Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cool Foreign Picture Sleeves Part 50: The Kinks

THE KINKS-Mister Pleasant/This Is Where I Belong/Two Sisters/Village Green France Pye PNV.24191 1967

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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

THE SYN-Created By Clive/Grounded U.S. Deram DEM 7510 1967



















The passing of Chris Squire this week, bassist for The Syn sent me back to listening to their limited (but brilliant output): two singles total. This was their debut U.K. single (Deram DM 130) which was released in June of 1967.  It's U.S. release came the following month.  Deram U.S.A would not issue it's follow up ("Flowerman"/"14 Hour Technicolour Dream" Deram DM 145).

The Syn at this juncture were: Steve Nardelli (lead vocals), Peter Banks (guitar), Andrew Jackman (keyboards), Chris Squire (bass) and Gunnar Hakonarson (drums). The band had been treading the boards at various London clubs (with no less 36 than Marquee appearances) since 1965 in various incarnations. Taking inspiration from their heroes and fellow Marquee regulars The Action, The Syn were predominately a soul covers band with occasional group originals interspersed (among them was was Steve Nardelli's "Grounded" which appeared in their repertoire in late '65).  Signed by the up and coming Decca records offshoot Deram (the band by this time were headlining at the Marquee on a regular Saturday night residency) they were sent to the studio by producer Kenny Bell (who secured them their record deal) and unhappily saddled with this single's "A" side "Created By Clive". The band refused to play the track live and fought tooth and nail to have "Grounded" topside but it was not to be. Oddly The Attack released a version on Decca on the VERY SAME DAY (June 23, 1967).  You can read about that less than brilliant idea here.

Lead singer Steve Nardelli 1967



















Regardless of the band's opinion of  "Created By Clive" ("Created By Idiots" was how it was referred to by one member in an interview)  it's an archetype mid 60's Swinging London curio that tells the tale of a boy who loses his normal girl when she's swept off to become a high end model and fashion plate. The band's Action influences are clear in the jangly guitar and high backing vocals and Nardelli's posh piss take vocal detachment is excellent for someone who had little enthusiasm for the track.

Peter Banks with flower power Rickenbacker  1967


















On the flip side, "Grounded" is of course their best track in my estimation.  From it's dejected/snide and equally soulful vocals, it's groovy Farfisa organ, thundering drums, high Action style vocals cooing the infectious "oo oo ooooo" chorus and almost jazzy Rickenbacker licks (with mod/pop art flourishes with some toggle switch action after the first chorus) it's nothing short of a masterpiece. It's no wonder it's appeared on no less than half a dozen compilation LP and CD's these past 3 decades. My first taste came via Line records indispensable "Broken Dreams" LP series on "Volume 1" 30 years ago!

The Syn



















In addition to an American release the single was also issued in the Netherlands and New Zealand on Deram as well. The band would go on to cut one more 45 for Deram four months later which you can read about here.

Both sides were issued on the (slim) "Original Syn" box set. "Grounded" as been released in a multitude of places Deram/Decca's "The Freakbeat Scene" and Bam Caruso's "Rubble 14: The Magic Rocking Horse" among them.

Hear "Created By Clive":

https://youtu.be/gk1VFcyl-7I


Hear "Grounded":

https://youtu.be/e0yYhajX9mQ

Saturday, June 27, 2015

(It's About F*cking Time) People Got To Be Free: The United States joins the 21st Century



















Today I am proud to be an American at last the Supreme Court of the United States overcame hate and ignorance and ruled that banning marriage between two individuals of the same sex was unconstitutional. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a little before my time but I will always remember June 26, 2015 and I can't think of a better song to celebrate it than The Rascal's 1968 hit "People Got To Be Free" which my sister and I played our mother's battered 45 to death growing up......

Friday, June 26, 2015

June's Picks



















1. QUINTETO ACADEMICO-"Train"
Portugal's rock n' roll scene in the mid 60's was pretty dismal partially owing to the country being ruled by a military dictatorship where most bands played it safe by being half assed Shadows impersonators.  Quinteto Academico (a 5 piece....Academic Quintet  or "Quinteto Academico" em Portugues) were an exception and though they played the instro game initially by '67 they smartened up a bit with this soul meets Brit r&b/freakbeat original (with a bridge that steals it's melody from Peter Paul & Mary's "I Dig Rock n' Roll Music" and a guitar solo that would fir right in any '66 U.S. garage 45).

