Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part Sixteen: A Fab Four De Portugal

THE BEATLES- Here, There And Everywhere/And Your Bird Can Sing/Good Day Sunshine/For No One E.P. Portugal Parlophone LMEP 1249 1966

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September's Picks

Yes it's that time of the month again kids (ooo that didn't sound right?) where I dole out what I've been digging the past month:

1. THE JAM-"Something's Gone"
I've no idea when this number was actually recorded, but it wasn't released until the early 70's.  I was first turned onto this in the 80's on a cassette by a CA penpal I had a mad crush on (I believe she got it from a "Pebbles" volume).  It still blows me away with it's churchy Hammond trills and Beach Boys type harmonies (though not as fey or wanky as Mike Love and Co.) and has nothing to do with a combo from Woking, Surrey, U.K.   Twenty five years later it still sounds cool as *uck.


2. SYD BARRETT-"Waving My Arms In The Air"
I've undergone a major Syd Barrett renaissance around "Anorak Thing" H.Q. as a result of reading the brilliant "Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head" by Rob Chapman and this ones been amongst the one's I've spun.  Like most solo Syd stuff it's not without it's clumsiness but you've gotta hand it to Wright/Gilmore/Waters and Jerry Shirley for actually managing to play along with his choppy/impromptu numbers that seemed to sometimes have quickening or slackening paces.


3. SONNY TERRY & J.C. BURRIS-"You Keep Doggin' Me"
My pal Scott pared down a four CD blues box set to two discs and duped them for me and this number jumped right off the disc at me the first time I played it and it's been with me ever since.  Amazing harp driven stuff that provided the soul and driving inspiration for all those British bands that "Pebbles Volume Six: The Roots Of Mod" turned me onto. 


Which leads us to....
4. DAVID JOHN & THE MOOD-"I Love To See You Strut"
Where would American 60's British r&b fans like me be without "Pebbles Volume Six: The Roots Of Mod" I ask you?  This catchy bit of home brewed British rhythm and blues sounds as amazing now as it did back in 1982 when I first took a chance on this famous LP.  I think what makes it work is that it's a bit more freakbeat than the sort of mundane r&b that The Stones, Pretties, Downliners et al were churning out at this time, no doubt aided by Joe Meek's production/recording techniques (he produced all three of their 45's).


5. SOMEBODY'S CHILDREN-I'm Up
There's a small genre of American 60's records that indulged in witty little double entendre with slight fake British accents I'm sure, if there was/is, "I'm Up" is one of them.  Delivered tongue and cheek with a nice squeaky clean jangly/countrified 12 string guitar sound and some groovy harmonies this number sings about "taking a walk" with the word "trip" and the phrase "I think I'm coming down" thrown in for good measure along with "oh let it rain oh hell I don't care, I hope they don't bother me 'bout my hair" for topical content.  For more on these lads pop on over to the excellent "Flower Bomb Songs" site for more:


6. THE SUGARBEATS-"Alice Designs"
1966's "Alice Designs" comes from the pen of Tandyn Almer, the gent responsible for The Association's "Along Comes Mary" and The Action's "Shadows And Reflections". The Sugarbeats were an British band who deliver the number in perfect West Coast harmony style with some groovy atmospheric (see "trippy") flutes among layers of crisp choral pop magic.  The record of course is obscure as hell and I'd love to know how a relatively unknown act like these guys got a hold of this track! From the "We Can Fly Volume 3" CD series.  Dig what I mean:


7. THE TEMPTATIONS-"There's A Definite Change In You"
How this wound up on the cutting room floor till resurrected for the first volume of the "Cellarful of Motown" double CD series is beyond me.  It's got the hooks, the danceability factor, excellent vocals, stellar production and those amazing backing vocals that Motown groups were known for.  But somebody at the weekly board meetings must've given it the thumbs down.   Criminal!



8. THE DIRECT HITS-"The Heat And Sun"
The Direct Hits were one of those pseudo 60's U.K. bands that I liked in the 80's who wrote nice little pop ditty's that took cues from The Beatles/Kinks/Hollies/Who but had 80's production techniques and equipment at their disposal.  Most of  this trio's catalog didn't hold up well 25+ years on but I recently discovered their 2nd LP 'House Of Secrets" on iTunes for $9.99 ($9.99?  What a deal!).  The LP always reminds me of 1986, not a really good year for me and this track always makes me feel sorta melancholy but it's harmonies, jangly guitars and cheeky/cheeriness (with "Tomorrow Never Knows" drums) never fail to stop me in my tracks.

9. MADNESS-"In The Middle Of The Night"
I just finished reading the amazing 33 1/3 book on the Nutty Boy's debut LP and I went back and rediscovered the LP. A few years back I heard the Kilburn & The High Roads album "Handsome" and wrote Madness off as a bunch of copyists.  They weren't, though they owe at least 3/4 of their career to Ian Dury's early years.  This was always my fave song on the LP and still is.  If you know me you'll know I like songs that paint little stories every now and then.  This one's about an old man named George who runs a newsstand by day and steals underwear from clotheslines by night.  It's a groovy little track that's 1/3 "Arnold Layne", 1/3 Kilburn and Co. and 1/3 Pet Clark's "Downtown".



