Sunday, July 1, 2018

June's Picks

1. PAUL & BARRY RYAN-"Keep It Out Of Sight"
My favorite single by the Ryan twins will always be this amazing psych pop opus composed by Cat Stevens. It's key is the incredible orchestration (care of Alan Tew) that sounds like a cabaret supper club dosed with acid. Magic!

2. THE TAGES-"Created By You"
From their masterpiece album "Studio" (recorded  in the UK), this poppy little number by my favorite Swedes is laced with Beach Boys harmonies, freaky woodwinds, a Bee Gee's style lead vocal vibrato and quirky pop-psych orchestration.

3. WAYNE GIBSON-"Under My Thumb"
Cut originally in '66 this Stones cover sank like a slab of concrete before it was resurrected on the Northern soul scene which led to it re-entering the hit parade in 1974 where a reissue reached #17 on the UK charts. It's catchy and infectious with a groovy repetitive keyboard bit that's completely rivetting.

4. JOHNNY "HAMMOND" SMITH-"A Portrait Of Jennie"
From his 1960 New Jazz LP "Talk That Talk" comes this moody, brooding piece of B-3 Hammond genius, perfectly mellow and slick. Sadly there's no clip on YouTube.

5. THE JAVELLS featuring NOSMO KING-"Goodbye (Nothing To Say)"
For the past three decades I've disliked this number and thought it was a dreadful Northern Soul cash in. It's still a cash in but something about it appeals to me now, not quite sure why! Curiously it sounds much like Maxine Nightingale's monster hit "Right Back Where We Started From" which came a year later.

6. THE BEE GEES-"Such A Shame"
Hidden away on their 1968 LP "Idea", "Such A Shame" sounds like something much earlier with it's beat group harmonies and harp blowing and it's "la da de dah" chorus is pure merseybeat.

From the bizarre 1969 album "Enoch Light And The Glittering Guitars" comes this freaked out version of "You Showed Me" led by fuzz guitar. Imagine Al Caiola on L.S.D.......

8. THE CLASH-"Working For The Clampdown"
It's hard to believe "London Calling" will be 40 next year.  So many of it's numbers still ring true 39 years later and none more so than this warning of fascism growing in the proletariat.

9. CHICO REY & THE JET BAND-"Stiletto"
This kitschy and amazing instrumental was a rare 1970 Pye 45 that was unearthed on the highly recommended 1995 CD compilation "The Sound Spectrum". Full of fuzz guitar, razor sharp brass, funky organ and an over the top production it's nothing short of brilliant.

10. THE TOGGERY FIVE-"Goin' Away"
According to YouTube Graham Gouldman wrote this for The Hollies. They never cut it (well if they did it hasn't surfaced). The Toggery Five cut it but that too went unreleased, but somehow someone got it to YouTube for all to enjoy.

Monday, June 25, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The World Of Oz

WORLD OF OZ-King Croesus/Jack US Deram 45-85034 1968

The UK Deram psych pop quartet World Of Oz were not a smashing success at home so one wonders why not only all three of the U.K. 45's were released here but US Deram went one better by issuing a 4th single unissued anywhere else of two cuts from their untitled LP ("Beside The Fire"/"Mandy-Ann" Deram 45-85043). They were however quite successful  "on the Continent" so perhaps this has something to do with it?

"King Croesus" was released in the UK as Deram DM 205 in August of 1968. It was released the following month here in the States. Produced by Wayne Bickerton it's not the band's strongest 45. It starts with some organ/Mellotron and it has a regal/churchy feel with some sweeping strings and great harmonies.  The whole thing brings to mind The Bee Gees '67. It's also shorter than the LP version.

Scan c/o

For my money the real gold is the flipside "Jack", though not credited on this 45 it was orchestrated by Mike Vickers (who also handled the top side as well). Vicker's stamp is easily felt in it's incredible whimsical feel with a mixture of strings and brass and layered harmonies making it an archetype quintessential toytown psych classic. There's an almost soulful feel to the horns that reminds me of their label mates The Flirtations (who were also produced by Wayne Bickerton).

Both sides are available on multiple reissue packages of their untitled 1968 Deram LP .

Hear "King Croesus":

Hear "Jack":

Sunday, June 17, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: July

JULY-Hello, Who's There/The Way US Epic 5-10415 1968

July were one of the more obscure UK psychedelic bands who nonetheless built up quite a discography (including an untitled LP that even gained a US release)! Their October 1968 UK 45 "Hello, Who's There"/"The Way" (Major Minor MM 580) was their second single and was issued in the US the following month. It also saw releases in Belgium, France, Germany and Spain, it would however be their final release.

"Hello, Who's There" would not have been my strongest choice of contender's for an A side given the band's other material. July were capable of some pretty psychedelic stuff and "Hello, Who's There" sounds too cheeky-chappie/Cockney sing along psych for my liking with it's quirky melody and a sound not unlike the Bonzos after too much time "down the boozer". The backing brass also has a hint of Oompah band to it which is not remotely entertaining and adds to the schizophrenic nature of the track. The lead vocals remind me a bit of Phil May in the Pretties voice on the "SF Sorrow" stuff.

