Sunday, November 18, 2018

Lynne Randell "That's A Hoe Down"

LYNNE RANDELL-That's A Hoe Down/I Need You Boy US Epic 5-10197 1967

British born, Australian raised Lynne Randell is best known for her  monster "Stranger In Your Arms", a track that was later hugely successful on the Northern soul scene. "Stranger..." was her American debut and today's subject was it's follow up issued in August 1967 (a cover by the Fleur De Ly's under the moniker of Shyster followed in the U.K. a month later on Polydor).

Written by Albert Hammond, "That's A Hoe Down" incorporates licks from several Monkees tunes  ("The Last Train To Clarksville" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" along with "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'") at each of the breaks as she had recently accompanied them on a US tour that briefly also featured The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It's a complete 100% up tempo killer with lyrics describing an all night party/rave up.

The flip, "I Need You Boy", is dreadful pop pap crap from the pen of Artie and Kris Resnick. I've only ever listened to it once straight through.

A pensive Lynne with Peter Tork, 1967

Both tracks were collected by Raven records for their 1986 Lynne Randell anthology album "Ciao Baby". "That's A Hoe Down" appeared more recently on the 2015 RPM CD ludicrously titled collection "Come See Me....Dream Babes And Rock Chicks From Downunder".

Hear "That's A Hoe Down":

Hear "I Need You Boy":

Friday, November 9, 2018

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: The Robb Storme Group

THE ROBB STORME GROUP-Here Today/But Cry UK Columbia DB 7993 1966

British vocalist Rob Storme recorded a host of singles in the UK starting way back in 1960 and sadly I can't tell you much about him.  Today's subject was only released under the moniker of "The Robb Storme Group" (previous issues were either solo billing or with backing by The Whispers).  This was also apparently his last.  I've little idea who he was or what became of him.

The A-side is a Beach Boys cover released at a time when Britain was in the throes of Beach Boys mania with a host of other Beach Boys tunes being issued at an astonishing rate in 1966 Britain (especially from "Pet Sounds" where this number originally appeared).  Brit harmony act The Factotum's issued their own reading a month prior (Piccadilly 7N 35333). The Rob Storme version is a tad faster than the original and is wrapped in powerful harmonies (eschewing the orchestration of the original and relying on more harmonies and an organ brought up in the mix). I was never really a fan of the track no matter who is doing it to be honest.

For me the money has always been the B-side, "But Cry". It's a poppy tune but there's a hard edge to it that when meshed with the superb harmonies and subtle keyboards in a wonderful mix. It was written by producer/arranger Will Malone later of The Orange Bicycle (who arranged both sides of the 45 actually).

The 45 was issued in an astounding number of countries including Canada, Germany, Sweden and the USA!

Swedish 45 c/o

"But Cry" was recently unearthed for the "Beatfreak 6" CD collection and both sides were also reissued on a slightly non-legit Japanese 45 reissue in 2002 replicating a German pressing.

Hear "Here Today":

Hear "But Cry":

Thursday, November 1, 2018

October's Picks

1. ED HARDEN-"The Game Of Love"
Ed Hardin (as he was known) must have been real pissed when Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders did a note for note version of his interpretation of this Clint Ballard smash. The drum/bass intro on the original floors me every time! Unfortunately I can't find a clip on YouTube!

2. THE HOUSE OF NIMROD-"Slightly Delic"
New Zealand is not known for it's trippy 60's sounds but this 1967 single is an exception to the rule and worthy of any contemporary Anglo stuff from the genre.

Back when Billy Childish still rated and wasn't flogging his music to death he was capable of some brilliant stuff. This track from the Caesars "John Lennon's Corpse Revisited" LP sees Billy bemoaning the woman who's been screwing around behind his back to a rough and ready Troggs meet Sonics beat.

