Thursday, August 27, 2009
When we last left our heroes The Moodies they'd just released their first single with Justin Hayward and John Lodge (see August 25th 2009's entry) in May '67. In August of that year they returned with their next Decca seven incher (and their last before switching to Decca's Deram imprint) .
"Leave This Man Alone" is perhaps the most powerful Moody Blues single ever. It's phlanged guitar is both ethereal and trippy making this perhaps the most "rocking" thing they've ever done in my estimation. The number is perfectly accented by the band's harmonies behind Justin Hayward's impassioned vocals. "Love And Beauty" on the flip side is a composition by keyboardist Mike Pinder, who not only sings it but provides piano and Mellotron on the track. This is the first Moodies track to feature the instrument which would resonate heavily on the bulk of their 60's material. It's slightly melancholy, with some lush harmonies and some socially introspective lyrics built around Pinder's resonating piano underscored by some faint Melllotron. The single failed to chart like it's predecessor. But happy times were just around the corner with "Night In White Satin" gaining a release in November and putting the band on top once again.
Both the A and B side of this single turned up on a now out of print Decca CD "Prelude" which contains various Decca/Deram mark two Moody Blues A's & B sides and unreleased numbers. "Love And Beauty" also cropped up on the Decca/Deram "The Psychedelic Scene" CD comp.
"Leave This Man Alone":
"Love And Beauty":
I've no clue who The Loose Ends were, just that there were five of them and they made two singles on Decca (their second being a cover of The Beatles "Taxman" released on the same day as "Revolver", see October 23, 2008 posting here for the story on that one).
The A-side is a cover of the number by The Rascals. It's rather different as well, it's just plain raw. The Rascals version is pretty punchy, this one is punky. The lead vocals take the Jagger-esque drawl one step further by making it sound more sneering, almost contemptuous but without losing it's soulfulness. The lead guitar solo is pure freakbeat, over the top and distorted like The Birds or The Sons Of Fred at their most blistering. The flipside is a treat because it's a rare Moody Blues number that only came out in France on an E.P. (where it was titled "People Gotta Go", see May27, 2009 post for the scoop on this E.P.). Delivered with a soulful aplomb as the A-side it has more guts than The Moodie's take and is far more uptempo.
"I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" was contained on the CD comp "That Driving Beat:UK 60's Freakbeat Rarities Volume Two" and has recently also popped up on the deluxe box set that compiles volume's one through five of the series. "Send The People Away" cropped up ages ago on the bootleg "Rare 60's Beat Tracks Volume Three"."I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore"
THE CRAIG-I Must Be Mad/Suspense U.S. Fontana F-1579 1966
I've long sung the praises of the both influential and instrumental Bam Caruso vinyl "Rubble" LP compilation series for turning me onto "freakbeat" and British 60's psychedelia. One of the gems on my very first Bam Caruso Rubble album "The Psychedelic Snarl" was a frantic little ditty called "I Must Be Mad" by The Craig.
Released in the U.K. as Fontana TF715 in 1966 (and now commanding anywhere in the vicinity of $500 on up, and that includes the German Hansa pressing with the alternate B-side "Dancing In New Orleans"), the U.S. pressing was quite easy to come by back in the day (as were most U.S. pressings of oddball U.K. freakbeat 45's). Though it's gotten pricey these days it's regardless an amazing record. "I Must Be Mad" is a full on ballistic raver, like The Kinks on amphetamines (and produced by Larry Page!). It truly defines freakbeat with all the essential ingredients:frantic/distorted guitar work, manic intensity and brilliant/energetic drumming topped off by somewhat soulful/impassioned vocals sung by a man who truly sounds like he is going "mad". On the flip "Suspense" is a different case. That's not to say it's in any way less amazing. It's almost "soulful" (not very surprising as most bands responsible for "freakbeat" came from the "mod" scene which of course a love of soul music was a prerequisite) with it's call and response vocals and harmonies, sort of like a B-grade Action with tinges of some nice fuzzy guitar action propelling the main riff along throughout the track. "I Must Be Mad", as mentioned earlier is one the "Psychedelic Snarl" LP/CD and "Suspense" popped up on one of the volumes of the bootleg series "Rare Beat Tracks".
