Joe Meek Shall Inherit The Earth, Various Artists
Western Star WSEC 007 / WSEC 014

Joe Meek was Britain's first independent record producer, and one of the first in the world to receive recognition as such. Joe was born Robert Joe Meek in Newent, Gloucestershire, England on April 5th 1929. A quiet, creative child, he already knew by the time he was eight or nine that he wanted to do something with sound and electronics. He made his first recording in his early teens - an acetate of brother Eric's girlfriend singing a currently popular dance tune.

Joe moved to London in the mid-1950's. At first he took odd jobs at TV repair shops, but very shortly found his way to being a junior engineer for studios such as IBC. In 1956 IBC big shot Denis Preston offered him the opportunity to work at a new studio at Lansdowne House in Holland Park. Joe made many recordings there with British jazz legends such as Chris Barber, Acker Bilk and Humphrey Lyttleton, and even designed the mixing desk in the control room.

By the late 1950's, Joe had already accumulated a great deal of recording equipment of his own and was providing rehearsal space for well known artists, recording songs of his own and working with other then-unknown artists. Joe had an uncanny knack of spotting "image" a mile off. Around the turn of the decade, he began work on what was to become his home and studio until his death in 1967. He rented an apartment in North London's Holloway Road. Within a few months, 304 Holloway Road, London N7 was the home of RGM Sound Ltd. and Joe was well on his way to become Britain's first true independent producer, at the age of 31.

What Joe has accomplished over a mere 10 years is all facts and history, and a well produced tribute to the man and his legacy is a very welcome idea if you ask me, even though it's not the first tribute to Joe and it will certainly not be the last either. Who better to pull this off than Alan Wilson of the famed Western Star Recording Company. Being a Joe Meek fan himself, all he had to do was set his teeth in the project. The result is a wonderfull 25 track CD with all new recordings of former Joe Meek productions, ranging from 1957 (when Joe engineered Lonnie Donnegan's recordings for IBC), till 1966 when Diane & The Javelins released "Who's The Girl?". And in between there were Ricky Wayne, Mike Berry, Lance Fortune, John Leyton, Screaming Lord Sutch, The Tornados, The Syndicats, Heinz and many more.

The songs are brought to you by a bunch of well and lesser known artists, inlcuding Mike Berry, Paul Swift, The Sharks, Bill Fadden, Jean Vincent, Roger Chivers, The Ugly Dog Skiffle Combo, Aaron Kane, Guy Burnette, Frenzy, The Bad Detectives, Howlin' Wilson, J.D. & The Chasers and very rough hardrock-like version of "Poison Ivy" by Suited 'N' Booted. Most of the singers are backed by The Western All-Stars, a selection of great musicians from Alan's stable.

My favorites from this collection are The Sharks version of Screaming Lord Sutch's "Jack The Ripper", Bill Fadden's beautifully rendered "North Wind", Roger Chivers' "Johnny Remember Me", The Bad Detectives' bluesy rocker "Howlin' For My Baby", Guy Burnette's "Just Like Eddie" and Jean Vincent's "This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'". Mike Berry's re-recording of his own "Tribute To Buddy Holly" is a treat as well. There's a total 25 great renditions of classic British pop songs, very well packed and with extensive track-by-track liner notes by Geoff Barker. A delicious collection!

Volume 2, released in 2006, contains the following tracks:

  1. Shall I Go Or Stay / Pete Budd & The Western All-Stars
  2. You Took My Love For Granted / John Leyton
  3. What To Do / The Bad Detectives
  4. Theme From The Traitors / The Packabeats
  5. Try Once More / Graham Fenton & The Western All-Stars
  6. Please Don't Touch / Ian Gomm, Clem Cattini & Ray Fenwick
  7. Dracula's Daughter / The Sharks
  8. It Can Happen To You / Bob Butfoy & The Western All-Stars
  9. Blue, Blue Beat / Howlin' Wilson
  10. Lone Rider / John Leyton & The Western All-Stars
  11. Don't You Knock On My Door / Sue Moreno & The Western All-Stars
  12. Country Boy / Mark Pennington
  13. Swingin' Low / Ray Fenwick & Clem Cattini
  14. Movin' In / Bob Butfoy & The Western All-Stars
  15. Lots More Where This Came From / Aaron Kane
  16. Only The Heartaches / Robb E. Retro
  17. Night Of The Vampire / Howlin' Wilson
  18. Leave My Kitten Alone / The Bad Detectives
  19. Angela Jones / Rockin' Ricky Stevens & The Western All-Stars
  20. Oh Lover / John Leyton & The Western All-Stars
  21. Just Too Late / Graham Fenton & The Western All-Stars
  22. I'll Prove It / Jean Vincent & The Western All-Stars
  23. Please Stay (Don't Go) / Ian Gomm & The Western All-Stars
  24. Monster In Black Tights / The Sharks

Western Star Recording Company
P.O. Box 1441
Bristol BS39 7ZN
United Kingdom 

Biographical information from "Meeksville":

Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2004/2006