Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Rolling Stones Covers: Cliff Richard & The Shadows

CLIFF RICHARD AND THE SHADOWS-Blue Turns To Grey/Somebody Loses UK Columbia DB 7866 1966

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were never going to be Lennon and McCartney when it came to flogging their compositions. But with a nudge from manager Andrew Loog Oldham they eventually began composing and then offering them to other artists. "Blue Turns To Grey" was one of their earliest pieces, first released by The Mighty Avengers in February 1965 as Decca F 12085. It was revived again in March 1966 by Cliff Richard & The Shadows, who unlike The Mighty Avengers managed a modest hit with it rising to #15 with it in the U.K. charts. The Stones own version would not appear in the U.K. but was on their fifth U.S. album "December's Children (And Everybody's)" in December 1965.

Cliff & The Shadow's reading is in my estimation, one of the best.  Punctuated by some powerful vibrato guitar licks care of Hank Marvin it's faster and tougher than The Mighty Avengers (or The Stones lackluster version for that matter). Cliff's voice is spot on and The Shadows backing is flawless as always.

Sheet music care of

The flip side "Somebody Loses" is mid tempo throwaway with a countrified feel that does zero for me.

Hear "Blue Turns To Grey":

Hear "Somebody Loses":

Saturday, March 16, 2019

10 David Bowie 60's Demo's

At manager Ralph Horton's apartment, Warwick Square, London 1966
1. "April's  Tooth Of Gold" 1968
This muddy demo is an interesting bridge between the 60's Deram records "British accent Bowie" and "The Man Who Sold The World" period thanks to his odd key charges and the quirky delivery. The lyrics are interesting and one wonders what it might have sounded like in a finished, produced form, though it is totally out of character with the more light weight material that he was writing in '68 (some of which would resurface on his 2nd LP).

2. "I Want My Baby Back" 1965
Often cited as being Beach Boys influenced I'm going to go with the theory proffered many moons ago by my Twin Cities pal and music guru Keith Patterson that the influence for this demo instead comes from The Rocking Berries (check their hit "He's in Town" for reference). Recorded in 1965 one suspects the guitar is probably that of Lower Third band mate Denis Taylor. It first emerged in 1991 thanks to Shel Talmy on Rhino records essential CD "Early On 1964-1966" (now out of print it changes hands for a decent amount of $).

1966 Clapham Common, London

3. "Silver Treetop School For Boys" 1967
Bowie's early 1967 demo "Silver Treetop School For Boys" was not only actually covered and released by another artist it was done so on two occasions! The first was by The Slender Plenty in September 1967 (Polydor 56189) and later by Scottish group The Beatstalkers (who were handled by David's manager Ken Pitt) in December (CBS 3105). With a wry bit of social observation that would do Ray Davies proud, Bowie used a pot smoking scandal that was alleged to have involved the prestigious Lancing College which, as the oft told story goes has it, he read about in a newspaper. I can find no mention of any such incident anywhere and am loathe to regurgitate an old rock n' roll tale but why let the truth get in the way of a good story right?  Full of a catchy melody and some amazingly witty double entendres it would have made a great Deram era Bowie single.  It was also recorded (but unreleased officially until 2013) by The Riot Squad during their brief period of working with him. Though various sources state that it's Bowie singing lead on their version I beg to differ as it sounds nothing like him.

Tony Visconti's flat, Lexham Gardens, London 1968

4. "I'm Not Quite" 1969
This demo, cut with guitarist and former Buzz member John "Hutch" Hutchinson, will become familiar immediately upon listening as an early version of  "Letter To Hermione" from David's second LP. The lyrics were later adapted after Bowie was dumped by the song's subject, Hermione Farthingale (who along with Hutchinson and Bowie was a member a short lived trio called Feathers).

5. "Everything Is You" 1967
Pitched (unsuccessfully) to Manfred Mann's producer Ken Burgess in the hopes of them recording it, "Everything Is You" was eventually cut by Bowie's manager Ken Pitt's other act, The Beatstalkers as the flip to their next to last 45, 1968's "Rain Coloured Rose's" (UK CBS 3557). The lyrics seem to reflect someone working on a construction gang (or logging maybe?). It's infectious but difficult to imagine as something he would have released in the 60's.

