Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bonzos!

THE BONZO DOG DOO-DAH BAND-The Equestrian Statue/Intro To The Outro German Liberty 15 040 1967



















The Bonzo Dog Band (or The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band as our subject is titled) first came into my life via my local college radio station with "Intro To The Outro" (though it would be a good two or three decades before I knew it was them) and then eventually I witnessed them performing "Death Cab For Cutie" in the Fab's "Magical Mystery Tour" TV program.  But it wasn't until back in the age of MySpace that my friend Tom Davis had this cool Pathe color film of this quintessential English sounding track by a band miming it at the famous London night spot The Speakeasy on his profile page (see below!) and it was none other than "The Equestrian Statue" by The Bonzos! I was interested, very interested. Later that year I was gifted their first two albums for Xmas and my Bonzos journey had begun.

















"The Equestrian Statue", written and sung by future Rutle Neil Innes, is a cheeky piece of whimsical English pop psych with it's harpsichord and brass band.  It's like a collision between the Edwardian whimsy of the '67 Kinks or a track of off the first Bowie album. The lyrics, like most Bonzo's tracks, are witty and satirical.

"Intro To The Outro" is a hysterical piece narrated by the band's lead singer Vivian Stanshall where he introduces first the band members and the instrument they play (where then said instruments join in) . He then proceeds for the rest of the song with a hysterical list of celebrities on other instruments as the instruments themselves add to the cacophony : "Adolph Hitler looking very relaxed on vibes", "over there Eric Clapton, ukulele", "Kenneth Park sax, great honor sir.." and "digging General Charles DeGuaulle on accordion, rather wild sir!"etc.

Both cuts can be found on their 1967 debut LP "Gorilla".



Hear "Intro To The Outro":

https://youtu.be/hcrUuCDFLOQ

Friday, May 19, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Swinging Blue Jeans 3

THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS-Rumor, Gossip, Words Untrue/Now The Summer's Gone US Liberty 66225 1967


















The Swinging Blue Jeans seventh U.S. single was the January 1967 issue of the November 1966 U.K. single "Rumors, Gossip Words Untrue" b/w "Now The Summer's Gone". It would be their next to last U.S. single, followed by September's "Something's Coming Along".

"Rumors, Gossip, Words Untrue" was first issued by New Jersey's own Knickerbockers in October 1966 on the flip of "Love Is A Bird" (Challenge 59341).  I must confess to preferring The Knickerbockers version as the vocals are far superior and the guitars have a cool raga feel where the Blue Jeans version is more bubble gum. Regardless the Blue Jeans version is still interesting as well as it doesn't deviate much from the original.















The band original "Now The Summer's Gone" reminds me a bit of The Association meets Gary Lewis & The Playboys with it's mid tempo melody, harmonies and light, laid back feel. It works, but only just barely.

Both sides have been compiled on the British "At Abbey Road" CD and the now out of print American "Hippy Hippy Shake: Definitive Collection"  CD.

Hear "Rumors, Gossip, Words Untrue":

https://youtu.be/gblp_hmMQyw

Hear "Now The Summer's Gone":

https://youtu.be/NXAZDESwOD0

Saturday, May 13, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Hollies get butchered by Manny Kellem

THE HOLLIES-Jennifer Eccles/Try It US Epic 5-10298 1967



















"Jennifer Eccles" ranks as one of my least favorite Graham Nash period Hollies tunes. Maybe it's the shrill, saccharine pop of it that's so sweet and sticky you can feel cavities growing every time you listen to it.  Maybe it's the out of place pedal steel guitar solo. And though I'm no fan of C,S,N & Y one wonders if crap like this didn't send Graham running west as fast as he could (it was his next to last Hollies 45). Issued in the U.K. in March 1968 (Parlophone R 5680) with "Open Up Your Eyes" on the flip it reached # 7. Issued here in the States one month prior it stalled at #40.

