It’s the Hank B Hive show featuring the Neasden queen of soul…
If you were fortunate enough to see Roxy Music on their Avalon tour (I was smack in the middle of the 5th row at Wembley Arena. Brilliant!) you would have seen the excellent Mari Wilson in support. Bryan Ferry reportedly asked them to support RM after hearing the extraordinary Beat The Beat single. Mr Ferry may also have liked the way her publicity always portrayed her as a glamorous star even when she was relatively unknown. Early Roxy Music employed a similar ruse. Mari Wilson singles looked more like 60s EPs with Tony Barrow style liner notes (Paul Weller would use a similar technique with the Style Council a few years later). The emphasis on image and the camp comedy aspects of the live show was bound to alienate the more po-faced music fan but the rest of us went along for the ride, saw some great shows and bought some great records.
This is the opening number from a BBC Sight & Sound In Concert I recorded (probably) in 1983 and it illustrates the point perfectly. It’s nearly nine minutes long and starts with Hank B Hive (possibly not his real name) introducing the band with some pretty predictable ‘comedy’ routines and giving Mari the big build-up before she arrives and gives a storming version of Baby, It’s True. That’s something the naysayers missed: behind the façade was a great singer and band who knew how to put on a show.
mp3: Mari Wilson - Baby It's True (Live) (10MB file)
If you’re looking for a CD of this stage of Mari Wilson’s career I heartily recommend The Platinum Collection.