6. "C'est La Vie" 1967
This 1967 demo (offered unsuccessfully to singer Chris Montez) remained undiscovered until 1993 when an acetate demo was auctioned off for an undisclosed price. It's of surprisingly decent quality and though it's nothing remarkable (Bowie seems to be straining on the key it's in) or witty it's worth a listen.

Davy Jones and the Lower Third, London 1965
7. "That's A Promise" 1965
This oft bootlegged track was recorded not with the Buzz as is often incorrectly stated, but with the Lower Third. Cut at the famous RG Jones studio in Morden, Surrey in October 1965 and was issued as an acetate on the studio's Oak label making it one of the most expensive Bowie seven inches in existence. It falls somewhere between the teen angst of Bowie and The Lower Third's 1965 45 "You've Got A Habit of Leaving" and The Kinks at their most dirge like.

8. "Social Girl (aka "Social Kind Of Girl")" 1967
"Social Girl" is one of those handful of mid 60's Bowie demos that was never recorded by anyone and as a result is one of his most obscure tracks that has not even graced any bootlegs to my knowledge. It benefits from some interesting double tracking on all the vocals (both lead and backing) that really reminds me of a light weight Pete Townshend pre-"Tommy" demo number (ie "Call Me Lightning" or "Magic Bus") especially with the percussive hand claps and high backing vocals.

9. "Glad I've Got Nobody" 1965
Completed with the full accompaniment of his then backing group The Lower Third, "Glad I've Got Nobody" was cut as a demo in 1965 (date and location uncertain). Writers are often quick to lazily cite The Who or Kinks as the influence on Bowie's '65-'66 material with The Lower Third, who backed him on just two singles ("You've Got A Habit Of Leaving" and "Can't Help Thinking About Me") . I think the apparent influence here is more of a mid tempo British beat influence which leads me to believe it was one of Bowie's earliest attempts at commercial conformity as it clearly resembles nothing he had released commercially, nor would. It's available on  Rhino records essential CD "Early On 1964-1966".

At manager Ralph Horton's apartment, Warwick Square, London 1966

10. "Silly Boy Blue" 1965
This homage to Bowie's early fascination with Tibet and Buddhism took shape in an entirely different lyrical form with the words concerning teenage trauma and leaving home (a theme also explored in his debut 45 as "David Bowie" with "Can't Help Thinking About Me") before being rejigged with lyrics about Tibet et al and eventually seeing light in its new form on his debut LP . This demo was cut again at RG Jones in October 1965 with the Lower Third, presumably at the same time as "That's A Promise" (see above) and comes off a bit disjointed and awkward but interesting in light of what it became.

Monday, March 11, 2019

John Walker Solo, Scott Walker Producing

JOHN WALKER-Woman/A Dream US Smash S-2213 1969

We've devoted loads of print space to The Walker Brothers here and quite a bit to Scott Walker and even Gary Walker but I think other than mentioning the famous (or infamous) "Solo Scott, Solo John" E.P. we've neglected John.  When The Walker Brothers went their separate ways in May 1967 many were, for the most part, led to believe the split was less than acrimonious. This may have been so but by the time John was ready to cut what would be his fourth post Walkers solo 45 it was none other than his ex-band mate Scott in the producer's chair.

"Woman", a John Walker original (credited to his real name John Maus) was issued in the UK as Phillips BF 1724 in November of 1968. It was not until January 1969 that it gained a US release. It's an orchestrated ballad that showcases John's vocal ability (often overshadowed by his more successful former band mate when there were The Walker Brothers), at times the melody reminds me of The Walker's  "Love Her".  It's not really my thing as it sounds a bit too close to the likes of Englebert Humperdinck  or Tom Jones at his schmaltziest.

