Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Young Man's Introduction To Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd.....

Games For May: Syd Barrett rehearsing for the Pink Floyd's Queen Elizabeth Hall gig May 12, 1967
My introduction to Syd Barrett came in either 1982 or 1983. I was tuned into my local college radio station one night, Princeton University's WPRB (103.3 FM!) and the DJ played this very Anglicized psychedelic pop song.  I wasn't sure what it was but I liked it as it reminded me of the whimsy of some of the tracks on the Small Faces "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" . I was rather surprised that it was Pink Floyd , the song was called "Bike".  Further research in the school library indicated it was from a period where they were briefly led by a character named Syd Barrett who went off the deep and and vanished from the music industry. Having always been intrigued by tragic rock stars I began a quest to find out more.  A few month later I purchased David Bowie's "Pin Up's" and lo and behold there was a cover of a track that Bowie referred to as being originally done by  "Syd's Pink Floyd" on the liner notes called "See Emily Play". Eventually I came across a Pink Floyd compilation album called "Relics" that featured not only "Bike" but "See Emily Play" as well!  I duly purchased it. The quest had begun.


















"Relics" was chock full of a few Syd era curios, in addition to the two previously mentioned tracks there was "Arnold Layne", their debut 45, the eerie "Remember A Day", "Paintbox" and the 9:38 opus "Interstellar Overdrive". At the height of my youthful "mod" phase The Pink Floyd were the first band that I could not justify as being remotely "mod". This was an absurdly brief dilemma of my "mod conscience" but I was at a point where all the '79 mod/ska bands were gone and I began a musical journey into the past which continues to this very day. I soon purchased a large book called "The British Invasion" by Nicholas Schaffner which included an entire chapter on Pink Floyd (or as they were known in the Syd era "The" Pink Floyd) and a wealth of information flowed freely on their early days. To further illustrate the changing times for me oddly I purchased "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" the very same day I purchased tickets to see The Style Council in NYC In the very same store. Ironically I arrived home to find a package of Squire 45's I mail ordered from Anthony Meynell including their psychedelic "No Time Tomorrow" and the slighty-delic "Walking Down The King's Road". I was blown away by "Piper..". There was something pastoral about it with hints of sinister things to come as well. There was a line in  "Matilda Mother" that struck me as prophetic as I imagined Syd Barrett in his self inflected isolation in the house he'd grown up in as an adult "for all the time spent in that room, the doll's house, darkness, old perfume and fairy stories held me high on clouds of sunlight floating by". I imagined Pink Floyd performing it live and Syd coming onstage to sing that verse while the band looked at him with smiles all around like Nigel Tufnell rejoining Spinal Tap onstage after his estrangement with them. Such are the dreams of teenage boys. In a time before I became "enlightened" to the true purpose of psychedelia first hand "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn"  was my gate way to British psychedelia in a way the Beatles and The Stones never managed a decade earlier. Once again WPRB assisted in my enlightenment when I heard Syd's "Late Night" on their Friday night 60's show. It was spooky with it's mournful slide guitar much like the technique Syd used on "Remember a Day" but his voice sounded so lost and vacant, devoid of the cheeky chappy British accented whimsy of "Bike". I had to hear more.  I took the adventurous leap and bought an American double packaging of Syd's two solo LP's (which came in a gatefold sleeve with loads of Syd pics and even a sticker!) and The Jam's new double LP collection "Snap". Syd's solo albums took longer to digest, and I digress there are bits of those I still find unlistenable 32 years later but I was suitably enchanted by the nonsensical lyrics that took me decades to learn were mash ups/cut ups of childhood books, poetry and rhymes.  I also began devouring anything I could find on The Pink Floyd in print purchasing "Pink Floyd" by (Barry) Miles in London in 1984.






