"The Way" is more freaky (in a positive way), with it's faint sitar and distant/disembodied vocals that sound not too unlike the effect on "Tomorrow Never Knows".  It quickly degenerates into a heavier fuzz guitar driven groove that's pretty trippy before trailing off into a mind numbing jam/ groove of wah-wah, sitar and some drums that bring it into a trance.

Belgian pressing

"The Way" appears on their untitled LP in a slightly different mix however "Hello, Who's There" did not.  Subsequent CD reissues of the LP have included both tracks.

Hear "Hello, Who's There":

Hear "The Way":

Sunday, June 10, 2018

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

THE SORROWS-Take A Heart/We Should Get Along Fine US Warner Brothers 5662 1965

Coventry's quartet The Sorrows released a host a great singles in the UK on the Piccadilly label (7 to be exact) and an LP, most of which were produced by the legendary John Schroeder. "Take A Heart" was their third single and managed to rise to #21 in the UK charts (Piccadilly 7 N 35260) in August 1965.

Written by singer/producer Miki Dallon (who wrote a bulk of the bands material) it's easily their best known track.  It was issued in the US in October 1965 and would be their sole release here.  Stock copies do exist but white label promos are far more common.

"Take A Heart", for those not familiar is a slow burner built on lead singer Don Fardon's moody voice and the subtle almost tribal drum intro. The number slowly builds with each instrument entering the fray and the pace picking up slightly before bursting forth into a proto-freakbeat smash with a gritty guitar solo worthy of Dave Davies. It was my introduction to the band back in the mid 80's when I discovered it on a PRT record 6 track 10" various artists E.P. called "It Happened Then".

Yet another band pictured on "Ready Steady Go" who's footage no longer exists!

The flip side "We Should Get Along Fine" is a beat ballad, not their best work, but not at all unlistenable.

Both sides are available on a host of Sorrows collections, we recommend the most recent double CD collection of all their material "You've Got What I Want-The Essential Sorrows 1965-1967".

"Take A Heart Live On German TV":


 Hear "Take A Heart": 

 Hear "We Should Get Along Fine":

Thursday, May 31, 2018

May's Picks

1. CHARLIE EARLAND-"Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"
One of the interesting and sometimes disparaging things about jazz can be the readings of current pop standards, it's a double edged sword it can cut either way. Philly's champion of the Hammond B-3 Charlie Earland cut this Bacharach/David tune as a single in 1970 and believe it or not it swings in the most marvelous way.

2. KING CURTIS-"Hot Rod"
In Mojo magazine's latest issue they actually had a CD that not only didn't get binned outright or become a coaster (not that I actually would do that) but that I played several times. Among the gems on "15 Floor Fillers" was this groovy but gritty King Curtis B-side from 1961 full of twangy guitar/bass and a solid beat next to some jazzy horn work.

3. SPLIT ENZ-"What's The Matter With You (Live)"
Found on the flip of 1981's "History Never Repeats" is this supercharged and raw version of "What's The Matter With You" culled from a 1980 gig at the Hammersmith Odeon (with The Bodysnatchers, that would've been some gig to see!). It's twice as fast as the studio version and as more of an edge, especially during the guitar/keyboard solo.

4. J.J. JACKSON'S DILEMMA-"Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is"
Last month's Monkey Picks mentioned this Chicago cover from soul singer J.J Jackson's 1971 LP "J.J. Jackson's Dilemma" and I dug it so much I purchased a copy on Discogs. Retaining the original horn arrangements from the Chicago version with a slightly jazzier swing the real meat of the track is J.J.'s solid vocals, which sounds at times like a fish out of water but still incredibly powerful.

5. THE TRUTH-"The Beat Generation"
Nostalgia for 80's stuff from my past is often few and far between especially from these guys who in retrospect, had a lot of material that came off like Bruce Springsteen meets The Style Council.  The Truth were also victims of the industry, the press and to a smaller degree young mods. All three were looking for the "new Jam" which ensured the Truth were stillborn on arrival. But this little ditty from a 1983 E.P./45 still works for me showing there was still some redeemable  material in their back pages. And hey Dennis Greaves is holding a Burns 12 string on the cover!

6. THE IN-KEEPERS-"It Was Just His Thing"
Someone I follow on Instagram posted a clip of this way out 45 from 1969 and I immediately sought it out. It's full of fuzz guitar, soaring Moody Blues style vocals and kitschy almost apocalyptic voice overs with trippy string arrangements and dig's about Jesus. "Many men have told the tale of how it tried to get the world to sing, he lived and died by the hammer and nail, I guess that was just his thing". Alas the world was not ready for Christian rock yet.

From their 2nd LP, 1968's "Sailor", "Dear Mary" veers away from the tedious "white boy plays the blues" route some early SMB stuff takes and the result is a beautiful, melodic Beatles meets Brain Wilson ditty sweetened with some regal trumpets and rain sound affects that will have you looking out the window.

