Monday, December 5, 2016

The Pink Floyd:The Early Years 1965-1972 Box Set

The big news here at Anorak Thing H.Q. is the new monstrosity known as The Pink Floyd box set "The Early Years 1965-1972", a mammoth collection of 27 discs (CD and DVD/Blu-Ray) some 22 years in the making owing to licensing considerations and research. In addition to the bevvy of discs there are repressings of the bands first 5 U.K. singles (in reproduction sleeves), posters, handbills, miniature sheet music, business cards, press clippings etc.

I have honestly not had the opportunity to take in the entire set as of yet and seeing as my interest in the band wanes after 1969 it may be some time before I I will give you what I've got.

In order to do so I have broken them down as "chapters" . For example the first two CD's and DVD/Blu-Ray's are in their own separate book with a title (as are subsequent CD's/DVD's each bearing their own title). They are as follows:

The Pink Floyd 1965, Bob Klose second from right

CD 1
Disc one and two of this "chapter" cover 1965-1967, my favorite period.  Fans of the Syd Barrett era should fasten themselves in tightly because there are a host of never before issued tracks here.  The first 6 tracks date from 1965 when the band were a quartet with Bob "Rado" Close on guitar cut at Decca's West Hempstead studios. These tracks saw a limited issue on a CD EP put out by EMI for RSD, but for my barring two titles I have heard on bootlegs ("Lucy Leave" and "I'm A King Bee") its all new to my ears.  To the uninitiated "Lucy Leave" is a proto garage-punk number falling somewhere between The Rolling Stones and the snotty garage punk it spawned. "Double O Bo" is an r&b number with a Bo Diddley beat and lyrics about Bo Diddley becoming a spy. "Remember Me" is a frantic piece of up tempo beat/r&b that sounds like a snotty version of the Sorrows. Roger Water's sole composition from this session is "Walk With Me Sydney" (with the future Mrs Rick Wright, Juliette Gale duetting with Syd Barrett) that's British beat at it's best. From it's Rod Argent style electric piano, witty lyrics ("I'd love to love to love you baby but I got flat feet, fallen arches, baggy knees and a broken frame, meningitis, peritonitis , DT's and a washed out brain") and tough guitars that again bring to mind The Sorrows or The Zephyrs, its my fave of the lot. "Butterfly" is in the same vein, though a tad slower than the previous cuts with some great harmonies and again some witty lyrics this time c/o of Syd Barrett. "I'm A King Bee" is fairly pedestrian stuff, nothing too interesting but not inept either. The band's first three singles and their flip sides are next (minus "Scarecrow" which graced the B side of "See Emily Play") are up next. They are followed by the 2010 remix of an alternate version of "Matilda Mother" bearing its original lyrics (borrowed from a Hilare Belloc poem) and features an extended Door-sy ending. A remix of "Jugband Blues" is a treat, especially since to my knowledge there has been no reissue of the Mono mix of the band's "A Saurcerful Of Secrets" album from which this is culled.  Sadly this is in Stereo but still sounds miles beyond the previous mixes available. Then we get to the unreleased tracks, which many of us, myself included, sought this out because of. "In The Beechwoods" has long been the stuff of legends, eluding bootleggers and unheard by anyone publicly. It's an instrumental, although the way it sounds one would assume its a backing track to an unfinished song. Cut in October 1967 with a pulsing "Taxman" style guitar/bass riff, oscillating/wah-wah-ed keyboards and lots of abrupt stops and starts it's interesting because unlike a lot of their material played onstage it bears some song structure. "Vegetable Man" and "Scream Thy Last Scream" are also part of the legends or lore, but both have been bootlegged extensively. The remixes contained here were completed in 2010 and one would assume they were intended for "An Introduction To Syd Barrett" compilation CD issued that year. Considering that according to David Parker's excellent "Random Precision-Recording The Music Of Syd Barrett 1965-1974" neither track was ever completed to the band's satisfaction this puts in doubt the oft told tale that they portrayed Syd Barrett's declining mental state and were thus left off their second album. Mythology and regurgitated Syd tales dispensed with "Vegetable Man" sounds unusual all cleaned up after three decades plus of inferior listenings. But it's marvelous nonetheless with Syd's witty lyrics describing what he happened to be wearing that day and a double track on the lead vocals not heard on previous bootleg takes. Interestingly the track ends without the usual reverberating effect but winds down instead sounding like The Dukes of Stratosphear. The Nick Mason sung "Scream Thy Last Scream" is equally interesting. Syd's sole line in the track is easier to hear as are the varispeed "Chipmunk" backing vocals and it sounds less ramshackle than the sub par mixes I have been hearing these past three decades.

