Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Pinkerton's Colours "Magic Rocking Horse"

PINKERTON'S COLOURS-Magic Rocking Horse/It Ain't Right UK DEcca F12493 1966
Quite often folks my age have the 80's British Bam Caruso label and their excellent "Rubble" series to thank for turning us onto a host of amazing tunes. Among those is a track by Pinkerton's Colours (also known as Pinkerton's Assorted Colours) "Magic Rocking Horse".  I was first actually familiar with the tune as it was covered by Milwaukee's lyseric purveyors of psychedelia Plasticland on their untitled 1984 debut LP (along with The Pretty Things/Electric Banana "Alexander"). My intro to the the original version first came via a cassette tape my guru Ron Rimisite passed on to my friend Rudie in 1985. Bam Caruso eventually included it on their 1988 Rubble Vol. 14 "The Magic Rocking Horse" LP.

Though not as trippy as one might suspect due to it's inclusion on a "Rubble" volume, "Magic Rocking Horse"  is nonetheless worth checking out. It was the third and final Decca single released by the U.K. 5 piece previously credited as "Pinkerton's Assorted Colours".  "Magic Rocking House" is a great baroque  pop with ringing acoustic guitars and a melancholy vocal delivery complete with a delightful 12 string acoustic guitar solo that would do The Poets proud.

The flip, "It Ain't Right" sounds like a totally different band (not that that's a bad thing). It's upbeat, rocking and almost a raw r&b/freakbeat thing. High marks!

The band then moved to Pye for three more singles before changing their name in 1969 to The Flying Machine and scoring a massive world wide hit (#5 in the US ) with "Smile A Little Smile For Me".

"Magic Rocking Horse" as mentioned above is available on Bam Caruso's "Rubble Volume 14: The Magic Rocking Horse" and both sides were included on an exhaustive two CD set compiling all the Pinkerton's/Flying Machine recordings titled "Flight Recorder From Pinkerton's Assorted Colors To The Flying Machine".

Hear "Magic Rocking Horse":


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Only In America: The Zombies-I Want You Back Again

THE ZOMBIES-I Want You Back Again/I Remember When I Loved Her US Parrot 45 PAR 9769 1965

It still always perplexes me that The Zombies were one hit wonders in the U.K.and way bigger here in the States. "She's Not There", a #2 hit in the US was #12 in the UK and "Tell Her No", a #6 in the US was a miserable #42 at home in Great Britain!  "I Want You Back Again" was the band's fourth American single and strangely did not get a U.K. release, it sadly limped in at #92 here in the States while it's predecessor ""She's Coming Home" faltered at #48! Unfortunately this spelled the end of the band's brief run of hits in the United States until their 1969 hat trick with "Time Of The Season" but that says nothing of the music they were putting out.

 "I Want You Back Again" is an amazing A-side. Hugh Grundy's jazzy drumming really makes it swing and throw in Argent's brilliant electric piano (that seems to anticipate Ray Manzarek and The Doors) and Colin Blunstone's vocals, though at times are out of his register, sound perfect for the track.

The flip, "I Remember When I Loved Her" was culled from the band's 1965 UK LP "Begin Here". It's not one of my favorites by them but it still beats their dreadful r&b covers!  The best part for me is the spooky sci-fi organ augmented by Paul Atkinson's Spanish guitar.

Both tracks are available on a zillion Zombies collections that Ace/Big Beat has flooded the market with over the past two decades.

Hear "I Want You Back Again":


Hear "I Remember When I Loved Her":


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Well We're All Heads....Roky Erickson R.I.P.

Word has spread throughout the world that the Texan psychedelic pioneer Roky Erickson has passed on, I can think of no better fitting tribute to him than this wild American Bandstand TV clip of The Thirteenth Floor Elevators performing "You're Gonna Miss Me".


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Manfred Mann Mk. II

MANFRED MANN-Each And Every Day/Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James US Mercury 72629 1966

Manfred Mann's Mk. II (I call them Mk. II as they included new vocalist Mike D'Adbo, father of the lovely Olivia, as their lead vocalist) second US release was an interesting combination. Released in October 1966 it featured "Each And Every Day", a Mike Hugg original that would later become a May 1967 U.K. hit for Simon Dupree and the Big Sound as "Day Time Night Time" (curiously the Simon Dupree cut would not get a US release until July 1968!) as the A-side. This track was not released in the UK by Manfred Mann and got it's first airing here (and subsequently as an E.P. track in France and Portugal). Even more curious was the flip side, "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James" which was released at the same time as an A-side in the UK! It was later issued as a double sided promo only 45 here in April '67. Adding further interest the track was later issued in the US only two months later by a British band Herbie's People who recorded it with it's original intended title "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. Jones" (changed to "James" by the Manfreds to avoid any drama as the Manfred's had recently lost Paul Jones as their lead singer)!!

"Each And Every Day" does not harness the power and upbeat chirpy feel as Simon Dupree and Co's cover but it still works.  Delivered much slower and with a more sparse musical backing it's selling point is Mike D'Abo's blue eyed soul vocals (and it's driving ivory tinkling by Manfred) and of course a Mellotron coming in and making it slightly off kilter playing the bits that were later done by a French horn in the Simon Dupree version.

