Friday, October 17, 2014

A Well Respected Odyssey

My first inkling of the Kink's came from their 1965 U.S. hit " A Well Respected Man" which I'd heard on an Oldies station that my mother always had on at some point in the late 70's . I'd no idea who this band singing were but I knew they sounded British.  I could only recall the melody after awhile as the words slipped from my brain.  There was no Internet, no iTunes, no YouTube, no Shazam and humming it to my parents and friends was about as useful as trying to get a four year old to translate ancient Hebrew. So I devised my own lyrics that I sang to myself to it's melody to keep it fresh in my head in the hopes that one day I'd discover it's true identity (I did the same for The Hollie's "On A Carousel"):

"with my monophonic electric double neck guitar I go driving past here house here in a big black shiny car"

Silly yeah I know but I was all of 12 or 13 .  It wasn't until a few years later I was humming it in school in the hall (it had a great echo down this one ancient corridor) and a teacher heard me.  Instead of reprimanding me he said "Kinks eh?" I'd like to think I said "I beg your pardon", but I was in my early teens so my answer was more than likely: "What?". The reply was something to the effect of  "the Kinks, they're a British group".  Conversation led to the divulging of this songs title and I scrawled it on the inside of a notebook: "A Well Respected Man" by The Kinks. As mentioned above there was no iTunes or way to instantly find this song, not that I had any money to do so anyway so it was all but forgotten until Xmas of 1982 or 1983 (in a time period where I'd reconnected myself with British 60's sounds that were from 1980 on dashed away by punk and '79 mod and ska bands). For Xmas my parents bought me a British Kinks compilation LP called "The Kinks Greatest Hits" (more than likely from Jamesway a department store chain who's record department always had loads of odd British LP's on Marble Arch, Pickwick and etc, you can read more on my Jamesway experience here).  They'd no idea whether I'd heard of them or not and to be honest I'd all but forgotten them till I heard that tune. It was an odd comp as it contained "A Well Respected Man" (which was not a hit in the U.K. just an E.P. track as mentioned earlier) as well as another E.P. tune "Wait Till Summer Comes Along".

"A Well Respected Man" first saw the light of day on the "Kwyet Kinks" E.P. (Pye NEP 24221 in September 1965). a month later it was launched as an A-side in the United States where it rose to # 13( the fourth Kinks single to break the American top 20, their next to last hit of the 60's here in the States). To me it epitomizes crucial trademarks of Ray Davie's 60's songwriting: social commentary and the distinction between the classes. The lyrics probably didn't mean much here in the States and it's probably the only time the word "fags" was used in the American Top 40 (though certainly not the derogatory phrase we Yanks know it as). It's lyrically cynical but it's bitterness is assuaged  by it's bouncy cheeky chappie delivery because of course Ray is merely taking the piss out of these morally bankrupt, decadent Toffs . Again I'm sure all this flew over everyone's heads here.

Kinda Kinky

I've borrowed the lyrics from one of those dodgy lyrics websites but they seem accurate to me.

'Cause he gets up in the morning,
And he goes to work at nine,
And he comes back home at five-thirty,
Gets the same train every time.
'Cause his world is built 'round punctuality,
It never fails.

And he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And his mother goes to meetings,
While his father pulls the maid,
And she stirs the tea with councilors,
While discussing foreign trade,
And she passes looks, as well as bills
At every suave young man

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he likes his own backyard,
And he likes his fags the best,
'Cause he's better than the rest,
And his own sweat smells the best,
And he hopes to grab his father's loot,
When Pater passes on.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he plays at stocks and shares,
And he goes to the Regatta,
And he adores the girl next door,
'Cause he's dying to get at her,
But his mother knows the best about
The matrimonial stakes.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Spencer Davis Group Mk. II Part II

THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP-Time Seller/Don't Want You No More U.S. United Artists UA 50202 1967

As discussed in an earlier entry here the 2nd line up of the Spencer Davis Group had a dual life as a pop psych band and an r&b act. Here we have another example that follows suit.

"Time Seller" was the new look S.D.G. line up's (discussed in our earlier entry) U.S. debut 45 hitting the streets in August 1967 (it's U.K. counterpart on Fontana TF 854 was released a month earlier). It's an amazing little pop psych number that starts with some VERY '67 sounds: sawing cellos, harpsichords and soulful vocals and an amazing melody (with some typically silly lyrics courtesy of band members Spencer Davis, Eddie Hardin and Phil Sawyer). This is the stuff that dreams are made of, especially in the "Summer of love" (god what an awful phrase, I hear it and I have to picture Monkey boots,  #2 crops and  Desmond Dekker until it goes away).

"Don't Want You No More" is typical pedestrian white boy '67 blues (when everyone and their brother wanted to be John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers).  Yawn.  The only treat is the cool organ solo, sadly offset by twangy blues licks and it's back to sleep.....

Both tracks can be found on their U.S. LP "With Their New Face On...".

