Monday, November 18, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Chad & Jeremy

CHAD & JEREMY-I Don't Wanna Lose You Baby/Pennies US Columbia 4-43339 1965

Brit duo Chad & Jeremy were far more successful in the USA  than back in the homeland , so much so that by 1966 they ceased to release any singles in the UK (and they had but one hit in the UK, "Yesterday's Gone" that peaked at a paltry #37!!).  Today's specimen was their eighth UK 45 (issued in September 1965 as CBS 201814).  It was issued here in the States a few months prior (July to be exact)! Interestingly it reached #35 here in the US Top 40 but I had never heard it before (growing up  US "oldies radio" pretty much stuck to "A Summer song" and "Willow Weep For Me")!

The A-side is a curious choice , "I Don't Wanna Lose You Baby" was penned by Van McCoy but I can find no evidence of anyone else recording it. It's an interesting track of orchestrated pop that's somewhere between The Righteous Brothers/The Walker Brothers and The Association (the melody sounds like a cross between "Just Once In My Life" and "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration").

The flip side "Pennies" starts out pretty mundane and the lyrics aren't anything special at first, but it grows on you especially because of the subtle, hypnotic 12 string riff jangling away in the back ground. The song writing credits of "C. Powers" is presumably Chester Powers aka Dino Valenti.

Both sides have been compiled on the Chad & Jeremy collection "The Essential Chad & Jeremy: The Columbia Years".

Hear "I Don't Wanna Lose You Baby":

Hear "Pennies":

Sunday, November 10, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels:The Yardbirds Go Pop

THE YARDBIRDS-Little Games/Puzzles US Epic 5-10156 1967

By the dawning of 1967 The Yardbirds were in grave danger of becoming has-beens in the U.K., their last major British hit was May 1966's "Over Under Sideways Down" which stalled at #10. It's follow up "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" limped miserably in at #43. New management decided that the band's reliance on group originals was getting them nowhere and a new producer was brought in and a new path needed to be followed. Producer Micky Most had run up a string of successes for Donovan, Herman's Hermits, The Animals et al and was brought in to apply his Midas touch to the Yardbirds. His tenure with the band saw them attempt a far more commercialized/pop sound not unlike previous lead guitarist Jeff Beck's solo foray upon leaving the band (also overseen by Most). The band retained their blues aficionado moniker onstage and on the occasional album track but from now on A-sides would be purely a "pop" affair. Sadly the record buying public thought little of this and the band spent most of their remaining career traversing the United States on tour after tour where the British Invasion was still going strong.

Issued in the US one month earlier than the UK issue "Little Games" appeared in America in March of 1967 where it did nothing in the charts (#51 in the top 100 to be more precise). Despite being the first Yardbirds single to not chart in the UK it is nonetheless leagues above their next three pop fluff thanks to some groovy strings (care of Jimmy Page's future band mate John Paul Jones) interspersed with Page's restrained bursts of guitar which gives it a catchy groove. Curiously the label credits it to one "Wienman"  (it was written by Harold Spiro and Phil Wainman and properly credited on the UK release).

The flip, a Keith Relf original called "Puzzles" is punctuated a nifty dual guitar riff (one of which is a 12 string) that drifts in a trippy little neo-raga haze on the chorus and a way out solo that abruptly fades out like Most got tired of Page's riffing and simply plunged the fader down quickly!

Both sides are available as bonus tracks on a host of CD reissues of the band's 1967 US and Euro only long player "Little Games".

Hear "Little Games":

Hear "Puzzles":

Monday, November 4, 2019

MODS LOVE GREEN ONIONS: 10 Green Onions Versions

1. GEORGIE FAME AND THE BLUE FLAMES- UK 45 B-side Columbia DB 7255 1964
Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames second 45 (and their predecessor to their smash hit "Yeh Yeh") was a version of "Do Re Mi" which saw the Stax classic on the B-side. Fame's use of the Hammond L-100 as his keyboard of choice alters the sound a bit but its the use of The Blue Flames horn section that gives the track its meat.

2. BYRON LEE & HIS DRAGONAIRES-Jamaica 45 Starline 1964
There are those who have laid claim to the above version inspiring Byron Lee's reading. I'm neutral on this as the Byron Lee reading is faster and therefore edgier, lending itself to more of a "mod" amphetamine fueled pace.  The jazzy guitar solo is brilliant as is the trombone solo and compare with later live versions by Booker T when the tempo was doubled to find its distant cousin.

3. KING CURTIS-US 45 Atco 45-6496 1967
Tapped on the bottom of his interpretation of William Bell's "You Don't Miss Your Water", saxman King Curtis is at times pedestrian as it rarely deviates from the template of the original except for the fact that it includes sax and other horns.  I may raise some eyebrows but Curtis' sax always was too squawky  for me sounding too much like the house band on "Saturday Night Live".

