Monday, April 14, 2014

The V.I.P.'s

THE V.I.P.'s-Straight Down To The Bottom/Back Into My Life Again/Every Girl I See/ In A Dream France Fontana 460.996 ME 1967

The V.I.P.'s have been covered in an older post here. Today's item of interest is in my estimation one of the coolest French 60's E.P.'s ever issued because it's chock full of killer tunes and has this bad ass picture sleeve. "Straight Down To The Bottom" is one of their most sought after singles of all time (jack ass here had a one sided demo copy of it , guess where that went?). It was written by their new producer Jimmy Miller (previous 45's were produced by their label boss Chris Blackwell), who later went on to do some fantastic stuff with The Stones. "Back In To My Life Again" was composed by Miller with Jamaican singer/songwriter Jackie Edwards . It was also recorded by the Spencer Davis Group who recorded a slew of Edwards tunes like "Keep On Running" and "Somebody Help Me"(and Love Affair cut a smoking version as well during their brief period in '67 where they were signed to Decca that went unreleased until a few years ago that I came across on iTunes). "In A Dream" is a Jackie Edwards composition and was the B-side to the U.K. issue of "Straight Down To The Bottom" (Island  WIP 6005). "Every Girl I See" was composed by Willie Dixon and M.P. Murphy and recorded by Buddy Guy though I'm not sure who else did it.

"Straight Down To The Bottom" is my fave V.I.P's track hands down.  My demo copy and other versions I've heard always sounded warbly, especially the piano, like the tapes were under water. Most version's I've heard sounded the same way.  Anyone with an original 45 that sounds any better?  Regardless it's a non-stop gas, soulful lead vocals  over the top of a soulful bass groove with great call and response vocals and is easily one of the most infectious numbers British r&b has ever produced for the dance floor.  The backing vocals that repetitively chant "I can't sleep and I can't eat" over and over again stay in my brain on most days, highly infectious stuff. Their version of "Back Into My Life Again" easily dispenses the Spencer Davis Group version in my book owing to it's harder hitting edge and cool little guitar lick that comes in after the main chorus and has a great "party" atmosphere to it like The Quik's "Bert's Apple Crumble" or Island label mates Wynder K. Frog's reading of "I'm A Man".

"Every Girl I See" is proto-trippy with it's slashing cymbal and the almost raga feel to the lead vocals as they come wafting into your ears with some period congas and and some Steve Cropper style guitar licks bringing it on. It certainly deviates from the bluesy feel of Buddy Guy's version which is cool in my book as there's certainly enough carbon copy covers by U.K. bands in this era, and this ain't one of them! "In A Dream" is a slow number with a sort of waltz/swing to it but it's lead singer Mike Harrison's soulful vocals that really move this one along while some barroom style piano tinkles in the background, 12 string guitar and with some crashing drums that give it some guts.

All four tracks can be found on Repertoire Record's highly recommended 28 track CD compilation "The Complete V.I.P's" which if you're a fan of U.K. mid 60's soulful r&b like I am you need to get post haste.  Luckily it is still available through Amazon.

Hear "Straight Down To The Bottom":

Hear "Back Into My Life Again":

Hear "In A Dream":

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"The Dave Clark Five And Beyond" reviewed.

PBS TV is running a Dave Clark Five documentary as part of their "Great Performances" series called "The Dave Clark Five And Beyond", correction they're running a Dave Clark documentary because after watching it you will realize if you did not already know that there is no Dave Clark Five. The entire affair was produced and released by Dave Clark enterprises, nothing like masterminding your own documentary.  Sound horribly smug and full of self love?  Just a little, maybe a full truck load.  It begins with 20 minutes of celebrity accolades from all and sundry ranging from the odd to the unexpected/bizarre: Stevie Wonder, Sir Ian McKellan, Elton John, Dionne Warwick, Twiggy, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, and even Sir Paul McCartney, who though popping up frequently amusingly never once really has anything to say about Dave Clark or The DC 5 musically.  My favorite is Gene Simmons from Kiss in full stage regalia, or as my wife put it: "Hold on I've gotta put on my make up and spiked breast plate to do this interview".  And of course there's Tom Hanks induction of the DC 5 into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame which plods on at Oscar acceptance speech length. We're then treated to a dozen or so "original DC 5" fans who go on about them like their line up had Mingus, Lennon, Presley, Beethoven and Lead Belly all in one group. In the end you're wondering if anyone participating signed on for a check.

