Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Scott Walker-Joanna


SCOTT WALKER-Joanna/Always Coming Back To You US Smash S-2168 1968

Scott Walker's post Walker Brothers solo career was, for a time fairly well represented in the U.S. (his first three albums were released here).  Today's post was his first solo single after leaving the Walkers that was issued here in the States (the label had previously pressed two Walker's tracks as a solo 45 which we discussed here). 

"Joanna" was Scott's second post Walker's 45 in Britain issued as Phillips BF 1662 in April 1968. The U.S. release came in June, his American outlet probably balked at the idea of his solo debut "Jackie" with it's use of the word "ass" . "Joanna"is a curious track as Scott had not recorded anything by the hit writing machine of Tony Hatch/Jackie Trent before. I almost wish he hadn't as it is, without a doubt, my least favorite song of all of his 60's output. It's lush orchestration does nothing to save it from being one big stinking heap of M.O.R adult contemporary feces.  Mediocre is almost too good of a way of describing it. Clearly they ate it up across the pond because it wound up being his highest charting solo single (#7).

The flip, "Always Coming Back To You", is a Scott original. It's baroque harpsichord plays along with some moody organ before giving way to some lush orchestration that reminds me of something from The Moody Blues "Days Of Future Passed" (of some coincidence the A side was orchestrated by Peter Knight who was responsible for said Moody's album but this was conducted by Reg Guest). Lyrically AND musically it would not at all be out of place on either of Scott's first two solo albums and would have made a far stronger A side, to my ears anyway. 

Hear "Joanna":


Hear "Always Coming Back To You":


Wednesday, March 1, 2023

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

1. JIMMY McCRACKLIN-"Set Six" U.S. Imperial 66067 1964

Here's an interesting one, a funky little organ instrumental that's reminiscent of Dave "Baby" Cortez. I'm not terribly familiar with a lot of Jimmy McCracklin's material so it struck me as odd that he did an organ instrumental!


2. FRANKIE BEVERLY AND THE BUTLERS-"Because of My Heart" U.S. Fairmont F-1017 1967

I LOVE this one! It's uptempo and backed by an incredible mix of sax/call and response vocals that create an incredibly danceable groove that sticks in your brain.


3. JACKIE BRENSTEN-"Trouble Up The Road" U.S. Sue 736 1961

Much like The Dual's "Stick Shift" this number features some raunchy gut bucket guitar, it's not a rock n' roll number but a catchy r&b number written and arranged by Ike Turner. Curiously the artist, Jackie Brenston, has his name misspelled on the labels on this one. 


4. THE FIESTAS-"The Party's Over" U.S. Old Town 1140 1963

This r&b belter features a high octane groove that comes off like Fats Domino on a handful of purple hearts! A rip roaring party record if ever there was one!


5. WILLIAM BELL-"Monkeying Around" U.S. Stax S-141 1963

File under "songs that Georgie Fame taught us". Though I will have to say that Georgie's cover far surpasses the original it's still an incredible record thanks to the Memphis horns and boilerplate Stax production. Oddly it was consigned to the flip of the mediorce "I'll Show You", Bell's sixth single for the label.


6. RAFUL NEAL-"Blues On The Moon" U.S. Whit 6901 1969

Don't let the 1969 date scare you like it did me, this number is a standard uptempo blues instrumental workout centered on some harp blowing and a funky backing. 


7. THE HEADLINERS-"Voodoo Plan" U.S. V.I.P. 25026 1965

This number is obviously from a blue eyed soul combo, with a Bo Diddley style beat and it's squeaky clean Ivy League frat rock vocals it proves to be an interesting combination. There's a bizarre soprano saxophone solo that sounds like it was thrown on as an afterthought. Truly odd!


8. THE YOUNG FOLK-"Lonely Girl" U.S. Mar-V-Lus 6017 1967

This Motown-ish groover has some sophomoric lead vocals that are on occasion a bit grating but has an interesting tempo that's worth a listen.



With some strong brass and a swampy groove this r&b belter is tough, raunchy and full on powerful! Lyrically it gets a bit repetitive (the only words seem to be "hold my hand just a little bit longer" over and over again) but it's infectious thanks to it's solid backing.


10. BILLY ABBOTT & THE JEWELS-"Groovy Baby" U.S. Parkway P-874 1963

This slow tempo doo-wop-ish number seems lost between the street corner and sophisticated r&b, but to me it somehow works, just barely though....


Friday, February 17, 2023

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


1. LITTLE GENIE BROOKS-"The James Brown Bougeloo" U.S. Carol 105 1966

No that's how "boogaloo" is really spelled on the label. This 100mph horns backed work out is a TOTAL James Brown pastiche from the horns, the breaks and of course the lead vocals with lots of quotes from various J.B. songs. Any idea who Little Genie Brooks was?