Listen for yourself: "I Must Be Mad" AND "Suspense":
Any of you stumbling across this somewhat introverted blog (it wouldn't be called "Anorak Thing" if it wasn't catering to a distinct, small sect of 60's music freaks) are probably quite well aware of the antics of one time Pretty things drummer arch ligger and looner Viv Prince. What some of you may not be familiar with is this single, a bunch he spent a few months in. Having finished with The Pretty Things Viv embarked on a "solo" career with July 1966's "Light Of The Charge Brigade"/"Minuet For Ringo" (U.K. Columbia DB 7960). Though one can hardly call an orchestral piece produced by the Carter/Lewis ensemble a "solo" piece, but whatever, we'll give Viv his due. A month later (August 8, 1966 to be exact, or so claims the label of my demo copy of the 45) Viv was back this time being behind the drums of a group called The Bunch Of Fives. The band line up was reputed to consist of Mike Dockers (vocals), Mick Wayne (guitar, later to join Junior's Eyes who had a brief stint backing David Bowie in '69), Richard Dalling (bass), Dave Stewart (keyboards, later to join prog monsters Egg) and our very own Vivian St. Prince (drums). After Viv moved on the band mutated into The Tickle (who are resonsible for the $500+ Tony Visconti produced 45 "Subway(Smokey Pokey World)"/"Good Evening" U.K. Regal Zonophone RZ 3004 1967). Possibly on the strength of Viv The Bunch of Fives got a recording contract which leads us to....
As pointed out by my pal Mike Sin "At the Station" cropped up on Volume Four of the series "That Driving Beat", this is long out of print but it is contained on the still in print "That Driving Beat Vol.1 to Vol.5 Box Set ". "Go Home Baby" appeared on an 80's LP compilation on See For Miles records called "60's Beat" but has not surfaced on CD to my knowledge .
"Go Home Baby" for your ear holes:
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The "new look" Moody Blues featuring new members Justin Hayward (lead vocals/guitar) and John Lodge (bass/vocals) appeared on vinyl in May 1967 with this release. In addition to a "new look" the band sported a "new sound" that was a far cry from the blues/r&b image from the group who'd moved mountains with their hit interpretation of Bessie Bank's "Go Now". By May 1967 the "Summer of Love" was just around the bend and though The Moodies were not entirely entrenched in the peace and love vibe just yet they were no strangers to the world of controlled substances. When the U.K. rag "News Of The World " incorrectly reported that Mick Jagger was seen in a London night spot partaking in certain "substances" (silly them, it was really Brian Jones) it's reputed that he was in the company of certain members of The Moody Blues and the bands communal household was widely known as party central.
It should be to no surprise that the band admitted many years later that the "source" of the A-side "Fly Me High" should be none other than Cannabis-Indica . Instead of being mind-bending of even vaguely way out it's a light number. That of course is not meant to belittle its greatness, in fact it's possibly one of their strongest tracks and rather collectible. It begins with a gently ascending acoustic guitar that fades in slowly before being joined by the trademark bass/piano that was already a trademark Moodies staple. Justin Hayward's vocals (coupled with the distinct multi-level Moodies harmonies) propel the number along. What makes it so interesting is that there's nary a trace of Mellotron(soon to become a staple of the band's recordings) instead relying on piano, bass hand claps/tambourine and of course the lyrics, though silly are amusing in light of tit's "influences": "Hang onto me tight cos it doesn't last long, a few hours more and it'll be gone..".
The flipside, as mentioned in an earlier blog (see May 27, 2009's entry here) got an airing on German TV's "Beat Club" before Denny Laine had left. I'm not certain whether this was newly recorded with Hayward and Lodge or simply a left over from the previous line-up. Either way it's strangely out of place in either Moody Blues era. Written and sung by pianist Mike Pinder its not a bad track, just slightly unlike anything they'd done before, or would do again. It's rollicking barrel house piano sounds more at home on a late era Zoot Money & The Big Roll Band record or something Georgie Fame did in '67 than The Moody Blues and it's call and refrain vocals/backing vocals and double timed pace. Despite the brilliance of the A-side it failed to chart .
Both the A and B side of this single turned up on a now out of print Decca CD "Prelude" which contains various Decca/Deram mark two Moody Blues A's & B sides and unreleased numbers.