There luckily was still more to track down. I scored a bootleg by "Sid Baret" called "Unforgotten Hero" that had loads of lo-fi horrible quality BBC tracks and the legendary unreleased tracks "Scream Thy Last Scream" and "Vegetable Man". After meeting a local mod band called Mod Fun who like me were learning you could mix "mod" with The Pink Floyd (they were in fact at this point performing a version of "Lucifer Sam" in their live set at this time) I realized I was not alone in my journey (having also enticed my friend Rudie away from psychobilly to psychedelia).  Through them I met a legendary character named Ron Rimsite who would become my 60's UK psych/freakbeat guru.  A mix tape Ron made for me (titled "Carnaby Classics") featured "Arnold Layne's" wiggy flip side "Candy And A Currant Bun". I had no idea where to find it until Ron suggested I seek out a Dutch Pink Floyd LP compilation called "Masters Of Rock" that featured the bands non LP 60's singles (and as I later learned AFTER selling it, some super rare Mono mixes). Eventually I bought "A Saucerful Of Secrets", though it was no "Piper.." it had it's moments and thanks to the excellent book  "Random Precision: Recording The Music Of Syd Barrett 1965-1974" we now know Syd was on three tracks on the album ("Set The Controls For Heart Of The Sun", "Remember A Day" and "Jugband Blues).  In 1988 Harvest issued "Opel" a collection of Syd outtakes and alternate versions and there were new Syd tracks to enjoy at last. Then the trail went cold after that for a decade, though the 1993 Syd box set "Crazy Diamond"  offered a few more alternate versions there is still no official release of the band's studio versions of "Vegetable Man" or "Scream Thy Last Scream" and much hyped Syd era tracks like "(She Was) A Millionaire" have failed to materialize one would hope there are more Floyd Syd era tracks hidden away someplace.  It is my hope that they will one day appear and surprise us all the way "Bob Dylan Blues" was located by David Gilmour (who has done more than his share keeping Syd's memory alive). He put together the incredible "An Introduction To Syd Barrett" CD in 2010 complete with not only an alternate version of "Matilda Mother" (with  not only it's original Hillaire Belloc poetry lyrics which due to copyright restrictions was not released on their LP, but an extra few minutes of Doorsy instrumental noodling at the end).

Things still continue to crop up. Rob Chapman's excellent "Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head" book put many of the Syd "ghost stories" to rest and when British Pathe graciously uploaded all their archives to YouTube we were treated to a wonderful pristine promo film of "Scarecrow" (sans music unfortunately). One would hope there is more to hear and see in my life time.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The 60's Genius of Tony Colton & Ray Smith

Tony Colton

Tony Colton and Ray Smith have been responsible for a host of great UK 60's tracks. Colton recorded several of them on his own as well and is responsible for dozens tracks co-authored with Smith.  For a comprehensive look at Tony Colton and his genius head on over here for the full story. Picking ten of them from the 60's wasn't easy but here goes, all tracks are U.K. releases unless otherwise noted:



















1. THE SHOTGUN EXPRESS-"I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round" UK Columbia DB 8025/ US Uptown 747 1966
Beneath shimmering strings and the funky Hammond mod groove laid down by The Peter B's, Rod "The Mod" Stewart and Liverpudlian lass Beryl Marsden duet on what has to be the most powerful U.K. r&b duet ever. Sadly this Shotgun Express line up was short lived and Rod Stewart departed making one wonder what other greatness they'd have achieved had he stuck around. The band's second and final 45 (sans Sir Rodereick) was another Colton/Smith tune "Funny Cos Neither Could I".

https://youtu.be/sXlJj0ts9nY

2. ZOOT MONEY & THE BIG ROLL BAND-"Let's Run For Cover" Columbia DB 7876 1966
In my estimation Zoot Money's most soulful track is this mid tempo soul burner from March 1966. Beneath the Big Roll Band's spot on Hammond n' horns formula Zoot and Co. really swing.  The first time I ever heard this I thought it was a cover of an obscure US r&b side.  The flip "Self Discipline" is also a Colton/Smith composition.

https://youtu.be/kNapVB9lDbY

3. TONY COLTON-"I've Laid Some Down In My Time" Pye 7N 17117 1966
This was Tony's third and final Pye 45 from a short but brilliant run with them (we discussed his first 45 on Decca here). "I've Laid Some Down In My Time" eschews the jazzy/r&b of his previous singles for an all out freakbeat assault on your ears.  Full of distorted/fuzz guitar, some Nicky Hopkin's style piano tinkling that give it a sound not unlike the first Who LP and some very brash lyrics full of bravado, Tony sings about "I've done some things people might call a crime, and I've laid some down in my time". He would be quiet few a few years until a 1968 45 for Columbia "In The World Of Marnie Dreaming"/"Who Is She" (DB 8385).