And speaking of Mellotron, there's the flip, "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James" which is probably the first British top ten hit to kick off with a Mellotron in it's opening notes! From the pen of Geoff Stevens and John Carter it's a pop classic about sour grapes as the protagonist cynically wishes his lost love good luck with her new life with a cheeky gallows humor infectious chorus of "so you finally named the day" that slightly resembles a good time knees up at the boozer.

Both sides are contained on the excellent US CD compilation "Chapter Two: Best Of The Fontana Years" and on the CD reissue of the LP "Mighty Garvey!" which is still in print.

Hear "Each And Every Day":


Hear "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James":


Thursday, May 23, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Dave Dee Etc Get Saucy

DAVE DEE, DOZY BEAKY, MICK AND TICH-Bend It/She's So Good US Fontana F-1559 1966

60's UK quartet Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich released a host of singles in the UK but few of these were issued in the USA.  Today's topic "Bend It" was their fourth US release, being issued in October 1966 (a month after it's release in the UK as Fontana TF 746, which it reached #2 , their highest charting 45 at that time). There were stories in the UK music press at the time of it's release that US d.j.'s were complaining that the songs lyrics were too "lewd" (Wikipedia cites "N.M.E" while I am in possession of an issue of "Disc & Music Echo" stating something similar, god knows where it is, if I dig it up I shall include a scan of it here later). It is claimed that a separate version was issued with different lyrics in the US to assuage the offended d.j.'s concerns but in my 30 years of owning records by them I have yet to come across an alternate version on a 45.  However I did recently stumble upon a great piece on the amazing So Many Records So Little Time blog on the subject, which clears things up on the matter stating that there were indeed two versions issued. In the US the version with new lyrics can be differentiated from the original by a simple comma in the band's name on the label!  The copy shown above is the original "uncensored" version with a comma missing between "Dozy Beaky", subsequent "cleaned up" versions contain a comma between "Dozy Beaky"!!

Meanwhile outside the Marquee club...
"Bend It" for those who have never had the pleasure features an electric mandolin as it's main instrument giving the track a "Zorba The Greek" feel. It's not among my favorites by them because it's, well I think it's sort of a one trick pony. Not as dreadful as some of their later stuff, but it's certainly no "Hold Tight" or "Hideaway" to my ears. It was utilized in 2010 in an episode of the Fox animation series "Futurama" in the 100th episode "The Mutants Are Revolting".

The money for me is the flip, "She's So Good". Driven by some very heavy bass  it's one of their most powerful tracks with some great harmony breaks and an infectious groove thanks to that over the top bass line (the band's bassist Trevor "Dozy" Davies went to the "John Entwistle school of lead bass" which gave the band their distinct sound)!!

It was recently brought to my attention by one of my Instagram followers that the "cleaned up" version of "Bend It" with amended lyrics popped up on a 1967 US Fontana records LP compilation of songs on the label by British bands titled  "England's Greatest Hits" (MGF-27570). It's also available as a bonus track on a Repertoire CD reissue of their untitled debut 1966 U.K. LP.

Here's a pristine British Pathe promo film for "Bend It"!!:


 Hear "She's So Good":


Friday, May 17, 2019

Warren Lee R.I.P.

Warren at the decks, Empire State Soul Club, The Mercury Lounge, NYC, Summer 1994
Word filtered through yesterday that Warren Lee, the legendary NYC soul DJ and founding member of the Empire State Soul Club passed away and I decided it was only fitting to pay tribute to the man who kept the dance floor packed.

Mod Nite December 30, 1984

I first encountered Warren Lee when him and Weems DJ-ed a mod night organized by members of a NYC mod band called The Scene at Danceteria on December 30, 1984. I remember the date because it was like the gathering of the tribes as far as mods were concerned and I met so many people that night who I know to this day. Stepping into that room was like walking onto a 60's film set with mods everywhere, dancers on elevated podiums and Dobie Grey's "Out On The Floor" pumping through the sound system.  I did not encounter Warren again until the Empire State Soul Club rolled into Maxwell's in 1988. A whole gang of us besuitted mod types joined the ESSC that night and got our light blue membership cards and stylish Empire State building soul club badges and the stage was set.  There were never any consistent DJ nights in New York at that time, it was more about bands and here was an opportunity to dance into the wee hours to DJ's spinning 60's soul. In my opinion there was never a better soul night in the Big Apple and there never will be! Eventually I got to know Warren from their gigs at the Mercury Lunge and The Norther River Bar. He was always patient, kind and perfectly willing to indulge my barrage of questions about what he spun and was my go-to guy when I heard some British band doing a soul cover and I needed to know who the original was. Then there was Jones, a now defunct little eatery/bar on Great Jones Street in NYC where Warren bar tended and most importantly, stocked the juke box ensuring that even when the E.S.S.C. was on hiatus his tunes were still being heard! In a genre where snobbery  and pretension eventually prevailed and everyone and their grandmother is now a DJ Warren Lee stood for what it was all about: an unpretentious guy who spun music not to impress or show off his records but to keep the dance floor packed and if Warren was spinning at the E.S.S.C. I was never at the bar I was always on the floor.

My E.S.S.C memorabilia.

For more recollections and tributes to Warren please pop on over to one of our fave blogs,  Shake Some Action.  This one's for you Warren, god speed:


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Moquettes

THE MOQUETTES-Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo/You Came Along US MGM K13272 1964

My introduction to the two tracks on this 45 came via a 1965 cheesy US MGM records album compilation titled "Micky Most Presents British A Go-Go" (issued again a year later as "Micky Most Presents British In Groups"), a shoddy attempt at throwing a few hits he produced by The Animals and Herman's Hermits on an LP with a host of obscure productions by the likes of The Cherokees, The Symbols and these two cuts by The Moquettes (previously issued as a 7" in the UK as Columbia DB 7315 in 1964).  Sadly I can't tell you a thing about them other than that the two tracks on this 45 represent their sole musical output and that they were from Reading.

"Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo" dates back to the 1930's, but Carl Perkin's 1958 reading was no doubt the source for this cover. Delivered at an insane tempo with organ and wailing harmonica it's a brilliant interpretation  and a perfect encapsulation of gritty 1964 British r&b.

The b-side, "You Came Along", is a brilliant combination of r&b meshing with beat music that falls somewhere between The Zephyrs and The Animals. As on the A-side the combo organ really makes the number.

"Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo" has appeared on the compilations "That Driving Beat Volume One" and more recently "Beatfreak 2" while "You Came Along" is on "That Driving Beat Volume Two" and "Beatfreak ".

Hear "Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo":


Hear "You Came Along":


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Reggae Ska/Travel

Grab a ticket and climb on board we're going for a ride....

1. (THE) ETHIOPIANS-"Train To Skaville" UK Rio R 130 1967
Possibly the most famous Ethiopian's number, this ska classic from 1967 pops along at an imminently dance-able shuffle and is the perfect track to kick off our ska/reggae ode to travel!


2. TOMMY MCCOOK & STRANGER COLE-"Last Flight To Reggie (sic) City" UK Unity UN 501 1968
Mistitled "Reggie" instead of "Reggae", this flute led groover is narrated by one "Captain Streggae" with loads of witty lyrical observations ("and you'll be flyin' at 45 rpm...") on top of a funky rocksteady beat.


3. DESMOND DEKKER-"Rude Boy Train" UK Pyramid PYR 6011 1967
Desmond continued on the "rudie" theme after "Rudie Got Soul" with this mid tempo scorcher punctuated by some sharp brass and the famous "dibby dibby doo" chorus.


4. THE PYRAMIDS-"Train Tour To Rainbow City" UK President PT 161 1967
The Pyramid's debut 45 was this Eddie Grant penned tongue and cheek number with the lead singer acting as a tour guide/conductor ("for a moment if you care to look out the window you will see the house of the famous Judge 400 years, better known as Judge Dread" and "carefully to the right you will see the house of Prince Buster, he is a man that has given me competition so rest up") all on top of a nifty little groove punctuated by silly banter.


5. THE CHARMERS-"Skinhead Train" UK Explosion 2045 1971
One of the many skinhead "exploitation" records (and possibly one of this last) from the early 70's scene is this heavy duty and rare as hell 45 by The Charmers, their first for the Explosion label after a host of releases in the UK dating all the way back to 1961! No doubt it was lyrically influenced by Laurel Aitken's "Skinhead Train" (see below).


6. LAUREL AITKEN-"Skinhead Train" UK Nu Beat NB 047 1968
The godfather himself toasts over a funky rocksteady groove that's in part owed to "Train To Skaville" with some sharp brass accenting the bouncy/funky beat and his laid back improvisational vocals.


7. EWAN AND JERRY-"The Rock Steady Train" UK Giant GN 9 1967
Vocally not the strongest, this one owes almost a bit more to doo-wop/r&b than it does to ska and it's 1967 release date seems terribly dated, but still with a listen for the brilliant horn part!


8. SYMARIP-"Must Catch A Train" UK Treasure Isle TI 7050 1969
The Pyramids incognito (Symarip is Pyramids backwards...) debut was the boisterous rewrite of Derek Morgan's "Moon Hop" rejigged as "Skinhead Moonstomp". The flip was this mild reggae number that's nowhere near as brilliant as it's topside, but still worthy of inclusion here.


9. KEITH AND TEX-"Stop That Train" UK Island WI 3091 1968
Taking things down slow as we pull into the station....this rocksteady number from Keith Rowe and Tex Gibson dates from 1968, the last year Island used their iconic red and white label WI series.


10. KEN BOOTHE-"The Train Is Coming" UK Island WI 3020 1967
"The Train Is Coming" was one of the earliest ska tunes I heard when a teenage skinhead girl put it on a 90 minute cassette compilation of 60's ska. It's part ska and part boogie woogie shuffle with subtle hints of New Orleans r&b.


Friday, May 3, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Spectrum

THE SPECTRUM-London Bridge Is Coming Down/Tables And Chairs US RCA Victor 47-9593 1968

UK pop quartet The Spectrum had slogged around for a bit and scored a European hit with their 2nd single, the pop slush that was "Samantha's Mine". They also cut the end title theme for the Gerry Anderson animated TV show "Captain Scarlet". But for me their big one will always be their fifth UK single (RCA 1700 June 1968) "London Bridge Is Coming Down", which was issued in the US as their third 45 in August 1968.

For anyone who's never heard it before "London Bridge Is Coming Down" takes the melody of the old children's nursery rhyme "London Bridge Is Falling Down" and changes the lyrics to be about London Bridge which was dismantled in 1967 and eccentrically transported to Arizona where it was reassembled. It's delivered rapid fire with a cool guitar lick, tight harmonies, some organ and a crisp production with a catchy chorus "London Bridge is coming down, coming down it's off to Arizona...".

Portuguese E.P.