2. THE PIPS-"Room In Your Heart" U.S. Vee Jay VJ 386 1961

This call and response r&b screamer is Gladys Knight and the boys but credited to "The Pips". It has elements of doo-wop mixed in with frantic r&b that works thanks to the tight delivery and energy. Originally issued on the HunTom label, this was reissued on Vee Jay just months later. 


3. MARJORIE BLACK-"One More Hurt" U.S. Sue 45-132 1965

This obscure release on the legendary Sue label could easily pass as an obscure Motown side in it's up tempo delivery and the key changes. It's totally danceable and merits immediate investigation to those not familiar with it!


4. BARBRA MERCER-"Hey!" U.S. Golden World GW-21 1965

The vibes and call and response/up tempo backing vocals on this pretty much guarantee it's a huge dance floor classic but copies are surprisingly affordable. 


5. ADOLPH JACOBS-"Move Around Easy" U.S. Class 253 1959 

This twangy little proto rock n' roll meets r&b number is where the sock hop meets gritty bluesy gut bucket r&b. It's poppy but off set by the greasy saxophone solo and busy bass lines.


6. CHRISTINE COOPER-"Heartaches Away My Boy" U.S. Parkway P-983 1966

Sweets strings, Motown punctuation on the vibes/scronking sax (the number has multiple similarities to a few Supremes numbers) and beautiful lead/backing vocals make this, understandably one of the most sought after soul 45's on the Cameo Parkway label. Pure magic!!


7. THE PUSSYCATS-"Come On And Ska" US Keetch 45-6003 1964

I'm always keen on cash in U.S. 60's ska records, most are absolutely dreadful but this girl group track sounds like The Shangri-La's performing over a Millie Small backing track (with some more soul than Mary Weiss and the girls ever had) !


8. SOLOMON BURKE-"Be Bop Grandma" U.S. Atlantic 45-2114 1961

This one is all over the place. It's r&b, doo-wop, rock n' roll etc. Solomon Burke is clearly emulating Elvis on the lead vocals and the honky/wonky sax and blistering guitar licks make the number. The lyrics are a corny story of a hip shakin' grandma who likes to get down with the rocking hits when she's alone. Creepy.


9.  THE ORLONS-"Heartbreak Hotel" U.S. Cameo C-319 1964

Big props to the HBO Elvis documentary for hipping me to this incredibly soulful/call and response storming cover of the King's 1956 hit. It has an almost sophisticated "uptown soul"/Motown feel to both it's delivery and production!


10. GARNET MIMMS-"Looking For You" U.S. United Artists UA 951 1965

One of Garnet's most sought after singles after "As Long As I Have you" is this vibes/female backing vocals/Northern soul strings propelled ditty full of interesting tempo changes and over the top production.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

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

1. FRANK FOSTER-"Harlem Rumble" U.S. Tri-Ode 120 196?

This number is all over the place. It starts out like something you'd expect a Rat Pack crooner to do and then it turns into a funky little instrumental that evokes the hustle and bustle of the big city meets the theme song to an unwritten vintage 60's cop show!


2. LESTER LANIN-"West Indies Ska" U.S. Phillips 40217 1964

I could probably do an entire post of cod ska U.S. 60's releases, but like a bad fish dinner I might never be able to remove the stench. That said...this one is actually a wailing organ/sax led call and response number with a vocalist not unlike Jackie Wilson. 


3. UNCLE SAM & THE WAR MACHINE-"Spy Girl" U.S. Blue Onion BO-103 1967

Don't let the title fool you this number is an uptempo soul groover (possibly of the blue eyed variety) and sounds like an amazing mix of The Blues Magoos or Standells meet Bob Brady and the Conchords. 


4. GERALD WILSON ORCHESTRA-"Light My Fire" U.S. World Pacific 88148 1967

There's something intriguing for me about kitschy, campy easy listening versions of hits in the 60;s, this is no exception. Led by a flute this number is one third supper club jazz, one third elevator music and one third big band. But what a glorious combo!!


5. TOMMY & CLEVE-"I Don't Want To Share Your Love" U.S. Checker 1154 1966

This powerful soul belter comes across like a Checker/Chess answer to Sam and Dave. It's a mid tempo soul smoker done by this duo (who I can't tell you a damn thing about) with a greasy sax solo! Found on the flip of their "Boo-Ga-Loo Baby" (a great tune as well, not to be confused with the J.J. Jackson number). 


6.  SHAWN ELLIOT-"The Sidewinder" U.S. Roulette R-4700 1966

Shawn gets a lot of press here for his cheezy but interesting stab at the ska release "Shame And Scandal In The Family". He cut this vocal version of Lee Morgan's classic as a B-side of the lame "Hello Heartache, Goodbye Love", it's cheezy but an interesting rendition that grew on me after a few plays.


