Monday, June 19, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Neil MacArthur aka Colin Blunstone

NEIL MaCARTHUR-She's Not There/World Of Glass US Deram 45-7524 1969


















For those not in the know Neil MacArthur was none other than Colin Blunstone, formerly lead singer with The Zombies who had spent the last year out of the music business working in an insurance office following the 1968 break up of The Zombies.

Conceived by producer Mike Hurst the "Neil MacArthur" venture lasted just shy of a year and resulted in three singles for Deram, all of which were released in the U.S. as well as the U.K. "She's Not There" was the first, issued in January 1969 on both sides of the Atlantic.  It was a curious choice given that it was the debut track by The Zombies. It reached #34 in the U.K. charts, but did not chart in the U.S.

Banish any thoughts of the jazzy electric piano led British beat group sound of the Zombies original 1964 single and clear your mind. Starting with an ominous symphonic beginning reminiscent of David Axelrod , Blunstone's vocals sound similar to the way he sings in the original version.  But over the top of quirky little guitar licks and sweeping, easy listening (as in the freaky soundtrack sort) orchestration,vibes and the jazzy flute solo make it sound "way out". Ditto for the way the number abruptly stops with the strings spiraling down like the tape was stopped.  It's really the phlanging strings that make it sound over the top (in a good way!).
















"World Of Glass" is a different bad entirely.  With it's tabla, harmonium and steel guitar it's like a trippy version of Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance (musically) or Donovan or Nick Drake on a good day. Sadly it's vocally not my thing as it sort of reeks of the early 70's "singer sing writer" feel and Blunstone's muezzin style chanting does nothing to endear it to me.

Oddly neither tracks have seemed to see any sort of reissue outside of "She's Not There" being on a the 1987 LP compilation "Deram Days"!

Hear "She's Not There":

https://youtu.be/6abJ9muSoVw

Hear "World Of Glass" :

https://youtu.be/EMNq3DprCw0

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Class Of '67: 10 Great U.K. Long Players From 1967


1. THE ROLLING STONES-"Between The Buttons" UK Decca SKL 4852 / US London PS 499
Often slammed by critics, and in some cases The Stones themselves, "Between The Buttons" has been unfairly maligned as a collection of throwaways and B grade tracks (which it did contain like "Please Go Home" and the mundane "Miss Amanda Jones"). I beg to differ on the rest and to me if "Aftermath" was the band's "Rubber Soul" then this was surely their "Revolver".  As a fan of the so called "Brian Jones mystique" it's dotted with examples of his musical diversity and flavor . There's vibes on "Yesterday's Papers" and "Backstreet Girl" (both augmented by Jack Nitzsche on harpsichord), recorder on "All Sold Out" (and on his masterpiece only found on the U.S. issue: "Ruby Tuesday") saxophone on "Something Happened To Me Yesterday" and a host of minor bits and bobs on nearly every track.  Like "Aftermath" it was entirely comprised of Jagger-Richards originals and contained the prerequisite amount of chauvinistic put downs ("Yesterday's Papers", "Complicated" and the lushly orchestrated but utterly crass "Back Street Girl"). It's also interesting also because the band are sort of unsure of where they're going direction wise be it the Dylanesque "Who's Been Sleeping Here" or the '67 Kinks meet New Vaudeville Band acid trip documentation of "Something Happened To Me Yesterday". As mentioned previously there's "Please Go Home", a mundane Bo Diddley rhythm swamped in weird effects (left off the US issue with "Back Street Girl" in favor of "Ruby Tuesday" and "Let's Spend The Night Together") and "Miss Amanda Jones" which sounds like it was quite literally made up on the spot.  Fortunately these tracks are the exceptions to the rule and obliterated by the likes of Keith Richard's catchy and rollicking "Connection" (with great lines explaining the current life of The Stones like "My bags they get a very close inspection, I wonder why it is that they suspect.." ) and the somber but wonderful "She Smiled Sweetly" that contains only keyboards, bass and drums.


2. DAVID BOWIE-"David Bowie" UK Deram SML 1007 /US Deram DES 18003
Often it's started that the Dame's debut LP was released the very same day as "Sgt. Pepper". It wasn't, "Sgt Pepper" was issued on May 26th (in the UK anyway), "David Bowie" was launched on June 1st (the day after "Pepper.." was released in America) on Decca's new Deram offshoot (it's US release was not until August).  It has often been dogged by comparisons to Anthony Newley, though not entirely off the mark in some spots its unfounded for the bulk of its material. It opens with the woodwind backed paean to an aging momma's boy ("Uncle Arthur") and moves into a variety of delightful orchestrated tunes, many of which are brilliant social observations with lush musical backing (put together by Bowie and bassist Dek Fearnley, whose brother Gerald took the iconic cover shot). "There Is A Happy Land" plumbs the youthful nostalgia of childhood (also explored on "Come And Buy My Toys") , both with subtle acoustic guitar from Pentangle guitarist John Renbourn while "We Are Hungry Men" portrays a post apocalyptic society where cannibalism prevails (it was left off the US release for precisely that reason). Bowie's songs on this album are almost like little one act plays or short stories. There's a troubled war veteran with a soft spot for children whose kindness is mistaken for being pedophile and run out of town in "The Little Bombardier" and "Join The Gang" pokes fun at Swinging London and its "in" crowd (complete with sitar plonking and strains of "Gimme Some Lovin") while "Maid Of Bond Street" snappily chronicles the woes of a dolly bird model with jazzy guitar and accordion and the classic line "gleaming teeth sip aperitifs".  "She's Got Medals" is a rapid fire rewrite of "Hey Joe" (musically anyway) about a war hero who's really a woman who enlisted as a man and now a cause celebre at the local pub. The original version of "Love You Till Tuesday" (later re-cut as his 2nd Deram 45) gets it first airing whilst his Deram debut single "Rubber Band" is rerecorded with subtle differences (telling the story of a man who goes off to war and his girl falls for the leader of the band they would watch in the park on Sundays). The album ends on a macabre note with  "Please Mr Gravedigger", a spoken word soliloquy by a child murder who makes a graveside confession to a grave digger whom he then kills, beneath stormy sound effects.


3. THE PRETTY THINGS-"Emotions" UK Fontana TL 5425
Much like "Between The Buttons", The Pretties third long player "Emotions" is sometimes met with a howl of derision when mentioned from the band and fans alike. The augmentation of brass and strings with the band on several tracks is usually disowned by hardcore Pretty Things fans as "commercial" or "unnecessary" but without them most of the tracks seem utterly bare bones and lacking to my ears. There are a few duff cuts, the kazoo driven "Children", the Bee Gees pastiche of "Growing In My Mind" or the protagonist from the Kinks "Shangri-La" or Rupert's People's "Reflections Of Charles Brown" cast here on "House Of Ten". That said they are overshadowed by the utter brilliance of  the catchy/brassy "Photographer" (documenting a day in the life of David Bailey or David Hemmings in "Blow Up" perhaps?), more catchy social observation about the death of Guinness heir Tara Browne in "Death Of A Socialite" (one of many here that's hard to imagine sans the brass) and hypnotic 12 string guitar led "My Time" where The Hollies meet sharp brass backing of say...The Les Reed Orchestra. "One Long Glance" benefits from some subtle fuzz guitar and brilliant harmonies (thanks to new members John Povey and Wally Allen , late of The Fenmen). "Bright Lights Of The City" merge the uptown brass of a Tom Jones record with some tough soulful bass lines and "Out In The Night" would probably sound at home on a final Johnny Kidd '66 session with it's precise horns and strings. "Tripping" is an interesting track with some bluesy steel guitar and no orchestra or brass and of course the subject matter...well the Pretties never shied away from controversy right? By the time of it's release lead singer Phil May and lead guitarist Dick Taylor were the only original members left standing and the band defected to EMI where they began work on singles and later an LP that would give The Pink Floyd pause for concern.

