Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lobby Loyde & The Coloured Balls: Sharpie Music

Melbourne, Australia sharpies circa 1971
One of these days I'm going to get around to chatting about about a subculture in the late 60's/early-mid 70's in Australia called the sharpies and posting some pics of this truly Australian only phenomena. They looked like a weird cross between skinheads/suedeheads/glam rockers and tacky 70's styles. They seemed to have a penchant for mullets and flares which made them look decidedly odd. But make no mistake from all I've read and the pics I've seen they were hard nuts. Unlike their British skinhead/suedehead cousins their musical tastes were pretty uncool, no reggae/rocksteady/soul for these bootboys, they were into some very heavy rock n' roll.

One of the few bands they championed that I do dig were Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls. Here's a clip of them playing some serious aggro music in the form of their single "Devil's Disciple" from 1973 that seems to anticipate the British Oi! movement by a good six years!





Sunday, December 20, 2009

MONSTER U.K. Organ FREAKOUT!



JULIEN COVEY & THE MACHINE-A Little Bit Hurt/Sweet Bacon France Fontana 260.100 TF 1967

Awwwwlright, doesn't get any more happening than this monster two sided U.K. organ groover. On the A-side we have "A Little Bit Hurt" which sounds like Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels if they were a but more organ heavy. The band's soulful lead vocalist Julien Covey was also their drummer AND depped for The Who's Keith Moon on a few dates in early '67 while Moonie was recuperating from a hernia he got while throwing his kit around. His voice sounds a lot like Mitch Ryder and the organ playing is damned identical to Wynder K. Frog's stuff on Island (they both shared the same label and were both produced one of my fave knob twiddlers, the late great Jimmy Miller). "A Little Bit Hurt" benefits from a nice chanted main chorus and some (yes!) cowbell! But the flip is where it really gets out of hand (in a good way). "Sweet Bacon" will go down in U.K. 60's instro Hammond heaven (along with Wynder K. Frog's "I'm A Man", Stone's Masonry's "Flapjacks", The St. Louis Union's "English Tea" and The Small Face's "Own Up Time"). It's as, one man said, a stone gas from start to finish. Some Bluesbreakers-style lead guitar bursts and wailing, twirling ("and always twirling, twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom"-Kodos) organ that evokes The Spencer Davis Group Mark One at the end of their (B-3 heavy) days.

"A Little Bit Hurt" has appeared on many CD compilations, most recently on Psychic Circle's "New Directions:British Blue Eyed Soul" while "Sweet Bacon" has turned up on the "Instro Hipsters A Go-Go Volume Two" CD compilation.

"A Little Bit Hurt":
"Sweet Bacon":

Foreign E.P.'s Part Two

THE EQUALS-Yugoslavian E.P. (I Won't Be There/Fire/Baby Come Closer/Baby Come Back/Hold Me Closer) Produkcija Gramofoskin Ploca EP 53259 Pr 1967

The Equals kicked ass, anybody not familiar with this amazing multi-racial U.K. 60's band needs to stop what they're doing and go order one of their CD's NOW! Known chiefly for the strength of their 1967 hit "Baby Come Back" and for being Eddie "Electric Avenue" Grant's first band, they chalked up a number of cool 45's/LP's from 1966-1970. Before Eddie dyed his fro yellow and the band got kitted out in clown costumes they were mod as hell as you can see above. Undeniably rhythmic, you can't hear their soulful numbers without at least tapping your feet!

Evidently "Baby Come Back" was a big enough hit to get released in Yugoslavia of all places on this nifty looking little E.P. that sports a photo presumably from the same shoot that provided the cover shot for their amazing debut LP "Unequaled Equals". They chose the band's first U.K. 45 (A and B side), the storming "I Won't Be There" and it's equally amazing but less common on compilation CD's "Fire" to round off side one. Side two was filled out by the "hit" the proto-rocksteady "Baby Come Back" and it's brass driven flipside "Hold Me Closer" (which utilizes almost the same riff as "Baby..").