The real gold is on side B, another John Walker original "A Dream". Musically it reminds me a lot of David Bowie's "When I Live My Dream" and though I'm certain this is pure coincidence it's still amazingly similar. The lush orchestration and top production make it easily the best thing he did post Walker Brothers in my estimation (one wonders what John's career would have been like if Scott had been at the helm for more releases)! Sadly it's not on YouTube!! It is interesting to note that Bowie actually met Walker on the set of the Dutch TV show "Fan Club" in November '67 and plans were made for the two to meet back in England with the possibility of Walker recording some of Bowie's material. They met the following week but John recording some of Bowie's music never came to fruition but one wonders what might have been......

To my knowledge neither side has been compiled anywhere, which in the case the the B-side, is criminal!

Hear "Woman":

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

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

THE SCAFFOLD-Do You Remember?/Carry On Crow US Bell B-724 1968

The Scaffold's second US 45 made it's debut in May 1968 (it was issued in the UK two months prior as Parlophone R 5679). Their first US release was discussed way back when here, with a bit of background on the band as well.

"Do You Remember" is a quintessentially English number that one could easily imagine playing as someone was punting down the Cam. It's comprised of multi layers of harmonies with a whimsical melody augmented at times by strings and flute that make it slightly trippy at times. It was later re-recorded by Scaffold members Roger McGough and Mike McGear (aka Mike McCartney) for their 1968 LP "McGough & McGear".

"Carry On Crow" is a bizarre piece. Sung by member John Gorman in his deep bass voice, it's an old folk song apparently called "Carrion Crow", cheekily re titled by The Scaffold. It's not something you'll want to listen to more than once.

Both sides are available in a host of out of print places on two CD's "Scaffold At Abbey Road 1966-1971" and another called "Thank U Very Much: The Best Of Scaffold".

Hear "Do You Remember":

Hear "Carry On Crow":

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

10 Of My Favorite Gigs

Mod Fun at The Dive 1985, pic by Andy Peters

1. Mod Fun The Dive, NYC, NY 1985-1986
Mod Fun's brief "residency" at The Dive (home of New York City's 1980's garage/60's scene) is the stuff of legend for me.  Old heads in the 60's can talk about seeing The Who at the Marquee Club every Tuesday, I'll forever drone on about Mod Fun at The Dive.  New Jersey's Mod Fun by 1985 had shed any vestiges of Jam influence and dove head first into US 60's garage and British 60's freakbeat in both their choice of covers (ranging from The Moving Sidewalks "99th Floor" to The Syn's "Grounded) and 60's inspired originals (one or two of which verged on plagiarism....). Best of all they were a tight, well honed three piece with each member firmly a muso. Interestingly enough there's most a of set of theirs from the club recorded in March 1986 at a gig I was at (shortly before the club unexpectedly closed its doors and shortly before the band hopped in a 1970 Ford Enconline van and undertook their first US tour coast to coast) available to hear on YouTube here (complete with incessant crowd chatter) complete with a zany cover of "Born To Be Wild" and a host of band originals and other covers (notably the trippy "Eyes Getting Louder" fading into their brilliant debut 45 "I Am With You" ).

2. Oscar Brown Jr, Marquis De Lafayette Hotel, The Cape May Jazz Festival, Cape May NJ, November, 10, 2000
The late great Oscar Brown Jr appeared several years in a row a the annual Cape May Jazz festival at this sleepy NJ seaside town. In the midst of confusion of who won the Presidential election Oscar used his classic wit and keen eye for political subterfuge with various well placed remarks throughout the set ("don't bother going back to your room to check the news at the break, I've just come from mine and we still ain't got a god damn President, not the right one anyway") and dedicated "Signifyin' Monkey" to George W Bush! Backed by a small trio (bass, drums, piano) with the later addition of a trumpet player he tore down the house with a host of all his best loved tunes, "Work Song", "The Snake", "Forbidden Fruit" and "But I Was Cool", to name a few.