4. THE HOLLIES-"Evolution" U.K. Parlophone PMC 7022/ US Epic BN 26315
The Hollies managed to commercially survive the transition from beat group to psychedelia, a feat managed only by themselves and The Beatles. Produced at EMI's Abbey Road under the guiding hand of Ron Richards "Evolution" (in it's psychedelic cover courtesy of Dutch art troupe The Fool) is layered in the band's trademark harmonies and pure orchestrated pop. The tracks were arranged and conducted by Mike Vickers and features the work of session drummer Clem Cattani and  Mitch Mitchell (Hollies stickman supremeo Bobby Elliott was recuperating from appendix surgery during the recording). Opening with "Then The Heartaches Begin" (which reverberates in shimmering psychedelic effects, fuzz guitars and the lot) it's clear that the days of beat ballads were dead. "Stop Right There", sung by Graham Nash has an almost gypsy feel to it with it's violin solo while the double entendre of "Water On The Brain" is probably the only pop track with a tuba solo! "Rain On The Window" is a bleak painting of a one night stand while "Have You Ever Loved Somebody" (previously covered by The Everly Brothers, The Searchers AND Paul & Barry Ryan) sounds like the '66 Hollies (albeit with heavily distorted guitar!). The album still veers away from being all out psychedelic, "Leave Me" is almost soulful with it's subtle combo organ while "The Games We Play"  and "When Your Lights Turned On" are boy lusts after girl pop tracks with heavy orchestration and great melodies. "Heading For A Fall" has echoes of 1966's "Hard Hard Year" but with tack piano and brass and "You Need Love" sounds like the jangly Hollies of '66. As expected the bands three part harmonies excel and prove a winning combination with Vickers arrangements and orchestration.

5. KALEIDOSCOPE-"Tangerine Dream" UK Fontana TL 5448
Written not with L.S.D. or pot as it's inspiration but copious amounts of cheap Spanish red wine in a suburban bedroom by two 21 year old members Peter Daltrey (guitar) and Eddie Pumer (guitar), "Tangerine Dream" is in many ways equally as trippy as anything else the more lysergically minded members of the Class of '67 could offer. The album has several psychedelic ditty's like "(Further Reflections) In The Room Of Percussion" (the dissolution of a relationship seen through psychedelic imagery) to perhaps the only song ever written about an accidental murder, the chilling "The Murder Of Lewis Tollani". There's the wistful beach scenes of "Holidaymaker" (with muted brass and seaside sound affects), lives thrown together in a plane crash on "Flight From Ashiya" and the story of the under appreciated watch repair shop keeper of "Mr. Small The Watch Repairer Man" (which would not sound out of place on the Kinks LP below and is orchestrated by Reg Tilsley, responsible scoring The Pretty Things LP listed above!) . "Dear Nellie Goodrich" is a love letter put to music with tack piano and acoustic guitar that's quite reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Paintbox" and "The most way out track is "Dive Into Yesterday" which sings of  "battalions in baby blue are bursting beige balloons" and "oh swing and say the petals say.." on top of discordant, shimmering guitars and high harmonies. The album concludes with the jangly, folk rock with sharp harmonies feel of ""The Sky Children" which though amazing goes on a bit too long at seven minutes plus.


6. GEORGIE FAME-"Two Faces Of Fame" U.K. CBS 63018
Georgie Fame began 1967 with a fresh start. Having left EMI and at his management's urging cut the Blue Flames loose he began a lucrative career with a new label, CBS.  They launched their new charge under a publicity blitz featuring a logo with his profile and the slogan "More Fame in '67" on his subsequent releases on the label. His debut album for the label came in the form of "Two Faces Of Fame", with one side live and one side in the studio. Musically it was not terribly to far removed from the jazzy side of the Blue Flames and any hint of his semi M.O.R. approach on the label is not yet discernible but r&b/soul is firmly dead and buried. The live side features a virtual who's who of British jazz and r&b. Fame's band includes Blue Flames alumni Eddie "Tan Tan" Thorton on trumpet, former Manfred Mann associate Lynn Dobson on tenor sax, future Brian Auger Trinity bassist Rick Brown and former John Mayall's Bluebreakers drummer Hughie Flint, among others. Side A (recorded live at The Royal Festival Hall on March 18, 1967) opens with "Greenback Dollar Bill" where Fame belts it out in front of a big band. His jazz cred shines through brightly on "Things Ain't What They Used To Be", "River's Invitation" and the tongue twisting "Bluesology" (the later two sees him backed by the Harry South Big Band with the cream of British jazz including Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott , Gordon Beck etc in the ranks). The live side closes with Jon Hendrick's tongue and cheek  "Keep Your Big Mouth Shut" where Fame interjects names of friends like Zoot Money, and troubled but legendary British jazz drummer Phil Seaman (where he is also backed by The Harry South Big Band). Side two's studio side is a lesser affair without so many big names and sounds sparse with a jazz quartet formula of just bass, drums, sax and piano. Highlights include a faithful reading of Mongo Santamaria's "El Pussycat" , the somber "C'est La Vie" and "Do It The Hard Way". Not his best long player of the 60's, but it certainly wasn't his worst either.

7. THE KINKS-"Something Else" U.K. Pye NSPL 18193 / US Reprise RS 6279
The Kinks fifth studio LP, "Something Else" was released in September as the Summer of Love drew to a close.  The Kinks were never one to follow trends and there is nary an ounce of psychedelia or whiff of Flower Power on it (though "Lazy Old Sun", the closest the Kinks ever came to psychedelia, is on board with it's discordant brass, Ray's stoned vocals and plenty of angelic backing vocals). "Something Else" is full of classic quintessential Ray Davies vignettes, opening with the well known "David Watts", the tale of the boy at school everyone wants to be (based on a Rutland promoter of the same name who was terribly smitten with Ray's brother Dave), meddling mother in law's ("Situation Vacant"), the everyman in the office ("Tin Soldier Man"), the married mother who resents her swinging sister (actually written by Ray Davies about he and raver brother Dave) in "Two Sisters", a posh toff lamenting Summer's passing ("End Of the Season") and closes with the beautiful "Waterloo Sunset", possibly one of the finest pieces Ray has ever written. "Something Else" is also interesting because Dave Davies sings on quite a few numbers. There's his "solo" hit "Death Of A Clown" which is included as well as  "Funny Face" (written about Dave's first child, fathered when he was merely 15!!) and his tour de force "Love Me Till The Sun Shines" with tasty organ by Nicky Hopkins.


