Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another British 60's pop-Sike Bach Magnum Opus: Ruperts People



















RUPERT'S PEOPLE-Reflections of Charles Brown/Hold On U.S. Bell BELL 684 1967

Did you ever hear the one about the freakbeat band who pretended to be another band on record and it became a hit and they refused to be part of the charade?  This my friends was the story of famous British freakbeat act The Fleur De Ly's who cut both sides of this 45 under the moniker of Rupert's People for a cat named Howard Conder.  When the record began creeping up the charts he had to hastily assemble a troupe of musicians to put on the road and telly to promote after the Fleur De Ly's told him to stuff it.  Interestingly enough the band backed Sharon Tandy on a version of "Hold On" which was released the same month (July 1967) as this (see http://anorakthing.blogspot.com/2011/03/sharon-tandy.html ).

"Reflections of Charles Brown" follows in that grand British 60's pop-sike tradition set into motion by Procol Harum of nicking Bach for pop purposes. After it's Bach inspired organ intro the number is rather slow and moody with some soulful vocals and easily the kind of track you can collapse into a heap to hear on the sofa at the end of an exhausting day's work/parenting.  I didn't like it for ages upon ages and only really grew to appreciate it years ago laying on my couch out of my head and hearing it, needless to say I'm a changed man now. The flipside, "Hold On" as mentioned above is a rocking affair.  Whereas the Sharon Tandy version is exclusively propelled by a blistering guitar, this version is as well but is also accompanied by a distinctive groovy mid 60's mod organ, imagine "Bert's Apple Crumble" by the Quik if it had some distorted guitar on it trading licks with the B-3!

TRIVIA NOTE:
There was another U.S. issue bearing the same matrix number but had a dark blue label embossed into the vinyl with silver lettering as well as double sided promo copies of "Charles Brown".  Promo copies also appeared in white with light blue lettering (as above) or pink.  I guess Bell had big plans for this record here!  Needless to say it never charted and was, at least back in the mid/late 90's to be had everywhere, much like The Bat's "Listen To My Heart" and Los Bravos "Going Nowhere" which every U.S. mod/DJ I knew had at least 1 or more copies of !

Both tracks, especially the "A" side have seen a multitude of compilation reissue action but you can find both tracks on the Fleur De Ly's CD compilation "Reflections".

Hear "Reflections...":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AenoFDr9nSI

Hear "Hold On":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oBUJVCV8W0

Monday, March 28, 2011

From South Africa: The Bats

THE BATS-Listen To My Heart/You Look Good Together U.S. Parrott 45-40013 1967

Here's an interesting little record by a South African band who came to the U.K. in '66 and cut three singles for Decca there in '66-'67.  This U.S. release on Parrot combines two different tracks from two of their U.K. releases : Decca F 22534 "Listen To My Heart" b/w "Stop Don't Do It" and Decca F 22586 ""You Look Good Together" b/w "You Will Now, Won't You?".

For some odd reason "Listen To My Heart" reputedly garnered some interest on the Northern soul scene, whether this was in the 70's or the 90's when Decca slapped it on their "Northern Soul Scene" CD I'm not sure, but it couldn't be too in demand because back in the 90's there were copies of this Parrot issue everywhere in the States and I think every mod I knew and every DJ I knew owned a copy!! 

"Listen To My Heart" is cheeky/cheery friendly late 60's sort of pop, not really a specific type of track like psych or purely "pop" but has that "good timey" genre defying feel to it that most of those late 60's U.K. "studio" bands had.  Not bad, no clue how this has any "soul" appeal.  "You Look Good Together" is my fave of the two, for many reasons if only the ridiculous backing chorus that sings "shing-a-ding-di-ee-i-ooo", try and sing that fast!  It has a great melody and some nice heavy bass and precise harmonies that wrap it all up, I'm surprised it hasn't been comped anywhere yet!

"Listen To My Heart" has been reissued on Decca/Deram's "The Northern Soul Scene" CD and Psychic Circle's "Fairytales Can Come True Volume Two: Fairy Cakes For Tea". 

