Thursday, May 27, 2010

Taxed Two:More Great "Revolver" Cover Versions




CLIFF BENNETT & THE REBEL ROUSERS-Got To Get You Into My Life/Baby Each Day U.K. Parlophone R 5489 1966

Few Fab Four covers rarely come off and if and when they do they're rarely better than the original.  There are exceptions and we here at "Anorak Thing" take pleasure in sharing them with you (see October 23, 2008 entry).  Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers were one of those great British 60's groups who had the chops, put on a great live show, had the great EMI behind them, looked mod as hell but existed pretty much on covers of American records.  Most of the time they did a good job at it.  Being on EMI they rubbed elbows with The Fab Four and on occasion toured with them. This association led to Paul McCartney offering Cliff and Co. a track from their yet to be released LP "Revolver" called "Got To Get You Into My Life" which they began playing  and the decision was made to release a version as a single with Macca duly producing in a session at EMI's  Abbey Road facilities (walking there from his nearby flat in slippers).


Though I won't say it betters The Beatles version it's equally on par thanks to a rush of horns, some solid drumming (way better than Ringo's in my book, and I'm saying that with peace and love) and a nice wash of Hammond hidden in the intro.  Cliff Bennett's vocals are as strong and confident s always and add a more soulful touch to the track than The Beatles version.  The British record buying public must've dug it too because it became the band's biggest hit reaching #6 in August 1966.  The flip "Baby Each Day" is probably my favorite track by the band (tied with their reading of "Three Rooms And Running Water") and it's a rare instance of a band original (composed by Cliff).  It's soulful in delivery and the horns and stops/breaks are thoroughly "American" sounding .  Amazing stuff.  Both cuts are on the CD reissue of their 1966 LP "Got To Get You Into Our Life".

















Watch "Got To Get You Into My Life" Live on German TV's "Beat Club" July 1, 1966



Hear the studio version of "Got To Get You Into My Life":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKMAZxaFuS0

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Possibly The Best Book Ever Written............


"Days In The Life: Voices From The English Underground 1961-1971" by Jonathan Green

Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Pimlico; New Ed edition (2 April 1998)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0712666656
ISBN-13: 978-0712666657

I rarely spend time here babbling anything but music or records or CD's.  But this here my friends is a book that you need.  If you're reading this blog chances are you're at least remotely interested in all things 60's and if you're a 60's Anglophile like myself then this is the book for you.

Where else on the planet can you find a book that deals with Satan worshipping, hippies, Peter Rachman, Carnaby Street, beat poets, mods, L.S.D., trepanning, Michael X, Oz magazine, Hell's Angels, "Performance", The Marquee club, bent policeman, The Process, pornography, the U.F.O. club, pop art, The Action, C.N.D., the Two I's, Club 59, skinheads, The Deviants etc ?!  Here at Amazon.co.uk my friends:


Best of all it's all told in the words of those who lived it, not some sketchy student thesis interpretation of what once.  In fact I think I'm due for a brand new copy to replace my dog eared, used one!

FACES TO REUNITE....well almost


FACES TO REUNITE?!  Say it ain't so.  With ALL possible respect due to Woody, Mac and Kenny, it ain't. And it damn sure doesn't sound like The Faces if you're fronted by Mick Hucknell instead of Rod.  Glen Matlock on bass, fair enough  he seems by all accounts of those I know who've met the man to be an affable bloke who is not only a very competent musician but also has been well documented as a full on Faces fan.  But I think some of us can at least agree that Rod has turned into (or at least finally unmasked himself) to be what he's always longed to be: a gasbag all round entertainer.  Now I'm not going to decry a man's duty to put food on his families table because when you've laid as much pipe and sired as many offsprings as Rod The Mod you can't afford to not be out there working.  But "working" and being more Vegas than Wayne Newton with your Tony Bennett songbook and music to make grandma's panties moist is just, well.......not rock n' roll.  As far as I'm concerned Rod lost the plot when he made records with a disco beat ("Dya Think I'm Sexy" anyone?  No takers?  Didn't think so....) and was long exposed prior as an egotistical bastard when he fronted The Faces AND had a solo career simultaneously.  To me The Faces lost their heart, soul and engine when Ronnie Lane said "See ya" and *ucked off to Scotland to invent Dexy's Midnight Runner's "Too Rye Aye" phase.  Like any band that loses their original members (The Who, Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, The Pink Floyd etc) things just aren't the same.  Even more so when you're missing the guy who sang 99% of their songs.  With that in mind it was heavy heart I have to give a big thumbs down to this "Faces reunion".  But despite my cynicism there are some things you can't deny and in their day The Faces were an amazing breath of musical air and 40 years on they're still something else.  Just listen to and dig the lyrics to "Three Button Hand Me Down" from their debut LP (called "First Step" here in the States) which to me is about as "mod" as The Coaster's "Shopping For Clothes" or David Bowie's "London Boys" or any half baked ex-punk rock '79 mod teenage anthem........