The B-side "Tables And Chairs" is your typical flip side late 60's boredom.  Orchestrated elevator pop music, lots of harmonies, orchestration and heavy on the mediocre!

"London Bridge Is Coming Down" was finally comped on the Past And Present CD "Piccadilly Sunshine Part 3" and both sides are available on the Grapefruit double CD "All The Colours Of The Spectrum: The Complete Recordings 1964-1970".

TRIVIA: Drummer Keith Forsey became a producer under the wing of  Giorgio Moroder and later produced Billy Idol's first solo 45's.

Hear "London Bridge Is Coming Down":


Hear "Tables And Chairs":


Thursday, April 25, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Scaffold (Again)

THE SCAFFOLD-Charity Bubbles/The Goose US Bell B-821 1969

Scaffold's seventh UK single was "Charity Bubbles" b/w "Goose", issued in June 1969 as Parlophone R 5784. It was issued in the States in September of that year as their fourth US seven inch.  As with all their American releases it did not chart.

The A-side "Charity Bubbles" is a bit more uptempo than the usual idiosyncratic Scaffold tunes, but it has a rocking backing with some female backing vocals and brass and it's a nice change from what they had previously done. It's infectious even if it's a terribly simplistic number!

The real money for me is on the flip side "Goose", which should have been the A-side to this guys ears! Led by some tasty ivory tinkling by session man extraordinaire Nicky Hopkins it also reputedly features Mike's brother Paul McCartney on guitar. The real meat and potatoes of the song besides it's fantastic groove are the rapid fire lyrics that are savagely delivered about a trend hopping in-crowd interloper with such choice put downs "you say everyone is equal and you love them just the same, but the only person you can love answers to your name.." or "you glide around the pool a sort of hippie dippy queen, you think that you're a part of an imaginary scene...". It's easily one of my favorite Scaffold tracks and quite different from their usual "cheeky chappie" sing-a-long type songs.

Both tracks are available on the essential, still in print U.K. CD collection "Thank U Very Much-The Very Best Of Scaffold".

Hear "Charity Bubbles":


Hear "Goose":


Monday, April 22, 2019

Anorak Thing Podcast!

With technical help from Johnny B and his Hoodskins Productions the very first Anorak Thing podcast is up for your listening pleasure on Spotify. There's two hours of mid 60's British r&b up for your listening here. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Ray Davies Via Dave Berry

DAVE BERRY-This Strange Effect/Now US London 45LON9781 1965

Dave Berry had little impact on the British charts until July 1964's #5 hit "The Crying Game", he hit the same spot again in March 1965 with Bobby Goldsboro's "The Little Things". His next British 45 was a reading of a previously unissued Ray Davies composition called "This Strange Effect" (though The Kinks would never release a version commercially they did perform it in an August 1965 BBC session). Berry's cover was issued in England as Decca F 12188 in July 1965. Though it failed to chart very high  in Britain (it reached #37) it was a massive hit in both the Netherlands and Belgium where it topped the charts in both countries (and it has been claimed by some sources as being the biggest selling single ever in the former). London records in the US finally issued it in September where it was Dave's third US single, but it failed to do anything.

"This Strange Effect", with it's subtle arrangement by Reg Guest, is a halfway decent ballad which, in retrospect, is hard to believe is a Ray Davies track.  Regardless it works, though just barely to my ears.

"Now" is a mid tempo number punctuated by some funky guitar (no doubt care of Jimmy Page who played on a great deal of Berry's records) but it's completely your garden variety nondescript beat number.

Berry's stab at "This Strange Effect":


Hear "Now":


Saturday, April 13, 2019

David Bowie-"Spying Through A Keyhole"

Parlophone has issued a new nine track David Bowie collection of demos from 1968 cut with his former backing band The Buzz's lead guitarist John "Hutch" Hutchinson titled "Spying Through A Keyhole" (the two along with Bowie's then girlfriend Hermione Farthingale would, for a time, perform as a trio called Feathers). The tracks are spread out over four 7 inch 45's set up to look like acetates housed a a box with a bonus 4 X 6 b&w photo (see below). The quality is surprisingly good considering the tracks are 51 years old and were recorded on reel to reel tape in Hutch's apartment! Here's a breakdown of them tune by tune:

I could easily imagine the psych-pop band Turquoise performing this track! Lyrically it owes a bit to "Mother's Little Helper", though certainly more sympathetic to it's overloaded domestic protagonist. It's an unusual number for a David Bowie track because it features some harmonica, but it has potential to be incredibly heavy which is not something you would expect for David Bowie at this period, and the multiple layers of guitars almost going into the red recalls Keith Richard's cassette recording guitar sound on "Street Fighting Man".


Interestingly this demo was recorded between a December 1967 Top Gear session version orchestrated by Arthur Greenslade and the more well known spring 1968 studio version produced by Tony Visconti (which would not see the light of day until Decca's 1970 compilation LP "The World Of David Bowie") so it is obviously NOT the original demo version. It doesn't really offer much except that Bowie sounds like he is straining at the top of his key to get through it in parts and the lyrics are the ones used a few months later in the better known Visconti produced version.

Not to be confused with “Threepenny Pierrot” (see below) this track is quite unremarkable and no doubt explains why none of us have ever heard it before.

Another unremarkable track sounding somewhat like a watered-down Cat Stevens Island Records era tune.