10. STU BROWN & BLUESOLOGY-Just A Little Bit
This was the last 45 by Bluesology (who featured one Reggie Dwight, later to become Elton John on piano).  The number was written by Kenny Lynch and Mort Shuman and released as a B-side in 1967 (it was covered the following year by the freakbeat group The Act and graced Rubble's "Freakbeat Fantoms" LP).  Driven by some cool bass, Stax style horns, Action style backing vocals and Reggie's pounding piano it's a cool bit of soul injected 60's British  r&B that's highly reminiscent of Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers '66.  Hear it:




KALEIDOSCOPE On French TV 1967!

The good folks over at:

http://diveintoyesterday.blogspot.com/

dug this GROOVY piece up on the old YouTube and I had to share it with you all.  MINDBLOWING!

Here's KALEIDOSCOPE live on TV in 1967!  And damned if it isn't France Gall in the first few seconds of the clip....

John Mayall + Mick Taylor + Dick Heckstall-Smith= Brilliance



















JOHN MAYALL'S BLUESBREAKERS-Suspicions (Part One)/Suspicions (Part Two) U.K. Decca F.12684 1967

By October 1967 John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers had been slogging it out with cult status up and down Great Britain with no chart status to compliment it for over three years. The Bluesbreakers were a "finishing school" for a sucession of great British blues guitarists from Eric "Enoch's Our Man" Clapton, to Peter Green and onto Greenie's replacement, ex-Gods member Mick Taylor who made his debut on today's disc in focus. Always a "musician's musician" Mayall nonetheless was a devoutly revered artist by both his label and in their house producer, the great believer in the blues himself Mike Vernon.











The band in 1967: Dick Heckstall-Smith far left, Mayall to his right with a youthful Mick Taylor to his right, Keef Hartley, Andy Fraser and Chris Mercer.

I'm not going to give you a history of the band but I will tell you that this was Mayall's 10th single issued in the U.K. (that is if you count "I'm Your Witch Doctor" twice as it was issued twice by Immediate).  What really makes this number one of my favorites is that it slightly defers from the sometimes borderline mundane "white boy blues rock" pitfall that the band occasionally got mired in.  This is in no small part thanks to the stellar horn section that fleshes the sound out led by the mighty saxophonist (recently ex- of the Graham Bond Organization) the late, great Dick Heckstall-Smith.  Mayall gives one of his best vocal performances ever as he belts it out about a woman he thinks is being unfaithful and from his delivery you almost believe he's for real:

"I'm goin' crazy, seeing men a hangin' round your door..."

Mick Taylor contributes some tasty licks that are short and sweet but nonetheless brilliant bringing in an understated approach which varies substantially from his predecessor's tendencies to go on a bit too much sometimes. And ex-Artwood's drummer Keef Hartley is along for the ride on drums and future Free bassist Andy Fraser and future Wynder K. Frog member Chris Mercer on sax round out the line-up. How's that for a "Who's who" of British 60's r&b?
















The '67 line-up Bluesbreakers onstage @ Brighton University 1968.


"Suspicions" is available on numerous Mayall collections, my fave being Deram/Decca's "Through the Years" CD where I first heard the number years ago when I decided I needed to investigate more Mayall than his brilliant debut album "Live At Klook's Kleek".

Hear "Suspicions (Part One)":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9ycUV-kMXE

Hear "Suspicions (Part Two)":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNZ7_MBjbA4

U.S. pressing with "Oh Pretty Woman" on the flipside.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Searchers Go To The Movies

THE SEARCHERS- "Play The System" E.P.: The System/This Empty Place/ Sea Of Heartbreak/I Can't Help Forgiving You U.K. Pye NEP 24201 1964

In 1964 Liverpool's The Searchers were chosen to provide music for a film called "The System" (titled "The Girl Getters" here in the States for some inane reason) starring Oliver Reed and David Hemmings about a bunch of jack the lads perpetually on the pull in a dreary seaside town. An E.P. was issued featuring a grainy still from the flick (and possibly the only time Ollie Reed's mug graced a 7" sleeve).  By this point the band were in their second phase line-up consisting of : Mike Pender-lead vocals/rhythm guitar, John McNally-lead guitar, ex-Cliff Bennett's Rebel Rousers member Frank Allen-bass and Chris Curtis-drums/lead vocals.

The title track, "The System" is one of the band's best tunes in my estimation because it's rocking, catchy and upbeat, something they aren't exactly known for! "This Empty Place" is a somber piece sung by the mad man at the back, drummer Chris Curtis, it's mellow but it's a decent one which I was always surprised was not released as a single.  "Sea Of Heartbreak" is not a terrible number but it's so musically sparse (almost acapella save some piano) and would've been better had it been "fattened up" a bit! Jackie DeShannon's "I Can't Help Forgiving You" closes the E.P. (it also appeared on their LP "It's The Searchers") with some nifty descending acoustic guitar scales that accent that "jangly" sound they were so well known for. 

