Sunday, November 29, 2015

GRAHAM BOND: Live At The BBC And Other Stories

My head nearly exploded this past Summer when it was announced that there would be a three CD Graham Bond live BBC CD set on it's way. Fans and owners of the 2013 4 CD Graham Bond Organization "Wade In The Water" set will be amused to note that in addition to the seven versions of "Wade In' The Water" on that collection they will now be in possession of a further four versions with this compilation should they, like me, purchase this! I was expecting more Graham Bond Organization material on this collection. Half of this set is either Bond's previous G.B.O. band The Don Rendell Quartet (and a few guest appearances on alto saxophone with other less known combos) or his post G.B.O. bands Bond & Brown and The Graham Bond Initiation (neither of whom ever did much for me musically). The quality for the most part is quite decent with a few notable exceptions but the cover photo of the G.B.O. in action and no indication of who performed what when I pre-ordered it from Amazon made it seem a bit, shall we say, deceptive.

The first CD kicks off with The Graham Bond Quartet April 1963 session hosted by the always amusing George Melly. The line up consists of Bond (Hammond/Vocals), John McLaughlin (guitar), Jack Bruce (double bass), Ginger Baker (drums) and guest vocalist Bobby Breen from the Johnny Dankworth Orchestra (who had previously spurned Bruce and Baker for being too "loud"). The first number is an incredible version of "Bluesology". Equally stunning and also of note are "I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town" and Bond's original "Spanish Blues".  All of which swing in no small part to the powerhouse Bruce/Baker rhythm section.

The Graham Bond Quartet briefly backed our hero Duffy Power on a single "I Saw Her Standing There" (the second Lennon/McCartney cover ever issued a few months after Kenny Lynch's "Misery"). An undated 1963 session with the Quartet backing Power is contained with four tracks (including the previously mentioned Fab Four cover). The playing is incredible as expected but at times Power sounds a bit ragged at times but redeems himself with a version of "Summertime".

The September 1962 BBC session of Bond blowing alto with the Don Rendell Quintet (along with future GBO sax man Dick Heckstall-Smith) is an excellent time capsule that reminds one of the mod vs trad jazz argument that is now all but forgotten. It starts out with a great intro by host Steve Race who says:
"When people with narrow tastes complete about modern jazz, particularly about experimental modern jazz they tend to forget that it's roots lie firmly in the older forms. If they can't hear the connection that's a fault in their listening not in the music itself. For a session of modern jazz that knows it's ancestry we present the Don Rendell Quintet."
The session swings kicking off with a version of Cannonball Adderley's "Things Are Getting Better" .  Not content to be a jazz covers band they perform quite a few originals in the session including pianist John Burch's "Troika" and "Kazeef", leader Rendell's compositions ""Persian Party" and "Richmond Festival" and a Bond original "Elsie And Ena" (titled "Bring Back The Burch" on their LP "Roarin").

The second disc starts off with a January 1966 session Graham Bond Organization session featuring Bond (vocals/organ), Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophone) , Mike Falana (trumpet) and Ginger Baker.  There's a colorful introduction by George Melly who introduces the band by describing what they're wearing! It was this line up which cut my favorite version of "Wade In The Water" (which was released as a single in the US) which starts the session. Also included are a Bond original called "Only Sixteen" (creepy with later allegations that Bond would sexually abuse his wife's teenage daughter) and a version of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" that grooves.

The Bond & Brown 1972 session (featuring Bond's wife Diane on lead vocals on one track and Pete Brown on another) is excellent quality. Again, musically not my thing (as is the case with most post '67 Bond material).

There's an odd little piece from '62 recorded in Bond's front room of him and Dick Heckstall-Smith noodling around on their saxes called (unsurprisingly) "Improvisation". For G.B.O. completists only.

There's a raw as hell 9:40 live version of "What'd I Say" from either 1966 or 1967 with the short lived final  G.B.O. line up of Bond/Heckstall-Smith and drummer Jon Hiseman with some raunchy lyrics. It's actually quite good both musically and quality wise though a bit too long.

A 4 song Graham Bond Quartet session with Duffy Power from July 1963's "Pop Go the Beatles" is incredible, but the source quality is a bit sub par.  It sounds as though it was recorded from a mic placed near a radio speaker but regardless it's incredible with Power's performance surpassing the other session on Disc One. Power sings "I Got A Woman" and "I Saw Her Standing There" while the band play two instrumentals, a Bond "Green Onions" inspired instro original called "Cabbage Greens" and "Spanish Blues".

