Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Animals 1966

THE ANIMALS-Inside Looking Out/You're On My Mind UK Decca F.12332 1966

1966 saw a new era for Newcastle's Animals. They left EMI's Columbia and signed with Decca and new producer Tom Wilson. Their first Decca 45 release would be an explosive one, February 1966's "Inside Looking Out".

Based on a prison work song "Rosie", "Inside Looking Out" was credited to musicologists John and Alan Lomax (who it is alleged discovered the song) as well as band members Eric Burdon and Chas Chandler.  The band performed "Rosie"  at the Fifth National Jazz and Blues Festival at Richmond, Surrey on August 8th 1965 where it was captured by cameras and shown on American television as "Shindig Goes To London" (aired Friday December 4, 1965). I recall seeing a press clipping from 1966 mentioning an Animals track called "My Rebirth" so it's safe to assume this was either an early title or a misunderstanding. Released in February 1966 "Inside Looking Out" rose to #12 on the U.K. charts (simultaneously released in the US as MGM K 13468 it stalled at #34) and lyrically depicts the rigors of being a prisoner in a work camp. Propelled  by the twin attack of Hilton Valentine's taught Rickenbacker and Mike Rowberry's groovy organ it stands as one of the band's most powerful numbers. Burdon's impassioned vocals make you really believe he'd served time and experienced what he's singing about firsthand. It's breaks are punctuated by a lick that evokes a prison work song's pentameter of a hammer striking its target. The whole thing builds to a shimmering crescendo that bursts into a rave up with the Animals cutting a groove that they never topped.  It would also be drummer John Steel's last single with the band.

The flip, "You're On My Mind" is the polar opposite of the dynamic A-side. It's a mellow, slow ballad that's pretty nondescript and bordering on mundane.

Both sides are available on a host of Animals collections, some legit, others...not so much.......

Hear "Inside Looking Out":

Hear "You're On My Mind":

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Solo Scott: A Curious U.S. Debut

SCOTT WALKER-I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore/You're All Around Me US Smash S-2156 1968

The Walker Brothers were but a blip on the pop charts in their home country of the US with nine tunes in the UK Top 40 there were only two in the US. When Scott Walker went solo the music industry in the U.K. hedged their bets that surely the most popular Walker would outstrip his previous band in sales. They were wrong, while still being a big name attraction his chart success was limited.  Back in the US they were slow to attempt to capitalize on "solo Scott" game plan. Interestingly in April 1968 Smash issued the first post Walker's solo Scott 45 by taking two Walkers tracks and issuing them as a single credited to Scott Walker.

I.D. bracelet, aviators, Harrington, sweater. Scott eschews flower power on British TV 1968

The Walker Brother's interpretation of Randy Newman's " I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore" first appeared in the US as a track on their first American long player "Introducing The Walker Brothers" (November 1965). The April 1968 single of "I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore" by Scott Walker is a curious mix using the previously issued Walker Brothers version albeit in edited form. The original track is 3:48 long, this version is trimmed of the first verse with the song beginning with the second verse and with Scott coming in on the "She don't really love him..." line as the introduction. Time wise it comes in at 2:55 long in total playing time. Very curious. One expects that at 3:48 long the original was too long?!?  The B-side, "You're All Around Me" (previously issued in the US as the flip side to The Walker's January 1966 45 "My Ship Is Coming In" on Smash S-2016) retains it's normal 2:36 running time.

Thus far to my knowledge this edited version of "I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore" has yet to surface anywhere else.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

But The Original Is Not The Greatest...

1. THE KELLY BROTHERS-"Crystal Blue Persuasion" US Excello 2308 EXC 1969
The Kelly Brothers cover of Tommy James and The Shondells Spring 1969 hit is probably the best place to start this collection of covers that betters the original. Kicking off in an uptempo groove with a perfect mix of ivory tinkling and percussion and horns that sound straight off a Hugh Masekella or Mongo Sanatamaria record, then those vocals, wow.  It doesn't get any better folks.

2. ROSETTA HIGHTOWER-"Big Bird" UK Toast TT 509 1968
This 1968 UK cover of the Eddie Floyd classic was used as the flipside of an Ashford and Simpson tune "I Can't Give Back The Love I Feel For You". Starting off with a raw and gritty guitar and hammering piano this track by the ex-Orlons lead vocalist (recorded in the UK) kicks the guts out of the original by the sheer force of power and soul.

3. THE FACES-"Maybe I'm Amazed" US Warner Brothers 7483 1971
Not to be confused with the live version on their LP "Long Player" this recording was an A-side of an American single (and a few other countries on the Continent).  It starts off with Mac's masterful piano and Woody's Dobro with Ronnie Lane taking the first verse and then Rod joining in before taking the lead. The band's stellar, tight backing (driven by Mac's impeccable piano playing and Woody's solo) and yes, Rod's vocals, blows Macca's clear out of the water!