THREE BUTTON HAND ME DOWN (McLagan/Stewart)
I don’t need no one’s opinion
On the matter concerning my dress.
I was raised in a clinic down in Oklahoma,
There were many things I did not possess.
I never complained, because my father said,
"son you’ll get your chance before you’re my age".
Then he took me upstairs and gave me this suit
Grinnin' all over his face

He said, "others may come and others may go,
But that suit will be around wherever you’re goin’"
Three button hand me down
Three button hand me down

I had my fair share of  these women,
But they came between me and my suit.
That was a filly from Boston, a barmaid from Houston,
Not forgetting the one in Detroit.
They said, "we like you boy and we think you’re sweet,
But can’t you lose your suit? "
I said, "no, you can’t do that to me"
I remember what my father said:

He said, "others may come and others may go,
But that suit will be around wherever you’re goin’"
Three button hand me down, ha ha,
Three button hand me down

I’ve never been a tidy dresser
And the fold in my trousers it ain’t straight.
Still I know a good cloth when I see one.
That’s why I’m clad in this gray flannel suit.
Sometimes I wonder if I should visit a tailor
And get myself a smoother fit.
Then I remember what my father said to me.
I’ll make you from the open road

He said, "others may come and others may go,
But that suit will be around wherever you go"
Three button hand me down,
Three button hand me down


The Faces giving it some on the BBC 1971 doing "Three Button Hand Me Down":
 

Friday, May 21, 2010

British 60's R&B Liggers & Looners Hall Of Fame:Zoot Money

ZOOT MONEY'S BIG ROLL BAND-Big Time Operator/Zoot's Sermon U.K. Columbia DB 7976 1966

Alongside the likes of Georgie Fame, Graham Bond and Brian Auger Zoot Money ranks as one of the legendary British 60's heroes of the Hammond. Before metamorphosing into Dantalian's Chariot (see October 1, 2009 entry) Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band (featuring a young talented guitarist named Andy Somers who'd later alter the spelling of his name and become one third of The Police) made 8 singles in the r&b/soul-jazz vein.  This one is my favorite of them all. The Big Roll Band were a "musician's band", everyone loved them because they were red hot live and Zoot was a well know full time "ligger and looner" who was quite well known around London's nightclub scene and also as Andy Summer's book will attest reigning king of some massive house parties.  He was name checked in Georgie Fame's live version of "Keep Your Big Mouth Shut" (on the "Two Sides Of Fame" LP) and Brian Auger went one better paying tribute on "George Bruno Money" on the "Definately What" LP. Despite being a popular live attraction they were not a huge commercial success and sadly a great deal of their studio output consisted of covers of mostly American records.  "Big Time Operator" was written by the songwriting team of Tony Colton(a British r&b/freakbeat legend in his own right on the strength of several brilliant singles) and Ray Smith.  They were also responsible for the brilliant "I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round" by The Rod Stewart fronted Shotgun Express (see February 11, 2009 entry) among others.



"Big Time Operator" is a gas.  From it's strong horn section intro through to Zoot's soulful vocals it's a non stop party.  The horn parts really drive it through and are in my estimation the closest a British record ever came to matching the "Memphis Horn Sound" and the catchy/cocky lyrics are perfect for Zoot's typically cheeky delivery.  Strangely the song seems to be almost devoid of Zoot's beloved Hammond!! The flip clears that up with plenty of Hammond, not nearly as jazzy as "Zoot's Suite" (flip of his debut 45 "Uncle Willie" Decca F 11954 1964) or as punchy and powerful as "The Mound Moves" (flipside of his next 45 "Star Of the Show" Columbia DB 8090 featuring the best Steve Cropper style lick I've ever heard outside Memphis, more on that one soon) it's still decent.

 Both sides can be found on numerous Zoot Money CD's, notably Repertoire's "A's & B's Scrapbook" CD compilation.

Hear "Big Time Operator":

Thursday, May 20, 2010

RARE MOD VOLUME TWO


RARE MOD VOLUME TWO (A Second Volume of 60's Underground Rhythm N' Blues, Psych & Soul)-Various Artists CD (Acid Jazz) 2009

"Mod" is thrown around so often on CD compilations these days.  It's usually some cheesy affair of a bunch of Kinks, Searchers, Petula Clark and even (on occasion) 60's Bowie cuts with "mod" tacked on, more bullshit than bulls eyes or an excuse to cobble together a bunch of lame '79 bands.  Far from being a catchphrase to the folks at Acid Jazz it's actually used to good effect here where there isn't a hit to be seen and none of these bands should not raise an eyebrow among the general public unfamiliar with such legends/heroes to us anorak's like The Richard Kent Style.  Nearly all of these numbers are previously unreleased tracks from the archives (don't ask from who's, I'm not sure...).

The Summer Set are one of those mega obscure bands that seemed to play a weekly gig in '66 at The Marquee alongside my faves like The Action, The Move, David Bowie and The Buzz  or The Syn (they were, for a time, the club's houseband). Their single track "It's A Dream" (they had two 45's on U.K. Columbia) popped up nearly 20 years ago on one of the Strange Thing's Are Happening "Circus Days" CD and it's a perfect mix of proto psych weirdness and the American West Coast harmony/pop obsession (also one of my fave U.K. 60's obsessions).  I've always wanted to hear more and now I have.  Their "Oh Miss Stone" is a jaunty/cheeky unreleased pop affair that sits nicely alongside The Human Instinct's "Death Of The Seaside" (see May 13, 2010 entry) about a seaside stall merchant. Who said the "West Coast" had to mean California, there was always Blackpool!  The Richard Kent Style are legends on the strength of their firmly mod/freakbeat classic "Go Go Children" and more r&b/soulful (and equally cool) numbers like "All Good Things" .  Someone needs to get around to officially compiling their 5 singles on a nice little CD one day since the singles all run for about a month or two's pay.  Luckily there are bonus cuts to be had like their offering here, an unreleased spirited version of The Contour's "Just A Little Misunderstanding" that breaths new life into an otherwise (in my estimation) played out number. American garage band The Poor's "She's Got The Time" was covered in the U.K. on a 45 by a group called The Affex who amped it up substantially (must've been the speed).  The hitherto unknown Gass Company serve up a second British cover of it, though not as good as The Affex version it's still enjoyable and gets an "A" for obscurity with some interesting lead vocal technique!  The Amboy Dukes (a British band not to be confused with Ted Nugent's lot) are actually a heavy/organ U.K. six piece formed from the ashes of The Platform Six (responsible for the stellar single "Money Will Not Mean A thing" from one of the "Doin' the Mod" CD comps).  Where the Platform Six were firmly in Georgie Fame/Zoot Money Flamingo turf these guys are another kettle of fish, there's still a twinge of jazz but they're quite heavy with the pulsating organ and noodling guitar work on "More And More" and "You Better Find Yourself Someone", think Amen Corner jamming with Arthur Brown on a handful of leapers. The Nocturnes (not the Matawan, NJ, US instro combo) offer a decent hand claps and Hammond groover called "Hay, That's What Horses Eat", a full on party mode record with plenty of "atmosphere" like The Quik's "Bert's Apple Crumble" or Wynder K. Frog's interpretation of "I'm A Man".  The other contribution "Night Owl" (not the Howard Tate number) is more poppy with some nice bass and reminds me of one of those cool B-side or LP cuts by The Tremeloes. The Fleur De Ly's "Nothing To Say" is dead boring lightweight stuff that sounds like a Macauly-McLeod cast off.  "I Walk The Sands", their other track here sounds straight off of "Back From The Grave" with it's lo-fi DYI garage feel and is miles away from the previously mentioned cut!  The Chances Are were responsible for their brilliant soulful cover of the pre-Creedance Clearwater Revival act The Golliwog's "Fragile Child on 45 in the U.K.  Their offering here is a bluesy take on "Talkin' Bout You" with some nice fuzzy guitar and some bass playing that reminds me of The Small Faces Decca instrumentals.  The legendary Brit r&b act Dave Anthony's Moods were responsible for the killer Mike Hugg penned "New Directions" (available on a British 60's r&b CD comp of the same name)  and their legend stands for itself on the strength of that one single. Their inclusion here is a weird little number called "See My Soul" that has a sort of Middle Eastern feel to it, but sadly not very interesting.

All in all I highly recommend this if you're into British 60's r&b/beat or freakbeat, there's some duff tracks here and there but overall it's a decent stroll through the great unknown and unissued of British 60's music.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

THE HIGH NUMBERS

Some classic images of the pre-'Oo High Numbers:



Enter Mark Feld...............



MARC BOLAN-The Wizard/Beyond The Rising Sun U.K. Decca F.12288 1965

How many labels do you know of in the 60's in the U.K. that would take a relative unknown, give him a record contract AND issue a single with his original material on both A AND B sides?  Just one, the label that turned down The Beatles: Decca.


Our sliver of seven inches of vinyl this time around concerns a teen aged former ace face from Hackney, London formerly known as Mark Feld, rechristened Marc Bolan.  As indicated earlier both sides are original compositions and are wonderfully arranged by the magic hand of Decca's own George Martin, the late great Mr. Mike Leander.

















Launched in November 1965 "The Wizard" benefits from a host of marvelous instruments: woodwinds, flutes, strings and airy fairy female backing vocals (The Ladybirds I believe, the trio always on Benny Hill not the nudist four piece).  In fact the use of the woodwinds, strings and flutes is akin to what David Bowie would be doing a year later over at Decca's new Deram outlet. The lyrics are mystical and Bolan's vocal style is not quite warbling, bearing more of a laid back Bob Dylan feel.  It's quite unusual for the time of it's release and amazing, though brief clocking it it under 1:52.   The flip repeats the same instrumental formula with certainly more pronounced full on Dylan singing and loads of lyrics that like the A-side came from a J.R. Tolkien obsessed young fertile mind. 

Both sides have recently cropped up on a host of early Bolan retrospectives, some of which are actually available through iTunes!


Hear "The Wizard":

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

Hear "Beyond The Rising Sun":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdnNcADAPzI

Leatherhead? What The Hell Comes From Leatherhead?



JOHN'S CHILDREN-Just What You Want, Just What You'll Get/But She's Mine U.K. Columbia DB 8124 1967

From the hamlet of Leatherhead, deep in Surrey U.K. came John's Children.  Discovered by Yardbirds manager and all round amusing impresario Simon Napier-Bell the band consisted of Andy Ellison(vocals), Geoff McClelland (guitar), John Hewlett (bass) and Chris Towson (drums).  They had previously released "The Love I Thought I'd Found" ("Smashed Blocked on the U.S. White Whale 239  issue) /"Strange Affair" Columbia DB 8030 in October 1966. This was their second release which hit the largely uninterested public (despite a nifty little advert for the trade papers seen above) on the 3rd of February 1967.  There's a great chapter on them in Napier Bell's HIGHLY recommended tome "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" (kudos to Rob Keith for turning me onto that one).

I was pretty much John's Children MAD in the 80's.  In early 1985 I named my fanzine "Smashed Blocked" after one of their tracks and on occasion could be seen sporting all white (white jeans, white high tops and white sweatshirt) just like the band. I once had my teenage sister aid me in bugging my local college radio station (WPRB at Princeton University) by phone, but to no avail, to play tracks from their reissue LP "The Legendary Orgasm Album" (an experience which still traumatizes her to this day). In my later years I managed to secure all but two of their U.K. singles (their first and the ultra rare "Midsummer Night's Scene").

"Just What You Want, Just What You'll Get" is a sneering piece that verges on snotty American garage music territory like The Music Machine . It begins with a cheesy combo organ, swatches of backwards guitars, this ominous descending bass line and Andy Ellison's plaintiff singing.  Then things get ugly.  Then the backing vocals come in with this mechanical, menacing chant that sounds a little too, almost, well like they're "Sieg heiling" (they're not I assure you but it does have a eerie feel to it that seems to have an automatonic feel to it) . Immediately after Andy starts to get venomous while he spits out misogynistic lyrics with the lovely catchphrase "what's in it for me?" and whispers "don't think I don't know just what you want" (punctuated with a shouted response "Everything!") and then "don't think I don't know just what you'll get" ("Nothing!). Well constructed and well crafted it stands as probably in my estimation one of their best pieces of work.  The flipside, "But She's Mine" is pretty muddy.  The lyrics are positively strange ("I need a woman, mother would do...")and it relies on a simplistic mod/power-pop 4 chord Kinks-style progression with a Dylanesque chorus and a burst of lead guitar pyrotechnics c/o Napier Bell's charge Jeff Beck (who was added as Napier Bell disowned the ability of the band's guitarist Geoff McClelland).  McClelland would soon fall victim to the axe and be replaced by a solo artist under Napier Bell's umbrella by the name of Marc Bolan.  The band would go on to achieve some noteriety with this line up, break up in late 1967, reform and blow up my friened's amp at '66-'99 in San Diego, California.

Both tracks are readily available on a multitude of John's Children CD's floating around out there.


Hear "Just What You Want, Just What You'll Get" (and be changed forever):


Hear "But She's Mine" (and agree that the lyrics are "odd"):

Monday, May 17, 2010

Extended Play de la France


THE SMOKE-My Friend Jack/Don't Lead Me On/We Can Take It/Waterfall  E.P. France Impact IMP 200.010 M 1967

Paul Weller once observed "In general you can't put a value on style because it's so personal. Perhaps that's it's appeal. It's like a million people telling me that Picasso was a genius; well, I think he was shite and that a French Small Faces EP cover can piss all over any of his paintings".  Ask any vinyl nutcase about French 60's EP sleeves/covers and they'll all agree, they're works of art regardless of whether they're jazz, Motown or British 60's freakbeat like our article in question here.  Content wise they were always cool too because they'd take a single and it's B-side and add either another single and it's B-side or in the case of this here Smoke E.P., two LP tracks.

I needn't trouble you with a history of the U.K. foursome known as The Smoke.  They never made it big in their home country of the U.K. but were quite popular on the continent as there miscellany of amazing looking German and French picture sleeves will attest to.  Best known for "My Friend Jack", a tremelo laced groover that got them in trouble with some stuffy censors back home for the offending line "my friend Jack eats sugar lumps" (as in the practice of  dropping L.S.D. on a sugarcube).  Luckily the alternate version was not released (where the previous line added "oh what beautiful things he sees").  To save me the trouble of trying to describe the number have a peek below to see the band miming it in a special episode of German TV's "Beat Club" filmed at London's Marquee Club:


For some disturbing reason The Smoke are miming the number while the other acts (The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band and Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers) are all playing their sets live on the show.  Odd especially considering the latter two acts had horns and keyboards in addition to the guitar/bass/drums set up of the other three!  There's a clip from another German TV show called "Beat Beat Beat" where they're playing a live version of it (along with "High In A Room" and a cover of "She Put The Hurt On Me") but YouTube doesn't seem to have this available, strange!

Anyway as you can hear "My Friend Jack" is a powerhouse.  A tad overplayed but still brilliant. It's normal 45 rpm flipside, "We Can Take it" is another amazing slice of clasic mid 60's British proto freakbeat with some nicely descending melodic licks, choppy power chords on the verge of feeding back and all.  Great stuff! The next two tracks are culled from their legendary 1967 German only LP "It's Smoke Time". "Don't Lead Me On" has some nice throbby Motown-ish bass and the expected slashing guitar, in fact The Smoke rarely had any numbers with restrained guitar, the exception being our next track "Waterfall".  "Waterfall" is a ballad, the only ballad I know of in their catalog.  It's at odds with their sound but it works because it's subtle and not too sappy or cheezy.

All four cuts are available on a variety of Smoke CD's floating around out there from the "It's Smoke Time" plus bonus tracks LP CD to the 46 track comp CD "High In A Room-The Anthology".
Hear "My Friend Jack/We Can Take It":

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

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Deram Soul: The Real Thing


THE FLIRTATIONS-Someone Out There/How Can You Tell Me U.K. Deram DM 195 1968

Deram didn't get anymore soulful than The Flirtations, a genuine U.K. based American soul trio consisting of sisters Ernestine and Shirley Pearce and Viloa Billups. All the band's Deram releases were produced and arranged by Deram/Decca in house producers/A&R men Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington (both Liverpudlians and former members of Lee Curtis and The All Stars and The Pete Best Four).  The pair also wrote nearly all of their tracks as well.

This single was their first for Deram,  preceding their monster smash "Nothing But A Heartache".  It hit the streets in June 1968 and unfortunately did not chart as high as it's successor. "Someone Out There" was arranged by Johnny Harris and produced by Wayne Bickerton.  It's more of an uptempo ballad, but it's brassy punch and strong vocal delivery by the three gals makes it an infectious winner.  The flip side, "How Can You Tell Me" is far more uptempo than the A-side with a hint of the chemistry that would soon explode on "Nothing But A Heartache" nearly six months later thanks to it's throbby bass, percussion, vibes and phased horns.

Both tracks are available on the CD reissue of their U.K. LP "Sounds Like...".

The Flirtations perform "Someone Out There" on Spanish TV 1969:



Hear "How Can You Tell Me":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klUVMg0qcHQ

More Deram Magic '67 Style


THE HUMAN INSTINCT-A Day In My Mind's Mind/Death Of The Seaside U.K. Deram DM 167 1967

Here at Anorak Thing we take pleasure in nearly all things Deram and 1960's (with notable exception being the ghastly Whistling Jack Smith's "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman") and enjoy sharing them with you.

The Human Instinct were one of those band's who sailed off to old Blighty in the 60's hoping to make a name for themselves.  Coming from New Zealand in late 1966 where they'd previously cut a few singles as The Four Four's (where they toured with The Rolling Stones on their '66 tour down there) this Kiwi quartet made three pretty interesting 45's in the U.K. on Mercury under their new moniker as The Human Instinct before switching to Deram for this single.  The line-up  for their '66-'68 U.K. stint was: Dave Hartstone-lead vocals/guitar, Bill Ward-lead guitar, Frank Hay-bass and Maurice Greer-drums.  The band were unique as all four members sang giving them a unique harmony sound and Maurice Greer played drums standing up!!

"A Day In My Mind's Mind" evokes The Association with it's multi layer sunshine pop harmonies and flute thanks to some heavy duty production c/o in house maestro Mike Hurst.  But there's a bit of harp thrown in with a rather Hendrix style distortion/blistering guitar lick and some great morse code toggle switching at the track's end that makes the number substantially harder than anything the West Coast California seven ever did.  But it's all sweeped into a burst of nearly lysergic sunshine pop thanks to a squeaky clean "la la" chorus that appears during the crescendos and lyrics like "created the flowers and the love of good things that just never existed". ivory tinkling and a really cracking beat.  Once again the band's ace harmonies come to fore as the lead singer mourns the "end of the season".  Almost like the downside of Kaleidoscope's brilliant single "Holidaymaker"(more on that one someday I promise, with summer almost here it's necessary).


"A Day In My Mind's Mind" has cropped up on the Deram/Decca CD compilation "The Psychedelic Scene". Both tracks were also compiled on the New Zealand CD "The Singles 1966-1971" on the Ascension label which is highly recommended if you can track it down.

Hear "A Day In My Mind's Mind":

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It Was 30 Years Ago.............


THE SPECIALS
or "Why I still love the Specials 30 years on"

Can you freaking believe it? Thirty years ago I was a young lad buying "More Specials" in the import bin at a mall record store for some astronomical price.  As I write this I'm now a 43 year old man stuck in some godforsaken airport for the next four hours which fortunately has A.) a pub with B.) a seat at the bar and C.)Smithwicks AND Newcastle Brown Ale on tap. Well into my fifth pint of Smithwick's and  with "More Specials" playing through the oft seen in every-public-place-in-America white earphones for my iPod rescuing me from the dreadful piped in 80's crap(Springsteen, Madonna, etc ad nauseam).  I don't think I've ever gotten onto a plane completely tanked, but there may be time to change that. "International Jet Set" seems appropriate.

I missed the boys when they played two gigs in New York City as it was final exam time for me.  Working for the "Rat race"? Maybe next time.  Though I'm down on band reunions for the most part I am pleased to hear they were really good and I'm equally pleased that barring Jerry Dammers it was all original members.  There have been alot of dodgy ska acts out there (classic example :The Special Beat Service) and seeing as it has been 30 years, why should early 80's ska be any different from doo-wop, 60's British Invasion or 60's soul bands who reform with one or two original members, some members from another band and a host of members who weren't even born when the songs they're playing were first released.  As some aging M.B.E. once mused when he was a rebel and not yet a respectable member of society "what a drag it is getting old".


Thursday, May 6, 2010

SOUNDS OF '66:THE SOUTHERN SOUND

THE SOUTHERN SOUND-Just The Same As You/I Don't Wanna Go U.K. Columbia DB 7982 1966

Wow!  It doesn't get any better than this, or does it?  Nevermind,.  This is a two sider sizzler by a U.K. foursome first brought to my attention back in the 80's on one of those dreadful (quality, packaging etc) "Electric Sugarcube Flashbacks" compilation LP's.  Like most records/bands of this genre this was their only release. Original copies will run you a ghastly $500-$1,000!  And there's even a crazy Norwegian issue in a picture sleeve (see below) that set you back for even more.  Luckily I got to have both tracks in nice quality a few years later (1987 or 1988 I think) on Bam Caruso's "Rubble Volume13: Freakbeat Fantoms", easily their best volume EVER!

"Just The Same As You" is an archetype freakbeat number.  It starts out with a slightly distorted and perhaps ever so slightly out of tune riff that leads into some sullen lead vocals with some very echo-laden backing vocals. The lead vocalist reminds me a bit of Don Fardon of The Sorrows with that sort of deep/moody voice.  On the flipside we have "I Don't Wanna Go", which is a more frantic number.  The sped up riff and echo drenched backing vocals seem to recall Joe Meek at his finest (as in The Buzz "You're Holding Me Down" or The Syndicat's "Crawdaddy Simone") and there's plenty of wiggy tempo changes to add the "freak" quota to this rave -up beat number.

Both sides cropped up on the Rubble Volume 13 "Freakbeat Fantoms" LP/CD comp and can be found on the essential more recent "Rubble Box: Two".  A version was also recorded by a German cat named Knut Kieswetter and it shows up on the equally cool first volume of Rob Bailey's "Le Beat Bespoke" CD comp series.


















(Above) Spare a grand for a rare Norwegian P.S. copy?

Hear "Just The Same As You":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_U3Nbx_N-s

Hear " I Don't Wanna Go":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBzxd0--aUs

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

April's Picks

APRIL'S PICKS:

  Paul & Richie & The Crying Shames 1966

1. LOVE-“The Red Telephone”
It took me a great many years of people around me force feeding me Love before my friend Tom Davis sat me down and politely played a selection of tracks which led me to actually dig them. “Forever Changes” is my fave LP by them and “Red Telephone” is my fave track on it. Arthur Lee and Love always had something sinister lurking behind the blinds and I find this number eerily anticipating the bloodbath at 10050 Cielo Drive “sitting on a hillside, watching all the people die” while lush orchestral arrangements sweep in.

2. TOM JONES-“I’m Alive”
I’ve got to admit, Jonesy’s balls-to-the-wall take on the Tommy James/Johnny Thunder/Don Fardon cut is pretty damn amazing considering it was recorded in 2008. There’s swatches of “modern” sound in it but all in all it sounds like a dead straight carbon copy of the Don Fardon arrangement with the Man from Pontypridd still showing he’s got the pipes.

3. THE TAGES-“She’s A Man”
Predating The Kink’s “Lola” theme by two years Sweden’s grooviest quintet tap the clueless-guy-with-transvestite lyric angle with good effect. Trippy backwards “I’m Only Sleeping” style effects groove with a cocktail party chat snippet in the middle where a bunch of queens can be heard cackling over the unfortunate boy’s dilemma : “the dear boy, he didn’t know, he heee”.

4. THE MOVE-“Cherry Blossom Clinic (Reprocessed Stereo Mix)”
A wiggy remixed version of the original 1967 first LP version of this Roy Wood ode to a mental institution takes on a new life with Trevor Burton’s vocals and Roy Wood’s wah wah pedal work becoming clearer and cleaner than ever. Magical.

5. THE TURTLES-“Grim Reaper Of Love”
Brilliant, venomous and sneering, something few would associate with the cheery bunch who gave the world “Happy Together”. From it’s haunting a cappella intro to it’s dirge like delivery this one is one of the best tracks to have ever come from this crew.

6. THE MILES DAVIS QUINTET-“Four”
Miles before he went crazy, funky and got way out there and played solos that sounded like a goose being slowly strangled, in that order. Mod jazz indeed, and from a free iTunes “Pick Of The Month” card from Starbucks nonetheless!

7. DONOVAN-“I Love My Shirt”
On Saturday night my wife and I were on a date and I had this tune on in the car and she commented “this sounds like something you would’ve written”, though she later pointed out it that the lines about it “fitting comfortably” ruled out most of mine. Still in all it’s a fun little tune that’s both simplistic and spot on that any anorak like me can identify with, excuse me while I tuck in this lovely patterned but short waisted Ben Sherman for the twelfth time today........

8. PAUL & RICHIE &  THE CRYING SHAMES-Come On Back
After viewing the brilliant Joe Meek film “Telstar” I’ve undergone a bit of a Meek renaissance and dug up this one from November of 1966. It’s a far cry from Meek’s usual out of tune piano tinkling and foot stomping for percussion production technique. This time there’s loads of reverb on the combo organ and some heavy vibrato on nearly everything, classic “freakbeat” to the point that it’s almost proto-psychedelic. It’s probably a nice window into what he could’ve done had he not killed himself in June of ’67.

9. BOBBY WELLS-Be’s That Way Sometimes
This one is a stormer of a soul belter that owes quite a bit to Lou Christie’s “1-2-3”. The arrangement, from its chimes intro to the stellar production, is top notch. Easily one of my top 10 fave soul tracks. Impossibly expensive and no doubt highly favored among rip off Northern soul 45 dealers and funky English DJ/record collectors.

10. THE CREATION-For All That I Am
It’s probably been a good ten years since I’ve been able to enjoy The Creation, perhaps it was hipster overkill or perhaps it was because like most bands with a slim volume of material you just need a break from them from time to time. Regardless I still think their Bob Garner era stuff is overrated and I’ve always been a fan of their Kenny Pickett fronted material and this one (featuring the guitar talents of ex-Bird Ron Wood) is one of my faves. The gutsy guitar work in this always gets me and Kenny’s vocals are pretty darn solid.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Liverpool's Last Gasp

THE ESCORTS-From Head To Toe/Night Time U.K. Columbia DB 8061 1966

By November 1966 when Liverpool's Escorts had released what would be their final single things had changed. After 5 singles and almost a two year spell at Fontana the band were released from their recording contract without a hit to their name.  Coming into a record contract quite late in the "Merseybeat boom" (their first 45 was from March 1964), the band probably didn't have much of a chance despite making some very good records.  By late 1966 their line-up had changed considerably seeing lead singer Terry Sylvester head off to The Swinging Blue Jeans (and then onto The Hollies to replace Graham "California" Nash) and a host of others come and go.  I've tried piecing the line-up changes together but to little avail.  Google searches for "Escorts Liverpool" come up with some very seedy websites......

On their final single cut for EMI's Columbia outlet the band was lead by new lead singer and Liverpool face Paddy Chambers (recently ex of the trio Paddy, Klaus & Gibson and also a veteran of Faron's Flamingos and The Big 3).  Their A-side was a cover of Smokey Robinson & The Miracle's LP track "From Head To Toe" (also known to us Mod Anorak's by Chris Clark). The track also featured the tambourine accompaniment of fellow Liverpudlian Paul McCartney who accompanied Chambers to the recording session.  Musically it's quite interesting and though it's certainly no storming effort like EMI labelmate's The Action it still has merit.  I like the simplicity of it: bass, guitar, drums and piano with Paddy Chambers singing soulfully yet restrained and the call and response falsetto backing vocals.  The latter and the former come into play again on the flipside, a Paddy Chambers original called "Night Time" that benefits from some soulful delivery.  Both sides were collected on the Escorts Edsel records LP/CD compilation "From The Blue Angel".

The Escorts on German TV's "Beat Club" plugging "From Head To Toe":

R.I.P. Lynn Redgrave

We here at the all U.K. 60's things loving "Anorak Thing" would like to take the time to pay tribute to the recently deceased Lynn Redgrave through some clips of her in our favorite films:

"Smashing Time":



"Georgy Girl":