8. THE CREATION-"We Are The Paintermen" German Hit-Ton Schallplaten HTSLP 340037
The Creation were far more popular in Der Fatherland than back home in the U.K. so when their first two German singles, "Making Time" (July 1966) and "Painter Man" (March 1967) were sizable hits over there an album was deemed necessary. By this point the band had changed members with bassist Bob Garner replacing recently departed lead singer Kenny Pickett and ex-Birds member Kim Gardener coming in on bass. The album was a compilation of sorts as it consisted of both sides of the first two singles as well as their newest German 45 "Tom Tom" /"Nightmares" and their third British A-side "If I Stay Too Long" (that was coupled there with "Tom Tom") . There was little material actually ready made for the album with the exceptions being their covers from the current stage set including a tepid version of "Hey Joe", an equally uninteresting stab at The Capitol's "Cool Jerk" and a halfway decent version of "Like A Rolling Stone" fattened up with some tasty melodic riffs from lead guitarist Eddie Phillips and some high backing vocals. Also among the non 45 cuts was the powerful "Can I Join Your Band" (that was previously cut with Kenny Pickett) and saw Phillips return to his "violin bow on guitar" technique and some tongue in cheek lyrics ("can I join your band and go off to play with my new guitar and coat of suede, can I join your band I'm a hippie guy always stoned and eight miles high.."). The LP is rounded out by the powerful "Through My Eyes", featuring a distinctly Jimi Hendrix inspired guitar solo and the band's trademark high backing vocals.


9. SMALL FACES-"Small Faces" (Immediate) UK Immediate IMLP 008
The Small Faces 2nd LP (which like their Decca debut was untitled) will always be a sort of anachronism because according to Ian "Mac" McLagan in conversation several years ago, the tracks recorded for it were never played live and all but forgotten once it they were completed. It's a perfect illustration of the bands chrysalis from pill popping/dope smoking mod R&B band to worldly hallucinogenic psychedelic pop stars. It's also interesting because 5 of the albums 14 tracks are sung by Ronnie Lane and 1 by Mac (who also wrote the track, "Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire", a child like tale of bedtime that's actually about drifting off in a hash induced haze). Two of the tracks, "All Of Our Yesterdays" and "Eddie's Dreaming" feature the horn section of Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames, whose trumpet player, Eddie "Tan Tan" Thorton, is the subject of the later.  There's a certain whiff of neo-psychedelic whimsy in the album with the subtle Mellotron (also heard on "Become Like You") and "turned on" lyrics of the LP's storming opening track "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me" and the trippy "Green Circles" (which got an even more way out remix for their U.S. LP "There Are But For Small Faces"). Lane's earlier mentioned Vaudeville "All Of Our Yesterdays" is fattened up by some jazzy horns where a Cockney East End knees up meets jazz time swing. The band's penchant for quick organ driven instrumental throwaways is fulfilled via the snappy "Happy Boys, Happy" and Ronnie's sublime "Something I Want To Tell You" ( originally considered for a single) is equally heavy on the organ with some great melodic trills by McLagan at the Hammond. Marriott shines on "Talk To You" and "My Way Of Giving", the last of the band's blue eyed soul belter/call and response backing vocals numbers. Lane fronts the band on the sublime "Something I Want To Tell You" (driven in no small part by Mac's piano/Hammond playing) and the delightful Mellotron/harpsichord mix on "Feeling Lonely" fills things out nicely.

10. THE REMO FOUR-"Smile" German Star Club 158034 STY
Liverpool's Remo Four made a modest career basing themselves in Germany and performing U.S r&b tunes before eventually shifting towards more jazzy r&b and soul. By the time their German label Star Club called for an LP in late 1966 they were a well oiled machine (and had been the house band for the German music TV program "Beat Club" for it's live seasons before it went to an all lip sync format in 1967). Known for selecting more obscure tracks to cover (as their choices on their one and only long player would show) they were soon rendered obsolete by the changing times . Despite it's 1967 release date the only thing "1967" about "Smile" is the cover logo. It opens with an uptempo version of Gloria Jone's "Heartbeat" complete with some jazzy guitar licks and nifty organ and smoothly glides into a funky reading of Dean Parrish's "The Skate" (complete with some groovy organ/twangy guitar interplay). A campy version of Chuck Berry's "No Money Down" plods along at an almost lethargic, but interesting pace with lead singer/organist Tony Ashton hamming it up. Their organ/jazz interests are covered in readings of Mose Allison's "7th Son", Jack McDuff's "Rock Candy" and Cannonball Adderley's "Jive Samba", all of which showcase the understated guitar talents of Colin Manley (check YouTube for some of their live cuts on "Beat Club" to see him in action).  The crown jewel of the album for me is their reading of Oscar Brown Jr's "Brother Where Are You" (the band had previously performed his "But I Was Cool" live on "Beat Club" ) which totally reworks Brown's arrangement and turns it into a smoky, yet hard hitting reading. The album closes out with an uptempo, amped up cover of The Miracle's "Nothing's Too Good For My Baby" that sounds extra funky thanks to Ashton's electric piano.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Peter Sellers & The Hollies

PETER SELLERS AND THE HOLLIES-After The Fox/The Fox Trot (Instrumental) US United Artists UA 50079 1966


















Possibly one of the most ludicrous pop pairings of the 60's was The Hollies and Peter Sellers on a track cut for the 1966 film "After The Fox". Written by David Bacharach and Hal David it's a pretty innocuous track with Alan Clarke singing and Peter Sellers interjecting with spoken word bits in his varying voices in response. It's also notable as it featured Graham Bond Organization bassist Jack Bruce (Hollies bassist Eric Haydock was on his way out of the band at the time) and was recorded (May 10th, 1966) during his short time with Manfred Mann.

"The Fox Trot" instrumental though credited to "Peter Sellers And The Hollies", is presumably neither and sounds more like incidental film music. It strangely sounds a lot like klezmer music to my ears!

"After The Fox" appears on EMI's comprehensive Hollies 6 CD collection "The Hollies-The Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years" .

Thursday, June 1, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Flowerpot Men

THE FLOWER POTS-Lets Go To San Francisco (Part 1)/Let's Go To San Francisco (Part 2) US Deram 45-DEM-7513 1967


















The Flowerpot Men were a 1967 studio only concoction created by U.K. song writers and session vocalists John Carter and Ken Lewis (best known as two thirds of the vocal trio The Ivy League). The Flower Pot Men's vocal department was led by vocalist Tony Burrows along with other singers Neil Landon, Robin Shaw and Peter Nelson. Burrows would later simultaneously find fame with other studio only acts such as The First Class ("Beach Baby"), The Brotherhood Of Man ("United We Stand"), Edison Lighthouse ("Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes"), White Plains ("My Baby Loves Lovin'") and The Pipkins ("Gimme Dat Ding").