4. BRIAN AUGER TRINITY-UK 45 Columbia DB 7715 1965
Brit Hammond organist extraordinaire's second U.K. solo release was this version issued shortly before he became part of the live act Steampacket.  Auger was relatively new to the Hammond organ, being a pianist prior to buying a B-3 in 1964 and his tasty ivory tinkling instead of an organ solo makes this an interesting choice.

5. THE NEW LONDON R&B BAND-US LP track  "Soul Cookin'" Vocalion VL 73880 1969
I have zero idea about this LP or this band (it was released in three European countries and Downunder as the Soul Extravaganza!). It's a full on affair with a massive horn section and cheezy skating rink organ, unfortunately I can't find it on YouTube to share with you.

6. DOWNLINERS SECT-UK E.P track Contrast Sound Productions RBCSP 001 1964
This version is without a doubt the most curious inclusion here primarily because it's lacking an organ!  Captured live on their rare debut live E.P. British re&b purveyors the Downliner's Sect. It's an interesting version because it comes across as Duane Eddy meets Link Wray and as mentioned probably the only version you'll ever hear with organ!

7. KING SIZE TAYLOR AND THE DOMINOES- Germany E.P track Polydor  21 628 EH 1964 
Liverpudlian Ted "Kingsize" Taylor made his bread and butter in Der Fatherland where this version was issued on an E.P., awash in jazzy guitar and the requsite organ with some wailing sax it's not half bad!

8. THE VENTURES-US LP track "The Ventures Play Telstar, The Lonely Bull" Dolton BLP-2019 1962
Direct from my mother's record collection my introduction to "Green Onions" came via The Ventures where it rubbed shoulders with covers of tracks by Herb Alpert and The Tornados. Strangely the guitar is not as twangy as you'd expect and it's surprisingly good with some organ. But maybe it's because I've listened to a hundred versions while writing this.....

9. MODS '79- UK 45 Casino Classics CC 13 1979
The original Booker T version became quite big in 1979 thanks to it's use in the film "Quadrophenia" and it's inclusion on the soundtrack LP so a hastily conceived cover was thrown together on the ever dodgy Casino Classics label. Folks from back then tell me that many a confused young mod thought this was the original and duly purchased it thinking it was the version heard in the film (the label indicating "This song featured in the film Quadrophenia" was an extremely crass ploy). All chicanery aside it's a fairly competent version even if it is a note for note copy of the original! Atlantic records was spurned into action finally releasing a reissue of the great tune in November 1979 a month later!

10. MONGO SANTAMARIA- US LP track "Soul Bag" Columbia CS 9653 1968
Among a host of other soul covers ("My Girl", "In The Midnight Hour", "Respect" etc) Mongo's 1968 reworking on the album "Soul Bag" of course includes his famous congas but it's the sleazy/reedy sax  that really set this version above all of our other inclusions here today! Then there's this incredible trumpet solo by Luis Gasca that is the proverbial cherry on top!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Tony & Tandy

TONY AND TANDY-Two Can Make It Together/Bitter With The Sweet US Cotillion 44042 1969

The short lived U.K. duo Tony & Tandy were a pairing of the Fleur De Ly's lead singer Tony Head and U.K. based South African singer, the late Sharon Tandy. In addition to a host of solo 45's (many in a soul vein) Tandy had previously had the band's backing on her sultry reading of "Hold On" (issued simultaneously in competition with a version by Rupert's People, who were also The Fleur De Ly's) and the witchy "Daughter Of The Sun" (a perfect bookend for The Kink's "Wicked Anabella"). As a pair Tony and Tandy released just one 45, today's specimen which was first released in the UK as Atlantic 584262 in April 1969, bringing up the rear a US pressing was released in July of '69 on the Cotillion label. Produced by the famous Graham Dee it's an amazing little dose of British blue eyed soul.

"Two Can Make It Together" is a brilliant uptempo soul stormer, with great orchestration and excellent vocals that make Tony & Tandy sound like the Marvin and Tammi of the British Isles! It was arranged by Gerry Shury and allegedly got a resurrection on dance floors during the "Northern soul" era.
Tandy (Tony not pictured).

The flip, "The Bitter With The Sweet" is not as strong. It's more mid tempo and though not awful, it's not something I'd play again. Incidentally it was composed by Graham Dee and Brian Potter with US soul singer Donnie Elbert.

The A-side was issued on several compilations, among them Acid Jazz's "The Graham Dee Connection-The 60's Collection" and on their 3 CD box set "Rare Mod (60 Prime Cuts Of 60's Underground Rhythm n Blues, Psych & Soul)".

Hear "Two Can Make It Together":

Hear "The Bitter With The Sweet":

Saturday, October 12, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Bobby Shafto

BOBBY SHAFTO-She's My Girl/Wonderful You US Rust 5082 1964

Bobby Shafto would have never come across my radar had it not been for the 1985 See For Miles records LP compilation "60's Back Beat" (a delightful collection of UK mid Sixties tracks, most of which had never been compiled, either previously or since!!). Bobby's contribution was an uptempo rocker titled "She's My Girl".

Fast forward to over 35 years later and I'm digging in a local record shop and lo and behold, here's a US pressing of "She's My Girl"! It seems Bobby cut a total of 9 singles in the UK for the Parlophone label between 1962 and 1966. "She's My Girl" was his third U.K. release issued as Parlophone R 5130 in April 1964. It was issued in the US as Rust 5082 approximately one month later (curiously it was his American debut and the label would go on to issue four more singles of his).

"She's My Girl" is a fairly innocuous pop 45 and if it weren't for the blistering lead guitar intro it might just be another mediocre pop tune. It reminds me of a more rocked out/uptempo Honeycombs track, maybe its the offbeat rhythm or the chirpy delivery.

The flip, "Wonderful You", is tepid despite some decent musical backing. Shafto's voice isn't bad it's just a crap song and I'm sure it would be unremarkable no matter who did it (blame composers Geoff Stevens and Mike Leander). Shafto's voice reminds me a lot of Gene Pitney on it.

Poor Bobby gets the share a pin up with Gene Pitney, "Rave" magazine 1965
"She's My Girl" had it's most recent appearance on EMI's CD compilation "Beat At Abbey Road 1963-1965".

Hear "She's My Girl":

Hear "Wonderful You":

Saturday, October 5, 2019

"It Was 40 Years Ago Today": The Sound Of '79-Squire and "Walking Down The Kings Road"

Squire's second single "Walking Down The Kings Road" (released on October 5th 1979) will always loom larger over the heads (and shoulders) of it's peers in the ill fated '79 mod "revival" in my mind. It's distinctly Sixties feel of crunchy Rickenbacker chords and finger snaps and it's psychedelic ending is at odds with the Jam-inspired/punk anthems being offered by their contemporaries. Interestingly it was issued on Secret Affair's I-Spy label (which was distributed via Arista) and it was the label's second release, preceded by Secret Affair's August #13 chart hit "Time For Action" (both the band and the label's debut).

I had the opportunity to chat with Squire's founder and lead singer/guitarist Anthony Meynell recently to pick his brain about this iconic single that turns 40 years old today.

Anorak Thing: I guess to start out with was "Walking Down The Kings Road" something you had written a long time ago or was it penned in 1979?

Anthony Meynell: It was written in '77 or '78, but definitely in our set by '78.

A.T.:How did you manage to hook up with Secret Afffair and their I-Spy label?  Was it through playing with them at the famous Mods Mayday '79 gig at the Bridgehouse?

A.M: It was purely because they'd heard us at the Mods Mayday gig and while mixing the live tracks for the LP (Ed Note: Squire contributed three tracks to the album, "Walking Down The Kings Road" was among them). They wanted another band for their label, I believe their first choice was Back To Zero but they'd already been signed by Fiction so they went with us.

A.T.: I've always been struck by how psychedelic and Sixties influenced "Walkin..." was/is and that it seemed completely at odds with the majority of records by other '79 mod bands. Secret Affair's Ian Page and Dave Cairns produced it, did they have any input on the psychedelic effects and feel to the track or was that your doing?

A.M.: Once we recorded the main track Ian was keen to have an extended ending that he felt should reflect the aural experience of walking down King's Road past all the shops.

A.T.: Brilliant, I've always loved all the backwards bits and sound affects on the end of the track as it always reminded me of "Bike" by The Pink Floyd. Was the line up the same as on the Mods Mayday LP?

A.M.: No, the other guitarist (Steve Baker) had left by then and my brother Kevin came in as the new drummer (replacing Ross Di'Landa). Ian actually played harpsichord on it.

A.T: Was Enzo Esposito still on bass?

A.M.: Enzo was still on bass and and oh it was Ian on organ as well.

The Squire line up from the single: Kevin and Anthony Meynell with Enzo Esposito

A.T.: I'm still fascinated that Ian Page and Dave Cairns would craft such a trippy sounding, obviously Sixties influenced record as it was nothing like Secret Affair were doing and that they would include that on a record. You just finished a 40th Anniversary Mods Mayday tour with Secret Affair actually. I assume you played "Kings Road.."?