4. LEW COURTNEY-"The Man With The Cigar"
Made famous by Herman's Hermits on the flip of "A Must To Avoid", this is the original version cut by Lew Courtney (who became "Lou" on his next release) two years prior with a bombastic, orchestral backing worthy of a Walker Brothers record!

From the 1970 Skye/Buddha LP "Watch What Happens", this pairing between the grand dame of jazz and the most way out jazz guitarist surprisingly produces some stellar results. Most of the tunes on the album are Beatles covers, and this one is smoky and sultry.

6. THE CLIQUE-"Tortoise"
The Clique were a welcome breath to the mid 90's mod scene, in a world awash with Brit pop and manufactured "mod" boy bands The Clique flew their freak(beat) flag on the mast of a skillfully piloted ship careening straight for the rocks, but it was a ,lovely voyage wasn't it?!

7. GEORGE BRAITH-"Cantaloupe Woman"
This brilliant reading of "Cantaloupe Woman", originally a flip side of a 1966 Prestige 45 was unearthed on "The Further Adventures Of Mod Jazz" with an incredible mix of funky organ, wailing sax and gritty guitar licks.

8. PAUL WELLER-"Bitterness Rising"
I have a love/hate relationship with Weller.  Well hate is a wrong word, and it's not Weller I hate. What I hate is the lemming like blind adulation that seems to attach itself to him and everything he does. That said it makes it difficult to enjoy his music when everyone and their brother are claiming that the new album is the best one ever. For me I have always dug his solo debut. "Bitterness Rising" is one of it's hidden gems that falls somewhere between the music of Thunderclap Newman and the soulful voice of early 70's Marvin Gaye.

9. ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS-"Mama Told Me Not To Come"
Eons before Three Dog Night charted with this Randy Newman track Eric Burdon and the newly revamped Animals cut it in 1966 where it was originally intended as their Decca debut backing "Help Me Girl" but was inexplicably withdrawn at the 11th hour with "See See Rider" taking it's place. Pity because it really works, thanks in no small part to a horn section.

10. MEL TORME-"Games People Play"
In '69 the Velvet Fog took a crack at Joe South's social observation smash with some cool results. It's in essence one half schmaltz-supper club Vegas and one half jazz. Regardless it's amazing all down to Mel's subtle but cool vocal style.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Vapors Live In NYC 10/21/18

The Vapors at the Mercury Lounge, NYC photo c/o Michelle Lyons Buckner

Band reunions are always a dodgy affair, especially ones from the 80's. There's two versions of the Beat out there (depending on which continent you're on) each fronted by one original member and a host of young faces in the line up with no other originals in the line up. Then there's that farce called Big Country sans deceased original lead singer Stuart Adamson (ditto for a Jez Bird-less Lambrettas) a Members without Nicky Tesco, a Stranglers with two original members (one of them is NOT Hugh Cornwell) and don't even get me started on From The Jam and what are there like two original members left in The Specials these days?!

So with all that said I was cautiously skeptical when it was announced on Instagram that The Vapors would be coming to NYC. But the photos looked promising with lead singer/rhythm guitarist David Fenton on board with lead guitarist Ed Bazalgette and bassist Howard Smith with "new guy" Michael Bowes occupying the drum seat.  But like me the rest of the East Coast jumped at the chance to see them so much that three nights in a row at NYC's Mercury Lounge were sold out almost immediately as they went on sale.  I had not been to the Mercury in almost two decades and the trek in to the Big Apple was long, but it would be worth it.

Opening act The Split Squad's line up read like a Who's Who of power pop with Plimsoul Eddie Munoz on guitar, Fleshtone Keith Streng on guitar, Blondie's legendary Clem Burke on skins,  Josh Kantor, an organist from the Boston Red Sox on keyboards and a gent named Michael Giblin on lead vocals and bass. They were a tough act to follow playing a raucously delightful set of some heavy duty power pop (with a cool cover of The Small Face's "Sorry She's Mine" in there) and kept it short and very sweet.