Created to cash in on "flower power" , The Flower Pot Men (possibly named after a 1950's British TV children's program) issued just 4 singles on Deram in the UK (five if you count the trippy "Mythological Sunday" released under the moniker of "Friends"). Their touring backing band at one point included future Deep Purple members Nicky Simper on bass (formerly of the last line up of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates) and Jon Lord (formerly of The Artwoods) on keyboards. The band's August 1967 U.K. smash (#4) was simultaneously issued in the States but credited to The Flower Pots (this was corrected for the second and final U.S. release, "In A Moment Of Madness", Deram 45-85051 1969).

Pic by David Wedgbury






















"Let's All Go To San Francisco" lyrically is about as equally deplorable as Scott McKenzie's hit reading of the John Phillips composition "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)". Both tracks of course sing of something that simply did not exist (or one would be led to believe, I was a year old at the time...) . Reality aside, "Lets All Go To San Francisco (Part 1)" is a full on U.S. West Coast Brian Wilson  harmony pastiche meets British psych pop ( with heavy use of Mellotron and regal trumpets). It's not a bad track regardless of it's intentions or hackneyed lyrics ("lets all go to San Francisco where the flowers grow oh so very high..") thanks to it's production and delivery. In fact one wonders how pissed off John Phillips must have been because the lyrics though not directly similar convey the exact same gist as his May 1967 hit!

"Lets All Go To San Francisco (Part 2)" is at first almost a different track, it has similar lyrics but it's slowed down and more "dreamy" before the Mellotron and Brian Wilson inspired harmonies burst forth to the chorus from the A-side and it becomes merely an extended version of the A-side.

Hear "Let's All Go To San Francisco (Part 1)":

https://youtu.be/4iJTrgYhfL4

Hear  "Lets All Go To San Francisco (Part 2)":

https://youtu.be/gvd6Yj32vI0

Monday, May 29, 2017

May's Picks

So we've decided to give our monthly picks the Summer off so this will be the last one until September (view it as a school vacation of sorts)! But stick around, we'll be back!

 

1. RONNIE LANE-"The Poacher"
There's a host of post Faces Ronnie Lane brilliance but none as powerful and sweet as "The Poacher" which sadly stalled at #36 in the Summer of '74 and was sadly his last chart appearance. Dig the above live clip from 1976 from the U.K. show "Supersonic".

2.  THE SELECTER-"(Who Likes) Facing Situations"
The Selecter were always my least favorite of the '79 ska bands, and I like their second album "Celebrate The Bullet" even less but one day while cooking I had my iPod on shuffle and this track came on and I cocked an ear and even played it twice!

https://youtu.be/x0e00P7Gv4A

3. TUTTI HILL-"He's A Lover"
Here's a nice little r&b obscurity on the tiny New York Arock label. It's a slow ballad but I dig it and it reminds me a lot of the soulful sides Sue was putting out in '62-'64.

https://youtu.be/fXmZCPQjqlw




















4. JIMMY CROSS-"I Want My Baby Back"
After nearly three decades of enjoying The Downliner's Sect version I finally stumbled upon the original tongue and cheek death/car crash track! The Downliner's version is pretty much a note for note version and though I still prefer it it's cool to hear the original.

https://youtu.be/Zo8DhbQw_O4

5. THE HOLLIES-"Too Many People"
From their untitled 1965 LP the Hollies turn out an original that's part folk rock and part beat music.  It's subtle with just acoustic guitars, bass and mild drums but of course is carried by their trademark precision harmonies and has a great groove to it.

https://youtu.be/HBbGSq0i15A

6. GENE SIMMONS-"Haunted House"
Local New Jersey heroes The Swinging Neckbreakers covered this one frequently back in the day and I finally got around to checking out the original.  Though I'm not 100% sure it was this version that they heard I still dig the mix of country and r&b on it.

https://youtu.be/fXmZCPQjqlw





















7. BILLY JOE ROYAL-"Hush"
Though written by Joe South the first interpretation of this tune to hit the streets was this version by Billy Joe Royal from August 1967 which still has a certain charm for me.

https://youtu.be/QoJP65nAMGA

8. LYDIA MARCELLE-"Everybody Dance" 
Yet another obscure soul 45, this time from Atco records in 1965. It's a sweet mid tempo groover with a lead line that calls to mind "The Game Of Love".

https://youtu.be/vT7Vg3Ws0ck

9. ALEX HARVEY-"The Sunday Song"
This rare 1967 Decca single by Alex Harvey displays none of the usual blue eyed soul belter feel that you're used to from Mr. Harvey.  There's a gob iron solo but the rest of it sounds like your typically groovy obscure U.K. '67 pop psych 45!

https://youtu.be/POXBv166qEI





















10. KEVIN AYERS-"Song For Insane Times"
From Ayer's legendary 1969 debut LP "Joy Of A Toy", "Song For Insane Times" is one of my faves from it.  Delivered in an almost detached manner that at times seems indifferent and others times heavily stoned, it's a stroke of mad genius.

https://youtu.be/VjhOK1uR4nc

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bonzos!

THE BONZO DOG DOO-DAH BAND-The Equestrian Statue/Intro To The Outro German Liberty 15 040 1967



















The Bonzo Dog Band (or The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band as our subject is titled) first came into my life via my local college radio station with "Intro To The Outro" (though it would be a good two or three decades before I knew it was them) and then eventually I witnessed them performing "Death Cab For Cutie" in the Fab's "Magical Mystery Tour" TV program.  But it wasn't until back in the age of MySpace that my friend Tom Davis had this cool Pathe color film of this quintessential English sounding track by a band miming it at the famous London night spot The Speakeasy on his profile page (see below!) and it was none other than "The Equestrian Statue" by The Bonzos! I was interested, very interested. Later that year I was gifted their first two albums for Xmas and my Bonzos journey had begun.

















"The Equestrian Statue", written and sung by future Rutle Neil Innes, is a cheeky piece of whimsical English pop psych with it's harpsichord and brass band.  It's like a collision between the Edwardian whimsy of the '67 Kinks or a track of off the first Bowie album. The lyrics, like most Bonzo's tracks, are witty and satirical.

"Intro To The Outro" is a hysterical piece narrated by the band's lead singer Vivian Stanshall where he introduces first the band members and the instrument they play (where then said instruments join in) . He then proceeds for the rest of the song with a hysterical list of celebrities on other instruments as the instruments themselves add to the cacophony : "Adolph Hitler looking very relaxed on vibes", "over there Eric Clapton, ukulele", "Kenneth Park sax, great honor sir.." and "digging General Charles DeGuaulle on accordion, rather wild sir!"etc.

Both cuts can be found on their 1967 debut LP "Gorilla".



Hear "Intro To The Outro":

https://youtu.be/hcrUuCDFLOQ

Friday, May 19, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Swinging Blue Jeans 3

THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS-Rumor, Gossip, Words Untrue/Now The Summer's Gone US Liberty 66225 1967


















The Swinging Blue Jeans seventh U.S. single was the January 1967 issue of the November 1966 U.K. single "Rumors, Gossip Words Untrue" b/w "Now The Summer's Gone". It would be their next to last U.S. single, followed by September's "Something's Coming Along".