Hear "Listen To My Heart":


Sunday, March 27, 2011

March's Picks


Action Now






















1. ACTION NOW-"Try"
Cutesy L.A. 80's power pop with 60's influences but VERY 80's production (esp. those awful hand claps), featuring future Pandoras founder the late Paula Pierce (that's her above proving she didn't go commando).  Good stuff and still sounds as good as it did in the 80's on one of the "Rodney On The R.O.Q" LP volumes that brought it to my attention via Paula's squeaky clean/crisp backing vocals.

2. XTC-"Towers Of London"
Back in the day at the onset of my mod-dom I mused aloud to all and sundry that "Black sea" by XTC was the perfect "mod" album as it was more English than "Setting Sons", that is all perfectly true but I was also a 14 year old talking a load of smack.  These days it's the 80's "Village Green Preservation Society" in my book and no better illustrated by this cut, and besides when's the last time you heard a song that made mention of "virgins from Stepney walking pretty ladies by"?

3. 4 SKINS-"Plastic Gangster"
My punk rock pals would be turning in their graves if they could see I'd posted a Four Skins track on my music picks list.   A friend popped it up on FaceBook a few weeks back and surprisingly this it's quite good, it sounds almost like a jaunty/cheeky Madness cut and the lyrics are hysterical.

4. SQUEEZE-"Up The Junction"
Brilliant melody, brilliant vocals and equally brilliant kitchen sink drama played out in a nicely condensed 3 minutes plus episode.

5. THE APPLE-"Buffalo Billycan"
Brilliant bit of U.K. po-psych '68 style, not at all "heavy", quite "poppy" but with enough dazzling breaks to show their razor sharp mod/freakbeat roots and enough '67 Floydian whimsy to earn the "psych" tag.  It is also, hands down one of the most lyrically indecipherable 60's tracks I've heard!



















6. THE FOUR TOPS-"Walk Away Renee"
In the 60's The Four Tops could pretty much pull off anything, including The Left Banke, dig Levi Stubb's amazing vocals and the instrumentation/production are out of sight!

7. DAVID BOWIE-"Life On Mars"
Been playing the crap out of this, never gets old, never.  Possibly the Dame's most oblique and unique lyrics, ever.

8. JET HARRIS-"You Don't Live Twice"
Flipside of his 1967 cover of The Trogg's "My Lady", this ones a bit of a crooner number but the orchestration is tops and believe it or not so is Jet's delivery! R.I.P. Jet.

9. THE IGUANA-"Imagine This"
The crown jewel of Big Beat's "Peculiar Hole in The Sky:Pop Psych From Downunder" Australian 60's psych-pop comp CD is this harmony drenched gem by a bunch of Aussie's who worshipped The Association and The Action.  Harmony pop perfection!


















10. LONG TALL SHORTY-"On The Streets Again"
When I hit London in Autumn 1984 there were two records everyone was on about: The Scene's "Something That You Said" and this one by a punky 4 piece "mod".  I'd be hard pressed to call this a "mod" record, it owes more to The Heartbreakers meet the Angelic Upstarts (L.T.S's leader, Tony Perfect was in the latter I'm told) but it still works for me!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Mark Leeman Five

THE MARK LEEMAN FIVE-Going To Bluesville/Forbidden Fruit U.K. Columbia DB 7812 1966

The Mark Leeman Five were one of those 60's jazzy British r&b bands who were always gigging with bigger named acts at all the London haunts like The Marquee, The Flamingo or Klook's Kleek (they actually held a regular Monday night residency at the Marquee club in 1965 which flip flopped with The Moody Blues and Manfred Mann while The Who were packing them in every Tuesday night). They cut just four singles for Columbia. Shortly after their third single leader Mark Leeman was killed in a car accident on his way home from a gig, he was replaced on their fourth and final single by Roger Peacock for the storming "Gather Up the Pieces".  They were managed by Kenneth Pitt (who would later go on to manage a fledgling David Bowie) who spotted them in 1965 whilst playing with his charges Manfred Mann (Paul Jones would blow harp on their debut 45 "Portland Town").  He offered to manage them and got them a deal with EMI's Columbia branch.