The Vapors at the Mercury Lounge, NYC photo c/o Michelle Lyons Buckner
And so it was following such a heavy opener that the Vapors bounded onstage to a thunderous applause from the largest gathering of 50-somethings I'd seen since my last Paul Weller show 3 or 4 years ago.  Clearly by the looks of the young guitar player they were down to two original members (lead singer David Fenton later mentioned mid set "you may have noticed that Ed Bazalgette isn't with us, he couldn't come so this is my son Dan").  Despite a bit of O.T.T. onstage swagger Dan didn't miss a note and complimented the band perfectly in the music department. They launched into their first number, "Bunkers" like a well oiled machine and all around I noticed wide eyed, jaws agape punters who like me were in the process of being blown away. Throughout the gig I realized how intricate and melodic their material always was, clearly The Vapors were NEVER four chord wonders! Their 18 track set included just two new numbers as they played a host of tunes from their two LP's "New Clear Days" and "Magnets" and some B-sides as well (yes I'm a bit of a Homer Simpson when it comes to that: "play the old crap!") !  Highlights were a brilliant "Silver Machines" with it's complex melodies, the moody and bleak "Magnets" and my favorite "Waiting For The Weekend". They played "Trains", "News At 10",  "Jimmie Jones" and even their only US hit "Turning Japanese" (something of a stereotype and a bad punch line for idiots who slagged them off back then). They all sounded amazingly fresh. The whole set was brilliant and executed with precision and flawlessly performed and best of all David Fenton's voice sounded the same as it did 38 years ago. The band were clearly bowled over by their reception and their playing certainly showed it! Let's hope they're back again soon because in another 38 years...

Mercury Lounge 10/21/18 Setlist:
Live At The Marquee
Silver Machines
King L
One Of My Dreams
Spring Collection
Jimmie Jones
Waiting For The Weekend
Letter From Hiro
Turning Japanese
News At Ten

Here Comes The Judge

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Action Is Here! The Action's "Shadows And Reflections" new box set reviewed!

Apart from Monkeypicks  I don't think there's a bigger Action fan in the world like me so when it was announced that there was going to be a four CD set of their entire catalog I freaked. Not since their excellent tome "In The Lap Of The Mods" Action book have I been so excited to see a package arrive at my door!

Rather than give you a blow by blow account of all 86 tracks on this four CD set I figured I would give you some highlights. In 1990 when Edsel issued the very first Action CD all of their EMI recordings the tracks were remixed for some inexplicable reason (their ground breaking 1980 vinyl "Ultimate Action" comp  album on Edsel was taken direct from the masters) . Over the past three decades subsequent CD reissues of the band's EMI catalog (and tracks on various artists CD compilations of the bands EMI recordings) have used the same atrocious mixes.  Grapefruit/Cherry Red's new box set has atoned for that with compiler Alec Palao gaining direct access to EMI's master tapes giving The Action their very first "direct from the original masters" CD compilation ever. Sadly there are no unreleased songs in the EMI archives that we haven't already heard, but that said there are several alternate versions, backing tracks, rehearsal takes and previously unheard Stereo mixes of all of their EMI recordings. Also included are the band's 1967-1968 recordings (previously issued as "Brain/Rolled Gold") including full length versions of "Brain" and a previously unedited version of "Really Doesn't Matter Anymore", all the BBC tracks compiled for Circle's 2004 collection "Uptight And Outtasite", the 5 cuts recorded in '68 after lead singer Reg King's departure and a few months before they became Mighty Baby and issued in 1985 as the "Speak Louder Than" mini LP, both sides of their 1964 single as The Boys and the four tracks issued on 2014's E.P. on Top Sounds. Curiously the dreadful Edsel mixes are consigned, unnecessarily, to disc four.