The whole documentary is the biggest piece of self promotion since Monty Burns had Senor Spielbergo make a film about his life for the Springfield Film Festival . We're told (by Clark) that he walked into EMI and came away with an independent producer's contract and the right's to all his own material.  No mean feat in the days when Sir Joseph Lockwood ruled with an inflexible hand, though we're not told how.  Lead singer/organist Mike Smith is on board for a bit and after watching this like me you'll no doubt reckon that the band should have been called The Mike Smith Five instead as it's his gravely/powerful voice we hear on all their hits. For ages rock cognoscenti have maintained that Clark did not drum on his records and that session man extraordinaire Bobbie Graham was indeed the man behind the "Tottenham sound". There's one cringing scene in color from '65 or '66 of Clark in the studio playing a drum solo that never once actually shows him hit the skins or cymbals other than some odd shots of someone's arms doing it, but never a full body shot. There's a long segment from the 60's of Clark wandering around his native Tottenham that culminates with him standing in the middle of the pitch at White Hart Lane while an almost psychedelic wash of Hotspur's fans chanting "Glad All Over" from the terraces blares forth for what seems like ages.  There's then the most awful version of "Glad All Over" you'll ever hear in a horrible slowed down contemporary fashion style with musical backing straight off a Whitney Houston record that looks like it was filmed for the Tottenham Council's tourist board (is there such a thing?).

There are some great moments though. There's the mod '66 brilliance of "Try Too Hard" from their answer to "Magical Mystery Tour"; 1967's U.K. TV special "Hold On" (proving that once again bassist Rick Huxley invented the Weller helmet hairdo) for instance (along with other killer tunes from the film like "I Need Love" and the "I Am The Walrus" knock off "Inside And Out" with Clark acting like he's in charge of the production). There's a raw version of "Nineteen Days" from a Royal Command Performance with sax player Dennis Payton on fuzz 12 string (oddly there are two clips meshed together, in which leads me to ask which was was the audio connected to?!). The band's 8mm home movies from NYC are cool to see of vintage '64-'65 New York complete with Broadway marquees and girls who magically appear on every corner in packs to chase their car for a block or so till the next gang takes over.

There's overkill of all their early "thumping" hits with every one in complete running length with Clark doing his wind up monkey pretend drum technique where he keeps his arms crossed in his lap never raises them to hit anything. Oddly Max Weinberg is on hand to rave about what a great drummer he was.  Whaaaaaat?! There's a zillion Ed Sullivan show "appearances" (my fave being "You Got What It Takes") and then Dean Martin being his usual douche bag self on "Hollywood Palace" again with his Rat Assed/Rat Pack long hair jokes and the DC 5 come on in their shop coats and fake "Catch Us If You Can".

There's a big fanfare about the above mentioned "Hold On!" and Clark's screen kiss with guest star (leading lady?) Lulu and Richard Chamberlain in a "Blow Up" spoof which tries too hard to disguise his sexuality.

After the first hour you can basically turn it off as it becomes a bit tedious with a bit too much time spent on Clark's "acting career" and his stage musical "Time". There's also loads of cringe worthy footage of Dave's rapidly arching eyebrows (Botox?). There is however some good "Ready Steady Go" footage, which Clark now owns after purchasing what remained and was not wiped in the 1970's.

You can watch it all on the PBS website for a limited time by going here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Plugs For The Competition!