https://youtu.be/_XHxbEq9LJE



















4. DANTALIAN'S CHARIOT-"Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud" Columbia DB 8260 1967
"Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud" was described by someone once as "beautifully sublime" and I can think of no better way to describe this track.  Hidden away on the B-side of the lyserigcally brilliant "Madman Running Through The Fields" , this track is a laid back, almost jazzy little number that's a perfect "comedown" from the full on acid trip that is side A. Clearly an indication of things to come for Zoot's solo LP (see #7 below).

https://youtu.be/jscsoIOaKso

5. GEORGIE FAME & THE BLUE FLAMES-Red Number Nine" previously unreleased 1965 recording , compilation /box set "It's Got the Whole World Shaking" Polydor/Universal 2015
This previously unreleased 1965 Georgie Fame recording would have made an excellent single or sat well on his "Sweet Things" LP but for reasons unknown it was never issued in the 60's. It's bar far one of Fame's catchiest recordings with some cool, jazzy vocals and the precision horn/Hammond work by the Blue Flames whilst telling the tale of a compulsive gambler.

https://youtu.be/i2oiCEQNrWs



















6. JEFF ST. JOHN & THE ID-"Big Time Operator" Australia Spin EK-1606 1966
Wheel chair bound as a result of spina bifida, Downunder soulful voiced Jeff St. John made a career in his native Australia covering US r&b numbers . In December 1966 he took Zoot Money's UK #30 hot and covered it for the Aussie market. Despite St. John's powerful pipes and The Id's solid backing the track is little more than a note for note copy of Zoot Money's interpretation, no bad thing, just uninspired and pointless.

https://youtu.be/yKyp5xko1F8

7. ZOOT MONEY-"The Coffee Song" LP track "Transition" Direction 8-63231 1968
"Coffee Song" was first covered by Cream during the sessions of their debut LP "Fresh Cream" but was not used until subsequent later pressings. It was also cut by The Shevells in 1968 (UK Polydor 56239).  Zoot Money cut it with his short lived band Dantalian's Chariot (though it was never issued by them until 1995's "Chariot Rising" compilation). It was however utilized the following year for Zoot's debut solo LP with a few other Dantalian's tracks.  It's my favorite Colton/Smith tune and is a wonderful little ditty about a chance meeting between two strangers in a railroad cafe where one half leaves a note at a table for the other which remains for ages with some great breaks.

https://youtu.be/P8MSuqqRSM8

8. THANE RUSSAL-"Drop Everything And Run" CBS 202403 1966
After the previous smoldering two sider of Otis Redding's "Security" b/w "Your Love Is Burning Me" (CBS 202049) Thane Russal's next release was this orchestrated Colton/Smith composition full of enough bells and whistles to make it sound like something you'd find on Immediate records (orchestration care of Arthur Greenslade, who would actually handle the backing on some Chris Farlowe stuff so I'm not too far off).  Oddly it also bears some similarities to "Between The Buttons" era Stones and despite lacking the bite of it's CBS 45 predecessor still works.

https://youtu.be/sBOPDu4150U



















9. FELDER'S ORIOLES-"Sweet Tasting Wine" Pye 7N 35269 1965
I have dug this track for almost 20 years since Nick Rossi turned me onto it and it was only when Nick sold me his copy last year that I realized that it was written by Tony Colton/Ray Smith! "Sweet Tasting Wine" is a slow, almost dirge-like r&b tune that smolders through a slow build up with some subtle organ/sax backing not unlike one of Them's more somber LP cuts.

https://youtu.be/iUu7XTIjJWc

10. THE MERSEYBEATS-"I Stand Accused" Fontana TF 645 1965
In late 1965 The Merseybeats informed their new managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp that for their next release they would like to cover "I Stand Accused".  Lambert & Stamp duly went out and secured the rights to it. Unfortunately the band meant the Jerry Butler number of the same name and were now saddled with this composition which Tony Colton had previously released in July 1965 (Pye 7N 155886). The Colton original is a slowed down, soulful affair not unlike a mid tempo Zoot Money or Georgiie Fame tune. The Merseybeats rock it up with an incessant/catchy guitar lick and some baroque harpsichord and quicken the pace considerably.  Keith Moon was on hand for the recording and sounds a gong at the end of the track. Elvis Costello dug this version it so much he later covered it on his "Get Happy" album.