(Below) The Equals live on German TV's "Beat Beat Beat" 1967 doing side two of this E.P. and two other cuts:

(Below)And lip syncing "I Won't Be There" on German TV's "Beat Club" 2/25/67:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Kitsch Consortium Hall Of Heroes



FRANKIE RANDALL-"The Mods And The Pops" U.S. LP RCA Victor LSP-3941 1968

High camp! Cheese so thick it wouldn't melt in fondue! But I love cheese. This possibly explains why I'm so enamoured with the old "SCTV" skits like "The Sammy Maudlin Show" and my hero "Bobby Bitmann" (played with City of Brotherly Love borscht belt aplomb by Eugene Levy). I also love corny LP's by 60's artists covering contemporary hits in semi hip AND unhip ways.

From what I can gather Frankie Randall was/is a wanna be Sinatra from Passiac, New Jersey. His website hysterically boasts "everyone calls Frankie Randall the real deal because he is the last link to Sinatra's Rat Pack". Ho boy..... Anyway I'm not sure who's idea it was to have this crooner of no repute cover so many "hip" songs but the LP is full of some interesting ideas, namely inclusion of a version of The Move's "Flowers In The Rain". The Move were pretty much unknown in the U.S. (despite having a few of their early singles released on A&M) at the time so points for forward thinking go to some A&R man! Even more obscure is his take on Carter/Lewis creation, The Flowerpot Men and their U.K. answer to Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco(Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)", "Let's Go To San Francisco". There are also versions of Donovan's "Lelainia", The Cowsill's "The Rain, The Park And Other Things", Jay and The Technique's "Keep The Ball Rolling" and a Donovan composition called "Be Not Too Hard" that I am not familiar with. Of course all of these numbers are delivered in the lifeless supper club crooner saccharine/cheeseball style that one would expect from a wanna be Sinatra. However the crown jewel of the lot is his version of The Who's "I Can See For Miles". It's so cheezy Rhino dug it up for inclusion on their very first "Golden Throats" compilation all those years ago. It's campy, over the top and he even get the words wrong, but it's worth it (providing you paid $5.00 for the LP like I did). There's some "Association" type "ba ba ba ba's" behind Frankie's lifeless delivery with some "Along Comes Mary" style flute and sawing symphony.

Hear "I Can See For Miles":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgcogT4CYNc

Frankie's "official" website:

http://www.frankierandall.com/index.html

Davy Jones & The Lower Third



DAVY JONES & THE LOWER THIRD, Marquee Club London September 1965





DAVY JONES (with The Lower Third)-You've Got A Habit Of Leaving/Baby Loves that Way U.K. Parlophone R 5315 1965

By August 20, 1965 David Robert Jones had been in two different bands, who released two records a piece encompassing two different styles (beat/r&b as Davie Jones and The King Bees with "Liza Jane"/"Louie Go Home" Vocallion Pop V 9221 June 1964 and r&b ala Georgie Fame/Zoot Money with The Manish Boys "I Pity The Fool"/"Take My Tip" Parlophone R 5250 March 1965). Neither record did anything. For his next venture he teamed up with three gentlemen he'd met in a coffee bar on Denmark Street in April of 1965 (then home to many of London's music publishing offices) called The Lower Third consisting of Denis "Tea Cup" Taylor (lead guitar), "Graham Rivens (bass) and Les Mighall (drums) . The quartet firmly embraced (though reluctantly for some of the group's members) the "mod" image and manager (ex-Moody Blues roadie Ralph Horton) duly took them down to Carnaby Street and got them kitted out in matching white Ben Sherman's, floral ties, grey trousers and crepe souled suede shoes. In May before any gigging could be undertaken Mighall was replaced by Phil Lancaster and the band set about gigging around, namely at London's Marquee and 100 Club, Bournemouth's Pavilion and the Isle of Wight's Ventnor Winter Garden's throughout the summer of '65. Jones used his contacts with the producer of his single with The Manish Boys, Shel Talmy to garner another Parlophone release for his new combo, whose debut he would produce further cementing the band's Who fixation.