Hollies 1967 courtesy of http://dandyinaspic.blogspot.com














Of interest to me however is it's U.S. flip "Try It".  First issued on the U.K. album "Butterfly" (Parlophone PMC 7039, November 1967), "Try It" was not on the U.S. 1967 catch up album "Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse", a hodge podge of  singles tracks and cuts from the U.K. "Butterfly"  and tracks trimmed from their previous U.S. issue of the British long player "Evolution". "Try It" is by far the most psychedelic record The Hollies ever cut.  Starting with some backwards cymbals (sans the ominous outer space sound effects on this oddball U.S. mix)  Alan Clarke sings "travel by the silver light to a place that has no time, why don't you try it now". Clearly "Try It" was a clarion to all to become enlightened. Whats not specific is whether its a call to experience spiritual enlightenment or to ingest psychedelic substances and watch the walls breathe or maybe both.  One would suspect the band's in house hippie Graham Nash was behind the lyrics as its hard to imagine Allen Clarke or Tony Hicks coming up with anything so druggy and indulgent.  The U.S. single mix is interesting because Clarke's vocals (and Nash's) are single tracked and missing the reverb effect the U.K. version has and sound as though Clarke was down the hall from the mike and some of the spooky sonic effects are either absent in certain spots or toned down in others. Perplexing.  The label states "prepared for release in the U.S.A by Manny Kellem". Kellem was a U.S. A&R man with Epic so its safe to assume he's the brain surgeon who fucked with Ron Richards trippy masterpiece! Apparently he was also responsible for butchering U.S. releases by the Dave Clark Five as well.



Hear the U.S. 45 mix of "Try It":

https://youtu.be/fB6wURdVxoE

Hear the U.K. LP mix of "Try It":

https://youtu.be/VYtx3Ces0gI

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: David Bowie

DAVID BOWIE-Space Oddity/Wide Eyed Boy From Freecloud US Mercury 72949 1969


















By 1968 David Bowie was a man without a label, being unceremoniously dumped by Deram after just three singles and his debut long player (two singles and one long player in the US).  Luckily by 1969 he was signed by Phillips/ Mercury and set about recording what would be his very first U.K. hit "Space Oddity" (his tenth 7" in five years of recording). First issued in Britain on July, 11, 1969 (as Phillips BF 1801) it would die a death and not chart until being relaunched again in September where it eventually clawed its way up to the very respectable #5 .  When issued in the U.S. in July it stalled at the dismal #124.  Bowie was backed by Junior's Eye's guitarist Mick Wayne, bassist Herbie Flowers, drummer Terry Cox and Rick Wakeman on Mellotron.  Bowie himself contributed the Stylophone, a small battery powered keyboard played with a stylus. It was his fourth U.S. 7" preceded by "Can't Help Thinking About Me" (Warner Brothers 5815, May 1966), "Rubber Band" (Deram 45-85009, June 1967) and "Love You Till Tuesday" (Deram 45-85016, September 1967).
















The U.S. version was edited to 3:26 and differs from the U.K. issue with slight differences, especially in length as the British 45 is 4:23 long. What's most noticeable is the guitar solo punches in faster on the US mix doing away with some of the effects leading to it and the number quickly fades out after the solo with the ending descending guitar bits sweeping in much earlier than on the full length mix. I like it because it's rather different and because at times I find the original goes on a bit much.

The flip side, "The Wide Eyed Boy From Freecloud" was also whittled down considerably from it's original 4:51 down to 3:20. Not one of my favorites but still worth a listen.






















The US version of "Space Oddity" was not reissued until a collection was put out for the track's 40th anniversary featuring not only the US 45 mix but a host of other versions, isolated backing tracks etc. The shortened version of  "The Wide Eyed Boy From Freecloud" cropped up on the 1989 Bowie box set "Sound + Vision".

Hear the U.S. 45 edit of "Space Oddity":

https://youtu.be/49MaBo3Ew0I

Hear "The Wide Eyed Boy From Freecloud":

https://youtu.be/gDCor7efUOc

Thursday, May 4, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Paul & Barry Ryan

PAUL & BARRY RYAN-Have You Ever Loved Somebody/I'll Tell You Later US MGM K13609 1966


















Twins Paul & Barry Ryan were massive in Britain. Daughters of old showbiz elite Marion Ryan and stepsons of promoter extraordinaire Harold Davidson they were everywhere in Britain (so much so that Small Faces organist Ian McLagan complained that every tour they were on would almost always include the Ryan's). The Hollie's "Have You Ever Loved Somebody" was their fifth single in Britain (Decca F 12494, September '66), launched in direct competition with The Searchers version (issued as Pye 7N 17170). The Hollie's version would not appear until 1967 on their "Evolution" album (although they did back the Everly Brothers on a reading of it on their 1966 LP "Two Yanks In England").  Curiously neither The Ryans version of the Hollies were smash hits with the twins placing at #49 behind the Searchers at #48!Here in the States it was the fourth release of an eventual six singles for MGM, none were hits and none reached the Top 100.