7. LEE ROGERS-"Go-Go Girl" U.S. D-Town 1067 1966

Found on the flip of "I'm A Practical Guy", this uptown soul stormer kicks in with thundering drums and mellow horns (that perfectly accent the track) and powerful vocals. 


8. SUNNY & THE SUNLINERS-"Trick Bag" U.S. Tear Drop 3081 1966

This gritty little ditty has hysterical lyrics about a guy who's woman is cheating on him on top of a sophisticated groove of horns that sound like a B grade Stax session and a tempo that sounds a but like "Treat Her Right" meets Lee Dorsey.


9. ALABAMA WATSON-"Cost Me" U.S. Bluestown 704 1965

This slow blues number comes from a cat I have never heard before. It's a slow blues shuffle that's fairly ordinary but there's something about it that catches my ear.


10. MARY LOU WILLIAMS-"Chunk-A-Lunk Jug Pt 1" US Sue 715 1959

We close out with this jazzy little number that musically reminds me of Mose Allison with just piano, bass and drums. Perfectly smooth and 100% sophisticated, just how I like my "mod jazz".


ALL SCANS C/O 45cat.com

Sunday, January 8, 2023

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Cat Stevens Via Paul & Barry Ryan


PAUL & BARRY RYAN-"Keep It Out Of Sight/Missy Missy" US MGM K 13719 1967

Brit hearthrob/twins Paul & Barry Ryan, sons of Marion Ryan (the Doris Day of Britain) were splashed everywhere because of their famous mum AND their step father Harold Davidson, an agent responsible for hosts of U.K. package tours LITERALLY got them on pretty much every huge package tour in Britain (there's a great anecdote about that in Ian McLagan's autobiography where he refers to them as "Paul and Bloody Barry Ryan").  The band released a ten singles in Britain on Decca and later MGM.  Five Decca sides and one MGM release came out here in the United States on MGM. Their commercial impact here was nil. 

Today's piece was their seventh 45 in Britain (Decca F 12567 February 1967) and was their fifth here, issued approximately two months later. Joining the ranks of many performers reaping the benefits of Cat Steven's songwriting prowess (see more here), Paul and Baz got a crack at a number that unlike many of their peers attempts, had not been (and never was) issued by Cat himself. "Keep It Out Of Sight" is without a doubt their finest single. Produced by Mike Hurst (also producer of many of Cat's Deram sides) and arranged by band leader/film score conductor Alan Tew (also on board with Cat's Deram releases) "Keep It Out Of Sight" is one of those distinct mid 60's British records that incorporates very staid and "normal" backings like strings and horns but makes them freaky. From the shimmering violin strings creeping in behind cellos and castanets and the thundering drum breaks the number is NOT your typical M.O.R. orchestrated pop tune. Throw in marimbas and horns that sound straight off The Pretty Things oft maligned "Emotions" LP (one day I will get around to publishing a piece trying to vindicate that album) and you have a deliciously eerie pop psych opus! 

The flip side, "Missy Missy" was previously issued in Britain as the A-side of their sixth single (Decca F 12520, November 1966). For some reason their British flip to "Keep It Out Of Sight", "Who Told You?" was curiously lopped off! "Missy Missy" is a dreadful M.O.R pop ditty that sounds dreadfully like The New Vaudeville Band meets The Bachelors. Aughhhhh!

"Keep It Out Of Sight" most recently appeared on two CD digipak boxes in the U.K.: "Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds: The British Psychedelic Sound Of 1967" , a three CD set on Grapefruit and the more "mod" leaning "Halcyon Days: 60's Mod, R&B, Brit, Soul & Freakbeat Nuggets" three CD set via Strawberry. "Missy Missy"? Who cares....

Both sides are also available on the now out of print German CD compilation of Repertoire "The Best Of Paul & Barry Ryan".

Hear "Keep It Out Of Sight":

Hear "Missy Missy":

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Searchers "Popcorn Double Feature"


he Searchers-Popcorn Double Feature/Lovers U.S. Kapp K-811 1967

The Searchers had a fairly modest impact on the United States charts starting in February 1964 when "Needles And Pins" reached #11 and introduced them to the American hit parade . After that they managed six more hits in the American Top 40 with a staggering 17 singles released from '64-'66 mostly on the Kapp label (their earlier releases were on Liberty and a few odd ones on Mercury). By 1967 the band's American career was past life support and were another British Invasion band in the morgue with a toe tag, "killed by flower power and psychedelia" (or just plain overkill). 

The band always had a knack for covering interesting American tracks, so for their final U.S. release in February 1967 on Kapp they chose a tune called "Popcorn Double Feature" (issued in the previous month in the U.K. as Pye 7N 17225). It was later released by American artist Tim Wilde on Tower in July. Unfortunately as was the case with their previous singles , it saw no chart action in the States. 