https://youtu.be/Fb7iH5ZdLlA

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: Sounds Incorporated

SOUNDS INCORPORATED-The Spartans/Detroit UK Columbia DB 7239 1965

















Sounds Incorporated are highly underrated in my book. They have a host of mundane instrumentals, sure, but they are also responsible for a host of groovy tracks, which believe it or not, are not as easy to lay one's hands on as one might expect. One of Britain's most interesting instrumental combos, this six piece always rode the edge of "cool" vs "MOR".  They could come off like Light Programme BBC musicians and then cook up a gritty, soulful killer in the blink of an eye. To me they were like the bastard love child of The John Barry Seven meets The Mar-Keys. Best known for backing a host of British vocalists (especially at NME poll winners concerts) they were competent artists on their own (as a foot note their horn section appeared on The Beatles "Good Morning, Good Morning"). They were: John St. John (guitar), Alan "Boots" Holmes (saxophone/flute), Barrie Cameron (organ/saxophone), Wes Hunter (bass) and Terry Fogg (drums). Fogg was later replaced by the famous session extraordinaire drummer Tony Newman.













Among my favorites is today's subject, their sixth UK 45 and they very first on EMI's Columbia imprint. Their previous seven inches were on Decca, Parlophone and Capitol (Their last Decca release "Keep Moving" was produced by Joe Meek). Our subject was released the very same month that saw the infamous mods and rockers seaside battles (April 1964). "The Spartans" is a rousing instrumental led by some ethereal flute before blending with the band's ultra tight horn section. It was written by pianist Russ Conway under a pseudonym and provided the band with their highest U.K. chart placing (#30).

The flip, "Detroit", is a band original. It's a gritty duel between flute, organ, horns and twangy guitar and equally as strong as the top side and certainly more dance floor friendly as a nice melding of a Booker T & The M.G.'s style original some kitschy mid 60's Euro film incidental party music.

Both tracks are still available on an untitled See For Miles CD compilation collecting select 60's sides by them.

Hear "The Spartans":

https://youtu.be/JLax16JqQlE

Hear "Detroit":

https://youtu.be/L1glDb6mOfA

Friday, June 10, 2016

10 More Jazz/R&B Tunes You Must Hear

All tracks US releases unless otherwise noted.



















1. BROTHER JACK McDUFF-"Grease Monkey" Prestige 45-299 1964
Picking just one Jack McDuff number is no easy task as there are loads to choose from. This live track culled from the stellar "Brother Jack At The Jazz Workshop. Live!" and is helped in no small part by the young George Benson on guitar and the talented Red Holloway and Harold Vick on saxophones.

https://youtu.be/qRpDJbX3Hgk

2. DOLPH PRINCE-"You're Gonna Drive Me Crazy" King 45-5100 1957
Sitting in the #1 slot on my r&b 45 wants list is this slow but soulful r&b ballad that came to my attention via one of Ace's King/Federal records comps many years back (Kent's top shelf "King New Breed R&B Volume Two). It moves with some bluesy guitar, mid tempo r&b style sax/piano and a glorious mix of lead vocals and backing vocals.

https://youtu.be/Vpnqoa3WqZY

3. GENE AMMONS-"My Babe" Argo 5417 1964
On the flip of "I Can't Stop Loving You" by legendary jazz reedman Gene Ammons is this kitschy, funky version of Willie Dixon's "My Babe". It's almost way out at times and just when you think it's going to far the Jug winds it back in. I suspect the organ is care of Brother Jack McDuff (who cut multiple albums with Ammons).

https://youtu.be/irV_EyCOA_8


















4. DAVE "BABY" CORTEZ-"Gettin' To The Point Chess 1874 1963
Tucked away on the B-side of "Happy Feet" is this wailing instrumental monster that has a rough feel like Booker T and The MG's if they gave the horns equally prominence on their .  The gritty guitar solo even has a Steve cropper twang to it.  Boss!

https://youtu.be/dxDSwBnJcZg

5. RAY BRYANT-"Shake A Lady" Sue 45-108 1964
This 1964 jazzy instrumental by Ray Bryant is built around some Ramsey Lewis style piano with just a hint of Latin percussion to carry it along. To be honest a lot of Ray Bryant stuff I've heard is good but a tad too pedestrian and nondescript at times but this tune is definitely an exception.

