Friday, September 4, 2015

Long John's Blues, with soul....

LONG JOHN BALDRY-Cuckoo/Bring My Baby Back To Me U.K. United Artists UP 1158 1966

Long John Baldry's last 45 for United Artists (his 7th with them if you include his "Long John's Blues" E.P.) before jumping ship to Pye and becoming a full on crooner is today's subject.

"Cuckoo" is possibly the most soulful thing he's even done thanks to some powerful horns that bring to mind Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers and it has a funky little groove to it.   I was halfway expecting it to be a soul cover I was astonished to find it was a Mike D'Abo composition upon closer inspection of the label!

The A-side is a solid killer bit the money for me is on the flip side "Bring My Baby Back To Me" , a Baldry original that starts out as an acoustic folk blues type thing (with some great Davy Graham style picking) but builds to jazzy swing when the sax starts honking ever so faintly and out of nowhere comes the sweetest Miles Davis style trumpet that has an almost trippy feel to it. Wow. Magic. Or Magik!

"Cuckoo"/"Bring My Baby Back To Me"  became Long John's U.S. 45 debut (Ascot  2229 in early 1967). Both sides were compiled on a highly recommended double CD "Looking At Long John Baldry: The U.A. Years 1964-1966".

Hear "Cuckoo":

Friday, August 28, 2015

August Picks

1. JIMMY McGRIFF-"The Last Minute Parts 1 & 2"
One of my fave McGriff instrumentals is this single from 1963 that starts out led by not a Hammond but a piano with the B-3 appearing eventually, but occupying the backseat for most of this sleazy honky tonk cum jazz instrumental.

2. DONOVAN-"Fat Angel"
One of the center pieces of Donovan's ground breaking 1966 "Sunshine Superman" LP is this sitar and tabla drenched stoned groove written as a tribute to the Mamas and Papas singer and scene socialite "Mama" Cass Elliot (Donno whispers "Cassssss" during one passage). Equal credit goes to musical director John Cameron who put the whole thing together.

Not to be confused with the McGriff number mentioned above this September '67 B side (to Randy Newman's "The Biggest Night Of Her Life") penned by lead singer Art Sharp is one of their freakier things they were responsible for. With it's eerie almost disembodied backing vocals, phlanging on the piano and a foreboding mood it's damned infectious.  Pop psych perfection produced by Vic Smith later to produce the Jam as Vic Coppersmith Heaven.

4. JAN & DEAN-"Batman Theme"
Jan & Dean get credit for being the first pop group to use the "Batman Theme" when they released their 1966 LP "Jan And Dean Meet Batman" on Liberty records. Though not differing much from the formula of the original TV theme (performed by trumpeter Neal Hefti) it's punchier and features a great Billy Preston style organ solo that comes out of nowhere.

5. THE MIRACLES-"Whole Lot Of Shakin' In My Heart (Since I Met You)"
The beauty of the vastness of the Motown catalog is there can be singles that you discover that are new to your ears that blow you away.  Case in point is this hard driving Frank Wilson penned Miracles 45 from '66 that I came across while on a major Motown binge a few weeks back at an undisclosed record retailer.

6. NICKIE LEE-"The Ten Commandments Of Man" 
This funky soul treatment of Prince Buster's "Ten Commandments" was released in early 1967 on the tiny Dade label. Behind a funky Atlantic records '66 style groove Nickie Lee does a spoken word bit with excellent results. Produced by Steve "Everyday I Have To Cry" Alaimo and Brad Shapiro.

From the incredible 1967 Major Minor album "Experiment With Pops" this jazzy take on The Who's hit benefits from John McLaughin's jazzy/raga guitar beneath the subtle yet atmospheric cocktail jazz groove laid down by Godron Beck (piano), Jeff Clyne (bass) and Tony Oxley (drums).

8. THE ACTION-"Only Dreaming"
Exactly 30 years ago an 18 year old mod bought this mini LP by The Action called "Speak Louder Than" at the newly discovered Vintage Vinyl records in Fords, NJ. His mind was not prepared for this heavy 1968 material (recorded a mere three months before the band became Mighty Baby) but it is now.

9. DON FARDON-"Sunshine Woman"
Issued in 1969 beneath a so-so cover of "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" is this incredible little nugget. Beneath a groove that starts throbbing bass and a hint of bongos and progresses to phlanged piano, organ and then sharp horns this might darn well be Fardon's most powerful single since "I'm Alive" before it veers into a an r&b on L.S.D. mish mash towards the end. Pure magic.

10. THE WHO-"In The City"
Allegedly recorded when Pete and Roger were indisposed (though Roger's voice is clearly audible in the chorus as is Pete's during the fade out) this John Entwistle and Keith Moon exercise follows the band's brief surf music phase (mostly done to appease Moon). Chock full of harmonies and cheery lyrics about cruising, drag racing, swimming in the pool etc it's neatly touched up by Entwistle's farty French horn and Townshend's jangly Rickenbacker. Issued in August 1966 as the flip to "I'm A Boy".

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Philly Soul Syndicate

Come on out on Friday night to Kung Fu Necktie in Philly to hear me guest DJ a set of 60's Jamaican ska, a set of 60's Motown and Motown related tunes and lots more all on original 60's 7" vinyl of course at The Philly Soul Syndicate.....

