Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Swinging Blue Jeans 2

THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS-Don't Make Me Over/What Can I Do Today US Imperial 66154 1966

This Swinging Blue Jeans January 1966 single was their very last U.K. chart placing , reaching #31 (His Masters Voice POP 1501). It was issued in the United States a month later but failed to chart.

"Don't Make Me Over", a Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition, was Dionne Warwick's first U.S. hit (#21 in 1962, it did not chart in the U.K.). The Blue Jeans interpretation utilizes a beat/ballad delivery with some subtle strings (orchestration by Harry Robinson). It's mildly appealing, but nothing that warrants repeated plays.

The real gem is the flip side, "What Can I Do Today".  Starting with some 12 string guitar playing a lick that's extremely reminiscent of The Animal's reading of "It's My Life", it's one of the band's strongest tracks with some great harmonies and a jangly "folk rock" feel to it.

Incidentally guitarist Ralph Ellis left after the single's release and was replaced by ex-Escort and future Hollie Terry Sylvester.

Both sides have been compiled on several Swinging Blue Jeans compilations, the best being the British "At Abbey Road" CD and the American "Hippy Hippy Shake: Definitive Collection" disc.

Hear "Don't Make Me Over":

Hear "What Can I Do Today":

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cream's Debut!

CREAM-Wrapping Paper/Cat's Squirrel UK Reaction 591007 1966

Cream have been touted as the first "power trio" (not true) and the first "supergroup" (possibly true). Cream was formed when former Graham Bond Organization drummer extraordinaire Ginger Baker approached blues aficionado/ guitar hero Eric Clapton who was then playing with John Mayall's Bluebreakers. Clapton agreed but on the condition that they add Baker's former Graham Bond Organization band mate, bassist Jack Bruce who was at that time playing in Manfred Mann. The move was interesting because Baker had sacked Bruce from the G.B.O. and as legend has it threatened him at knife point when he failed to get the message.

Seeing as there was an intense blues/r&b pedigree within all three members musical preference and CV it was rather astonishing that their debut 45 (issued in October 1966 on Robert Stigwood's new Reaction label) was not even remotely bluesy.

British TV debut "Ready Steady Go!" November 4, 1966

"Wrapping Paper", penned by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown, would have been better suited for the M.O.R. pop filed of The Merseys or the Mike D'Abo Manfred's not Britain's first power blues trio!  That said it's not a terrible number, just not remotely what the music scene expected.  To me it's always a perfect book end to Manfred Mann's reading of Randy Newman's "So Long Dad" or The Alan Price Set's "The House That Jack Built".

 The "real" Cream comes through on the B-side, "Cat's Squirrel", a traditional blues jam where each member gets to show their chops with Bruce blowing some wild harp while Clapton does his "God" thing on his Les Paul and Baker's driving drums bring it all down. Strangely the version on this U.K. 45 is an entirely different take than the album version and is far superior in my book.

"Wrapping Paper" was been issued on the deluxe version of their debut album "Fresh Cream", but the version of "Cat's Squirrel" has yet to surface anywhere to my knowledge.

Hear "Cat's Squirrel":

Thursday, April 6, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Swinging Blue Jeans

THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS-Tremblin'/Something's Coming Along US Imperial 66255 1967

The Swinging Blue Jeans American label, Imperial, continued to plug the band despite them only having one hit in the States ("Hippy Hippy Shake" which reached #24 in 1964). Though they did not issue all of the bands British 45's here by 1967 they had issued seven 45's and one LP.  Today's specimen was their 8th and final U.S. release (compare with 12 U.K. 45's, 2 E.P.'s and one LP!). It was issued in the U.S. in September 1967 and was previously issued in June of '67 in the U.K. (His Master's Voice POP 1596).

I've chosen to flip the 45 because I prefer the B-side "Something's Coming Along" to the top side "Tremblin". "Something's Coming Along" is a perfect pop smash full of sunshiney vocals, subtle brass, minor key piano hammering away and all the trappings of a cheery little innocuous ditty. It's technically a "solo" 45 by lead singer Ray Ennis as none of the band play on it.  Backing vocals are provided by the crack team behind many Dusty Springfield sessions: Lesley Duncan, Kiki Dee and Madeline Bell.

"Tremblin'", written by the American song writing team of Arthur Resnik, Joey Levine and Kris Resnik follows the same production technique of "Something's Coming Along" but the song itself is schlock garbage no matter how much fairy dust you sprinkle on it. It was previously cut by Gene Pitney, which explains why its an indistinguishable piece of trite pop trash.

Both sides have been compiled on sevderal Swinging Blue Jeans compilations, the best being the British "At Abbey Road" CD and the American "Hippt Hippy Shake: Definitive Collection".

Hear "Something's Coming Along":

Hear "Tremblin'":

Monday, April 3, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Scaffold

THE SCAFFOLD-Thank U Very Much/Id B The First US Bell 701 1968

The Scaffold will always best best known as the band that featured Paul McCartney's younger brother Mike (under the alias of "Mike McGear").  They also featured poet Roger McGough OBE and John Gorman.   "Thank You Very Much" was the band's debut American release (issued in January 1968, it was previously issued in the U.K. in November of '67 as Parlophone R 5643 where it reached #4 in the charts). It was also the favorite of the Queen Mum!

"Thank You Very Much" is a catchy, cheeky chappie type number penned by Mike McCartney.  It's all round jollity and sing along style is not too far from "Yellow Submarine" or the Small Faces "Lazy Sunday". That said it's English to it's very core and there's something incredibly addictive to it's main chorus.