https://youtu.be/5Opc7SvJquE

2. HOYT AXTON-"Voodoo Blues"
From his stunning folk/blues LP "Saturday's Child" legendary this one is one of my fave tracks by this late great singer songwriter) responsible for a zillion hits.  With some gritty lyrics and a soulful delivery nicely accented by some subtle horns this is easily his best tune on the album.

https://youtu.be/DlfkNM9NfSw

3. SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS-"Better Things"
My relationship with Sharon Jones is hit or miss.  Quite often I shied away from her because she was touted by all and sundry in a none too subtle way. I was recently purchasing my wife a birthday present in a women's clothing store and heard this cut from her 2010 LP "I Learned The Hard Way" and was floored.  All in my own time I guess, maybe it was the chorus, the subtle West Indian style horns maybe it was the lyrics, no matter it's all incredible.

https://youtu.be/mXSEc2p5-QA

4. ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS-"Gemini-The Madman"
By 1968 Zoot Money disbanded Dantalian's Chariot  and he  defected to The Animals who were on their last legs, after a brief spell with Soft Machine his guitarist Andy Summers joined for what would be the final Animals LP "Love Is" where they cut this 17:23 opus which at times brilliant but equally incredibly tedious until they segue into "The Madman Running Through The Fields" (Dantalian's sole 45). Hearing Burdon and Money trade off verses is well worth it all.

https://youtu.be/LJtUBGC2KOg

5. THE JAM-"Billy Hunt (remixed alternate version)"
One of the many gems of the deluxe "All Mod Cons" CD (beside Don Lett's excellent "Making of..." DVD) are the treasure trove of alternate versions like this one, which in my estimation sound better than the LP versions, or after 35 years of listening to the originals at least sound fresher.



6. GENTLEMEN'S AGREEMENT-"All Good Things"
I stumbled upon this incredible cover of the Richard Kent Style tune on YouTube recently and was blown away by this French group.  It's full of some nice fuzzy guitar and the horn section on the original is replaced by a suitably groovy Hammond organ instead.  FUCKING MAGIC!  Apparently it's from three years ago and was released on the German Soundflat label.

https://youtu.be/yMjiY7l7tmw

7. MERLE HAGGARD & THE STRANGERS-"Workin' Man Blues"
I grew up in a blue collar household where Country was KING.  My old man played country music every chance he could beat my rock n roll loving mom to the stereo and though it drove me round the bend at the time I'm happy he exposed me to something that I'd appreciate later in life, like this #1 U.S. C&W hit in the summer of '69.

https://youtu.be/6EwK0NsKdDY

8. DEE DEE WARWICK-"We're Doing Fine"
I really need to learn more about Dee Dee Warwick because she has done a host of tracks I had previously known by British artists.  I'd been listening to Billy J. Kramer's take on this for over 30 years (and Chris Farlowe's to a lesser extent) and it was great to hear her original version that was a B-side to "I Want To Be With You" on the Blue Rock label from '65.

https://youtu.be/kmLB1mAZ0yo



















9. TOM JONES-"Get Ready"
Here's a SMOKING version of the Temp's tune from Jonesy's 1968 Portuguese "Delilah" E.P. (not available anywhere else on 7" to my knowledge) and can be found on his highly recommended LP "Fever Zone" (with an equally boss take of "Keep On Running" on it) that is utterly over the top people!

https://youtu.be/Vd3MgxhWTD8

10. WILD BILLY CHILDISH & THE MUSICIANS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE-"Combover Mod"
Cheers to U.K. reader Steve Coleman for hipping me to this cruncher Billy childish & Co. Link Wray type instro complete with a hysterical pisstake verbal chatter/intro ala 60's girl group tune ("Is it true ee's really sporting a Bobbie Charlton these days?" "Yes already, that's why they call him combover mod").

https://youtu.be/HNrfb2JVfaI

Monday, June 22, 2015

Farewell To Dan Boardman

One of the most oft reproduced pics of Dan I've seen. A
photo I took of him with the Spectors at the Court Tavern
New Brunswick, NJ October 1994
Dan Boardman, aged 49, passed away on Thursday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. His wife Jamie posted on Facebook "Dan passed away this morning covered in a blanket of love and shrouded by peace".  It was the saddest thing I ever read. To those who don't know him or aren't familiar with him he was a familiar fixture on the Twin Cities music scene for the past three decades and a local legend in his lake community of Marine on St. Croix in Minnesota. I met him through one of my best friends, Keith Patterson, when Dan was out East as the lead guitarist in The Spectors with Keith and three other guys in December 1993.  From that moment on Dan became one of the funniest people I ever had the pleasure to know. Through spending lots of time in Minneapolis in the late 90's I got to see Dan a lot and he always made me laugh and he was one of the people I'd look forward to seeing whenever I was in town.  Stories of him are legendary and I could do him no justice by attempting to recant them here but they are both numerous and hysterical.  An insight into his sense of humor can be seen in hysterical music videos that he would make where he'd write, sing and film little ditties thanking people for wishing him Happy Birthday on his Facebook page. Here's one:



