Date Performance: 1970-09-16, Running Time: 2:54
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
That Mean Old Look
  Date Performance: 1970-04-17, Running Time: 2:17
  Comments: Recorded at Sue Recording Studio, West 54th Street, NYC. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
Sweeter Than Sugar
  Date Performance: 1970-07-30, Running Time: 2:44
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
On Reconsideration
  Date Performance: 1970-07-30, Running Time: 4:08
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
Hill St. Rag
  Date Performance: 1970-07-25, Running Time: 3:21
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released on the album "12db's": Blue Horizon 7-63868
If You Could Hang Your Washing Like You Can Hang Your Lines
  Date Performance: 1970, Running Time: 2:26
  Comments: Recorded at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London, early 1970. The liner notes for "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" claim this track appeared on Bennett's "12db's" album (Blue Horizon 7-63868). However, we have yet to come across a version of this album with this song in it's tracklisting.
I Want You To Love Me
  Date Performance: 1970, Running Time: 3:35
  Comments: Stereo Version. Recorded in the Summer at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London. Originally released as a single: Blue Horizon (#57-3179) (B-Side). Source: Original analogue tape.
    Guest Appearances »

John(ny) Almond, Roy Babbington, Dave Bidwell, John Cloury, Mick Fleetwood, Pearly Gates (Viola Billups), Peter Green, Gerry Jermott, Kenny Lamb, Herbie Lovelle, John McVie, Tony Mills, Pete (Get Your Trousers Off) Newbury, Ernestine Pearce, Stella Sutton (Bennett), Andy Sylvester/Silvester, Top (Anthony) Topham, Mike Vernon, Phil Wainman/Wayneman

    Released »

2005-09-29

    Format »

Import Vinyl/CD Album

    Other Appearances »
Ewart Abner (Songwriter), Duster (Tony/Anthony) Bennett (Songwriter), Juke Boy (Weldon) Bonner (Songwriter), (Dr.) John Bull (Songwriter), Ray Charles (Robinson) (Songwriter), Jerry Donald Chestnut (Songwriter), Ray(mond) (Douglas) Davies (Songwriter), Ray(mond) (Douglas) Davies (Songwriter), Willie Dixon (Songwriter), Bob (Robert L.) Geddins(, Jr.) (Songwriter), Slim Harpo (James H. Moore) (Songwriter), Thomas Hastings (Songwriter), Jimmy Holiday (Songwriter), Elmore James (Songwriter), Jimmy McCracklin (Songwriter), Pete (Get Your Trousers Off) Newbury (Songwriter), Joe Bennie Pugh (Songwriter), (Mathis) Jimmy (James) Reed (Songwriter), Magic Sam (Sam Maghett) (Songwriter), Eddie Shuler (Songwriter), Stella Sutton (Bennett) (Songwriter), (Reverend) Augustus Montague Toplady (Songwriter), Jerry West (Songwriter), Sonny Boy (Aleck Ford Rice) Williamson (Willie) (Miller) (Songwriter), Pearl Woods (Songwriter), Top (Anthony) Topham (Liner Notes), Mike Vernon (Liner Notes), Mike FitzHenry (Additional Engineering), Duster (Tony/Anthony) Bennett (Produced By), Mike Vernon (Produced By), Duster (Tony/Anthony) Bennett (Arranged By), Mike FitzHenry (Recording Engineer), Mike Ross(-Trevor) (Recording Engineer), Blue Horizon (Records) (Production), Simon Cantwell (Art Direction By), Duncan Cowell (Digitally Edited By), Mike Vernon (Digitally Edited By), Mike FitzHenry (Editing), Jon Frost (Photographs By), Mike Hankinson (Mobile Engineer), Peter Sarner (Mobile Engineer), Mike Vernon (Reissue Produced By), Duncan Cowell (Digitally Mastered By), Mike Vernon (Digitally Mastered By), Duncan Cowell (Original Analogue Tapes Transferred By), Richard Vernon (All Original Releases Co-Ordinated By), Fiachra Trench (String Arranged By), Fiachra Trench (String Directed By)