https://youtu.be/V1jri5AqCkA

6. JOE SIMON-"I See Your Face" Hush G 107 1961
The first time I heard this track I thought it was Arthur Alexander, but alas it was Joe Simon.  The musical backing is a nifty little mix of flute, horns and organ giving it a mild jazzy feel but Simon's vocals are pure r&b crooner and his voice is actually not at all unlike Arthur Alexander.

https://youtu.be/UXmfrjkG97A


















7. GRANT GREEN-"Cantaloupe Woman" Verve VK-10631 1965
Edited from the just slightly longer version on his 1965 album "His Majesty, King Funk" this jazz instrumental piece by jazz guitar legend Grant Green is spiced up by the Hammond talents of Larry Young and Harold Vick on saxs. Throw in some groovy congas and the party is in full swing!

https://youtu.be/jqcsOcoa4uo

8. WILLIE BOBO-"Fried Neckbones And Some Home Fries" Verve VK-10400 1966
My favorite Willie Bobo track is this Latin slow burner with some brilliant jazzy horns beneath the required groovy percussion and emotive shouts. It's got everything you want in a Latin jazz instrumental and much, much more with the title repeated behind it all lending an almost hypnotic feel to it all.

https://youtu.be/oJ7ZHTLf4Og

9. CHICO HAMILTON-"Evil Eye" Impulse 45-249 1966
My favorite jazz instrumental is probably this 1966 single by Chico Hamilton which is 99% carried by the jazzy/raga tones of the legendary guitar Gabor Szabo.  It's almost trippy (like most mid/late 60's Gabor tracks) and fades into a wonderful trance jazzy psychedelic dreamscape.

https://youtu.be/_Wn4-NSu64w



















10. BO DIDDLEY-"Back To School" Checker 1158 1966
This waling Bo Diddley cut dates from 1966 and finds him using his trademark beat but injected a bit of mid 60's go-go feel wrapped around a public service announcement about staying in school.  My favorite part is when Bo ad libs "Mister D says put that transistor radio back in the drawer, you can do the boogaloo on the weekend..".

https://youtu.be/T98F07PPQ44

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: The Falling Leaves

THE FALLING LEAVES-She Loves To Be Loved/Not Guilty U.K. Parlophone R 5233 1965



















I can't tell you a thing about this band really. Both sides of this 45 were introduced to me in the spring of 1987 via the essential See For Miles compilation album "Ready Steady Win" and promptly blew my little mod mind.  Both tracks are prime slices of mid 60's British r&b of the "mod jazz" vein to use a more recent vernacular on the genre.

"She Loves To Be Loved" starts out with some groovy flute, a twangy guitar and a combo organ, not unlike something straight off of Them's "Them Again" LP while the vocalist (who obviously took the "Mose Allison Vocals 101" class with Lindsey Muir, Georgie Fame and countless others..) coolly sings in a catchy, hip style about a girl who is setting the town on fire in her bright yellow sweater with a groove not too distant from "Hit The Road Jack". Add a bluesy harp solo with some twangy Hilton Valentine style licks and you have the classic mid 60's British rhythm and blues sound perfectly encapsulated on one seven inch piece of vinyl.

"Not Guilty" is a different slice of cake.  If it did not have some atmospheric flute and the combo organ (which brings to mind pre-Joe Meek era Riot Squad material) it could be a just another beat ballad (ala The Four Pennies or The Just Four Men) but these two ingredients keep it interesting and it's so bleak it's hard not to take a shine to it.

"She Loves To Be Loved" was thankfully rediscovered and contained on the incredible Past and Present "New Rubble" series on their "New Rubble Volume 3: Watch Your Step" CD (also available for download through iTunes) while the flip side remains unissued since the 1992 See For Miles CD issue of the 1987 LP "Ready Steady Win" with both cuts (new and used for an arm and a leg on Amazon these days).

NOTE: The band are NOT the same Falling Leaves who cut the Four Seasons "Beggars Parade" for Decca a year later.

Hear "She Loves To Be Loved":

https://youtu.be/UjQ89DX-Q7U

Hear "Not Guilty" :

https://youtu.be/HrkztN-97pc

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Best Of the Action

The Action are one of my most favorite 60's bands, if not my favorite band, period.  Their output was slim and though their career was brief with just 5 singles in three years (1964-1967) there is a host of unreleased material recorded in that period that is available as well that in my estimation is equally interesting. Some of it is in varying styles and genres but all of it, to my ears, is nothing short of amazing so I thought it would be fun to pick ten of them and tell you why. The Action in their original inception were: Reggie King (lead vocals), Alan "Bam" King (rhythm guitar), Pete Watson (lead guitar), Mike Evans (bass) and Roger Powell (drums). Later incarnations, personnel changes etc will be noted for each track.