Speaking of The Searchers...interestingly enough The Ryans version was produced by none other than ex-Searchers drummer Chris Curtis (he produced their previous 45, "I Love How You Love Me").  The Ryans version has always been my favorite, starting with some gritty, fuzz guitar and sliding seamlessly into strings (care of Ivor Raymonde who also produced the flip). There's a bit where the music goes quiet and one of the brothers sings a line acapella before it all kicks in again.  A tad schmaltzy for many, but I dig it.


















"I'll Tell You Later" starts out with some sweeping/sawing strings playing an ominous Middle Eastern style melody with some gypsy guitars. At first it sounds like it's going to be really schlocky but The Hollies style vocal harmonies really make it catchy and the musical backing totally reminds me of The Hollies '67 orchestrated pop psych stuff!

Both sides are available on the now out of print German CD compilation of Repertoire "The Best Of Paul & Barry Ryan".

Hear "Have You Ever Loved Somebody":

https://youtu.be/HGNXE1sugf0

Friday, April 28, 2017

April's Picks



















1. THE JIVE FIVE featuring Eugene Pitt-"What Time Is It"
One of my all time favorite doo-wop/vocal r&b tracks is this 1962 single by this Brooklyn quartet. It's an obscure single as it did not make the r&b charts and died at a miserable #67 in the pop charts but its harmonies are incredible and the lyrics perfectly encapsulate teenage nerves!

https://youtu.be/isyuY7tK9WU

2. PAUL & BARRY RYAN-"Madrigal"
The final Ryan brothers single of the 60's was "Pictures OF Today". It's flip was "Madrigal", which brings to mind the toy town psych period Hollies mixed with all of the usual trappings of a late 60's British pop record.

https://youtu.be/NfAM8frYicg

3. KEITH MOON-"Do Me Good"
Recorded for the shit storm that was Moon the Loon's one and only LP "Two Sides Of Moon", "Do Me Good" is actually a good piece of mid 70's pop which doesn't explain why it was inexplicably left off the LP!! Below in the YouTube link is a bit shot for Tony Palmer's "All You Need Is Love" series of Keith still looking youthful and cheeky recording the track.

https://youtu.be/_HlMIhR6ckQ

4. THE BEE GEES-"Deeply, Deeply Me"
A leftover from the sessions for their 1968 album "Horizontal" , "Deeply Deeply Me" is probably the most way out thing the Gibb Brothers ever did.  With it's muezzin like vocals, freaky guitars (that at moments sound rather like Robbie Krieger's licks on "The End") and general weirdness it's a bit over the top at times but still interesting when rubbing shoulders with "Massachusetts".

https://youtu.be/SJv8vV_Pig0

5. JON HENDRICKS-"Watermelon Man (Live)"
Jon Hendrick's vocal take on the Herbie Hancock penned instrumental from his 1965 album "Recorded In Person At The Trident" is probably my favorite version of the track due in no small part to his exuberance , have a listen and prove me wrong.

https://youtu.be/5ajicoqtNfA

6. DAVID AXELROD-"Merlin's Prophecy"

I dropped the ball on paying tribute to the great David Axelrod, so this track from his monster 1968 long player "Song Of Innocence" will have to suffice. The excellent fusing of harpsichord and strings with jazzy drums might sound like confusion in my description but it's pure magic like the rest of the album.

https://youtu.be/hPu9Q9XX5P4



















7. EDDIE HOLLAND-"Candy To Me"
Eddie Holland of course is known to all and sundry for his Motown records monster "Leaving Here" . "Candy To Me" was his tenth and final side for for the label and though not as powerful as "Leaving Here" it has a marvin Gaye-like quality in it's delivery that makes it worth seeking out.

https://youtu.be/abnTk70rUlQ

8. JACQUES DUTRONC-"Le Rois De La Reforme"
You can't go wrong with a bit of Jacques Dutronc, especially this moody slow burner from  his untitled second LP issued in 1968.

9. THE KOOBAS-"Mr. Claire"
I'd long overlooked this track from Liverpool's Kooba's 1969 untitled long player until recently. I'd always brushed it off and only now just released how amazing it is with jazzy little flourishes interspersed with driving bass, swatches of Mellotron  and lead singer Stu Leathwood's almost campy vocals as he sings about an office romance separated by a Far East transfer.

https://youtu.be/GdBUCUL5ZQk

10. PETE TOWNSHEND-"Stardom In Acton"
I'm not sure how but upon it's release I got Pete's 1982 LP "All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes" and really dug it, more so than any Who record around since the 60's.  "Stardom In Acton" is an angst fueled ditty full of witticism and cynicism delightfully wrapped up in 100 mph delivery and Townshend's sartorial eloquence.

https://youtu.be/uZFrRPym21w