Monday, May 2, 2016

They're Through.....The Applejacks final Decca single

THE APPLEJACKS-I'm Through/We Gotta Get Together U.K. Decca F12301 1965

Britain's Applejacks had soldiered on through five singles (six if you count the supposed "cancelled" "Chim Chim Chereee" which no one has ever seen a copy of) on Decca with only one semi hit (a Lennon/McCartney throwaway called "Like Dreamers Do", Decca F11916 June 1964 that rose to #20 in the U.K. charts).  They were sadly most known for that track and the fact that they had a female bass player.  Their line up was: Al Jackson (lead vocals), Phil Cash (rhythm guitar), Martin Baggot (lead guitar), Megan Davies (bass), Don Gould (keyboards) and Gerry Freeman (drums). Their run with Decca was about to end and though a revised line up would cut a halfway decent version of The Impression's "You've Been Cheating" for CBS (March 1967 CBS 202615) this would be the last offering by the original line-up.   I think it's their finest.

The Applejacks were essentially a squeaky clean, cheery sort of beat group who did both ballads and rocking sides (as evidenced by the flip side of "Like Dreamers Do", a stormer called "Boom Boom Boom (Everybody Fall Down)" and the catchy "Make Up Or Break Up", which was the B-side of their previous single Ray Davie's "I Go To Sleep", Decca F12216).  Rocking out was no difficulty for them and this kept them apart from the likes of The Mojos or Brian Poole and The Tremeloes.  This is no better evidenced by "I'm Through", a beat ballad (written by the great Pete Dello) with some excellent volume pedal guitar licks bending notes throughout the song while lead singer Jackson sings mournfully about an unfaithful girl who leaves him alone "while you go with other guys" with some groovy atmospheric backing vocals.  "We Gotta Get Together" is okay, but nothing special, mid tempo beat mediocrity sums it up nicely. After this single failed to chart and their Decca contract expired the band signed on with the Cunard cruise line and worked for the next few years as the "house" (boat?) band on various ocean liners with the previously mentioned CBS single (with a new lead singer) in between.

Reviewing it for "Melody Maker's" seminal "Blind Date" column in December 11, 1965 John Lennon had this to say about it:

"Is it the...oh, The Applejacks. I always liked the tone of the singer's voice. Don't like the songs or the arrangements they do, including the one they did of ours. Could be a bit of a hit. It's simple enough. Depends on what else is out. If there's nothing going on it'll be alright. Oh-oh, there's the Roger Williams piano again. That's enough, thank you sir (salutes)."

Cherry Red has reissued their untitled 1964 debut LP with all remaining Decca A and B sides (including both sides of this single) on it on a great CD compilation that is still, thankfully, in print.

Hear "I'm Through":

Hear "We Gotta Get Together":

I Wonder If They're Freaking Out In Queens...The Tea Company

THE TEA COMPANY-Flowers/Come And Have Some Tea With Me US Smash S-2176 1968

Formed by the former members of group called The Naturals from Queens, New York, The Tea Company are famous for their mind blowing 1968 Smash records (US) LP "Come And Have Some Tea With Me" (SRS-6167105), one of the heaviest, trippiest albums the U.S. ever produced. Though at times it smacks of obvious "cash-in" drug connotations (in fact for ages I thought it was a studio only concoction), commercialism and the overblown trippy effects get a bit overwhelming it's got some brilliant moments. I was first played it by some friends in 1989 in between my first exposure to July and The West Coast Pop Art Experimental band and it blew me out of my head in a room of flashing strobes and black lights. The LP consists of only 7 tracks, two of which are on the long side (one, "Flowers" is 10 minutes and change and then there's a 8:47 version of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" that rivals the Vanilla Fudge version as "The Thing That Wouldn't End") . There is also an annoying 1:38 minute piece called "Don't Make Waves" that is entirely comprised of echo and other affects on the sound of dripping water!! Like much of the LP both tracks owe a great deal to British psychedelia with many of the tracks featuring vocals with a British accent (leading me to believe they were a British band until a distinct Queens accent convinced me otherwise on a spoken word part of "Love Could Make The World Go Round"). This is perfectly exemplified by "As I Have Seen You Upon The Wall" and "Make Love Not War" (which the lead vocalist sounds like Davy Jones from The Monkees) which is a nice slice of British pop psych inspired whimsy. Though I have been aware of their LP for over 25 years it was only a few months ago that I learned that two tracks from it were issued as a single : "Flowers"/"Come And Have Some Tea With Me". To my knowledge it was only pressed as a white label promo 45.