Hear "Goodbye Threepenny Joe" and "Love Is All Around":


Pairing different lyrics from the various "finished" versions available this number takes its name from a conversation David Bowie claims he heard from a departing West Indian family at a Victoria Station or maybe he was confusing it with hearing Paul McCartney discuss the similar origin of "Ob La De Ob La Da". This demo version is rather interesting as it's completely sparse and there's two verses not found in subsequent later versions. The melody was also utilized in a number “Threepenny Pierrot” a track he wrote for a Lindsay Kemp production "Pierrot In Turquoise" around the same time.

David at Tony Visconti's flat, 1968

Here's another one that to my ears is pretty unremarkable. It bears a slight resemblance to something you might have found among the weaker tracks on his second long player.

Same track as above delivered at a more somber softer pace with slightly different lyrics next….


This is quite possibly the very first demo version of the now famous hit single! The lyrics are quite different in places showing the Major Tom of this version to be quite a reluctant participant in his space voyage (“can I please get back inside now if I may?”) and perhaps presaging the Major Tom of “Ashes To Ashes” and his nihilistic view on life on Earth (“though I'm past 100,000 miles I'm feeling very still and I think my spaceship knows what I must do and I think my life on Earth is nearly through”) leading to a far darker characterization of what amounts to suicide by space travel, lyrics that no doubt would have been too "dark" for commercial success.

Hutch, Christian and David, Clareville Road, 1968

This version has lead vocals by David Bowie's companion John Hutch Hutchinson at the introduction with Bowie coming in after the countdown section. It also contains some Stylophone which adds an eerie effect to accompany the acoustic guitars, also noticeable in the background occasionally are the sounds of Hutch's toddler, Christian (Hutch can be heard at the beginning of the track asking "Chrissie, don't talk"). By far this is the most amazing track on the box and contains an interesting melody not found in the final original take but utilized in the primitive version heard in the promotional film “Love You Till Tuesday”. The ending is interesting as the key keeps changing higher and higher and there's a Morse code being tapped out on the Stylophone at the fade out.

Hear both versions of "Space Oddity":


Monday, April 8, 2019

10 Great U.K. Beat Obscurities On U.S. Labels

1. BOBBY SHAFTO-"She's My Girl" Rust 5082 1964
Bobby Shafto cut a number of innocuous pop singles in the UK and "She's My Girl" was his first (and in my estimation best) of his 5 US releases on the obscure Rust label. Led by a blistering guitar lick it reminds me of The Roulettes on one of their more upbeat sides.


2. ADAM FAITH & THE ROULETTES-"I Don't Need That Kind Of Loving" Capitol 5543 1965
Adam Faith released 12 singles in the US, three of them carrying The Roulettes in the credits. "I Don't Need That Kind Of Loving" was his final US 45 to carry a co-credit on the label and is my fave of them.  The backing by The Roulettes is raw and well executed and it's one of Faith's strongest vocal outings in my book.


3. THE ZEPHYRS-"She's Lost You" Rotate 45-5006 1965
The Zephyrs cut a bunch of singles in the UK but the last three on Columbia are where it's at in my book. "She's Lost You" is a powerful number with call and response backing vocals,  combo organ (not unlike the early Animals) and a dance-able groove ! Produced by Shel Talmy. It was their first of two US 45's on the obscure Rotate label.


4.  BOBBY JAMESON-"All I Want Is My Baby" London 45-9730 1964
Cut in the London, US singer Bobby Jameson has a crack at one of Jagger/Richards earlier original compositions not recorded by the Stones with Andrew Loog Oldham at the dials. Any idea who's on it? I've read Bobby Jameson state it's Jimmy Page on guitar (sounds too way out to be Keef), but  I'm all ears to suggestions.  Backing personnel aside it's an amazing tune with beat group sensibilities


5. HEINZ-"Movin' In" Tower 253 1966
Originally cut in 1962 in the UK by Danny Rivers and The River Men (and produced by Joe Meek) ex-Tornado and Joe Meek's golden boy Heinz had a crack at it as his 11th and final 45 (UK Columbia DB 7942). The backing is positively raw with some chicken squawk guitar licks care of Meek's stalwart session guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.


6. THE BROOKS-"Poor Poor Plan" London 45-9668 1964
Previously known as The Brooks Brothers, brothers Geoff and Ricky had been cutting 45's as a duo since the late 50's. For their final single they became The Brooks  and cut this up beat stomper on the flip of "Once In A While". With their tandem harmonies and rocking backing it comes off as a "with it Jan & Dean".


7. THE LANCASTERS-"Earthshaker" Titan FF-1730 1964
This crazy Ritchie Blackmore instrumental (which he penned with rock n roll cretin and predator Kim Fowley) was only released in the US on the tiny Titan label (a sister label of Demon records) and last went on Discogs for $511!! Expensive cost aside it's a frantic little rocker with thundering drums and insane guitar playing (slightly reminiscent of "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" to my ears). The other musicians involved were Blackmore's chums from The Outlaws.


8. THE FITZ AND STARTZ-"I'm Not Running Away" Capitol 5356 1965
Best known as the very first vinyl appearance of a young guitarist named Jeff Beck, "I'm Not Running Away" is a chirpy little slice of beat balladry with the aforementioned wiggy guitar runs from Beck and funky high pitched backing vocals with the obligatory double tracked lead vocals.


9.  ME AND THEM-"Show Me You Mean It Too" US Songs US 601 1964
Me And Them cut 3 singles in the UK on the Pye label, this was their second one issued in April of 1964 (it was issued here 5 months later). It's a raucous little rocker with some sax, call and response backing vocals and bursts of twangy guitar.


