Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Pinkerton's Colours "Magic Rocking Horse"

PINKERTON'S COLOURS-Magic Rocking Horse/It Ain't Right UK DEcca F12493 1966
Quite often folks my age have the 80's British Bam Caruso label and their excellent "Rubble" series to thank for turning us onto a host of amazing tunes. Among those is a track by Pinkerton's Colours (also known as Pinkerton's Assorted Colours) "Magic Rocking Horse".  I was first actually familiar with the tune as it was covered by Milwaukee's lyseric purveyors of psychedelia Plasticland on their untitled 1984 debut LP (along with The Pretty Things/Electric Banana "Alexander"). My intro to the the original version first came via a cassette tape my guru Ron Rimisite passed on to my friend Rudie in 1985. Bam Caruso eventually included it on their 1988 Rubble Vol. 14 "The Magic Rocking Horse" LP.

Though not as trippy as one might suspect due to it's inclusion on a "Rubble" volume, "Magic Rocking Horse"  is nonetheless worth checking out. It was the third and final Decca single released by the U.K. 5 piece previously credited as "Pinkerton's Assorted Colours".  "Magic Rocking House" is a great baroque  pop with ringing acoustic guitars and a melancholy vocal delivery complete with a delightful 12 string acoustic guitar solo that would do The Poets proud.

The flip, "It Ain't Right" sounds like a totally different band (not that that's a bad thing). It's upbeat, rocking and almost a raw r&b/freakbeat thing. High marks!

The band then moved to Pye for three more singles before changing their name in 1969 to The Flying Machine and scoring a massive world wide hit (#5 in the US ) with "Smile A Little Smile For Me".

"Magic Rocking Horse" as mentioned above is available on Bam Caruso's "Rubble Volume 14: The Magic Rocking Horse" and both sides were included on an exhaustive two CD set compiling all the Pinkerton's/Flying Machine recordings titled "Flight Recorder From Pinkerton's Assorted Colors To The Flying Machine".

Hear "Magic Rocking Horse":


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Only In America: The Zombies-I Want You Back Again

THE ZOMBIES-I Want You Back Again/I Remember When I Loved Her US Parrot 45 PAR 9769 1965

It still always perplexes me that The Zombies were one hit wonders in the U.K.and way bigger here in the States. "She's Not There", a #2 hit in the US was #12 in the UK and "Tell Her No", a #6 in the US was a miserable #42 at home in Great Britain!  "I Want You Back Again" was the band's fourth American single and strangely did not get a U.K. release, it sadly limped in at #92 here in the States while it's predecessor ""She's Coming Home" faltered at #48! Unfortunately this spelled the end of the band's brief run of hits in the United States until their 1969 hat trick with "Time Of The Season" but that says nothing of the music they were putting out.

 "I Want You Back Again" is an amazing A-side. Hugh Grundy's jazzy drumming really makes it swing and throw in Argent's brilliant electric piano (that seems to anticipate Ray Manzarek and The Doors) and Colin Blunstone's vocals, though at times are out of his register, sound perfect for the track.

The flip, "I Remember When I Loved Her" was culled from the band's 1965 UK LP "Begin Here". It's not one of my favorites by them but it still beats their dreadful r&b covers!  The best part for me is the spooky sci-fi organ augmented by Paul Atkinson's Spanish guitar.

Both tracks are available on a zillion Zombies collections that Ace/Big Beat has flooded the market with over the past two decades.

Hear "I Want You Back Again":


Hear "I Remember When I Loved Her":


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Well We're All Heads....Roky Erickson R.I.P.

Word has spread throughout the world that the Texan psychedelic pioneer Roky Erickson has passed on, I can think of no better fitting tribute to him than this wild American Bandstand TV clip of The Thirteenth Floor Elevators performing "You're Gonna Miss Me".