Messrs McGough, McGear and Gorman: The Scaffold

"Ide B The First" follows it's A side's whimsical nature with it's delivery but there's some very Bonzo Dog Ban-esque bits about it too with it's satirical lyrics and general musical tomfoolery backed by some regal brass. Not their strongest track by a mile, but still worth a listen.

"Thank U Very Much" failed to replicate it's U.K. chart success in the States but that didn't deter Bell records from issuing an LP in 1968 titled after the non-hit (Bell 6018).

Strangely though "Thank U Very Much" appears on two now out of print Scaffold CD compilations ("Scaffold At Abbey Road 1966-1971" and "Thank U Very Much: The Very Best Of Scaffold") "Id B The First" does not seem to have been compiled anywhere on CD.

Hear "Thank U Very Much":

Hear "Id B The First":

Saturday, April 1, 2017

March's Picks

1. THE CAVEDOGS-"Tayter Country"
I missed Boston's Rickenbacker slinging power trio The Cavedogs when they blew through the area in 1990/1991 due to my participation in Operation Desert Shield/Storm but by all accounts they were pretty powerful.  This opening track from their sole LP "Joy Rides For Shut Ins" reminds me musically of the Jam but the detached sounding vocals are pure early 90's.

2. GENERATION X-"Ready Steady Go"
Billy Idol and Co.'s 1978 paen to the cutting edge 60's British TV series must have raised some eyebrows among the year zero punk rock cosignetti but it's a gas regardless of the topic from it's "My Generation" stutter ("I'm not in love with Tttttwiggy" ) to citing it's heroes (The Beatles, The Stones The Who etc) it's a far cry from The Clash's assertion of "no Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones" in "1977".

3. GEORGE BENSON-"Ain't That Peculiar"
From his 1964 album "It's Uptown (aka "The Most Exciting New Jazz Guitarist On The Scene Today"), former Brother Jack McDuff sideman cuts an uptown, funky instrumental version of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" aided in no small part by Lonnie Smith on organ and his own virtuoso guitar licks.

One of my favorite tracks from their second album "Winter Harvest" is this merry little number that was also released as a single in their native Netherlands. It has some great pop hooks, soulful vocals and a wiggy little organ solo.

5. THE YARDBIRDS-"Respectable"
From their legendary debut album "Five Live Yardbirds" recorded live at the Marquee club in March 1964, the band turn the Isley's "Respectable" into an all out party that cheekily uses a ska rhythm to burst into Eric "Monty" Morris "Humpty Dumpty" mid rave. Listen for lead singer Keith Relf's nonsensical improv when he doesn't know the words for the same verse not once but twice.

6. DESMOND DEKKER-"This Woman"
This uptempo Island ska 45 from 1965 bears a slight resemblance to Alton Ellis "Dance Crasher" but with some call and response vocals thrown in and the pace quickened it's a still a killer!

7.LOWELL FULSOM-"The Letter"
Though it dates from 1968 don't let the release date fool you, this uptempo blusey stormer about a lovesick G.I. away in Vietnam is a kick ass little burner worth checking out.

8. THE LARKS-"Mickey's East Coast Jerk"
Borrowing more than a little from The Ad-Lib's "Boy From New York City" and "High Heel Sneakers" this kick ass 45 on the small Money label is a solid piece of dance floor action and probably my favorite track by The Larks.  The flip "Soul Jerk", is equally cool.

9. THE UNLUV'D-"Ain't Gonna Do You No Harm"
For the past three decades I've wondered who the hell this band were and I'm still no closer to knowing anything about them.  It's a great soul track with some super horns and organ and a catchy guitar lick.

10. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE-"The Burning of The Midnight Lamp"
The fourth single by the J.H.E. took a slight detour from the usual "heavy" guitar sounds and was propelled by some murky wah-wah and a very baroque harpsichord that turn it into a sort of wonderful psychedelic dirge.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: Paul Williams & The Big Roll Band

PAUL WILLIAMS and the BIG ROLL BAND-Gin House/Rockin' Chair UK Columbia DB 7421 1964

Not to be confused with the diminutive American singer/songwriter this Paul Williams was (and still is) a 60's British r&b singer.  He started out singing with the Wes Minster Five before accepting an invitation to join Zoot Money's Big Roll Band on bass (despite not ever having played bass), where band leader Zoot Money had asked him to join based on his vocal skills so that the act could have a second vocalist in the line up.

Today's subject is both Williams first single with the Big Roll Band and the latter's first release on Columbia after just one single with Decca ("The Uncle Willie"/"Zoot's Suite" Decca F 11954 August 1964 credited to just "Zoot Money"). "Gin House" , originally cut in 1928 as "Me And My Gin" by Bessie Smith was something of a British 60's standard with versions cut by The Boston Crabs, The Animals and Amen Corner to name but a few.  The Paul Williams and the Big Roll Band version is the earliest U.K. version, no doubt it was brought to their attention by Nina Simone's reading. The Big Roll Band's version though not as upbeat as Simone's, is still delivered faster than the dirge like feel of subsequent U.K. covers.  Its an interesting version with Zoot's Hammond gently weaving in and out and the powerful horn section building the track bar by bar.

"Rockin' Chair" is an uptempo jumpin' jive affair with an almost ska meets jazz beat to it. Interestingly it musically resembles the jazz/r&b/ska style that William's previous act, The Wes Minster Five had nailed down.