8. EVIE SANDS-"Any Way That You Want Me"
From the pen of Chip Taylor comes a track made famous by The Troggs interpretation in 1966. Songstress Evie Sands cut this soulful and powerful version in 1969 and though it's a tad different than the Trogg's reading it's still worth checking out despite her sudden favor with the latest hipster record dorks who bored with Ronnie Spector, Mary Weiss and Jackie DeShannon have made her their new queen.......

This track from the final Walker's 60's LP "Images" is a perfect taste of the dark, bleak but lushly orchestrated scenarios that Scott Walker's solo career would bring. "Orpheus" sees Scott at his most narcissistic and dark of all characters, the real life Lothario that "The Amorous Humphrey Plugg" wished he could be but full of loathing, contempt and over confidence.
"Remember me, I've already forgotten you and make your beds for me for things we ought not to us all, round the bend"

10. THE GIFT'S-"You Can't Keep Love In A Broken Heart"
I ordered a Dusty Springfield 45 from a dealer on E-bay who threw this in as a freebie. I knew nothing about it until I spun it and it's not a bad bit of mid-tempo soul from 1966 on the Ballad label with a strong horn section and a groove not unlike The Radiants. Anyone know anything about them?

Monday, May 28, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Bonzos US Debut

THE BONZO DOG DOO-DAH BAND-I'm The Urban Spaceman/Canyons Of Your Mind US Imperial 66345 1968

The infamous Bonzo Dog (Doo-Dah) Band's debut American 45 was a release of their smash UK hit (#5!) "I'm The Urban Spaceman" (UK Liberty LBF15144, October 1968) . It was issued here in December of 1968.  Produced by Paul McCartney famously using the pseudonym of "Apollo C. Vermouth" and written by band member Neil Innes (better known to Americans as Ron Nasty in "The Rutles") it failed to trouble the US charts, which didn't stop Imperial from issuing an LP titled "Urban Spaceman" (essentially their "The Doughnut In Granny's Greenhouse" LP give or take a few tracks)! The band's connection with the Beatles went back to McCartney's brother Mike recommending them for the Fab's "Magical Mystery Tour" (in which they can be seen vamping "Death Cab For Cutie" in a strip club).

For those not acquainted with "I'm The Urban Spaceman", the Bonzo's most famous tune, it's a light hearted little number that's not readily comparable to anything else. Led by some pan flute, tuba and ukulele it's probably one of the more bizarre pop songs of the 60's. My fave is the solo featuring a "Doo Dah Horn" (a horn mouthpiece placed on a garden house with a funnel on the end and recorded while oscillating). It's also sung by Neil Innes (most of the band's tracks were usually handled by Vivian Stanshall) which makes it sound quite different from the usual Bonzos fare.

The flip, "Canyons Of Your Mind" is a Vivian Stanshall tour de force. The band had previously already explored tongue and cheek doo-wop type numbers before ("Death Cab For Cutie" in "Magical Mystery Tour" for instance) and it continues here but with typically bizarre lyrics with Stanshall camping it up in an over exaggerated Elvis type voice and an intentionally bad, flubbed guitar solo by Innes.

Both sides can be found in a variety of places. There's an excellent 3 CD collection on Amazon that collects nearly all their material called "Original Album Series" or if you're in line for something slimmer there's a domestic CD featuring both called, simply, "Urban Spaceman".

Here's a clip of the band on British TV's excellent "Colour Me Pop" doing "Canyons Of Your Mind":

Sunday, May 20, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Ivy League "My World Fell Down"

THE IVY LEAGUE-My World Fell Down/When You're Young US Cameo 449 1966

My introduction to Britain's squeaky clean harmony trio The Ivy League came not via one of their many UK hits but from this semi obscure 45 that they cut in 1966 which was included on Bam Caruso's Rubble series on 1988's "Volume 7: Pictures In The Sky". It would be their last US release, issued in December 1966 (the UK version on Piccadilly 7N 35348 was previously issued in October). "My World Fell Down" was also covered by the US group Sagittarius and released as a single in the US in May 1967 (Columbia 4-44163) and the UK in August 1967 (CBS 2867) featured on the famous 1972 US 60's garage compilation "Nuggets".

"My World Fell Down" is easily the best cut The Ivy League ever came up with.  Written by John Carter with fellow tune smith Geoff Stephens it's aided in no small part due to the somber strings care of producer Terry Kennedy.  The orchestration and the band's brilliant harmonies weaving in and out of the sawing strings are nothing short of brilliant! It has a certain bleakness to it only matched by, say, The Move with "Blackberry Way".

The flip side, "When You're Young" is dreadful because of the children's backing vocals (the British release credits read  "accomp. by The Children's Choir Dr. Barnardo's Barkingside" (Dr. Barnardo's is a charity organization in Britain charged with the aid and care of orphans and foster children. David Bowie's father, Haywood Jones was a PR man for Dr. Barnardo's interestingly). They're like fingernails on a chalk board and not at all groovy like the kids of Keith West's "Excerpts From A Teenage Opera".

As mentioned frequently in our other Ivy League posts both sides are available on a variety of Ivy League compilation CD's. As their material is owned by Castle Communications they've been licensed to death.

Hear "My World Fell Down":

Hear "When You're Young":