POSTSCRIPT: Some groovy clips from French TV have recently popped up on YouTube of "Fly Me High", one from 1966 before the record was even released, notice how different it is!
"I Really Haven't Got The Time" live on "Beat Club":
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Troggs primal four chord rock n’ roll unfairly stereotyped them as a knuckle dragging version of The Kinks (rawness but no wittiness). Rarely a band to follow trends they rode out the Sixties on a string of hits that kept them comfortable on the British charts and gainfully employed on “the Continent”.
“Cellophane” their third LP found breaking free (well, almost) of the four chord mould and for the first time employing the uses of session musicians taking them beyond their usual voice/guitar/bass/drums format.
Opening with the juvenile “Little Red Donkey”, it’s fairly obvious the leering proto-garage punk of “I Want You, “Wild Thing”, “I Can’t Control Myself” etc is nowhere to be found. “Little Red Donkey” would’ve made a great kids record, with it’s simplistic lyrics about a lazy domestic animal sporting and unlike any other Troggs number to date it sports a trumpet solo!! “Too Much Of A Good Thing” reverts to the band’s leery, primal urgency but without the chunky power Kinks/Who like chords instead giving way to a choppy rhythm and Bo Diddley-esque drum beat, easily one of my personal faves by them. “Butterflies And Bees” is written and sung by guitarist Chris Britton. Banish all thoughts of a hazy, psychedelic number (as the title seems to suggest), instead it’s actually a loungey laid back piece with floating flute that seems to echo the backing on a Gabor Szabo record. It’s impossible to comprehend upon hearing it that it’s The Troggs, but it’s rather enjoyable and lends to the varying degrees of semi-continuity of the LP. “All Of The Time” and “Seventeen” are both your archetype Reg Presley lead Troggs tracks, both seem to echo riffs that déjà vu suggests we’ve heard before?!?! “Her Emotion” (covered by a bunch of U.K. nobody’s calling themselves Cain) is a groovy little gem that seems to be about a hippie type gal (“she wears beads and bangles…she dances nude at the midnight hour”) with some wiggy chanting by the rest of the band. Drummer Ronnie Bond’s penned/sung track “When Will The Rain Come” is amazing. It’s hypnotic riff is carried away by a host of deep, ethereal chants, mild percussion and a feeling that seems to pre-date “Horse With No Name” as the listener is easily catapulted into the desert dying of thirst. “My Lady” is equally un-Troggs-like with it’s near baroque lutes/flutes and dirge type pace. The LP’s closing cut was the Troggs last chart topper “Love Is All Around”. Anyone in the know can tell you that the Troggs were about as trippy as baked beans on toast or a Sunday roast, but the haunting strings and the dreamy melody spin a monster track that’s been sadly co-opted by the “Summer of Love” marketing tag for the past 40+ years. I’m sure the band were having none of that, just watch the promo film tagged below where they look suitably uncomfortable.
“Cellophane” is getting pricey in its original form. Luckily it’s been reissued on CD by the German Repertoire label (with a ton of bonus cuts).
"Love Is All Around" promo film:
Thursday, August 13, 2009
There's little point in documenting this Birmingham quintet's history but let's just give a little background. All five band members had spent considerable time honing their musical skills in various Brumbeat acts and all of whom had recorded material. Lead singer Carl Wayne and bassist Chris "Ace" Kefford were in Carl Wayne and The Vikings , lead guitarist Roy Wood was in Mike Sherdian and The Nightriders and their later manifestation Mike Sheridan's Lot (see my blog from 12/18/08), rhythm guitarist Trevor Burton had played in Danny King's Mayfair Set and drummer Bev Bevan had spells in several groups, among them the pre-Moody Blues Denny Laine act Denny and The Diplomats. All five members got together at Birmingham's Cedar Club and decided to pool their collective talent resources into one group and began playing together in late 1965 whilst some members like Roy Wood, continued to gig simultaneously with their previous "employers". Originally they began as a mod-ish soul cover band. In fact this remained part of their set well into early '67 and garnered complaints from members of The Pink Floyd with who they often shared the bill (one of the band's member was quoted in the music press as disliking playing with The Move because they "brought too many mods with them" who came to see their soul covers and "syncopated stage moves"). Shots from their early gigs show them resplendent in check trousers, crew necks, mod-ish bouffant haircuts, wide belts and slingback shoes. Eventually after nearly a year of steady gigging they were signed (along with Cat Stevens, David Bowie and Beverley) to Decca's new off shoot Deram. The band's manager, one time boxing promoter Tony Secunda brought them to the attention of Deram and ushered the band's in house songwriter Roy Wood to the fore and on December 9, 1966 their debut "Night Of Fear/Disturbance" (both sides were Wood originals) appeared eventually shooting to #2 on the British charts.