"Flowers" owes a great deal to the Small Faces.  It's an edited version at 3:10 (7 minutes of annoying sound affects chopped off the original album mix!). It's not their strongest track but it has a whimsy not unlike something from the SF's first US Immediate LP "There Are But Four Small Faces" (a mix of singles and tracks from the 1st Immediate LP) and the trippier elements of "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake". Like most tracks on the LP it relies on heavy effects of the drums and lots of lysergic effects on EVERYTHING. More times than often its a bit of a cacophony more than anything, obviously not adhering very much to the "less is more" effects maxim. To my ears it comes off like a bad trip at times.

"Come And Have Some Tea With Me" is far stronger.  Starting with the music from a child's wind up toy and some mind expanding phlanged horns (which feature prominently throughout the whole number) before the vocals come in above some tasty fuzz guitar and host of sound effects (including....the sound of a cup of tea being poured). The whole track pretty much encapsulates the so called "psychedelic experience" in a way I have heard few American artists outside the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band manage to capture.

The Tea Company were: Al Vertucci (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Frankie Carr (lead guitar/vocals), John Vancho (bass/vocals) and Mike LaSandro (drums).

A CD of dubious nature (but excellent quality) is available of the entire LP with some bonus tracks by The Naturals. The 45 edit of "Flowers" was issued on the CD compilation "A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych" on the Arf! Arf! label and "Come And Have Some Tea With Me" was on the label's ""A Deadly Dose Of Wylde Psych" CD.

Hear "Flowers":

Hear "Come And Have Some Tea With Me":

Hear "As I Have Seen You Upon The Wall":

Friday, April 29, 2016

April's Picks

1. JIMMY CASTOR-"Leroy Is In The Army"
This was the follow up to Jimmy Castor's taunting/ Latin boogaloo smash "Leroy Your Mama's Calling". In fact I like it much better than it's predecessor because it's not as monotonous and certainly lyrically more hysterical.

2. BARRABAS-"Wild Safari"
Possibly the only redeeming thing about HBO's trainwreck of a TV show "Vinyl" (or as I like to call it "The Richie Finistra Cocaine Snorting Hour") was that one of the episodes ended with the Ryan/Quaid offspring (the show is all about star's children getting jobs), the Dwight Schrute of A&R (now consigned to the mail room) going to an underground club with his co-worker who looks like Juan Epstein's stoned older brother and the DJ is spinning this hypnotic funky little groover from 1972.

3. OSCAR TONEY JR.-"Turn On Your Lovelight"
One of my favorite readings of this Bobby "Blue" Bland's classic is this 1967 reading by Oscar Toney Jr. It eschews the usual arrangement that everyone else uses as a template and strips it down and rebuilds it into something quite incredible.

4. MADNESS-"Bed And Breakfast Man (Peel Sessions)"
This Peel session version of "B& B Man" knocks the stuffing out of the original LP version in my estimation.  Wow, what a punch!!

5. NINA SIMONE-"Mississippi Goddamn" 
What the fuck is the world coming to people?  North Carolina?  Mississippi? Nina Simone's track still rings true 50+ years state mentality where they'll let yahoos carry assault weapons into the supermarket but they're worried about what sex is using the restrooms and whether doing business with people from alternative lifestyles are going to raise religious objections. Sometimes, I am ashamed to be an American.....

6. THE ALLUSIONS-"Roller Coaster Man"
One of my fave Aussie 60's tracks is this jaunty little ditty with some powerful Kink "Tired Of Waiting For You" chords meets The Beatles "Help" album.

This 1968 reggae instrumental formed the backing track of Willie William's 1977 track "Armagideon Time" (later covered by The Clash). Here in it's barest form of bass, drums and horns it's trance inducing groove that I never tire of.

8. THEM -"Mighty Like A Rose"
There's a new deluxe three CD Them box set out.  I had previously passed on it as I had already had a two CD Them set, then I discovered the third disc was a bevy of kick ass BBC tracks and unreleased tunes like this rocked out Them version of "Mighty Like A Rose" and my fate was sealed. AND it has some incredible liner notes by Van Morrison who has a pretty crystal clear recollection of things!

9. THE DENTISTS-"Flowers Around Me"
Jangling, discordant, slightly out of tune guitars and lots of "la la la's", like a dole queue Byrds that's the best way I can describe these guys and their brilliant debut LP "Some People Are On The Pitch....".  Very little 80's music dated well for me but this album still holds it's own.