Hear "Don't Want You No More":

 Cool 1967 promo film for "Time Seller":


Sunday, October 5, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels:The Swinging Sound of Jimmy James & The Vagabonds

JIMMY JAMES & THE VAGABONDS-Red Red Wine/No Good To Cry U.S. Atco 45-6608 1968

Sixties London night spot live sensations Jimmy James and The Vagabonds never troubled the hit parade in the U.K. but that didn't stop their U.K. label Piccadilly from issuing a slew of 45's there. Managed  by  mod kingpin Peter Meaden, who became their manager after being eased out of that role for The Who, they were a  band of musos oiled into a well drilled r&b/soul machine after initially playing ska/calypso. Like Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band they worked hard, gigged daily, put on some energetic shows but fame remained elusive for them, no doubt like Geno et al owed to the fact that their material was for the most part, covers of U.S. soul/r&b.

This was their third single in the States, their second on Atco (who also released their LP "The New Religion"  as Atco SD 33-222 in 1967). A good year before Tony Tribe's reggae-fied version Jimmy James and Co. covered Neil Diamond's March 1968 track "Red Red Wine". It was released in the U.S. in September 1968, three months after the U.K. issue (their first on the Pye label as 7N 17175 ) with a different flip than it's U.K. counterpart utilizing the their previous G.B. A-side "No Good to Cry" as the underside here.

Jimmy James & The Vagabonds live 1968 c/o

"Red Red Wine" is delivered in a slow orchestrated manner.  It's not a bad tune and Jimmy James certainly has a great voice but it's purely M.O.R. stuff.  The real guts are on the uptempo soulful B-side "No Good To Cry".  The number was originally cut a year earlier in the U.S. on the Cadet label (5561) by a white soul band called The Wildweeds, once again illustrating the continuing "cover band" issue.  Jimmy James and the boys pull out all the stops but pretty much stick to the original arrangement, the only difference being the production on the Vagabonds version is a bit better but it's unfortunately nowhere near the original!

Both sides have been issued in a variety of compilations as Castle, who owns Piccadilly/Pye is pretty easy with their licensing. The best place is on a double CD of their material "Sock It To 'Em J.J.: The Soul Years" that is still in print and collects the best of their Piccadilly/Pye material.

Hear "Red Red Wine":

Hear "No Good To Cry":

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jimmy Page Did Not Play On Every Cool Record Made In The 60's, BUT.....

This should provide some closure or perhaps further stoke the flames of conjecture on just what records Pagey DID play on.....

September's Picks

1. SLADE-"Omaha" (Live B.B.C.)
Slade kick the guts out of the already powerful Moby Grape number by wiping it clean of any West Coast "love your brother" hippy bullshit and turning into a 100 mph amphetamine sulfate stomper delivered at breakneck speed with solid precision from an 1969 Beeb session. Musos to a man.

2. DAVID ESSEX-"So Called Loving"
Before you all recoil in horror....this number was unearthed by Decca/Deram for their "Northern Soul Scene" CD eons ago and I've finally gotten into it no doubt thanks to the VERY British production/backing which is tops in my book.  I'm still no closer to figuring out when the fuck this number is from as the CD liner notes are vague and it's not showing up in any of Mr. Rock On's discogs.

3. DEE AND THE QUOTUM-"Someday You'll Need Someone"
One of the sad things about owning just way too much music is you'll have had a track on a comp for ages and then it gets comped again and your mind is blown, only to discover you've had it all along.  Case in point this Canadian group's trippy phlange masterpiece from 1969 originally on "Rubble 18: Rainbow Thyme Wynders" and recently pricked up my ears on RPM's "Keep Lookin'" box set!

4. THE WILDWEEDS-"No Good To Cry"
I was first familiar with this number via Jimmy James & The Vagabonds and after some research tracked down the original by this blue eyed soul band from Connecticut from April 1967 which in my book slays all comers (including John Fred & The Playboy band who also covered it).  My pal Edmund Rudolph tells me they were fronted by one Al Anderson who went on to form NRBQ.

5. FABIENNE DESOL-"When My Mind Is Not Live"
My old friend Layla turned me onto this incredible cover of Status Quo's track recently and though not being a fan of much "new" music I was bowled over by this immediately.  The backing music is spot on to the original and Fabienne's dead sexy French accent just turns the whole thing into nothing short of KILLER.

6. GEORGIE FAME-"Try My World"
August 1967 saw Georgie Fame release his second single on CBS with his revamped sound and band.  I imagine most of his hardcore r&b loving fans were put off when this happened but I think the brilliant production touches by Denny Cordell and the sophisticated feel of this number pulls it off.  I've always imagined this playing in some cheezy Swinging London film with it's harp, muted trumpet solo and muzaky piano.

I've no idea how I came across this hysterical little groover from 1966 on the legendary ESP Disc label that I'm totally besotted with.  The lyrics are hysterical and the mildly r&b-ish groove is damned infectious and deserves to be comped somewhere. One wonders what the Hell's Angels M.C. thought of this number.

