Friday, January 20, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Small Faces And Mac's Debut

THE SMALL FACES-Sha-La-La-La-Lee/Grow Your Own US Press 45 PRE 9826 1966

















The Small Faces 60's US discography is an interesting mix of labels with 14 singles scattered across 3 different labels (Press, RCA and finally Immediate).  Their first 45 "Whatcha Gonna Do About It' was issued here on Press who opted to skip their second UK 7" "I've Got Mine" and picked up with their third "Sha La La La Lee" which is the subject of today's post.

 "Ready Steady Go" November 12, 1965














Small Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan was always dismissive of "Sha La La La Lee" which was foist on the band by manager Don Arden after their self composed second single "I've Got Mine" failed to chart. It was McLagan's debut with the band and came via the pen of Kenny Lynch and Mort Shuman.  And much to the band's dismay Lynch insisted on providing backing vocals (it's his high voice you hear on the "sha la la la la la lee" chorus).  Over the years I've grown to dislike the number, pretty much 100% because of the irritating backing vocals which I now know were NOT my heroes voices and also, because as Ian McLagan stated on many occasions, it was not who the band were.

Mac's first photo session with the band November 1965


















Who the band were was exactly exemplified in my mind on the B-side with the instrumental "Grow Your Own", composed by all four members (this US pressing spells McLagan as "McLagen"). It's what an old girlfriend of mine many moons ago aptly described as "another Small Faces piss take instrumental".  Whether she meant that as a term of endearment or criticism I was never sure. For me it's the former and what set the group apart from the twee material Arden was forcing them to record. "Grow You Own" is Booker T and The MG's interpreted by a bunch of amphetamine fueled, edgy, angst ridden mod teens. One of my main beefs with a lot of the band's Decca material is the organ is often inaudible in the mix (like the A-side's lame follow up "Hey Girl" and quite a few tracks on their debut album) and tracks like this B-side gave us a chance to hear what they were like given the chance to cut loose as McLasgan explores his Hammond and Marriott bashes out Steve Cropper licks at maximum volume on a Gretsch while Lane and Jones hold down the low end.

Both tracks are available on the Decca 2 CD repackaging of their debut (untitled) Decca LP.


 
Hear "Grow Your Own":

https://youtu.be/ZuoqJONrCts

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Kenny Bernard

KENNY BERNARD-Hey Woman/Ain't No Soul Left In These Old Shoes US Compass CO-7002 1967


















Trinidad born Kenny Bernard had previously released two 45's in the U.K. on Parlophone as Kenny and the Wranglers in 1965 and two on Pye (the first one being backed by The Wranglers and the second just credited to "Kenny Bernard") and before his third Pye release (7N 17233) was launched in December 1966 (also bearing his name only) . Our copy in question is the U.S. issue released in February 1967.

"Hey Woman" is an interesting track because it's lyrically a rewrite of "Hey Joe" which incidentally was ALSO released in the U.K. in December 1966 by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The timing of Bernard's release is interesting and not wishing to weigh into the origins of "Hey Joe" debacle the U.K. issue credits it to "Trad. Adap. Murphy" while the US pressing simply credits one Ralph Murphy. "Hey Woman" musically IS "Hey Joe", it's performed at the same tempo as the J.H.E. version but is an acoustic blues track, the backing vocals (sung by male voices) also follows the J.H.E's template (or whatever arrangement THEY followed). It builds to add horns and really kicks it adding soulful female backing vocals and thundering drums.
















Bernard's cover of "Ain't No Soul (Left In These Old Shoes)" has long been popular in "Northern soul" circles.  I'm not sure why because in my estimation it's surpassed by the Ronnie Milsap version, but what do I know, I gave up trying to figure out Northern Soul ages ago. Regardless Bernard's arrangement owes everything to the Ronnie Milsap release.  The horns are powerful and the arrangement is tight but sadly I don't think it's well suited to Bernard's voice at all.

"Hey Woman" appeared on Sequel's CD compilation "Ripples 6: Jingle Jangle Mornings" while "Ain't No Soul(Left In These Old Shoes)" joined his dreadful "What Love Brings" on their Northern Soul compilation CD "Dance like The Devil".

