Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Yet Even More Stray Rays (Part 3) : 10 Great Ray Davies Covers

Ace records released a new 26 track CD of 60's covers of Ray Davies songs a month or so ago, something I did for several of you years back.  We profiled 10 of our selections here in February 2012 and 10 more a month later here. Never one to shy from a challange we've got 10 more up our sleeve!

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1. LISA RAYNE-"Don't Ever Change" UK 45 Fontana TF 563 1965
Here's a little known cover of one of my fave tracks from the "Kinda Kinks" album but a British female singer.  The musical backing is an interesting mix of horns and organ and the vocal style is decidedly M.O.R. but it's worth a listen just because it's so obscure and I don't think I have ever heard anyone cover this track before.


2. THE CHOIR-"David Watts" Previously Unreleased LP track "Choir Practice" USA Sundazed LP 5009 1994
Long before The Jam took a version of this into the UK Top 20 in 1978 Cleveland's devout Anglophiles The Choir cut this unreleased version in 1967, a lead off track of the Kink's "Something Else" album. It doesn't differ much from the original in delivery but it adds a nice churchy Hammond and has some tight harmonies that turn it into a dose of American '67 Sunshine pop, something you'd never associate The Kinks with!


3. THE SCORPIONS-"So Mystifying"Netherlands 45 CNR UH-9785 1965
"So Mystifying" was obviously a popular tune on the Continent as it was covered by The German Bonds (Germany), The Hep Stars "(Sweden) and both The Jay Jays and The Scorpions in Holland. This version preceded the Jay Jays version by a year.  It's fairly pedestrian stuff and not as raw as The Jay Jays version but worth a listen.


4. GARY LEWIS AND THE PLAYBOYS-"A Well Respected Man" US LP track "Hits Again" Liberty LST 7452 1966
Alongside other covers like "One Track Mind" (The Knickerbockers) and "Look Through Any Window" (to name a few) Gary tackles the Kinks U.S hit (#13) "A Well Respected Man" with British phrasing all intact with interesting results.  It's pretty much a carbon copy of the Kinks arrangement so no points of originality but it's not at all unpleasant.


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5. THE STRANGERS-"I'm On An Island" Pye 7N 17585 1968
Ireland's Strangers are best known for their roaring take on The Monkees "Mary Mary" unearthed on the very first "Le Beat Bespoke" CD eons ago.  That was the first of three singles on Pye, this was their final a 1968 version of "I'm On An Island". The lead singer's Irish brogue shines through distinctly but it works better than Ray's quasi island patois and the musical backing is a bit punchier than the Kinks.


6. THE NOMADS-"Don't You Fret" Australia 45 B-side Parlophone A-8247 1965
Opening with highly resonating,  raw, Link Wray style chords Australia's The Nomads turn "Don't You Fret" from a wistful beat ballad to a raunchy dirge/waltz and knock the Kinks version, thereby bloodied and unconscious by this rendering, into the dirt.


7.  MIKE VICKERS-"Waterloo Sunset" UK LP track "I Wish I Were A Group Again" Columbia SX 6180 1967
Long before the god awful Austin Powers bullshit of the likes of The Mike Flowers Pops ex-Manfred's Mike Vickers defined the kitsch/easy genre with his ground breaking LP "I Wish I Were A Group Again", among the covers of tracks by the ten 25 year old's peers was this interpretation. Starting out with just flute and piano and ascends with trumpet, orchestration and a Ray Conniff style chorus. Don't let that scare you off it's quite kitschy in a non-cheezy way.


8. SONNY & CHER-"Set Me Free" US LP track "The Wondrous World Of.." Atco 33-183 1966
I'm no fan of these two so I was pleasantly surprised when a friend suggested I check their version of this Kinks track out (they also cover The Zombie's "Leave Me Be" on the same LP too). It works quite well as a duet for them and it's not at all schmaltzy as you might think and the no expense spared musical backing is pretty interesting too!


9. LES LIONCEAUX-"Le Jour, La Nuit, Le Jour" French E.P. track Mercury 152 025 MCE 1965
France's Les Lionceaux cut a slew of French language covers of American and British rock n roll covers on a multitude of E.P.'s in the mid 60's (among them a storming "Nowhere To Run" on the first "Le Beat Bespoke" CD). This high octane version of "All Day And All Of the Night" rates as one their best and manages to just barely match the intensity of the original.


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10. THE MAJORITY-"Ring The Bells" 45 B-side Decca F 12313 1966
The Majority had previously had a go at an unreleased Ray composition "A Little Bit Of Sunlight" (which we detailed earlier).  Their next 45 was a take on "Ring The Bells". Swathed in jangly stringed instruments, tubular bells and tack piano it's a perfect vehicle for the band's tight harmony structure and does the number decent justice.


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