10. TOM JONES-"Chills And Fever" Tower 190 1965
Not to be confused with a later, re-recorded and much fuller UK version on Decca this version was cut by Joe Meek and slipped out in the US on Tower (along with another Meek production that you can read about here). Buried in echoed guitar and the typical Joe Meek rhythm section mud Tom's vocals sound like he's at the bottom of a well singing for his life!


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The John Schroeder Orchestra

THE JOHN SCHROEDER ORCHESTRA-Agent 00 Soul/Nightrider US Cameo C-389 1965

The late British arranger/producer John Schroeder had a vast CV. Coming to fame as the A&R man for the British label Oriole, he was best known for licensing releases from the US Motown label for British consumption on the label before EMI acquired the British distribution rights. Afterwards he moved to Pye where he became a producer and the man behind the commercially successful easy listening venture known as Sounds Orchestral (best known for their international smash  reading of Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate Into The Wind" which rose to # 10 on the pop charts and #1 on the "Adult contemporary" charts).  Schroeder then moved on to supervise Pye's off shoot label Piccadilly whilst continuing to be behind records by Sounds Orchestral as well as producing The Sorrows, David Garrick, The Bystanders, The Ferris Wheel and Geno Washington, to name a few. He also cut several of his own under the moniker of The John Schroeder Orchestra. The latter were, more times than often, kitschy instrumental versions of current contemporary pop/soul hits and occasionally theme tunes to TV shows and movies.  His third UK single, a reading of Edwin Starr's smash "Agent 00 Soul" was issued in September 1965 as Piccadilly 7N35271. It was issued two  months later in the US and was also his American debut.

John Schroeder with Helen Shapiro

"Agent 00 Soul" is characteristic of what would later become Schroeder's instrumental trademark with flutes playing the main riff backed by heavy bass/drums and brass with the only vocals being smooth female voices singing "Double 00 soul" at the breaks and some tasty Hammond in the mix. It is alleged that the track enjoyed a revival on the Northern Soul scene but seeing as that has been said about a host of 60's instrumental tracks I will treat that with a pinch of salt.

"Nightrider" is an instrumental with every thing but the kitchen sink thrown in: organ, bongos, flute, fuzz guitar, jazzy brass, the lot.  It's uptempo but too chaotic to be dance able but still very groovy thanks to the organ and the razor sharp production and arrangement.

Schroeder would later go on to cut the in demand and highly collectible LP "Working In The Soul Mine" the following year which was entirely composed of similar readings of soul/r&b tunes as well as the equally amazing "Dolly Catcher" album in 1967 that utilized a similar formula but with pop covers (and some very cool originals as well). He produced a host of pop-psych and soul/r&b bands as well as a deacdes worth of releases by Status Quo including their smash "Pictures Of Matchstick Men".

"Agent 00 Soul" was included on the 2005 Castle Communications double CD retrospective "Soul Coaxing: The Many Moods Of John Schroeder" while "Nightrider" popped up on the old and essential "On The Brink: Return Of The Instro Hipsters" instrumental CD compilation.

Hear "Agent 00 Soul":


Hear "Nightrider":


Friday, March 29, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The sad tale of Grocery Jack

KEITH WEST-Excerpt From "A Teenage Opera" (Grocer Jack)/THE MARK WIRTZ ORCHESTRA-Theme From A Teenage Opera  US New Voice 825 1967

Imagine this, you've been fronting an underground four piece psychedelic band for a few years and you've made records with them and in their previous mod/r&b incarnations to no avail and then your producer convinces you to sing on an orchestrated pop tune that becomes a fluke hit rising to #3.  Such was the dilemma of the front man for the British psych act Tomorrow (formerly The In Crowd), Keith West when producer/arranger Mark Wirtz (described by West in an interview as "the German Tony Hatch") convinced him to sing on a studio project he was working on called "A Teenage Opera". The track's unexpected success ultimately drove a schism through Tomorrow who's underground cred no doubt suffered from being associated with such a poppy tune.

That said "Excerpt From A Teenage Opera (Grocer Jack)" was first issued in the UK as Parlophone R 5623 in July 1967 (minus the "Grocer Jack" bit in it's title). It was not issued in the US until October, where unlike the UK and Europe, it failed to chart (the 45 was issued in 12 countries outside the UK!). For those not familiar with the track it concerns the plight of an elderly shop owner named Grocer Jack ("count the days into years, this 82 brings many fears...") who fails to turn up one morning to open up for business. The town's mother's send their children to his house to harangue him not realizing that poor Jack has keeled over and died! The entire town turns out to mourn him, wracked with guilt for working him so hard.  The number perfectly encapsulates the 60's genre of "toy town psych" to a "T" and no doubt influenced the Hollies "Charlie And Fred" and Kaleidoscope's "Mr Small The Watch Repair Man". It was orchestrated by Mark Wirtz with strings, horns and mandolin with a chorus singing backing vocals behind Keith West's lead vocals and a group of small children (from the Corona Action School) are utilized in the chorus ("Grocer Jack, Grocer is it true what mommy said you won't come back...").

Wirtz and West

The flip side, "Theme From A Teenage Opera" by The Mark Wirtz Orchestral is a muzaky piece led by some twangy guitar (care of Tomorrow's lead guitarist and future Yes man Steve Howe) against a wall of strings, horns and mandolin.  Nothing earth shattering that you'd want to play more than once, but not horrible enough to lift the tone arm to terminate it.