4. THE COASTERS-"Love Potion No. 9" (1971) US King 45-6385 1971
This funky 1971 revamp of The Clover's 1959 hit gets high marks thanks to its uptempo/uptown groove and the catchy chorus "serve it up and drink it down" shored up by some funky percussion/vibes, horns and a wiggy little flute solo.

5. GEORGIE FAME-"Sitting In The Park" UK Columbia DB 8096 1966
Georgie Fame's 1966 reading of Billy Stewart's 1965 classic "Sitting In The Park" is another example of Fame's ability to take another person's song and make it his own. Kicking off with a beautiful trumpet intro in place of the falsetto intro of the original the vocals are accompanied by some subtle flute and a lovely mix of organ and congas blowing the original, clear out of the park to my ears.

6. DAVY GRAHAM-"Both Sides Now" UK LP track "Large As Life And Twice As Natural" Decca SKL 4969 1968
Forget Joni, forget Julie, the definitive version of this track is by Davy! It starts out with some cymbal flashes and bowed bass and Davy sort of "vocalizing" (coming across like a wiggy  prayer caller), all of this goes on a tad too long but when it finally kicks in his wild guitar picking and the jazz stand up bass/brushes backing grooves it along quite nicely and in the process slays all comers.

7. DUSTY SPRINGFIELD-"How Can I Be Sure" UK Phillips 6006 045 1970
Wrapped in strings and a cheezy but kitsch accordion giving it a decided campy Left Bank flair, Dusty's reading of the Rascal's hit would not remotely be in competition with the original if not for Wally Stott's (also known for his similar magic with Scott Walker) brilliant arrangement.  Add some horns and Dusty's powerful pipes and you have a classic, sorry Young Rascals.

8. ADAM FAITH-"Cheryl's Going Home" UK Parlophone R 5516 1966
Bob Lind's killer double sider of "The Elusive Butterfly" b/w "Cheryl's Going Home" is a tough one to top, but I find Adam Faith's interpretation of the B-side superior.  Here's why. For one I think Faith's vocals are stronger and the orchestration and production are stronger as well (care of the famous Ken Woodman). Despite being a virtual carbon copy of the original arrangement the music is perfectly balanced with Faith's voice in the mix, unlike the original that sounds tinny (production wise) to me.

9. THE ROLLING STONES-"Come On" UK Decca F 11675 1963
I can hear the outrage now, but yes folks I find this freshman effort by The Stones far more enjoyable than Chuck Berry's original. From Wyman's busy, swooping bass runs to Brian Jones poppy gob iron blowing it to the clipped quips of "Come On!" on the backing vocals it verges on Merseybeat. Mick's vocals haven't affected that affected London drawl meets Southern American blue yet and it sounds nothing like what they became in less than a year later and therein lies its charm!

10. THE LOVE AFFAIR-"Everlasting Love" UK CBS 3125 1967
Sorry Robert Knight but the definitive version of your hit for me will always be The Love Affair, well vocalist Steve Ellis and a host session musicians at the direction of arranger Keith Mansfield! From it's thundering brass/strings intro that segues into a wicked bass line this version is 100% high octane with a perfect mix of razor sharp musical backing and Steve Ellis blue-eyed soul get some vocals.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

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

MANFRED MANN-My Name Is Jack/There Is A Man US Mercury 72822 1968
Manfred Mann's "My Name Is Jack" was one the band's last UK hits (the second to last actually, #8). It had no such luck in the US dying at #104 in the June of 1968 (simultaneously launched in the U.K. as Fontana TF 943).

Like The Who's "Substitute", "Mty Name Is Jack" had it's lyrics edited for a US release with the tasteless line "Here comes Super Spade who really puts it on" changed to "Here comes Superman".  Probably not one of my faves, it's a piece of pretty disposable pop music about life in an orphanage ("in the Greta Garbo home for wayward boys and girls"). It's totally inoffensive but just so syrupy sweet that it hurts my teeth to listen to it more than once.  There's some neat harmonies it in but....

Bass player Tom McGuinness's "There Is A Man" brings up the flip. It's a freaky little ditty about a guy in an asylum who hallucinates seeing a man who follows him around ala The Who's "Whiskey Man", only far more sinister thanks to some almost Pink Floyd-ish spacey musical backing!!