"Rumors, Gossip, Words Untrue" was first issued by New Jersey's own Knickerbockers in October 1966 on the flip of "Love Is A Bird" (Challenge 59341).  I must confess to preferring The Knickerbockers version as the vocals are far superior and the guitars have a cool raga feel where the Blue Jeans version is more bubble gum. Regardless the Blue Jeans version is still interesting as well as it doesn't deviate much from the original.















The band original "Now The Summer's Gone" reminds me a bit of The Association meets Gary Lewis & The Playboys with it's mid tempo melody, harmonies and light, laid back feel. It works, but only just barely.

Both sides have been compiled on the British "At Abbey Road" CD and the now out of print American "Hippy Hippy Shake: Definitive Collection"  CD.

Hear "Rumors, Gossip, Words Untrue":

https://youtu.be/gblp_hmMQyw

Hear "Now The Summer's Gone":

https://youtu.be/NXAZDESwOD0

Saturday, May 13, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Hollies get butchered by Manny Kellem

THE HOLLIES-Jennifer Eccles/Try It US Epic 5-10298 1967



















"Jennifer Eccles" ranks as one of my least favorite Graham Nash period Hollies tunes. Maybe it's the shrill, saccharine pop of it that's so sweet and sticky you can feel cavities growing every time you listen to it.  Maybe it's the out of place pedal steel guitar solo. And though I'm no fan of C,S,N & Y one wonders if crap like this didn't send Graham running west as fast as he could (it was his next to last Hollies 45). Issued in the U.K. in March 1968 (Parlophone R 5680) with "Open Up Your Eyes" on the flip it reached # 7. Issued here in the States one month prior it stalled at #40.

Hollies 1967 courtesy of http://dandyinaspic.blogspot.com














Of interest to me however is it's U.S. flip "Try It".  First issued on the U.K. album "Butterfly" (Parlophone PMC 7039, November 1967), "Try It" was not on the U.S. 1967 catch up album "Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse", a hodge podge of  singles tracks and cuts from the U.K. "Butterfly"  and tracks trimmed from their previous U.S. issue of the British long player "Evolution". "Try It" is by far the most psychedelic record The Hollies ever cut.  Starting with some backwards cymbals (sans the ominous outer space sound effects on this oddball U.S. mix)  Alan Clarke sings "travel by the silver light to a place that has no time, why don't you try it now". Clearly "Try It" was a clarion to all to become enlightened. Whats not specific is whether its a call to experience spiritual enlightenment or to ingest psychedelic substances and watch the walls breathe or maybe both.  One would suspect the band's in house hippie Graham Nash was behind the lyrics as its hard to imagine Allen Clarke or Tony Hicks coming up with anything so druggy and indulgent.  The U.S. single mix is interesting because Clarke's vocals (and Nash's) are single tracked and missing the reverb effect the U.K. version has and sound as though Clarke was down the hall from the mike and some of the spooky sonic effects are either absent in certain spots or toned down in others. Perplexing.  The label states "prepared for release in the U.S.A by Manny Kellem". Kellem was a U.S. A&R man with Epic so its safe to assume he's the brain surgeon who fucked with Ron Richards trippy masterpiece! Apparently he was also responsible for butchering U.S. releases by the Dave Clark Five as well.



Hear the U.S. 45 mix of "Try It":

https://youtu.be/fB6wURdVxoE

Hear the U.K. LP mix of "Try It":

https://youtu.be/VYtx3Ces0gI

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: David Bowie

DAVID BOWIE-Space Oddity/Wide Eyed Boy From Freecloud US Mercury 72949 1969


















By 1968 David Bowie was a man without a label, being unceremoniously dumped by Deram after just three singles and his debut long player (two singles and one long player in the US).  Luckily by 1969 he was signed by Phillips/ Mercury and set about recording what would be his very first U.K. hit "Space Oddity" (his tenth 7" in five years of recording). First issued in Britain on July, 11, 1969 (as Phillips BF 1801) it would die a death and not chart until being relaunched again in September where it eventually clawed its way up to the very respectable #5 .  When issued in the U.S. in July it stalled at the dismal #124.  Bowie was backed by Junior's Eye's guitarist Mick Wayne, bassist Herbie Flowers, drummer Terry Cox and Rick Wakeman on Mellotron.  Bowie himself contributed the Stylophone, a small battery powered keyboard played with a stylus. It was his fourth U.S. 7" preceded by "Can't Help Thinking About Me" (Warner Brothers 5815, May 1966), "Rubber Band" (Deram 45-85009, June 1967) and "Love You Till Tuesday" (Deram 45-85016, September 1967).
















The U.S. version was edited to 3:26 and differs from the U.K. issue with slight differences, especially in length as the British 45 is 4:23 long. What's most noticeable is the guitar solo punches in faster on the US mix doing away with some of the effects leading to it and the number quickly fades out after the solo with the ending descending guitar bits sweeping in much earlier than on the full length mix. I like it because it's rather different and because at times I find the original goes on a bit much.

The flip side, "The Wide Eyed Boy From Freecloud" was also whittled down considerably from it's original 4:51 down to 3:20. Not one of my favorites but still worth a listen.






















The US version of "Space Oddity" was not reissued until a collection was put out for the track's 40th anniversary featuring not only the US 45 mix but a host of other versions, isolated backing tracks etc. The shortened version of  "The Wide Eyed Boy From Freecloud" cropped up on the 1989 Bowie box set "Sound + Vision".

Hear the U.S. 45 edit of "Space Oddity":

https://youtu.be/49MaBo3Ew0I

Hear "The Wide Eyed Boy From Freecloud":

https://youtu.be/gDCor7efUOc

Thursday, May 4, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Paul & Barry Ryan

PAUL & BARRY RYAN-Have You Ever Loved Somebody/I'll Tell You Later US MGM K13609 1966


















Twins Paul & Barry Ryan were massive in Britain. Daughters of old showbiz elite Marion Ryan and stepsons of promoter extraordinaire Harold Davidson they were everywhere in Britain (so much so that Small Faces organist Ian McLagan complained that every tour they were on would almost always include the Ryan's). The Hollie's "Have You Ever Loved Somebody" was their fifth single in Britain (Decca F 12494, September '66), launched in direct competition with The Searchers version (issued as Pye 7N 17170). The Hollie's version would not appear until 1967 on their "Evolution" album (although they did back the Everly Brothers on a reading of it on their 1966 LP "Two Yanks In England").  Curiously neither The Ryans version of the Hollies were smash hits with the twins placing at #49 behind the Searchers at #48!Here in the States it was the fourth release of an eventual six singles for MGM, none were hits and none reached the Top 100.














Speaking of The Searchers...interestingly enough The Ryans version was produced by none other than ex-Searchers drummer Chris Curtis (he produced their previous 45, "I Love How You Love Me").  The Ryans version has always been my favorite, starting with some gritty, fuzz guitar and sliding seamlessly into strings (care of Ivor Raymonde who also produced the flip). There's a bit where the music goes quiet and one of the brothers sings a line acapella before it all kicks in again.  A tad schmaltzy for many, but I dig it.


