    Record Label »
Columbia/Sony BMG Music Entertainment

    Catalogue Number »

518517 2

    Running Time »

76:11/78:56

    Liner Notes »

The Oxford Concise Dictionary defines the noun 'one-man band' as being "a street entertainer who plays many instruments at the same time". Immediately images of such individuals plying their trade to waiting theatre queues spring to mind. Whatever happened to Don Partridge anyway? Even more cobwebbed images float into view of Christmas visits to one of the touring Circuses that would travel the length and breadth of the country during that festive season. Big bass drums; crashing cymbals; toy plastic trumpets; banjos; 'whoopee' whistles and pretty much anything else that would make enough noise to gain the attention of the onlooker, were banged, blown and plucked - and all the same time. This enabled the guilty perfonmer of such musical nonsense, more often than not, dressed in an outfit now more associated with Ronald McDonald, the opportunity of getting you 'in the mood' for the delights of the main event. 'One-man band' might mean the above to some but to those of us who have an eager bent for the blues the perception and the reality is quite a different matter.

If we discount the aforementioned chart topper from the ranks of blues performer I can name eight 'one-man blues bands' that have, over the years, plied their unique trade and some with considerable success. The role of honour includes five Americans, namely Doctor Isaiah Ross, Joe Hill Louis, Jesse 'The Lone Cat' Fuller, Blind Joe Hill and Wilbert Harrison plus three British associates - Ray Stubbs, Eddie Martin the redoubtable Tony 'Duster' Bennett.

Tony first came to our attention at Blue Horizon as the result of a direct 'tip-off' from none other than Peter Green. Shortly thereafter, Tony was to appear clutching a demo tape. He politely asked that we should listen and let him know what we thought. Our initial reaction was very favourable. Brother Richard and I went to catch him at a club performance. Almost instantly, our initial favourable reaction was to turn into massive enthusiasm. Here was a unique performer with unbound energy, personality, charm and unquestionable talent, not only as a musician, but also as a songwriter. The decision was made. The name Duster Bennett was added to the Blue Horizon label roster.

Making decisions regarding his first single release did not, however, prove to be so straightforward. Tony had an original song entitled "Hard To Resist" that he felt very strongly about. He wanted that to be the first outing on the label. Our first attempt at recording this song was not a success. Tony was having problems keeping the tempo at an even pace. Perhaps his apprehension and even nervousness might have played their part in that struggle. His enthusiasm though, never waned. But he was beginning to tire. It was suggested that perhaps he should concentrate on the basics and leave the harmonica solo out, adding it later. The final attempt of the day was the best but the 'fade out' section sped up horribly and left me wondering if we shouldn't call it day. Duster however, was jubilant "I did it! I did it! That's it! Yes? Surely! It must be!" It took me fully five seconds to respond with a rather hesitant "Perhaps you should come in and have a listen". The decision was taken to convene to another day and try again.

Try again we did and the results were so much better. Regretably, all the hard work was to be in vain. There was an air of uncertainty afoot. Could we get the radio promotion teams excited enough about this proposed first Duster Bennett release. Was his performance strong enough and did the song 'do it' for us. We finally made the decision to hold off on the release in an attempt to come up with an alternate idea. The search was on. Thankfully it was only a short one. Whist rummaging, not only through my vast record collection but also through the dark corners of my mind, I hit upon the idea of covering G.L Crockett's "It's A Man Down There". Problem solved! But promoting that first single via radio channels proved to be the usual uphill struggle. We gave it our best shot but received less support than we might have hoped for. Duster was not in the slightest bit perturbed however. He told Mike Clifford (Beat Instrumental July 1968) that "I don't see myself as a big selling artist, not in a commercial sense, anyway. Albums and the occasional single will be my scene on recording, with the emphasis on LPs".