I read a lot of blogs and one of my faves has always been Monkey Picks from over across the pond run by Mark Raison. Mark and I were pen pals back in the mid 90's when we were two young Action enthusiasts doing D.I.Y fanzines.  Luckily Mark is still at it with his wonderful blog and last weekend he happened to be in Muswell Hill where who should he happen to interview but their favorite son Dave Davies at the Davie's brothers neighborhood pub, The Clissold Arms, which is still there.  You can catch the amazing conversation that ensued here.  And while you're at it have a peek at our gallery of Dave Davies Euro picture sleeves that some fool used to own and sold to pay off his massive debts from buying records and clothes.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Zoot Money's Last 60's R&B 45

ZOOT MONEY-Nick Knack/I Really Learnt How To Cry U.K. Columbia DB 8172 1967

This was arch ligger/looner and London Hammond n' horns legend Zoot Money's 9th U.K. 45 and his final one as Zoot Money's Big Roll Band (stock copies on show the label credits as "Zoot Money and The Big Roll Band" but my Demo copy just credits "Zoot Money") before they morphed into the psychedelic outfit Dantalian's Chariot (whom we profiled here).

"Nick Knack" was penned by the legendary song writing team of Tony Colton and Ray Smith (responsible for many compositions among them The Shotgun Express debut 45 and the flip of above mentioned Dantalian's Chariot single). The tune itself is a play on the "This Old Man" nursery rhyme. The  lyrics, about a man who drinks all night, never goes home and got "rolled and rolled and stoned", are perfectly suited to Zoot Money who's late night drinking antics were quite legendary in the 60's (he was name checked on it in Georgie Fame's live version of "Keep Your Big Mouth Shut" on the "Two Faces Of Fame" album and Brian Auger lionized him in "George Bruno Money" on his "Definitely What!" LP). The musical backing is standard '66 Big Roll Band with strong horns and bluesy guitar c/o a young Andy Somers (later Andy Summers of the Police) and is a pretty raucous, but entertaining affair.

Zoot Money in action late 1966

The flip "I Really Learnt How To Cry" (a Zoot Money/Andy Somers original) shows the band breaking new ground by deviating from their usual r&b based sound. Opening with an acoustic guitar and some subtle organ with the horns sliding in slickly during the chorus it sort of anticipates his 1968 solo LP "Transition". Strangely his voice starts to break towards the end and as the number the number fades out his voice suddenly feeds through a weird oscillating effect!

Both sides on on Repertoire's highly recommended and fully comprehensive CD compilation "Singles A's & B's".

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March's Picks

1. THE ROLLING STONES-"Midnight Rambler" 
Raunchy, sinister and powerful just the same. This is The Stones at the height of (as Keith Richards called it) their “Lucifer he’s my boy, we’re like this” phase where they churn out the creepiest fucking song ever written with some disturbing imagery and a crescendo towards the end AND a finale that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

A perfect marriage of mid 60’s freakbeat meeting good old fashioned British 60’s mod/r&b with cheesy combo organ and slashing power chords dashed with throbbing bass consigned to the b-side of their dreadful 1966 debut single “Specially When”.

 3. THE SEARCHERS-"Popcorn Double Feature (Live BBC)" 
The Searchers pull out all the stops on Tim Wilde’s social commentary number from a “Top Of The Pops” January ’67 appearance resplendent with distorted, jangling guitars that has them playing like their lives (and careers) depended on it. I couldn't find a YouTube link for the Beeb version so here's the studio one:

4. THE POETS-"Now We're Thru" 
I’d all but forgotten this track by “the Zombies of Scotland” till I was having drinks and dinner with a late friend’s dad who piqued my memory and interest by telling me about seeing The Poet’s on “Shindig” doing their moody debut 45 and I got home and played it repeatedly.

A pulsating head trip about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake seen through the eyes of a seeing eye dog with a demented Sunset Strip go-go beat. From their incredible debut LP “Part One” that's a perfect marriage of jangly West Coast folk rock and trippy/freaky full on psychedelia.