Seven tracks by the Graham Bond Initiation from January 1970 and  March 1970 respectively introduced by John Peel make up the third disc. Again not my thing but the quality is excellent. the version of "Walkin' In The Park/I Want You" is actually quite good though a bit on the long side for my liking.

The final disc is an odd selection of rarities and fodder.  The opening track "Things Are Getting Better" comes from an incredibly rare 1962 E.P. "Jazz And Twist" (Vaux VA 8) by the Brian Dee Trio featuring Bond blowing some excellent alto sax. The fodder comes in the form of an instrumental called "Blew Through" that somehow wound up Philamore Lincoln's 1970 U.S. only LP "The North Wind Blew South" (Epic BN 26497) . It's not bad but it reminds me too much of incidental music by the "Saturday Night Live" house band at times! A 1962 jam session from Club 43 in Manchester provides five tracks of Bond again on alto with Ken Wray & The Joe Palin Trio.  The quality and the playing are all fairly decent with again another version of "Things are Getting Better" along with "Work Song", "Sack O' Woe" etc.

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Timebox

TIMEBOX-Beggin'/Woman That's Waiting U.S. Deram 45-85031 1968

Most of you out there are no doubt familar with this record, quite a dance floor filler for the past 25+ years.  It's not often that a British record trumps the American original but I feel this version easily betters it's predecessor, though I quite enjoy the original Four Seasons version too. I DO NOT, and I cannot stress this enough, like the "remixed" version that cropped up a few years ago in this un-original age of sampling, remixing, overdubbing and whatever other colorful terms they use for "thievery because of lack of talent". It takes talent to record a record, any moron can remix it and throw beats and do whatever it takes to give it the "now" sound. Okay, rant over.

Timebox were a British five piece who recorded two singles for Piccadilly before moving onto Deram in for five more. They were at the time of this singles release: Mike Patto (ex-Bo Street Runners)-lead vocals, Ollie Halsall-vibes/guitar/vocals, Clive Griffiths-bass, Chris Holmes-keyboards and future Rutle John Halsey-drums (in fact today's item in question was the first single he drummed on). Like many British bands in the mid 60's live they were a soul/r&b band who knew how to occasionally get "freaky" on record, as this record proved.

The pre-psych "mod/soul" era Timebox

May 1968's "Beggin'" was as close as Britain's Timebox ever got to being a success on their home turf (it climbed to #38).  It was however quite big in Europe and gathered releases in a multitude of countries, including two different issues in the United States.  Deram's U.S. branch must have expected big things from it as I swear this is the only non-hit Deram U.S. release I've ever seen more copies of. Regardless of it's hot potential it's a brilliant slice of British blue eyed soul (something Deram was quite famous for if you've been reading our blog).  From it's vibes, to Patto's soulful vocals the whole thing just grooves so well, imminently danceable stuff!  The flip side is altogether different though, but it's still great. It also happens to be from my other favorite genre Deram is known for: British psychedelia. "A Woman That's Waiting" bears more than passing resemblances to "I Am The Walrus" from it's sawing string section and plodding beat and even it's regal trumpets, but before it can become and act of overt plagiarism Halsall's vibes kick in a jazzy little break that takes it back to swirling strings and Patto's blue eyed soul vocals.  Easily one of my favorite Deram releases of all time. Both sides were produced by former "Ready! Steady! Go!" host Michael Aldred.

Post mod/suits era Timebox

Both sides were included on the essential CD "The Deram Anthology" which is fortunately still in print.

TRIVIA NOTE: Interestingly "A Woman That's Waiting" was first issued as a B- side to the French only version of The Rascal's "Come On Up" (Deram DR 41826) in April 1968.

MANY thanks to this Mike Patto website:

where these Timebox photos were culled from. Below are two groovy live clips of Timebox performing live on French TV!

Hear "A Woman That's Waiting":

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: The Barron Knights Do Pete Townshend

THE BARRON KNIGHTS-Lazy Fat People/In The Night  Dutch Columbia DB 8161 1967

Long before Randy Newman raised the world's hackles with a track called "Short People", one Pete Townshend provided a well known U.K. comedy/cabaret/rock n' roll quintet called the Barron Knights with an unreleased track of his doing who released it as a single in March 1967....This of course was not a unique instance as The Pudding would release an unheard of track of his called "Magic Bus" (Decca F12603) the following month (and a whole year before the Who's version) and Oscar had launched his "Join My Gang" the previous year.

"Lazy Fat People" is a firmly tongue and (in?) cheek number about...well...lazy fat people.  It's jaunty and a bit "odd" in the same way "Whiskey Man" or "Boris The Spider" were.  It's vocal delivery seems to anticipate Queen but the rapidly ascending harmonies add to the whole satirical feel to the number by giving it an almost acapella feel.  Lyrically I'm sure people were and possibly are offended by it but I'll take that with a grain of salt as I quite enjoy it.  The B-side is another pointless exercise in, well a pointless B-side.