The album "Smiling Like I'm Happy" hits the streets late August that same year. Eight of the titles featured Duster in 'one-man band' mode - given that piano was overdubbed on two of those selections. In case you hadn't worked it out for yourself, Ham Richmond is a pseudonym for the man himself. The remaining titles had Tony joined variously by Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and girlfriend Stella Sutton. The album received good reviews and sold well. As a club performer Duster was much in demand and there can be little doubt that those 'live' appearances were largely responsible for most of his album sales. But we at Blue Horizon were determined to do our very best to promote all of our artists via the singles market - until proven it was a waste of time and money.

Duster and I went into the studio early December with Chicken Shack members Andy Silvester and Dave Bidwell to cover Slim Harpo's "Raining In My Heart". Officially released on 17th January 1969 the single garnered decent reviews and a little airplay, but only offered poor sales. Back to the album schedule and the 'live' performance project.

Recording with a mobile set-up can be a truly fraught experience but, surprisingly enough, that night in April of '69 at The Angel Hotel, proved virtually trouble free. Duster was in great spirits and the capacity crowd more than did their part. Getting the album edited and complete for release was to prove something of a problem. Due to other commitments I was having difficulties co-ordinating my diary dates and couldn't find a 'window' so as to make myself available to finish the project. The pressure was on and so I took the decision, along with Tony, to let him to go into the New Bond Street studio with engineer Mike Fitzhenry and complete the work without me. Considering his inexperierce he did a pretty good job. But perhaps, more importantly, he had cemented a working relationship with Fitzhenry - a partnership that was to continue for the remainder of his stint with Blue Horizon. Whilst it would be easy to focus on the uniqueness of Tony's abilities as a 'one-man band', it would be a big mistake to ignore his substantial talents as a songwriter. He had his own little recording set-up at home that would prove to be invaluable. He was always offering up new tapes of his latest compositions for our appraisal. I seem to recall that following the delivery of his demo for "I'm Gonna Wind Up" Tony took me to one side and timidly asked if I would have any objections to him producing his own records in the future, along with the help of Mike Fitzhenry. I was probably taken aback at the time, but I knew that I had to be realistic. I was already well over committed to projects, not only for Blue Horizon but also for Decca as an Independent Producer. Somethng had to give somewhere. Richard and I agreed to let Duster have a free hand. It seemed like a natural progression. Tony had always given the impression that he knew what he was looking for when working in the studio and we felt that he should be allowed to do it his way.

It was not too long before Duster had three new tracks in the can - one of which was a completed version of the aforementioned "I'm Gonna Wind Up Ending Up Or I'm Gonna End Up Winding Up With You". He was extremely excited with the results and, of course, was looking for us to be just as excited. All of us were of one mind - It was sensational! Probably the best thing Duster ever recorded, in my opinion. It was thumbs up all around. He was given the 'red light' to go ahead and record enough material for a third album. Completing that task however, took a further fourteen months!

In an attempt to keep the name Duster Bennett in the media and public eye a third single was released on 11th July. Taken from the "Bright Lights' album the title song once again received some attention but sales were still disappointing. Not to be defeated, we tried again later that year with the wonderful "I'm Gonna Wind Up" but gaining good media exposure was, as always, proving to be hard work.

By now Duster had signed a management deal with Clifford Davis, who also handled Fleetwood Mac. This new relationship was to give Duster a higher profile but, of course, his touring schedule began to cut into that time allocated for recording. The latter part of 1969 and early 1970 was particularly busy. The constant travelling was beginning to take its toll and left him unable to be as productive in the song writing department as we might have wished. Progress on the new album seemed painfully slow.

