Vinyl Frontier: Working Week, Working Nights

Some albums were almost forgotten until the turntable allowed for resuscitation. This jazz/soul hybrid from 1985 hadn’t been heard for years.

Now I know that some readers will raise their hands in horror at the J-word, but jazz has been a constant in the music collection, and the 1980s were great for British jazz, with Courtney Pine, Loose Tubes and Andy Sheppard (Andy is a star turn in the vinyl canyon, and the CD cave).

Two thoughts arise on hearing this album from Working Week: it sounds as fresh and exciting now as it did then; and the album is jazzier than remembered.

Working Week were essentially guitarist Simon Booth and saxophonist Larry Stabbins. The soul element came from singer Julie Roberts (she later changed her first name to Juliet), owner of a powerful voice and great sensibility and phrasing, too.

The jazz element was boosted by star guests including trumpeters Guy Barker and Harry Beckett, sax player Chris Briscoe and trombonist Annie Whitehead. Louis Moholo-Moholo took care of the drums.

The 1985 vinyl release on Virgin is a handsome affair in the way albums sometimes were. It came with the eight-track album, plus a 12in single, all stylishly wrapped in the mottled blue double cover.

The track Working Week are most remembered for is Venceremos, dedicated to Chilean singer, activist and poet Victor Jara, who was tortured and killed under the Pinochet dictatorship. It’s a strong song still, and on the album in general there isn’t a wasted note, just powerful soul-jazz grooves (if you’ll excuse the over-excited muso speak).

The album opens with the band’s take on Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues – a fitting start, and the music throughout is blisteringly good: sharp, warm and full of great playing.

Guest vocalists on Venceremos include Tracey Thorn and Robert Wyatt, while Juliet Tippets takes over lead vocals for Storm Of Light.


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