Hear "My Name Is Jack":

Hear "There Is A Man":

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Dance Floor Revivals: The Dave Clark Five

THE DAVE CLARK FIVE-Concentration Baby/Everybody Knows UK Columbia DB 8286 1967

Back in the mid 90's word across the Atlantic was filtering across from US modernist globe trotters that DJ's in the U.K. were breaking free from their usual "US soul/r&b only" mode and spinning all sorts of previously "taboo" sounds, many of them were from their own soil.  Among them was this gem by the Dave Clark Five originally released in October 1967 on the flip of the slushy "Everybody Knows" (#2 in the UK charts), "Concentration Baby" and its sudden popularity saw its price spike considerably by the late 90's, until it apparently fell out of favor (no such luck with Timebox's reading of "Beggin'" which is STILL in demand).

"Concentration Baby" is a full on, 100 mph high octane belter driven by an incessant organ lick, fuzz guitar and a heavy beat, a perfect vehicle for lead vocalist Mike Smith's screaming style.

The A-side, "Everbody Knows" (not to be confused with a Dave Clark/Lenny Davidson original from 1965 of the same title, Columbia DB 7453) is a schlocky crooner written by Les Reed and Barry Mason and interestingly sung by guitarist Lenny Davidson.

Both sides are available on the indispensable DC5 double CD collection "The History Of The Dave Clark Five".

Hear "Concentration Baby":

Hear "Everybody Knows" (and cringe):

Sunday, August 4, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Herd Minus Peter Frampton

THE HERD-The Game/Beauty Queen US Fontana F-1646 1969

The Herd, a UK pop/psych quartet were by 1969, on their last legs. Their lead singer and guitarist "The Face of '68" (as he was dubbed by the magazine "Rave") Peter Frampton decamped to form Humble Pie with ex-Small Faces front man Steve Marriott leaving the band to carry on as a trio with Andy Bown (vocals, keyboards), Gary Taylor (bass/vocals) and Victor Spinetti (brother of actor Henry, on drums). They limped on for one last single, "The Game" which was issued in the U.K. as Fontana TF 1011 in April 1969, it was issued the following month in the US. It failed to chart and the U.K. and predictably did nothing in the US.

"The Game" is a piece of brass backed pop floss, it's not awful but it's so mundane and verges on inane bubble gum so much that I really never want to play it again. The lead vocals are (presumably) by Gary Taylor. Next!

New Herd front man Andy Bown

"Beauty Queen" should have been the A-side!  Sung by Andy Bown it's an uptempo little number with a rocking groove and amusing lines like "Beauty queen where have you been? Been to the Ivanhoe to see the Cream?". The dual attack of guitar and keyboards fatten the sound up add to my earlier mentioned comment that it should have been the A-side! The band splintered shortly after the record's flop with Bown and Spinetti joining former Amen Corner horn section members as Judas Jump. After that Bown eventually wrote and performed the theme song to the UK TV show "Ace Of Wands" in 1970, the amazing and highly collectible Mellotron freakout "Tarot".

Both sides are available on a host of Herd CD compilations available out there. We recommend the most recent "The Complete Herd: Singles A's & B's".

Mexican Herd E.P. split with Dave Dee, Dozy Beaky, Mick & Tich

Hear "The Game":

Hear "Beauty Queen":

Friday, July 26, 2019

Fleetwood Mac Shake The Case Of The Blues

FLEETWOOD MAC-The Green Manalishi (With A Two Pronged Crown)/World In Harmony UK Reprise RS.27007 1970

Here in America Fleetwood Mac will always be associated with the 70's and all of the Colombian marching powder excesses and domestic partnership in a band gone wrong that go along with it, but as most of you know they began as an entirely different horse of an entirely different color. Bursting forth in 1967 their C.V. and line-up read like a Who's Who of British r&b and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers alumni. But by the late 60's their habit of electrified blues was shifting into different horizons with their 1969 #1 (U.K.) instrumental "Albatross" and it's follow up, the somber "Man Of The World" (#2 and their sole 45 on Immediate records).  1970 saw the release of today's subject, guitarist Peter Green's "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)", a UK #10 and subsequently Green's last record with the band before mental illness took it's toll and it's founding member moved on. Green later indicated that the number was about the evils of money and was written shortly after a nightmare about a green dog.

"The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)" is one of the heaviest and darkest records you will ever hear and even without knowing the background to Green's subsequent illness it's musical make up is pure bona fide musical doom. Plodding, heavy and full of layers of guitars it literally jumps all over the place with each new change as complex as the next with Green and guitarist Danny Kirwan playing their asses off.

UK picture sleeve c/o

The flip side "World In Harmony" is a haunting beautiful instrumental by Green and Kirwan that starts of with some harmonics with a melody not unlike the band's previous single "Man Of The World". Eventually it's somber mood picks up with a slightly menacing line coming in, but just briefly before reverting back to the lilting, gentle melody.

Both sides are available on a fairly comprehensive double Fleeetwood Mac CD "Love That Burns: The Blues Years" which is still in print.

Hear "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)":

Hear "World In Harmony":