To the uninitiated "Popcorn Double Feature" is an impressive track both musically and lyrically. It sings about changing times and social ambivalence ("People are flyin' and babies are cryin' don't nobody care at all, there's love and there's laughter and good things come after just follow the bouncing ball..."). The Searchers rock it out with jangling guitars meshing with the band's typical smooth harmonies. The number is backed by some interesting strings that put the track firmly in the "pop psych" domain and ranks as one of their strongest releases in my mind.

The flip side "Lovers", is a McNally/Pender original (the band frequently had originals on the B-sides of many of their singles). It's a tepid  beat ballad of sorts, total cabaret fodder with it's clacking claves and inoffensive volume. Next...

Both sides are available everywhere because the band's Pye catalog has been issued to hell by Castle Communications. 

Hear "Popcorn Double Feature":

Hear "Lovers":

Saturday, December 10, 2022

December's Picks

1. THE GROWING CONCERN-"A Boy I Once Knew Well" U.S. Mainstream 685 1968

Back during the early days of Covid quarantine someone on Instagram hipped me to this mega  rare LP by this mid 60's band. The stand out track on their untitled 1968 untitled LP was this single. It's a lush mix of male/female harmony vocals on top of jangly folk rock guitars and harpsichord. 

2. THE POOR-"She's Got The Time (She's Got The Changes)" U.S. York 402 1967

I was first introduced to this track back in the mid 80's when a cover by a Brit band called The Affex on one of the "Rubble" volumes. Eventually someone hipped me to the original by this LA band that included a young Randy Meisner. Though not as punchy as the cover it's still an upbeat, impressively catchy pop ditty with great call and response vocals. 

3. THE RATIONALS-"Feelin' Lost" U.S. Cameo C-437 1966

Ann Arbor, Michigan's Anglophile Rationals cut this beautiful, bouncy Beatle-esque number on their flip of semi hit reading of "Respect", though it was originally released on an A-side. The number is pure Fab Four "Help"era with it's beautiful harmonies and electric/acoustic guitars.

4. THE PARADE-"Sunshine Girl" U.S. A&M 841 1967

This is yet another case of me hearing a cover version first. I was introduced to this by a Swedish girl group version (The Angeliques) before realizing I had the original lurking in my collection. It's vocally reminiscent of the Association and the slick production and sunshine pop happiness of it is an effusive mixture. 

5. THE CRYAN SHAMES-"Ben Franklin's Almanac" U.S. Destination 624 1966

Tucked away on the flip of their debut 45, a hit reading of the sappy "Sugar And Spice" is this full on Who aping mod/freakbeat opus. It's delivered at a frantic pace with double tracked harmony vocals and a slathering of fuzz guitar and a speed freak Bo Diddley beat that all lets lose in a rave up in the end.

6. THE CORDS-"Ain't That Love" U.S. Atco 45-6687 1969

Don't let the 1969 release date fool you, this blistering Norman Petty produced track from this Amarillo, Texas combo is far more mid 60's sounding than the heavy late 60's jam one would expect it to be. With great harmonies, searing fuzz guitars and a lead guitarist who worships Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds were hugely revered in Texas) it's an amazing slice of American 60's garage pop.

7. THE WHATT FOUR-"You're Wishin' I Was Someone Else" U.S. Mercury 72716 1967

With vocals calling to mind The Knickerbockers and a tough "Revolver" influenced guitar sound this B-side of the band's second and final single encapsulates the moment where American 60's music melded Beatles influenced harmonies with tough, fuzz guitars.  

8. DEL SHANNON-"Gemini" U.S. Liberty 56036 1968

After the soul crunching defeat of the failure to release his U.K. recorded and produced 1967 LP "At Home And Away" Del bounced back in '68 with the much underappreciated long player "The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover". "Gemini" was the second single released from the LP. It's a moody, introspective piece with gentle strings and a martial march beat as Del sings echo laden and detached. 

9. THE BEACH BOYS-"Till I Die" U.S. Brother/Reprise 1047 1971

A bit out of our 60's orbit here this track is yet another example of someone on Instagram saving my soul by hipping me to a track I had not known before during the dark days of quarantine. This cut from the band's "Surf's Up" album is another Brian Wilson magnum opus with ethereal lyrics, multi layered harmonies and a spooky organ that adds an almost nautical feel to it. 

10. THE REAL DON STEELE-"Tina Delgado Is Alive" U.S. Cameo C-399 1966

Thanks to Larry over at Funky 16 Corners who hipped me to this one many years ago. Cut by legendary 60's Los Angeles DJ "The Real" Don Steele it's a full on raver that's one third "Blues Theme" (dig that fuzz), one third Sunset Strip a go-go and one third "Shindig!" house band music. It's a rollicking good time punctuated by Steele shouting "Tina Delgado is alive! Alive!". 

Hear "December's Picks" plus more American 60's goodies on Spotify here