Williams would receive top billing on another 45 with the Big Roll Band the following year as Columbia DB 7768 "The Msany Faces Of Love" b/w "Jump Back" in November.

"Gin House" is on the excellent EMI compilation CD "Take My Tip: 25 British Mod Artifacts From The EMI Vaults" and both sides are on Repertoire's comprehensive Zoot Money singles CD "A's & B's Scrapbook".

Hear "Gin House":

Hear "Rockin' Chair":

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Classic 60's British Labels : Reaction

Set up by Australian Robert Stigwood in the U.K. in 1966, Reaction was a short lived independent label (distributed by Polydor) with just 3 LP's, 18 singles and an E.P. in their brief 18 month existence. Nonetheless they were the home for Cream, The Who and a host of others.  Here's 10 interesting singles from their colorful discography for your perusal.

1. OSCAR-"Club Of Lights" 591003 June 1966
We profiled Oscar's releases on the label in several posts which can be viewed herehere and over here. "Club Of Lights" was his second of three 45's for the label and hands down his punchiest. Penned by future Thunderclap Newman member (and author of The Who's "Armenia City In The Sky") Speedy Keen, "Club Of Lights" is a raving '66 go-goer with a driving beat, horns, fuzz guitars and an amphetamine tempo.

2. LLOYD BANKS-"Look Out Girl" 591008 October 1966
This brass based harmony pop number was the flip of "We'll Meet Again". Falling somewhere between The Tremeloes '67 stuff and The Fortune's poppier side "Look Out Girl" is a decent slice of uptempo '66 pop (with a cool little organ solo in the middle) and a great false ending.

3. BIRDS BIRDS-"Daddy Daddy" 591005 September 1966
After three singles on Decca The Birds changed their moniker to Birds Birds and moved to Reaction for what would be their last 45. Bringing up the rear on the flip of a version of The McCoy's "Say Those Magic Words" is this menacing Ron Wood/Tony Munroe group original. "Daddy Daddy" is  pure unadulterated '66 mod/freakbeat at it's best with plenty of thundering drums, Vox fuzz box licks and detached confusion.

4. THE WHO-"In The City" 591004 August 1966
This Keith Moon/ John Entwhistle was the flip to "I'm A Boy". It's an interesting mix with John's French horn, him and Roger's West Coast harmonies, jangly Rickenbacker and surf music lyrics no doubt care of resident Beach Boys fanatic Keith Moon.

5. WEST POINT SUPERNATURAL-"Time Will Tell" 59103 April 1967
The curiously named West Coast Supernatural's  sole Reaction single "Time Will Tell" is a poppy little ditty with crisp harmonies, a jaunty Kink's '67 feel and a cheery all round feel. I know absolutely nothing about them.  Anyone?

6. BILLY J. KRAMER & THE DAKOTAS-"Chinese Girl" 591014 April 1967
"Chinese Girl" covered the flip side of Billy's solo outing , an unreleased track by Stigwood's charge The Bee Gee's called "The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker Part One". Written by Dakota's Mick Green and Robin Macdonald, it would be Kramer's last work with the Dak's and no doubt his most powerful AND freakiest!

7. THE MAZE-"Telephone" 591009 November 1966
The Maze are best known to Deep Purple historian's as the band that contained singer Rod Evans and drummer Ian Paice. "Telephone", the flip of a version of Barbara Lewis "Hello Stranger", is a semi interesting piece of beat music melded with harmony pop.  At times it's rather tepid and mundane but interesting for historical value and Evan's deep tones.

8. SANDS-"Listen To The Sky" 591007 September 1967
Formerly The Others, Sands "Listen To The Sky" rounded off the unreleased Bee Gee's gem "Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator" on the top side.  Starting out as a fairly innocuous pop track "Listen To The Sky" earns its spurs with cool harmonies, tough guitars and an ending mashing up guitars imitating an aerial dogfight with air raid sirens thrown in before ominously descending into Holst's "Mars, Bringer Of War".

9. MARIAN MONTGOMERY-"Monday Thru Sunday" 591018 October 1967
The final release by the label was this odd ball 45 release by M.O.R. personality Marian Montgomery. Sounding musically not unlike something Cilla Black would have cut at the same time, "Monday Thru Sunday" starts out with some uptown horns/flutes and is actually not a bad record thanks to it's high end production care of John Shakespeare and the previously mentioned musical accompaniment.

10. CREAM-"Cat's Squirrel" 591007 October 1967
The flip side of Cream's uncharacteristic vinyl debut "Wrapping Paper" was this raw blues instrumental driven by the powerhouse rhythm section of Jack Bruce (bass) and Ginger Baker (drums) and requisite Chicago blues guitar licks by Eric "God" Clapton.  The 45 version is in my estimation far superior to the different recording used on their debut LP "Fresh Cream".

Thursday, March 16, 2017

10 Cool US 60's Tracks You Should Hear

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1. MARCIA STRASSMAN-"The Flower Shop" UNI 55023 1967
The late Marcia Strassman is best known to our American readers as Mrs. Kotter on the 70's sitcom "Welcome Back Kotter".  Unbeknownst to many she had a brief musical career in the 60's where she cut three singles for the UNI label. This somber pop psych ballad was found on the flip of the interestingly titled but musically bland "The Groovy World Of Jack And Jill".

2. MR. LUCKY & THE GAMBLERS-"Alice Designs" Panorama  52 1967
This Tandyn Almer composition was first issued in the U.K. in October 1966 by The Sugarbeats and later in 1967 this Pacific Northwest act (Seattle I've heard?).  They amp it up considerably and almost double the speed taking it from the mod/proto freakbeat feel of the Sugarbeats and turn it out as an uptempo , hard driving, harmony pop tune.