Like many of Roy Wood's original compositions both sides of the record concerned mental illness. Roy's lyrics were often misconstrued as "druggy", Roy and Co. were more about a pint of bitter than L.S.D. "Night of Fear" has lyrics that conjure images of a bad trip ("green and purple lights affect your sight, your mother cannot comfort you tonight, your brain calls out for help that's never there..."), but Roy innocently went on to explain that the song was nothing more than a common childhood story of being terrified by the dark, things that go bump in the night and an overactive imagination. Of course this could be an attempt to explain what may have been a skillful double entendre (betrayed by Ace Kefford's soulful chorus where he sings "just about the flip your mind, just about to trip your mind"). The tune's riff is built around Tchaikovsky's "War Of 1812 Overture" melody. Roy Wood stated that his parents had been big classical music fans and that he'd gotten it from them, though as the Move were quite sophisticated soul aficionados (where they had covered a host of semi-obscure U.S. soul and r&b records as part of their live act) it is entirely possible that Roy nicked it after hearing the riff appropriated by Ike & Tina Turner on their Loma 45 "Tell Her I'm Not Home". Regardless the record's sheer force cannot be denied, from Carl Wayne's powerful vocals to Ace Kefford's rumbling bass it is a power pop tour de force that is easily akin to The Who in one of their "weird" moments. The flipside, "Disturbance" is another Roy Wood homage to madness full of fuzz guitars, catchy breaks and high voiced backing vocals and sharp whistles(a fave technique of Carl Wayne during many Move track's breaks or guitar solos). Keeping in tune with the band's live show (where all members sang lead on various numbers) Roy handles half of the vocals with Carl. doing the rest. The ending degenerates into mad screaming, snorting and grunting by Carl as he pleads "why don't you stop it..oh no oh no.." as the band plays ominous/sinister sounding music and everyone (led by Roy's distinct voice) does a sort of chant (described by them as "Hammer horror film music") into the fadeout.
Both tracks have been issued on a multitude of Move CD's.
Here's a rare 1967 Move promo film shot inside a London clothing boutique for "Night Of Fear":
"Night Of Fear" live on German TV's "Beat Beat Beat" 1967:
Decca and Deram benefited from having at their beck and call the services of two incredibly gifted A&R men/producers in the shape of Liverpool's Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington, late of Lee Curtis and The All Stars and The Pete Best Four (they will also go down in history for writing/producing and arranging all the Deram material for the U.K. based South Carolina soul trio The Flirtations). One of their crown jewels in my opinion is this happy/poppy two sider debut by Newcastle-Upon-Tyne's Toby Twirl, named after a 1950's children's book character who happened to be a pig. The band were comprised, as some sources state, from the ashes of The Shades Of Blue. They would go on to cut a total of three brilliant psych/pop 45's for Decca. They were: David Holland (vocals), Barry Sewell (organ), Nick Thorburn (guitar), Stuart Sommerville (bass) and John Reed (drums).
The fact that the band were responsible for three stunning 45's would lead one to believe that there would be a Toby Twirl compilation out there, but none exists as of yet. It is even more criminal that neither side of this 45 graced any volumes of either the "Rubble" or "Great British Psychedelic Trip" compilation series (which leaned heavily, esp. in the case of the latter, on Decca releases). Go figure!
Hear "Back In Time":
Hear "Harry Faversham":
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Confusion has long reigned in my mind until a few years back on The Move's 1968 E.P. which was reputedly recorded "live" at the famous Marquee Club at 90 Wardour Street in London. The front and back sleeve depicts a four piece Move, yet some of the tracks clear;y feature two guitars signalling that it might've been recorded by the original five piece Move line -up: Carl Wayne (lead vocals), Roy Wood (lead guitar/vocals), Trevor Burton (rhythm guitar/vocals), Chris "Ace" Kefford (bass/vocals) and Bev Bevan (drums).