Unfortunately "Hey Woman" is not on YouTube but "Ain't No Soul (Left In These Old Shoes)" is:

https://youtu.be/nuZKoVSjKxY

Saturday, January 14, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Tom Jones Via Joe Meek

TOM JONES-Little Lonely One/That's What We'll Do US Tower 126 1965


















Prior to his signing with Decca Tom Jones cut several tracks with the legendary Joe Meek, these were initially not released in the UK because of contractual issues. Today's subject was issued first in the US on the Capitol subsidiary Tower in March 1965 (it was later released in the U.K. in May on Columbia). In Mike Figgis segment of the 2003 PBS documentary series "The Blues" on British r&b "Red White & Blues" Tom Jones discussed his rather difficult session with Meek who apparently was more interested in groping him than recording him.

"Little Lonely One" is a mid tempo ballad originally cut in 1961 by The Jarmels that would be fairly pedestrian if it wasn't for Meek's magic dust.  What makes it interesting is the production (ethereal backing vocals, Meek's patented drum sound and these funky little horn bits) all with orchestration by Ivor Raymonde laid on top.


















"That's What We'll Do" is similar to the A-side in genre and production, though there are some cool understated twangy guitar and strings that sound straight off a Drifters album it's just dreadful god awful schlock.

Both sides were compiled on the CD collection "The Exceptional Joe Meek: The Missing Recordings And Rarities".

Hear "Little Lonely One":

https://youtu.be/lrgFICfZHzI

Hear "That's What We'll Do":

https://youtu.be/_9XWSb0mMI4

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

10 Cool U.K. 60's Songs That You Possibly Haven't Heard Part Six

Scan c/o 45cat.com


















1. THE ROARING 60's-"We Love The Pirates" U.K. Marmalade 598001 1966
Written by (John) Carter, (Geoff) Stephens and (Terry) Kennedy it's a safe bet that they were behind this record too as it sounds like one of their vocal harmony projects.  Lyrically it's about the closing of the Pirate Radio stations with a distinctly West Coast American California surf pop sound but with a distinct British lilt to it all ala The Ivy League of Ministry Of Sound.

https://youtu.be/tfcHwKmf-WY

2. THE KNACK-"(The Man From The) Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau" UK Piccadilly  7N 35347 1967
The Knack cut several 45's in the 60's, two for Decca and four for Piccadilly (this was their fourth and final one). Though more light weight than their previous releases this little tune has a witty Ray Davies mid 60's feel to it and some great harmonies and a delivery that seems to anticipate Bill Fay.

https://youtu.be/dLs9_gs24A0

3. BARRY MASON-"Over The Hills And Far Away" UK Deram DM 104 1966
Famous songwriter Barry Mason ("Delilah", "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Grows" etc) cut his trippy debut with Deram which he co-authored and co-produced with former Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith. It starts out like an MOR ballad but soon gets way trippy with some deep echo, psychedelic sounds (is that wail or horn or bagpipe?) at a dirge like pace not unlike "Still I'm Sad" on a bad trip. Truly bizarre and unique!

https://youtu.be/cna8ICgdTRU

Scan c/o 45cat.com


















4. BENNY HILL-"What A World" UK Pye 7 N15974 1965
Best known for his ribald, semi sexist, half slapstick T&A sketch comedy Benny Hill was equally adept at incredible musical witticism as this Tony Hatch produced 1965 single will attest.  It's a full on social commentary tackling subjects like Bob Dylan ("Now the folk singer came from America, to sing at the Albert Hall, he sang his songs of protest and fairer shares for all, he sang how the poor were much too poor and the rich too rich by far and he drove back to his penthouse in his brand new Rolls Royce car") and pirate radio ("Now Annie's a shorthand typist working for the B.B.C., her brother Jackie's in prison doing three years for forgery, her sister Josie's in Holloway and in Dartmoor is her Uncle Jam, her dad runs a pirate radio ship but she never talks about him") all with Hill's penchant as a top notch wordsmith.

https://youtu.be/G2HC2X7EOp0

5. THE NEW GENERATION-"Sadie And Her Magic Mr. Galahad" Spark SRL 1000 1968
The debut 45 for the new UK independent label Spark was this bouncy/happy mid tempo pop number by The New Generation that brings to mind Argent/White's post Zombies recordings.  Subsequent releases by the band were credited to A New Generation. Two members Gavin and Ian Sutherland later found fame in Quiver and as The Sutherland Brothers.

https://youtu.be/QcD08zOGr7Q

6. THE OUTSIDERS-"Keep On Doing It" UK Decca F12213 1965
Not to be confused with either the American or Dutch Outsiders this UK band were produced by Jimmy Page who shared writing credits on both sides with future Bunch Of Fives/Junior's Eyes member Mick Wayne. It's a rough little number with castanets and a lead singer (Wayne?) who sounds a lot like Sonny Bono.  It takes a bit but eventually it builds into something pretty cool.

https://youtu.be/dpC-9FIyvcQ

Scan c/o 45cat.com


















7. TANDEM-"Shapes And Shadows" UK Chapter One CH 109 1969
Former Sons Of Fred members Ray Redway and Alan Boehling formed this pop duo in 1969 releasing just this one single that was quite the polar opposite of their mod/freakbeat band.  "Shapes And Shadsows" is a brilliant slice of slickly produced mournful harmony pop with strings and everything but the kitchen sink/no expenses spared production care of Les Reed.

https://youtu.be/O2Aiq-NtdUc

8. THE CALIFORNIANS-"Golden Apples" UK CBS 2663 1967
With all the trimmings (zither?, balalaika?, mandolin? ,brass, chimes, strings playing with an Eastern feel etc) and lots of buzzing psychedelic effects turn this harmony pop debut from a Wolverhampton quintet roars into an all out psychedelic freak-out (dig the phased horns). The Californians made several other harmony oriented 45's but still got freaky with their magnum opus "The Cooks Of Cakes And Kindness" (Fontana TF 991 1969).

https://youtu.be/duN7ZaJUVvs

9. PERSIMMON'S PECULIAR SHADES-"Coplington" UK Major Minor MM 554 1968
With both an interesting band name and song title this disc would automatically be assumed to be an eccentric piece of late 60's British pop psych. That assumption is entirely correct with it's cheeky, totally English pop psych feel with a happy go lucky feel, lots of sunshiney harmonies and period melodies.  The band were allegedly formerly the U.K. act The Shades Of Blue.

https://youtu.be/TfW8gagI1Vo

Scan c/o 45cat.com


















10. SCREAMING LORD SUTCH-"The Cheat" UK CBS 202080 1966
With a production not unlike the Californians single above (actually they both shared the same arranger, Des Champ) Sutch leaves his Ripper/graveyard/monster movie stuff (on this side at least, "All Black And Hairy" on flip stayed that course) and takes this Lee Hazelwood track on with strings, flute and piano evoking an Eastern/101 Arabian nights feel.  The horns come on and it's pure 100% freaking magic! It was Sutch's one and only flirtation with psychedelia and as a result is as in demand as his early Meek produced sides.

https://youtu.be/SBiCtoLCfkI

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Sonic Mood Set


In 1997 four guys from Bethlehem Pennsylvania's Creatures Of The Golden Dawn left lead singer Mark Smith to form their own band called The Sonic Mood Set.  Michael Rafolowich (guitar/vocals), Michael Vallone (guitar/vocals), Stu Rutherford (bass/vocals) and Kevin Groeller (drums/vocals) were a tight, red hot quartet who played mostly originals with the occasional cover in a distinct freakbeat/garage music vein.  They released one record, a 45 (featuring a version of Fire's "Father's Name Is Dad" b/w "I'm Real", a tune written by Jim "Harpo" Valley) on Aspirin Smash in 1998. They even made a promo video for "Father's..." which until now I had never seen before (see below)! Their star shone bright but sadly their lifespan was somewhat short if my memory serves me correctly they lasted little over a year or so. But that was then, and this is now....

The Sonic Mood Set @ Hub City Soul, March 1998
I had the pleasure of booking them several times the play my DJ night Hub City Soul where they always put on a great show to a packed room of very appreciative mod/skins/60's types and walk in's off the street. Recently seven unreleased songs that they recorded at the legendary Brooklyn studio Coyote (R.I.P.) back in 1997 have become available through Bandcamp.  You can listen to and purchase them here. Both sides of the Aspirin Smash 45 are available there as well.



The newly unearthed "Stop, Listen To My Story" E.P. is an incredible slew of razor sharp originals in a distinctly freakbeat/mod pop art/garage vein without an ounce of plagiarism, aping or rehashing. "Walking The Buzz", "Don't Hang Around", ""What Hit Me", "Stop, Listen To My Story", "They Call Me Dissatisfied", "She Gives Me Action" and "Baby I Need" are all high octane numbers played on vintage instruments recorded in the highest quality. Highly recommended!!!!!

