Sunday, February 11, 2018

Chris Farlowe's English #1 Sinks In America

CHRIS FARLOWE-Out Of Time/Baby Make It Soon US MGM K 13567 1966

Chris Farlowe unfortunately was not able to transfer his U.K. #1 smash reading of the Stone's "Out Of Time" when it was released here in the States in August of '66 (three months after it's U.K. issue as Immediate IM 035). This was curiously not his first US 45, that honor belongs to his previous US 7", a mega rare issue of "Just A Dream"/"What You Gonna Do" which he cut with The Thunderbirds on the obscure Philly label General American way back in January 1965.

Fans of The Rolling Stones will recognize the backing track on Farlowe's reading of "Out Of Time" from the version on their "Metamorphosis" collection as it's the exact same version Mick Jagger sings over.  One would surmise this was done as a guide vocal for Farlowe although you never know. Regardless of which came first it brought Farlowe a U.K. #1 (and was at that position when England won the World Cup!). It was his first hit in his home country and sadly subsequent releases failed to reach the same heights or even remotely close to that coveted chart spot. Led by Art Greenslade's heavy duty string scoring it's not one of my favorite tracks by him (I've long preferred his pre-Immediate records stuff with The Thunderbirds). I also prefer The Stones more simplistic reading rather than this bombastic reading.  I think my chief complaint is that Farlowe always seemed to be singing out of his range on a lot of Immediate material and this one is no exception.

The flip, "Baby Make It Soon", was penned by Eric Woollfson (later of the Alan Parsons Project) and Andrew Loog Oldham. It's a halfway decent soulful ballad but nothing terribly impressive in  my estimation.

Both sides have appeared in a variety of places as Farlowe's Immediate material has been licensed (legitimately or on the never never) to everybody and their brother so there's no shortage of places to hear them (with orchestration by Art Greenslade and production by Mick Jagger again). They're both available on two in print UK Chris Farlowe CD collections "Handbags & Gladrags: The Immediate Collection" and "Out Of Time" available for purchase on CD or download from Amazon.

Hear "Out Of Time":

Hear "Baby Make It Soon":

Monday, February 5, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Ferris Wheel

THE FERRIS WHEEL-I Can't Break The Habit/Number One Guy US Phillips 40512 1968

Britain's Ferris Wheel were a multi racial 6 piece who made their debut in October 1967 with the John Schroeder produced "I Can't Break The Habit" (UK Pye 7N 17387). The band was comprised of ex-Checkmates brothers Dave (saxophone) and George Sweetman (bass) and Barry Reeves (drums), ex-West Five organist/vocalist Mike Liston (also know as Mike Snow!),  guitarist Keith Anthony and vocalist Diane Ferraz, formerly one half of the Simon Napier Bell produced multiracial duo Diane and Nicky.

Discovered by producer Schroeder during a set at the hip London night spot the Bag O' Nails club where they gigged as part of the many r&b acts under the famous Gunnell agency, he wasted no time securing them a deal with Pye and getting them into the studio. The result was this, their debut 45. It was released in the US in January 1968 (it would be their sole US 45, though a later line up would release an LP here on UNI).

"I Can't Break The Habit" is a perfect 1967 melding of British club r&b with slightly trippy, almost psychedelic overtones with hypnotic combo organ trills layered with blistering guitar licks and flute meshed with strong horns that almost sound like fuzz guitars!  The highlight of course is Diane Ferraz vocals and the chorus that sounds like a mantra!

The flip, "Number One Guy", is firmly devoid of anything psychedelic and is a total uptempo brass backed, Motown influenced soul groover and after a resurgence on the dreaded Northern Soul scene found it's place (rightfully so) on multiple British 60's soul/Northern soul compilations over the past 30 plus years!

