Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Even More U.K. 60's Hammond & Horns Mod R&B

WYNDER K. FROG-I'm A Man/Shook Shimmy Shake U.K. Island WIP-6014 1967
Few people can deny the dance floor intensity of a good storming Hammond and horns driven instrumental track like "Bert's Apple Crumble" by The Quik. And right alongside of it, in my estimation is Wynder. K. Frog's instro interpretation of The Spencer Davis Group's "I'm A Man" .

Led by Hammond virtuoso Mick Weaver the band's line up shifted constantly, often employing the likes of session musicians during their studio time. I haven't a clue who was on this 45. I'm particularly struck by it's A-side "I'm A Man" because it is alleged by music weeklies at the time to have been recorded live in Paris at one Brigitte Bardot's (you know, that wrinkly animal rights Nazi Gallic gasbag) birthday party on September, 28, 1966, the very same day of my arrival on this planet. As you can see a scan of the 45 label reveals it was "recorded live in Paris". For those not familiar with it you can imagine, if you will, an amped up take on the S.D.G.'s original without the vocals but a "party" atmosphere: lots of cat calls, whistles, hoots and hand claps with a slightly off key backing chorus shouting out the chorus when it comes up. All diligently wrapped around a saxophone and Hammond organ duel juiced up by some tasty percussion, it's rough and raw, but it moves. Though the band DID play B.B.'s birthday party in Paris, the 45 was actually recorded in a studio in London. So much for hype!

The flip side "Shook, Shimmy, Shake" is toned down a bit, but still quite funky AND cool. The organ style is reminiscent of the Jamaican keys legend Jackie Mittoo and even the horns have a slight ska rhythm to them (it is no surprise that Island records took their ska/soul legend Jackie Edwards and utilized a Wynder K. Frog song "Oh Mary" as his backing track for his "vocal" version of the same number). Any "ska" detection on this tune is of course because it's an instrumental cover of a track by the ska/rocksteady legend Owen Gray previously issued on the label in 1965 as WI 252.

"I'm A Man" recently cropped up on one of the "On The Brink: Return of the Instro-Hipsters" CD compilation put out by the Psychic Circle label and both tunes are available on the Wynder K Frog double CD "Shook, Shimmy & Shake: The Complete Recordings 1966-1970".

Hear "I'm A Man":


Hear "Shook Shimmy Shake":


Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Deram U.K. Mod/R&B

THE QUIK-King Of The World/ My Girl U.K. Deram DM139 1967

The Quik are a U.K. 60's mod/r&b band best known for their amphetamine/mod/Hammond & horns dance floor smash "Bert's Apple Crumble", a record I have never had the pleasure of owning. Indeed I've never even seen a copy for sale and only ever saw it spinning round and round to enthusiastic dance floors thanks to DJ's Tony Sanchez and Ty Jesso, respectively. It was their debut as Deram DM121 backed by a freakbeat/soulful version of The Rascals "Love Is A Beautiful Thing" (simultaneously covered in the U.K. as an A-side by The Tribe).

The band's second Deram offering (their third and final was covered here in an earlier blog) "King Of The World" is interesting. It's not as frantic as "Bert's.." and not nearly as "freakbeat" as it's follow up. Essentially it starts out as a fairly pedestrian low key affair with some soulful vocals backed by sax, then a bit of organ: think "Georgie Fame light". The vocalist reminds me alot of the late Tony Cassady of the U.K. Decca r&b legends The St. Louis Union. This doesn't last for long because at about 1:25 into it we get the party sounds and the Hammond starts wailing in the same key as "Bert's..", then brings it back down a bit with the organ playing an almost fairground type thing while it turns into a march resorting back to the original pace and then wailing again! Zooom! No doubt this caused some dancefloor confusion with these insane timing changes and probably explains why not only is this not a fave Quik 45 among DJ's I've known and but also perhaps explains why it is the least expensive of their three offerings! But despite all that I think it's a great tune to listen to, dancing to it is an entirely different matter...............

I am rarely a fan of U.K. covers of American 60's soul numbers. Usually the more obscure the original is the better it seems to be, so it would be ill advised in most cases to cover "My Girl". Georgie Fame covered it by way of Otis Redding's stellar take on his 1966 Lp "Sweet Things" with pretty good results. The Quik tackle the same source for their side B and it's just plain pointless. Hamfisted, lifeless and just dead boring. Add it to the long list of unnecessary versions of "My Girl".

Neither side have been comped anywhere and I imagine we won't see Decca cracking open their Deram vaults for goodies like "King Of The World" any time soon.

"King Of The World" on YouTube for your ear pleasure:


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

When Mainstream America Firmly Musically Turned On: How "Windy" Seduced Psychedelically Chaste America.

