Saturday, January 25, 2020

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Riot Squad

THE RIOT SQUAD-Cry Cry Cry/How Is It Done US Reprise 0457 1966





















We've previously chronicled prior US single releases by Britain's 60's act The Riot Squad in other entries. Their first US single (their second in England) "I Wanna Talk About My Baby" was discussed here while we wrote about their third and final US single (their fifth in England) here.

Today's entry "Cry Cry Cry", was their second US release issued in April 1966 (it's British counterpart, the band's fourth there, was released in January 1966 as Pye 7N 17041). It holds the distinction of being their first release with the legendary producer Joe Meek at the controls.

Though certainly not the band's strongest release, "Cry Cry Cry" is not so much unlistenable as it is mediocre, especially with The Four Season's like "ieye yei yei's" chorus that's positively grating and the even higher backing vocals. Next!

The flip "How Is It Done"  (titled "How It Is Done" in the UK) kicks off with a heavy Motown influenced bass line and some freaky sax bits that sound Middle Eastern (and much like something Graham Bond was doing at the time).  The key changes and breaks are incredibly soulful but there's something truly freaky in it's delivery that I can't put my finger on.

1966 line up c/o
http://brunoceriotti.weebly.com/the-riot-squad.html


























Both sides are available on the 2003 Sequel records Riot Squad anthology "Jump" as well as Edsel's earlier collection "Anytime".

Hear "Cry Cry Cry":

https://youtu.be/9n6BxIe_Fvo

Hear "How It Is Done":

https://youtu.be/QA0KXPtiri4

Saturday, January 18, 2020

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Knack...Erm....The Lobsters

THE LOBSTERS-(The Man From The)Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau/Dolly Catcher Man US Mercury 72696 1967



















Every now and then a U.K. 60's 45 was issued in the U.S. with the band name being altered for some bizarre reason.  I first heard of this when Wild Silk's Shel Talmy produced "(Visions In A) Plaster Sky"/"Toymaker" came out over here credited to "Basil" and recently Larry over at Funky 16 Corners told me about a Cocktail Cabinet 45 issued here as "We Believe". Recently I stumbled upon another one, The Knack's (the U.K. 60's sorts) final single "(The Man From) The Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau" (Piccadilly 7N 35367 February 1967) which was released here on Mercury and credited to "The Lobsters" (possibly to avoid confusion with a US 60's band of the same name).

The Knack were a UK 60's quartet featuring the famous Paul Gurvitz (lead vocals/guitar), Brian Morris (vocals/guitar), Gery Kenworthy (bass) and Topper Clay (drums). Gurvitz of course would join brother Adrian to find fame as Gun, bit that's another story for another day.

After their first two singles on the Decca label went nowhere John Schroeder signed the band to Pye's Piccadilly offshoot in 1966 resulting in three more singles, none of which did anything.  The band would cut just one more single with the label before splitting. Issued as Piccadilly 7N 35367 in February 1967 "(The Man From) The Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau" backed with "Dolly Catcher Man", as mentioned above was issued here where it was their only US release, like it's predecessors it did nothing on either side of the Atlantic. I was first introduced to the A-side back in 1990 when it graced a Sequel CD compilation called "Quick Before They Catch Us". It's a somber acoustic guitar led track that falls somewhere between early Al Stewart and Duncan Browne with some great harmonies with some tongue and cheek lyrics that perfectly fits in with its quirky release date.























The B-side, the curiously titled "Dolly Catcher Man" starts out sounding like a folk rock/Dylan pastiche but then the 12 string kicks in and the high harmonies join in it becomes a half way decent quirky pop tune.

Both sides were compiled on a Knack CD collection put out by Rev-Ola in 2007 titled "Time Time Time".

Hear "(The Man From) The Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau":

https://youtu.be/P_25NoomFUY

Hear "Dolly Catcher Man":

https://youtu.be/faSKvv2R3Lg

Saturday, January 11, 2020

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: I Scream You Scream, Who The Hell Screamed For Freddie?

FREDDIE AND THE DREAMERS-Do The Freddie/Tell Me When US Mercury 72428 1965





















Freddie and the Dreamers have always annoyed me, maybe it was the fact that Freddie always looked like a degenerate window cleaner or that stupid giggle he did with those ridiculous leaps or that him and his band mates looked old enough to have been in World War II (he was actually born in 1936). Well all this lunacy culminated with someone writing a song for him to leap about to called "Do The Freddie". It wasn't even released in the U.K. but it was his eleventh US 45 released in April 1965 where it reached a modest #18 in the charts (incidentally his last hit here, or anywhere actually).