The facts are now clear. In the December '67/January '68 Move fanclub newsletter members were encouraged to attend a special gig to be held at the Marquee on February 27, 1968 for the purpose of the recording of a special live E.P. The E.P. was to be "revolutionary" because unlike most 60's E.P.'s that consisted for four tracks this one would contain six. A full set of nine tracks was recorded. Due to some faulty tape recorder issues the lead vocal tracks on several of the numbers were inaudible. This was remedied by the band booking studio time to overdub a vocal track onto the live recording (hmmmm "Got Live If You Want It" anyone? Necessity really is the mother of invention). The set was as follows:
"Move Bolero" (an interpretation of Ravel's "Bolero")
"It'll Be Me"
"Too Much In Love"
"Flowers In The Rain"
"Stephanie Knows Who"
"So You Want To Be A Rock N' Roll Star"
"The Price Of Love"
Vocal retakes were done in the studio on the Jerry Lee Lewis number "It'll Be Me", "Denny Laine's "Too Much In Love", Love's "Stephanie Knows Who" and The Byrds "So You Want To Be A Rock N' Roll Star". Of these four all but the Denny Laine song were selected for inclusion on the E.P. It was decided that the band would return to the Marquee on May 5th for more "live" recordings. By this time however the band's charismatic bassist Ace Kefford had left following personal problems and rows within the band. His slot was taken by Trevor Burton who forfeited his rhythm guitar slot. Five new numbers were taped on May 5th with the new four piece Move, once again tape recording issues sent the band AGAIN into the studio to re-record the lead vocal track on some efforts from the May 5th gig like Jackie Wilson's "Higher And Higher" (where you can hear frontman Carl Wayne's low-fi verbal intro of "this one's for all the junkies" indicating how poor the lead mic was functioning), Spooky Tooth's "Sunshine Help Me", Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else" (sung by Trevor Burton) and Erma Franklin's "Piece Of My Heart" (the band scrapped an attempt to re-do the vocals for Moby Grape's "Hey Grandma" which was also cut on May 5th). Try as they may two separate mixing sessions (one with producer Tony Visconti and engineer Malcom Toft another with producer Denny Cordell and engineer Glyn Johns) failed to reduce the material to be condensed for a six track E.P., forcing the band and their manager Tony Secunda to settle for five tracks which were to be played at 33 1/3 to maximize available space on a 7" E.P. 5 tracks from two different gigs were chosen, lined up in a different order with fake applause dubbed in (the audience reaction on both "live" recordings is less than noticeable in the original tapes) as well as an intro tacked onto the opening track.
Opening with a frantic version of Jim McGuinn and Chris Hillman's "social R&R commentary" tune "So You Want To Be A Rock N' Roll Star", the band pull out all stops. Roy Wood goes absolutely batsh*t on wah-wah and Trevor Burton churns away with a choppy riff. On a personal note when I was in a garage band in 1985-1986 called The Phantom Five we played the track, I had never really heard The Byrds version, just this version by The Move as I bludgeoned through, Trevor Burton style on the number. The band make full use of their 4 part harmonies (well honed in their days as a soul/r&b band in their earlier days in late '65 through '66 and their next venture into "American West Coast sounds" after that) with decent results, even if the lead vocals are "faked". The wah-wah goes full tilt again as the band tackle Love's "Da Capo" track "Stephanie Knows Who" with some soulful vocals from Carl Wayne and their "heavy" sound make it very chunky and by all rights, their own. Eddie Cochran's classic "Somethin' Else" is tackled with Trevor Burton taking the lead vocal spot (a hark back to the days when all Move members handled lead vocals onstage) stomping the guts out of the original. One only ponders what folks made of the once stylishly "mod" band who used to cover "Stop And Get A Hold Of Myself" by Gladys Knight & the Pips and Betty Everett's "Can't Hear You No More" as they got firmly "heavy" and in "rocker territory" with this brilliant number. The rocking continues with the Jerry Lee Lewis tune "It'll Be Me" (that opened the original February 5th gig recording of the E.P.), this time led by the late great Carl Wayne. The E.P.'s final track is culled from the four piece Move gig, a cover of Spooky Tooth's debut 45 "Sunshine Help Me"(which like many of the session's "contemporary" cover versions borders on obscure). It's not terribly dissimilar from the original version, though it is decidedly heavier and certainly not as "polished", but unique with it's three part harmonies. The E.P. failed to chart, in fact it was the first U.K. 7" by The Move to fail to do so, something that would, for awhile become all to common as the band backslid into the lucrative yet souless "cabaret" scene.