Wirtz used West on a follow up single "Sam" (Parlophone R 5651 November 1967) but it's lack of major chart success caused the Teenage Opera to be effectively sunk.

Both tracks have been issued in a host of places, most notably on the RPM CD collection "The Fantastic Story Of Mark Wirtz And The Teenage Opera". Interestingly enough West and Wirtz collaborated last year in the production of "A Teenage Opera " play that was staged last year in England.

Listen to ""Excerpt From A Teenage Opera" :


Hear "Theme From A Teenage Opera":


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Remembering Scott Walker

We here at Anorak Thing H.Q. were gutted to read of the passing of Scott Walker. Though I've all but ignored his musical career (bar a track or two from "Nite Flights") after 1970's "Til The Band Comes In" long player his material was never far from my ears.

Scott Walker was one of those artists I had to get into after being force fed him for quite a few years and constantly reminded of his genius, while chaffing from the peer/media pressure I usually recoiled. It was not until 1997 that a friend of a friend was in town from Minnesota visiting his brother who was renting a spacious, decaying mansion like house in the semi affluent Jersey shore community of Elberon.  Asked to look him up while in town I journeyed down to meet him and his girlfriend. While he and his girlfriend repaired elsewhere in the house to change to go out to eat he put Scott Walker on the stereo as I sat in the dank, mildew smelling living room with most of the furniture covered in sheets.  The French doors to the patio were flung wide open and suddenly as "Montague Terrace (In Blue)" played the sky turned gray and a storm rolled in from the sea and I had my Scott epiphany and was instantly blown away. A month or so later in was knee deep in Scott Walker-mania and a girl I was dating, tired of hearing him, ejected and flung my Scott Walker cassette compilation that I had created out the window of my moving car somewhere on a highway.

Scott Walker is one of those artists that you either get or you don't get. There's no in between. And since I am firmly in the camp of those who get it I'd like to direct your attention to an older post of my favorite tracks by the man that are up for your perusal here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Rolling Stones Covers: Cliff Richard & The Shadows

CLIFF RICHARD AND THE SHADOWS-Blue Turns To Grey/Somebody Loses UK Columbia DB 7866 1966

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were never going to be Lennon and McCartney when it came to flogging their compositions. But with a nudge from manager Andrew Loog Oldham they eventually began composing and then offering them to other artists. "Blue Turns To Grey" was one of their earliest pieces, first released by The Mighty Avengers in February 1965 as Decca F 12085. It was revived again in March 1966 by Cliff Richard & The Shadows, who unlike The Mighty Avengers managed a modest hit with it rising to #15 with it in the U.K. charts. The Stones own version would not appear in the U.K. but was on their fifth U.S. album "December's Children (And Everybody's)" in December 1965.

Cliff & The Shadow's reading is in my estimation, one of the best.  Punctuated by some powerful vibrato guitar licks care of Hank Marvin it's faster and tougher than The Mighty Avengers (or The Stones lackluster version for that matter). Cliff's voice is spot on and The Shadows backing is flawless as always.

Sheet music care of 45cat.com

The flip side "Somebody Loses" is mid tempo throwaway with a countrified feel that does zero for me.

Hear "Blue Turns To Grey":


Hear "Somebody Loses":


Saturday, March 16, 2019

10 David Bowie 60's Demo's

At manager Ralph Horton's apartment, Warwick Square, London 1966
1. "April's  Tooth Of Gold" 1968
This muddy demo is an interesting bridge between the 60's Deram records "British accent Bowie" and "The Man Who Sold The World" period thanks to his odd key charges and the quirky delivery. The lyrics are interesting and one wonders what it might have sounded like in a finished, produced form, though it is totally out of character with the more light weight material that he was writing in '68 (some of which would resurface on his 2nd LP).


2. "I Want My Baby Back" 1965
Often cited as being Beach Boys influenced I'm going to go with the theory proffered many moons ago by my Twin Cities pal and music guru Keith Patterson that the influence for this demo instead comes from The Rocking Berries (check their hit "He's in Town" for reference). Recorded in 1965 one suspects the guitar is probably that of Lower Third band mate Denis Taylor. It first emerged in 1991 thanks to Shel Talmy on Rhino records essential CD "Early On 1964-1966" (now out of print it changes hands for a decent amount of $).


1966 Clapham Common, London

3. "Silver Treetop School For Boys" 1967
Bowie's early 1967 demo "Silver Treetop School For Boys" was not only actually covered and released by another artist it was done so on two occasions! The first was by The Slender Plenty in September 1967 (Polydor 56189) and later by Scottish group The Beatstalkers (who were handled by David's manager Ken Pitt) in December (CBS 3105). With a wry bit of social observation that would do Ray Davies proud, Bowie used a pot smoking scandal that was alleged to have involved the prestigious Lancing College which, as the oft told story goes has it, he read about in a newspaper. I can find no mention of any such incident anywhere and am loathe to regurgitate an old rock n' roll tale but why let the truth get in the way of a good story right?  Full of a catchy melody and some amazingly witty double entendres it would have made a great Deram era Bowie single.  It was also recorded (but unreleased officially until 2013) by The Riot Squad during their brief period of working with him. Though various sources state that it's Bowie singing lead on their version I beg to differ as it sounds nothing like him.