10. BONGO LES & HERMAN-"Dr. Who Pt 2"
With a shrieking horror style intro worthy of a Lee "Scratch" Perry record this number quickly develops into a funky little reggae instrumental that's bouncy and infectious thanks to it's organ and ringing bell and later a melodica . Written and produced by the great Derrick Harriott.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

10 Cool U.K. Mid 60's Songs That You Possibly Haven't Heard

Scan c/o

1. THE SLENDER PLENTY-"Silver Tree Top School For Boys" U.K. Polydor 56189 1967
We tackled this raw David Bowie composition way back when here. It still hasn't gotten it's due on a proper reissue anywhere (like most of the obscure UK 60's Polydor output it cries for a proper reissue). Behind a dose of extra fuzz guitar and some backing vocals worthy of the crowd chant in the stands at the F.A. Cup finals The Slender Plenty tell the tale of a public (that's "private" to us Americans) school where things are not quite as they should be thanks to a magical weed.

2. THE FRESH WINDOWS-"Summer Sun Shines" U.K. Fontana TF 839 1967
This A-side is often overlooked in favor of it's kitschy social observation flip "Fashion Conscious". "Summer Sun Shines" is a ballsy mid tempo number with regal horns, perfectly enunciated British accents on the lead vocals and tight harmonies that reminds me of the Tremeloes when they "let their hair (hang?) down".

Scan c/o

3. THE MIRAGE-"Hold On" U.K. Phillips BF 1554 1967
This punchy, go-go groover from The Mirage dates from 1967 but sounds totally "mod '66" like a cousin to Carnaby's "Jump And Dance".  With it's punctuated "go go" vocal refrain, and descending melody that reaches a fuzzed out guitar crescendo it packs a serious punch. Strangely it was released AFTER the band's December '66 stab at "Tomorrow Never Knows" (Phillips BF 1534 December 1966).

4. THE LOVIN'-"Do It Again" U.K. Page One POF 041 1967
The Lovin' cut just two singles in their short career under the production of Larry Page before mutating into the far more poppier act The Nerve. Both of their 45's were released in '67 on Page's own Page One label. "Do It Again" begins with a wall of distorted guitar and features a cool descending bass line.  The lead vocals are poppy but the backing is as tough as anything the Creation or The Game ever did.

5. THE HUMAN INSTINCT-"Go Go" Mercury MF 990 1967
New Zealand's Four Fours moved to the U.K. in 1966 and had previously recorded this number back home on the Zodiac label in 1965 (Z45/1259). Their U.K. update lacks none of the punch of the previous version and pounds away with a throbbing, kinetic groove accented by the powerful backing chant of "Go Go". This was their final of three 45's for Mercury before moving to Deram where they took on a decidedly different (but equally good) approach.

Scan c/o

6. RICK & SANDY-"Lost My Girl" Decca F 12196 1965
Richard Tykiff and Alexander Roberton were Rick & Sandy, a duo who made some fairly pedestrian beat/ballad 45's in the mid 60's but standing shoulders above was this rocking little number from the Summer of 1965. Propelled by the duo's close harmonies (not unlike The Brooks) it's the tough musical backing that gives this song it's punch and keeps it from being just another beat number. Recalling The Hollies at their best in '65 it's worth a listen.

7. THE PYRAMID-"Summer Evening" U.K. Deram DM 111 1967
The subject of our very first post 8 years ago (gulp) was this little gem on Deram. With a slight raga guitar , lush organ, vibes and tabla "Summer Evening" is wrapped in layers of beautiful harmonies that could easily be mistaken for a track by The Cyrkle or The Buckinghams. They released just this one single which leads one to wonder what they would have been capable of.

8. THE LOOT-"Don't Turn Around" U.K. CBS 3231 1968
I have long been perplexed by The Loot.  They had multiple releases on both CBS and Page One that ran almost concurrently each have its own different style which always led me to suspect that they were two different bands. The Page One releases have a rougher Troggs feel while the CBS sides were more polished. "Don't Turn Around" is a lushly orchestrated pop psych track with all the trimmings (backwards cymbal intro, woodwinds, raga riffs, tight West Coast harmonies, strings etc).  It seems all airy fairy Summer of Love trappings till you catch the lyrics which are a total put down of weekend hippies and peace and love merchants and drip with cynicism . "You're the conformist to convention, I am the one who's free...what are you going to be tomorrow when you have thrown your flowers away".

9. HERBAL MIXTURE-"A Love That's Died" U.K. Columbia DB 8021 1966
Brainchild of the legendary U.K. blues muso Tony McPhee, Herbal Mixture are best known for their second 45, the proto-psych  "Machines".  This was their debut and owes more to mod/Who with it's punchy "in your face" chord changes and high backing vocals. What intrigues me the most about it is the intensity and power of the guitar because it's so lo-fi and when the solo comes in you'd swear the entire guitar track was all cut live on one track. Brilliant.