Friday, August 21, 2015

Paris, New Year's Eve 1968

Imagine this. The Who, The Small Faces, The Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac are all appearing (albeit lip syncing) on the same TV show on New Year's Eve 1968 along with The Equals and The Troggs (who both deliver blistering live sets).  Sound too good to be true? It was real:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Yvonne Craig R.I.P.

We were gutted here at Anorak Thing H.Q. yesterday to learn of the passing of  actress Yvonne Craig. Best known for role as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl on the "Batman" TV series among others Yvonne was my first TV crush (or was it the British girl on the "Bugaloos"?).  She will always be remembered for her amazing backcombed do she wore as Barbara Gordon, her perky onscreen personality and a great appearance on "The Dating Game" in 1967 looking mod as hell and acting every bit the confident, intelligent, liberated woman (sadly those tools at YouTube yanked down the clip).

Rest in peace.

The Action: Kick Out The Soul And Look Westward

THE ACTION-Never Ever/Twentyfourth Hour U.K. Parlophone R5572 1967

The Action's first single as a four piece following the ejection of lead guitarist Pete Watson in December 1966 was February 1967's "Never Ever" b/w "Twentyfourth Hour". The single was unleashed while the band were taking a three month gig hiatus to work up a new set that swept clear most of their soul numbers and inserted Byrds covers ("I See You, "Eight Miles High"), Association covers ("Along Comes Mary", "Pandora's Golden Heebie Geebies") and band originals (presumably, both sides of this 45) among hepped up "psychedelicized" existing soul covers (check out the version of "Going To A Go-Go"  from a March '67 BBC session on their "Uptight And Outasight" CD/LP).

At the Speakeasy, Spring 1967

"Never Ever" marks the first time a band original (penned by all four members) graced vinyl after three previous 45's that all featured cover versions (Chris Kenner b/w Martha & The Vandellas, The Marvelettes b/w Mickey Lee Lane and Maurice & The Radiants b/w The Temptations). It's also the first Action record to feature instrumentation outside their usual guitar, bass and drums format featuring horns (excluding of course the occasional piano c/o George Martin).  "Never Ever" shows a very distinct influence of The Association from it's opening choral sunshine pop harmonies to the driving "ba bap ba" chorus reminiscent in delivery to "You May Think" from the "Renaissance" LP. There is still a soulful feel to it in Reg King's vocals while the horns are not remotely soul influenced but remind me more of something from a mid 60's pop record scored by Les Reed like Paul & Barry Ryan or The Truth.

"Twentyfourth Hour" again melds The Association meets soul formula from the top side. It is also a group composition as well. The call and response vocals are pure soul but the "ba ba bop" backing chorus again points West (Coast) as do the soaring harmonies when Reg croons " time after time, you will be mine". There's a distinct Rickenbacker lick throughout the number beneath steady acoustic guitar strumming which cements this to previous Action recordings (though at this time Alan "Bam" King was mostly using a Gibson SG live and eventually a Fender Telecaster after the SG was snapped in two by a tumbling Marshall stack).

Sadly despite a stellar performance and again the brilliant production of George Martin the public wasn't ready to give the Action a hit, even if they were writing their own material. Macca's review in the "Blind Date" weekly column in "Melody Maker" didn't help either:

"Dave Dee? Snotty, Mick and Griff. Who is it?  Ah, The Action, yes. They're a good group and I'm not biased just because George Martin produces them, because they're a good group. George Martin records them you know. No, I'm not biased. They happen to be a good group and George Martin just happens to record them, and could be a hit. I'm not biased though.  Hi Judy!"
-Paul McCartney "Blind Date column" Melody Maker, February 25, 1967

U.S. Promo Copy

The record was also issued in the States on Capitol (their only U.S. release) in promo copy form. I've yet to come across a stock copy or hear of anyone who has, though there is a scan of one in "In The Lap Of The Mods" book. It was also released in the Netherlands (where it came in a picture sleeve and recently fetched a cool $1,000 on E-bay recently). "Never Ever" became the first Action original composition to be covered when The Quests from Singapore cut a version of it on their 1967 Columbia (Singapore) album "The 33rd Revolution" (alongside covers of tunes by The Hollies and Tomorrow!)

The rare Dutch P.S.

Both sides are of course on whatever guise the Action Parlophone recordings are being issued as these days be it "The Ultimate Action" or "Action Packed" while a BBC version of "Never ever" from March 1967 is on the highly recommended CD of BBC sessions "Uptight And Outasight".

Hear "Never Ever":

Hear "Twentyfourth Hour":

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ready! Steady! Go!: A Collection of Photos of Artists on "Ready Steady Go" Part 3

Eons ago we posted pics of bands on the famous British 60's TV show "Ready! Steady! Go!". You can see them here and here. We have since dug up a few more for your enjoyment................

The Kinks R.S.G. debut
The Rolling Stones with yet another borrowed drum kit
John Lennon with legendary 60's mod Micky Tanner (left)
The Supremes
Simon & Garfunkel
Ray Davies of The Kinks
The Who
David Bowie and The Buzz
Brian Jones and Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones
The Small Faces
Barry McGuire and P.F. Sloan serenade hostess Cathy McGowan

Tina Turner