Saturday, September 2, 2023

U.S. Soul/R&B/Jazz/Blues 45's For September

1. TY HUNTER-"Bad Loser"  Chess 1893 1964

"Bad Loser" was the B-side of Ty's final Chess recording "Something Like A Storm". It's mid tempo soulful delivery punctuated by some powerful horns (dig that trombone) and strong backing vocals reminding me of a poppy Ben E. King.

2. ERNIE K-DOE-"My Mother-In-Law (Is In My Hair Again") Duke 378 1964

Ernie's follow up to his 1961 smash "Mother In Law" is this sequel with some funky James Brown style horns is more upbeat than it's predecessor is absolutely contagious thanks to it's tongue and cheek lyrics and perfectly dance-able groove.

3. J.C. DAVIS-"Sweet Sweet Love" Chess 1859 1963

Starting with some swirling organ and a preachers style call "Sweet Sweet Love" kicks into a funky call and response 101 mph gospel soul groove that doesn't hold back for it's brief one minute and fifty second soul/r&n revival.

4. JOE SWIFT'S INTERNATIONAL PLAYBOYS-"Bell Bottoms" Onacrest OC-501 1966

A big thanks to the "Mod Jazz" series for unearthing this amazing little saxophone driven instrumental complete with go-go organ and an irresistible groove (it is sadly missing the inanely hilarious banter between the band during the breaks on the version on "The Return Of Mod Jazz" which was an alternate take).

5. THE EXITS-"You Got To Have Money" Gemini 1004 1967

Punctuated by some sweet backing vocals and congas hammering out a groovy beat this mega obscure 1967 b-side is probably my favorite soul tune at the moment. The tempo, the delivery and the razor sharp back up singers on top of lyrics about financial disparity is absolutely mindblowing.

6. NAT KENDRICK & THE SWANS-"Wobble Wobble" Dade 45-5003 1963

This interesting instrumental reminds me of something Britain's Sounds Incorporated would have done (especially the guitar licks), it's a bit monotonous at times but the precision horns make it worth listening to, like most offerings by sax player Nat Kendrick.

7. KENNY SMITH-"Go For Yourself" RCA Victor 47-8850 1967

This is an amazing little funky soul 45 that starts off with an interesting bit of social commentary about self preservation ("You better think about #1 and go for yourself!") with some twangy guitar licks, powerful J.B. style horns and some chicken scratch rhythm.

8. BILLY JOE YOUNG-"I've Got You On My Mind Again" Paula 240 1966

I discovered this one a few months back thanks to someone on Instagram (apologies for not recalling who). This number could be considered soulful thanks to the infectious brass and the Northern soul-esque "Hey hey hey" vocal interjections but there's something almost "poppy" that probably ruins it's chance of ever being "danceable", but regardless I think it's amazing.

9. BOBBY FREEMAN-"I'll Never Fall In Love Again" US Autumn 9 1965

I was first hipped to this gritty little Sly Stone composition/production via a British cover of this by John Lee's Groundhogs (on Shel Talmy's Planet label) which eventually led me to this original. For the uninitiated it's an incredibly powerful belter with some punchy horns, jangly guitars and impassioned vocals by Bobby "Come On And Swim" Freeman.

10. THE BOBETTES-"I Shot Mr. Lee" Triple-X 104 1960

"1-2-3, I shot Mr. Lee, 3-4-5 I got tired of his jive.." goes the opening line of this macabre sequel to the band's 1957 hit "Mr. Lee" which kicks off with a sax blowing Chopin's "Funeral March". It's uptempo call and response rapid fire vocal delivery are amazingly catchy (with a chorus "shot him in the head boom-boom"). The lyrical fun continues with "5-6-7-8 Mr. Lee had a date, 9-10-11 now he's up in heaven..". The public (my father included) were suitably offended and the record failed to chart.

Friday, June 23, 2023

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


 THE MONTANAS-Top Hat/Take My Hand U.S. Independence IND-79 1967

The Montanas were one of those British bands who never came remotely close to having a hit in the United States but U.S. labels doggedly continued to release their 45's (often differing from British releases). With three singles issued on Warner Brothers and five on the Independence label and one on Decca one could say they were almost excessive. For me the Montanas straddle the aisle between saccharine overproduced pop and freaky pop psych. 

Today's subject was their third U.S. 45 and their first for the obscure Independence label (along with label mates Bonnie Bramlett and Marlene Dietrich). It was their fourth single in the U.K. launched on Pye (7N 17338) in June of 1967, this release came later in September. "Take My Hand" (written by the Addrissi brothers who gave them their brilliant '65 single "That's When Happiness Began") is a fairly innocuous pop tune with harmonies and a full on Tony Hatch production (he handled most of their records). It's not awful but it's nothing I want to play repeatedly coming off like The Hollies in their post Nash cabaret period (I can actually imagine Allan Clarke singing this). For me the money is on the flip, an unreleased Bee Gee's track called "Top Hat" penned by Barry Gibb (it was also covered by Aussie singer Ronnie Burns on his debut LP along with four other Brothers Gibb gems). It's a kitschy/cheeky little number that's bouncy with some great hooks, tight harmonies and is punchy enough, musically to sound like The Move. Lyrically it's a clever number about a man seeking a change in his mundane existence who believes that purchasing a new top hat will change his perspective.  

Both sides were comped on the comprehensive CD collection of their output "You've Got To Be Loved: Singles A's & B's".

Hear "Take My Hand":

Hear "Top Hat":

Saturday, June 3, 2023

U.S. Soul/R&B/Jazz/Blues 45's For June

1. BOBBY DAY-"Spicks And Specks" U.S. Sure-Shot 5036 1967

This is possibly the first Bee Gees cover to ever get a release in the US! By 1967 the hits for Bobby Day had long dried up and someone had the foresight to have him record this. It kicks off with a martial beat that persists throughout the number adding some regal brass beneath Day's impassioned vocals.

2. JACKIE ROSS-"Everything But Love" U.S. Chess 1903  1964

Jackie Ross of course will always be remembered for her previous release "Selfish One" . This number is more uptempo and features a distinctly Motown feel, from the musical backing, the backing vocals and even Jackie's vocal delivery. Quite possibly her best.

3. ARTHUR ALEXANDER-"Detroit City" U.S. Dot 45-16737 1965

Arthur cut this Bobby Bare hit as his last single for the Dot label. It's slow and soulful and still retains edges of the song's country music backing but has something very Ben E. King to it in both the vocals and the production.

4. PAT LUNDY-"Soul Ain't Nothin' But The Blues" U.S. Columbia 4-44312 1967

Don't let the title deceive you, I expected this to be a greasy r&b number and instead it's a 100 mph high octane soul workout. It sounds almost "saccharine" in it's production and execution but it's infectious and soulful enough to work, but just barely.

5. EL CHICANO-"Coming Home Baby" U.S. Kapp K-2099 1970

This funky little cover of the Mel Torme classic is an incredibly kitschy Hammond organ driven Latin boogaloo jazz stormer. It's not too busy, it's not too funky and it has just the right amount of soul.

6. THE TRAITS-"Harlem Shuffle" U.S. SCE 12169 1966

The Traits were known as Roy Head's backing band but they also had a few singles credited to themselves after backing Head, including this rapid fire interpretation that takes the Bob & Earl original up a few notches in the pulse department. It was released in the States on three different labels!

7. CHAMPION JACK DUPREE-"Shim Sham Shimmy" U.S. Robin 130-X45 1954

My favorite Champion Jack Dupree is this rollicking blues shouter that's one part juke joint blues holler and one part rock n' roll. The guitarist is rumored to be Brownie McGhee, but whoever it is their electric blues style adds to this 45 rpm party.

8. JO ANNE & TROY-"Who Do You Love" U.S. Atlantic 45-2256 1964

Here's an interesting version of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" that's slick in production and slightly sanitized in the female vocals but the tempo and and hand claps make it perfect dance floor material.

9. DELLA REESE-"Ninety Nine And 1/2 Won't Do" U.S. RCA Victor 47-7996 1962

Here's one that took me by surprise! Della Reese manages to take this track to new heights long before Wilson Pickett and a host of others did it. There's some incredible call and response vocals and a distinctly soulful feel to it all. Simply magnificent!

10. ALVIN ROBINSON-"Fever" U.S. Red Bird RB 10-010 1964

Alvin Robinson is one of those artists who basically didn't cut any filler, and this smoldering reading of "Fever" is high up on my list of his achievements. The horns have a smokey, jazz club feel and haunt the background providing an excellent marriage of convenience between jazz and soulful r&b.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Mod Scene- Volume Two Imagined

In 1998 Decca issued a 25 track CD called "The Mod Scene", one of several "Scene" compilations issued of tracks culled from the Decca/Deram archives. Unfortunately further volumes were not forthcoming so I decided to create an imaginary track listing of another volume utilizing tunes from the Deram and Decca labels. All tracks are U.K. 45 rpm releases. 

1. THE EYES OF BLUE-"Don't Ask Me To Mend Your Broken Heart" Deram DM 114 1967

2. THE LOOSE ENDS-"Send The People Away (People Gotta Go)" Decca F 12437 1966

3. SMALL FACES-"I've Got Mine" Decca F 12276 1965

4. THE TRUTH-"Hey Gyp" Deram DM 105 1966

5. THE QUIK-"King Of The World" Deram DM 139 1967

6. ROB & DEAN DOUGLAS-"Phone Me" Deram DM 132 1967

7. THE ST. LOUIS UNION-"Think About Me" Decca F 12508 1966

8. THE ARTWOODS-"I Take What I Want" Decca F 12384 1966

9. THE NASHVILLE TEENS-"Words" Decca F 12542 1967

10. TONY KNIGHT'S CHESSMEN-"Surfer Street" Decca F 12109 1965

11. THE BIRDS-"Leaving Here" Decca F 12140 1965

12. JOHN MAYALL & THE BLUESBREAKERS-"Crocodile Walk" Decca F 12120 1965

12. GENE LATTER-"Just A Minute Or Two" Decca F 12364 1965

13. THE UNTAMED-"So Long" Decca F 12045 1964

14. THE LOVE AFFAIR-"Satisfaction Guaranteed" Decca F 12558 1967

15.  THE FLIES-"House Of Love" Decca F 12594 1967

16. LULU-"Can't Hear You No More" Decca F 11965 1964

17. ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS-"Help Me Girl" Decca F 12502 1966

18. THE CLAYTON SQUARES-"Come And Get It" Decca F 12250 1965

19. THE GAME-"Gotta Wait" Decca F 12469 1966

20. GOLDIE & THE GINGERBREADS-"The Skip" Decca F 12126 1965

21. THE DOUBLE FEATURE-"Come On Baby" Deram DM 115 1967

22. WINSTON G.-"Cloud Nine" Decca F 12444 1966

23. AMEN CORNER-"High In The Sky" Deram DM 197 1968

24. D. CORDELL TEA TIME ENSEMBLE-"A Quick One For Sanity" Deram DM 137 1967

25. DAVID BOWIE-"The London Boys" Deram DM 107 1966

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Scaffold-"Lily The Pink"


THE SCAFFOLD-Lily The Pink/Buttons Of Your Mind US Bell B-747 1968

Liverpool pop trio The Scaffold managed several hits in The U.K. and despite four singles and an LP here on the Bell label left nary a trace of success in the 60's or otherwise. "Lily The Pink" was their third U.S. single issued in November of '68 (one month behind it's U.K. release as Parlophone R 5734 where it reached #1). Loosely based on a traditional folk tune "The Ballad Of Lydia Pinkman" (Pinkman was an actual person and was the inventor of a quack cure all remedy for ills such as menstrual cramps), "Lily The Pink" was the bands biggest selling tune. As in the case with most of their releases it was delivered in a typical cheeky/upbeat music hall. The lyrics focus on various individuals with problems ranging from big ears, stammers, weight problems etc, all cured by Lily's "medicinal compound". Listen from Graham Nash's cameo where he sings about "Jennifer Eccles had terrible freckles ..." (a nod to The Hollies hit "Jennifer Eccles").

The flip, "Buttons Of Your Mind" is an almost polar opposite with it's bleak, downtrodden somber backing of harpsichord and acoustic guitar. But of course in typical Scaffold fashion there's some surreal moments in the occasional voice overs.  


Back when all the remaining "Ready! Steady! Go!" episodes were released on VHS in the 80's they inserted a delightful Watney's Ale commercial featuring the Scaffold singing the virtues of "Watney's Pale, the greatest ale" to the tune of "Lily The Pink".  You can view it here

Both sides have been collected on several of their EMI compilations, the most recent of which is a 2002 offering "Thank U Very Much: The Best Of Scaffold" and the earlier, more complete "The Scaffold At Abbey Road 19656-1971". 

Hear "Lily The Pink":

Hear "Buttons Of Your Mind":

Monday, May 1, 2023

U.S. Soul/R&B/Jazz/Blues 45's For May

1. IRMA AND THE FASCINATORS-"Lost Love" U.S. Scepter 12100 1965

Kicking off with some gritty guitar this mid tempo soul tune has some smokey lead vocals that lead into horns and call and response backing vocals. There's something rough and ready about it all that adds to it's charm.

2. THE CRAMPTON SISTERS-"Baby Baby" U.S. ABC 45-10853 1966

With an odd intro of woodwinds/brass this tune combines a Motown style delivery with vocals that recall 60's girl group sounds like The Shangri La's or The Chiffons. It's interesting because it's an almost off kilter mix owing to the two styles that come off as oil and water but somehow it works, but just barely.

3. THE HUEYS-"You Ain't No Hippie" U.S. Instant 3289 1968

Huey "Piano" Smith re-invents himself as The Hueys in this scathing social commentary about fake long hairs ("you ain't no hippie cause your head is bald, you have no education and you talk like a fool..") on top of a funky groove delivered rapid fire with lyrics that are both catchy and compelling.

4. DEAN JONES-"Women (Ska-Da-La-De-Da)" U.S. Valiant 6055 1964

Here's an odd one by 60's Disney actor Dean Jones that despite the title is not remotely ska. The vocals are incredibly powerful with Jone's baritone crooning over a groove that melodically resembles "Watermelon Man". It's incredibly hip with a heavy nod to Mel Torme. Sadly it'll cost you several hundred dollars, which is why I don't have one....

5. THE SOUL BROTHERS-"Keep It Up" U.S. Blue Cat BC 107 1965

Starting with some doo-wop style falsetto vocals this Lieber and Stoller number (they produced it as well) is 100% high class thanks to the arrangement and delivery (the mournful horn solo could easily come straight off of a Walker Brothers cover of a Jerry Butler side). There's a cool Latin back beat to it all as well which adds to it's mystique.

6. BILLIE POOL with THE JUNIOR MANCE TRIO-"Them Blues" U.S. Riverside RF-4559 1963

This incredible 45 comes care of female vocalist Billie Pool who rocks the house with help of the jazz combo The Junior Mance Trio who lay down a jazzy but distinctly r&b groove behind her blues shouting. Killer!

7. ANN COLE -"Got My Mo-Jo Working" U.S. Baton 237 1957

"I Got My Mojo Working" blends  blues jump sounds with early rock n roll and a dash of doo wop. It's also the very first airing of the song written by Red Foster (Muddy Waters cut it simultaneously) and though not too dissimilar in it's tempo to Muddy's reading it is far superior in my book owing to it's vast array of genres blended within.

8. JIMMY CLANTON-"Cindy" U.S. Ace ACE 8007 1963

US 50's teen idol Jimmy Clanton is best known for his 1958 smash "Just A Dream". By 1963 the hits were long gone but he cut this enchanting Mel Torme influenced twister that remains his most collectible side with it's uptempo groove.

9. THE ROY MERIWETHER TRIO-"The Seventh Son" U.S. Columbia 4-44211 1967

This funky little version of Willie Dixon's "The Seventh Son" is a piano driven gas with jazzy tinges and Latin percussion on top of a pure Ramsey Lewis style groove with gruff scat improvisation during the piano solo.

10. SYLVIA ROBBINS-"Don't Let Your Eyes Get Bigger Than Your Heart" U.S. Sue 805 1964

This scorching '64 Sue side has some incredibly sophisticated brass crossed with organ and lead vocals that remind me of Lesley Gore (Sylvia was one half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia and went solo when Mickey Baker relocated to Europe).

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Cat Stevens "A Bad Night"


CAT STEVENS-A Bad Night/The Laughing Apple US Deram 45-DEM-85015 1967

Despite fame in the 1970's Cat Stevens 60's output went completely unnoticed in the U.S. Deram issued both of his LP's here and the label put out five of his nine British singles. "A Bad Night" was his fourth Deram single in both the U.S and U.K. It was released over there in July of 1967 and issued here in June.

"A Bad Night" starts out somber and suddenly kicks it up a notch with an almost fast samba feel but with sharp as hell strings and everything but the kitchen sink (care of Art Greenslade). It's not his best Deram single but certainly not his worst either.

Cat flanked by Jimi Hendrix, Gary Walker and Englebert Wotisface

The B-side, "The Laughing Apple", is probably among the latter. Lyrically it's awful. The orchestration is top notch (Alan Tew this time) but the track just does nothing for me.

Both sides are available as bonus tracks a the CD reissue of his second and final Deram album "New Masters". 

Hear "A Bad Night" :

Hear "The Laughing Apple":