Disc two begins with 8 tracks recorded live in Stockholm, Sweden on September 10, 1967. Much like the live disc of The Artwoods in Copenhagen included on their deluxe set all lead vocals have been obliterated (especially Syd's). After a spirited hippie introduction the band launch into an instrumental "Reaction In G" (bearing no resemblance to the number of the same title that they cut a snippet of for a "Top Gear" program that same month). They then play "Matilda Mother", an 11 minute plus "Pow R. Toch", "Scream Thy Last Scream", "Set Controls For The Heart Of The Sun", "See Emily Play" and "Interstellar Overdrive" (if you got sick of hearing multiple versions of "Wade In The Water" on The Graham Bond Organization box set you will feel the same about this track and "Set Controls For The Heart Of the Sun" on this collection). Overall the band aren't as sloppy as you would expect them to be, after all this was during the period where Syd was supposedly going off the rails but surprisingly the bum notes mostly come from Roger Waters and Nick Mason. It's an interesting document of the band live but not something you're going to listen to continuously. The "John Latham" tracks (each track is titled "John Latham Version...") date from a little known October '67 session recorded for avant garde film maker John Latham for a film called "Speak". There are nine songs in total, although I am sure "songs" is a strong word to use as all nine are improvisational pieces of flicking muted strings, slide guitar, tom tom rattling and all the other spacey bits you hear in live versions of "Interstellar Overdrive". Like the live performance at the beginning of the disc I doubt you will listen to it more than once, in fact it was a chore getting through it all as there is no semblance of song contained within any of the nine selections.

California November 1967

Most of the items contained on this disc you've no doubt seen in one form or another, though these are all crystal clear (with one exception, more on that in a bit) and all date from 1967 during Syd's tenure with the band. The disc kicks off with snippets of home movie footage of Syd in 1965 roaming the Gog Magog Hills (incredulously released in it's entirety on VHS in the early 90's as "Syd's First Trip" until David Gilmour bought the rights to squash it) and the band and their van and road crew loading in/out to EMI's studios in 1967 (with a "Games For May" poster visible on the back window of their van). This footage is all set to the tune of "Chapter 24". Next up is "Nick's Boogie" from "Tonight Let's All Make Love In London" followed by some unseen footage from a TV show called "Scene" of them in action light show and all at the UFO Club in January 1967 performing "Interstellar Overdrive". The b&w "Arnold Layne" promo film is next in pristine quality as is their May 1967 appearance on "Look Of The Week" where they are skewered by the uptight Hans Keller. They perform "Pow R Toch" and "Astronomy Domine" live with light show and full on theatrics (and Roger and Syd do their best to answer Keller's inane questions and jabs in a brief interview). The pastoral "Pathe Pictorial" color film of "Scarecrow" is next picturing the band romping around (presumably in Cambridge) followed by a mime of "Jugband Blues" in color filmed in December 1967 when Syd's time in the band was fast running out.  It was made by their management Blackhill Enterprises for promotional purposes. Previous versions seen on YouTube and elsewhere have been synced up with a December '67 BBC session as the original audio had deteriorated. It is shown here with the original studio version restored and properly synced.  Syd Barrett's vacant look throughout and general appearance of dishevelment is almost unnerving and hard to watch knowing that he had less than one month left in the band.  An ultra clear appearance on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" from November 7, 1967 has them miming to "Apples And Oranges", with Syd clearly participating by pretending to play guitar and mining his vocal parts contrary to the myth of him not budging onstage.  One questions the wisdom of having the band promote a track that wasn't issued in the United States (Clark holds up "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" during their intro).  There is minor chit chat with each band member by Clark and though Syd seems detached he answers politely when spoken to. The fabled Pat Boone show appearance was either unobtainable because it no longer exists or, closer to the truth, it never existed in the first place and was yet another piece of repeated Syd Barrett folklore. A b&w clip of the band playing an untitled instrumental piece while a narrator explains how a light show works dates from a December 1967 BBC program "Tomorrow's World".  Syd looks a tad haggard but is clearly participating playing jazzy little licks and glances at the camera, not the catatonic zombie we have been made to expect for a man who has little over a month left in the band. The bonus features on the DVD/Blu-Ray include an unnamed instrumental from The UFO club from February 1967 via a German TV program, an outtake version of the Pathe "Scarecrow" film, "Interstellar Overdrive" live at The Roundhouse in 1967 and a partially restored July 1967 appearance on "Top Of The Pops". The original masters of most of the "TOTP" episodes were wiped soon after broadcast so this is something of a holy grail.  This version has issues with what looks like old VHS tracking gone wrong but it has been restored to semi view-able condition and has the audio fully restored. It is amazing to see the band clearly happy to be performing and in the Top Ten 10 . Obviously the stories of Syd's misbehaving on the show were either in another episode that was wiped (the band appeared on the show three times to promote "Emily") or were once again, the product of someone's active imagination.