3. THE NEW ORDER-"You Got Me High" Warner Brothers 5816 1966
First brought to me attention via Sweden's Science Poption on Bam Caruso's "Rubble Volume 14: The Magic Rocking Horse", "You've Got Me High" was originally cut in the US by The New Order. Their original is a hard driving delivery that's the bastard child of folk rock, West Coast Association style harmonies and hard edged British beat.

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4. THE TRAITS-"Nobody Loves The Hulk" Queen City QNA-101 1969
Sounding nothing like it's 1969 release date this cash-in on the mean, green Marvel comics anti-hero sounds like a mid tempo snotty 1966 U.S. garage teen record. I first heard it as a kid and little did I know until recently that it made it onto a "Pebbles" volume.

5. SOMEBODY'S CHYLDREN-"I'm Going Back To New York City" Uptown 727 1966
On the flip side of "Shadows" comes this killer track that falls somewhere between garage and British invasion rawness. The best part are the harmonies, which though not terribly tight, are still exciting.

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6. THE RAVIN' BLUE-"Love" Monument 45-968 1966
No doubt inspired by The Who, this rocking cut by Nashville's The Ravin' Blue is a nice slice of Anglophile proto power pop that was even issued in Germany and Italy as well. It's pace reminds me of The Creation's "Biff Bang Pow" or The Who's "Doctor Doctor" with it's uptempo/frantic pace and punctuated shouts of "love!".

7.  THE GUILLOTEENS-"Hey You!" HBR  HBR 446 1965
Memphis, Tennessee's Guilloteen's cut this Kink's influenced monster in 1965 as the flip
side of their debut for Hanna Barberra Records.  Starting out with a great Kinks style 4 chord bashing it's a perfect track and an excellent encapsulate of the impact of tough edged British beat on American teens.

8. THE POOR-"She's Got The Time (Shes Got The Changes)" York 402 1967
Covered in the U.K. by The Affex, this mid tempo, harmony driven groover by California's The Poor featuring future Poco member Randy Meisner on lead vocals was written by Tom Shipley (later of Brewer & Shipley) is an innocuous piece of West Coast pop not unlike  The Merry Go Round.

9. THE JAM-"Something's Gone" Sire S-5001 1968
Spokane, Washington's The Jam issued this solid track on Seymour Stein's budding Sire label in 1968 that was allegedly recorded a year prior to it's release. Beneath a driving beat and subtle organ trills the band layer it with Beach Boys style harmonies over a "My Girl" style progression.  Pure magic.

10. THURSDAY'S CHILDREN-"Help, Murder, Police" International Artists IA-115 1967
Houston, Texas Thursday's Children cut just two 45's on the legendary International Artists label in 1966-1967. "Help, Murder, Police", issued in 1967 is a legendary mid tempo slice of American teen angst that fetches heavy $$$ with a copy recently going for a whopping $475.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Derv Gordon of The Equals East Coast Dates!!

Hey fellas (and chicks) have you heard the news?! The Equals lead singer Derv Gordon is following up his successful California date being backed by So What with two dates with them on the East Coast in New Jersey and New York in May!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Sound of '67 : Traffic " Paper Sun"

TRAFFIC-Paper Sun/Giving To You UK Island WIP 6002 1967

Emerging in 1967 when the term "super groups" was being bandied about quite frequently in the music presss, I can't say I ever thought Traffic were a super group. Other than Stevie Winwood coming from The Spencer Davis Group his band mates were all decidedly players on B-teams (no offense musically, I'm speaking purely from the commercial aspect). But rock n roll mythology likes to lump them together with everyone else. Regardless their debut was one of the finest singles 1967 unleashed.

Depending on what source you've read "Paper Sun", the debut May '67 45 by Traffic was written allegedly in a hotel lobby or a hotel room in Newcastle by Winwood when he was still in the S.D.G. and Jim Capaldi while he was in Deep Feeling (a band who never released any records but recorded some great material) .  My image of Newcastle is forever muddied by "Get Carter" a film from 5 years later so the idea of Traffic in their hippy garb in 1967 Newcastle must have been quite an unusual one as I imagine it was still all Brylcreem and winklepickers up there in '67. "Paper Sun" is a perfect Summer of '67 tune not just for all of it's sitar and conga trappings but lyrically it was already sussing the expiration date on the trippy hippie carefree lifestyle that was suddenly "the rage". Maybe I'm mis-hearing the lyrics, but that's my interpretation. There's the buzzing woodwinds creating a psychedelic casbah feel meshing up against sitar scales and jarring tambura and tablas tapping, 1967 was here. Feel it.

"Giving To You" starts with a cacophony of voices all shouting and chattering on top of each other before evolving into a mellow jazzy instrumental led by flute before some blistering  British blues guitar licks burst forth and then some B-3 notes. It's interesting because it's a meld of bluesy/jazzy British r&b, a scene all of the band members were clearly moving away from with this band but clearly not far away enough from to still play.

Hear "Giving To You":

North American 60's Covers Of Semi Obscure British Tunes

To say the impact of the British Invasion on the American music scene in the 1960's was phenomenal is an understatement. Certainly the Beatles and Stones launched thousands of bands in the States. But then there were bands that went beyond your Top 40 British bands and covered tracks that weren't in the American hit parade.  Here's a few that leaned towards more obscure bands or titles.

