Monday, July 24, 2017

Euro 60's Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Tages

THE TAGES-I Read You Like An Open Book/Halcyon Days US Verve VK 10626 1968


















One questions the decision by Verve to issue the debut U. S. release by a Swedish group already at the end of their career. By the time of this single's U.S. December 1968 release The Tages were no more. They had already released a staggering 22 singles, 2 E.P.'s and 5 LP's in their home country in just under 4 years. The Swedish issue of today's specimen was their 23rd and incidentally final 7 "(released in September 1968 as Parlophone SD 6054 back home). Original lead singer and resident band heart throb Tommy Blom had went off as a solo performer and launched an acting career prior to the recording of this 45. After it's release the band splintered . Bassist and second vocalist Goran Lagerberg formed Blond (who not only released a U.S. single but an LP too) along with fellow Tages Danne Larsson (rhythm guitar) and Anders Topol (lead guitar), but that's another story for another entry.

"I Read You Like An Open Book" owes less to 1968 and more to the previous year with it's kinetic mix of Beach Boy's style harmonies of "Smiley Smile" and the studio whimsy of  "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". It's a mid tempo tune punctuated by some intricate layered, harmonies and interesting tempo changes.

The flip side "Halcyon Days" is actually a Herd track titled "Our Fairy Tale" (issued in the States on their 1968 LP "Lookin' Thru You" Fontana SRF-67579 and as the flip side of their June 1968 U.S. single "I Don't Want Our Loving To Die", Fontana F-1618). I've yet to discover where it was re-titled by The Tages! Their version is slightly different with some fluid bass lines by Goran and strings accompanying the horns. Not their best 45 but certainly not their worst either. Both sides were recorded in the U.K. at Olympic Studios with producer Mike Hurst and featured session man extraordinaire Nicky Hopkins on organ.

Swedish pressing


















Both tracks were included as bonus cuts on RPM's CD reissue of their incredible 1967 LP "Studio".

Hear "I Read You Like An Open Book":

https://youtu.be/kt-hykCS1sU

Hear "Halcyon Days":

https://youtu.be/m8bD_ohRwMM

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: David Bowie's US Deram Debut

DAVID BOWIE-Rubber Band/There Is A Happy Land US Deram 45-DEM-85009 1967

















"Rubber Band" was David Bowie's second ever U.S. 45 ( the previous honor went to Warner Brothers 5815 "Can't Help Thinking About Me"/ "And I Say To Myself" in May 1966). The June 1967 U.S. release of "Rubber Band" is interesting because rather than use the first version of it which was issued in the U.K. as his first Deram 45 in December 1966 (as Deram DM 107) London records (Deram's U.S. distributor) chose to utilize the re-recorded version found on his debut untitled long player . The LP was previously issued in the United Starts on April 20, 1967 as Deram DES 180 003 (or so I have been led to believe). I am curious as the U.K. LP was launched on June 1st, the same day as "Sgt. Pepper..", which would be odd that his debut came out months earlier in the U.S. The staff at London  were antsy about his U.K. "Rubber Band" flip side "The London Boys" owing to it's drug references and chose another track from the debut LP, "There Is A Happy Land" as the B-side. "The London Boys" would not surface in the United States until 1972's London double album "Images 1966-1967" (London BP 628/9) which collected all of his Deram era material.

David Bowie 1967 photo by Gerald Fearnley


















"Rubber Band" is something of an odd duck.  With it's Victorian era brass band backing it's like the red headed stepchild of "Penny Lane" and "Dead End Street". Bowie half sings/half speaks in an upper crust intonation about his love leaving him while he's off in the "14-18 war" for the leader a brass band that plays in the park on Sunday afternoons. There's predictable parts of his phrasing that resemble Anthony Newley, which for better or worse is often attatched to his first album's material.

"There Is A Happy Land" is one of the most brilliant moments from his debut LP.  With delicate childlike piano and acoustic strumming by Pentangle's John Redbourn there's subtle brass weaving a wonderful melody as Bowie sings of childhood nostalgia with touches of innocence and cruelty:  "sissy Steven plays with girls, someone made him cry, Tony climbed a tree and fell trying hard to touch the sky. Tommy lit a fire one day, nearly burned the field away, Tommy's mom found out but he put the blame on me and Ray".

Both tracks are found on his debut LP, which was issued in both Stereo and Mono mixes a few years back.

