Monday, September 20, 2021

10 More Cool 60's UK 45's

1. THE MINDBENDERS-"Uncle Joe, The Ice Cream Man" UK Fontana TF 961 1968

There's a great anecdote in the liner notes of a Mindbender's CD compilation where the band are cutting this tune at Olympic and Mick Jagger strolls in and says "Why are you singing this shit?". Regardless of Mick's narrow minded assessment this late era Mindbenders track is a brilliant pop/psych number. It was composed by Graham Gouldman (who was also a band member at this point) and lushly orchestrated by John Paul Jones.

2. THE ZEPHYRS-"I Just Can't Take It" UK Columbia DB 7571 1965 

The Zephyrs cut five singles before calling it a day in 1965. This was their final, produced by Shel Talmy. It's a beautifully morose beat ballad with amazing harmonies and organ that remind me of The Zombies if they got a little "weirder". Something about the vocals also bring to mind a Joe Meek production.

3. THE ROTHCHILDS-"I Let Her Go" UK Decca F 12488 1966

I stumbled upon this little ditty from 1966 and know nothing about the band. "I Let Her Go" is a brilliant four part harmony beat number that would do The Association proud! The melody at times reminds me of "Norwegian Wood" but there's lush orchestration, woodwinds, 12 string guitar and the kitchen sink. Wow!  It's found on the flip of their final Decca 45 "Artificial City".

4. ROGER DENNISON-"She Just Wanders Through My Mind" UK Parlophone R 5566 1967

This moody, baroque pop/folk piece is perfect. Musically it reminds me of Scotland's Poets and Dennison's voice is somber and detached. There's a ratty guitar lick that runs through the tune following the melody that really works giving it an almost exotic Near Eastern feel.

5. THE CHRIS SHAKESPEARE GLOBE SHOW-"Tin Soldier" UK Page One POF 113 1968

Someone I follow on Instagram hipped me to this wiggy 45 that somehow has eluded compilation compilers. The A-side is an almost cod ska reading of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", but the flip is an interesting cover of the Small Face's "Tin Soldier" that's amazing. The brass is reminiscent of Amen Corner or the Globe Show's equally obscure label mates The Universals. The vocals are nothing special but the musical backing is a full on rave up!!

6. JOE BROWN-"Davy The Fat Boy" UK MCA MU 1030 1968

Joe Brown was one of those pre-beat music performers who was knocked out of the charts by The Beatles etc but still kept busy by sheer charm and public acclaim, and like most of his comrades was given something "new" to try with this Randy Newman composition. "Davy the Fat Boy" is a curious track about a carnival side show attraction who is sadly morbidly obese, it's more of a cheeky comedy record (perfect for Brown's persona) with some trippy little effects.

7. WAYNE FONTANA-"Charlie Cass" UK Fontana TF 1054 1969

Like the above's "Davy The Fat Boy", "Charlie Cass" is another freakshow character of sorts, this time the protagonist is a glass eater. Curiously the number was written by Fontana (under his real name Glyn Ellis). It's a perfect popsike number with all the usual trimmings (angelic female voices, strings, brass etc) and a roaring chorus that's part knees up part "Odgen's Nut Gone Flake" (or is that a contradiction of sorts?!).

8. BILLY FURY-"Phone Box (The Monkey's In The Jam Jar)" UK Parlophone R 5723 1968

Billy Fury was unloaded by Decca after seven years and his move to EMI's Parlophone label saw him continue to make sub par MOR 45's. Eventually things got freaky and Billy tackled Bowie's "Silly Boy Blue" in '68 followed by this completely mental number that's half nursery rhyme half pop sike freak out. It's catchy and has bizarre lyrics and all the usual pop sike musical trappings and best of all Billy (reportedly a huge fan of cannabis) wrote it!

9. ELI-"Never Mind" UK Parlophone R 5575 1967

Here's one I know absolutely nothing about! It's a fey voiced duet pop psych number with a catchy melody not unlike The Young Idea or Twice as Much. The track's composers Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker wrote a number of pop sike tracks for Love Sculpture and Excelsior Spring, to name a few.