It was whilst on tour in the States with John Mayall that plans were hatched to record Duster along with B.B. King's then studio rhythm section, composing Gerry Jermott and Herbie Lovelle. I tailored my plans so that I would also be in the U.S. at that time to help Duster with the production. I further solicited the help of our new U.S. partners, Seymour Stein and Richard Gottehrer to book studio time and make certain we had the services of these specific musicians. The three-hour session was booked at Juggy Murray's Sue Studio on W.54th Street in Manhattan for the afternoon of 17th April 1970. Now, it's not uncommon for sessions of this nature to turn out to be something of an anti-climax; I remember all too well the mixed feelings during our Fleetwood Mac sessioos in Chicago back in January of 1969. We were lucky this time though - everything went according to plan, even if we did have to squeeze the recording of Duster's own song into the last fifteen minutes of the session! Duster was once again in high spirits and relishing every moment. The resulting "I Chose To Sing The Blues" coupled with "That Mean Old Look" was released as a stereo single two weeks later on 1st May.

Once back from his overseas touring, Duster was to return to the CBS New Bond Studio on six further occasioos during June, July, August and September 1970 in an attempt to complete his recording activities for the now, long delayed, third album. Gone was the 'one-man band' format. Tony deciding to make more use of the small combo sound with able help from the likes of Top Topham, Tony Mills, Johnny Almond and Kenny Lamb. The expanded unit sound gave Duster the opportunity to experiment a little more and the results were, as one would have expected, heavily blues laden and instantly both recognisable and memorable. Nine of the new cuts were Bennett originals which included a wonderful instrumental "Sugar Beet", recalling the work of Jerry McCain; the jazz influenced "Sweeter Than Sugar" and an outstanding mandolin instrumental entitled "Hill St. Rag" that also featured, what sounds like, a mixture of hand clapping and clog dancing. The introspective ballad 'Everyday", on which Duster accompanies himself solely on hanmonium, was not to my personal taste but is delivered in a heartfelt manner. It also had a most memorable melody and was lyrically strong. On the downside though, if I am to be truthful, a few moments of dubious musical time-keeping are to be heard on a couple of the more 'layered' titles. For me, those moments spoil the listening experience. Perhaps the pressure of being both performer and producer was proving too much of a responsbility, causing Tony to accept 'seoond best' when those pressures manifested themselves as weariness. But that would not have been his way, so I am at a loss for an explanation. In any event the artist was happy so I was not about to 'rock the boat'.

I would also have to admit to my ambivalence with regard to the choice of two of the 'covers' that were chosen for inclusion - given that "I Chose To Sing The Blues" was a winner all the way. It might be that I could be to blame indirectly for the inclusion of the country-flavoured ballad "Woman Without Love". Brook Benton has always been a favourite with me, and this particular song originally appeared on an album Duster might well have borrowed from me at one time or another. I found it an odd choice though. It might have been better had it not been sweetened up with strings and female vocal backgrounds. A matter of opinion I guess. Duster's version of The Kinks' "Act Nice and Gentle" is also, in my estimaton, something of a non-event. It's jolly enough but for some inexplicable reason the performance made me feel uncomfortable. Mind you, someone at Blue Horizon (or CBS) must have thought it had something going for it as it was to be released as a single on 16th October 1970. True to form though, little or no reaction sales wise (despite the new red Blue Horizon imprint).

"12 db's" was certainly an innovative album. Duster allowed himself room to develop his personable style, always rooted very deeply in the blues. He was also allowed and encouraged to experiment in the studio in an attempt to create something new and meaningful. Whether he succeeded or failed in his attempts is for the individual listener to decide. Duster Bennett was always honest to a fault. He was both a charming person, and in his own way, charismatic. Understanding, helpful and never truly confrontational. That I did not, personally, have the time to get to know him better, was my loss. That our working relationship did not continue once Blue Horizon moved distributors from CBS to Polydor might perhaps be seen too as being a loss to both of us. The 'powers that be' in some way or another managed to conspire to create a situation that became confused for everyone involved. John Mayall (already signed to Polydor) made it known to Duster that he wished to expand his current band so as to have him involved. Duster, in turn, made it known to John that he had an on-going and exclusive commitment to us that he did not wish to break. Blue Horizon was, however, prepared to give permission for the two acts to record together as part of a new Bluesbreakers unit but reserved the right to record Duster Bennett as a solo act. What happened next is anyone's guess. It's a fact that Duster did not team up with Mayall. Nor did he continue with his manager Clifford Davis and never recorded again for Blue Horizon.