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1. BARBARA EDEN-"Bend It" US 45 Dot 45-16999 1967
Hold the phones, Jeanie of "I Dream Of Jeanie" covering Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky , Mick & Tich?! Damn straight! Okay I'll own up that it's not exactly something you will want to play more than once but it gets extra marks for effort.  Bab's sultry tones and the addition of a sitar didn't launch this into the charts.

2. THE MURMAIDS-"Paper Sun" US 45 Liberty 56078 1968
Another one to file under "What in the f*ck?".  This cheery, sunny cover of Traffic's psychedelic debut 45 is aptly pulled off and works perfectly as a sunny Californian pop record by the Murmaids with some cool fuzz guitar and hard hitting drums beneath the angelic harmonies replacing the buzzing/Eastern feel of the original.

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3. THE KORDS-"Boris The Spider" US 45 Laurie LR 3403 1967
This Florida based band wasted no time cutting this John Entwistle penned Who track from their "A Quick One" album (released as "Happy Jack" here in the US).  It's bouncy, light hearted and driven by some nice fuzz guitar.  Oddly it also got a release in New Zealand on Stateside too!

4. THREE TO ONE-"See Emily Play" Canadian 45 Arc  A 11286 1967
Okay so these folks were Canadian and no offense to our North American cousins in Canada. Hot on the heels of the Canadian 45 release on Capitol (as 72475 in May of '67) Three To One hit the ground running with this cover that sticks fairly close to the original butwith an amusing woman's voice saying "Everyone know how to play?" before some spacey sound affects instead of an organ solo.

5. THE LIVIN' END-"Making Time" Unreleased 1966
Texas garage band The Livin' End cut a version of The Creation's "Making Time" (released in the US in July 1966 as Planet 45-116) that remained unissued until the 90's. Eschewing guitarist Eddie Phillip's violin bow action on the original the Livin' End instead ratchet up the feedback and make a wonderful racket of it with a great Southern accent on the lead vocals too , which kinda works considering the Creation's Kenny Pickett always seemed to have sang one.

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6. THE STILLROVEN-"Little Picture Playhouse" US 45 August AUG 101 1967
Minneapolis, MN's Stillroven take a Simon Dupree & The Big Sound cut from their LP "Without Reservations" (released in the States on Tower ) and run with it. Again kudos for mega obscurity and though it pretty much sticks to the original (sans brass) it's pretty enjoyable. They also later issued a cover of the Small Faces "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me" as the follow up to this 45.

7. THE STEREO SHOESTRING-"On The Road South" US 45 English 1302 1968
This 45 is not a cover but a complete rewrite of The Pretty Thing's "Defecting Grey" which was never released in the U.S. Issued by the curiously named Texan band The Stereo Shoestring musically "On The Road South" IS "Defecting Grey" but some of the lyrics have been changed and despite bordering on a cacophony it's still an amusing listen.

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8. THE SONS OF ADAM-"You're A Better Man Than I" US 45 Decca 31995 1966
There were no less than 6 American covers of this Hugg brothers composition made famous by the Yardbirds  released in 1966-1967 (possibly more), but this is my favorite.  It's snotty, powerful and though it sticks to the original arrangement it doesn't try to replicate it note for note.

9. BLUES MAGOOS-"I Can Hear The Grass Grow" US 45 Mercury 72838 1968
New York's Blues Magoos took The Move's second single "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" (released in the States in June 1967 as Deram 45-7506) and made it their own by adding some combo organ and making it heavier with a fuller sound reminiscent of fellow American Anglophiles The Nazz.

10. THE JAGGED EDGE-"Midnight To Six Man" US 45 Twirl 2024 1966
New York City's Jagged Edge join the class by covering the Prettie's classic "Midnight To Six" (issued in the US as Fontana F-1540 in February '66) the same month the original was issued here.  Rather than cover it note for note they drench in harp wailing, snotty Jaggerish lead vocals and reverb saturated guitar with loads of echo reminding me of Texan garage legends The Bad Seeds.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones

This past weekend Mrs. Anorak Thing and I caught the travelling Rolling Stones exhibit "Exhibitionism" in the Big Apple where it is running until March 12th where it then moves on to Chicago starting April 15th. Photography was not allowed (though that didn't seem to stop a quarter of the people there who did so unmolested, though with my luck any attempt would've seen me get chucked out).

For those not in the know Exhibitionism is a meticulously  curated collection of Rolling Stones ephemera from the band's private archive (which believe it or not resides in a warehouse in London). The band did not begin storing items until 1972 so items dating before that were loaned by collectors. Tucked away in a drab two story red brick building in NYC's West Village on Washington Street at a space called Industria, there's a host of memorabilia, hand written song lyrics, journals, posters, records, artwork, clothing, musical instruments, recording equipment, amplifiers, interactive mixing desks and a few interesting mock ups.

Outside 102 Edith Grove 1963

The most amusing mock up is a three room recreation of the infamous 102 Edith Grove apartment that Brian, Mick , Keith and James Phelge shared in London's Chelsea neighborhood. Legendary for it's squalor the bedroom (where Mick, Keith and Phelge kipped), the living room (Brian's nest) and the kitchen (such filth has never seen since the scullery in "Withnail & I") are all replicated right down to peeling yellow wallpaper, endless Player's dog ends, empty milk and Carlsberg bottles, half used Heinz tins, blues and r&b records and the requisite filthy linens.