The short lived 5 piece line up January 1968

Exit Syd Barrett in January 1968 and enter Syd's childhood friend David Gilmour (though the band were a five piece long enough to have a photo session and 4 gigs together in January). Gilmour has stated that for the first year in Pink Floyd his purpose was to "play like Syd", which I suppose is why I enjoy their material from 1968.  The first disc of this chapter includes both sides of their two 1968 singles. The previously unreleased "Song 1" dates from an August 1968 session in the US at Los Angeles Capitol Studios and reminds me of a backing track for a number from the first Caravan album. It's entertaining but sounds unfinished. "Roger's Boogie" from the same session is a spooky piece with some choral Moody Blues style backing vocals and is an excellent little dirge for something that sat in the can for 48 years!  Next up is David Gilmour's debut BBC ("Top Gear") session with the band from June 1968 featuring "Murderotic Woman (Careful With That Axe Eugene)", "The Massed Gadgets of Hercules (A Saucerful Of Secrets)", "Let There Be More Light" and "Julia Dream". The quality is excellent and the band are tight and sound almost completely different thanks to Rick Wright replacing his Farfisa with a Hammond on some tracks. A further BBC session rounds out the disc, dating from June 1968 featuring their then current single "Point Me At The Sky", "Embryo" and yet another version of "Interstellar Overdrive". Again the quality and delivery are top notch.

This disc contains a slew of slots the band for European television in 1968. The first of which is for the Belgian TV show "Tienerklanken" where, billed as "Pink Floid", they lip sync "Astronomy Domine", "The Scarecrow", "Corporal Clegg", "Paintbox", "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun", "See Emily Play" and "Bike" (a compilation of still photos of the band from the previous videos with some psychedelic projections). Filmed in a variety of places (all in b&w) from outdoors to a studio with mirrored walls the band looked bored and Roger looks a tad uncomfortable "singing" Syd's lead vocals. There's more Belgian lip syncing as Roger gleefully mimes/mugs "Apples And Oranges" in a room full of fruit crates for the show "Vibrato".  Luckily there's a pause in the miming when we at last arrive on the influential French pop TV program "Baton Rouge" where the band aggressively plough through live versions of "Astronomy Domine", "Flaming" (with Gilmour on lead vocals), "Set Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" and "Let The Be More Light" (all in color!). "Paintbox" is next in b&w from the French show "Discorama" (lip sync with psychedelic projections transposed on top) followed by an untitled piece from a color British TV show called "The Sound of Change" in color playing what almost sounds like Ray Davies "Virgin Soldiers March" while images of various youth juxtaposed and footage of the French '68 student riots cut in and out. Next is particularly psychedelic version of "Set The Controls For the Heart Of The Sun" from the British program "All My Loving" in color but in red and orange negative. There's a snippet of the band miming "It Would Be So Nice" in color from the Italian show "Release-Rome Goes Pop" followed by another Italian appearance, this time on "Pop '68" in color performing a live version of "Interstellar Overdrive". Another appearance on Belgium's "Tienerklanken" where Roger Waters is interviewed and the band perform a spacey live version of "Astronomy Domine" with loads of fury and power. "Let There Be More Light" and "Remember A Day" come via the French TV show "Samedi Et Compagnie" (both lip sync in b&w) with Roger ditching his faithful Rickenbacker 4001 for a Fender Precision bass and Gilmour pretending to play Syd's eerie slide parts on what looks like a Gibson ES 335. Yet another mime of "Let There Be More Light" (obviously popular on the Continent, while watching this to review my daughter asked "Daddy why do Pink Floyd keep playing the same song?"). This time it's from France's "A L'Affiche Du Monde" in b&w then onto color and live for another Gallic show "Tous En Scene" with "Let There Be More Light" and "Flaming" with Gilmour again taking lead vocals on the latter. And FINALLY the final "Let There Be More Light" live and in color in France on "Surprise Partie". The disc happily ends with the promo film for their last single of the 60's "Point Me At The Sky" (complete with Syd-like slide guitar) and in my humble opinion, the last good thing they did.