I have to believe that Tony's own eternal optimism was to be shattered by those in the business who were to subsequently promise him 'this' and 'that' and then never deliver. At Blue Horizon we always did our level best to be honest and fair in our business practises. In our recording activities we did our best to give our artists their own space to develop and offered ourselves as a shield against the demands imposed by those 'higher up the ladder' who were, in turn, banking us. A sense of belonging was an important part of our philosophy. I believe in some small way that we succeeded in those aims. Tony 'Duster' Bennett was an important part in the growth of the Blue Horizon label. His presence helped give the label an identity. That was all to change of course, when Fleetwood Mac left for greener pastures. The subsequent loss of Christine Perfect to Fleetwood Mac didn't do us any favours either. But Duster Bennett's departure seemed to be quite unnecessary. I don't believe that it was his wish and it certainly was not ours.

It was fully three years before Tony 'Duster' Bennett was to have another commercial record release via an Australian company. He was to record with the likes of B.B. King and Memphis Slim. He continued to write, whilst his career in the fast changing music business was taking a downward spiral. Thankfully, he was finding more time to spend with his family in their new home and then - disaster. In the mere blink of an eye and in an unguarded moment, Duster was taken from us. I knew nothing of the event at the time as I was in the States recording, as usual, and the news took a while to reach me. So many years on, it is very difficult to recall my exact reactions at the time. Of course I was saddened and shocked. His loss was devastating to those loved ones around him and, likewise, to all those others who had had the pleasure and thrill of working with him. He was truly a fine songwriter and a great performer, the like of whom we may never see again. Thankfully, his music lives on and, at long last, his Blue Horizon recordings ae now finally available in one package to bear witness to that greatness.

Mike Vernon
February 2004

Some personal memories

You may ask when listening to Tony 'Duster' Bennett, who was this young man playing with such depth and passion, a music so foreign in style to his own culture. Lake Charles, Louisiana and Ham, Surrey are thousands of miles apart, in all respects. However, the essence and writing of the blues are at one with its soul. How could this have been; for back in the '60s, access to the roots of this musical genre was tantamount to searching for the Holy Grail.

Tony was born in Welshpool, Montgomeryshire on 23rd September 1946. His parents, Thomas and Grace moved with his elder sister Chrstine to Kingston-upon-Thames two years later. We were to first meet in 1958 at the Leander Sea Scouts. He was generally moody and unsociable. I suspect an age difference was probably responsible, plus the fact his nickname 'Bonzo' always prompted angry responses from him. In later years it became apparent that his earlier unsociable behavour had been quite out of character.

We met up again two years later, when we both attended Saturday morning classes at Kingston School of Art. A further two years on and I was trying to learn to play the guitar. But perhaps the most important thing in my life at that time was my passion for blues music. Tony was something of an evangelist - he played piano and sang hymns. You can imagine then, that my interest was aroused when one day he produced a chromatic harmonica and proceeded to play not only a Bach melody but also Gershwin's "Summertime". I instantly had visions of Little Walter and initiated an exhaustive blues record session at my house. I remember loaning him my copy of "Bye Bye Bird" by Sonny Boy Williamson. Within two weeks, to my amazement, he'd not only grasped the feel but could also play it virtually note for note. From that moment onward he was to acquire an insatiable thirst for the blues and particularly for the era of the early country singers and the lesser known world of hokum and jug bands.