"You've Got A Habit Of Leaving" would be Jone's first original "A" side (his debut composition "Take My Tip" was regalated to the bottom side of his previous 45 with The Manish Boys). The band's obvious Who/Kinks fetish is apparent from the moment Taylor's first chord strikes and the backing vocals bear the oft familiar Who-ish feel to them. Instead of a guitar solo there's an "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" styled "rave up" where Rivens does a series of swooping bass runs and Taylor elicits feedback and some wiggy Joe Meek sounding noodling while Jones blows some harp and then it all comes back to earth. The flipside, to me is the more powerful of the two as it tramps along at an almost Motown feel with it's mid tempo pace. The band provide shouting backing vocals and Taylor cranks out a brief blistering solo laden in volume and distortion.


Of course it failed to make any impact and the normally inept Horton did manage to get the band another record deal with producer Tony Hatch and Pye records, but first Davy Jones would change his name to David Bowie to avoid confusion with a diminutive Mancunian playing in the pre-fab four. Like the Parlophone release here, the Pye debut would not contain the Lower Third's name anywhere on the 45 label, hastening their disenchantment and immediate demise.

Both sides can be found on the excellent Rhino records CD "David Bowie: Early On (1964-1966).

"Baby Loves That Way":

Foreign E.P.'s Part One (Via Portugal)!


THE BYRDS- E.P. Portugal CBS 6192 EP 0084 (Mr. Tambourine Man, I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better/Don't Doubt Yourself Babe, It's No Use) 1966


Here's an odd duck, a Portuguese Byrds E.P. Unlike most European traditions of combining two U.S. or U.K. singles by British or American acts with both their "A" and "B" sides Portuguese Sixties E.P.'s always seem to center around one "A" side and a miscellany of other tracks. Case in point they've taken Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and left off it's U.S./U.K. "B" side "I Knew I'd Want You" and included the band original composition "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" (the U.S./U.K. "B" side of "All I Really Want To Do") alongside it on side "A" of this E.P. Side "B" takes two tracks from the "Mr. Tambourine Man" album, Jackie DeShannon's "Don't Doubt Yourself Babe" and band original "It's No Use". And unlike most of their homegrown 7"'s Portuguese pressings of foreign bands on major labels were always high quality affairs on solid vinyl with laminated, glossy hard stock E.P. picture sleeves (sadly my Byrds E.P. came without a sleeve and came in a stock CBS sleeve) that like their French counterparts offered colorful variations utilizing different photos and interesting artwork differing from American and British releases.

Indigenous Portuguese 60's rock n' roll releases are scarce, not just because there were very few and the country was economically depressed, but because the manufacturing quality was not up to the same standard as the domestic releases of foreign artists on labels like CBS or Fontana who had financial backing from their parent countries. Portuguese 60's rock n' roll singles/E.P.s often tend to come in almost tracing paper thin picture sleeves on brittle, light vinyl discs often bearing label work that in some cases was merely ink stamped (akin to some of the more rare obscure 60's Jamaican ska 45's ). This of course does not add up with general wear and tear to ensure that there will be many copies left in playable condition 40+ years on.

R&B Power:British Style



DUFFY POWER-It Ain't Necessarily So/If I Get Lucky Someday U.K. Parlophone R 4992 1963

British rhythm and blues legend Duffy Power needs no introduction. Born Ray Howard and like fellow Brit r&b icon Georgie Fame, received his new moniker care of British early 60's rock n' roll impresario Larry Parnes. Power cut a series of MOR crooner and rock n' roll records for the Fontana label before switching to EMI's Parlophone outlet and more importantly switching to playing r&b. Overnight Power's image, dress style and repertoire changed almost overnight. Speaking to "Record Collector's" John Reed in 1995 Power cited seeing the Graham Bond Organization live at The Flamingo and hearing "The Best Of Muddy Waters" over at Billy Fury's flat as being crucial to his new found makeover.

His Parlophone debut in February 1963 was the platter here in question. It would be pointless to try to catalog the number of British r&b artists who cut versions of Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So". Duffy's version, thanks to his soulful voice is a cut above them all (aided by some very sophisticated guitar work by session slinger Big Jim Sullivan and some very churchy organ). The flip, is far superior with the same session men employed making it a classic example of bluesy, moddy British Sixties r&b with the organ and guitar answering each other with little riffs while Duffy sings along like a Mose Allison acolyte. Best of all it's a Duffy Power orginal (credited to him utilizing his real name in the credits).