All four tracks have appeared on numerous Searchers collections, notably their "E.P. Collection" CD.

Hear "The System":


Hear "This Empty Place":


Hear "Sea Of Heartbreak":


Hear "I Can't Help Forgiving You":



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I've made good friends with the time check girl...........

DAVID BOWIE-I Dig Everything/I'm Not Losing Sleep U.K. Pye 7N.17157 1966

David Bowie's third single (technically it was his 6th but since he'd changed his name to "Bowie" on the previous two 45's...) and also his second offering on Pye records (one of three the label would put out in 1966) hit the world in April 1966.  By this point he had ceased working with The Lower Third and now employed a backing group known as The Buzz who'd accompanied him on "Ready! Steady! Go!" (see January, 30, 2010 entry) to plug his first Pye offering "Can't Help Thinking About Me".  Presumably it is The Buzz who back him on this 45 and it's predecessor ("Do Anything You Say"/"Good Morning Girl" Pye 7N.10779), but it has also been written that studio musicians were utlized on these last two Pye singles.

"I Dig Everything" is an archetype 60's "Swinging London" record.  I mean that in a good way. I'm not talking about the exploitative tag thrown on the city when some dipsh*t deb from NY called it that in an issue of "Time" magazine (having spent all of two weeks there it's been said).  What I'm addressing is the "hip" manner in which period records were made then with bits and bobs of this and that chucked into the recording that people, usually square A&R men thought was "cool".  "I Dig Everything" is lyrically a post beatnik/art student pre-hippie observation from the standpoint of a layabout who has cool friends ("some of them are losers but the rest of them are winners") who are broke ("though they're low on money their intentions are tall") and having little or no responsibilities is content to sit back and watch the world stroll by.  Bowie was still at this point living at home with his parents in their semi detached in Bromley and living a semi-Bohemian lifestyle with occasional dossing at friend's flats up in London proper without having a job ("ain't had a job in a year or more") and pretty much doing what he wanted, when he wanted so it's safe to say this is, in essence semi-autobiographical and therefore somewhat "firsthand".  It's carefree wittiness can be taken both seriously and tongue in cheek. I also think it shows a degree of kiff smoking in it's inane stunts ("I wave to the policeman but they don't wave back they don't dig anything" , "I've made good friends with the time check girl on the end of the phone" or "I feed the lions in Trafalgar Square..") to it's semi stoned mantra/main chorus ("every thing's fine and I dig everything").  Perhaps it's a cheery side to it all as opposed to the gloomy side of London at the time as illustrated in Dononvan's "Sunny Goodge Street", also on Pye. The musical backing contains some snatches of Hammond organ, congas and  flute which was conjured by Pye's very own in-house George Martin; Tony Hatch.  It all flows very well thanks to the nice interspersing of this full array of instrumentation.  The flipside is one of my fave 60's Bowie tracks with a slew of Swinging '66 style studio musicians adding congas, flute, cabasa/shakers, some muted fuzz guitar to the mix while D.B. provide some excellent vocals as he sings the ultimate putdown number to a gal:

"don't look down your nose at me, cos I won't ask for sympathy, I won't be your yes-sir man for anything"


Both sides are contained in various compilations of 1966 Bowie material.  Notably the 45/CD box set of all three Pye singles (A's and B's) "I Dig Everything:The 1966 Pye Singles" or it's predecessor from the late 80's (that's still floating around in used bins in all good record shops) "1966".  The tracks can also be found on Rhino Records comprehensive pre-Deram Bowie 60's collection CD "Early On" which compiles all of his 1964-1966 material (plus some acetate demos).




Parka Power!

You can say what you like about U.S. Army/Air Force parkas, they are undeniably immersed in mod culture.  Whether you still wear one as a tribal rite, or to ward off the cold or just because it's "mod" or because, well you've always worn one OR you don't wear one because you think they're for "kids" or they're shabby or make you look like a revivalist "moddy boy" I think we can all agree they have their place in mod lore.  Here's a peek at some parkas.... 
















Original mods Portobello Market, 1964 by Phillip Townsend

http://philiptownsend.com/

The most famous parka of all: The Who's
1973 "Quadrophenia" LP sleeve.

Mod at The Court Tavern, New Brunswick NJ 1994






















Mod at Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ 2003

Mods outside The Dive, NYC, NY 1985

A confused U.K. mod who's sewn a US
Navy patch on his sleeve, 1964

The U.S. M-1965 parka w/ itchy/
ugly synthetic hood

The REAL deal, the M-1951 parka with fox fur hood.

Photo from the "Quadrophenia" LP picture booklet.

U.K. 60's mods, Easter 1966 pic c/o Don Hughes "Friday On My Mind"
book, borrowed from "Photos from Original Modernists 1959-1966"

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=128414570531663

Ageing mods in (l t r) a Ben Sherman parka, an M-1951 and an
M-1965 parka.