The Jam, The Trenton War Memorial, Trenton, NJ 5/19/82 photographer unknown

3. The Jam, The Trenton War Memorial, Trenton, NJ May 19, 1982
Kicking off with "Running On The Spot" my one and only Jam gig was largely filled by tracks from their then current long player "The Gift" but filled out by crowd pleasers like "David Watts" (which drew one of the biggest applause's as I recall), "That's Entertainment" (with Bruce Foxton on acoustic guitar), "Start" and a raving version of "Private Hell". Backed up by the added horn/keyboard talents of Steve Nichol and Keith Thomas on select numbers the band were a loud, well oiled machine that gave the first (and final) US airing of the soulful Jam featuring the later recorded medley of "Pity Poor Alfie" (with "Hit The Road Jack" and "Fever") a cover on Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" and a full on "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" inspired funk jam session on "Precious" (complete with strobe during Weller's funky scratch Telecaster licks). Six months later they were gone.

4. The Zombies, The Keswick Theater, Glenside, Pennsylvania October 11, 2015
I'm getting lazy here so you can check out my older review of the gig here.

5. David Bowie, Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY January 9, 1997
An old acquaintance had a free ticket to Bowie's 50th birthday gig at the cavernous Madison Square Garden, my first time in the gigantic NYC venue outside of a zillion trips to the train station beneath it. The gig was sort of an odd event as it featured a host of god awful acts hobnobbing with Bowie as they covered his stuff (Frank Black, Sonic Youth, The Foo Fighters, Robert Smith and a VERY spaced out Lou Reed who lost his way during "White Light White Heat" despite having a music stand in front of him). To the audience's chagrin there was no Iggy Pop to help David celebrate his milestone.  The gig contained a fair amount of material from Bowie's then current long player "Earthling" with the occasional gem performed without any of his jack ass guests ("Heroes" comes to mind) but the crowning moment for the evening was when he appeared onstage with an acoustic guitar saying "I don't know where I'm going from here but i promise it won't be boring" before launching into a majestic version of "Space Oddity" that was free from any of the then contemporary gimmicks as heard on "Earthling".  Regardless of some of the material or more importantly the cast of dreadful contemporary guests Bowie showed that he was, above all, a consummate performer who not only entertained you but made you believe he was enjoying himself doing it.  You can see it here on YouTube, until somebody takes it down.

The Secret Service, Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ January 1987

6. The Secret Service various venues NY/NJ/PA/D.C. 1985-1988
Long Island's Secret Service cut a swath through the NY/NJ/PA 60's scene through the last half of the 80's by playing rocking 60's r&b covers and a bit later, spirited originals. Their strength lay in their well honed guitar, bass and drum section and even more so on the soulful vocals of lead singer Wayne Manor (check out their live version of "I Just Don't Understand" from a January 1987 gig at Maxwell's on their CD anthology "Power And Volume" for reference). Their stage presence was equally amazing, Wayne Manor copped dance moves from Allan Clarke and Stevie Wright on old "Beat Beat Beat" VHS clips and guitarist Rob Normandin and bassist Jim Gange studied The Who and Yardbirds for their stage craft while drummer Steve Pepper drove the engine by flawlessly beating the shit out of his kit every night. When Mod Fun chucked it in back in 1986 the Secret Service were poised to take the reins as the top dog East Coast mod band but sadly other than a mini LP they were not prolific enough and split at the end of 1988.  You can catch a few of their tracks live in the Fall of 1986 here and a music video for the mini LP title track here.

7. Ian McLagan and The Bump Band, The Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, Pennsylvania, October 16, 2014
In what would be his last US tour Mac pulled out all the stops as always with his group the Bump Band. Mac's gigs were always a good mix of originals, Ronnie Lane Face's covers and a host of surprises and were always best when he had these guys behind him as they were a tight organization.  The highlights of this gig for me was a rollicking interpretation of Ronnie Lane's  "Kuschty Rye" along with The Face's "Cindy Incidentally", the Small Face's "Get Yourself Together" and my fave track from Mac's 2nd to last LP , the somber "Little Black Number". Two months later on the eve of a tour with Nick Lowe he was gone at the age of 69.