Looking baked at the Speakeasy, early 1967
The real treat for me were the backing tracks, rehearsal takes and alternate mixes. The backing track take of "Shadows And Reflections" sans lead vocals bears an eerie almost Pink Floyd sounding Farfisa playing scales alongside George Martin's harpsichord that's unnoticeable on the standard 45 version. Action members are notoriously dismissive of the band's sound once lead guitarist/backing vocalist Pete Watson left at the end of 1966 and claimed they sounded "thin" without his guitar and backing vocals.  To this I say balderdash and so shall you when you have a gander at the Association like backing vocals weaving their magic on "Shadows.."!! A rehearsal of "Shadows" flip "Something Has Hit Me" sounds positively amazing with Alan "Bam" King's chiming Rickenbacker noticeable with the backing vocals absent and lead singer Reg King's soulful tones are perfectly accented in an alternate take of the Righteous Brother's "Just Once In My Life" that strips away all the backing vocals . A backing track of "The Place" (written by US r&b singer Jack Hammer best known for "Down In The Subway" who was apparently on hand for the session) highlights Watson's chiming 12 string Rickenbacker meshing with King's 6 string Rick minus George Martin's harpsichord as does the backing track for "Come On Come With Me", which stripped of it's vocals shows how Motown-esque the chord/key changes were. A rehearsal take of band original and the first post Pete Watson single "Never Ever" (minus horns and backing vocals) is a beautiful glimpse of the rhythm section of bassist Mike Evans and drummer Roger Powell, especially the later who is on fire on the cut.  And of final note is the rehearsal take of "Something Has Hit Me" with Alan "Bam" King's chiming electric almost Byrdsy guitar making the track far more ballsy than the finished product which instead utilized an acoustic guitar.

There are never before heard Stereo mixes of 15 of the band's 17 EMI recordings that offer a clearer investigation into the vocals (especially the backing vocals which sound higher in the mix to my ears than the mono versions) in addition to the original mixes of all 17 tracks cut with George Martin for EMI.

Ready! Steady! Go! 1966
There's a nice booklet included with liner notes by David Wells, an intro by our favorite "Mojo" scribe Lois Wilson and an annotated run down by Alec Palao of all the recording information for all 86 tracks in chronological order. Palao has also compiled a a vinyl LP titled "New Action" 12 tracks of the band's '65-'67 EMI material direct from the master tapes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Roulettes US Debut

THE ROULETTES-Soon You'll Be Leaving Me/Can You Go US United Artists UA 718 1964

Britain's beat quartet The Roulettes are little known in the United States and if they are its only as a minor footnote in backing singer Adam Faith on his sole U.S. "hit" "It's Alright" (Amy 913 October 1964) which reached #31. The band, comprised of Russ Ballad (vocals/guitar), Peter Thorp (lead guitar), John "Mod" Rogan (bass) and Bob Henrit (drums) had previously backed Faith on an early US release ("We Are In Love" Amy 899 February 1964) and today's subject. "Soon You'll Be Leaving Me" was the band's first US release sans Adam Faith. It was issued in May of 1964 (previously issued in the UK in November 1963 on Parlophone R 5072). Interestingly the UK issue featured "Tell Tale Tit" on the flip while the American issue featured "Can You Go" (pinched from the flip of their March 1964 UK 45 "Bad Time", Parlophone R 5110).

"Soon You'll Be Leaving Me" is a storming beat group number starting with a cracking drum intro and some Beatle-esque chord changes and excellent harmonies. The Roulettes always brought their A-game when it came to powerful vocals and tight musicianship and this 45 is no exception.

"Can You Go" is not as good as the top side with some hokey lyrics but its still spirited and has a rousing delivery in standard up tempo beat group abandon.  Both sides were penned by songwriter/singer Chris Andrews

The Roulettes would have one more US 45 on their own which you can read about here.

Both sides are available on a now out of print BGO CD reissue of their LP "Stakes And Chips" (which is one of the rarest British 60's albums with copies fetching an excess of $1,000!).

Hear "Soon You'll Be Leaving Me":

Hear "Can You Go":