NEWS: Fast Eddie Shake A Tail Feather: The Lost Studio Recordings

A 20-song collection of rare material, comprising demos and finished recordings most of which has not been heard for 40 years out on 5 August  

Listen to ‘Fever’:  

Countdown Records will release a CD and vinyl collection by Fast Eddie, one the early 1980s most exhilarating live R&B groups and a favourite on the Mod Revival scene.

The story of Fast Eddie goes all the way back to 1977 when four youngsters formed the R&B band The Investigators. From Billericay, there had long been a passion for rough and dirty rhythm and blues in their home county, heralded by Canvey Island’s Doctor Feelgood’s who led with what was affectionately known as ‘the Essex blues delta’.

Battling against the punk sound that had swept the nation but staying close to their R&B roots, the group initially played on the growing underground and specialist the scene. Changing their name to Fast Eddie – the name of Paul Newman’s pool-playing anti-hero in The Hustler – they continued to play what was fundamentally known as the ‘pub rock’ circuit.

In 1979 the mod revival exploded off the back of The Jam and the release of The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ film. While Fast Eddie were never an out and out mod band (in the way that Dr Feelgood weren’t either), they certainly scratched the mod itch. Gordon Tindale was a sharp-as-tacks singer and harmonica player with a penchant for tailored suits, joined by Bob Fulbrook on drums, Andy Waite on bass and the moustachioed Chris Page on guitar. Their set was a mixture of Chicago blues standards interspersed with the occasional original compositions.

Fast Eddie’s regular residencies at The Electric Stadium had garnered a fanatically loyal live following among the East London crowd and as their fame grew, the band soon became the biggest live draw on the mod circuit.

Managed by Eddie Piller, in the spring of 1982 he took Fast Eddie to Pye Studios in Marble Arch to cut their debut 45. The A side was the tried and tested Willie Dixon standard ‘My Babe’ which was backed by the Sonny Boy Williamson-penned ‘Help Me’ and one of their own called ‘Sweet Sensations’. Piller called the label Well Suspect Records. The label didn’t have national distribution so most of the 1000 copies were sold by mail order from the fanzine or from Merc/Robot and Right Track Records in Carnaby Street.

Fast Eddie continued to build their enthusiastic fan base. Gordon Tindale decided on a radical musical departure and band restructuring. He recruited Al Tracey, a school friend to join on tenor saxophone. He was soon joined by ‘Little Jo’ Sullivan and Gina Guanieri on vocals. While Al was most definitely a rockabilly, the two girls were both scooter-riding mod girls from the scene. Their inclusion added a fresh dimension to the sound, moving away from the mainly harmonica-led blues into a more rhythm and soul direction – with the girls often taking the lead.

Producer Vic Maile (The Animals, Led Zeppelin and The Who) was drafted in to produce the Fast Eddy’s debut album. The band went into a residential studios to lay down some tracks but for some reason only managed to record seven and not the expected twelve songs.

At this point disaster struck. A company that had been buying a healthy quantity of Well Suspect albums suddenly went bust and the label took an enormous hit. The manufacturing was dramatically halted and all that remained of the Fast Eddie mini-LP was just two test pressings – the recordings were shelved and eventually a couple of them surfaced on later Countdown compilations.

The failure of the album release was a major blow to the band’s prospects and while they continued playing headline shows around the country, including regular sell-outs at the 100 Club, general disenchantment had set in and not long after the group disbanded.

Shake A Tail Feather is a collection of the Fast Eddie’s recordings – some are demos and some finished masters – most of which have remained unheard for the last 40 odd years. Fast Eddie were one of the finest and most exciting live bands on the mod scene and these recordings bring back memories of those sweaty nights down at the 100 Club or The Regency Suite.

Based on Eddie Piller’s sleevenotes, available on request.  

Shake A Tail Feather will be available on CD and LP.

Track list:  

  1. Shake A Tail Feather
  2. I Don’t Need No Doctor
  3. Sugar Coated Love
  4. Sweet Sensation
  5. Turn On Your Lights
  6. Vicinity
  7. My Babe
  8. Ninety Nine And A Half
  9. Out Of Sight
  10. Fever
  11. Keep Your Hands Off It
  12. Teenie Bit Of Your Love
  13. Barefootin’
  14. Hit The Road Jack
  15. 36-22-36
  16. Homework
  17. Treat Her Right
  18. Land Of 1000 Dances
  19. Little Suzy (instrumental)
  20. Help Me

Album buy link:

Matt Mead

Matt Mead

Freelance writer who likes anything with heart and soul