1. "In My Lonely Room" (previously unreleased version) U.K. Top Sounds 10" E.P. TSEP 001 2014
First unearthed in 2014, I am at odds to decide whether I prefer this track more than the 1965 studio version because it's "new" to me after knowing the studio take for 33 years or because it's actually better. The jury is still out on whether this was a demo or a live rehearsal. I'm sticking with the later as it sounds like it was recorded in a cavernous space like a venue but without the sound of any crowd one suspects it was a "live rehearsal". Regardless it's magical and next to the tracks found on their B.B.C. CD/LP "Uptight And Outtasite" probably the cloest we'll get to knowing what it was like to have heard them live in the 60's. Pete Watson's 12 string Rickenbacker chimes away perfectly and his falsetto backing vocals with guitar Alan King's perfectly compliment lead singer Reg King's masterful Motown interpretation.

https://youtu.be/OdqaMMgocrM












2.  "Baby You've Got It" U.K. 45 Parlophone R 5474 1966
The bulk of The Action's singles were soul covers (the first three of five U.K. singles had U.S. soul tracks on both the A and B sides).  They were not a "cover band" in the sense that they never tried to replicate the original versions of the tracks they were recording but rather they offered their own unique interpretations of these tunes.  One of the best examples of this is their third single, July 1966's version of Maurice & The Radiant's "Baby You Got It" (released just five months earlier on Chess in the US). Eschewing the uptempo strings of the original, The Action's version is driven by phlanged piano (care of their producer George Martin), the dual high backing vocal and Rickenbacker attack of Pete Watson and Alan King (12 and 6 string respectively) and a slower tempo than the original.

https://youtu.be/u1VeXdnffgk

3. "The Place" previously unreleased 1966 recording UK LP "The Ultimate Action" Edsel ED 101 1980
It's still not clear who composed this unreleased 1966 track which was recorded presumably during the period where the band were working on a much hyped long player. One wonders with the penchant for flair (read "bullshit") cooked up by their manager Rikki Farr on a regular basis if the band ever had clearance from their label for a long player since only a few tracks were cut in 1966 that were not released at the time ("The Place", "Wasn't It You", the Impressions "I Love You (Yeah)", "Harlem Shuffle", "Come On Come With Me", "Just Once In My Life" and "The Cissy"). Regardless of its composer or its intended release format "The Place" benefits again from the band's trademark jangly Rickenbackers , high harmonies blending with Reg's soulful voice and some tasty harpsichord (no doubt possibly c/o George Martin). When I purchased "The Ultimate Action" album in 1983 it was immediately my favorite track of the lot.

https://youtu.be/YiSYIRd2gKc
















4. "Wasn't It You" recorded 1966 Germany 45 Hansa 14 321 AT 1969
This Goffin/King track (originally miscredited to the band when it was used on a 1980 Edsel flip of "I'll Keep Holding On") was presumably cut during the above mentioned album session. It's a perfect vehicle for the band with the ringing Rickenbacker blending with some Spanish style acoustic guitar and impeccable high/falsetto backing vocals beneath Reg's soulful crooning. The lyrics seem perfect for a band who no doubt encountered the type of flighty, pretentious people the song was about. It was first issued as a B-side in Germany in 1969 with the previously unreleased 1966 recording of "Harlem Shuffle", incredibly odd since the The Action had ceased to exist in name a year prior to release!

https://youtu.be/NqykTejfmq0






















5. "Never Ever" U.K. 45 Parlophone R 5572 1967
February 1967's "Never Ever" was The Action's first 45 without Pete Watson, their first 45 for 1967 AND their first band original (in fact both sides of this platter were written by the remaining four band members). It also holds the distinction of being the only Action 45 issued in the US. It was also released in the Netherlands in a highly collectible picture sleeve (see above). But record collecting trivia now dispensed with, "Never Ever" is radically different from their previous output not only due to the fact that it was not a soul cover but it was the first Action record to feature brass which I think gives it a certain degree of punch (an interesting feature as previously brass parts on their soul covers were usually played in a melody form on Pete Watson's Rickenbacker 12 string).

https://youtu.be/JQ9QZ9hHwuY

6.  "Going To A Go Go" Live BBC March 1967 "Pop North" U.K. CD "Uptight And Outtasite" Circle CPW C105 2004
Captured live in this March 1967 performance for BBC radio sees the now slimmed down band (4 piece, Pete Watson having left the group in December '66) plough through a 100% high octane version of Smokey Robinson & The Miracle's "Going To A Go-Go" punctuated by some driving bass by Mike Evans and Alan "Bam" King's crisp Rickenbacker. What's interesting is it was recorded at a period where the band were slowly transitioning out of soul covers.

https://youtu.be/d5iZJatj4gM






















7. "Something Has Hit Me" U.K. 45 Parlophone R 5610 1967
Penned by Reg King and journalist pal (and Action champion in the music press) Nick Jones, "Something Has Hit Me" was to be part of the band's final single for EMI's Parlophone outlet released in June 1967 on the bottom of "Shadows And Reflections" (penned by American songwriters Tandyn Almer and Larry Marks). Like all the Action sides its strength lies in both the band's precise harmonies and Reg King's lead vocals and equally with George Martin's production and piano. It's also unique as shortly before the single's release the band would be augmented by a new member in the form of one Ian Whiteman who answered an ad placed "Melody Maker" seeking an keyboardist (Whiteman was also an accomplished flutist/saxophonist and would briefly exit the band and return again). It was also featured on their only 60's E.P., which was issued in France (see photo above).

https://youtu.be/eLFcGXqQ6KQ

8. "Come Around" (previously unreleased recorded 1967/1968) U.K. LP "Brain" Dig The Fuzz DIG 005 1995
From October '67 through June '68 The Action would be a six piece including new keyboardist/flutist Ian Whiteman and newly joined guitarist Martin Stone (formerly of Stone's Masonry/Savoy Brown Blues Band). The band set about recording a series of demos at I.B.C. which were later released as  "Brain" and "Rolled Gold" (the latter in slightly better quality). Many of them are in places, almost half baked and sound unfinished and are all (with the exception of a George Martin produced track, see below) demos.  "Come Around" is no exception with its almost abrupt ending. That is not to belittle any of the sessions as they are all, for the most part, superb tracks. "Come Around" is one of the strongest with some intense vocals from Reg and extremely introspective lyrics (I am still attempting to ascertain who composed the tracks). Whiteman's piano helps fill out the sound and as usual the harmonies are top notch alongside Reg's powerful vocals and it's almost "Summer of Love" message "let us be one another, let put our hearts together, let the god in each of us ring out and kiss the sky above..". It was a long way away from "Land Of One Thousand Dances" but magic just the same.

https://youtu.be/fNLp1HX2__A




















9. "In My Dreams" (previously unreleased recorded 1967) U.K. LP "Rolled Gold" Dig The Fuzz DIG 005 1995
Cut at Air Studios studios with George Martin producing "In My Dreams" would have made a wonderful sixth single for The Action on Parlophone but it was not to be as the band's career there ground to a halt as did their involvement with Sir George. There are two versions of this on "Brain/Rolled Gold", the harder, more guitar driven demo and this highly polished, George Martin produced version which I prefer. Both versions feature the six piece Action line up.  Ian Whiteman's flute and the band's stellar harmonies weave a wonderful tapestry around Reg's soulful vocals which manage to also convey a hint of desperation and uncertainty, something ironic when you realize it was to be their last session with George Martin. There's also a hint of some "heavy" things to come with a blistering guitar bit in the middle from Martin Stone.

https://youtu.be/QNlsTng_x6Y

10. "A Saying For Today" previously unreleased recorded 1968 U.K. Mini LP "Speak Louder Than" Dojo DOJOLP3 1985
Produced in July 1968 by former Pink Floyd co-manager Peter Jenner and recorded a month after Reggie King left the band (and six months before they became Mighty Baby) this track is one of five cut in the session.  The band were at that time being managed by Jenner and Andrew King's Blackhill Enterprises (who had previously parted company as management with The Pink Floyd following the departure of Syd Barrett). This track provides the bridge between the West Coast harmony period Action and the heavier improvisational jams of Mighty Baby. Penned by keyboardist/flutist Ian Whiteman it's hard hitting but dreamy thanks to the Association like harmonies and Whiteman's ethereal flute meshed with some restrained but blistering guitar licks by Alan King and Martin Stone. The  tracks from this session would be deceptively released in 1985 on a mini album featuring a photo of the four piece 1967 Action on the sleeve. Being an 18 year old Action fan at the time of it's release I was aghast of what I heard and it took me almost a year to wrap my head around it.