6. MICKEY LEE LANE-“She Don’t Want To” 
Everyone knows Mickey’s famous tune that The Action covered “Hey Sah Lo Ney” and his lame "hit" single "Shaggy Dog" but few folks are aware of his next Swan 45 an upbeat number with an infectious call and response and some great breaks. This 45 doesn't get much notice and I would've never known about had I not taken a shot a bought it many, many years ago. Of course I can't find it on YouTube.

7. THE WHO-“Much Too Much” 
One of my fave songs from the ‘Oo’s debut LP “My Generation” is this moody rocker full of angry power chords, cool surf harmonies and Moon’s restrained drumming all neatly tied up in a bow by Daltrey’s angst ridden vocals and Nicky Hopkin’s piano trills.

8. THE TELL TALE HEARTS-“I Get Up In The Morning”
San Diego’s Tell Tale Hearts cut a 1963 Heinz E.P. track back in ’85 or so for a flexi my guru/mentor Ron Rimsite’s old ‘zine “99th Floor”. In my book it betters the original and predates what the Kaisers were trying to do by a decade.

9. THE LA DE DA's-"On Top Of The World"
Cool, off the wall cover of an obscure John Mayall and the Bluebreakers number by New Zealand's best known 60's garage/punk band The La De Da's. The La De Da's did a lot of covers, in fact most tunes I know by them are versions of other people's songs and usually I'm not a big fan of them but this one blows me away!

10. ALVIN ROBINSON-“Searchin’” 
My fave version of The Coasters standard is this May 1964 cover that slays all competition in my book and perfectly encapsulates the marriage of r&b with soul music to these ears.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hollywood Yanks: Chad & Jeremy

CHAD AND JEREMY-Paxton Quigley's Had The Course U.S. Promo Columbia 4-44660 1968

Chad (Stuart) and Jeremy (Clyde) had an interesting odyssey, far bigger in the States than in their home in the U.K. they were dubbed "Hollywood Yanks" after being based out there and appearing on a host of American TV shows like "The Patty Duke Show", "Batman", "The Dating Game" and Chad (along with fellow ex-pat Lord Tim Hudson) did the Liverpudlian vulture voices for Disney's film "The Jungle Book".

Strangely their U.S. 45 discography was more than double their U.K. output, their U.K. releases ended with 1966's "You Are She" while they continued to release U.S. singles on Columbia (whom they'd been with since 1965's "I Have Dreamed") right up till 1968.  Today's subject was their final U.S. 45 from the film LP soundtrack "Three In The Attic", technically their last long player, issued in October 1968. My copy is a double sided promo. It was also issued with a flip "You Need Feet (You Need Hands)" bearing the same catalog number.

By 1968 they'd been generously afforded the opportunity to release two amazing yet commercially dismal albums, "Of Cabbages And Kings" (1967) and "The Ark" (1968), both recorded in the States with no expense spared with production by Gary Usher. "Paxton Quigley's Had The Course" was issued on the LP "The Ark" and was also used in the film "Three In An Attic" which starred Christopher Jones (shortly after his appearance as "Max Frost" in "Wild In The Streets") as Paxton Quigley a lothario held in an attic by three women. Easily fitting in with their material from "Of Cabbages And Kings" or "The Ark" (where it also closed side two of), "Paxton Quigley's Had The Course" is a lushly produced (by Gary Usher) pop psych ditty with an upbeat lilt, vocals through a Leslie, catchy acoustic riff, some funky cowbell and Fab Four psych pastiches towards the end (and what sounds to me like a cross between "S.F. Sorrow" meets The Moodie's "On The Threshold Of A Dream").  Certainly one of the freakiest thinks C&J ever concocted!

It is available on the CD reissue of "The Ark". Interestingly "Paxton Quigley" is the name of woman female firearms advocate....

Hear "Paxton Quigley's Had The Course":

Watch the entire film: