Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Artwoods: Fin

THE ARTWOODS-What Shall I Do/In The Deep End U.K. Parlophone R 5590 1967

By 1967 The Artwoods had been giving a good show up and down the British Isles in a transit van for 5 years with little to show for it but a small, now horribly collectible, discography. By 1967 they had released 5 singles, an E.P. and an L.P. before being dumped by their label Decca. A one off followed on EMI's Columbia label, but it would be their last as The Artwoods.

Both sides show a weird darkness to them, like their choice of material and the somber mood of both tracks reflected their career.  Even both titles reveal a plaintive sense of foreboding doom: "What Shall I Do" and "In The Deep End".  Why?  For starters The Artwoods career was never helped by the choosing of American r&b, soul and blues numbers as their A-sides, made null and void once the English public began to have greater access to American import 45's and domestic pressings of some of these became available.  Why would you want to hear The Artwoods version of a Benny Spellman track when you could own the original?  Granted most of their choices weren't exactly lifted direct from the U.S. Top 40 R&B charts, so they at least get high marks for their material choices.  Once again their one off EMI single was no exception to any of those rules.  "What Shall I Do" is a pretty faithful note for note version of Marvin Jenkin's "What Shall I Do" (originally released in the States on the Palomar label) differing from the original only by adding some Bluesbreakers styled guitar licks from guitarist Derek Griffith's who trades the lick with organist Jon Lord and "fattening up" the sound a lot from the mildly jazzy original.  I like it though, it's tough thanks to the fuzz guitar and fuller sound. The B-side is far more heavier and almost a precursor to Jon Lord's future band Deep Purple with some very heavy (well "heavy" for an Artwoods record) guitar raga licks and Brian Auger Trinity style organ noodling.  Of course it sank without a trace and is rarer than their Decca singles.  The band made one more 45 as the ill advised St. Valentine's Day Massacre eight months later ("Brother Can You Spare A Dime"/"Al's Party" U.K. Fontana TF883) before chucking it in for good.

Both tracks have resurfaced on the Repertoire CD compilation "Singles A's & B's" and as bonus cuts on their CD reissue of their lone LP "Art Gallery".

Hear a groovy BBC session of the band from May 9, 1967 featuring a cover Billy Preston's "Steady Gettin' It", the Otis Redding styled version of "Day Tripper" and their B-side "What Shall I Do":

Hear "What Shall I Do":

Hear "In The Deep End":

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