Live New York City at The Scene Club July 1968

This disc is a catch all of sorts featuring BBC tracks from the Syd era and a few other bits from the post Syd period in 1968-1969. The September 25, 1967 BBC session for "Top Gear" suffers from inferior quality on some tracks.  "Flaming" sounds perfect but "The Scarecrow", "The Gnome", "Matilda Mother", Reaction In G", and "Set Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" (yes the band were playing that when Syd was in the line up) sound like they were sourced from YouTube or recorded from a transistor radio with a hand held mic at times. Once you get used to it they are all enjoyable and the band play them as a tight, well honed unit. The December 2, 1967 BBC appearance suffers from similar sonic issues of sub par clarity but the band carry them off quite well, again no mean feat because this was when Syd had supposedly "lost it". The tracks for that session are "Scream Thy Last Scream", "Vegetable Man", "Pow R Toch" and "Jugband Blues". A December 1968 BBC session includes a boring acoustic piece called "Baby Blue Shuffle In D Major" in horrendous quality (which sounds nothing like the '68 post Syd Pink Floyd and more like a lost C,S,N,& Y backing track). Ditto for the pointless "Blues" from the same session which is your bog standard 12 bar blue instrumental.  A weird US 1968 radio promo featuring footsteps and a buzzing fly and the exclamation "Pink Floyd doesn't mean its not a nice band" is next .  The CD is closed by two tracks recorded for the film "The Committee". It was once long believed that these were recorded with Syd in the line up but they date from 1968 putting that fable to rest. The instrumental ,"Committee No.1" reminds me of the pre-Soft Machine band The Wylde Flowers.  "Committee No.2" at times has a melody that resembles Cat Steven's "Wild World" and is an interesting little instrumental with some great meandering organ and punctuated by what  one would assume to be film dialogue. It's followed by a piece recorded in 1969 for the US moon landing titled "Moonheads" which strays too far into outer space  before ending with a 1974 live version of "Echoes" which is where we get off.....

This disc contains a few odd bits like an alternate "Arnold Layne" promo film. I actually prefer this one to the original one.  Filmed in March 1967 it looks later with the band sporting longer hair, trippy clothing (quite psychedelic unlike the subtle mod gear worn in the original) and Syd's eyeliner and vacant look add an eerie spectre to it.  Filmed in b&w it shows Syd and Roger grappling/mock fighting while Rick paces and Nick stares at the sky on Hempstead Heath and the band staring into space while standing outside a  St. Micheal's church in Highgate with the camera fixating on Syd while he lip syncs the solitary line "Why can't you see" looking positively ghostly AND menacing. Next up is a b&w German TV appearance from "P1 -P Wie Petersilie" from July 1969 where the shoulder length hair Pink Floyd are shown getting food in a canteen before being seated in a white dining room at a fancy table set up with some members wearing military gear while "Corporal Clegg" plays. There is then a short interview where the band discuss their pre-music life as students (in their typical articulate and posh manner which betrays the scruffy shoulder length hair look) before lip syncing "A Saucerful Of Secrets". There's also the entire 1968 film "The Committee"  (starring Paul Jones and Arthur Brown!) included as well as the film "More" (both featuring music by our subjects). The DVD/Blu-Ray then moves into the 70's which is where I hit eject.

Overall this is a mammoth undertaking to attempt to take in. It would literally take months for one to fully digest the entirety of this collection. And though it was quite an eccentric and undoubtedly irresponsible purchase for me since my interest in the band wanes by 1969 there is hope that I might actually come to appreciate more of their material given time to further investigate it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Derv Gordon of The Equals live in California 1/27/17

Derv Gordon, lead singer of The Equals will be making a one off appearance in California on January 27th, 2017.  For more details check out the event page on Facebook here. This will be Derv's first U.S. appearance and he will be backed by So What. The set will consist of Equals tracks, some of which have never been performed live.

Monday, November 28, 2016

November's Picks

1. HANK JACOBS-"So Far Away"
From the U.S. Sue label came this 1963 instrumental that I often overlook as being too "well known" and it turns up somewhere and reminds me of what a great little tune it is. Sadly none of his other stuff is remotely affordable any more!

2. OLIVE BONE-"Jugger Tea"
Here's a mega obscure 1966 instrumental released by U.K. Parlophone as a B-side single full of heavy brass, busy guitar licks and a jazzy groove.  I have no idea who they were but this track swings.

The Applejacks publicity still from the film "Go Go Big Beat"

The Applejacks are often unfairly maligned for their one off U.K. hit, the Lennon/Macca throwaway "Like Dreamers Do".  Somehow Decca must have seen some promise in them as they were allowed to record an LP in 1964 full of the usual lame beat group covers ("Kansas City", "Too Much Monkey Business" etc) and this down trodden beat ballad reminiscent of The Zombies at their most wistful , angst ridden best.