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Manfred Mann Mk. II

MANFRED MANN-Each And Every Day/Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James US Mercury 72629 1966

Manfred Mann's Mk. II (I call them Mk. II as they included new vocalist Mike D'Adbo, father of the lovely Olivia, as their lead vocalist) second US release was an interesting combination. Released in October 1966 it featured "Each And Every Day", a Mike Hugg original that would later become a May 1967 U.K. hit for Simon Dupree and the Big Sound as "Day Time Night Time" (curiously the Simon Dupree cut would not get a US release until July 1968!) as the A-side. This track was not released in the UK by Manfred Mann and got it's first airing here (and subsequently as an E.P. track in France and Portugal). Even more curious was the flip side, "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James" which was released at the same time as an A-side in the UK! It was later issued as a double sided promo only 45 here in April '67. Adding further interest the track was later issued in the US only two months later by a British band Herbie's People who recorded it with it's original intended title "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. Jones" (changed to "James" by the Manfreds to avoid any drama as the Manfred's had recently lost Paul Jones as their lead singer)!!

"Each And Every Day" does not harness the power and upbeat chirpy feel as Simon Dupree and Co's cover but it still works.  Delivered much slower and with a more sparse musical backing it's selling point is Mike D'Abo's blue eyed soul vocals (and it's driving ivory tinkling by Manfred) and of course a Mellotron coming in and making it slightly off kilter playing the bits that were later done by a French horn in the Simon Dupree version.

And speaking of Mellotron, there's the flip, "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James" which is probably the first British top ten hit to kick off with a Mellotron in it's opening notes! From the pen of Geoff Stevens and John Carter it's a pop classic about sour grapes as the protagonist cynically wishes his lost love good luck with her new life with a cheeky gallows humor infectious chorus of "so you finally named the day" that slightly resembles a good time knees up at the boozer.

Both sides are contained on the excellent US CD compilation "Chapter Two: Best Of The Fontana Years" and on the CD reissue of the LP "Mighty Garvey!" which is still in print.

Hear "Each And Every Day":


Hear "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James":


Thursday, May 23, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Dave Dee Etc Get Saucy

DAVE DEE, DOZY BEAKY, MICK AND TICH-Bend It/She's So Good US Fontana F-1559 1966

60's UK quartet Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich released a host of singles in the UK but few of these were issued in the USA.  Today's topic "Bend It" was their fourth US release, being issued in October 1966 (a month after it's release in the UK as Fontana TF 746, which it reached #2 , their highest charting 45 at that time). There were stories in the UK music press at the time of it's release that US d.j.'s were complaining that the songs lyrics were too "lewd" (Wikipedia cites "N.M.E" while I am in possession of an issue of "Disc & Music Echo" stating something similar, god knows where it is, if I dig it up I shall include a scan of it here later). It is claimed that a separate version was issued with different lyrics in the US to assuage the offended d.j.'s concerns but in my 30 years of owning records by them I have yet to come across an alternate version on a 45.  However I did recently stumble upon a great piece on the amazing So Many Records So Little Time blog on the subject, which clears things up on the matter stating that there were indeed two versions issued. In the US the version with new lyrics can be differentiated from the original by a simple comma in the band's name on the label!  The copy shown above is the original "uncensored" version with a comma missing between "Dozy Beaky", subsequent "cleaned up" versions contain a comma between "Dozy Beaky"!!

Meanwhile outside the Marquee club...
"Bend It" for those who have never had the pleasure features an electric mandolin as it's main instrument giving the track a "Zorba The Greek" feel. It's not among my favorites by them because it's, well I think it's sort of a one trick pony. Not as dreadful as some of their later stuff, but it's certainly no "Hold Tight" or "Hideaway" to my ears. It was utilized in 2010 in an episode of the Fox animation series "Futurama" in the 100th episode "The Mutants Are Revolting".

The money for me is the flip, "She's So Good". Driven by some very heavy bass  it's one of their most powerful tracks with some great harmony breaks and an infectious groove thanks to that over the top bass line (the band's bassist Trevor "Dozy" Davies went to the "John Entwistle school of lead bass" which gave the band their distinct sound)!!

It was recently brought to my attention by one of my Instagram followers that the "cleaned up" version of "Bend It" with amended lyrics popped up on a 1967 US Fontana records LP compilation of songs on the label by British bands titled  "England's Greatest Hits" (MGF-27570). It's also available as a bonus track on a Repertoire CD reissue of their untitled debut 1966 U.K. LP.

Here's a pristine British Pathe promo film for "Bend It"!!:


 Hear "She's So Good":


Friday, May 17, 2019

Warren Lee R.I.P.

Warren at the decks, Empire State Soul Club, The Mercury Lounge, NYC, Summer 1994
Word filtered through yesterday that Warren Lee, the legendary NYC soul DJ and founding member of the Empire State Soul Club passed away and I decided it was only fitting to pay tribute to the man who kept the dance floor packed.

Mod Nite December 30, 1984

I first encountered Warren Lee when him and Weems DJ-ed a mod night organized by members of a NYC mod band called The Scene at Danceteria on December 30, 1984. I remember the date because it was like the gathering of the tribes as far as mods were concerned and I met so many people that night who I know to this day. Stepping into that room was like walking onto a 60's film set with mods everywhere, dancers on elevated podiums and Dobie Grey's "Out On The Floor" pumping through the sound system.  I did not encounter Warren again until the Empire State Soul Club rolled into Maxwell's in 1988. A whole gang of us besuitted mod types joined the ESSC that night and got our light blue membership cards and stylish Empire State building soul club badges and the stage was set.  There were never any consistent DJ nights in New York at that time, it was more about bands and here was an opportunity to dance into the wee hours to DJ's spinning 60's soul. In my opinion there was never a better soul night in the Big Apple and there never will be! Eventually I got to know Warren from their gigs at the Mercury Lunge and The Norther River Bar. He was always patient, kind and perfectly willing to indulge my barrage of questions about what he spun and was my go-to guy when I heard some British band doing a soul cover and I needed to know who the original was. Then there was Jones, a now defunct little eatery/bar on Great Jones Street in NYC where Warren bar tended and most importantly, stocked the juke box ensuring that even when the E.S.S.C. was on hiatus his tunes were still being heard! In a genre where snobbery  and pretension eventually prevailed and everyone and their grandmother is now a DJ Warren Lee stood for what it was all about: an unpretentious guy who spun music not to impress or show off his records but to keep the dance floor packed and if Warren was spinning at the E.S.S.C. I was never at the bar I was always on the floor.

My E.S.S.C memorabilia.

For more recollections and tributes to Warren please pop on over to one of our fave blogs,  Shake Some Action.  This one's for you Warren, god speed:


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Moquettes

THE MOQUETTES-Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo/You Came Along US MGM K13272 1964

My introduction to the two tracks on this 45 came via a 1965 cheesy US MGM records album compilation titled "Micky Most Presents British A Go-Go" (issued again a year later as "Micky Most Presents British In Groups"), a shoddy attempt at throwing a few hits he produced by The Animals and Herman's Hermits on an LP with a host of obscure productions by the likes of The Cherokees, The Symbols and these two cuts by The Moquettes (previously issued as a 7" in the UK as Columbia DB 7315 in 1964).  Sadly I can't tell you a thing about them other than that the two tracks on this 45 represent their sole musical output and that they were from Reading.

"Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo" dates back to the 1930's, but Carl Perkin's 1958 reading was no doubt the source for this cover. Delivered at an insane tempo with organ and wailing harmonica it's a brilliant interpretation  and a perfect encapsulation of gritty 1964 British r&b.

The b-side, "You Came Along", is a brilliant combination of r&b meshing with beat music that falls somewhere between The Zephyrs and The Animals. As on the A-side the combo organ really makes the number.

"Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo" has appeared on the compilations "That Driving Beat Volume One" and more recently "Beatfreak 2" while "You Came Along" is on "That Driving Beat Volume Two" and "Beatfreak ".

Hear "Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo":


Hear "You Came Along":