A VERY scary parka from a site that
specializes in "retro gear" (snigger).


And that £25 also comes with a free ass kicking
because you're a complete tw*t!


My parka of choice in the 80's: a West German army job.

Also served me well for a bit in the late 90's...a Swedish army parka


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Because I'm In Love With Rock'n'Roll

"I'm not in love with television
I'm not in love with the radio
I'm not in love with the Kings Road
Because I'm in love with Cathy McGowan"

-"Ready Steady Go" by Generation X



READY ! STEADY ! GO!

Without going into an insane history of one of the coolest British 60's music TV shows (well after "The Beat Room") to ever air let's suffice to say that Great Britain's "Ready Steady Go" was legendary. Sadly the extremely cheap I.T.V. "wiped" most of the tapes of the episodes to re-use them (how cheap!). Very few episodes exist. The remaining ones are in the legal possession of Dave Clark (of The Dave Clark Five fame). Most of these appeared on VHS tapes in the 80's and in 1989 in the U.S. the Disney Channel broadcast every scrap of footage in Clark's collection (including the all of Motown episode and the Otis Redding episode). Over the past few years select dodgy quality footage has surfaced on YouTube of other acts that were not seen , The McKinleys and Tony Jackson & the Vibrations to name but a few (see below). Everyone has seen the brilliant still photos of the likes of The Zombies, The Action, The Kinks, David Bowie, The Yardbirds etc on the show. Sadly no footage of these acts has as of yet surfaced. I've compiled a list of bands who made known appearances on the show but that have not had any legally released footage. This has been verified by either photographic proof or listings in musical weeklies from the era announcing their appearance. It is in no particular order:

The Kinks, The Small Faces, The McKinleys, Sylvie Vartan, Tony Jackson & The Vibrations, The Action, The Sorrows, David Bowie and The Buzz, Sandie Shaw, Paul & Barry Ryan, The Walker Brothers, Francoise Hardy, The Graham Bond Organization, Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Manfred Mann, The Yardbirds, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, The Downliners Sect,  Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, Sonny & Cher, The Young Rascals, Marianne Faithful, The Big Three, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick & Tich, The Move, The Troggs, The Zombies, The Hollies, The Dave Clark Five, The Roulettes, The Merseybeats, Donovan, Herman's Hermits, Jimmy James & The Vagabonds, The Creation, Dave Berry, The Pretty Things, Peter & Gordon, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, The Zephyrs, Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers, The Bo Street Runners, Rod Stewart, The Alan Price Set, Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds, The Preachers, Herbie Goins & The Nightimers, Neil Christian, Rick & Sandy,

The Creation on "R.S.G." 1966

Marc Bolan, The Shotgun Express, The Merseys, Paul Jones, Brian Poole & the Tremeloes, Cat Stevens, The Mindbenders, Spencer Davis Group, The Game, Jonathan King, Jackie Trent, Paddy, Klaus & Gibson, Ike & Tina Turner, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Plebs, The Jynx, A Band of Angels, Los Bravos, The Fortunes, Lee Dorsey, Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, The Redcaps, The Artwoods, James Brown, The Herd, The Tremeloes, The Untamed, Zoot Money & The Big Roll Band, The Thoughts, The Knack,  Booker T. & The M.G.'s,  Unit 4 + 2, The Applejacks, The Honeycombs, The Uglys, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, The Mockingbirds, The Falling Leaves, Sam & Dave, Petula Clark, The Riot Squad, Inez & Charlie Fox, John Lee Hooker, Wayne Fontana, The Easybeats.



And how's this for some sh*t?!  Tony Jackson & the Vibrations
performing "You Beat Me To The Punch", long lost till now!

And here's one more treat (the embedding was removed but here's the link), some "lost" footage of The McKinley's doing "Sweet And Tender Romance" (a record that features Jimmy "Buy-My-Ridiculously -Expensive-Book" Page on guitar):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Rhn6mx8s_k

Monday, September 13, 2010

Art-From Soul To Psych Out

ART-What's That Sound (For What It's Worth)/Rome Take Away Three U.K. Island WIP-6019 1967

Mutating out of the hot U.K. r&b combo The V.I.P.'s (see September 1, 2010 entry on The V.I.P.'s), Art were a brief stepping stone before the band became Spooky Tooth. Best known for their psychedelic Island LP "Supernatural Fairy Tales" this was their sole 45.

"What's That Sound (For What It's Worth)" is an interesting cover of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" with some soulful lead vocals by Mike Harrison, a heavy main riff and these bluesy licks that wouldn't sound out of place in the Jeff Beck era Yardbirds.  The real treat is the B-side "Rome Take Away Three", a group original.  It's more r&b than the A-side and built around a very heavy riff that has a nice freakbeat edge to it with some off key backing vocals.  Both sides were produced by the legendary Guy Stevens (see September 1st, 2010 entry "10 Britons You Should Investigate").