"I can see her lyin' down in her satin dress in a room where you do what you don't confess"
I've gone weird. I turned 50, grew a moustache and started listening to Gordon Lightfoot. The end is nigh.

5. TURQUOISE-"Tales Of Flossie Fillet"
Turquoise should have been stars, Dave and Ray Davies grew up on the same street as them, they were friends with Keith Moon and John Entwistle and managed and produced by Tom Keylock (though the idea of a guy from a car hire knowing his way around a recording studio sounds pretty ludicrous). "Tales Of Flossie Fillet" is a jaunty little tune not unlike the Kinks '68. "Dave and Ray" (Davies) and "Moon The Loon" get a mention in the last verse....Sadly once Keylock's career with The Stones waned so did his interest in the band and their Decca contract evaporated soon thereafter.

6. LAUREL AITKEN-"Rock Steady"
From my favorite U.K. 60's ska/reggae label, Columbia Blue Beat, this 1967 45 by Laurel Aitken is mostly New Orleans boogie woogie r&b with a slight ska beat behind it all propelled by some solid sax/piano backing. It's sort of mundane but I enjoy it's laid back simplicity.

7. PETE MOORE-"Catwalk"
By the mid 90's I was musically restless. Bored with Britpop and with very few 60's British/Euro things being unearthed on compilations and BANG! I stumbled upon the kitsch/music/lounge scene. Not "lounge" in that dreadful tiki/Madmen/mambo/Sinatra scene but lounge as in 60's/70's UK/Euro music library sounds, kitschy versions of pop standards and instrumentals from films (where sometimes the principals even kept their clothes on) and the like. "Catwalk" by Pete Moore is a perfect example of this, unearthed by the Karminsky Experience Inc. for the excellent Deram comp "Inflight Entertainment" dripping with Hammond, flutes and a rhythm not unlike "Spooky".

8. XTC-"Are You Receiving Me?"
Brilliant, quirky, jerky, ultra-Anglo aggro pop with a slight 60's twist. In my book XTC stood ahead of the plethora of faceless, talent-less no way new wave scene with their frantic/frenetic little melodies and pop quirks.  The guitar solo on this always takes me back. XTC were the first live band I ever saw and will always occupy a special place in time for me.

9. MARIANNE FAITHFUL-"Something Better"
I always felt bad for Marianne Faithful. She had it all, beauty, the voice, a pop star boyfriend and a music career and poof it all went. Although "Something Better" is a Goffin/Mann composition the lyrics seem painfully tailored for her which makes it work even more, no matter how tragic.

10. 5:30-"13th Disciple"
Imagine my surprise that the band behind 1985's "Catcher In The Rye" on the "Cutting Edge" compilation LP were still hanging in there. My friend Bob gave me their new CD "Bed" for my 25th birthday and a few weeks later I was in a pub and this video came on and stopped me dead in my tracks with their stripey jumpers, Rickenbackers and Epiphones and John's Children haircuts.  It's held up remarkably considering my disdain for most things "Britpop".

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

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

HONEYBUS-Girl Of Independent Means/How Long US Deram 45-DEM-7522 1968

Britain's Honeybus (lead by prolific songwriter Pete Dello) released a slew of 45's in the U.K. and on the European continent but their US discography is slim with just a release of their U.K. hit "I Can't Let Maggie Go" (#8) and today's subject, "Girl Of Independent Means", their final American side issued here in October 1968. Pete Dello had left the band a few months prior being replaced by Jim Kelly (lead vocals/ guitar).  The other members were Ray Cane (bass/vocals and also one of the band's other songwriters), Colin Hare (rhythm guitar) and Pete Kircher (drums).

"Girl Of Independent Means" was the bands fourth U.K. 45 (Deram DM  207 September 1968). It's a great mid tempo pop song. Starting off with a oft copped lick ("I'm A Man")  before injecting some innocuous trumpets preceding the lead vocals.  On the surface it's an incredibly pedestrian tune but it's hooks and top shelf production (care of the band!) make it easy to listen to over and over. Like so many other mid/late 60's U.K. Deram sides no expense is spared in production and the backing music.

The flip side "How Long" is a jangly soft pop number with some slick harmonies and intricate folk rock guitars giving it a very distinct American "West Coast" feel. Even the guitar solo reminds me of a Buffalo Springfield record and the vocals have me thinking of Moby Grape! Quite out of place in the year of blues rock jams or psychedelic freakouts in Britain.

Both sides are available on Castle's two CD Honeybus anthology "She Flies Like A Bird: The Honeybus Anthology".