They were: Mark Leeman (lead vocals), Alan Roskams (guitar), Terry Goldberg (keyboards), David Hyde (bass) and Brian Davidson (drums).

January 1966's "Going To Bluesville" is a mid tempo number with bluesy vocals and some cool but mild organ, not an r&b stormer in any way shape or form but still quite good.  The flip(which is actually the "A" side) is a cover of Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Forbidden Fruit".  As a big fan of O.B.J. I'm always curious to hear British 60's artists tackling his song.  This one is rather weak I'm afraid, not as bad as The Nashville Teens version issued in August 1966 (Decca F 12458) but still pointless and somewhat effortless.  Both sides were produced by the legendary Denny Cordell (Georgie Fame, The Move etc).

In the late 80's or early 90's See For Miles issued a full LP of their four singles plus a host of unreleased tracks provided by Kenneth Pitt. Sadly it has, to date, not seen any CD reissue. "Going To Bluesville" did surface on the CD compilation "That Driving Beat Volume Five".

Hear "Going To Bluesville":


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shel Talmy's Planet

A WILD UNCERTAINTY-A Man With Money/Broken Truth U.S. Planet 45-120 1966

I've no bloody idea who A Wild Uncertainty were, I do know their keyboardist, Phil Sawyer went on the join the Spencer Davis Group Mk. II after the Windwood brothers split.  What I can tell you is that they were a U.K. 60's four piece (I've seen some Euro picture sleeves for this single, that's how I know) and this was their sole release on Shel Talmy's short lived Planet label.  Thanks to a Google search I found a website about their lead singer and the listed line-up was: Tony Sawa (lead vocals/bass), Pete Tidemarsh (guitar), Phil Sawyer (keyboards) and Gordon Barton (drums). Like many a sharp mid 60's U.K. moddy combo they were managed by Don Arden, E.I.A.H (Evil Incarnate Ass Hole).

"Man With Money" rates in my estimation as the finest track The Everly Brothers ever wrote or recorded, released back in October 1965 on their "Beat & Soul" LP and utilized as a "B" side to their version of "Love is Strange" on both sides of the Atlantic.  If you haven't heard it you need to , it's mind blowing. Obviously a lot of folks in England thought so too because The Who cut a version of it in August 1966 (which stayed in the vault's till the mid 90's) as well as playing it live onstage and in a 1966 B.B.C. session.  The Eyes were the first to commit it to vinyl as the "A" side to their third single (Mercury MF 910) in May of 1966 and probably heard it from The Who, as The Eyes well, they made some great records but I'd hardly portray them as trendsetters.  This version dates from October of 1966 and was one of Planet's last three releases, for some reason both the U.S. and U.K. issues of this single inserted an "A" into the title. I'll have to say it's certainly not better than the original but far better than both The Who and The Eye's versions. This specimen is far more uptempo and harder with a nice freakbeat feel to the guitar work (reminiscent of The Fleur De Ly's actually) and the harpsichord bit in the middle is pretty novel.  The flipside, "Broken Truth" is  fairly decent, following pretty much the same formula as the "A" side and sounding a lot like something The Blues Magoos would've done.

pic c/o http://www.samuelprody.com/biog.html

Both sides were selected for RPM's now out of print essential "The Best of Planet Records" CD retrospective.

Hear "Man With Money":

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Davy Jones & The Lower Third

David Bowie (aka Davy Jones)- "That's A Promise", October 1965 @ R.G. Jones Studios, Morden, Surrey, UK with The Lower Third.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cool Foreign E.P.'s 28: The Artwoods "Jazz In Jeans"




















THE ARTWOODS-"Jazz In Jeans": These Boots Are Made For Walking/A Taste Of Honey/Our Man Flint/Routine E.P. U.K. Decca DFE 8654 1966

Worth about six month's rent for a small apartment in New York City.

Scott Walker: Cute In A Stupid Ass Way....


