I'm not sure if either track has been reissued.  Their debut LP's CD reissue has long been out of print so I'm not certain if it was tacked on as bonus cuts and Island chose their albums title track to represent the band on their "1967-1972" CD retrospective not either of these sides.

Hear "What's That Sound (For What It's Worth)":


Hear "Rome Take Away Three":



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fashion Tip On The Q.T.

I don't usually share fashion finds online.  There are three things a modernist should never share: where they find their records, where they get their clothes tailored and where they find their clothes.  I'll make an exception on the latter.

This just in:













Stumbled upon a cool website, expensive gear but VERY smart looking:

http://www.jpressonline.com/

They've got some wonderful looking button up shirts (long and short sleeved).

Grapefruit: U.K. 60's Sunshine Harmony Pop























GRAPEFRUIT-Yes/Elevator France RCA 49910 1968

Grapefruit were formed in 1968 when three members of the U.K. beat/harmony/"surf" band Tony Rivers and The Castaways (Peter Swettenham-guitar, John Perry-guitar and Geoff Swettenham-drums) joined Aussie ex-pat George Alexander (bass) to form this highly underrated U.K. pop quartet.  Alexander (real name Alexander Young) was the elder brother of Easybeats guitarist George Young and younger future AC/DC boys Angus and Malcolm.  The band were looked after by Apple/Beatles associate Terry Doran, took their name from a Yoko Ono book and had a launch/release party thrown by the Fab Four.  Despite all of their Beatles connections they were not a huge success (though their debut 45 "Dear Delilah" just bubbled under the U.K. Top Twenty).   The single in question today was their second 45.






















"Yes" is a piano driven slice of pop perfection.  Beatles comparisons cannot be helped with the sunshine pop style of layered harmonies and just the general mood and pace of the song and the stellar production (c/o the band).  "Elevator" is far more "way out" and upbeat, it reminds me of The Herd at their psych pop best.  It's punctuated by the bands excellent harmonies and some cool sped up strings.

Both sides are available on the CD reissue of their first LP "Around..."

Hear "Yes":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4cTG1eYLvU

Hear "Elevator":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZzFif7tSt4

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Manfred's Soul/Jazz '66























MANFRED MANN-Machines/She Needs Company/Tennessee Waltz/When Will I Be Loved U.K. HMV E.P. 7EG 8942 1966

Manfred Mann were always an interesting type of British r&b band.  They fell somewhere between the blues/Chuck Berry-rock n' roll style of contemporaries like the Yardbirds/Stones/Pretty Things/Downliner's Sect and the soul tinged r&b/jazz of Georgie Fame/Zoot Money/ Graham Bond.  My favorite period of their work has always been the '66 era when they added the horn section talents of Henry Lowther and Lyn Dobson and Manfred began using a Hammond organ (see May 28, 2009 entry). This E.P. stems from that time.  Another reason I dig this period is that Mick Vickers (rhythm guitar/vibes) had moved on by then with bassist Tom McGuinness moving onto guitar and it is Jack Bruce's masterful bass playing we're hearing, my favorite of all Manfred's bassmen.  Why he was not included on the picture sleeve is beyond me, but since he was only in the band for little over half a year and vacating the bass seat around the time of it's relese (May 1966) it's possible he was not available for a photo session.  The E.P. incidentally went to #1 on "Record Mirror's" seperate E.P. chart.

Regardless we're here to talk about the music!  "Machines" is a brilliant burst of the "new look" (erm "sound") Manfred's, by that I mean they have more chutzpah/soul (or "umph" ). It's interspersing of Hammond n' horns is a perfect mix with the bizarre over amplified clock winding noises meant to convey, I'm assuming, the bleak industrial mechanization that the song bemoans.  It's certainly one of the band's more socially observant pieces (even if it was written by Mort Shuman).  "She Needs Company" opens with a nice melody played by the horn section and tackles the relationship between what would these days be termed a "cougar" and a younger man.  The bass playing is exceptional (you can't miss a Jack Bruce bass solo) and a funky little Hammond organ solo by Manfred mashes nicely with it all.  I've never been a fan of the song "Tennessee Waltz", regardless of who's doing it.  Even with the groovy organ, jazzy horns and Paul Jone's campy ad-libbing it still fails to impress me.  The Hammond n' horns tour de force however continues with a spirited upbeat version of The Everly's "When Will I Be Loved" which follows the wonderful formula of the E.P.: soulful singing, busy bass lines, a funky Hammond solo and razor sharp brass action.  The E.P. would be the last one specifically recorded with Paul Jones. Though the next two would feature his photo on the sleeves the last, "As Was" was issued posthumously while the next, "Instrumental Asylum" (see May 28, 2019 entry) were entirely instrumental tracks.

Manfred Mann on "Ready Steady Go" April 22, 1966

All four tracks were collected sometime ago on See For Miles "E.P. Collection" and can also be found on the highly recommended 4 CD set "Down The Road Apiece: Their EMI Collection 1963-1966".