"I'll Tell You Later" starts out with some sweeping/sawing strings playing an ominous Middle Eastern style melody with some gypsy guitars. At first it sounds like it's going to be really schlocky but The Hollies style vocal harmonies really make it catchy and the musical backing totally reminds me of The Hollies '67 orchestrated pop psych stuff!

Both sides are available on the now out of print German CD compilation of Repertoire "The Best Of Paul & Barry Ryan".

Hear "Have You Ever Loved Somebody":

https://youtu.be/HGNXE1sugf0

Friday, April 28, 2017

April's Picks



















1. THE JIVE FIVE featuring Eugene Pitt-"What Time Is It"
One of my all time favorite doo-wop/vocal r&b tracks is this 1962 single by this Brooklyn quartet. It's an obscure single as it did not make the r&b charts and died at a miserable #67 in the pop charts but its harmonies are incredible and the lyrics perfectly encapsulate teenage nerves!

https://youtu.be/isyuY7tK9WU

2. PAUL & BARRY RYAN-"Madrigal"
The final Ryan brothers single of the 60's was "Pictures OF Today". It's flip was "Madrigal", which brings to mind the toy town psych period Hollies mixed with all of the usual trappings of a late 60's British pop record.

https://youtu.be/NfAM8frYicg

3. KEITH MOON-"Do Me Good"
Recorded for the shit storm that was Moon the Loon's one and only LP "Two Sides Of Moon", "Do Me Good" is actually a good piece of mid 70's pop which doesn't explain why it was inexplicably left off the LP!! Below in the YouTube link is a bit shot for Tony Palmer's "All You Need Is Love" series of Keith still looking youthful and cheeky recording the track.

https://youtu.be/_HlMIhR6ckQ

4. THE BEE GEES-"Deeply, Deeply Me"
A leftover from the sessions for their 1968 album "Horizontal" , "Deeply Deeply Me" is probably the most way out thing the Gibb Brothers ever did.  With it's muezzin like vocals, freaky guitars (that at moments sound rather like Robbie Krieger's licks on "The End") and general weirdness it's a bit over the top at times but still interesting when rubbing shoulders with "Massachusetts".

https://youtu.be/SJv8vV_Pig0

5. JON HENDRICKS-"Watermelon Man (Live)"
Jon Hendrick's vocal take on the Herbie Hancock penned instrumental from his 1965 album "Recorded In Person At The Trident" is probably my favorite version of the track due in no small part to his exuberance , have a listen and prove me wrong.

https://youtu.be/5ajicoqtNfA

6. DAVID AXELROD-"Merlin's Prophecy"

I dropped the ball on paying tribute to the great David Axelrod, so this track from his monster 1968 long player "Song Of Innocence" will have to suffice. The excellent fusing of harpsichord and strings with jazzy drums might sound like confusion in my description but it's pure magic like the rest of the album.

https://youtu.be/hPu9Q9XX5P4



















7. EDDIE HOLLAND-"Candy To Me"
Eddie Holland of course is known to all and sundry for his Motown records monster "Leaving Here" . "Candy To Me" was his tenth and final side for for the label and though not as powerful as "Leaving Here" it has a marvin Gaye-like quality in it's delivery that makes it worth seeking out.

https://youtu.be/abnTk70rUlQ

8. JACQUES DUTRONC-"Le Rois De La Reforme"
You can't go wrong with a bit of Jacques Dutronc, especially this moody slow burner from  his untitled second LP issued in 1968.

9. THE KOOBAS-"Mr. Claire"
I'd long overlooked this track from Liverpool's Kooba's 1969 untitled long player until recently. I'd always brushed it off and only now just released how amazing it is with jazzy little flourishes interspersed with driving bass, swatches of Mellotron  and lead singer Stu Leathwood's almost campy vocals as he sings about an office romance separated by a Far East transfer.

https://youtu.be/GdBUCUL5ZQk

10. PETE TOWNSHEND-"Stardom In Acton"
I'm not sure how but upon it's release I got Pete's 1982 LP "All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes" and really dug it, more so than any Who record around since the 60's.  "Stardom In Acton" is an angst fueled ditty full of witticism and cynicism delightfully wrapped up in 100 mph delivery and Townshend's sartorial eloquence.

https://youtu.be/uZFrRPym21w

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Swinging Blue Jeans 2


THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS-Don't Make Me Over/What Can I Do Today US Imperial 66154 1966


















This Swinging Blue Jeans January 1966 single was their very last U.K. chart placing , reaching #31 (His Masters Voice POP 1501). It was issued in the United States a month later but failed to chart.

"Don't Make Me Over", a Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition, was Dionne Warwick's first U.S. hit (#21 in 1962, it did not chart in the U.K.). The Blue Jeans interpretation utilizes a beat/ballad delivery with some subtle strings (orchestration by Harry Robinson). It's mildly appealing, but nothing that warrants repeated plays.

The real gem is the flip side, "What Can I Do Today".  Starting with some 12 string guitar playing a lick that's extremely reminiscent of The Animal's reading of "It's My Life", it's one of the band's strongest tracks with some great harmonies and a jangly "folk rock" feel to it.













Incidentally guitarist Ralph Ellis left after the single's release and was replaced by ex-Escort and future Hollie Terry Sylvester.

Both sides have been compiled on several Swinging Blue Jeans compilations, the best being the British "At Abbey Road" CD and the American "Hippy Hippy Shake: Definitive Collection" disc.

Hear "Don't Make Me Over":

https://youtu.be/YUT9nomJT8k

Hear "What Can I Do Today": 

https://youtu.be/4NpJRzdn72M

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cream's Debut!

CREAM-Wrapping Paper/Cat's Squirrel UK Reaction 591007 1966


















Cream have been touted as the first "power trio" (not true) and the first "supergroup" (possibly true). Cream was formed when former Graham Bond Organization drummer extraordinaire Ginger Baker approached blues aficionado/ guitar hero Eric Clapton who was then playing with John Mayall's Bluebreakers. Clapton agreed but on the condition that they add Baker's former Graham Bond Organization band mate, bassist Jack Bruce who was at that time playing in Manfred Mann. The move was interesting because Baker had sacked Bruce from the G.B.O. and as legend has it threatened him at knife point when he failed to get the message.

Seeing as there was an intense blues/r&b pedigree within all three members musical preference and CV it was rather astonishing that their debut 45 (issued in October 1966 on Robert Stigwood's new Reaction label) was not even remotely bluesy.

British TV debut "Ready Steady Go!" November 4, 1966














"Wrapping Paper", penned by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown, would have been better suited for the M.O.R. pop filed of The Merseys or the Mike D'Abo Manfred's not Britain's first power blues trio!  That said it's not a terrible number, just not remotely what the music scene expected.  To me it's always a perfect book end to Manfred Mann's reading of Randy Newman's "So Long Dad" or The Alan Price Set's "The House That Jack Built".


 The "real" Cream comes through on the B-side, "Cat's Squirrel", a traditional blues jam where each member gets to show their chops with Bruce blowing some wild harp while Clapton does his "God" thing on his Les Paul and Baker's driving drums bring it all down. Strangely the version on this U.K. 45 is an entirely different take than the album version and is far superior in my book.