    Pete demo-ing, perhaps "Lazy Fat People"?

Strangely I don't think this number has ever been reissued, but someday someone needs to do a "Songs of Pete Townshend" CD comp the same way they've done with The Bee Gee's and David Bowie!

Hear Pete's demo of "Lazy Fat people":

Hear The Barron Knight's "Lazy Fat People":

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Graham Bond Organization

THE GRAHAM BOND ORGANIZATION-Wade In The Water/St. James Infirmary U.S. Ascot 2211 1966

Today's specimen is the first U.S. pressing of a Graham Bond single (and I believe the sole example of a U.S. Graham Bond Organization single).  "St. James Infirmary" was the A-side for the February 1966 release of Columbia DB 7838 back in the U.K. (where it was backed by "Soul Tango").  The U.S. flip is a totally different version of  "Wade In The Water". The bands line up at this juncture was Graham Bond (organ/vocals), Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax), Mike Falana (trumpet) and Ginger Baker (drums). The line up debuted on vinyl in February with the previously mentioned U.K. issue of "St. James Infirmary" and later recorded an instrumental under the moniker of The Who Orchestra called "Waltz For A Pig" in March of 1966 that was utilized by the Who as a B-side for "Substitute" . The results of this this entry's single were recorded in January 1966 and released here in the States in April.

"St. James Infirmary" is amazing and probably my favorite interpretation of it. .  Bond wails like a bluesman possessed and sounds like he means every word he's singing as if he's in mourning.  Heckstall-Smith's sax and Mike Falana's trumpet are positively haunting turning the number into a mournful dirge and of course Ginger Baker's pounding drives it all along.

Graham Bond 1966

The version of "Wade In The Water"on this release is a completely different recording than it's U.K. cousin, January 1965's flip to the dreadful "Tammy" (Columbia DB 7471) that was also the version that was used on their debut LP "The Sound of '65". This new version was cut in January of 1966 minus Jack Bruce who was forced out by Ginger Baker (who had taken over the band's operations as Bond slipped further into heroin drenched ineptitude) in late 1965. Regardless of Bruce's absence it's still classic G.B.O. at their finest. Bond's "Phantom of the Opera" style intro on the B-3 kicks off one of their best instrumental tracks ever.  Every member of the band sweats blood on this, Bond is a wild man on the organ as Ginger Baker pounds the shit out of his kit doing his best Elvin Jones breaks while Dick Heckstall-Smith squeezes some bending notes out of his double sax parts and new member Mike Falana's trumpet adds to the revelry!

Both tracks would be the final G.B.O. single and the final Ginger Baker recording as he would leave to form Cream in April/May of 1966.

Both tracks are featured as bonus tracks on the Repertoire CD reissue of the G.B.O's "There's A Bond Between Us" and on the essential "Wade In The Water" box set.

Hear "Wade In The Water":

Hear "St. James Infirmary":

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: The Bunch

THE BUNCH-Don't Come Back To Me/You Can't Do This U.K. CBS 2740 1967

The Bunch began their career as a soulful, moddy U.K. seven piece with a powerful horn section before morphing into psych pop thanks to a slew of John Pantry compositions on their last two 45's of four singles for the CBS label.

Today's subject concerns their mod/soul/r&b period.  We previously wrote about their debut 45 way back in 2008, this was their second released in May 1967.  "Don't Come Back To Me" starts out with a soulful intro before breaking into great ska rhythm on organ and horns.  The ska/soul balance is maintained throughout the number and works thanks to the strong horn section and the catchy call and response chorus.


On the B-side "You Can't Do This" is even stronger in my estimation. Again it's propelled by their massive horn section but this time it's beneath a poppy but soulful groove which works.  It reminds me a lot of bands that were cutting similar sounds at the time on Deram like The Quik and The Eyes of Blue in that there's a heavy blue eyed soul vibe going but the vocalists aren't desperately trying to convince the listeners that they're a black American r&b singer.

"Don't Come Back" sadly has yet to be comped but "You Can't Do This" was resurrected for Past and Presents "New Ruble" series and appears on "New Rubble Volume 4: Utopia Daydream" and is also available for download on iTunes.