If you can get past his ridiculous mad giggles peppered all over the track "Do The Freddie" is a half way decent tune.  The best part of the number is the musical backing (possibly session players?) which is heavily accented by horns and female backing vocalists (no doubt the Vernon's Girls) and I will admit it's pretty damn catchy (especially the guitar solo)! My dad remembers dancers on some US TV program back then showing viewers how to "do the Freddie", thankfully it never caught on!

Freddie and the Pensioners
















The flip side is a track called "Tell Me When", previously covered by The Applejacks (and it was their debut US 45 issued a year earlier). The Dreamers make a complete mess of it because it already had potential to be a dippy song and their interpretation of it is even more icky. The phrase "disgustingly twee" aptly describes it.

Both sides were compiled on an EMI USA CD collection way back called The The Definitive Collection" that's still available.

Hear "Do The Freddie":

https://youtu.be/3a21N44FQhI

Hear "Tell Me When":

https://youtu.be/3a21N44FQhI

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: Ivan's Meads

IVAN'S MEADS-The Sins Of The Family/A Little Bit Of Sympathy UK Parlophone R 5342 1965





















The impact of US folk singer P.F. Sloan on American pop music is legendary, but what about his impact on Britain? Herman's Hermits were his biggest champions scoring hits with his compositions "A Must To Avoid" and "Hold On" as well as recording "Where Were You When I Needed You" and "All The Things I Do For You Baby" among others. Lorraine Silver, Freddie and the Dreamers, Twinkle, The Paramounts and Ivan's Meads joined the list of other British artists who recorded his material. It is the latter who's reading becomes our subject for today's post.

Ivan's Meads were a moddy Manchester r&b five piece comprised of Ivan Robinson (lead vocals), Pete Dempsey (sax), Keith Lawless (bass), Alan Powell (drums) and John Mayall's half brother Rod "Stan" Mayall on organ. The debut single was this October 1965's reading of P.F. Sloan's "Sins Of The Family", which unfortunately for the band saw the release of Sloan's version on the very same day on RCA complete with an obligatory Ready! Steady! Go! appearance to ensure that the Ivan's Meads version never stood a chance. The track was chosen by the band's management for them to record in the hopes of scoring a hit.

Their version of "The Sins Of the Family" eschews the folky Dylan feel of the original by rocking it up considerably adding Hammond organ and the lead singer having a snotty delivery.  It's not terrible but it's not remarkable either outside of the tasty organ.

The real gold lies in the flip, "A Little Bit Of Sympathy". Penned by bassist Keith Lawless it's a brilliant little British r&b "Hammond n' horns" gem that sounds like somewhere between '64 John Mayall's Bluesbreakers meets The Graham Bond Organization. Both sides were produced by George Martin.

The band had one more single the following year, a crack at the Toni Wine/Carole Bayer tune "We'll Talk About It Tomorrow" which although beating The Mindbenders version to a release by a year failed to chart. As in the case of today's subject the flipside was another band original, a mod/r&b G.B.O. influenced Hammond n' horns instro groover called "Bottle".




















"Sins Of the Family" kicks off Volume Four of the "Beatfreak" UK 60's CD collection while "A Little Bit Of Sympathy" can be found on their sixth volume as well as Past & Present's amazing Brit mod/r&b collection "New Directions 1: A Collection Of British Blue Eyed Soul 1964-1969".

I would like to pay special thanks to the Eight Miles Higher blog's post on Ivan's Meads. Without their assistance I would not have been able to piece together a background on the band to complete this piece.

Hear "Sins Of The Family":

https://youtu.be/88B5lP9L8M4

Hear "A Little Bit Of Sympathy":

https://youtu.be/xH3h-9sAX0M

Sunday, December 29, 2019

More Obscure U.K. 45's On U.S. Labels: Gerry Does Simon & Garfunkel

GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS-The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine/Looking For My Life US Laurie LR 3370 1966


















With Merseybeat long since dead and buried the likes of Gerry and The Pacemakers had seen better days and by 1966 the band had been absent from the higher reaches of the US and UK hit parade for some time. Then something interesting happened. In August of 1966 their single "Girl On A Swing" broke into the US Top 40 raising to #28. Back in the U.K. it failed to register and subsequently became their last British single as Columbia DB 8044 (and it was not actually released there until November). In December another US 45 was issued (and only released in Canada and Australia, not the U.K.). "Looking For My Life" backed with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" (culled from their October LP "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme"). It was released in the United States in December 1966 where it failed to repeat the hat trick of "Girl On A Swing" and sadly sank without a trace.

Gerry & Co.'s version of "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" is actually quite entertaining. It takes the heavier back beat of the original and softens it by using a busker's banjo on top of some kitschy ivory tinkling that recalls the Kink's '66-'67 sound or David Bowie's "Did you Ever Have A Dream". Where the original has an almost cynical delivery this version is cheery and perfect for Gerry's "cheeky chappie" persona (that would no doubt aid him in his soon to be discovered cabaret circuit career).





