The record didn't chart, but Power built a solid reputation with further brilliant releases in the same vein. The next being a version of "I Saw Her Standing There" where he was backed by the mighty Graham Bond Quartet (Parlophone R 5024) in May 1963. But that, as they say, is another story for another time (watch this space for it).

Luckily both sides of this 45 are available on the highly recommended Duffy Power double CD on RPM "Leapers And Sleepers" and an alternate version of "If I Get Lucky Some Day" cropped up on the equally recommended British 60's r&b CD compilation "Take My Tip: 25 British Mod Artefacts From The EMI Vaults".

"If I Get Lucky Some Day":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kTpUEhWVnE

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ian McLagan-"Debris"

Ian McLagan pays tribute to the late great Ronnie Lane and performs "Debris" @ The Record Collector, Bordentown, NJ, USA 11/13/09

Great LP's In My Life

VARIOUS ARTISTS-My Generation U.K. EMI Nut 4 198?

Side One:

1.TOMORROW-My White Bicycle

2. THE ACTION-Baby You've Got It

3. TERRY REID-The Hand Don't Fit The Glove

4. THE DOWNLINERS SECT-Glendora

5. TONY RIVERS-God Only Knows

6. THE GODS-Baby's Rich

7. THE BOSTON CRABS-Gin House

8. LOCOMOTIVE-Mr. Armageddon

Side Two:

1. THE YARDBIRDS-Happenings Ten Year's Time Ago

2.THE MOLES-We Are The Moles

3. THE ROULETTES-The Long Cigarette

4. VIV PRINCE-Light Of The Charge Brigade

5. THE SHOTGUN EXPRESS-I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round

6. THE ARTWOODS-What Shall I Do

7. LOVE SCULPTURE-The Stumble

8. ROD STEWART-Shake

On a journey to New York City by bus in the summer of 1983 I made several important purchases with my very first paycheck hard earned in the grease of a McDonald's two towns away. The first was a pair of Two Tone "Jam" shoes from Trash And Vaudeville on St. Mark's Place and a few doors down at a record shop called Sounds I bought The Action's "Ultimate Action" Edsel LP compilation, a dodgy French compilation LP on Eva by The Creation called "The Creation/The Mark Four" (I passed on their Edsel "How Does It Feel To Feel" compilation because this one was cheaper, silly boy) and this interesting LP comp on EMI that featured a painting of a bunch of rockers being sneered at by mods at the seaside. I had spied this LP a year or two earlier and wrongly assumed because of the leather clad gentleman so prominently featured on the cover that it was "rocker" album though I was, at that time, puzzled by the inclusion of a Yardbirds track on it and having owned their "Having a Rave Up.." LP (where they were bedecked in "skinny ties and black suits like The Jam") I'd assumed they were "mod". Fast forward to 1983 and I knew of The Action from my sole Edsel single AND a German 45 my uncle had brought back from his army stint there (along with several Screaming Lord Sutch singles) and of course The Yardbirds but everyone else of the LP was new to my ears. "My Generation" culled some off the wall and better known U.K. 60's 45 tracks from EMI sources like Columbia and Parlophone and packaged them up nicely.