Hear "Rubber Band" (LP version):

https://youtu.be/-42QFmgzVo4

Hear "There Is A Happy Land":

https://youtu.be/pYTyI92Ll8o

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Sound of '67 :The Rolling Stones "We Love You"

THE ROLLING STONES-We Love You/Dandelion UK Decca F 12654 1967


















1967 was probably the shittiest year for the Rolling Stones. It started with the controversy over their single "Let's Spend The Night Together", then they caused a furor over refusing to appear smiling and waving at the conclusion of the British variety program "Sunday Night At The London Palladium".  Then "Between The Buttons" was released to a lukewarm critical response and a month later the "News Of The World" ran a story about Mick Jagger openly doing drugs in a London night spot, of course it wasn't Mick but Brian Jones.  Mick appeared on TV and discussed the possibility of suing for libel. What immediately followed was the infamous police raid on Keith's house, Redlands, that saw Mick and Keith both facing drug charges (on a well placed tip from "News Of the World").  Brian too felt the long arm of the law and had his collar felt as well on the very same day while Mick and Keith were in court. After Mick and Keith's sentences were squashed in the appeals court the band continued work on their 13th single, a "thank you" to fans called "We Love You", the most psychedelic thing they ever recorded.

As photographed by Michael Cooper 1967















There are legions of people, myself among them, who sort of belong to this cult of Brian Jones.  The reasons why are too lengthy to devote here and are worthy of a separate piece on their own. One of the many reasons which we can discuss here is the color he gave many of the Stones records.  "We Love You" is among them and is like nothing anyone else did, ever.  Starting with rattling chains and a clanking prison door Nicky Hopkin's melodic piano piece begins with footsteps and the vocals (featuring anonymous Beatles John and Paul) and Jones quirky Mellotron. Various Stones bootlegs contain interesting takes of it where you can hear him cooking up what later became the finished masterpiece. It's seeped in layers of it that weave in and out of Hopkin's descending piano trills.  At times it sounds as though he's pounding out a rhythm on the keys, no mean feat as the Mellotron is played using keys that lack the "play" that a piano has and the thundering African drums giving it a worldly air.  Charlie's drums have never sounded better on a Stones record either!! The British 45 closes with vocal snippets of the flip side, "Dandelion", eerily playing backwards. Filmmaker Peter Whitehead shot an incredible promo film (see below) in July of 1967 with Mick playing Oscar Wilde, Keith as a judge and Marianne Faithfull playing Wilde's lover Lord Alfred Douglas interspersed with footage of the band working in the studio and infamously, Brian Jones out of his head barely able to keep his eyes open. "Tops Of The Pops" refused to air it citing it's like of suitability for their viewing audience. Their loss.

Brian during the "We Love You" sessions at Olympic with the Mellotron


"We Love You" charted at # 8 in Britain in August 1967 and a dismal #50 in the U.S. the following month where DJ's took to playing the flip side, "Dandelion" which eventually reached #14!! Curiously "We Love You" was not available on a Stones long player in the States until 1972's "More Hot Rocks: Big Hits And Fazed Cookies" compilation double LP that collected any remaining unreleased it the States Decca era cuts. It was on the 1969 octagonal shaped U.K. compilation album "Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol Two)" but omitted from the US issue.

Special guest backing vocalist confers with Mick during the "We Love You" session

















"Dandelion" was originally one of Keith's songs that first started life in 1966 as "Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Blue" and eventually evolved into "Dandelion", a pastoral play on both a child's rhyme and game of playing with dandelion flowers. Nicky Hopkin's harpsichord and Brian's oboe add a regal air to it meshing perfectly with the lush/high (in both ways) "Summer of Love" backing harmonies  care of Mick, Keith and Beatle's John and Paul. Charlie's thundering drums towards the fade out make for a brilliant conclusion when intertwined with the oboe and harpsichord and the chorus slowly fades like sunset on a sunny day. Trippy!

See Michael Whitehead's "We Love You" promo film:

https://youtu.be/klTw94kTstg

Hear an early take of "We Love You" with Brian working out the Mellotron:

https://youtu.be/ILq8kMBOUcM

Hear "Dandelion":

https://youtu.be/VcndxAyNDYw

Hear Keith's demo "Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Blue":

https://youtu.be/ZDKET-yEDnQ