Hear "She Needs Company":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkM-YyyNG90

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cool Foreign E.P. Sleeves Part Fifteen


HARMONY GRASS-E.P.: First Time Loving/Happiness Is Toy Shaped/Move In A Little Closer Baby/What A Groovy Day Portugal RCA TP-482 1970

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

British Blue Eyed Soul Belters: The V.I.P.'s























THE V.I.P.'s-I Wanna Be Free/Don't Let It Go Germany Fontana 269346 TF 1966

The V.I.P.'s were a British 60's r&b band who had a few singles released in their home nation but were far more prolific "on the Continent", specifically Germany and France (where they had a staggering four E.P.'s released, all of which are worth a pretty Euro these days). The line up for this 45 was: Mike Harrison (lead vocals), Jim Henshaw (lead guitar), Frank Keyon (rhythm guitar), Greg Ridley (bass later to join Humble Pie) and Walter Johnstone (drums).

This was a German pressing (it was released on Chris Blackwell's Island label back in the U.K.) and was also produced by Blackwell.  The band's weak point was that they were essentially a covers band, but their strongest point was that that had a fine soulful vocalist in the form of Mike Harrison.  Their verson of Joe Tex's Dial single "I Wanna Be Free" is carried on the strength of Harrison's voice.  Whereas the Tex original is more uptempo soul backed by horns and thoroughly dance floor friendly, The V.I.P.'s slow it down, strip it down and turn it into a blues number.  Harrison wails like  he was born to sing the blues and Henshaw's guitar solo is the proverbial cherry on top.  In my book this blows the original away by a longshot.  The flipside, "Don't Let It Go" is more of a soul number, though I'm not familiar with the original I'm sure it's a cover.  It's equally slow but less bluesy, more of a belter and I can easily imagine Bobby "Blue" Bland doing something like this.

The band's members changed (at one point Keith Emerson joined them) and they made a few more singles until 1967 when they mutated into the psychedelic band Art, who cut a one single (more on that in another post) and an LP for Island called "Supernatural Fairytales" before morphing into Spooky Tooth. There was a V.I.P.'s CD compilation out in the U.K. called "The Singles" but it has since gone out of print.

Cool Foreign E.P. Sleeves Part Fourteen:The Action!

Here it is kids, the mother of all French 60's E.P. sleeves in all it's $1,500.00+ glory:

THE ACTION-Shadows And Reflections/Something Has Hit Me/Never Ever/Twenty Fourth Hour France E.P. Odeon/EMI MEO 149 1967

So it's all girls together part two...

Rita Pavone, Sandie Shaw & Marianne Faithful

Ten Twentieth Century Britons That You Need To Investigate

This isn't in any particular order, in fact it's just ten British folks who've made my life more interesting because of their arts.  Being a lifelong Anglophile this was not an easy task. I've recommended my personal favorites by them after a little paragraph on each.  Most of these recommendations are available from Amazon and/or Netflix and I've painstakingly made sure not to list anything that isn't too difficult to access.



















1. DAVY GRAHAM
Donovan can claim he in essence "invented world music" in rock n' roll but I'm sorry Dono, Davy Graham was using Middle Eastern/North African/Indian slants on his guitar picking while you were still aping Bob Dylan.  I'm not going to go into detail about the late and sometimes tragic life and career of Davy Graham but let's suffice to say his eclectic mix of folks, blues, jazz and various "world music" sounds merits investigation if you're even remotely enthralled or enthused by any or all of these genres.  Thanks to my old friend Larry Grogan who made me a CD-R of various things by him ages ago I set off and tracked down more of his stuff and was rarely disappointed so long as I kept to his 60's 4 A.D./Decca catalog.

Suggested Listening (LP/CD):
"Guitar Player"
"Folk Blues And Beyond"
"Midnight Man"
"Hat"
"Large As Life And Twice As Natural"
"From Medway To Monkhouse 1963-1973" (compilation)

















2. COLIN MacINNES
Friends here at "Anorak Thing" will no doubt be familiar with Macinne's book "Absolute Beginners" (and the disgusting 80's film abortion/adaptation by Julien Temple).  Macinnes was a personally complex man but an interesting author.  Openly gay and somewhat introverted at times he was quite in touch with London's immigrant black community in the late 1950's and the seedy netherworld of vice which allowed him to somewhat authentically portray it in his novels "City Of Spades" (1957)  and "Mr. Love And Justice" (1960). He was fascinated with the culture and the clubs where white and black Londoner's could freely mix.  Never entirely comfortable with mixing socially mixing outside his race, MacInnes nonetheless used this as his basis on a world he hoped would one day exist in his most famous work "Absolute Beginners" (1959).  He also was one of the founding members of an organization to promote racial understanding in the wake of the 1958 Notting Hill riots that included a veritable who's who of late 50's British film, music, stage and print stars.