It did take me awhile to digest some of tracks because of their psychedelic inclinations (esp. Simon Dupree and The Big Sound's "We Are the Moles" which they cuts as "The Moles", Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle" and Locomotive's "Mr. Armageddon"), and I don't think I've ever come around to liking Tony River's interpretation of The Wilson Family's "God Only Knows". But the album introduced me to a variety of other artists, many of whom, like The Action, had LP compilations available on Edsel records that made me fans of them. I am of course referring to the beat group brilliance of The Roulette's "The Long Cigarette" (which soon sent me off for their comp. LP "Russ Bob Pete And Mod") and the gloomy "What Shall I Do" by The Artwoods (which in turn inspired me to grab their LP "100 Oxford Street" which contained a plethora of their Decca material). And though I'd been bludgeoned by crap like "Tonight's The Night" and "Do You Think I'm Sexy" I got to see that Rod Stewart was actually cool in the 60's in the shape of his solo 1966 version of "Shake" and his vocals on The Shotgun Express contribution "I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round" (for more on that see my Feb. 11th, 2009 posting). I was introduced to ex-Pretty Thing's looner stickman Viv Prince's "solo" single, the orchestral"Light Of The Charge Brigade" years before I owned my first Pretty Things record and The Downliners Sect a few years before the first "cool" girlfriend would turn me onto their LPs (along with long players by Them and The Pretty Things). Though I'd had a steady diet of The Yardbirds my knowledge of them did not extend past their earlier mentioned LP so "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" was a total mind blower which sent me out after "Roger The Engineer" (Edsel records strikes again). I was immediately charmed by The God's "Baby's Rich" and though it took me many years to hear the rest of their discography I was not disappointed with what I found. Of course it would take me another year before I'd embraced British 60's psychedelia with Pink Floyd's first LP and by that time I was avidly ready to devour Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle" and Locomotive's "Mr. Armageddon" and in turn seek both of their sole LP's out. And of course I still haven't gotten off my ass to check that Terry Reid LP out (I'll get to it someday Eric!).

In retrospect it was pretty damned amazing to get such a musical education at the age of 16 for the slim price of $5.69. You can't get six songs off of iTunes for that these days. Like the old standard says "things ain't what they used to be".

The Roulettes "The Long Cigarette":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=481z57KfGp0

The Moles "We Are The Moles":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCOLp_31Zjs

Tomorrow "My White Bicycle":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62yWU4ryrgI

The Downliners Sect "Glendora":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP-kCIp1gRk

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pop Psych Conundrum




THE ATTACK-Created By Clive U.K. Decca F 12631 1967
THE SYN-Created By Clive U.K. Deram DM 130 1967

There are few instances in the history of British pop psych where two bands, both affiliated with the same label, released versions of the same tune simultaneously. On this rare exception I present to you "Created By Clive", released in June 1967 by The Attack on Decca F 12631 AND as the debut 45 for The Syn on Decca's offshoot label Deram, as DM 130. It mattered little because both numbers cancelled each other out and the world was denied the chance to hear a tongue and cheek pop psych ditty about a spurned boyfriend of a dolly bird who's become a model and isn't quite the same again. This was not the first time the Attack had been caught up in a "same track" slug fest. Their previous single (also their debut) was "Hi Ho Silver Lining" (Decca F 12578) was released in March of 1967 in tandem with Jeff Beck's version on Columbia DB 8151 (which became the hit).


To me the Syn's version of "Created By Clive" is far superior. It's simplistic. It's just bass, drums, organ and very minimal guitar in it's instrumentation. The lead vocals are heavily Anglicized but not too over the top either with an almost contemptuous, bored tone that makes you really believe this guy has lost his gal and there's some neat high Who-ish backing vocals. What attracted me to this version when I heard it for the first time was the little combo organ that reminded me of The Doors if they'd been more "kitschy" especially during the little solo and the drums click perfectly with it.

The Attack's version, in my book, is way over produced. There's a xylophone solo on it for god sakes! The vocals are so affected it almost sounds like a bad Hollywood take on a British "posh" accent and the chorus sounds like a drunken pub knees up (and not in a good time Kinks way) and the whole thing sort of plods along like a wind up music box tune.
Decide for yourselves:

Hear The Syn's version:
And The Attack's:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Fame in '67: Georgie Fame's New Sound


GEORGIE FAME-Try My World/No Thanks U.K. CBS 2945 1967

By 1967 the Flamingo/Hammond n' horns Clive Powell was barely a shade of his former self. He'd pensioned the Blue Flames off, switched from EMI's Columbia imprint to a lucrative deal with CBS and got decidedly more "pop" (though his high sales figures and reputation allowed him to embrace his first love: jazz, at his new home, but that'd be later after these first few singles). CBS saw big things for their new signing, giving all of his records a groovy little logo with his profile that boasted "Fame in '67 on CBS". Fans of his r&B/soul/Bluebeat days no doubt cried "foul" and "sellout", but their cries were no doubt silenced by chart placings, music weekly cover shots and "Top Of The Pops" appearances. It made sense as by '67 the writing was on the wall for the Flamingo style of British r&b. As we've discussed in other entries here on Anorak Thing Chris Farlowe, Zoot Money and Graham Bond were getting wiggy, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers had become the finishing school for guitar heroes and Brian Auger was heading for success with Julie Driscoll and The Trinity (while still simultaneously "keeping the faith" with his own career, which like Fame, led him down the "true" path: jazz).


"Fame In '67" was launched in Match of 1967 with his CBS debut "Because I Love You"/"Bidin' My Time" (CBS 202587) which reached #15. The Summer of Love's last month saw the release of Georgie's 2nd CBS 7", our 45 in question.

"Try My World" is decidedly most un-r&b/soul. It's cascading harp and low key vocals lend itself perfectly to an un-made Swingin' London film where a mini skirted/knicker-less Susan George gets it on with a guy with sideburns and a bouffant hairdo in a flat with the GPO tower in the background and a mini Moke parked down on the street below while the number's muted trumpets tweet. It's not Hammond n' horns, but it works for me. The flip "No Thanks" is one of those rare 60's tracks by Georgie that's actually of his own composition. Disheartened r&b fans could not fail to take note that the Hammond and horns, complete with reedy sax solos, were not dead with "More Fame In '67 On CBS" on this B-side. Fame's delivery is confidant, almost belligerent as he sings of a fancy for the racetrack, wine and getting treated like crap by a "woman that I see downtown". Brilliant stuff with the memorable chorus: "Money get out of my bank file, bottle get off of my stack, woman get out of my woodpile, monkey get off my back". I personally got some seriously heavy dance floor action out of spinning this track once a month upstairs at a dive club in New Brunswick, New Jersey from 1997-1999. It was a staple and the floor was never empty when it came on. The public in '67 barely noticed and the record never got past #37. Little bother, as Fame's career did not falter and in fact his next (and last) #1 was just around the bend with a dreadful little tune called "The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde".

Both sides of this killer platter are fortunately contained on a U.K. CBS retrospective of Georgie's time on the label titled "Somebody Stole My Thunder: Jazz-Soul Grooves 1967-1971 ".

"Try My World":
"No Thanks":
Georgie and friends at London's Cromwellian Club 1/8/67

2-Tone:'68 Style



THE FOUNDATIONS-Back On My Feet Again/I Can Take Or Leave Your Loving U.K. Pye 7N.17417 1968

Unless you've been living in a shack in the wilds of Oregon you'll no doubt be familiar with The Foundations via "Build Me Up Buttercup" or "Baby, Now that I've Found You". The Foundations were a multi racial British based band boasting members from the U.K., West Indies and Sri Lanka. Though their hits have tended to create the unfortunate "oldies station" overkill the Foundations were a top notch band with soulful sounds, smart styles (their drummer for awhile sported a suedehead style) and first class pop/soul tunes care of the song writing/production team of John Macleod and Tony Macauly.

Macauly/Macleod's "Back On My Feet Again" was the band's second single , released in January 1968. It followed their August 1967 number one (on both sides of the Atlantic) "Baby, Now that I've Found You". Lead by the soulful vocals of the band's original lead singer Clem Curtis (who's West Indian accent adds just the right bit of "flavor" to the tune) the number is catchy as hell from it's simple brass section blaring out the melody, it's subtle groovy Hammond twirling and solid backing vocals. The flipside is an equally powerful pop/soul number called "I Can Take Or Leave Your Loving", a bit more downtrodden than the A-side but full of precision horn work and cool call and response backing vocals. Oddly enough Mickie Most's boys Herman's Hermit's issued a version of the song at the exact same time as their A-side (Columbia DB 8327) earning them a hit! This must have led to some interesting exchanges in the green room of "Top Of the Tops" as both acts went to plug their respective hits! Despite being a catchy little tune "Back On My Feet Again" died a death at #48 and the band would have to wait a further ten months and a new lead singer to capture #1 again with "Baby, Now That I've Found You".

Both sides are contained on numerous Foundations Pye/Sequel/Castle compilations.
"Back On My Feet Again" on "Top Of The Pops" 2/15/68:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mod Anthems Part One: The London Boys














DAVID BOWIE-The London Boys U.K. Deram DM 107 1966

Mod anthems...when I was 13 or 14 my "personal mod anthems" changed from week to week. One week it'd be "Time For Action" or "Glory Boys" by Secret Affair , "Millions Like Us" by The Purple Hearts etc etc et al and who could forget the eternally pigeon holed "My Generation"!?!?

In the fall of 1983 I stumbled upon "The London Boys" on a London Records cassette comp called "The World Of David Bowie" during my quest to hear/own the rest of Bowie's non-LP Deram cuts. I had found my anthem driving late one night in a Triumph sports car through the fall swept rural roads of Plainsboro, NJ feeling lonely and quite sorry for myself. It was THE mod anthem. It was, and still is.. and much more. Bowie, despite his Anthony Newley pretensions was never a full on crooner. "The London Boys" was and is, an exception to that rule. From it's somber, glum beginning warble to the lifting full throttle cabaret ending (which David Robert Jones delivers like the Frank Sinatra of modernism) the number is a masterpiece. Restrained by a simple bass/organ backing with strains of brass (muting trumpet and woodwinds, and possibly some French horn) the song builds as the pitch of Bowie's plight reaches it's full descent. Lyrically poignant and proud despite the "against all odds" scenario of hopelessness,and failure faced by the song's young protagonist, "The London Boys" ages well (it was cheekily covered with some style and jazz/ska panache by The Times in 1985 on creepy cash in Mark Johnson's Unicorn label). Unlike "My Generation" or any jaded/dated Secret Affair record this is the stuff of dreams, broken ones albeit, but dreams nonetheless.

Originally it was demoed with Bowie's third band, The Lower Third at Pye records Marble Arch studios in the fall of '65. It was immediately rejected for release by Pye due to it's language about overt drug use(sadly this version is seemingly lost forever as unlike many other 60's Bowie tracks no version has surfaced among bootleggers or Bowie fans alike). The second version (which was used on the eventual single) was recorded in a demo session at R.G. Jones studios on October 18, 1966 as part of a series of demos in the hopes of ensnaring a record contract (Bowie had since been dropped by Pye after three brilliant but commercially unsuccessful singles), though one would expect that the horns were later dubbed in Decca/Deram's studio as the label was loathe to allow the use of outside studios to record obscure acts. The demos had their desired effect and David Bowie was awarded a contract with Decca's new Deram off shoot. "The London Boys" would surface as the B- side to his debut Deram 45 'Rubber Band" on December 2, 1966.

"Well, it tells the story of life as some teenagers saw it - but we didn't think the lyrics were quite up many people's street. I do it on stage though, and we're probably keeping it for an EP or maybe an LP. Hope, hope! It's called "Now You've Met The London Boys", and mentions pills, and generally belittles the London night life scene."
-David Bowie in "Melody Maker" in Feb. 1966


Hear "The London Boys" (and watch a 60's Bowie slideshow):



*****This piece was originally published on Uppers.org on October 22, 2007****

Big In Japan:Gary Walker & The Rain







GARY WALKER & THE RAIN-Album No.1 (Phillips SFX-7133 Japan LP) 1968

SIDE ONE:
Magazine Woman
The Sun Shines
Doctor Doctor
I Can't Stand To Lose You
Market Tavern
Take A Look

SIDE TWO:
The View
If You Don't Come Back
Thoughts Of An Old Man
Francis
I Promise To Love You
Whatever Happened To Happy