A.M.: I can't recall it being recorded at the same time as the music but we added finger snaps to the intro and Ian later went back and added the organ on the intro and the psychedelic coda later on afterwards. Ian was, and still is, quite a musical historian and though it didn't suit Secret Affair he was quite aware of my musical influences. We were just talking on the tour last week (by the way "Kings Road.." closed all of our sets on it) and Ian and I were talking about production and he said he saw Squire as more of a "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" (Ed note: Spencer Davis Group/Traffic 1967 movie soundtrack) meets mod Buzzcocks sound so he still remembers what his original vision for the record was. He was also very aware of Bowie and has an encyclopedic knowledge of prog and psychedelia.

A.T.: Who were your influences at the time on the track?

A.M.: The original rhythm for "Kings Road" was influenced by Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang", at least that's how I explained it to the band but then my brother changed it to a different swing so it became more of a Small Faces "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" thing so it became different between the "Mods Mayday" album and the single version.

A.T.: On the subject of psychedelia,  your later single "No Time Tomorrow" (April 1982) was based it on. You're obviously a big fan of 60's psychedelic pop so was there anyone in particular that influenced that as well as "Kings Road"?

A.M.: I'm a huge fan of 60's psychedelic pop , I can't say any single band influenced "Kings Road" in the same way "No Time Tomorrow" was influenced, backwards solo etc. "Kings Road" was more of a beat group thing but there was always going to be a Beatles influence in there somewhere. It didn't have a middle eight so I suppose it was unusual and the long coda was there just not with all the embellishments at first so I suppose that's a throw back to long Beatles outros like "Hey Jude" or "Ticket To Ride" even.

Anthony with his Rickenbacker 325, 1979

A.T.: I'm a a huge Rickenbacker aficionado, what sort of Rick did you use on "Kings Road"?

A.M.: A 1964 Rick 325, that's the 3/4 scale one (Ed note: See photo above).

A.T.: One last question, I was once told that the boating blazer you had back then came from the same bolt of material that was used to make a suit for Brian Jones. Is that true?

A.M.: Yes, that's true, it's from the same suit he has on the cover of the "High Tide and Green Grass" album (Ed note see photo below).

Photo courtesy of Anthony Meynell 

A.T: Well thank you for your time and patience and talking to us! Anything to add in closing?

A.M.: Anytime! Yes, you might want to note that by Fall there will be a reissued "September Gurls" expanded LP (order here) followed by a re-release of our debut single "Get Ready Go To" (order here).  There's also a "Get Ready" album in the works of pre-Squire material the "Passengers On A Train" solo LP reissue and hopefully next year the "Smash" album will finally emerge! So I'm busy here, all the best!

Hear "Walking Down The Kings Road":

Sunday, September 29, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities (Big In Japan?): Tinkerbell's Fairydust

TINKABELL'S FAIRYDUST-Twenty Ten/Walking My Baby Japan London TOP 1287 1968

One wonders how many mid/late 60's British pop/psychedelic groups would have fallen through the cracks had it not been for the likes of Bam Caruso records and their indispensable "Rubble" series. Case in point are Tinkerbell's Fairydust, a U.K. pop-psych/harmony quartet (they were previously known as The Rush and had cut two singles in the U.K. on Decca). Tinkerbell's Fairydust cut three singles in the U.K. for  Decca from '67-'69 and HIDEOUSLY rare untitled LP (Decca LK/SKL5028 1969) . Their second single "Twenty Ten" (Decca F 12778 May, 1968) graced the "Clouds Have Groovy Faces: Rubble Vol. Six" compilation LP in 1986.

Interestingly it was also released in Japan( two month's after the U.K. issue ) where it was mis-credited to "Tinkabell's Fairydust"! It came in one of those usual Japanese picture sleeves that's just an insert (see above) in a plastic bag with a pic of the band on the back (see below).

"Twenty Ten", if you've not heard it before, is an amazing slice of choral psych pop full of Bach-like harmony perfection with a wah-wah-ed organ, Mellotron and these trippy phased bits that turn it all freaky.

The flip side "Walking My Baby" is a nondescript number that's just the lead singer with acoustic guitar and faint backing vocals, next.

Both sides are available through  iTunes for download as bonus cuts on their LP and the the Grapefruit CD album reissue. The A-side is on the earlier mentioned "Rubble" volume as well.

Both sides were also produced by Vic Smith who besides twiddling the knobs for a host of psych pop band's on Deram and Decca  later renamed himself Vic Coppersmith Heaven and went on to produce The Jam!

Hear "Twenty Ten":