8. Adam & The Antz, Pier 84, NYC, NY September 8, 1981
Adam and the Antz hit NYC at the height of antmania arriving at the gig as part of that Summer's "Dr. Pepper Music Festival" situated on a pier in the Hudson River by pirate ship!!  True story, a small scale pirate ship! Despite the fact that my first day of 10th grade began the very next day they opened with a cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out". Their set (dogged by constant rain squalls) featured mostly cuts from their "Kings Of The Wild Frontier" album as well as their current single "Stand And Deliver"/"Beat My Guest".  There was also the bizarre Village People "Y.M.C.A" cover "A.N.T.S" and a track from their first LP "Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face"). Soon after I ceased to be interested in being an Adam & The Ants fan.....

9. XTC, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Jools Holland & His Millionaires The Capitol Theater, Passiac, NJ April 11, 1981
My very first rock n roll gig would see me bearing witness to what would be XTC's final full US tour. I don't recall much about Jools Holland other than being ambivalent about his boogie woogie. Joan Jett came on and spat the largest piece of phlegm (how punk rock!) and kicked off "Bad Reputation" and a host of other stuff. Then XTC came on and my head nearly exploded. I want to say they started with "Into The Atom Age" but online forums claim otherwise (or was it "Radio's In Motion"?). Either way they played a tight, energetic set comprised of material from their first 4 albums all delivered in their unique, frantic and well rehearsed manner. What I recall most about the gig was watching Andy Partridge turn beet reed as he sang and jumped around in his grey Civil War style jacket with a frilly white shirt never seeming to stop to catch his breath!

10. The Specials, Pier 26, NYC, NY July 17, 2013
The Specials featuring all their original members (minus a reluctant Jerry Dammers) played a gig on a sweaty, hot summer night on Pier 26 (with shades of the 80's and John Scher's gigs on Pier 84!) on NY's Hudson river. The band played pretty much everything from their debut LP  (10 tracks in my estimation) including a rousing version of "It Doesn't Make It Alright" with remarks from the band about the "stand your ground" shooter George Zimmerman and his young victim, Travon Martin. There were a few cuts from "More Specials" ("Hey Little Rich Girl" and "Stereotype" among them) and a slightly ragged/off kilter "Ghost Town" but for the most part ("Ghost Town " excepted)  the gig was tight and showed the Coventry boys to be the same well oiled machine they were in the footage from '79-'80. To read my musings on The Specials have a pop over here.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Jackie Shane R.I.P.

Word has just come through that transgender soul legend Jackie Shane has passed away at the age of 78.

I can think of no better way to pay tribute to her than listening to this.

The British James Brown Appreciation Society

James Brown was probably one the the most oft covered 60's soul artists in the U.K. I mean think about it, Motown was huge in the UK but can you narrow it down by artist when it comes to who was covered the most?  Nah, J.B. nails it every time, I had six different versions of "I'll Go Crazy" to choose from for Pete's sake!  With that in mind I thought it would be neat to dig up 10 U.K. 60's J.B. covers and give you a bit about each of them, in no particular order.

1. GEORGE FAME AND THE BLUE FLAMES-"The Night Train" UK E.P. track "Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo" Columbia SEG 8382 1964
Kicking off both the live E.P. and live LP of the same title starting with an introduction by manager Rik Gunnell, Georgie Fame and Co.'s storming version of "Night Train" oozes mid 60's mod/r&b Soho cool. Punctuated by enthusiastic yelps by U.S. servicemen in the crowd (who were, for a time, Flamingo regulars) this version has an almost jazzy swing to it thanks the The Blue Flames stellar horn section and Fame's Hammond even if it sounds like the microphones were in the tube station down the street.

2. THE UNDERTAKERS-"Think" UK 45 Pye 7N 15690 1964
Issued on the flip of their 4th and final UK 45, a version of The Drifters "If You Don't Come Back", Jackie Lomax and his merry band of Scousers  turn "Think" into a totally British r&b affair removing any misconceptions that The Undertakers were just another beat group. This is thanks in no small part to sax player Brian Jone's (not the Rolling Stones guy) wailing and the band's snappy presentation that easily fits alongside any hip "mod" London r&b band.

