Pop / Everything's coming up Roses

Tim Rose 12 Bar Club, London

Tim Rose has a penchant for songs about men murdering their wives. Or, in his own words, "murder as it should be". Take "Long Time Man," for example, a loping blues composition that includes the words: "They're gonna keep me here for the rest of my life, but I don't care 'cos I shot my wife." Not a million miles away from "Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand?" Except that Tim Rose doesn't just call it a gun. He manages to fit a description of the weapon into the same line (it's a blue steel .44 for anyone who's interested.) He's fully entitled to improvise in this way, of course. His treatment of the song is the definitive one and, after all, there aren't many other people who can say that they've had their version covered by Jimi Hendrix.

"Who wrote it?" shouted somebody in the crowd at the 12 Bar Club.

"Who cares?" replied Tim Rose. "What are you? My publicist?"

The guy from Greenwich Village had a little trouble at first from the odd heckler in the audience, but he soon settled in once he recognised it as friendly fire. People had come to listen to a musician who started out in the same band as Mama Cass Elliot, and who once turned down a song offered by an unknown Bob Dylan. Accompanied by Michael Winn on electric guitar, Tim Rose performed tunes such as "Come Away Melinda", and "Eat, Drink and be Merry", silencing the 120 or so people packed into this tiny venue. A bit of blues and a bit of country.

But the song they wanted to hear most was "Morning Dew". Since he made his original recording in 1967 there have been over 60 other versions of this classic, including one by the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart on vocals. Yet Tim Rose set the benchmark. Clocking in at a mere two minutes 46 seconds, "Morning Dew" received extensive airplay on the infant Radio 1 at the time but, in spite of this, CBS decided never to release the single in Britain. Instead, it developed a cult following. People who don't know this song should seek it out and have a listen. That early recording featured a subtle slide guitar signature as well some portentous drumming by Bernard Purdie. On Thursday night, however, Tim Rose and Michael Winn performed the song without embellishments, Rose's soaring voice underpinned by two acoustic guitars and nothing else. A lot of people had waited a long time to hear the man himself sing "Walk me out in the morning dew". He saved it until last, said goodnight, and played no encore.

Magnus Mills

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