9.THE MOODY BLUES-"Peak Hour" (Live BBC 1967)
One of my main gripes with The Moodies essentially brilliant "Days Of Future Passed" album is the annoying orchestral bits linking all the amazing songs together.  The live BBC CD released a few years back remedies this while giving a glimpse of how amazingly tight they were both vocally and musically as this session from '67 proves.

10. DAVID BOWIE-"Maids Of Bond Street"
One of my fave tracks from Bowie's eponymous debut 1967 Deram LP is this ode to an actress who has it all except for the boy who's shunned her and the bright lights and big city that took her away.  It's one third Left Bank (as in Parisian sense with it's accordion, not the NY band ), one third jazz (check out the swing to the drums, bass, piano and choppy guitar chords)  and one third "light program" (dig the strings).  And it works!  And contains one of Bowie's most unusual lines "gleaming teeth sip aperitifs" . Criminally left off the U.S. edition!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Artwoods: Steady Gettin' It Dissected

The Artwoods “Steady Getting’ It: The Complete Recordings 1964-67” has been long awaited. With a host of live BBC tracks and an entire live disk culled from a gig in Denmark from 1967 it’s release has been the subject of much anticipation here.

The big surprise of disc one for me are the four demos by The Art Wood Combo.  The quality is amazing and sound surprisingly like the Graham Bond Organization sans saxophone. “Chicago Calling” being my fave of the four with a ska beat version of “Talkin’ About You” coming in as a close second. The rest of the tracks are the band’s A and B sides as well as the four cuts from their rare as hell E.P. “Jazz In Jeans” and their two cuts as The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. All these tracks are good, but you knew that already.  All the mixes are Mono so they sound a bit cleaner than what we’ve been used to with a harder edge on quite a few tracks making even numbers I’d been previously unimpressed with sound “new” and “fresh”. The really big news on this disc is the BBC sessions from ’65-’66 (all in pristine quality, no hand held mikes up to the radio speaker like some Beeb tracks in other places). Solid, well executed versions of Artwood’s faves “Goodbye Sisters”, “She Knows What To Do” and “Can You Hear Me” swing as do previously unheard live BBC versions of “Smack Dab In The Middle” and “Jump Back” and there’s two brief interviews with lead singer Art Wood.


Disc Two comprises of the band’s rare 1966 LP “Art Gallery” and more BBC sessions from ’66-’67 (equally in amazing quality).  It also brings to light one of the difficulties of the band’s career: all twelve cuts on the “Art Gallery” were covers and all the BBC cuts save “In The Deep End” are covers as well. That said the LP is a great eclectic mix of Stax (Eddie Floyd and Booker T), Atlantic (two Solomon Burke tracks!), Jazz (Jimmy Smith), Motown (Marvin Gaye), two Lee Dorsey numbers and others. The highlights from the BBC sessions from 1966 being storming versions of Marvin Gaye’s “One More Heartache”, Benny Spellman’s “I Feel Good”, Eddie Floyd’s “Things Get Better” and what would be the B-side of their final single, a band original “In The Deep End”. The 1967 session is equally powerful with “In The Deep End” again with its A-side, a version of Marvin Jenkin’s “What Shall I Do”, Otis Redding’s arrangement of The Fab’s “Day Tripper”, Billy Preston’s “Steady Gettin’ It” and the Mitch Ryder melding of “Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly”.

The third and final disc is for bona fide Artwoods completists only.  It's a 12 song live set from the interestingly named Funny Park in Denmark from 1967.  The sound quality is atrocious to the point that Art Wood's vocals are nearly obliterated by all the instrumentation.  It was a chore to actually listen to this entire disc in one sitting despite the fact the the band were a tight unit even this late in their game. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014


AMEN CORNER-High In The Sky/Run, Run, Run U.S. Deram 45-7521 1968

Today's topic was Cardiff, Wales favorite sons Amen Corner's fourth U.S. 45 release issued in October 1968 . It was released previously in July in the U.K. as (DM 197) where it became their highest charting record reaching a respectable #6.  No such luck in the U.S.A where their name would never pop up in the Billboard chart readings.  Issued in conjunction with their U.S. Deram LP "Round Amen Corner"  it was one of the first numbers I ever heard by them and still remains a fave.

Amen Corner's strength in my book always lay with their strong horn section twin sax attack of Allan Jones and Mike Smith which in my estimation helped compensate for lead singer Andy Fairweather Low's occasionally strained voice. "High In The Sky" benefits from the strong horn section as well as a nice fairground style feel to their churchy Hammond and grooves along quite nicely. The pounding, fluid James Jamerson style bass line weaving in and around the horns and Hammond is a further indication of how shit hot this band was.

"Run Run Run" suffers from the above mentioned tendency  by Fairweather Low in the vocal department, who like Chris Farlowe always seemed to be given numbers with keys he could never quite hit.  And regardless of what the musical backing is like (it's not at all un-listenable) it's lame, the tune itself is pretty weak as well.

Both sides can be found on the Deram CD reissue of their LP "Around Amen Corner".

See a half assed mime attempt from German TV's "Beat Club" below:

Hear "Run Run Run":