Bill's Framus Star bass

I'm a massive fan of the band's 60's years, especially the mystique that was Brian Jones. Sadly there's not a lot of that but there are some select amazing pieces on display. Starting with instruments, Keith generously loaned at least two dozen of his guitars including his clear Dan Armstrong, his Harmony Meteor, his Epiphone Casino and his hand painted black Gibson Les Paul (in which he quipped "I think I must have been on acid. I was waiting to go to jail. There's not a lot to do when you're on trial") and a host of others. One has the feeling that the majority of Keith's guitars on display are his B-list axes as most his his favorites are understandably not on display.  Brian's gold top Gibson Les Paul as seen in "The Rolling Stones Rock N Roll Circus" is there as is well in a recreation of Olympic Studios during the recording of "Sympathy For The Devil" (complete with Charlie's African drum and his tabla's as heard on "Satanic Majesties.." and our fave The End's "Shades Of Orange"). There's Brian's old Harmony Jupiter guitar as used on their first recordings, Bill's first Framus Star bass (which replaced his homemade one), Brian's dulcimer (missing quite a few strings), Charlie's 1965 Ludwig kit, a Hammond used by Billy Preston and Ian Stewart's old upright. The final piece of the exhibit before the exit is Keith's cassette recorder and Charlie's antique fold up drum kit, as both used on "Street Fighting Man".

1963 in their "stage uniforms"

Then there's the clothing (or stage wear).  There's too much to document so I'll stick to my favorites: Brian's four button black John Stephen suit jacket with velvet collar (which looks so teeny, I'm 6"2 and a size 44 long in jacket, turns out Brian was 5"8), his black and white houndstooth check jacket with velvet collar from the band's one and only uniform (1963) loaned by Linda Lawrence (nee Leitch), Mick's eye catching three color wool 1966 jacket in green, orange and magenta, Mick's famous red grenadier guards jacket as worn on "Ready Steady Go" in 1966 and his Omega sign shirt from the infamous 1969 US tour (with red and black cape) among others.  The wardrobe gets pretty hideous from there especially in the 80's where it's like "Road Warrior" meets David Bowie's "Glass Spider Tour" cast off's.

There's a host of promo posters (including a tasty one for "Their Satanic Majesties Request" album with a cool "freakout" font or Charlie in a leather jerkin for "Beggar's Banquet"), copies of all the band's UK LP's, proof sheets, loads of Warhol Polaroids and paintings from the 70's, stage models that resemble Nuremberg meets the Roman Empire and tons of songs lyrics, journals, contracts etc.

There's a short film in a mini theater about The Stones on celluloid narrated by Martin Scorsese (which oddly starts with Godard's "Plus One aka Sympathy For The Devil" with no mention of either Michael Whitehead's 1965 "Charlie Is My Darling" or the "TAMI Show" which were the band's cinematic debuts) and a mock up of the backstage area of a contemporary Stones show complete with Mick's dressing table and Keith and Woody's guitar cabinets stocked full of axes before your proceed to the final part, a 3-D  version of  "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" live from the band's finale at their July 2013 Hyde Park gig (also featuring Mick Taylor).

If you're a Rolling Stones fan and like me you're easily excited being in the same room as Keith's Epiphone Casino or a houndstooth jacket Brian Jones wore Exhibitionism is your bag. Tickets are $38 plus the usual gouging for "processing".

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February's Picks

1. SQUIRE-"Walking Down The Kings Road"
Its 1979 and mod trio Squire are signed to Secret Affair's indie label I-Spy but what they release is not your usual punky, Jam aping youth anthem but a perfect poppy '66-'67 British influenced single with a catchy chorus, phased drums, harpsichord, backwards psychedelic bits and subtle Hammond with a sound that was more lysergic than amphetamine.

2. THE CLERKS-"No Good For Me"
Who were the Clerks?  Were they a mod band? Were they a punk band? Who cares.  This track was one of the highlights of R.O.K's 1979 compilation LP "Odds, Bods, Mods & Sods". It's a total British late 70's bit of punky aggro with it's D.I.Y bass/drums, distinctly English vocals and 100 mph guitars sounding like a tower block Ramones without the moronic vocals.

3. THE SOUL AGENTS-"Gospel Train"
Somewhere between style of The Animals and The Graham Bond Organization falls this over the top organ led instrumental found on the flip of their 3rd U.K. Pye single, the equally frantic "Don't Break It Up".

4. TEDDY RANDAZZO-"The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. "
One of the many gems on the Karminsky Experience compiled CD "Espresso Espresso" was this theme tune to the short lived U.S. TV series starring Stephanie Powers. It's a surprisingly slick little piece of samba flavored jazz with some kitschy female vocals .

5. XTC-"Smokeless Zone"
It took me a better part part three decades to get into this track that was first released on the 1980 "Generals And Majors" singles pack (2 45's) and now I've come to love it for it's chaos and droning dance beat and Melodica.

6. THE JAM-"Standards"
"And we don't like people who stand in our way, awareness is gonna be redundant and ignorance is strength we have god on our side and you know what happened to Winston" 40 years on and it's probably more lyrically sound than it was when it was first written.

7. THE KINKS-"Animal Farm"
Recently while having my iPod on shuffle this track popped on after a Ronnie Laine and Slim Chance tune and it flowed nicely. I'd always viewed it as sort of a throwaway track and then I paid special attention to the strings sawing away in the background and realized how brilliant it was.

8. THE MOODY BLUES-"Love And Beauty"
Beneath a fluid bass line and orchestral sounding Mellotron The Moodie's Mk. II second 45 sung and composed by Mike Pinder paints a somber and bleak musical landscape but it's magical! And despite owning this single for ages I only today learned it was the A-side!

9. HOUND DOG TAYLOR-"Gimme Back My Wig"
Gritty, amped up, choppy and funky electric eccentric blues. 'Nuff said.

Band Of Joy

10. BAND OF JOY-"For What It's Worth"
I stumbled on this 1968 Buffalo Springfield  cover by the Band Of Joy (featuring pre-dinosaur rock Robert Plant and John Bonham) on YouTube and I've no idea where it originates from as they did not release any records. I really dig the whole groove of it from the guitar/organ playing and the whole Spooky Tooth meets Spencer Davis Group Mk.II feel of it and Plant's vocals are actually pretty darn amazing.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

10 Cool U.K. 60's Instrumentals You Need To Hear

1. THE JOHN BARRY SEVEN-"Seven Faces" U.K. Columbia DB 7417 1964
The John Barry Seven's final single was oddly not the usual twangy/kitschy guitar instrumental that you would come to expect from them but a vocal number called "Twenty Four Hours Ago". But on the flip side we have an r&b instrumental dirge not at all unlike The Graham Bond Organization with powerful horns and subtle organ (in fact it reminds me of The G.B.O. under their "The Who Orchestra" guise on "Waltz For A Pig")!

2. THE FEDERALS-"Boot Hill" U.K. Parlophone R 5013 1963
Propelled by a Clavioline (the same sort of compact keyboard made famous by The Tornados "Telstar") this 1963 single also incorporates some spooky backing vocals at the intro and an equally eerie chorus of male vocals that also resembles something Joe Meek would have done, with of course a twangy/spacey guitar solo (possibly through a Binson Echorec).

3. BIG JIM SULLIVAN-"Trans Love Airways (Fat Angel)" US Mercury 72849 1968
Culled from session player extraordinaire Big Jim Sullivan's US LP "Sitar Beat" (issued as "Sitar A Go-Go" in England). There's so much going on in this track besides sitar with strings, zany woodwinds, fuzz bass, searing fuzz guitar etc creating a total trance trip out groove.

4. CHRIS BARBER'S BAND-"Cat Call" U.K. Marmalade 598005 1967
Starting life as an early 60's pre-EMI Beatles McCartney penned instrumental called "Catswalk", U.K. jazz legend Chris Barber cut it in 1967 with Paul McCartney in attendance (he can be heard shouting "please play it slower" as well as adding crowd noise with then main squeeze Jane Asher). Much like some strip tease number its not without it's charm.

5. PETER JAY & THE JAYWALKERS-"Red Cabbage" UK Piccadilly 7N 35212 1964
File under "British records inspired by Green Onions".  Tucked beneath a mediocre Shirelles cover is this funky little instrumental that's pretty much "Green Onions" with different keyboard parts . Despite its blatant plagiarism it's pretty darn cool as far as mid tempo guitar/organ instrumentals go.

6. TONY MEEHAN-"Hooker Street" U.K. Marmalade 598016 1969
Often credited to Keith Meehan this tune is actually by his brother, ex-Shadow Tony and appears on the flip of the pedestrian ballad "Darkness Of My Life".  Sounding like something off of the "Vampyros Lesbos" soundtrack meets David Axelrod  this track is a total mind blast with vibes, fuzz guitar, groovy organ, spooky Gregorian chant backing vocals...witchy!

7. SOUNDS INCORPORATED-"On The Brink" U.K. Columbia DB 7737 1965
Sounds Incorporated took the recently departed from Manfred Mann's Mike Vickers May 1965 instrumental "on The Brink" and added a considerable number of horns to it making it less frantic than the original but still infectious.

8. THE DAVE DAVANI FOUR-"Workin' Out" U.K. Parlophone R 5329 1965
Not unlike something by The Brian Auger Trinity '65-'66 meets The Shotgun Express this organ fueled jazzy little instrumental is one of my favorite Dave Davani cuts right down the nifty little Wes Montgomery inspired guitar solo.

9. THE TORNADOS-"Stingray" U.K. Columbia DB 7687 1965
Following the Shadows May 1965 Barry Gray instrumental by four months, I've always found The Tornados version far superior thanks to all of producer Joe Meek's bubbling water/sound effects, tinny production and requisite male chorus all doused in echo and then compressed for good measure!

10. THE ROULETTES-"Jackpot" U.K. Parlophone R 5419 1966
On the flip of their competent  reading of The Miracles "The Tracks Of My Tears" The Roulettes pull off this amazing group composition that marries intricate electric piano reminiscent of the Zombies meets Ray Charles and some buzzing guitar that sounds like Steve Cropper jamming with Hank Marvin.  Excellent!!!

Friday, February 17, 2017

What's up.....

Posts are slacking off here as I've not had a lot of time to sit down and clack away so here's the Kinks in the meantime playing live on Auntie Beeb with a little help from the horns of the Mike Cotton Sound

Friday, February 10, 2017

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: The Habits

THE HABITS-Need You/ Elbow Baby France Decca 72.075S 1966

The Habits would have been just another obscure London r&b trio had there not been some "star" involvement in the form of Spencer Davis Group members Steve Windwood and Spencer Davis producing both sides (and both are audibly heard on backing vocals on both sides). Needless to say their Midas touch failed to register a hit and the 45 (released in the U.K, Germany and France) sank without a trace.