Scan c/o

10. ROB STORME & THE WHISPERS-"Where Is My Girl" U.K. Columbia DB 7756 1965
In 1965 "Melody Maker" sat Pete Townshend down for their "Blind Date" column where he was played this single. Intrigued he took the bass line and later reused it in "Substitute". "Where Is My Girl" is a driving poppy beat number with an incessant bass/piano line that will of course sound familiar to Who fans that almost has a Motown feel to it while the band ply some VERY Beach Boys influenced harmonies.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Out And About: The South Philly Moonstomp 5/7/16

The South Philly Moonstomp Saturday May 7, 2016 at 12 Steps Down, 9th and Christian, Philadelphia PA, 10 PM-2 AM 21+ over only with ID. No cover. Yours truly joins the crew....

John E. B (South Philly Moonstomp) Top Ten Spins:
1. SYMARIP-"Skinhead Moonstomp" (Treasure Isle)
2. DERRICK MORGAN-"Moonhop" (Crab)
3. THE CLAN-"Copycats" (Bullet)
4. THE BED BEGS-"A Message To You" (Jay Boy)
5. DAVE BARKER-"Double Heavy" (Supreme)
6. SIR HARRY-"Apollo 17" (Downtown)
7. THE FLAMES-"Broadway Jungle" (Island)
8. ANGELIC UPSTARTS-"Teenage Warning" (Warner Brothers)
9. BABA BROOKS-"Teenage Ska" (Island)
10. DAVY JONES & THE KING BEES-"Liza Jane" (Decca)

Yours Truly (South Philly Moonstomp) Top Ten Spins:
1. THE RUDIES-"Train To Vietnam" (Nu-Beat)
2. OWEN GRAY-"Shook Shimmy And Shake" (Island)
3. THE BEES-"Jesse James Rides Again" (Columbia Blue Beat)
4. PRINCE BUSTER-"Sounds And Pressure" (Prince Buster)
5. STRANGER-"East West" (Duchess)
6. THE SOUL AGENTS-"Get Ready It's Rock Steady" (Coxsone)
7. THE PYRAMIDS-"The Mule" (President)
8. CLANCY ECCLES-"Feel The Rocking" (Doctor Bird)
9. BONGO LES & HERMAN-"Dr. Who (Part 2)" (Explosion)
10. DANDY-"We Are Still Rude" (Giant)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: The Tommy Burton Combo

TOMMY BURTON COMBO-Lavender Blue/I'm Walking UK Blue Beat BB 237 1964

Blue Beat is of course primarily known for ska and mento records made by West Indian artists. There are of course a few notable exceptions where British artists cut some sides for the label. BB 237 from 1964 by the Tommy Burton Combo is one such disc. We profiled an earlier Blue Beat release by a British band way back when over here.  The band were led by the late jazz saxophonist/ pianist Tommy Burton and oddly this was his sole 45 release in the 60's.

"Lavender Blue" is a dreadful piece of faux ska akin to the horrid Migil Five.  It's a perfect example of a dance band deciding to become contemporary or hip and cash in on that "new crazy rhythm all the kids are on about". Predictably it fails miserably.

The flip side is where the magic happens! The band tear into Fats Domino's "I'm Walking" in an interesting mix that combines the guitar licks you'd find on a raw British beat 45 and a solid sax of a mid 60's British r&b record.  The vocalist has a raw voice that reminds me of the lead vocalist on some of the records by Liverpool's The Dennisons. The lead guitar playing reminds me of the style that Jimmy Page was fond of using at the time. Overall the number reminds me of The Dave Clark Five if they had a wild guitarist in the ranks and a jazz player on sax letting it wail.

The B-side screams for a reissue somewhere, but to my knowledge it has not popped up anywhere yet!

Hear "I'm Walking":

Thursday, April 21, 2016

10 Cool U.K. Mid 60's R&B Songs That You Possibly Haven't Heard

1. HAMILTON KING-"Ain't It Time" HMV POP 1356 1964
This self penned number by Hamilton King starts with some Animals styled combo organ and mandatory harp blowing. The vocalist (presumably Hamilton King) sings with almost utter detachment. The most interesting part of the tune is the steady, groovy Farfisa or Vox Continental behind your run of the mill '64 Rolling Stonesy r&B (come to think of it this track reminds me of "Off The Hook").