Both sides can be found on Sequel's now out of print anthology of the band's Pye material "Can't Break The Habit". On the compilation side of things "Can't Break The Habit" was comped by Psychic Circle for their "We Can Fly" CD while "Number One Guy" recently appeared on several Northern soul collections, among them "Keeping the Faith: 30 Stomping Northern Soul Classics" and "Northern Soul (Backdrops, Highkicks And Handclaps)".

Hear "I Can't Break The Habit":

Hear "Number One Guy":

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January's Picks

1. THE KELLY BROTHERS-"Crystal Blue Persuasion"
One of my favorite Kelly Brothers tracks is this soulful 1969 interpretation of the Tommy James & The Shondells hit on the Excello label, and probably is one of their toughest to find. Their smooth vocals and the stellar backing get me every time.

2. DAVID BOWIE-"Big Brother"
Reading the excellent book "David Bowie: A Life" has set me on a path to rediscovering Bowie. The problem with owning so much music is that you tend to overlook stuff that's right in front of you while fawning over some 45 you've just scored. Somewhere in the political chaos that is the United States right now this number, more so than ever, makes perfect sense.

The new Stereo/Mono mixes of "Their Satanic Majesties Request" LP have unearthed a wealth previously unnoticed musical bits. On "Citadel" Brian's mandolin setting on the Mellotron come out crisper as does the striking anvil, Wyman's fuzz bass and Brian's saxophone bits at the fade out make them sound like Traffic or even Gong.  Mindblowing, man.

4. GIL SCOTT-HERON-"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
"You will not be able to stay home brother, you will not be able to turn on, plug in and cop out. You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip out for beer during commercials because the revolution will not be televised..."

5. THE SWINGERS-Counting The Beat"
With it's catchy beat nicked from The Pretty Things "Come See Me", this 1981 new wavey power pop ditty by New Zealand's Swingers is certain to be a foot tapper.

6. THE LPT'S-"Mo' Soul"
This one's a heavy instro driven by some groovy organ and a sharp as a stiletto, hard cracking snare beat. Released on the obscure Mary Jane label in 1966 released on the flip of the equally cool, but not as good "Long Cool Summer".

7. THE THREE O'CLOCK-"And So We Run"
"And So We Run" was an anthem of sorts for me as I was about to graduate high school and watched my small minded, small town disappear in my rear view mirror as I fled to New York City every weekend to meet like minded individuals.

8. COUNT MACHUKI & THE DESTROYERS-"Movements (The Joe Gibbs Way)"
I am a stone cold sucker for any reggae instrumentals that lean heavy on the organ so when I stumbled on this rare one I was immediately floored!

9. NILSSON-"Jump Into The Fire"
Driven by Herbie Flowers ace of bass groovy low end notes, Nilsson's coolest number ever will have you looking for helicopters. I always imagined Joe Jackson doing a decent version of it before he lost the plot and wanted to be Cab Calloway which leads us to....

10. JOE JACKSON-"Mad At You"
Driven by Graham Maby's hard driving basslines maybe Joe Jackson didn't need to cover "Jump Into The Fire" but instead re-wrote it as "Mad At You" with it's insane freaky little echoing keyboard flashes and Jackson's amphetamine shrieking.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The State Of Micky And Tommy

THE STATE OF MICKY & TOMMY-With Love From 1:00 To 5:00/Sunday's Leaving US Mercury 72712 1967

Long before he was in Spooky Tooth or Foreigner Mick Jones was one half of a British pop psych duo with Tommy Brown under the moniker of the State Of Micky And Tommy. Jones had previously served as a guitarist in French musician Ronnie Bird's backing band. The band issued a slim discography with just two singles in their home country and two in the US but two 7" E.P.'s and two 45's in France where they were clearly more popular.

"With Love From 1:00 To 5:00" was issued in the US in August 1967, the same time it was issued in the UK as Mercury MF 996. The British issue contains a different B-side, "I Know What I Would Do".