Tony Visconti's flat, Lexham Gardens, London 1968

4. "I'm Not Quite" 1969
This demo, cut with guitarist and former Buzz member John "Hutch" Hutchinson, will become familiar immediately upon listening as an early version of  "Letter To Hermione" from David's second LP. The lyrics were later adapted after Bowie was dumped by the song's subject, Hermione Farthingale (who along with Hutchinson and Bowie was a member a short lived trio called Feathers).


5. "Everything Is You" 1967
Pitched (unsuccessfully) to Manfred Mann's producer Ken Burgess in the hopes of them recording it, "Everything Is You" was eventually cut by Bowie's manager Ken Pitt's other act, The Beatstalkers as the flip to their next to last 45, 1968's "Rain Coloured Rose's" (UK CBS 3557). The lyrics seem to reflect someone working on a construction gang (or logging maybe?). It's infectious but difficult to imagine as something he would have released in the 60's.


6. "C'est La Vie" 1967
This 1967 demo (offered unsuccessfully to singer Chris Montez) remained undiscovered until 1993 when an acetate demo was auctioned off for an undisclosed price. It's of surprisingly decent quality and though it's nothing remarkable (Bowie seems to be straining on the key it's in) or witty it's worth a listen.


Davy Jones and the Lower Third, London 1965
7. "That's A Promise" 1965
This oft bootlegged track was recorded not with the Buzz as is often incorrectly stated, but with the Lower Third. Cut at the famous RG Jones studio in Morden, Surrey in October 1965 and was issued as an acetate on the studio's Oak label making it one of the most expensive Bowie seven inches in existence. It falls somewhere between the teen angst of Bowie and The Lower Third's 1965 45 "You've Got A Habit of Leaving" and The Kinks at their most dirge like.


8. "Social Girl (aka "Social Kind Of Girl")" 1967
"Social Girl" is one of those handful of mid 60's Bowie demos that was never recorded by anyone and as a result is one of his most obscure tracks that has not even graced any bootlegs to my knowledge. It benefits from some interesting double tracking on all the vocals (both lead and backing) that really reminds me of a light weight Pete Townshend pre-"Tommy" demo number (ie "Call Me Lightning" or "Magic Bus") especially with the percussive hand claps and high backing vocals.


9. "Glad I've Got Nobody" 1965
Completed with the full accompaniment of his then backing group The Lower Third, "Glad I've Got Nobody" was cut as a demo in 1965 (date and location uncertain). Writers are often quick to lazily cite The Who or Kinks as the influence on Bowie's '65-'66 material with The Lower Third, who backed him on just two singles ("You've Got A Habit Of Leaving" and "Can't Help Thinking About Me") . I think the apparent influence here is more of a mid tempo British beat influence which leads me to believe it was one of Bowie's earliest attempts at commercial conformity as it clearly resembles nothing he had released commercially, nor would. It's available on  Rhino records essential CD "Early On 1964-1966".


At manager Ralph Horton's apartment, Warwick Square, London 1966

10. "Silly Boy Blue" 1965
This homage to Bowie's early fascination with Tibet and Buddhism took shape in an entirely different lyrical form with the words concerning teenage trauma and leaving home (a theme also explored in his debut 45 as "David Bowie" with "Can't Help Thinking About Me") before being rejigged with lyrics about Tibet et al and eventually seeing light in its new form on his debut LP . This demo was cut again at RG Jones in October 1965 with the Lower Third, presumably at the same time as "That's A Promise" (see above) and comes off a bit disjointed and awkward but interesting in light of what it became.


Monday, March 11, 2019

John Walker Solo, Scott Walker Producing

JOHN WALKER-Woman/A Dream US Smash S-2213 1969

We've devoted loads of print space to The Walker Brothers here and quite a bit to Scott Walker and even Gary Walker but I think other than mentioning the famous (or infamous) "Solo Scott, Solo John" E.P. we've neglected John.  When The Walker Brothers went their separate ways in May 1967 many were, for the most part, led to believe the split was less than acrimonious. This may have been so but by the time John was ready to cut what would be his fourth post Walkers solo 45 it was none other than his ex-band mate Scott in the producer's chair.

"Woman", a John Walker original (credited to his real name John Maus) was issued in the UK as Phillips BF 1724 in November of 1968. It was not until January 1969 that it gained a US release. It's an orchestrated ballad that showcases John's vocal ability (often overshadowed by his more successful former band mate when there were The Walker Brothers), at times the melody reminds me of The Walker's  "Love Her".  It's not really my thing as it sounds a bit too close to the likes of Englebert Humperdinck  or Tom Jones at his schmaltziest.

The real gold is on side B, another John Walker original "A Dream". Musically it reminds me a lot of David Bowie's "When I Live My Dream" and though I'm certain this is pure coincidence it's still amazingly similar. The lush orchestration and top production make it easily the best thing he did post Walker Brothers in my estimation (one wonders what John's career would have been like if Scott had been at the helm for more releases)! Sadly it's not on YouTube!! It is interesting to note that Bowie actually met Walker on the set of the Dutch TV show "Fan Club" in November '67 and plans were made for the two to meet back in England with the possibility of Walker recording some of Bowie's material. They met the following week but John recording some of Bowie's music never came to fruition but one wonders what might have been......

To my knowledge neither side has been compiled anywhere, which in the case the the B-side, is criminal!

Hear "Woman":