Hear "Girl Of Independent Means":

Hear "How Long":

Friday, November 18, 2016

Mose Allison R.I.P.

Sadly it seems we have been forced to eulogize a great deal of artists this year.  I reserve eulogies for people whose material I appreciate on a grand scale and try not to turn this into the Death Blog of Music.  Now I am forced to mourn the passing of Mose Allison.  I first heard of Mose Allison in 1982 when reading the influential "Mods" book by Richard Barnes. His music was brought to my attention in the late 80's by a young lady who knew I liked Georgie Fame (though I unwittingly had been hearing his material via British 60's r&b for quite some time), his music was further brought to my attention by an older jazz hipster I worked with who was my jazz mentor and presented me with a copy of Mose Allison's 1970 Atlantic LP compilation "The Best Of....".

I was fortunate enough to see him play in 1996 in a small club in St . Paul MN called the Artist's Quarter to less than a dozen people for a mere $15.  He did all his "hits".  He even dedicated "Baby Please Don't Go" to me in his un-imitable cool style saying "this next one is for the young gentleman who so enthusiastically applauded my previous number" (his "Parchman Farm" was so incredible I bolted upright and clapped perhaps a bit too quickly and loudly).

In my tradition of Top 10's here are my favorite tracks by Mose Allison.

1. "The Seventh Son" US Single Prestige 45-150 1959
Mose's second single and easily one of his most famous tracks, a reading of Willie Dixon's "The Seventh Son," extenuates everything about the man: laid back, cool, mellow and witty. And to top it off it gives a nice glimpse of what ivory tinkling chops he had.

2. "V-8 Ford Blues" album track "Sings And Plays" Columbia SX 6058 1961 US LP
"V-8 Ford Blues" is Mose at his wittiest and smoothest in one of his many classic "put down" songs. It features his bizarre yammering away while he solos and the contains the rare mention of an automobile, something absent from usual lyrically timeless material.

3.  "I'm Not Talking" album track "A Word From Mose" US LP Atlantic SD 1424 1964
My introduction to Mose Allison, like many, came through The Yardbirds interpretation of this catchy, busy "hit" driven by his barrel-house piano playing and wise ass "I'm a badass don't f*ck with me" boastful vocals.

4. "Swingin' Machine" album track "Swingin' Machine" US LP Atlantic 1398 1962
"Are you tired, are you uninspired , if you're bored you just can't afford to miss out on the scene when I unveil my little swingin' machine".  So goes the opening line to one of my fave Mose tracks, aided in no small part to some trombone and sax which add to a fuller, almost more sophisticated sound to his usual delivery.

5. "Parchman Farm" US Single Prestige 45-130 1958
"Parchman Farm" was the "Louie Louie" of the mid 60's British r&b scene (as the video clip above will attest). Understandably, it defined Georgie Fame's vocal style and remains one of Mose Allison's most endearing tracks. In case you're from Mars or have been kept in your momma's basement for the past 5 decades, it's a humorous look at life in a work gang penitentiary.

6. "Young Man Blues" (aka "Back Country Suite: Blues") album track "Back Country Suite" US LP Prestige PRLP 7091 1957
Brought to many via The Who's boisterous reading on "Live At Leeds", this track was actually titled "Back Country Suite: Blues" when it was first aired on his "Back Country Suite" album.  On top of some slick stride piano Mose, in one of his shortest tracks (1:28), laments the plight of the young man.

7. "If You're Goin' To The City" album track "Swingin' Machine" US LP Atlantic 1398 1962
I've always classed Mose's material in two categories: "rural" (bass, piano, drums) and "urban" (all of the above plus horns). His 1962 "Swingin' Machine" LP falls into the later musically. Lyrically, it has a "country boy in the city" feel that just evokes New York City in black and white 1962: 24/7 diners, big cars with big fins, hustlers, 42nd Street and the hustle and bustle that is the Big Apple with smooth horns to accentuate the "busy" feel of the concrete jungle.

8. "Baby Please Don't Go" US Single Columbia 4-41717 1960
Not all of Mose Allison's treasures were his own. He could work wonders with other folk's material too like this stormer, chock full of his scat muttering on top of some free form piano tinkling and a laid back feel both musically and vocally. And, of course leading to Van Morrison and Them's debut 45 and my first hearing of the track.

9. "Foolkiller"album track "A Word From Mose" US LP Atlantic SD 1424 1964
Originally released on his 1964 Atlantic records long player  "The Word From Mose", "Foolkiller" incorporates paranoia with jest on top of some intense piano hammering. First brought to my attention by the Brian Auger Trinity who cut it as a single in 1965, Atlantic reissued the track as a US 45 in 1966.