Kevin Groeller, Hub City Soul Dec. 1997

Micheal Rafalowich, Hub City Soul, March 1998
Michael Vallone, Hub City Soul, Dec 1997
Stu Rutherford, Hub City Soul, March 1998

Thursday, January 5, 2017

THE EQUALS: 10 Best!

In honor of Derv Gordon's impending U.S. one off gig in California (more info here) I decided it would be fun if I came up with my 10 favorite Equals tracks.


1. "Baby Come Back" UK 45 President PT 135 1967 B side/ 1968 A side
My intro to the Equals came via this track, though my first hearing was a watered down ska/reggae version by a band called The Equators in the early 80's.  It wasn't until a DJ on my local college radio station (WPRB 103.3 FM) spun this track on their Friday night 60's program in 1984 that my ears were pricked up.  I loved the  incessant riff, the ska groove and being a dyed in the wool teenage mod was impressed that they mentioned "rude boy" at the fade out along with some ska style vocal percussion. It was the band's only #1 in the U.K. and a massive hit on the Continent and reached #32 in the U.S. Top 40.

2. "Reincarnation" US LP track "Baby Come Back" RCA LSP-4078 1968
My first Equals album was the US RCA LP "Baby Come Back" that was a wonderful mish mash of material, among the many cool tracks it contained was this tune which originally appeared on their third U.K. LP "Sensational". "Reincarnation" follows yet another catchy guitar riff and some great choppy stop/starts creating an excellent groove.

https://youtu.be/BHgKv6kG8Q4

Belgian Picture Sleeve


















3. "The Guy Who Made Her A Star"  UK 45 B-side President PT 200 1968
Yet another inclusion on the US RCA album was this stormer that's one of the handful of Equals tracks that wasn't written by a band member. My first introduction to the track came via the '79 mod band The Purple Hearts who included it on their 1981 E.P. "My Life's A Jigsaw".  The original of course destroys all comers and it's one of my favorite tracks by them with some powerful vocals.

https://youtu.be/93vznlZdRpk

4. "Butterfly Red White And Blue" U.K. E.P. track President PTE 1 1968
Starting out with some mellow Hendrix influenced licks this track takes it down a notch from the bands usual stomping, amphetamine 100mph party but works perfectly thanks to it's soulful delivery that reminds me of Wilson Pickett. It's also written by Lincoln Gordon, who's song writing credits did not appear or a lot of Equals tracks.

https://youtu.be/keVCu__2mqM


















5. "Soul Brother Clifford" UK 45 President PT 288 1970
Driven by some powerful football chant backing vocals and funky organ (care of one Al Dickinson according to the label) "Soul Brother Clifford" is one of the band's most infectious, rousing and cheeky numbers and is the epitome of a party encapsulated in a seven inch piece of plastic.

https://youtu.be/NyDlqk5Gvss

6. "Lonely Rita" U.K. 45 B-side President PT 222 1968
On the flip of the equally powerful "Softly Softly" comes this powerful track that combines slashing guitars, a Bo Diddley beat and a wall of sound vocally. The best part is the last 30 seconds where it grows with intensity!

https://youtu.be/XSb2XWNF3yU


















7. "Viva Bobby Joe" UK 45 A-side President PT 260 1969
The rousing "Viva Bobby Joe"is driven by some terrace worthy backing vocals, high octane hand claps sawing strings and flute creating an incredible groove. It rose to #6 in Britain becoming the band's second biggest U.K. seller. The Beatle-esque strings at the end are a nice touch that give it a "Hey Jude" feel.

https://youtu.be/veVRejxrE6U

8. "Skies Above" UK 45 B-side President PT 180 1968
Lead by some thunderous drums, harmonica (not on the LP version) and a "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" type groove the band veer the closest they ever came to psychedelia with this lyrically brief number with the same two verses repeated like a mantra and some cool high backing vocals that sound like a police siren. Which leads us to....

https://youtu.be/uDM1i3_zAnQ

Courtesy of 45cat.com
















8. "Police On My Back"  German 45 A-side President 19 750 AT 1967
Like "The Guy Who Made Her A Star" and "Baby Come Back", "Police On My Back" was known to my ears by a cover version first when The Clash covered it on the excessive "Sandinista" triple album (and did it justice). The original was waiting for me in 1985 when I snagged the indispensable US "Baby Come Back" LP. On top of a jogging beat with some zoomy bass runs and guitars mimicking police sirens the Equals offer an English take on the ska/reggae theme of boys on the wrong side of the law. Oddly it was only issued on 45 on the Continent.