"Looking For My Life" is an absolutely awful track. There's nothing remotely positive that I can say about it despite its sweeping strings and odd sitar lick bursts. Gerry would return with a solo single in June 1967 for the CBS label ("Please Let Them Be") followed by an unsuccessful crack at the Bee Gee's "Gilbert Green" in August.

Both tracks appeared on Gerry and the Pacemaker's final US LP "Girl On A Swing" released in late 1966 (Laurie LLP/SLP 2037) and have appeared on various EMI CD Gerry and the Pacemaker's compilations.

Hear "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine":

https://youtu.be/ftnmnDBfiu4

Here "Looking For My Life":

https://youtu.be/TyqqvVgxUH8

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: Adam Faith Does Bob Lind

ADAM FAITH-Cheryl's Going Home/Funny Kind Of Love UK Parlophone R 5516 1966

One of the many musical niches I enjoy is that of early 60's solo performers (both British and American) who swept away by Beatlemania and band's that wrote their own material, made some interesting records in an attempt to stay contemporary and sadly, failed commercially in doing so.

Early 60's UK superstar Adam Faith slots perfectly into that genre with a few releases.  In October 1966 he released a version of the flip side of Bob Lind's smash "Elusive Butterfly", a track called "Cheryl's Going Home" (which strangely was the original intended US A-side). Released in Britain in February 1966 on Fontana TF 670, Lind's "Elusive Butterfly" reached #5 in the UK charts (oddly the same exact placing as in America). Sadly Adam's rendering of failed to return him to the hit parade (a place he had been absent from since The Beatles took the charts by storm).

His version of "Cheryl's ....." is in my estimation, better than the original. It's a bit more uptempo and the orchestration by easy champion Ken Woodman is far more lush than the original, but it doesn't change much from the original arrangement.  There's an interesting part where Faith changes the lyrics to Anglicize the tune by changing the distinctly Californian "Santa Rosa special's down the line" by singing "Cheryl rode the special down the line".






















The flip side "Funny Kind Of Love" is a disposable track, inoffensive but nothing I would put on a compilation.

"Cheryl's Going Home" was recently issued on the three CD Grapefruit set "Gathered From Coincidence: The British Folk Pop Sound Of 1965-66" and is also available on a UK EMI Adam Faith CD compilation "Hits!".

Adam tried again a year later with a brilliant unreleased Bee Gee's track called "Cowman Milk Your Cow" which you can read a bit on over here.

Hear "Cheryl's Going Home":

https://youtu.be/Gh5cUUEMqiw


Hear "Funny Kind Of Love":

https://youtu.be/4hEvKxHXXqA

Sunday, December 15, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Jon Mark "Night Comes Down"

JON MARK-Night Comes Down/Baby I've Got A Long Way To Go US Decca 31732 1965





















Freakbeat and British 60's r&b fans will no doubt recall Mickey Finn's single "Night Comes Down" (curiously used at the end of an episode of HBO's no defunct series "Vinyl"), but what many of you may not know is that it first recorded and released a month earlier by a British folk/blues guitarist named Jon Mark. Produced by Shel Talmy for his Orbit production company it was Mark's debut single. It released first here in the States in January 1965 after Talmy had taken tapes of his UK Brunswick recordings to be issued in the US Mark's single along with The Pro's and Cons and a debut 45 by a London group called The Who on the US Decca imprint.  It was released the following month as Brunswick 05929 in the UK. The A-side on both sides of the Atlantic was a tune called "Baby I Got A Long Way To Go". Prior to this release Jon Mark had been a fixture on the UK folk scene for some time and his greatest claim to fame thus far was being Marianne Faithful's guitarist (he would later be half of the famous duo Mark-Almond).

"Night Comes Down" is delivered in an acoustic folk/blues style not unlike that of guitarist Davy Graham. With it's acoustic guitar finger picking, stand up bass and brushes on the drums it's easy to imagine Graham performing it. His vocal style is smoky, almost whispered evoking some darkened blues cellar club. It was written by Talmy with Jon Mark (credited on the label with his real name John Burchell).






















"Baby I Got A Long Way To Go", a Mark original, is the weaker of the two tracks.  There's some fuzzbox on it that creates a drone like effect (newly acquired by session player Jimmy Page) and vocally it recalls early Cat Stevens. With it's uptempo happy go lucky feel to it would not be at all out of place on the latter's two Deram long players. The main chorus is almost hypnotic.

Both sides are available on the RPM Jon Mark CD compilation "Sally Free And Easy".

Hear "Night Comes Down":

https://youtu.be/2IK-JWZbY2g

Hear "Baby I Got A Long Way To Go":

https://youtu.be/vcXFikIJvHs