SCOTT WALKER-Jackie/The Plague U.K. Philips BF 1628 1967

When Scott Walker finally pulled the plug on The Walker Brothers I'm sure no one other than their teeny bopper/screamager audience were surprised.  Let's face it, Scott Walker WAS The Walker Brothers, John had a few tunes here and there.
See:
 http://anorakthing.blogspot.com/2009/01/walker-vs-walkerthe-final-straw.html

and

http://anorakthing.blogspot.com/2010/06/walkers-60s-swan-song.html

But for the most part they were weak and Gary, well Gary didn't even play drums like he was supposed to due to some sort of contractual issue or sing (he did go on to form the brilliant Gary Walker & the Rain) see:

 http://anorakthing.blogspot.com/2009/12/big-in-japangary-walker-rain.html

So who was carrying all the water?  Pretty freakin' obvious. It did not take long before the band's label, Phillips, launched Scott's solo career with this debut 45.



















"Jackie" was Scott's first of many stabs at material by Jacques Brel.  I've never been big on Jacques Brel but I'll have to say I've dug what Scott Walker has done with his stuff.  The "*uck you" sort of attitude he sings with on "Jackie" complete with over affected pronunciations never ceases to amuse me amid Wally Stot's storming orchestral accompaniment. And of course the track was a perfect vehicle for his wildly expressive stage persona full of gestures, face pulling and over the top campiness, especially on the TV (see the poor quality clip below). Best of all how many songs do you know that entered the top 40 with the line "in a stupid ass way"? It halted at #22 in the U.K. singles charts. On the flip we have an eerily twisted Scott Walker original called "The Plague", it's probably the closest Scott ever got to psychedelia, and certainly the only thing he did close to it.  It's a musical equivalent to a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, from the haunting "la la la la la's" by a chorus of female vocalists, to the sweeping strings (that get warped, sped up and run backwards at varying intervea;s during the track) while Scott sings his bleak, trippy lyrics in an almost disembodied voice.  The vocals are mixed very high upfront while the cacophony of madness plays behind giving the impression he's walled in someplace and his voice is bouncing off the walls.  Towards the ending he sings backed only by a faint ghostly organ and some slowly disintegrating drums and it's over, as eerie as it began.






















"Jackie" turned up on Scott's second solo LP "Scott 2" whilst "The Plague" is on the essential intro to his solo work (which was where my Scott Walker odyssey began), the compilation LP/CD "Boy Child".



Hear "The Plague":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiloWOFuY08

See a collection of Walker Brothers/related 60's picture sleeves:

http://anorakthing.blogspot.com/2011/02/walkers-of-japan.html

Cool German picture sleeve issue

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hollies '67

THE HOLLIES-Carrie Anne/Signs That Will Never Change U.K. Parlophone R 5602 1967

Like The Beatles, The Stones and The Kinks, my favorite period for The Hollies is late '65 to early '68.  There's something about how The Stones, Beatles and The Hollies all seemed to keep pace with each other with trends and musical styles (something our boys from Muswell Hill didn't seem to follow).

Despite the Summer of Love and all the trippy hippiness that came with it "Carrie Anne" contains none of that, its really just an archetype "boy infatuated with girl" song.  Was it not one of The Hollies who once mused "We're about as psychedelic as a pint of brown ale"?  No sitars (though there is a nice Trinidadian steel drum solo!) just the precision pop harmonies they're known for and Graham Nash and Tony Hicks each getting a verse in behind Allan Clarke's lead vocals.  Though they did make a VERY trippy promo film to go with it (see for yourself below).  "Signs That Will Never Change" had a previous airing on the Everly Brothers "Two Yanks In England" album (released in July 1966) alongside 7 other Clarke/Hicks/Nash compositions (under the moniker "L Ransford") but this was the first Hollies release of the track.  Starting with some really cool phased in harmonies and a hypnotic strong riff it builds a bridge between the "beat group" era and the dawning "psychedelic era" of Hollies music.

Both sides have appeared on numerous comps, I've got them both on the U.K. CD "A's, B's & E.P.s" that EMI put out.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Breathalyser



















THE COCKTAIL CABINET-Puppet On A String/Breathalyser U.K. Page One POF 046 1967

Here's one of those bizarre records that bridges the very narrow peninsula between "mod" and "kitsch/easy" like other records by The Reg Guest Syndicate or The John Schroeder Orchestra.  Unlike any of these previously mentioned artists this one is a one off studio concoction (brainchild of Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, the latter known for his dreadful Celtic muzak) that has been a popular record on the mod scene since somebody unearthed it in the early 90's.  It first came to my attention on a tape my friend Haim made me in '94 or so and I was lucky enougn to score a copy a few years later.

