Monday, September 17, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Eyes Of Blue

EYES OF BLUE-Up And Down/Heart Trouble US Deram 45-85001 1966

Future Welsh prog rockers The Eyes Of Blue made their debut in the UK in November 1966 (DM 106). It's US issue came a month later. The band were a suited and booted, razor sharp mod/r&b/blue eyed soul sextet who cut just two 45's for Deram before morphing into a heavier act and switching to Mercury.

Sadly the A-side of their debut "Up And Down" is dreadful, it sounds NOTHING like anything else the band did. The vibes at first lead you to believe it might be an uptempo soul number (in fact there's a hint of "Ain't No Soul..." to it) but then the vocals come in and it sounds like a football terrace chant doing a Freddie and The Dreamers tune. Next!

Luckily there is absolute redemption on the B-side. Props to the band for obscurity on their choice of material. They could have went the usual route and just covered a Stax or Motown number but in true mod style they dug deeper and went with "Heart Trouble" originally cut by The Parliament's on the flip of "That Was My Girl" (Golden World GW-46). The Eyes of Blue managed a hat trick by getting it released the same month as the original (November 1966). I'm not sure how that happened so we are indeed open to any information. Regardless The Eyes Of Blue's version was issued in the UK as Deram DM 106 on November 11, 1966.   With all of that out of the way I am going to commit mod sacrilege here by proffering the theory that this version surpasses the original. It's stronger, the vocals are more gutsy, the musical backing is fuller, the production is better and it's slightly more uptempo. The E.O.B. version eschews the falsetto backing vocals and strings of Ivory Joe Hunter's production and goes for goes with backing vocals slightly at a lower octave (giving it a feel not unlike The Action) and going heavy on the bass/drums/percussion with some tasty organ bits.   Curiously the Eyes Of Blue version omits a verse ("I'm draggin' water all through the house, I called the plumber to see if he could fix the leak...etc"). "Heart Trouble" become somewhat popular on the Northern Soul scene but the band's crowning glory in that genre would come with their next and final Deram 45 in February 1967 "Supermarket Full Of Cans".

"Up And Down" thankfully has not been reissued but "Heart Trouble" has seen a placing on a variety of compilations, among them Decca/Deram's "Northern Soul Scene" CD and Psychic Circle's "Fairtyales Can Come True Vol 4: We All Love The Human Race".

Avoid  "Up And Down":

Hear "Heart Trouble":

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

10 Groovy Small Faces Covers

The Small Faces are one of my favorite bands of all time. Unknown to many there was a host of cover versions of their material through out the 1960's, in fact many of them came from Australia and even the United States. Here's ten of them for your enjoyment:

1. P.P. ARNOLD-"(If You Think You're) Groovy" UK Immediate IM 061 1968
"(If You Think You're) Groovy" is without a doubt the most famous SF's track that they never recorded on their own. Long rumored to lie awaiting a release in the vaults, a SF's recording of the track has yet to surface. No bother as the backing track is the band complete with Ronnie Lane's distinct Harmony bass lines, Ian McLagan's electric piano, Kenny Jone's signature drum rolls and Steve Marriott's soulful backing vocals. "Groovy" is a classic track thanks to the production (care of Messr's Marriott and Lane), the brass (trumpeter Eddie Thornton and a few other former band mates from Georgie Fame's Blue Flames) and of course P.P. Arnold's vocals wailing in the ultimate put down song.

2. INKASE-"Have You Ever Seen Me" Australia Sweet Peach SP-017 1970
Covered by The Stillroven in Minnesota (August 102, 1968) and Apostolic Intervention in the UK (Immediate IM 043, 1967) this spirited  Antipodean version was unearthed for the excellent "Downunder Nuggets" compilation a few years back and dates from 1970 where it was issued as a B-side to a 45 by Inkase. The misheard lyrics are a gas ("I've seen the lace..." , "I take a flowers, I take 'em to the laundry") but the delivery is excellent and far more powerful than any other versions out there to my ears.

3. CHRIS FARLOWE-"My Way Of Giving" UK Immediate IM 041 1967
Chris Farlowe beat the SF's release of this track by a few months (it would later emerge as an LP track on their untitled Immediate long player). Like his hit on the label "Out Of Time" , it was produced by Mick Jagger and orchestrated by Art Greenslade. It's interesting but suffers, in my estimation, of having too much going on in it. In a BBC radio interview at the time of it's release Farlowe stated that the Faces played on it (P.P. Arnold is also discernible in the backing vocals).. 