3. THE UNTAMED-"I'll Go Crazy" UK 45 Stateside SS 431 1965
UK 60's r&b act the Untamed made six singles on four different labels in Britain with more line up changes than Spinal Tap had drummers.  Lead by constant lead singer/guitarist Lindsay Muir they were produced by their faithful patron Shel Talmy. Their version of "I'll Go Crazy" came out the same month as the Moody Blues version on their debut LP (see below) and is interesting in that it's probably one of the more poppy versions of a J.B. tune on this list.  Muir's voice is not suited for James Brown aping so he's restrained and the faint combo organ and the gritty/bluesy guitar solo gives it a feel like something the '64-'65 Alan Price era Animals would have done or my fave obscure beat group The Zephyrs.

4. THE WHO-"Shout And Shimmy" UK 45 B-side Brunswick 05944 1965
No one in the British Isles were bigger proponents of the music of James Brown than The Who. Their first J.B. cover was this reading of "Shout And Shimmy" issued on the flip side of their third UK 45 "My Generation". They would later include versions of his "Please Please Please" and "I Don't Mind" on their debut LP "My Generation" and cover "Just You And Me Darling" on a 1965 BBC session. "Shout And Shimmy" has an almost frat rock feel to it from it's sophomoric party atmosphere thanks to Pete Townshend and John Entwistle's white boy falsetto backing vocals, not to mention Keith Moon's slapdash drumming.  Roger Daltrey's lead vocals are incredibly soulful and he's clearly the one carrying the water on this tune.

5. THE BO STREET RUNNERS-"And I Do Just What I Want" UK 45 Columbia DB 7488 1964
The Bo Street Runners were such J.B. fans that they cut "Tell Me What You're Gonna Do" backed by this stab at "And I Do Just What I Want" on the B-side. From the gritty volume pedal guitar licks, swatches of sax and groovy combo organ and John Dominic's punky lead vocals it's a worthy addition to our list here. R&b with attitude!

6. THE BLUE ACES-"Tell Me What You're Gonna Do" UK 45 Columbia DB 7755 1966
Reputedly a showband originally, The Blue Aces are known for their soulful 1966 mod freakout "That's All Right". They cut this J.B. tune on the flip of their previous single "All I Want". The lead vocalist has a jazzy style that reminds me of The Peddlers singer Roy Phillips while the horn work sticks to the original as does most of the arrangement but it's still halfway decent, though no where near as good as The Bo Street Runners version.

7. THEM-"Out Of Sight" UK LP track "Them Again" Decca LK  4751 1966
Though technically from Northern Ireland Them WERE based and recorded in the U.K. so....
"Out Of Sight" is a fish out of water on the mixed bag that is "Them Again", their second and final long player cobbled together with material cut from no less than at least four different line ups!! Its also interestingly one of the few Them cuts with horns, but it works even though at times it sounds somewhat ham fisted and Van Morrison isn't exactly the world's greatest soul singer.

8. GEORGIE FAME-"Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" UK LP track "Sound Venture" Columbia SX 6076 1966
Cut for Georgie's predominantly jazz LP (and final album of his Columbia period) with The Harry South Big Band "Sound Venture", the inclusion of "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" on the long player is quite a square peg in a round hole and allegedly Georgie had to lobby hard for it's inclusion.  The horns add an interesting big band feel which actually really works making it an interesting interpretation.

9. THE MOODY BLUES-"I Don't Mind" UK LP track "The Magnificent Moodies" Decca LK 4711 1965
"I Don't Mind" was covered by The Who on their debut LP but The Moodies beat them to it on theirs by five scant months. Theirs is a somber affair with lead vocals not by lead singer Denny Laine but by keyboardist Mike Pinder and it's his jazzy ivory tinkling and Laine's twangy guitar that make the number different from The Who's and the mediocre version by The In Crowd.

10. ALEXIS KORNER'S BLUES INCORPORATED-"Please Please Please" UK 45 B-side Parlophone R 5206 1964
One of the more interesting James Brown reading's is this flip side by the grandaddy of British r&b Alexis Korner. The brilliant jazzy horns/guitar interplay give it a slightly blues feel to it that totally takes it into new territory as far as James Brown covers are concerned. Stellar!