10. "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" album track "Mose Takes To The Hills" Epic BA 17031 US LP 1962
Another upbeat reading of a track not of his own composing, this bright, spry interpretation of "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" is as fitting an epitaph as any.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: Mike Quinn and the Breadcrumbs

MIKE QUINN & THE BREADCRUMBS-Toothbrush Nell/Fairy Cakes (For Tea) UK Jay Boy BOY 7 1969

Released on the Jay Boy label (an interesting late 60's UK label set up by Eddie Kassner that released a variety of sounds: soul, reggae, freakbeat, psych MOR etc) this one off 45 credited to Mike Quinn and The Breadcrumbs is an interesting release. Mike Quinn was allegedly the owner of several London boutiques who in grand 60's tradition proved that if you were famous you made a record! (Sean Buckley &) The Breadcrumbs were best known for their searing Shel Talmy produced monster "Everybody Knows" from 4 years prior (first unearthed in the late 80's on the epic "Searchin' In The Wilderness" compilation album).

"Toothbrush Nell" is a slightly mediocre piece driven by a banjo and sung in an overdone accent in a lazy way not unlike Ray Davies when singing in his disinterested "posh" voice. In fact the pace reminds me a lot of a 1966 Kinks track, minus the multiple chord and tempo changes and contains far more innuendo and double entendre than R.D. would ever dare use. Presumably Mike Quinn is the "vocalist" on this track.

The real treat is of course the flip side "Fair Cakes (For Tea)", which on the subject of Ray Davies is a great little bit of social commentary about a spoiled rotten, self centered rich girl. Sung by Sean Buckley over a kitschy, cheeky musical backing it sounds more like a 1965 or 1966 track than it's 1969 release.

"Toothbrush Nell" has not been reissued but "Fairy Cakes (For Tea)" appears on Psychi Circle's 2007 CD compilation "Fairytales Can Come True Two: Fairy Cakes For Tea" where this writer was first introduced to it. Mike Quinn later cut a tongue and cheek 45 on CBS in 1969 called "Apple Pie"(previously cut by Jon Isherwood and issued on one of the early "Strange Things Are Happening" compilations) worth having a listen to (especially for it's "Give Peace A Chance" pisstake intro).

Hear "Toothbrush Nell":

Hear "Fairy Cakes (For Tea)":

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mid 60's Relaunches

The advent of the British beat music boom slew the careers of lots of performers on both sides of the Atlantic be it the bryl creamed American solo performers or their British counterparts across the pond or British instrumental combos or even the 50's rock and roll legends who inspired these new upstarts.  But this boom also led to attempts to reinvigorate the stalled careers of many of these unfortunates.  Sadly none of them were resuscitated by this but it did produce some amazing tracks.

1. JET HARRIS-"My Lady" UK Fontana TF 849 1967
The musical career of ex-Shadow Jet Harris was long dead by 1967 with his last 45 (with former Shadow's partner Tony Meehan) issued by Decca in early 1963 and one final 45 on his own on the label in early 1964. Fast forward to 1967 and Harris  looked set for a relaunch when he cut this Troggs cover (with musical accompaniment by Tony Meehan) . It out freaks the original by replacing it's minimal music backing by adding some wonky guitar, high pitched flutes, blaring sax and high end brass.  Sadly it failed but gave Jet bragging rights for flying the freakbeat flag higher than anyone else.

2. ADAM FAITH-"Cowman Milk Your Cow" UK Parlophone R 5635 1967
Early 60's idol Adam Faith was one of many performers who hinged their hopes of rebooting their music careers by receiving material from the then hot Bee Gees. Like many of the tunes they gave away this jangly, somber number was never released by the Brothers Gibb.  It's an incredible piece with some raga guitar and solid backing (allegedly by his former backing band The Roulettes) and The Bee Gees on backing vocals and Faith carrying the whole thing very well. It failed to chart and rates as his rarest and most in demand 45.

3. GENE VINCENT-"I Was Born To Be A Rolling Stone" US Challenge 59365 1967 
In 1966 has been Gene Vincent was signed to the Challenge label where he cut 3 updated/modern (ie "contemporary") 45's.  "I Was Born To Be A Rolling Stones" is a cracking number delivered on top of a jangly folk rock feel (and and interesting sequence while vibes seamlessly slide in with the 12 string). I have always wondered if the line "I went over to London, lordy what a swinging town but a fast talking phony with a big cigar tried to bring me down" was directed at Don Arden who had fleeced Vincent in the past. Sadly none of his sides for the label revitalized his career but makes for some amazing listening.

German Polydor release

4. BILLY J. KRAMER & THE DAKOTAS-"Chinese Girl" UK Reaction 591014 1967
Released as the B-side to Billy J's Bee Gee's cover "The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker", "Chinese Girl" was cut at the end of 1966 with The Dakotas backing him (it was written by Dakotas Mick Green and Robin McDonald). If one overlooks the un-PC lyrics and inane rhymes and concentrates of the musical backing you're in for a ride and indeed this should have been the A-side and left the toytown schlock of the A-side on the bottom where it belonged (it didn't chart anyway).  Interestingly there is an even more way out alternate version with far wilder guitars and stronger vocals on the EMI collection "Do You Want To Know A Secret: The EMI Sessions 1963-1983".

5. BRENDA LEE-"Is It True" UK Brunswick 05915 1964
Like many other American artists Brenda Lee fell on hard times in the wake of the "British Invasion" and was among one of the first American's to go to Britain to record in an effort to jump start their career.  Armed with a Carter/Lewis composition, Mickie Most in the production seat and a host of session players (among them Jimmy Page, who's distinct guitar style is instantly apparent on this track) Lee set about recording in London. "Is It True" is a rollicking number but despite Page's raw guitar pyrotechnics, Vernon's girls backing vocals, Lee's gutsy delivery and a plug on "Ready Steady Go" notwithstanding it only become a modest hit ( #17 in the UK and the US) but failed to restore her to her former glory.

6. BOBBY RYDELL-"When I See That Girl Of Mine" US Capitol 5513 1965
Hats off to Bobby Rydell who attempted to get "with it" and cut and released this Ray Davies track before the Kinks version hit the States in October 1965.  The musical backing is tight and tough (dig the restrained, searing guitar work in the mix) and despite making it a rocking record it did nothing for Bobby or his finished musical career. This year the track was part of the "Kinked: Kink Songs And Sessions 1964-1971" CD compilation featuring covers of Ray and Dave Davies compositions.

7. BILLY FURY-"Silly Boy Blue" UK Parlophone R5681 1968
Billy Fury too joined the ranks of hopefuls who cut a Bee Gees composition in the hopes of some chart action, but it's not his version of "One Minute Woman" on side B we're concerned with but his over the top delivery of David Bowie's "Silly Boy Blue" on the topside. Released 11 months after David's airing on his debut LP, Billy Fury gives it his all and the amazing backing arranged by Alan Tew and produced and directed by future Jam producer Vic Smith add to the weight of this monster, but it hit is was not.

Scan c/o

8. DEL SHANNON-"Mind Over Matter" UK Liberty LIB 10277 1967
In February 1967 Stones Svengali and Immediate records boss Andrew Loog Oldham brought Del Shannon over to the UK to cut an entire album at London's Olympic studios with a host of heavy hitters providing the musical backing and Immediate artists Billy Nicholls and Andrew Rose and David Skinner (aka Twice As Much) providing several of the songs. The subsequent long player "Home And Away" was shelved due to lack of funds at Immediate (leaving Shannon understandably enraged) and not released until 1978 as "And The Music Plays On" (in 2006 it was issued with the original title and artwork on CD). However in 1967 two tracks "Mind Over Matter" and "Led Along" from it were issued on a single in the UK (other tracks came out on the US on separate releases in '67 as well). "Mind Over Matter" is an amazing piece of lushly orchestrated pop (with arrangements care of Arthur Greenslade) that's infectious and easily carried along by the stellar production and musical backing. Sadly it did nothing chart wise and rates as the former Charles Westover's most collectible 45.

9. GERRY MARSDEN-"Gilbert Green" UK CBS 2946 1967
Gerry Marsden was yet another U.K. down on their luck artist having a crack at a Brothers Gibb composition in the hopes of relaunching their career through the management of Robert Stigwood (who like Billy J. Kramer was inherited by Stigwood following his merger with Brian Epstein). Though unlike everyone else this cut was previously released by The Bee Gees (two months prior on their LP "Bee Gees 1st"). The musical backing sounds straight off of a Deram/Decca pop psych record and that's what makes this work, but sadly for Gerry Mardsen it didn't stop his one way ticket to cabaret/panto and sank immediately.

10. ROY ORBISON-"There Won't Be Many Coming Home" US MGM  K 13760 1967
From the soundtrack of the odd film "The Fastest Guitar In The West", Roy Orbison took a lot of heat in 1967 when he released this poignant anti-war single with folk rock leanings and orchestral backing on top of a martial military beat. It did not revitalize Roy's career but luckily for him he would only have to wait another two decades for that.