4. THE LA DE DA's-"Hey Girl"  New Zealand Phillips PF-338090 1966
Found on the flip of a blistering cover of John Mayall's "On Top Of The World" this pretty pedestrian version by New Zealand's La De Da's offers nothing new or interesting bar the cheesy combo organ in the background that's more prevalent in the mix than any keyboards on the original.

Scan c/o

5. THE VALENTINES-"I Can't Dance With You" Australia Clarion MCK-1773 1967
Best known as Bon Scott of AC/DC fame's first group The Valentines cut a host of covers and their debut 45 paired this with a version of Arthur Alexander's "Every Day I Have To Cry". It's spunky and reminds me of a US garage band by eschewing any attempts at copying Marriott's soulful belting on the original while retaining the SF's go-go organ.

6. TYMEPIECE-"Become Like You" Australia 45 Festival FK-3369 1969
Sydney, Australia's curiously named/spelled Tymepice (featuring members of The Black Diamonds) get kudos for not only tackling an LP track (from the band's 2nd LP) but they rocked it out a bit by adding some "la la la's" and a bit more balls to the delivery. Sadly I couldn't find a link on YouTube to back up my description.

Scan c/o

7. THE CHRIS SHAKESPEARE GLOBE SHOW-"Tin Soldier" UK Page One POF 113 1968
On the flip of yet another dreadful cover of the Fab's "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is this pumped up interesting reading of "Tin Soldier". The brass really reminds me of Amen Corner and it's worth checking out on that alone. Vocally it reminds a bit of Eric Burdon but it all works somehow. Curiously it was released in 8 countries!

8. THE INCAS-"One Night Stand" UK Parlophone R 5551 1966
High marks for Britain's Inca's who not only chose an obscure track from the SF's untitled debut Decca LP but backed it up with a carbon copy of the Action's reading of "I'll Keep Holding On"! This interpretation of "One Night Stand" is nothing earth shattering but they get credit for their decent choice of SF's tracks to cover even if it differs very little from the original.

9. JOHNNY HALLYDAY-"Amen" LP track France "Riviere Ouvre Ton Lit" Phillips 844 971 BY 1969
Towards the end of 1968 the SF's with Peter Frampton in tow headed over to France to earn a few pounds backing Gallic icon Johnny Hallyday on an LP he was recording where they backed him on three Marriott/Lane compositions (the others being "News Report" and "What You Will", the latter of which later cropped up on the debut Humble Pie long player). The third track, "Amen" is an adaption of the '66 Decca outtake "That Man" that loses all the hazy psychedelia of the original and becomes a heavy rock dirge not unlike what Humble Pie would eventually veer towards, with French lyrics of course. It works, but just barely mainly because Hallyday is clearly out of his vocal range on this one.

Scan c/o

10. THE CLEVEDONAIRES-"Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire" New Zealand Impact IR-1036 1968
New Zealand's Clevedonaires backed a 45 of their version of Donovan's "Sunny Goodge Street" with this Ian McLagan penned track from the band's untitled 2nd LP. It doesn't stray far from the original version but the churchy organ and tight West Coast style harmonies make it one of my favorite SF's covers.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Small Faces US Debut 45

SMALL FACES-Whatcha Gonna Do About It/Whats A Matter Baby US Press 45 PRE 9794 1965

 Such was the power of all things from England in the USA that in October 1965 Press records issued the debut 45 by a new and unknown London quartet called the Small Faces. The band made their UK debut in August 1965 on Decca F 12208 (which eventually rose to # 14 there) just a few short months after forming with Steve Marriott (lead vocals, guitar), Ronnie Lane (bass), JImmy Winston (keyboards) and Kenny Jones (drums).

Classic David Wedgbury Decca promo photo

Debut 45's don't come much stronger than "Whatcha Gonna Do About It". Loosely based on Solomon Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love"  it was written by Ian Samwell (author of Cliff Richard's "Move It") and Brian Potter (later to write "Don't Pull Your Love", "One Tin Soldier" and many other hits). Propelled by Winston's Vox Continental organ and Steve Marriott's blisteringly raw vocals it has an air of aggression that reminds at times of an American garage punk record.

The flip side is a cover of Timi Yuro's June 1962 hit "What's A Matter Baby" (Liberty 55469). If not for Marriott's incredible vocal's it would be just another mid tempo r&b cover, but nonetheless it's worth a listen. Interestingly outside of this and a version of The Miracle's "You Really Got A Hold On Me" the band pretty much veered away from soulful ballads.

Both sides have been issued in a variety of places, the best being a deluxe edition of their untitled debut Decca LP.

Hear "Whatcha Gonna Do About It":

Hear "What's A Matter Baby":

Hear a Live BBC version of "Whatcha Gonna Do About It":

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":