The "A" side was the hit for Sandie Shaw, in instrumental form, released a good six months after Sandie's hit version (which I believe won the Eurovision song contest in 1967). But if you read the comment below I'm wrong, but to be honest I probably only played it once before deciding i didn't like it it!  Flip it over and you've got a brilliant organ groover.  Kicking off with some screechy fuzz guitar and some wiggy escalating Hammond organ it's one of the most solid U.K. 60's B-3 instrumentals out there.  From it's over the top fuzzed out guitar solo and moody/moddy Hammond brilliance the track is a gas from start to finish.

"Breathalyser" was reissued on the CD compilation "Instro Hipsters A Go-Go".

Hear "Breathalyser":

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

Cool Foreign E.P.'s 27: The Smoke





















THE SMOKE-It's Just Your Way Of Lovin'/If The Weather's Sunny/I Would If I Could But I Can't/Wake Up Cherylina E.P. France Impact IMP 200.012 M 1967

The Creation: Making Time

The original Creation, forget Eddie Phillips and three guys you've never seen before this is THEE definitive Creation line up: Pickett, Phillips, Garner and Jones live on German TV's "Beat Beat Beat" in 1966:


Flower Power grows in Mud!


MUD-Flower Power/You're My Mother U.K. CBS 203002 1967

Some of you might be familiar with the U.K. 70's glam foursome known as Mud, but did you know that they began in the 60's and cut an amazing two sider in 1967 as their debut release?

Don't ask me who they were, I don't know, maybe Wikipedia can tell you....On the "A" side we have a ditty called "Flower Power", it was 1967 so you'd expect this sort of thing.  It's a total cash-in with ultra cheezy lyrics (with some touches of skepticism) but it's delivered in that "West Coast harmony" via the U.K. style that I so often espouse here ala Florbunda Rose, The Montanas, The Pyramid, The Bystanders et al. Very catchy! The flip, "You're My Mother" reminds me more of the late '66/early '67 Move both musically and lyrically sounding like one of those odd things Roy Wood wrote early on.  The lyrics are actual pretty creepy, basically about a guy who's complaining that his mother is always too touchy feely with him, punctuated by some nice high "Oooooo's" ala The Who or the Game.  Weird!

Both sides made it onto the Repertoire CD compilation "The Singles 1967-1978".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stray Rays: The Rockin' Vickers



















THE ROCKIN' VICKERS-Dandy/I Don't Need Your Kind U.S. Columbia 4-43818 1966

This was to be the final Rockin' Vickers single and it was produced by the legendary Shel Talmy (Who, Kinks etc).  Their connection with Talmy gave them access, presumably to some Ray Davie's tracks (there's an unreleased Ray Davie's number they cut in '66 called "Little Rosie" that was contained on their CD compilation). "Dandy" was never released as a single by The Kinks and sadly The Vickers release in the U.K. of it as an "A" side in November 1966 had been preceeded a month earlier by a dreadful version by a square as hell looking and sounding gent named Clinton Ford (Pye 7N 35343), neither version charted though Herman's Hermits took it to #5 in the U.S. charts in September 1966 (without a U.K. release)!

The Rockin' Vickers version is not bad, it's far closer to The Kinks version (which appeared on the "Face To Face" LP) than any of the other versions and though it starts out with an acoustic guitar it's got a bit more cranked up electric guitar than The Kinks and played slightly faster, sort of "out Kink's-ing the Kinks" if you will.  The real gem is the flip side, "I Don't Need Your Kind". From it's distorted guitar, sneering vocals and ragged beat and it's a brutal garage punk type record (with a simplistic solo from Lemmy worthy of anything on "Back From The Grave").  Nicky Hopkins (presumably) adds ivory tinkling which gives it the feel of any top shelf Who track circa '65.

Both sides were collected on the RPM Rockin' Vickers CD compilation "Lifelines:The Complete Rocking Vickers", which I believe may be out of print.
















Hear "Dandy":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIvyHOHX5TE

Hear "I Don't Need Your Kind":

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



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Straight From Merthyr Tydfil It's The Bystanders


















THE BYSTANDERS-(You're Gonna) Hurt Yourself/Have I Offended The Girl U.K. Piccadilly 7N.35330 1966

Before they evolved (or de-evolved) into shirtless hairies Man Vic Oakley (vocals), Micky Jones (guitar), Ray Williams (bass), Clive john (keyboards) and Jeff Jones (drums) were The Bystanders, a harmony/pop group from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales who cut 7 singles for the Piccadilly label between 1966 and 1968.  The Bystanders were quite versatile thanks to their multi harmony advantage and were adept at both West Coast pop, "supper club soul" and what I like to call "cabaret psychedelia".


















The band had previously cut several unreleased cuts for Joe Meek (one of which, "She Comforts My Sorrow" was unearthed in 2008 for the Castle CD compilation "Joe Meek Freakbeat:You're Holding Me Down") and a rare as hell 45 for the Pylot label "That's The End" b/w "This Time" (Pylot WD 501) in 1965.  This was their debut release on Pye's Piccadilly imprint.  They chose a cover of Frankie Vali's January 1966 "solo" single "(You're Gonna) Hurt Yourself" as their debut 45 in June of 1966 (they also recorded a version of one of Vali's other "solo" 45s "You're Ready Now" which was not released until the 90's on a CD compilation of their work).  Covers of American vocal/harmony pop numbers (with the occasional venture into soul music) formed a bulk of their well honed live act so it was probably no surprise that they went with an American number as their debut "A"-side. Their version is a bit faster than the original and certainly harder and even, if I may add, more soulful.  It's easily my favorite track of theirs.  The flip side is not a terrible track it's just boring, a mid tempo vocal number that hits an octave too high for my ears (in a way that only The Four Seasons can so obviously they achieved their presumed goal of sounding like them on this) and offers none of the vigor or soul that the "A" side does.

The band would go on to cover lots of other U.S. hits like Keith's "98.6" (which was recently utilized in the dreadful Pirate Radio flick "The Boat The Rocked", or as they called it here in the States, "Pirate Radio") and Jimmy Webb's "Pattern People" and an English language version of Spain's Los Brinco's "Mejor" retitled ""Make Up Your Mind" (Los Brincos cut two U.K. 45's for Page One as part of the short lived Iberian invasion in the U.K. along with Los Iberos and Los Bravos). They also interestingly cut a number called "When Jezamine Goes" in 1968 which most likely to their horror was later recorded by The Casuals and became a huge U.K. hit for them (and it boasted "Cave of Clear Light" on the flip, their trippiest record of all perhaps offering some indication of things to come).

Both tracks were collected on two now out of print CD collections of their work, See For Mile's "The Birth Of Man" and Castle's "The Pattern People: The Pye Anthology".  "(You're Gonna) Hurt Yourself" appeared on Castle's "Doin The Mod Volume 5: That Driving Beat" and  Sequel's "Ripples Volume Four: Uptown Girls And Big City Boys".

Hear "(You're Gonna) Hurt Yourself":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzK6tgL0Ch4

Hear "Have I Offended The Girl":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5b0MgKZUp8

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Man Who Sold The World (On Mr. Fish Man Dresses)

DAVID BOWIE-"The Man Who Sold The World" LP U.K. Mercury 6338 041 1971

SIDE ONE:
1. The Width Of A Circle
2. All The Madmen
3. Black Country Rock
4. After All

SIDE TWO:
1. Running Gun Blues
2. Savior Machine
3. She Shook Me Cold
4. The Man Who Sold The World
5. The Supermen

"The Man Who Sold The World" was Bowie's third LP, his second on the Mercury label and his first album of the 1970's.  His backing band has yet to solidify but the personnel on the LP consisted of David on vocals, acoustic guitar and stylophone, Mick Ronson on guitar, Tony Visconti on bass and piano, Mick Woodmansey on drums and Ralph Mace adding Moog synthesiser.  Best known for it's "dress cover" of Bowie reclining in his Mr. Fish "dress" and Veronica Lake hairdo, it marked a shift into "heavier sounds" thanks to Ronson's Jeff Beck inspired guitar solos and not a track on the disc runs shorter than three minutes.

The album opens with the heavier than air opus "Width Of a Circle".  The number goes through varying phases and tempo changes almost making it several songs within a song (akin to King Crimson's "In The Court Of The Crimson King") with cryptic lyrics typical of the period (eccentrically mentioning author/poet Kahalil Gibran).  It's a great track though clocking in at 8:05 it's a bit too long and ponderous. "All The Madman" can equally be compared to King Crimson with it's use of woodwinds and a slight Medieval feel to it before Ronson and the band kick in with their rocking-ness.  Bowie's vocals are quite spirited and the track is certainly my fave on the platter with it's lyrics leaning towards the subject of madness, not the first time Bowie visited it and certainly wouldn't be the last.  It winds up (down?) with some "Clockwork Orange" soundtrack sounding synths.  "Black Country Rock" is another raucous affair without being too over the top in it's heaviness.  During one of  Ronson's many trills of the hypnotic main lick Bowie lets rip with a warbly Bolan noise, which can't have improved frosty matters between the former friends soon to turn glam competitors. "After All" is an eerie track.  The varispeed backing vocals (which at times resemble that of small children) chanting "Oh By Jingo" (a phrase picked up from a World War II acquaintance) are just wiggy, especially when coupled with the return of "Space Oddity's" Stylophone and more "Clockwork Orange" meets baroque synth (predating a sound The Stranglers were so fond of). 

Side Two kicks off with "Running Gun Blues" is a mundane Vietnam era ode to kill happy soldier with uncool lines about "I'll rape the gooks and smash their heads", all delivered in a much too cheeky manner and at a pitch perhaps too high for Bowie's delivery.  The music is pretty cool, especially the Roxy-esque synth but the lyrics are just plain awful. Next. "Savior Machine" runs awash in "Quadrophenia" friendly symphonic synthesizer but fails to move me despite it's jazzy little changes and the guitar and synth licks borrowed from an old 1968 Bowie track he did with his folk trio Feathers called "Ching-A-Ling". "She Shook Me Cold" is a cold as the corpse of Hendrix whom the opening licks seem to attempt to summon, it's cod metal, empty, uninteresting and filler as far as I'm concerned. Bowie's vocals are so forward in the mix it sounds like a pre-gig sound check run through of a track the band hasn't learned completely and the lead singer is still spontaneously composing new lyrics to. "The Man Who Sold The World" rates in my estimation as the best 70's pre- Ziggy Bowie at his best, from it's deadpan delivery to it's absorbing social observation lyrics, even the dreadful cover by some trio of grunge scumbags in the 90's can't shake my faith in this track.  This is greatness at work kids...."The Supermen" launches into Bowie's first foray into the turf of uber-wanker Nietzsche. Pretentious philosophers aside it's a great track. The heavy duty riff chugs away while the backing vocals chant in descending tones like a Satanic manta, this is the devil's music kids, and I like it.

As you will see below the album became quite celebrated for it's varying releases in different artwork around the world.......

Lest the "man in a dress" cover offend Mercury over in the U.S. issued this odd cartoon cover album depicted below as Mercury 61325:

Once Ziggy Stardust was unleashed and the world went Bowie-mad RCA reissued the LP (having acquired Bowie's scant Mercury catalog), and like Bowie's 2nd untitled LP (retitled "Space Oddity" for it's U.S. Ziggy era reissue) it sported a cover with a Ziggy era photo to confuse the record buyers into believing they'd had a new Ziggy product (the same was tried with countless compilations of Deram/Pye material well into the 80's).  Below is the RCA LSP 4618 1972 reissue:

The Germans got an even better treat and were furnished with this wiggy circular sleeve that folded out ala The Small Face's "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" album as Mercury 6338 041:

Which when folded out looked like this:




Monday, March 7, 2011

More Walkers!