10. THE MOOD OF HAMILTON-"Where Can't There Be More Love" UK Columbia DB 8304 1967

Singer Hamilton King made a career out of cutting r&b records on HMV before moving to EMI's Columbia label and changing his name (temporarily) to The Mood of Hamilton. This '67 single lyrically bears all the trade marks of the Summer of Love's message of peace and brotherly love beneath a churchy organ and some high, choirboy backing vocals. It's just so damned odd that I can't quite describe it's appeal!

All 45 scans are care of the amazing website.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Jimmy Nicol

There are lots of stories in rock n' roll of people who failed to grab the golden ring, and then of those who did and had it snatched from them. This is no better illustrated than by the story of drummer Jimmy Nicol who was plucked from obscurity to fill Ringo Starr's seat for some European and Australian Beatles dates and then thrust straight back to obscurity. Nicol had played in a variety of bands and recorded with his own group, The Shubdubs". The first of which, today's subject, was first issued in the U.K. in February 1964 on Pye (7N 15623), to capitalize on his Beatles involvement it was released in America in May of 1964 on the short lived Mar Mar label. Both sides were played and recorded by Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames, which should come as no surprise because according to author Uli Twelker in his book "Georgie Fame: There's Nothing Else To Do", Nicol was occupying the drum stool in the Blue Flames when he got the fateful call asking to sub for Ringo AND returned to the Blue Flames for a spell after his brush with Beatlemania. 

As both side's of today's subject were tracks that were in the live repertoire of Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames (and included on his 1964 debut LP " Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo") it leads one to suspect that they made for obvious choices for Nicol to record. Both however owe little to the arrangements of GF and Co.  "Humpty Dumpty" has an almost big band feel to it with a large brass section that despite playing a ska rhythm reeks of TV show orchestra and the vocals sung in a fake Jamaican accent border on almost tasteless, but, alas those were the times. Interestingly the drums sound like someone banging on a garbage can lid throughout the whole track!

James Brown's "Night Train" is delivered in a similar "big TV show band" style but is catchy no less with a groovy combo organ and some very hard hitting drums and like the A-side can easily be imaged as being played during the intro to a U.K. 60's variety/music show. It would have been better suited for the A-side.

Both sides of the single are available on the CD compilation of U.K. 60's Pye singles "Beat Beat Beat 2: Fab Gear" while "Night Train" has appeared on a variety of CD comps such as Sequel's "Doin' The Mod 2: Jump And Dance" and "Instro Hipsters A Go-Go 2". 

Hear "Humpty Dumpty":

Hear "Night Train":

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

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

THE END-Shades Of Orange/Loving Sacred Loving US London 45-LON-1016 1968

Rolling Stone Bill Wyman's "proteges" The End had been around since 1964. To call them his "proteges' is sort of a backhander because the band were a perfectly capable act that had quite a bit of experience under their belt (more on that in a bit). Wyman's connection with the band goes way back. He produced their 1965 7" debut "I Can't Get Any Joy" (UK Phillips BF 1444/US Phillips 40323 both October 1965) after meeting them when they were backing Andrew Loog Oldham find Charles Dickens on a series of U.K. concert dates with The Stones. Fast forward to nearly two years later and the band were still soldiering on and Wyman was still their champion having produced four of the band's Spanish only 45 releases (where they had taken up residence and apparently had quite a successful following). 

"Shades Of Orange" and it's flip "Loving Sacred Loving" were both written by Wyman and a protege named Peter Gosling (who's band Moon's Train were also produced by Wyman). Curiously "Loving.." received it's first airing as an A-side in Spain in 1967 (Sonoplay SN-20.054). Both tracks (along with subsequent tracks on their sole long player, 1968's  "Introspection") were recorded utilizing Stones session time for their "Satanic Majesties Request" long player at Olympic studios. When his band mates would fail to turn up Wyman would ring The End and get them in and get cracking, sometimes working into the wee hours of the morning (on one such session Charlie Watts was roped in to add tabla to "Shades Of Orange"). Amazingly on such short notice the results were impressive.