"Wrapping Paper" was been issued on the deluxe version of their debut album "Fresh Cream", but the version of "Cat's Squirrel" has yet to surface anywhere to my knowledge.

Hear "Cat's Squirrel":

https://youtu.be/E_lj5VninWQ

Thursday, April 6, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Swinging Blue Jeans

THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS-Tremblin'/Something's Coming Along US Imperial 66255 1967


















The Swinging Blue Jeans American label, Imperial, continued to plug the band despite them only having one hit in the States ("Hippy Hippy Shake" which reached #24 in 1964). Though they did not issue all of the bands British 45's here by 1967 they had issued seven 45's and one LP.  Today's specimen was their 8th and final U.S. release (compare with 12 U.K. 45's, 2 E.P.'s and one LP!). It was issued in the U.S. in September 1967 and was previously issued in June of '67 in the U.K. (His Master's Voice POP 1596).

I've chosen to flip the 45 because I prefer the B-side "Something's Coming Along" to the top side "Tremblin". "Something's Coming Along" is a perfect pop smash full of sunshiney vocals, subtle brass, minor key piano hammering away and all the trappings of a cheery little innocuous ditty. It's technically a "solo" 45 by lead singer Ray Ennis as none of the band play on it.  Backing vocals are provided by the crack team behind many Dusty Springfield sessions: Lesley Duncan, Kiki Dee and Madeline Bell.
















"Tremblin'", written by the American song writing team of Arthur Resnik, Joey Levine and Kris Resnik follows the same production technique of "Something's Coming Along" but the song itself is schlock garbage no matter how much fairy dust you sprinkle on it. It was previously cut by Gene Pitney, which explains why its an indistinguishable piece of trite pop trash.

Both sides have been compiled on sevderal Swinging Blue Jeans compilations, the best being the British "At Abbey Road" CD and the American "Hippt Hippy Shake: Definitive Collection".

Hear "Something's Coming Along":

https://youtu.be/4nleCOO-Xic

Hear "Tremblin'":

https://youtu.be/K3O5x7uSCbE

Monday, April 3, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Scaffold

THE SCAFFOLD-Thank U Very Much/Id B The First US Bell 701 1968



















The Scaffold will always best best known as the band that featured Paul McCartney's younger brother Mike (under the alias of "Mike McGear").  They also featured poet Roger McGough OBE and John Gorman.   "Thank You Very Much" was the band's debut American release (issued in January 1968, it was previously issued in the U.K. in November of '67 as Parlophone R 5643 where it reached #4 in the charts). It was also the favorite of the Queen Mum!

"Thank You Very Much" is a catchy, cheeky chappie type number penned by Mike McCartney.  It's all round jollity and sing along style is not too far from "Yellow Submarine" or the Small Faces "Lazy Sunday". That said it's English to it's very core and there's something incredibly addictive to it's main chorus.

Messrs McGough, McGear and Gorman: The Scaffold















"Ide B The First" follows it's A side's whimsical nature with it's delivery but there's some very Bonzo Dog Ban-esque bits about it too with it's satirical lyrics and general musical tomfoolery backed by some regal brass. Not their strongest track by a mile, but still worth a listen.

"Thank U Very Much" failed to replicate it's U.K. chart success in the States but that didn't deter Bell records from issuing an LP in 1968 titled after the non-hit (Bell 6018).

Strangely though "Thank U Very Much" appears on two now out of print Scaffold CD compilations ("Scaffold At Abbey Road 1966-1971" and "Thank U Very Much: The Very Best Of Scaffold") "Id B The First" does not seem to have been compiled anywhere on CD.

Hear "Thank U Very Much":

https://youtu.be/vKDmSVY6l58

Hear "Id B The First":

https://youtu.be/UVtQfy7jTMY

Saturday, April 1, 2017

March's Picks



1. THE CAVEDOGS-"Tayter Country"
I missed Boston's Rickenbacker slinging power trio The Cavedogs when they blew through the area in 1990/1991 due to my participation in Operation Desert Shield/Storm but by all accounts they were pretty powerful.  This opening track from their sole LP "Joy Rides For Shut Ins" reminds me musically of the Jam but the detached sounding vocals are pure early 90's.

2. GENERATION X-"Ready Steady Go"
Billy Idol and Co.'s 1978 paen to the cutting edge 60's British TV series must have raised some eyebrows among the year zero punk rock cosignetti but it's a gas regardless of the topic from it's "My Generation" stutter ("I'm not in love with Tttttwiggy" ) to citing it's heroes (The Beatles, The Stones The Who etc) it's a far cry from The Clash's assertion of "no Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones" in "1977".

https://youtu.be/_JGuT1rS2FI

3. GEORGE BENSON-"Ain't That Peculiar"
From his 1964 album "It's Uptown (aka "The Most Exciting New Jazz Guitarist On The Scene Today"), former Brother Jack McDuff sideman cuts an uptown, funky instrumental version of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" aided in no small part by Lonnie Smith on organ and his own virtuoso guitar licks.

https://youtu.be/bFjxlvLkzGI

4. GOLDEN EARRINGS-"In My House"
One of my favorite tracks from their second album "Winter Harvest" is this merry little number that was also released as a single in their native Netherlands. It has some great pop hooks, soulful vocals and a wiggy little organ solo.

https://youtu.be/YWdCn5r--yo

5. THE YARDBIRDS-"Respectable"
From their legendary debut album "Five Live Yardbirds" recorded live at the Marquee club in March 1964, the band turn the Isley's "Respectable" into an all out party that cheekily uses a ska rhythm to burst into Eric "Monty" Morris "Humpty Dumpty" mid rave. Listen for lead singer Keith Relf's nonsensical improv when he doesn't know the words for the same verse not once but twice.

https://youtu.be/VQzqNJTrTJg

6. DESMOND DEKKER-"This Woman"
This uptempo Island ska 45 from 1965 bears a slight resemblance to Alton Ellis "Dance Crasher" but with some call and response vocals thrown in and the pace quickened it's a still a killer!

https://youtu.be/2fwQdbw6hGg


















7.LOWELL FULSOM-"The Letter"
Though it dates from 1968 don't let the release date fool you, this uptempo blusey stormer about a lovesick G.I. away in Vietnam is a kick ass little burner worth checking out.

https://youtu.be/dWKDzRxBynQ

8. THE LARKS-"Mickey's East Coast Jerk"
Borrowing more than a little from The Ad-Lib's "Boy From New York City" and "High Heel Sneakers" this kick ass 45 on the small Money label is a solid piece of dance floor action and probably my favorite track by The Larks.  The flip "Soul Jerk", is equally cool.

https://youtu.be/LoSGHiCjBak

9. THE UNLUV'D-"Ain't Gonna Do You No Harm"
For the past three decades I've wondered who the hell this band were and I'm still no closer to knowing anything about them.  It's a great soul track with some super horns and organ and a catchy guitar lick.

https://youtu.be/cTcPVp_-xt4


















10. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE-"The Burning of The Midnight Lamp"
The fourth single by the J.H.E. took a slight detour from the usual "heavy" guitar sounds and was propelled by some murky wah-wah and a very baroque harpsichord that turn it into a sort of wonderful psychedelic dirge. 

https://youtu.be/j60OzzR7mMk

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: Paul Williams & The Big Roll Band

PAUL WILLIAMS and the BIG ROLL BAND-Gin House/Rockin' Chair UK Columbia DB 7421 1964


















Not to be confused with the diminutive American singer/songwriter this Paul Williams was (and still is) a 60's British r&b singer.  He started out singing with the Wes Minster Five before accepting an invitation to join Zoot Money's Big Roll Band on bass (despite not ever having played bass), where band leader Zoot Money had asked him to join based on his vocal skills so that the act could have a second vocalist in the line up.