All of the tracks from the original U.K. E.P. as well as all of the February 5, 1968 Marquee gig and some of the cuts from the "make-up" May 5, 1968 show have been painstakingly restored and issued as part of last year's essential 4 CD "Anthology 1966-1972" box set.
"Move Bolero/It'll Be Me":
"Sunshine Help Me":
"So You Want To Be A Rock N' Roll Star":
"Stephanie Knows Who":
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Doubtless you're all familiar with Chris Farlowe's warbly U.K. semi hit of "Handbags And Glad Rags", or Rod Stewart's, or the "new" version that served as the theme to the U.K. edition of "The Office" TV program. But have you heard the version by Double Feature? A U.K. 60's mod/soul duo?
Previously the duo had been launched with Deram DM 115 where they performed a stunningly soulful version of Cat Steven's "Baby Get Your Head Screwed On" that fused blue eyed soul/r&b with freakbeat.
This time around they tackled Manfred Mann singer Mike D'Abo's poignant stormer "Handbags And Glad Rags" as Side A. It combines a tinny pub piano tinkling and these sawing cellos with a heavily soulful vocal delivery that all versions I've encountered seem to lack.
Flip it over and you've got "Just Another Lonely Night" a classic slice of British 60's soul pop if ever there was such a genre. It's stocked with the full on Deram treatment:horns, strings, vibes, funky breaks and magic production. In fact I daresay I like it more than the flip with it's "call and response" chirpy vocals and nifty little melody that's as jaunty as so many other cheeky late 60's British pop records recorded with big budgets for relatively obscure artists. Obviously as in the case of 99% of the Deram records I rave about here on "Anorak Thing" it failed to become a success or make the band in question a household name. Who they were and what became of them I do not profess to know. Anyone want to fill in the gaps?"Handbags And Glad Rags":
Deram was one of those weird labels who put pretty much anything out, from David Bowie to sitar sounds of Chim Kothari or elevator pap like The Roberto Mann Singers. So it should be no surprise that someone at the label let the one time early 60's U.K. beat sensation Mike Berry (who by 1969 had no doubt seen better times) put this together. Now I can't be certain that Mr. Berry is singing on this, it doesn't sounds like the guy who crooned the brilliant "Lovesick" (U.K. HMV 1964). Anyway he is the composer of both sides and producer as well, but since it didn't show up on the discography on his website it's probably a safe bet that he's not singing on it.
Side A "Take Me For What I Am", is an upbeat, double tracked vocal beat number, complimented by a catchy riff played by the backing guitar and combo organ. The riff is quite infectious and isn't easily forgotten, the number itself sounds like it could've been a Honeycombs track. As on the flipside there's lots of (presumably) dubbed in audience noise that threatens to overwhelm the music (much like Simon Napier Bell's fake audience on the John's children "Orgasm" LP).
Side B's "Goodbye" is a perfect "fade out", "good night folks" type number, and the possibly dubbed in screams add to the "end of the show feel". It's fast paced, based around a repetitive organ riff (cheezy enough to be a Vox or Farfisa). The vocals are delivered rapid fire and venomous enough to be Johnny Rotten, right down the the over emphasized rolling of the syllables at the end of each word: "hey girl, say girl, on your way girl I won't be around, no more heartbreak, no more heartache find another clown...goodby-eeeee". Amazing, even more so when you think in 1969 Deram were knee deep in wanky, over indulgent predictable crap like Ten Year's After (10 minute guitar solo anyone? No thank you). I'd much prefer this Mike Berry 2-3 minute aggro pop any time over Woodstock dinosaur rock!!
"Take Me For What I Am":