"Shades Of Orange" first came to my attention in the Summer of 1986 with See For Miles records dropping their monumental various artists LP comp "The British Psychedelic Trip 1966-1969" full of Deram/Decca goodies, with "Shades of Orange" holding it's rightful place among peers like Tintern Abbey, World of Oz Etc. Driven by restrained (and brilliantly phased) brass, Watt's tabla and eerily spooky keyboards it's a thoroughly atmospheric track that picks up steam during the chorus with snatches of Jimi Hendrix inspired guitar crunch before reverting back to an almost solemn musical reverence. 

The late great Charlie Watts and his tablas.

"Loving, Sacred Loving" is of course built on the assistance of yet another guest musician care of Wyman's association, this time it's Nicky Hopkin's harpsichord that lends itself to the dreamy feel of the track (which at times reminds me of Wyman's own "In Another Land" from the "Satanic Majesties" album). Fattened up by layers of otherworldly sounding vocals it has an almost enteral feel to it and again one listens to it's amazing production and wonders why in the world Bill wasn't allowed to produce his own band (witness the mess that is "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby"). The track was hilariously passed off as a jam involving the Beatles and the Stones in the 70's!

Both sides are available on a variety of places, the easiest to find being multiple issues of their LP "Introspection". 

Hear "Shades Of Orange":

Hear "Loving, Sacred, Loving":

Thursday, July 1, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The World Of Oz


WORLD OF OZ-Beside The Fire/Mandy-Ann US Deram 45-85043 1969

Britain's psych pop quartet the World Of Oz were quite prolific in the United States despite not garnering one iota of commercial success here. The band's first two U.K. A-sides ("The Muffin Man" and "King Croesus" ) were released in the States, their third and final U.K. single "Willow's Harp" was not issued Stateside but Deram (their label in both the U.S. and U.K.) took the curious step of issuing a U.S. only single of two tracks from their untitled LP (issued in the U.S. as Deram DES 18022), "Beside the Fire" b/w "Mandy-Ann" in April 1969.

"Beside The Fire" is probably the greatest Bee Gee's pastiche I've ever heard! The vocalist's quivering Robin Gibb style falsetto backed by brass and strings with a soulful Hammond in the background make this track sound  like it would not be remotely out of place on the brother's Gibb's "Idea" album. Both sides were produced by Liverpudlian producer/A&R man supreme Wayne Bickerton.

The flip side, "Mandy-Ann", has a similar Bee Gee's feel with it's over the top orchestration with woodwinds, xylophone, strings, brass (provided by the deft hand of Mike Vickers who handled the arrangement on both sides) but is far too upbeat and cheery  to pass as a Bee Gees track. It's a catchy psych pop tune regardless and would have made a better A-side in my mind.

Both sides can be found on various reissues of their sole untitled 1969 Deram LP.

Hear "Beside The Fire":

Hear "Mandy-Ann":

Thursday, June 24, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Herd's U.S. Debut


THE HERD-I Can Fly/Understand Me U.S. Fontana F-1588 1967

Upon joining The Herd, Peter Frampton recorded five singles with them during his short tenure with the band. His debut single with them, "I Can Fly",  was issued in the U.K. in April 1967 as Fontana TF 819. It was released in the U.S. three months later but substituted a tune called "Understand Me" in place of "Diary Of A Narcissist" (which was also the flip side in Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands). The single surprisingly flopped in the U.K., as it did in the U.S., fortunately for them their next three singles all made the U.K. Top 20. 

"I Can Fly", like many of the band's singles tracks was written by Howard Blaikley. It's a quirky little number that starts off with a jarring burst of a feed back drenched power chord and a chorus of angelic vocals. With a catchy chorus it sticks in one's brain quite easily. Frampton's vocals sound plaintive and the band's harmonies and the addition of flute in addition to their usual guitar/bass/keyboards/drums formula adds something interesting to the tune. It all reaches a crescendo with the mantra like chorus of  "I can fly" repeated over and over like a mantra as Frampton bashes away distorted power chords until the song fades out with spooky ivory tinkling and restrained guitar feedback. Brilliant!

"Understand Me" is a unique track as it was not issued anywhere else in the world on a 45 outside of the U.S. (it also appeared on the band's U.S. LP "Lookin' Thru You" (Fontana SRF-67579 1968). What strikes me as odd is to my ears it's one of the best tracks they ever did. Powered by some rumbling bass, Hammond/piano and a punchy chorus it has a soulful feel to it and deserves repeated playing and would have clearly made a suitable A-side! The high demand for this 45 is no doubt a validation of that!