https://youtu.be/4E5aF_rdX9Q

10. "Soul Groovin'" UK LP track "Sensational" President PTL 1020 1968
Equals tracks with horns were few and far between and they were best suited for amped up tunes like this.  Beneath a groove laid down by tight horns and funky bass and drums lending a Archie Bell's  "Tighten Up" meets The Mohawks "Baby Hold On" style feel to it and Derv's double tracked vocal this number never ceases to move a dance floor and it's a damn shame it was never a 45.

https://youtu.be/YhVlqstqmSA

Monday, January 2, 2017

Post Hammond & Horns Freakout!



DANTALIAN'S CHARIOT-The Madman Running Through The Fields/ Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud U.K. Columbia DB 8260 1967

Psychedelia pretty much helped kill the U.K. 60's "mod" r&b scene. Granted by the dreaded "Summer of Love" in 1967 anyone who's been slogging out the Gunnell brothers "Hammond and horns" circuit since 1963 were pretty much priests of a dead god by this point. Georgie Fame was decidedly in between jazz and M.O.R at this point, Chris Farlowe had left the Thunderbirds and was cutting records on Immediate that had sitars and tabla (dig his version of "Moanin'" Immediate IM 056 June 1967) and The Graham Bond Organization had previously issued in February the downright freaky/spooky "You Gotta Have Love" (Page One POF 014, ditto on this one too)! and what were Zoot Money's Big Roll band up to? See for yourself in January 1967:


But by the summer of 1967 fragments of The Big Roll Band: Zoot and his B-3 Hammond, guitarist Andy Somers (later Summers when he became a mega star in the Police) and drummer Colin Allen chucked the r&b/soul covers and stage antics of Zoot dropping trou to pursue psychedelia (no doubt fueled by the LSD ingestion, read Andy's excellent autobiography to get the full story!) full on as Dantalian's Chariot in time for the "Summer of Love". They were joined by Pat Donaldson (bass) . As you can read in Andy's book the far flung provincial gigs must've been quite a weird scene when the band, all clad in white, all played white instruments unleashed their light show and psychedelic sonic assault on the audience!














"The Madman Running Through The Field" is just that, nothing short of a psychedelic/sonic assault. From it's intro (a high pitched whine) and backwards cymbal, Zoot singing "introspective" lyrics (is it inspired by the "I Ching" or "R.D. Laing" or both?) that are interrupted by an clanging/disjointed guitar chord (which Somers/Summers said he re-utilized on The Police hit "Walking On The Moon"!) and this trippy fey organ that faintly grooves in the background. Toss in some mellow flute during the breaks and the whole thing winds up as a clanging, distorted psychedelic clash! One listen and you'll join me and the other legions of 60's British psych fans who hold this one in high esteem! "Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud" comes from the pen of the great Tony Colton. He was responsible for some killer 45's on Pye and composer of The Shotgun Express "I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round" (see Fe. 11, 2009 blog post) , Georgie Fame and The Blue Flame's unreleased classic "Red Number Nine" and The Merseybeat's "I Stand Accused" (later covered by Elvis Costello). "Sun..." is at odds with the A-side as it's completely "light", not in an "M.O.R." sort of way , more like The Rolling Stone's orchestrations on "Back Street Girl". The vibes add a slightly jazzy touch. One wonders why this was chosen as a flip such a monster cut like "Madman", but being the Summer of Love maybe this was the "yang" to side A's "yin"?

When Dantalian's Chariot folded Zoot Money and Andy Somers became full time members of Eric Burdon & The Animals. The band's 1968 LP "Love Is" contained a 17 minute plus opus titled "Gemini/Madman" that ended with "Madman Running Through The Fields" (sung by Burdon) that's worth checking out.
















"The Madman Running Through The Fields" has appeared on Bam Caruso's "All The Colours Of Darkness" (Rubble 8) as well as on the "Rubble One" box set and on Rhino's Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond" box set. It also joined "Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud" on the now out of print (and horribly expensive) Dantalian's Chariot LP/CD compilation "Chariot Rising".


"The Madman Running Through The Fields":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-hwhRYMBRE

"Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWFj_4hjWrc

"Gemini/Madman":

https://youtu.be/LJtUBGC2KOg