Here's my favorite and his last one from 2014. These videos only scratch the surface on what a funny guy he was.  He was also a multi talented instrumentalist playing guitar, drums and keyboards in well over half a dozen bands but above all he was an amazing all round great guy just ask anyone who knew him.  In April I flew out for a benefit gig held on his behalf at the Eagles Club in Minneapolis. It was packed to the rafters.  Never in my life have I ever felt such an outpouring of warmth in one place as friends, family, band mates, neighbors, old classmates and strangers raised $22,000 through an evening of music.  Dan surprised us all by not only showing up but joining several bands onstage to play, including joining The Spectors on "Save My Soul" for a full fledged reunion . The organizers of the event asked that people be respectful of Dan's health by not hugging him or crowding him.  I don't think I could have just walked up and waved to him without giving him a big hug or a sloppy kiss so I stayed back. As loads of people surrounded him all night  I realized I wanted him to have time with those around him so I watched, from a distance. He knew I was there and that's all that mattered and I suck at goodbyes.  Goodbye Dan, I'll never forget you or the frozen ham you nicked from a certain club's kitchen to compensate for letting the Spectors crash at my pad two nights in a row in '94.

Dan leaves behind a wife and two children. A public funeral service will be held on Thursday June 25th at 2 PM at Christ Lutheran Church, 150 5th, Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota 55047.

Dan onstage with The Spectors,
The Funhouse, Bethlehem, PA December 1993





























Dan's music with the Spectors is available on a compilation CD put out on Get Hip called "Beat Is Murder".  You can hear him singing lead on this wiggy version of Fire's "Treacle Toffee World" here on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/1PJqobpdSMw

Dan at the kit backing the late Gary Burger of The Monks
January 2012 Minneapolis, MN



Monday, June 15, 2015

Cool Foreign Picture Sleeves Part 49: Freakbeat/R&B de Portugal

QUINTETO ACADEMICO-Train/Puppet On A String/Finchley Central/724710 Portugal A Voz Do Dono 7LEM 3189 1967

Thursday, June 11, 2015

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

THE MARMALADE-Man In A Shop/Cry U.S. Epic 5-10284 1968



















I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Marmalade issued several singles here in the States in their early years prior to their February 1970 hit "Reflections of My Life" (London 45-20058 which reached # 10 here and I remember it on radios everywhere as I was in pre-school) and prior to becoming a dreadful M.O.R. dinosaur.  This was their third American single.  Their smash "I See The Rain" was the previous issue (Epic 5-10236 September 1967) where it was oddly a B-side to "Otherwise It's Been A Perfect Day"!  "Man In A Shop" was launched in the States in January 1968 (it was previously released in the U.K. in November 1967 as CBS 3088). Like it's predecessor it failed to make them a known act in the States.

Next to "I See The Rain", "Man In A Shop" is my favorite Marmalade tune. From it's regal trumpets to it's buzzing backwards bits in the background it's weirdness has always appealed to me.  I'm not quite sure what it's completely about other than a man in a shop who has things in his windows that all the girls love but can't afford.  I've always imagined it's about this guy who attracts dollybirds with his fab gear and kills them and uses them in his display windows as mannequins before the boys in blue come to get him. Anyway the number is a perfect vehicle for the band's well honed harmonies and is a perfect pop/psych masterpiece with it's subtle string section, throbby bass and previously mentioned horns.











"Cry" (released in the U.K. as the ostentatiously titled "Cry (The Shoob Dororie Song)") is  pretty pedestrian stuff.  There are precise harmonies but the arrangement and song itself smell of chicken in a basket (that's "cabaret" or "lounge", and not in a good sense either) that pretty much sums up what The Marmalade were at this point. Not my scene at all and pretty much thus ended my interest in their material.

Both cuts can be found on the CD compilation "I See The Rain: The CBS Years".

Hear "Man In A Shop":

https://youtu.be/1Kcg0TbW5_Q