The U.S. outlet of Fontana issued four of the next five U.K. Herd singles, but without an ounce of chart success

Both sides are available on the comprehensive Herd CD collection put out by Repertoire "Complete Herd" as well as their 1968 U.S. LP "Lookin' Thru You". 

Hear "I Can Fly":


Hear "Understand Me":

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Del Shannon In England 1967

DEL SHANNON-Mind Over Matter/Led Along U.K. Liberty LIB 10277 1967

Stone's manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham was never a man to shun lofty ambitions, and when he founded his independent label Immediate in 1965 with partner Tony Calder he always had an eye on using the label to help further the careers of not just up and coming British artists but his American heroes too, witness his licensing of the McCoy's "Hang On Sloopy" as the label's debut release (IM 001 August 1965 or Mark Murphy's U.K. only LP "Who Can I Turn To" ( IMLP  004 1966). With that in mind he made overtures to bring American singer Del Shannon over to record an entire LP. The project was to be titled "Home And Away" and no expense was spared with in house songwriters Andrew Rose and David Skinner (also known collectively, as the Immediate records duo Twice as Much) and Billy Nicholls supplying tunes to augment some of Shannon's own compositions. The sessions were held at London's Olympic studios in February 1967 with the cream of the crop participating including Steve Marriott, Kenny Jones, P.P. Arnold, Billy Nicholls, John Paul Jones, Twice As Much, Andy White and Nicky Hopkins among them adding musical backing and vocals. Production was handled by Oldham with arranging done by Art Greenslade. Then it all fell apart with financial mismanagement that left the LP, largely, unreleased until 1978 (in the U.K. as "And The Music Plays On" Sunset Records SLS 50412).

Some of the tracks from the sessions did squeak out as singles. Today's subject issued in the U.K. on Liberty (credited as "An Immediate Records production") in June of 1967 was among them. "Mind Over Matter" is to my ears, the best track of the entire LP so it was a perfect logical choice for a single. It's lushly orchestrated with strings, woodwinds and trumpet (thanks to the deft hand or Art Greenslade, best known for orchestrating Chris Farlowe's #1 smash of The Stone's "Out Of Time") that musically remind me of an upbeat Walker Brothers type thing.

Del In London at the time of the recording of "Home And Away". 

The flip, "Led Along" was penned by Immediate records wunderkid Billy Nicholls and was not recorded by him on his criminally rare Immediate LP "Would You Believe".  It's not as strong as anything on Nicholl's LP (Shannon also recorded Nicholl's "Come Again" as "Cut And Come Again" and another tune Nicholls did not release "Friendly With You" for "Home And Away"). "Led Along" has distinct "Pet Sounds" influences in it's use of high backing vocals and the chord charges. Del's vocals are in two part harmony with an interesting backing of strings, banjo and ivory tinkling. It's not the best song on the LP but worth a spin for the over the top arrangements once again courtesy of Art Greenslade. 

Both sides are available on various CD re-issues of "Home And Away". 

Hear "Mind Over Matter":

Hear "Led Along":

Thursday, June 10, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Transatlantics Cover The Fab Four


THE TRANSATLANTICS-Run For Your Life/Run For Your Life US Jubilee 45-5529 1966

Britain's Transatlantics cut two singles in the U.K. on Fontana before switching over to King to release this Fab Four "Help" LP track as a single in March 1966 (as King KG 1033). Both previous singles were issued here on the Jubilee label as was this release a month later than it's U.K. cousin, though oddly only as a double sided promo (ditching the British flip side ""It's All Over"). 

Their version of "Run For Your Life" is a fairly carbon copy of the original though the opening intro has slight differences. As far as Beatles covers go in my estimation there's only three ways you can do it, badly, note for note or better by adding your own touches. This falls firmly in the middle safe ground of note for note. For Fab Four cover version completists only!

Dutch 45 sleeve, c/o

To my knowledge it has not been comped or reissued anywhere,

Hear "Run For Your Life":

Hear a 1966 BBC session of The Transatlantics featuring "Run For Your Life":