Today's subject is both Williams first single with the Big Roll Band and the latter's first release on Columbia after just one single with Decca ("The Uncle Willie"/"Zoot's Suite" Decca F 11954 August 1964 credited to just "Zoot Money"). "Gin House" , originally cut in 1928 as "Me And My Gin" by Bessie Smith was something of a British 60's standard with versions cut by The Boston Crabs, The Animals and Amen Corner to name but a few.  The Paul Williams and the Big Roll Band version is the earliest U.K. version, no doubt it was brought to their attention by Nina Simone's reading. The Big Roll Band's version though not as upbeat as Simone's, is still delivered faster than the dirge like feel of subsequent U.K. covers.  Its an interesting version with Zoot's Hammond gently weaving in and out and the powerful horn section building the track bar by bar.





















"Rockin' Chair" is an uptempo jumpin' jive affair with an almost ska meets jazz beat to it. Interestingly it musically resembles the jazz/r&b/ska style that William's previous act, The Wes Minster Five had nailed down.

Williams would receive top billing on another 45 with the Big Roll Band the following year as Columbia DB 7768 "The Msany Faces Of Love" b/w "Jump Back" in November.

"Gin House" is on the excellent EMI compilation CD "Take My Tip: 25 British Mod Artifacts From The EMI Vaults" and both sides are on Repertoire's comprehensive Zoot Money singles CD "A's & B's Scrapbook".

Hear "Gin House":

https://youtu.be/rJSLTXd_xD8

Hear "Rockin' Chair":

https://youtu.be/kmUnklEMK8A

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Classic 60's British Labels : Reaction

Set up by Australian Robert Stigwood in the U.K. in 1966, Reaction was a short lived independent label (distributed by Polydor) with just 3 LP's, 18 singles and an E.P. in their brief 18 month existence. Nonetheless they were the home for Cream, The Who and a host of others.  Here's 10 interesting singles from their colorful discography for your perusal.



















1. OSCAR-"Club Of Lights" 591003 June 1966
We profiled Oscar's releases on the label in several posts which can be viewed herehere and over here. "Club Of Lights" was his second of three 45's for the label and hands down his punchiest. Penned by future Thunderclap Newman member (and author of The Who's "Armenia City In The Sky") Speedy Keen, "Club Of Lights" is a raving '66 go-goer with a driving beat, horns, fuzz guitars and an amphetamine tempo.

https://youtu.be/227Lp0t6i7k

2. LLOYD BANKS-"Look Out Girl" 591008 October 1966
This brass based harmony pop number was the flip of "We'll Meet Again". Falling somewhere between The Tremeloes '67 stuff and The Fortune's poppier side "Look Out Girl" is a decent slice of uptempo '66 pop (with a cool little organ solo in the middle) and a great false ending.

https://youtu.be/Gj9TLYTEFEA

3. BIRDS BIRDS-"Daddy Daddy" 591005 September 1966
After three singles on Decca The Birds changed their moniker to Birds Birds and moved to Reaction for what would be their last 45. Bringing up the rear on the flip of a version of The McCoy's "Say Those Magic Words" is this menacing Ron Wood/Tony Munroe group original. "Daddy Daddy" is  pure unadulterated '66 mod/freakbeat at it's best with plenty of thundering drums, Vox fuzz box licks and detached confusion.

https://youtu.be/Wnj506hGOBM




















4. THE WHO-"In The City" 591004 August 1966
This Keith Moon/ John Entwhistle was the flip to "I'm A Boy". It's an interesting mix with John's French horn, him and Roger's West Coast harmonies, jangly Rickenbacker and surf music lyrics no doubt care of resident Beach Boys fanatic Keith Moon.

https://youtu.be/t7NA5iEM_zs

5. WEST POINT SUPERNATURAL-"Time Will Tell" 59103 April 1967
The curiously named West Coast Supernatural's  sole Reaction single "Time Will Tell" is a poppy little ditty with crisp harmonies, a jaunty Kink's '67 feel and a cheery all round feel. I know absolutely nothing about them.  Anyone?

https://youtu.be/1wTXwmr7K24

6. BILLY J. KRAMER & THE DAKOTAS-"Chinese Girl" 591014 April 1967
"Chinese Girl" covered the flip side of Billy's solo outing , an unreleased track by Stigwood's charge The Bee Gee's called "The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker Part One". Written by Dakota's Mick Green and Robin Macdonald, it would be Kramer's last work with the Dak's and no doubt his most powerful AND freakiest!

https://youtu.be/9AXTLpYe-PE

7. THE MAZE-"Telephone" 591009 November 1966
The Maze are best known to Deep Purple historian's as the band that contained singer Rod Evans and drummer Ian Paice. "Telephone", the flip of a version of Barbara Lewis "Hello Stranger", is a semi interesting piece of beat music melded with harmony pop.  At times it's rather tepid and mundane but interesting for historical value and Evan's deep tones.

https://youtu.be/uF8aTCh1MJQ

8. SANDS-"Listen To The Sky" 591007 September 1967
Formerly The Others, Sands "Listen To The Sky" rounded off the unreleased Bee Gee's gem "Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator" on the top side.  Starting out as a fairly innocuous pop track "Listen To The Sky" earns its spurs with cool harmonies, tough guitars and an ending mashing up guitars imitating an aerial dogfight with air raid sirens thrown in before ominously descending into Holst's "Mars, Bringer Of War".

https://youtu.be/TzoBrw44ypo

9. MARIAN MONTGOMERY-"Monday Thru Sunday" 591018 October 1967
The final release by the label was this odd ball 45 release by M.O.R. personality Marian Montgomery. Sounding musically not unlike something Cilla Black would have cut at the same time, "Monday Thru Sunday" starts out with some uptown horns/flutes and is actually not a bad record thanks to it's high end production care of John Shakespeare and the previously mentioned musical accompaniment.

https://youtu.be/X4t4PG0Vxxo


















10. CREAM-"Cat's Squirrel" 591007 October 1967
The flip side of Cream's uncharacteristic vinyl debut "Wrapping Paper" was this raw blues instrumental driven by the powerhouse rhythm section of Jack Bruce (bass) and Ginger Baker (drums) and requisite Chicago blues guitar licks by Eric "God" Clapton.  The 45 version is in my estimation far superior to the different recording used on their debut LP "Fresh Cream".

https://youtu.be/E_lj5VninWQ