He joined me at Epsom Art School in 1964 where he was never to be seen without a guitar, harmonica or kazoo. I recall that, for many, this obsession operated at close to pest level, but was tolerated. Tony possessed a quality of intense obstinacy. In his lifestyle, the acceptance of electric blues or orthodox methods of painting were rejected. This phobic nature drove him to achieve his aims whatever and almost always with the stamp of originality.

The still-life cupboard at college was an endless source of new and curious objects of sound. Old cider bottles, kettles and watering cans often became incorporated into the line-up of our jug band. The most extraordinary feature of this group was that everybody was able to interchange from one instrument to another at the drop of a hat. Tony's natural generosity also allowed many non-musicians to have a 'go'. One particular blues that we always played was Gus Cannon's "Going To Germany". I can still remember Noah Lewis's original harmonica lines and the song's emotional content.

Art School dances also afforded me the opportunity of putting together various Chicago style bands. Tony did those with me - he could handle it so naturally. Jimmy Page even turned up and sat in on one occasion. We later went around to his house and heard his recordings with Eric Clapton. We thought they were awesome, as were his guitars. He was into Earl Hooker and many other players we liked. In the future Jimmy was to offer us both a lot of help.

It was during our time at Epsom Art College that Tony met Stella Sutton, later to become his wife. Not surprisingly she could sing. Tony incorporated her high vocal range into an adaptation of Blind Willie Johnson's style. Johnson sang religious songs in a deep gruff voice whilst his wife would sing the higher part, all the while accompanied by Willie's slide guitar which echoed his wife's vocal. Always searching and listening, Tony never left any blues styling unexplored.

The two of us moved on, with our friend Melvyn, to Guildford Art School. That was in 1965. I played in a soul band whilst Tony was flat out on the jug band scene. I then put together a ten-piece blues band. It was not to Tony's taste at the time, although he would join us and confidently 'sit in'. During this period we were religious about meeting during our lunchtimes in The Foundry where the only piano in the Pewley Annexe was to be found. A fellow student Vicky Newman, one of our 'blues chickettes' had a National Resonator guitar bought by her father for 2 in a junk shop. The problem was that somebody had decided that white gloss paint was a better finish than the original steel! However, after restoration it played like a dream and we treasured that gift as if it had come from Heaven itself.

Perhaps most important to us however, were our Saturday morning sessions at Tony's Mum's house. Digestives, tea and beans on toast were wedged in between our recordings on a Grundig tape machine. Nothing planned - just what came naturally. Those were times of pure joy: "Wow, it sounds like that bit on... " or 'That's really blue" and so on. Our gauge of success was how blue was it. I would have to say that in the cold light of today those early endeavours were quite exceptional.

Throughout the whole of that era we shared an avid thirst for collecting and listening to blues records. We both began to acquire treasures of infinite value in American auctions for as little as 25 each. Strange and crudely printed labels with foreign smells - this was 'high art' for us. Such magical names as Magic Sam, Doctor Ross, Frank Frost, Juke Boy Bonner and countless others who, at that time, were a complete mystery to us.

Tony, of course, entering the professional world of music making, would have to contain his own personal stamp of uniqueness. That very uniqueness manifested itself as a 'one-man band' that sounded more like a three-piece band. His show was something to behold; a high-energy powerhouse of sound, executed with subtlety. His performances were exhausting and he always gave 110% of himself to his audience. He was signed by Mike Vernon to record for Blue Horizon. I joined the label some time later and we played on each other's records. We played on the Mike Raven and John Peel Radio shows. We even did "Bright Lights" for BBC Television on 'Late Night Line Up'.

It was during this time that B.B. King was to make his first trip to these shores. Our excitement took us to Heathrow on the morning of his first performance, scheduled for the Albert Hall. B.B. arrived and was met by Tony and I with a bundle of his recordings to autograph. The great man, so generous in spirit, invited us to the Albert Hall that afternoon. We thought "Oh yeah, but we'll never get in". However, he had remembered to place our names at the Stage Door. We walked in whilst 'B' was playing the piano on stage, prior to the sound check. That night was magical. Everybody was there and I sat next to Janis Joplin.