"With Love From 1:00 To 5:00" (written by Jones and Brown)  is a slice of archetype '67 British psych pop with it's driving/brash Who-like backing track and then  layers of strings infectious pop hooks (and prerequisite chiming church bells). It had all the makings of a Summer of  '67 smash but alas it was not to be. Regardless of it's commercial success or lack thereof it's an amazing track.

The flip "Sunday's Leaving", though not as good as the UK flip is not a bad track per se, just not terribly strong.  It's a mid tempo pop tune held together by some churchy Hammond and flourishes of sitar, nothing flashy or catchy like the brilliant A-side but not at all un-listenable either. It all ends abruptly like someone pulled the plug as the number grinds to a slow halt.

"With Love From 1:00 To 5:00" was unearthed by Bam Caruso for Volume 15 of their legendary Rubble series "5000 Seconds Over Toyland". "Sunday's Leaving" has yet to surface anywhere.

 Brilliant French TV clip of the band cutting "With Love From 1:00 To 5:00":


Hear the completed "With Love From 1:00 To 5:00":

Hear "Sunday's Leaving":

Thursday, January 18, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Untamed

THE UNTAMED-It's Not True/Gimme Gimme Some Shade US Planet 45-117 1966

Brighton, England's mod/r&b stalwarts The Untamed were led by lead singer/guitarist Lindsay Muir.  They had multiple personnel and label changes by the time they joined producer Shel Talmy's fledgling Planet label in late 1965. The band's debut was on Decca ("So Long/Just Wait", F 12045 December 1964), but it was not until their one off 45 for Parlophone ("Once Upon A Time/I'm Asking You", Parlophone R 5258 March 1965) that the band came into producer Shel Talmy's orbit. He moved with them for their next 45 on Stateside ("I'll Go Crazy/My Baby Is Gone", SS 431 June 1965) and stayed on for their brief recording career. With three releases on three different labels that failed to garner notice (all Lindsay Muir compositions save the James Brown cover on Stateside) Talmy brought them in on his newly formed Planet label with their next release being one of the three singles chosen to simultaneously launch the label. With Muir's material not providing the band with a hit Talmy chose "It's Not True", a track from the recently completed debut Who LP "My Generation" that he also produced to be their next single.

Released in England as Planet PLF 103 in December 1965 it was strangely not released in the United States until October 1966, by which point the Planet label was a mere two months away from folding. Untamed personnel at the time of the single's recording were Muir (lead vocals/lead guitar), Brian Breeze (rhythm guitar), Wes (bass, full name unknown!), Alan Moss (organ) and Keith Hodge (drums). The track was cut at IBC studios in November 1965 . Produced by Talmy it was engineered by Glyn Johns and aided by Talmy's favorite session man Nicky Hopkins on piano.

The Untamed line-up at the time of "It's Not True", Lindsay Muir center

"It's Not True" is slightly faster than The Who original, with Hopkin's piano far more prominent in the mix and distinct double tracking on the main chorus. It's a decent cut but one wonders why Talmy had the Untamed record an already issued Who cut when Pete Townshend no doubt had a slew on unrecorded tracks to offer. This may have been due to the fact that the Who's fractious relationship with the producer was drawing to and end.  It gets nice a rough during the bridge, in fact rawer than the original and Hopkin's piano trills adding to the pop art mayhem! The flip, "Gimme Gimme Some Shade", a Muir original,  is a far stronger track but not punchy enough to have been a A-side.

Both sides are available on RPM's Untamed CD "Gimme Gimme: Singles And Unreleased Rarities 1965-1996" and will no doubt be included in the Ace records Untamed anthology already in the works as we type (and including the band's debut Decca 45 left off of "Gimme Gimme", mastered from yours truly's copy). "It's Not True" was also comped on RPM's Planet records CD collection "The Best Of Planet Records" and on their more recent 3 CD collection "Looking Back".