A gallery of Walker Brothers and solo Walker's members 60's picture sleeves:

AUSTRALIAN E.P.

GERMAN 45

GERMAN 45

GERMAN 45

NORWEGIAN 45

GERMAN 45

SPANISH E.P.

SPANISH E.P.

SPANISH 45

U.S. 45

U.S. 45

U.K. E.P.

U.K. E.P.

U.K. E.P.

U.K. E.P.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sharon Tandy


















SHARON TANDY-Stay With Me/Hold On Germany Atlantic ATL 70240 1967

I'm guilty of nicking this picture sleeve from the net because foolishly, I never scanned mine before I sold it (though mine was equally ratty).  It came from a haul that was the result of one and a half days on the floor of the Princeton Record exchange poring through 100's of boxes of 45's they'd recently acquired from the since closed Radio Free Europe.  Most of the good stuff had been snagged I'm told before the records hit the floor by staff and a few select dealers, but my friend and I struck early with lunch breaks at the Athenian (R.I.P.) and dinner at the Alchemist & Barrister afterwards and over two days combed through every box (other boxes mysteriously appeared over the next few months, one containing "Crawdaddy Simone" but that's a story for another day).  I scored some pretty cool stuff and since Radio Free Europe was based in Germany a great deal of the 45's there were German pressings, like this one.

For those not in the known, Sharon Tandy was from South Africa and came to England to further her music career.  She cut several 45's in the U.K. starting in 1965, this was her fifth in July 1967.  The "A" side is a passable version of Lorraine Ellison's "Stay With Me", I don't really care for the track no matter who's doing it so let's move on.  I bought this record for the flip "Hold On".  "Hold On" was simultaneously released on the flip of "Reflections of Charles Brown" by the studio concoction known as Rupert's People (Columbia DB 8226) featuring members of The Fleur De Ly's.  Coincidentally Sharon was backed on her version by the very same mighty freakbeat legends The Fleur De Ly's (both acts shared the same manager).  The number is driven by some of the band's blistering trademark guitar work and Sharon's breathy/sexy husky vocals move it along nicely.  The band would also back her on the equally rocking "Daughter Of The Sun", recorded at the same session and later issued as the flipside of a relaunching of "Hold On" in the U.K. in October 1968.

Both sides were included on Big Beat's CD retrospective of her 60's career "You Gotta Believe It".

Below are clips from German TV's "Beat Club" where Sharon plugs both sides:



Friday, March 4, 2011

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part 26: Deram Two-fer Warm Sounds and The Outer Limits























THE OUTER LIMITS-Just One More Chance/Help Me Please
WARM SOUNDS-Birds & Bees/Doo Dah E.P. Portugal Deram EPDM 1006 1967

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stray Rays: The Lancastrians


















THE LANCASTRIANS-The World Keeps Going Round/Not The Same Anymore U.K. Pye 7N17043 1966

This was the next to last of six 45s by a U.K. group called the Lancastrians.  All of their singles were on Pye and all of them (save their last, an ill advised cover of the U.S. chest thumping flag waving hit "Ballad Of The Green Berets") are quite listenable.

The Lancastrian's version of the Ray Davies composition, "The World Keeps Going Round" was released in January 1966 and had previously appeared on The Kinks album "Kontroversy" in November 1965.  The Lancastrians version is actually stronger than The Kinks, with a "heavy" sound with the band playing a bit harder edged than the original.  Like all of their tracks, the vocals are very strong and high/upfront in the mix.  "It's Not The Same Anymore" is a somber ballad, pretty mundane stuff compared to their other rocking sides and is easily forgotten up against the majority of their catalog.

Both sides reputedly feature the guitar talents of Jimmy Page and were produced by Shel Talmy, who produced all of their singles.

Both sides appeared on the CD compilation "Jimmy Page-Hip Young Guitar Slinger" and "The World Keeps Going Round" also feature on Sequel/Castle's "Doing The Mod Volume Four: Ready Steady Stop".

Hear "The World Keeps Going Round":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUi9IFRaXSs

Hear "It's Not The Same Anymore":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HRXjy1SLLI