Okay let's just assume you've been on Mars for the past 50 years and were unaware of an American U.K. based mid 60's pop sensation trio called The Walker Brothers. The Walkers rode high on the hit parade led by Scott Walker's (real surname Engel) moody baritone backed up by John Walker's similar tones (real last name Maus) and then there was Gary Walker (nee Leeds) on drums. There were claims that he didn't drum on their records because of American contractual obligations, in fact I can barely tell if he sang on their records either. Gary, was however, the first Walker to be afforded "solo" records (long before the "Solo Scott/Solo John" EP, see January 11, 2009 entry): "You Don't Love Me"/"Get It Right" U.K. CBS 202036 in February 1966 and "Twinkle Lee"/"She Makes Me Feel Better" U.K. CBS 202081 in May 1966. But by 1967 the rot had set in and despite a brief Japanese reunion tour the Walkers were dead. Gary wasted little time putting a group together: Gary Walker and The Rain with Gary on lead vocals and drums, ex- Masterminds guitarist Joey Molland on lead guitar, Paul Crane (formerly of The Cryin' Shames) on rhythm guitar and ex-Universals member John Lawson on bass. Nasty legal proceedings by former management scuttled any chance of their February 1968 debut "Spooky"/"I Can't Stand To Lose You" (U.K. Polydor 56237) gaining any radio/TV exposure so the band turned to the land of the Rising Sun where The Walkers were, behind The Beatles and The Monkees, the hottest act in that far off land. This enabled them to issue two singles and an E.P. on Phillip's Japanese imprint :"Spooky"/"I Can't Stand To Lose You" Phillips SFL-1150, "The View"/"Thoughts Of An Old Man" Phillips SFL-1174 and an E.P. "Magazine Woman"/"Take A Look"/"The View"/"Spooky" Phillips SFL-3243. Soon an LP was deemed necessary. The forthcoming Japanese only "Album No.1" is one of the most expensive U.K. 60's vinyl LP's of all time. Copies fetch anywhere in the $2-3,000.00 mark with their lavish color sleeves. It was bootlegged on LP and then CD by some dodgy person who had the audacity to initially charge heavy prices for the bootleg LP. Fortunately it was reissued on CD in pristine from the masters glory in the U.K. this year.

The LP was basically a collection of some previously released tracks from their Japanese 7" discography with production handled by the late ex-Four Pennies member Fritz Fryer (also responsible for producing freakbeat/psych legends The Open Mind and Jason Crest). Rather than go track by track I've opted to highlight my favorite tracks. Kicking off with the spooky "Taxman" bass line driven "Magazine Woman" the album is a freakbeat/psych masterpiece. "Magazine Woman" has a lysergic presence in it's repetitive "Taxman" bass loop and some electronically distorted guitars that are mind bending. "The Market Tavern" is a piano backed quintessential trip to the England of village greens, brown ale and darts and wouldn't be at all out of place on a Kink's LP from '67-'69 with it's English social observations ("Johnny comes from Scotland where the haggis can be found, he wears a suit on Sunday and he'll never let you down, he's related to Robert The Bruce, he came to London and he drank all the juice.."). The band's version of The Classic's VI hit "Spooky " (which pipped Dusty Springfield's version on the B-side of "How Can I Be Sure" by a whole two years) though ill advised is not terrible, then there isn't much you can do to ruin this groovy little number. "Take A Look" is pure rock n' roll with high falsetto backing vocals that recall the Fab Four before they grew moustaches and weird and like all the band's numbers feature some solid deep basslines. "The View" is probably one of the band's more way out numbers starting with some jazzy arpeggios and a nice mesh of phlanged bass and piano driving the band's Beatlesque harmonies along as they croon "what is the few like from the thirteenth floor?". At about 2:09 listen for Lawson's flubbed bass line as he comes back into the verse in the wrong key. A blistering six minute and 45 second version of The Drifter's "If You Don't Come Back" is next up. Molland plays some insane distorted solos and at one point sounds like he's doing a Nigel Tuffnell and has set his guitar down against a bank of amps to let it feed back while things are thrown at it. The number does go on a bit but the impassioned lead vocals and the Fab Four influenced backing vocals give it some "go"! "Thoughts Of An Old Man" is another distinctly British psych-pop number with phlanged piano, chirpy "ba ba ba ba" backing vocals and lovely melody and lyrics concerning a lonely, retired senior citizen. There's a break where a backing vocalist sings and is answered through a megaphone by the lead singer and some sky-ing backing vocals (ala The Association) wrap around your head. "Francis" follows the same blistering Molland guitar pyrotechnics of ""If You Don't Come Back", bu here they're brief, controlled and evocative of British psych pop before headbands and 20 minute blues jams killed it all. It was also tucked away on the flip of the band's U.K. only cover of The Easybeat's "Come In You'll Get Pneumonia (Phillips BF 1740 in January 1969).