Thursday, January 17, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Duffy Power

DUFFY POWER-Hellhound/Hummingbird US Epic 5-1650 1970

Veteran British blues/r&b singer Duffy Power's last US single was 1966's "There's No Living Without Your Loving" issued as "Jamie Power" in 1966. It would be a full four years until his name resurfaced on an American record. Curiously today's subject beat the British release by a full month coming out in August 1970 (the UK pressing released in September was CBS 5176 and titled "Hell Hound" and was curiously reissued again in the UK as Epic 7139 in 1971 with the sides reversed).

Arranged and produced by former Zombies Chris White and Rod Argent "Hellhound" is sadly miles away from any of Duffy's brilliant blues/r&b sides as it reeks of watered down commercialized blues. Even his vocals are unrecognizable from previous efforts.  The musical backing featured Rod Argent on piano, ex-Roulette Bob Henrit on drums, Rod Argent's cousin and ex-Mike Cotton Sound member Jim Rodford on bass and former Timebox member Ollie Halsall on guitar.

"Hellhound" bears little resemblance to anything Power ever cut before. In fact his voice is barely recognizable and the whole number collapses under the weight of it's own heavy mediocrity. Even the all star stellar musical backing can't save this ponderous exercise in pointless blues rock!

Leon Russell's "Hummingbird" on the flip is the real gem here. It starts out a bit heavy by settles into a nice groove with Argent's bluesy piano and  the lead vocals finally sound like Power and though there's some cheezy soprano saxophone on it but the soulful female backing vocals and Hammond make it sound like Hardin & York. Sadly I can't find it on YouTube.

Neither side have been comped or reissued anywhere to my knowledge.

Hear "Hellhound":

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Applejacks Do Lennon/McCartney

THE APPLEJACKS-Like Dreamers Do/Everybody Fall Down US London 45-LON-9681 1964

The Applejacks epitomized the double edged sword that went along with covering a Lennon/McCartney track, they also fell victim to chauvinistic accusations of gimmicky for having a female bassist and it is sadly these two minor footnotes that they are known for. Their debut 45 in February 1964 ,"Tell Me When" (penned by Les Reed and Geoff Stephens) shot to number #7 in the UK charts (UK issue Decca F 11833, US issue London 45-9658). Their next 45 was June 1964's "Like Dreamers Do", written by Lennon and McCartney (but never officially released by The Beatles). Normally in 1964 releasing a Lennon/McCartney composition as an A-side in the UK pretty much guaranteed a trip to the hit parade so things looked promising in June of 1964 when Decca issued it as F 11916, it was simultaneously issued in the US by London . Sadly for The Applejacks the track stalled at #20 (despite an appearance of the band miming to it in the film "Go Go Big Beat") and spelled the end of their hit making days.

"Like Dreamers Do" is a fairly mediocre tune and it's not surprising that the Beatles passed on recording it themselves. It's not awful but it's certainly not one of their stellar compositions either, at best it's a passable, chirpy little beat number. The Applejacks would have one more crack at a Lennon/Macca composition later recording a version of "Baby's In Black" that cropped up on a Decca various artists charity compilation "14" (curiously re titled "England's Biggest Hit Makers" by London in the US, also the title of The Rolling Stones debut LP on the same label!). The real gem is the B-side "Everybody Fall Down" (Curiously titled "(Boom Boom Boom) Everybody Fall Down" in the UK) and penned by future Honeybus members Pete Dello and Ray Cane (who were the author's of "Baby Jane", the flip of the band's debut 45) it's one of the Applejacks best tracks. It's a 100 mph beat rave-up with a fast pace accented by it's infectious chorus of "And it's boom boom boom boom...", there's also a nifty little blistering guitar solo.

The band would go on to cut 4 more singles for Decca (only one of which, the next one "I'm Gonna Send My Love (Three Little Words)" would see a US release) before switching labels (and lead singers) for one final single on CBS in 1967.

Both tracks have been issued on a variety of Applejacks collections issued by Decca, the most recent being the CD compilation "Tell Me When, Like Dreamers Do And 24 More Fab Tracks!" which covers everything released by them on Decca.

Hear "Like Dreamers Do":

Hear "Everbody Fall Down":

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

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

THE HILL-Sylvie/The Fourth Annual Convention Of The Battery Hen Farmers Association (Part II) US Immediate ZS7-5016 1969

One could easily fill a book of the host of US only 45 pressings by British bands, and among them would be this 1969 Immediate records single by The Hill. Composed of four former members of Chris Farlowe's backing band The Thunderbirds they were: Steve Hammond (guitar), Bruce Waddell (bass), Pete Robinson (keyboards) and Colin Davey (drums). Though not credited on the label, production was handled former Tintern Abbey member Stuart Mackay.

The results are stunning. "Sylvie" is a perfect late 60's pop psych 45 with it's brilliant harmonies, phlanged piano and orchestration (care of Paul Buckmaster, uncredited) that falls somewhere between The Left Banke and Immediate label mate Duncan Browne. Why it was never released in the UK is downright criminal as it's an incredible track!

The flip side, the curiously titled "The Fourth Annual Convention Of The Battery Hen Farmer's Association (Part II)" is an instrumental powered by some blistering bluesy guitar and Hammond organ.  It's a tad self indulgent unfortunately, like some nondescript background music from a late 60's film.

The Hill went on to make an LP with Chris Farlowe as "Chris Farlowe and The Hill" for Polydor in 1970 titled "From Here To Mama Rosa" (which was released in over half a dozen counties) and two UK singles in the same year also for Polydor ("Put Out The Light"/"Questions" and "Black Sheep Of The Family"/"Fifty Years") in the same year as the album.

"Sylvie" was unearthed for the incredible 2007 4 CD box set "Real Life Permanent Dreams: A Cornucopia of British Psychedelia 1965-1970" (albeit an alternate mix) while the flip has yet to surface anywhere, YouTube included!

Hear "Sylvie":