"Need You" is a frantic little mod '66 r&b stormer, with some catchy guitar/bass and a cool groove to it.  Sadly the vocals are not terribly strong and this tends to detract from the frenetic musical backing.

"Elbow Baby" is far superior.  From it's "live" party atmosphere with hand claps and shouts accented to some soulful backing vocals by Windwood and Davis the lackluster lead vocals aren't as noticeable making it far more enjoyable. It was first reissued way back in the 80's on the See For Miles LP comp "Sixties Lost And Found Volume III"

"Need You" was recently unearthed by Particles for their CD compilation "Beatfreak!" while "Elbow Baby" appears on Deram/Decca's "The Mod Scene".

Hear "Need You":

Hear "Elbow Baby":

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

From The Brothers GIbb

The Bee Gees (Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb) wrote a host of tracks in the 1960's. Some were never recorded by their band, others cut by them were never released outside Australia. Here's ten 60's Gibb brothers compositions from all around the world.

Scan c/o

1. SANDS-"Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator" U.K. Reaction 591017 1967
Predictably Robert Stigwood's Reaction label saw quite a few compositions recorded by other artists written by his charges The Bee Gees. The curiously titled "Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator" is unique in that the author's never issued their own version and as far as I can ascertain neither did anyone else. The Sands (who were previously the r&b group The Others) do make use of some Gibb brothers style harmonies, lacing the track with some searing guitars and pop hooks and turning it into one of the genre's most sought after 45's.

2. THE MONTANAS-"Top Hat" U.K. Pye 7N 17338 1967
Previously released downunder by Ronnie Burns (Spin EK-1578 January 1967), The Montanas used this Barry Gibb composition as the flip side to "Take My Hand" in June of the Summer of Love. Eschewing the raga feel of the Bee Gee's original, The Montanas turn it into a full on cheeky chappie pop psych meets freakbeat number with loads of "la la la's" and a heap of distorted guitars.

3. UNIT 4 PLUS 2-"Butterfly" U.K. Fontana TF 840 1967
Two years prior to The Marmalade's version Unit 4 Plus 2 issued this far superior reading infusing their usual folky/acoustic guitar styling with precision harmonies. To my ears it stands shoulders above their usual mundane boho "Kumbaya" material and is a perfect indication of how their post '66 material was far superior to anything they did previously.

4. JON -"Upstairs Downstairs" Australia Leedon LK-1662 1967
Jon was one Jon Blanchfield who went on to have a successful singing career in his native Australia. "Upstairs Downstairs" was tucked away on the flip of his debut single, a version of the brother's Gibb's "The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker" (also cut by Billy J Kramer). It's a frantic piece of amphetamine driven pop angst (presumably cut on top of a Bee Gees backing track as their backing vocals are more than audible) and is one of my favorite 60's Australian records.

Scan c/o

5. NOEL ODOM & THE GROUP-"I Can't See Nobody" US Uptown 763 1968
Released on the obscure Uptown label (home of Gloria Jones, The Chocolate Watchband and even The Shotgun Express) this blue eyed soul reading of "I Can't See Nobody" was the first of two singles Noel Odom cut for the label.  Awash in Hammond organ and some heavy production the number is a curious mix of obvious Vanilla Fudge influences (without being monotonous or too long) and soulful British 60's r&b influences ala The Spencer Davis Group.

6. OSCAR-"Holiday" U.K. Reaction 591016 1967
I had wanted to profile Joe Pesci's version cut as Little Joe (US MGM 55369 1968) but I couldn't find it on YouTube.  This was Oscar's fourth and final single for Robert Stigwood's Reaction label and a dead clunker it was. It's overwrought, overblown and

7. STATUS QUO-"Spicks And Specks" U.S. Cadet Concepts 7010 1968
The Quo's reading of The Bee Gee's first massive Australian hit was included on both the US and UK pressings of their debut LP and was issued in the States on the B side of "Technicolor Dreams". It doesn't differ much from the original save the addition of some Farfisa but it's well suited to their sound.

8. THE CYRKLE-"Red Chair Fade Away" U.S. Columbia 4-44491 1968
American pop group The Cyrkle had previously cut a version of the Bee Gee's "Turn Of The Century" as an A-side the year before cutting this number from the Gibb's 1st US long player on their "Neon" album and also issuing it as the flip to "Where Are You Going?". It doesn't deviate much from the original but adds some cool horns on top of the lush orchestration and in fact manages to better the Bee Gees in it's pop psych whimsy.

Scan c/o

9. RONNIE BURNS-"Coalman" Australia E.P. track Spin E.P. EX 11,314 1967
Australian Ronnie Burns cut an entire 4 track E.P. of Bee Gee's compositions (including the track above) and a host of others.  Curiously some of the brother's Gibb tracks I have heard by him utilize the Bee Gee's version's music (and even their backing vocals) but this one was re-recorded. "Coalman" is my favorite even though the lyrics are a tab sublime and with some ludicrous rhymes ("coal man"= "soul man") it's a bizarre little tune worth investigating. Curiously it became one of Burn's biggest selling 45's.

10. TREVOR GORDON & THE BEE GEES-"Little Miss Rhythm And Blues" Australia Leedon LK-924 1965
First unearthed back in the 80's by Aussie 60's expert Glenn A. Baker for the first volume of  his 60's downunder series "Ugly Things" , this 1965 number see's U.K. transplant Trevor Gordon backed by the Bee Gee's (they wrote both sides of this 454 and the previous release as well). Despite it's 1965 release date the track sound incredibly dated, almost pre-beat music, but not at all without charm.