Brian Auger & The Trinity - Bumpin' On Sunset
Regular visitors to the world of Funky16Corners know that I have a monkey on my back, which weighs several hundred pounds, and has a Leslie speaker for a tail, that monkey being the Hammond organ, or more specifically, the sounds squeezed out of said organ and into the grooves of countless smoking 45s (how’s that for a run on sentence to start the weekend???). I dig the species of record known as Hammond groove more than almost any other, and spend an inordinate amount of time tracking down, and listening to said records. That said, most organ groove fans (myself included) are mainly interested in greazee, uptempo killers where you can practically hear the sweat dripping on the keys and smell the cigarettes and stale beer wafting from the bar across the room. That’s the shit right there. However (dontcha like how there’s always a “however”?)... Every once in a while, one of the greats lays down a moody groover meant less for the bootyshake and more for the head. I’m not talking about ballads, but more like something located on the downtempo side of town, with a nod to Sinister street (something like Bobby Cook & The Explosions ‘On The Way’, which I will most certainly post in the near future). Not to mention, that although I like to end the week with a banger, these are dire times that require a more, how do you say, “thoughtful” offering. One such gem is Brian Auger & the Trinity’s cover of Wes Montgomery’s ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’. Originally recorded in 1966 for Montgomery’s ‘Tequila’ LP, the tune was one of the guitar-master’s greatest compositions. Brian Auger, who began his career as a jazz pianist before switching to Hammond in the early 60’s recorded the version featured today on the 1968 ‘Definitely What?’ LP. Though the Trinity had recorded a prior LP with vocalist Julie Driscoll (who had been with Auger, Long John Baldry and Rod Stewart in the Shotgun Express), and would record with Driscoll again, this LP featured only Auger (organ, voc), Dave Ambrose (bass) and Clive Thacker (drums) as well and an orchestra arranged by Richard Hill. The LP, which featured an epic version of ‘A Day In The Life’ as well as covers of tunes by Mose Allison and Booker T & The MGs was a great example of the creeping effects of “progressive” rock, though unlike many of his peers, skipping over psychedelia entirely. This is especially relevant considering how deeply Auger would get into jazz fusion in the coming years with both the Trinity and Oblivion Express Where other prominent UK organists seemed to going off on tangents (Georgie Fame continuing in his bid for all-around pop stardom, Graham Bond chasing the ghost of Aleister Crowley down the rabbit hole) Auger was plotting a fairly steady (if not always artistically rewarding) course. He was a more than adequate jazz player, and his attempts at putting his chops to work in a “rock” setting were more often than not quite good. ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’ works on that level, as well as being one of the great moody 45s of the era. Opening with a simple, repeated bass/drum riff, Auger joins in on the Hammond stating the main theme. Following the first chorus, the strings and horns come in gradually providing a lush but surprisingly non-intrusive background (Hill’s arrangements sounding like a slightly less sweet Claus Ogerman). Auger briefly switches to electric piano before returning to the organ for the remainder of the song. Call me blasphemous, but I think that Auger’s version surpasses the original (as does his 45-only cover of Montgomery’s ‘In and Out’, also on ATCO). ‘Definitely What’ has been reissued on CD with bonus tracks.