Hear "It's Not True" and "Gimme Gimme Some Shade":

Monday, December 11, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Force Five and Jim Economides

THE FORCE FIVE-Gee Too Tiger/I Want You Babe US Ascot 2206 1966

The sole US 45 by Britain's The Force Five ("the" being dropped on their U.K. releases) was a curious March 1966 coupling of their fourth and next to last U.K. single (United Artists UP 1118 December 1965) with sides reversed. Hailing from the Dr. Feelgood turf of Canvey Island the Force Five were a U.K. beat 5 piece.

"Gee Too Tiger", though credited to Jim Economides and Perry Ford sounds suspiciously like this May 1965 track "Geeto Tiger" cut in the U.S. on the Colpix label by The Tigers!!  Blatant plagiarism aside it's always interesting to hear British bands sing about the imminently American domain of fast cars. "Gee Too Tiger" works not just because it's a punchy beat number but because The Force Five have the vocal harmony part down to a fine art and the over the top guitar solo worthy of any Joe Meek record is far too crazy for anything a U.S. surf/hot rod band would attempt!

Pic courtesy of

 "I Want You Babe" is moved along by a catchy bass line, it's a mid tempo beat number somewhat reminiscent of The Applejacks or The Sons Of Fred.  Again there's a freaky little guitar solo towards the end where the band go into a full on mod/freakbeat "rave up" that sadly fades out before it really gets going (the track clocks at just under 2 minutes).

Both sides were produced by the US producer Jim Economides who took a page from Shel Talmy's book and launched his own UK based production company in 1965 producing Marc Bolan's debut 45, Ray Singer, The Fenmen (on their final two "West Coast" influenced 45's ), The Fadin' Colors, Simone Jackson, The Clockwork Oranges mod/surf classic "Ready Steady" and The Majority's surf/hot rod number "Shut 'Em Down In London Town" etc. One wonders if Economides heard "Geeto Tiger" whilst producing in the States and took the liberty of "rewriting" it in the the UK (he had previously produced "surf" records for Dick Dale and Mr. Gasser and The Weirdos back in the US of A) .

"Gee Too Tiger" has yet to be comped but "I Want You Babe" recently surfaced on the CD compilation series "Beatfreak!" on their "Beatfreak 2!" volume.

Hear "Gee Too Tiger":

Hear "I Want You Babe":

Monday, December 4, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Status Quo

STATUS QUO-Ice In The Sun/When My Mind Is Not Live US Cadet Concept 7006 1968

Status Quo will forever be one hit wonders in the United States on the strength of their March 1968 #12 hit "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" issued on the Chess records "alternative" outlet Cadet Concept.  Cadet Concept skipped their second 45 "Black Veils Of Melancholy" (which was curiously issued in 1969 as their 4th of 5 Cadet Concept 45's!)  and jumped to their third U.K. 45 "Ice In The Sun" which was released here in August 1968 (issued in the U.K. as Pye 7N.17581 the previous month). Unfortunately it stalled at #70 and was the last time Status Quo ever graced the U.S. Hot 100.

Written by pre-Beatles U.K. teen idol Marty Wilde (father of 80's new wave sensation Kim) and Ronnie Scott (NOT the famous U.K. jazz man), "Ice In The Sun" relies on the similar guitar effects of "Pictures Of.." , it's sort of bubble gum psych pop. Not an awful track per se but not their best either.  The real gem in the flip side "When My Mind Is Not Life" penned by the band's lead guitarist Rick Parfitt.  Starting with some wah-wah'ed combo organ and  bass playing scales with their trademark distorted guitar wailing away it's a perfect hard pop-psych tune.  Musically it reminds me of The Bee Gee's if they'd been allowed to get "heavier".

Both tracks were included on their debut US LP "Messages From The Status Quo" and are available on a host of Pye era Status Quo CD compilations.

Hear "Ice In The Sun":

Hear "When My Mind Is Not Life":

Cool Belgian 1968 TV promo for both tracks: