Carmel tonight. The name may not ring a lot of bells on this side of the Atlantic (which is a shame), but a band still going strong today, over 30 years since they first got started.
Originally, Carmel consisted of Carmel McCourt, Gerry Darby and Jim Parris. They’ve had a big following in Europe, practically from the get-go. You could characterize their sound as a combination of Blue-eyed Soul, Funk, New-Jazz, Blues and Gospel – and maybe that was what had U.S. labels perplexed, certainly with mainstream – how can you pigeonhole a band like this? You can’t.
This session, done for Kid Jensen at BBC Radio 1 on July 28, 1983 comes right between the release of their debut 6-track mini album and just before the release of their debut full-length album The Drum Is Everything. There is no denying, the energy this band generates is infectious, and the voice of Carmel McCourt is flame-hot. I remember getting their debut album and being suitably blown away by just how interesting and engaging this band were – and how often it was on my turntable.
The other day I ran a post featuring Everything But The Girl, and indicated they were part of that wave of Jazz/Soul/Blues/Funk which was being promoted by bands like Working Week, Style Council and Swing Out Sister. I also mentioned that one of the cornerstone bands of that movement was Carmel.
For those of you familiar with EBTG and Style Council, but not necessarily familiar with them (or Working Week), here’s a sample of what I’m talking about from their initial exposure. A very inventive band, who have jumped into the London Jazz scene in recent years – recording a live album at Ronnie Scott’s. A recently re-organized group (minus drummer Gerry Darby) recorded Strictly Piaf, an album of songs originally performed by the legendary Edith Piaf. They have had numerous collaborations with a wide range of artists over the years. It has added to what the rich musical tapestry Carmel is all about, and makes them a band more than worth checking out.