2. STU BROWN & BLUESOLOGY-"Since I Found You Baby" Polydor 56195 1967
Bluesology's page in rock n roll history stems from their keyboardist Reggie Dwight who went on to own a minor football team and write a tribute to Lady Princess Di. Their final single added lead singer Stu Brown's name to the moniker and pumped up their sound with some really tough horns (I always thought the horns were Bluesology's strong suit) and slightly overblown vocals by Brown. It was their last and the band imploded shortly afterwards.

3. THE SHEVELLS-"I Gotta Travel All Over" United Artists  UP 1125 1966
This mid tempo little groover was penned by John Mayall (and like "Something" which was given to Georgie Fame, was never recorded by the author himself). It jogs along at an "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" style pace and far outshines it's A-side , a cover of Jackie Edwards "Come On Home" . The band then switched to Pye where they backed Mike Stevens on a killer version of Jackie Paine's "Go Go Train".

4. THE MEDDYEVILS-"It's All For You" Pye 7N 17091 1966
The strangely named meddyEvils (spelled exactly like this on their record's labels) put out just two singles in their short spell on the Pye label, both are excellent. "It's All For You" is a brilliant r&b dirge in 4/4 time with some strong sax, swirling/churchy Hammond, barrel-house piano and impassioned lead vocals. The best part is the end where it almost sounds like the sax and organ are competing to finish the track.

5.  THE ST. LOUIS UNION-"Think About Me" Decca F 12508 1966
One of the greatest double sided British r&b couplings was this final 45, a cover of Bob Seeger's gritty "East Side Story" backed with this stormer by Manchester's finest r&b purveyors The St. Louis Union. Starting with some soulful piano and hand claps it's an incredible groove with it's busy, descending bass line and slashing guitars behind Tony Cassidy's lead vocals.  There's a great sax solo that duels with some Nicky Hopkins style ivory tinkling and zooming bass that completes this killer tune.

6. THE QUIK-"King Of The World" Deram DM 139 1967
The Quik cut just three 45's on Deram, all in 1967 and all of which are solid examples of mid 60's British mod/r&b heavy on the "Hammond n' horns" formula. "King Of The World" was their second single released in July of 1967 (and saddled with a lackluster attempt at "My Girl" on the flip) and follows the "party" template set by it's predecessor's B-side "Bert's Apple Crumble" with wailing Hammond, smooth sax, hand claps and a raucous feel to it.

This mondo obscure coupling by a singer named Kenneth Washington with legendary trombonist Chris Barber and Gary Farr's backing group The T-Bones is a rare instance of what I would call British "gospel r&b". There's a funky soulful horn refrain, an "I'm A Man" style organ groove and some spiritual style call and response backing vocals. Surprising it all works. I'd love to know more about this band and record.  Anyone?

8. HAMILTON & THE MOVEMENT-"I'm Not The Marrying Kind" CBS 202573 1967
Written and produced by Bill Wyman (co-authored with Moon's Train lead singer Peter Gosling), I've often wondered if this was sort of a not-so-secret message from Bill to his Missus, have a listen to the lyrics and prove me wrong since Billy was a self confessed shag monster (god knows how or why he was by far the fugliest Stone!). Regardless it's a full on, brassy, powerful affair and is a perfect example of mid 60's soul British r&b (dig the incredible horn section in the middle). Again I have to get up on my soapbox and ask if Wyman could produce amazing records like this why did the Stones mid 60's UK recordings sound like shit from a production stand point?

9. JACK BRUCE-"Rootin' Tootin'" Polydor BM 56036 1965
Probably the rarest British r&b 45 is this single, the solo debut by Jack Bruce cut in between his leaving the Graham Bond Organization and his brief his tenure with Manfred Mann.  This was the flip of "I'm Gettin' Tired (Of Drinkin' And Gamblin')" and musically it sounds exactly like what you would expect from the GBO and for years I thought it was them!  The line up was actually: Bruce (lead vocals, bass, harmonica), Don Rendell (saxophones), Mike Falana (trumpet) and John Stevens (drums). A perfect specimen of jazzy, suave British mid 60's r&b.

10. THE WES MINSTER FIVE-"Railoroad Blues" Carnival  CV 7017 1964
The Wes Minster Five cut four singles for the obscure Carnival label (primary a ska imprint based in the U.K.), three on their own and their debut backing female vocalist Maynell Wilson.  This is my favorite of the lot, an uptempo jazzy organ/horns instrumental not unlike the two 45's Georgie Fame cut on the R&B label (another British label with a primarily ska output but with the odd British r&b release).