A year earlier Tony had given me a photograph of himself and inscribed on the back was the following. To Top - 'When I first heard B.B. King I thought Buddy Guy was better, then the other day I started to sing - I want to write a letter' - Tony Duster Bennett '68. This related to an ongoing argument at the time, as to which one of them was the better. He had listened to B.B.'s "The Letter" - a single recently released in England and licensed from Kent Records.

That same year, Tony was given a 1952 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top guitar as a gift from Peter Green. Peter had in turn been given it by Eric Clapton. Rumour or legend has it, that it had also once belonged to Muddy Waters and B.B. King. It was a magical guitar, for strangely, Duster was to tour at a later date with B.B., playing that very instrument.

Life moved on. There were holidays, marriages and children. Tony and Stella had Joe, Hannah, Esther and later Ben. We all shared some good times.

Suddenly without warning, in March 1976, on hs way home from a gig with Memphis Slim, Tony fell asleep at the wheel; his life was taken. Such a harsh blow; such tragedy and pain. Stella found out that she was expecting their fourth child not long afterward. I cannot reflect on this loss or the effect the event had on us all. However, I can always remember our joint philosophy and shared passion. Searching for the sweet note that made you surge inside. How did this man span the essence of Blind Willie McTell to Bobby Bland and many others in such a short period of time; to deliver himself as a mature artist writing beautiful songs, with a gift that still moves you. May God rest him sweetly.

Top Topham
February 2004

Digitally mastered and edited at Sound Mastering

The Producer would like to thank both Peter Moody and Anthony 'Top' Topham for their tireless efforts and invaluable assistance in the completion of this release

A special 'thank you' to those at Sony BMG Music Entertainment for their valued assistance: Phil Savill, Gigi Corcoran, Richard Bowe and Steve Walsh

Blue Horizon Remastered

(C) (P) 2005 The copyright in this original sound recording is owned by & made by Sony BMG Music Entertainment (UK) Limited
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Long Overdue
Review written by Anonymous, October 26th, 2005

The release of the complete Duster Bennett sessions is "Long Overdue" (by the way an equally great Blue Horizon album by label colleague Gordon Smith. Should be released ASAP).OK fans have been kept in touch with Duster's music through the various Vertigo CD's but, although great music, it's comparing a blended whisky to a 20 years old malt.The first Album "Smiling like I'm happy" is one of the best British blues albums containg greats like the title song, Jumping at Shadows and Country Jam. I remember seeing Duster play in Penzance in 1969 when on holuday there. At the time I only knew his fabulous harmonica playing on Peter Green's "Trying so hard to forget" from Fleetwood mac's Mr. Wonderful album. When Duster took place behind the bass drum and high hat and hung on his beautiful 1952 Les Paul Goldtop guitar (given by Peter Green) he kicked off with "Country Jam". I was breathless. Everything on the man was moving, rocking and rolling. You heard a whole band while seeing just one man perform. Having seen most of the British blues greats (and even jammed with a few of them)I must admit that the Duster gig in Penzance is and will remain one of my most treasured gigs. The next day I managed to get his then two albums ("Smiling" and "Bright Lights") plus the single "Raining in my heart" b/w "Jumping for Joy", items which were not or very hard to get in Holland (where I live). Needless to say the vinyl products are completely worn out.
Someone transcribed the records to CD for me but you could still hear the scratchings. After waiting for more than twenty years, searching ads from specialized records shops and hopefully reading the rerelease page of Record Collector when I could get it "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" from Duster Bennett is finally there. Thanks Mike Vernon. One critical note. The print of the liner notes could have been a bit larger so that people who knew Duster's music in the 60s can read them without a magnifying glass. Now we look forward to the release of "Long Overdue".

    Last Modified »
2011-06-03
    Tracklisting »
Discography entry submitted by Marty Adelson.