Suggested Reading:
"City Of Spades"
"Absolute Beginners"
"Mr. Love And Justice"
"The London Novels" (compilation of the above three)




















3. BILL FAY
Don't let Bill's scruffy Charlie Manson appearance on his second LP cover scare you off.  Bill was first introduced to me via his one and only Deram 45 (see January, 30, 2010 entry) on a Deram compilation LP called "Deram Dayze".  I'd read about his subsequent Deram/Nova (a label Deram set up for their more "progressive" artists) LP's for years and never quite got around to checking him out till my friend John "Bluesman" Rahmer graciously supplied me a slew of his stuff. Maudlin, talented and eclectic his music reminds me of Nick Drake if he wasn't afraid to add some horns or electric instrumentation to his music.

Suggested Listening (LP/CD):
"Bill Fay" (1st LP)
"Time Of The Last Persecution"
"From The Bottom Of An Old Grandfather Clock"























4. TED LEWIS
All of you here will no doubt be familiar with the famous 1971 Michael Caine tour de force "Get Carter".   What few realise is that it was based on a pulp novel by Ted Lewis called "Jack's Return Home" (1970).  Most of the book made it into the movie though the Jack in the book is far more villainous than the character in the film and the ending was different.  Ted Lewis wrote a trilogy of "Jack Carter" books as well as many other pulp novels all about hard men, the underworld and the like.  They are interesting because they hail from a time period where this life was sensationalized at the time by real life gangsters like the Richardson brothers and their less than successful but much more famous rivals the Krays.  Lewis output was slim compared to most authors with just nine titles produced before his death in 1982, but he will always be remembered as the man who gave the world "Get Carter".

Suggested Reading:
"Jack's Return Home (aka "Get Carter")"
"Plender"
"Billy Rags"
"Jack Carter And The Law"



















5. RONNIE LANE
Unless you've been beneath a polar ice cap you'll know who Ronnie Lane is.  As the bassist/founding member for both The Small Faces AND The Faces Ronnie was, on occasion, permitted to display his excellent songwriting capability and decent voice, though not enough in the latter obviously as it led him to move onto a third phase that was his solo career.  Sadly his life was cut short after nearly a decade and a half of suffering with M.S.  Ronnie was always my favorite S.F.'s member because he seemed so whimsical.  When he was in his last few years of life I was fortunate enough to obtain his home address and I sent a letter telling him how much his music meant to me.  Knowing he was in the midst of all the legal wranglings over unpaid S.F's royalties I was awarded a bonus of  $1,000 from my job and decided I owed him something for all the music of his I'd had the pleasure of hearing.  I duly cut Ronnie a check using an unspecified amount of it which was cashed and hopefully came to some good use. Sadly he never lived to see the settlement of his musical legacy. His story is far more poignantly told in the documentary DVD "The Passing Show:The Life And Music Of Ronnie Lane" so let's just cut to the chase....

Suggested Listening (LP/CD):
The Small Faces:
"Small Faces" (2nd LP 35th anniversary 2 CD edition)
"Ogden's Nut Gone Flake"
The Faces:
"First Step"
"Five Guys Walk Into A Bar..." boxed set
Solo:
"Slim Chance"
"How Come" (compilation)

Suggested Viewing:
"The Passing Show:The Life And Music Of Ronnie Lane"



















6. TONY RICHARDSON
Tony Richardson was not only perhaps one of Britain's most talented yet horribly misunderstood directors he was also, apparently something of rascal.  He was married to Vanessa Redgrave (9 years his junior) for several years and were divorced on the grounds of "adultery" with Vanessa naming Jeanne Moreau as the source!  Well he certainly knew how to pick his women.  And he certainly knew how to direct too, especially his gritty, early 60's b&w British "kitchen sink/angry young man" films which made good use of then taboo themes and his widely varied choices in different types of films from 1967's "The Charge Of The Light Brigade" to 1969's creepy "Laughter In The Dark".  Sadly the apex of his career seemed to be his 60's work as it was "Ned Kelly" in 1970 and then downhill from there.

Suggested Viewing:
"Look Back In Anger"
"A Taste Of Honey"
"The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner"
"The Loved One"
"Laughter In The Dark"

















7. GUY STEVENS
Guy Stevens is a legend.  Any mod worth their salt, especially an English one, should be thankful he was born.  After working for Chris Blackwell in the fledgling days of Island records Guy set up the (U.K.) Sue label which was exclusively devoted to bringing black American music to England and in the process turned a whole nation AND generation onto those sounds.  He was also the in house D.J. at London's legendary mod Mecca in West Ham Yard, The Scene.  Many a band (The Who included) traipsed over to Guy's pad to make tapes from his record collection (for a small fee) to cop material to cover.  When the U.K. Sue label finally was finished and mod was dead everyplace but in the provinces Guy tried his hand at record production working with ex-V.I.P.'s/pre-Spooky Tooth Art, ex-Action members Mighty Baby, Mott The Hoople and finally The Clash on their brilliant  "London Calling" LP.  Sadly Guy died at just 38 shortly after his work with The Clash from an O.D. on a drug he was taking to help curb his alcoholism (shades of Moonie?).