Hear "Don't Come Back To Me":

Hear "You Can't Do This":

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

10 Cool 45's On The President Label

Whilst in conversation on F.B. with my old former NYC based DJ pal Layla Boschetti about the President label I decided it would be interesting to come up with ten cool 45's on this U.K. outlet of cool.  I could have just as easily picked ten Equals singles on the label but decided that would be too easy. President ran in the U.K. from 1966 all the way to 2006 and had records issued in Germany, Italy, the USA, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands.  They were extremely diverse for a small label running the gamut of psychedelia, ska/reggae, soul/r&b, blues, M.O.R. pop and even American garage! For the sake of brevity I stuck with U.K. issues only.

1. THE EXPLOSIVE-"Cities Make The Country Colder" PT 244 1969
This number starts out with a great little Small Faces '66 style instrumental bit with Steve Cropper style guitar licks and funky organ before fading out through what sounds like an old transistor radio (if you remember those?) and bouncing back into a hook laden, melodic, catchy poppy ditty not unlike The Move and goes out the same way it came in.

2. HAT AND TIE-"Finding It Rough" PT 122 1967
Hat & Tie were not really a band but a studio project consisting of future Nirvana guy Patrick Campbell Lyons and producer Chris Thomas.  It's an amazing track with this buzzing, incessant, fuzz guitar lick that repeats over and over through most of the track and was first unearthed back in 1991 on "Circus Days Volume 3". Interestingly the Everly Brothers later covered the track on their LP "The Everly Brothers Sing".

This 45 became much coveted because of it's trippy apocalyptic flip side "Armageddon" and the A-side was dismissed (unfairly) by Nigel Lees in "Record Collectors"  continuing article series "The Ultimate UK Psych A To Z" piece way back when.  I find it as equally amazing as it's flip if not better.  It has a wonderful intro that would do Joe Meek proud with spacey effects and neat keyboards (that also bring to mind Barry Grey instrumentals), subtle fuzz guitar and some cool harmony vocals (described as one YouTube comment as "The Association on crystal meth").  The Mellotron adds a very Rick Wright Pink Floyd '67 feel that seems to have inspired a Dukes of Stratosphear tune which I can't quite place.

4. LITTLE GRANTS & EDDIE-"Rock Steady '67" PT 172 1967
We talked about Little Grants & Eddie's first 45 an earlier post and this was their 2nd and last 45 continuing the "Music Youth of 1967" feel. The track name checks Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker by the toaster who sings "Now '67 was the year of the ska" with a funky rocksteady beat with a cool mix of horns and strings.  The jury is still out on who was involved, hopefully some of you might now?

5. THE RENEGADES-"Thirteen Women" PT 106 1966
Ripping up Bill Halley's 1954 track this based British band (who made their mark in Finland and Italy) put it through the paces with some raw vocals, gritty fuzz guitar and and punctuated by a shrill/spooky organ lick.  One of President's rarest and most in demand 45's a copy recently went for $300+ on E-Bay.

6. RHUBARB RHUBARB-"Money Lender" PT 229 1968
I haven't a clue who these guys were but both sides of this 45 (the flip side was titled "Rainmaker") have lyrics that could be construed as "biblical".  "Moneylender" has a funky effect on the guitar and a catchy chorus that lead this track into a genre firmly known as "freakbeat".

7. THE LEAGUE-"Hey Conductor" PT167 1967
This 1967 flip of their sole 45 "Nothing On" (which is a decent track too) sounds like it was recorded at least two or three years prior as it's a mid tempo beat number with a steady groove and some Hollies inspired high notes that recall  their hit "We're Through". Originally released and cut in the States by Sonny Flaherty and the Mark V in August of '67 (Phillips 40479). Again I'm clueless on anything about these guys, this track was produced by former Riot Squad lead singer Graham Bonney (who co-wrote the a-side "Nothing On").

8. THE LLOYD ALEXANDER REAL ESTATE-"I'm Gonna Live Again" PT 157 1967
My all time fave British 60's record NOT recorded by the Action or the Small Faces was this B-side of a cover of Chuck Jackson's "What You Gonna Do".  It's a powerful mix of soul/r&b/ska and freakbeat with an "I'll Be Doggone" style riff behind some ska "vocal percussion" ala "Guns Of Navarone". MONSTER!

9. JOHNNY WYATT-"This Thing Called Love" PT 109 1966
This monster soul number complete with vibes, amphetamine beat and female vocals was originally issued in the States in August 1966 on the Bronco label where it was produced by Barry White (who co-wrote it as well). It's also, understandably, a monster Northern soul 45.

10. MOUSE & THE TRAPS-"Beg Borrow And Steal" PT 174 1968
President issued this monster U.S. garage classic (originally issued in the States on the Fraternity label the year before) on the flip of the tepid "L.O.V.E Love".  I'm not going to waste your time writing about it as it's pretty well known and if you haven't I won't spoil it by yakking, have a listen.