https://youtu.be/bdbYTsjcbXI

Monday, May 30, 2016

May's Picks

 

1. GIUDA-"Number 10"
I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Giuda.  I like some of their stuff, while other material seems watered down like Big Boss Man covering Iron Virgin.  This track from 6 years back is still my fave, a nice blend of punky bootboy stomp with some more power pop influenced glam, still it beats 90% of the shit out there at the moment.

2. GUN-"Take Off"
Gun were always a bit too heavy for me but I dig the hell out of this tune because it reminds me so much of the "S.F. Sorrow" era Pretty Things, even if at 11 minutes and change its a bit too long.

https://youtu.be/IfClS5-EtFY

3. JOHN VINCENT & THE IN-SECT-"Ow Ya Goin'"
While searching YouTube for a late 60's Aussie tune by these guys called "Madge's Charity Badges" I came across this 1967 track by them that was issued on the flip of a cover of "Over Under Sideways Down". If you've never heard anything from the 60's by John Vincent you're in for a treat as I am always amused by his Australian colloquial vernacular .

https://youtu.be/sUuXGrsGRto

4. JOSEFUS-"Crazy Man"
I heard this one on the Netflix original series "Narcos" (along with a host of other cool tunes) and It blew me away. I know these guys are pretty heavy and not really my thing but this one hits me between the eyes and reminds me a lot of Gun (see above).

https://youtu.be/prMpL4Vi7kU



















5. THE PYRAMIDS-"All Change On The Bakerloo Line"
Written and produced by Eddie Grant (and that's him on backing vocals too) this track, like quite a few other Pyramids tunes sounds a lot like The Equals with more of a rocksteady leaning and horns, which in my book is a winning combination.

https://youtu.be/5Dy56q4EEYs

6. THE PINK FLOYD-"Remember A Day"
Reputedly cut during the "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" session (it wasn't, it was recorded in October 1967 at the same time as work was started on "Vegetable Man" and "Jugband Blues), "Remember A Day" showcases some brilliant Zippo slide guitar and a separate track of ominous, chaotic feed backing slashing from Syd Barrett while Rick Wright sings wistfully (he wrote the track as well). It's worth noting it's one of three tracks to feature Syd Barrett on the band's second LP "A Saucerful Of Secrets".

https://youtu.be/AmSjEu57Lxs

7. THE WHO ORCHESTRA-"Waltz For A Pig"
A brilliant instrumental dirge of Hammond and horns issued on the flip of "Substitute", "The Who Orchestra" were of course the Graham Bond Organization helping The 'Oo out due to a bit of contractual difficulties that preventing them from issuing any more recordings . Written by drummer Ginger Baker (credited as "Butcher") the royalties enabled him to buy a brand new Rover 3000.

https://youtu.be/ZPJJ0UQrr3U

8. THE FRAYS-"Keep Me Covered"
This 1965 Decca B-side is one of the most frantic examples of mid 60's British r&b that you are ever likely to hear.  Wailing harp competes with bluesy guitar and the most incredible driving/zooming bassline at a 100 mph amphetamine pace while the lead singer brags "you're just one of many females and I like to take my time..".

https://youtu.be/DheUfHAImVU




















9. THE HOLIDAYS-"Watch Out Girl"

From the flip side of their Golden World debut 45 "No Greater Love" (GW-47 February 1966) this mid tempo groover from this Detroit combo is a nice mix of sax, vibes and guitar with a distinctly Motown (no doubt perhaps containing some moonlighting Funk Brothers?) flavor to it.

https://youtu.be/yRCtzIO_JEY























10. THE PRISONERS-"The Last Thing On Your Mind"
I went through a bit of a Prisoners phase after re-reading "The Kids Are All Square" and really cottoned to this tune which I'd previously not really had an opinion on.  With it's phlanged piano opening lifted straight off the Small Faces "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" and underlying dark, foreboding undercurrent it's a brilliant track easily carried by Graham Day's soulful but gravely vocals and guitar hero genuis.

https://youtu.be/DxI8Nl8Z5H4