Suggested Listening (LP/CD):
"The U.K. Sue Story: The World Of Guy Stevens"
"The U.K. Sue Story Volume Two: Sue's Rockin' Blues"
"The U.K. Sue Story Volume Three: The Soul Of Sue"
"The U.K. Sue Story Volume Four"
"Mighty Baby-Mighty Baby"
"The Clash-London Calling"























8. PAULINE BOTY
Everyone knows who Sir Peter Blake and David Hockney are.  How many of us, certainly my fellow Americans, have ever heard of Pauline Boty?  In an art world pretty much dominated by men here was a British female pop artist who was not only talented but strikingly beautiful.  Originally she took up working with stained glass at the R.C.A. (Royal College of Art) because it wasn't thought that a woman should be painting !  Eventually she managed to paint and attended with other legendary artists like Hockney (who was one year behind her) and Blake. She first came to the world's attention in a BBC documentary (also starring Blake and several others) shot by a young director named Ken Russell.  Incredibly hip and quite sexually liberated as well as being incredibly talented, she was a regular on Redifusion TV's "Ready! Steady! Go!" where she can be glimpsed in photos and videos dancing in the crowd of similar hip, young, smart attired people of the era.  Her most famous work was a portrait of Marilyn Monroe, "The Only Blonde In The World".  It exists today in the Tate Liverpool. Sadly like most talented people she died young, though unlike her contemporaries in the art and entertainment world it was not from excess.  Just weeks after the birth of her daughter (with husband/agent Clive Goodwin) Boty Goodwin, she succumbed to cancer in 1966 at the age of just 28.  Her works are scattered throughout the U.K. and can be easily viewed on the web by Googling "Pauline Boty paintings".  I was privileged to see one of her works ("Countdown To Violence") on loan to the New York MOMA in the late 80's and through an acquaintance (who was herself an aspiring pop artist) and as a result became familiar with many of her other pieces.

Suggested Viewing (Paintings):
"The Only Blonde In the World"
"Monica Vitti With Heart"
"Pauline Boty, With Love To Jean Paul Belmondo"
"Countdown To Vilolence"
"Scandal '63" (pictured above with Boty)
"It's A Man's World II"













9. ADRIAN MITCHELL
The late Adrian Mitchell first came to my attention in the late 80's when there was footage of him at the legendary 1965 Albert Hall poetry festival in the film adaptation of Derek Taylor's book "It Was Twenty Years Ago Today" reading his brilliant, inflammatory, anti-Vietnam war poem "To Whom It May Concern" (later re-written shortly before his death to include a brilliant anti-Iraqi war line).  I'm not much on poets, especially 60's beat poets.  I've long disliked most poets from the 60's because of people like Allen Ginsberg and his lot because they could afford to lay around and drink/take drugs, screw, philosophize, be pretentious etc because they didn't have to worry about being drafted and crawling around in a rice paddy with an M-16 while Charlie Cong tried to kill them.  That said I think I like the English perspective because, well, they weren't draft dodging and they were a bit more sophisticated than American poets of that era, or so I think mainly because they weren't as privileged and let's face it from what I've read and heard from firsthand account, the U.K. in the late 50's/early 60's was a pretty bleak place.  Further investigation of Mitchell's work opened a new door to me because he wrote/spoke about everything, not just politics and didn't need the "shock value" tactics.  You've got to love/appreciate a man who could write:

"He breathed in air, he breathed out light, Charlie Parker was my delight"

Mitchell outlived most of his contemporaries passing away in 2008 at the age of 76.  Sadly a great deal of his collections of older work are now, sadly out of print.

Suggested Reading(collected works):
"Heart On The Left: Poems 1953-1984"
"Greatest Hits"
"Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics, 1965-1999 (w/ Paul McCartney)"
"Tell Me Lies:Poems 2003-2008"



















10. DUFFY POWER
Duffy Power would've be just another forgotten late 50's British rocker who'd had his name changed by Svengali/impresario Larry Parnes (aka Larry Pounds Shilling Pence) had he not, like fellow Parnes escapee Georgie Fame, moved onto r&b.  Duffy started out as a sort of faceless 50's rocker on Fontana records before moving onto ballads (some of which are quite good). Then he discovered American r&b and blues and it was all over for the quiffed 2 I's rocker and we underwent a sort of "mod" metamorphosis (see above pic, with "herbal jazz cigarette" intact) and moved onto EMI's Parlophone label where his sound blossomed into a perfect example of homegrown 60's British r&b.  Duffy was one of the first British musicians to cover a Beatles tune (he did an r&b version of "I Saw Her Standing There" backed by the mighty Graham Bond Quartet) and he recorded a slew of tasty r&b singles (including one with The Paramounts who later morphed into Procol Harum) before moving to more of an "acoustic blues" where he cut some nifty records with just guitar, stand up bass, drums and harp that though not issued on 45, came out on an LP on Spark (later reissued as "Vampers & Champers").

Suggested Listening (CD):
"Leapers And Sleepers" (2 CD compilation)
"Vampers And Champers"
"Sky Blues: Rare BBC Sessions"