Some middle aged record exec (probably pudgy, 50-ish, bald and constantly sexually harassing his blonde short skirted “secretary”) probably thought: “Hey! Let’s get some “young but clean and industry friendly” producers to update this California thing. Surf music drowned last winter”. BANG! Hip, young, A&R friendly producer nails it after the “boys upstairs” give the green light to assembling the Wrecking Crew (or some other sundry professional musicians, no time to let the artists play on this , time is $, crank it out assembly line style). So they throw it together: sweet, multi-layered intricate harmony vocals, a faint Latin type backbeat, harpsichord, bongos and/or tabla. And that’s just the first 45 seconds of the tune (it's called "Windy" written by some gal named Ruthann Friedman, Google her name and you'll find her website/blog where she blows up all those oft told tales of what inspired it)! Then ala “Wild Thing” by The Troggs, which used an ocarina, you throw in some flute/recorder/penny whistle solo! Then mash it all together at the crescendo with the lead singer doing his thing, then add one guy singing “dah dah dah dah dah dah dah” (which when you sing it yourself whilst trying to count the “dah’s” sounds a lot like “My Girl”). Then another guy’s vocals come in behind the “dah dah” fella backing and he just stresses single words held out for the length of a verse :”Who”, “smile” etc. in tandem with another guy who’s singing along with the lead singer but singing an octave higher. Put it all together and it sounds like the harmony vocals answer to that sound a train makes when it throttles past you at high speed while you’re inches away on the platform. And just as the vocal meshing is messing their minds they bring back the flute thinggy for the last 30 second. BANG! And it worked. For 2 minutes and 56 seconds American thought so when it peaked at #2 nationally in July 1967. A perfect summer hit. Who else but the “turned on” people would’ve paid attention to such musically intricate layers of sound (and probably scoffed because it was “a hit” but secretly loved it) while the whiskey & soda generation politely nodded their heads and smiled like it was the 1967 “Selecta” or “Splenda” version of the Beatles! Dah Dah Dah Dah X 8! Figure it out if and when you’re nice.


Monday, July 6, 2009

More U.K. 60's Hammond n' Horns Mod R&B

THE NITE PEOPLE-Summertime Blues/In The Spring Time U.K. Fontana TF 885 1967

It's a strange concept to think of "mod r&b/Hammond n' horns" records in '67, the year of all-things Hendrix, Summer of Love, The Pink Floyd and yes, Sgt. Pepper. But it happened. I can't tell you a thing about The Nite People, I've heard other tracks by them and they sound, to me, like another band when compared to this monster.

"Summertime Blues" bears little in common with the Eddie Cochran number, other than it's melody. The Nite People's version is an instrumental, led by organ and sax, propped up by some throbby bass. The organ is wailing, much like something by those U.K. heroes of the Hammond Wynder K. Frog (more on them some other time!), totally a classic floor filler. In grand U.K. 45 rpm tradition the flip sounds like a different band. Well maybe that's a bit of an overstatement, there's still horns and organ, but there's vocals too, somber and ethereal much like Keith Relf on The Yardbirds "Farewell" or "Only the Black Rose". It's actually pretty darn cool, especially the little horn lick after each chorus and the ending swirls into this semi-freaky organ and horns blast that reminds me of The Quik when they got "trippy" on their last Deram 45 (see older blog on that one). Sadly this hasn't cropped up anywhere, strange because the A-side has always commanded a heavy stack of mod moolhah when it was around (and mine didn't go away cheaply either).

"Summertime Blues":


God Bless The Great British Psychedelic Trip

ICE-Ice Man/Whisper Her Name (Maria Lane) U.K. Decca F12479 1968

No foray into the realm of British 60's psychedelia would be complete without a brief nod to the strains of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" which is somewhat influenced by Bach (ah Bach!). One could easily spend an entire blog mentioning all the British psych bands who crafted songs in this vein. It would be derogatory to claim this one was merely that, but one would have to be blind(or deaf?) to overlook that fact upon hearing this tune's A-side!

Released in the spring of '68 this is the second, and sadly final, 45 by Ice, a five piece from the U.K. (Sussex I'm told?!)  comprised of  Glyn James (vocals), Steve Turner (guitar), Lynton Naiff (organ), John Carter (bass, not the John Carter of "Carter/Lewis" song writing fame) and Grant Serpell (drums).  Their previous single was "Anniversary (Of Love)"/"So Many Times (Decca F 12680 October 1967).  This one is another beautifully crafted Decca pop-psych single. "Ice Man" is a wonderfully produced paean to, of all things, the ice cream man and Jack Frost, depending on which verse you center on! It has those classical key changes and structure so beloved of "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" underneath some dreamy/airy vocals, with some trippy piano noodling(that makes me think of Virgin Sleep's Deram psych classic "Beeside"), Bach-ish organ and a host of wonderful "psychedelic" effects. The lyrics are so observant it's obvious someone got "turned on" and wrote a song about the arrival of the ice cream ("ice cream...breathes confusion in the younger set..") and morning frost ("seems while I've been dreaming haven't had the time to look and see the changes that winter brings ice man has caught up with me.."). Good stuff. "Whisper Her Name (Maria Lane)" is a Left Bank-ish (the band, not the Paris neighborhood) number, with lots of beautifully arranged harmonies, not as "mind altering" as the A-side but still brilliant.

Both sides were unearthed in the 80's on the See For Miles LP series "The Great British Psychedelic Trip" (and on their subsequent CD versions as well). And I've just been able to find them on YouTube for you to hear ......

Hear "Whisper Her Name Maria Lane":


Hear "Ice Man":


POSTSCRIPT: iTunes has an amazing 19 song Ice compliation available for download titled "Ice Man" bearing all of their 45 tracks as well as unreleased material and B.B.C. sessions!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Deram Days

DENNY CORDELL TEA TIME ENSEMBLE-A Quick One For Sanity/BEVERLEY-Museum U.S. Deram DEM 7512 1967

Most of you will be familiar with Denny Cordell as the producer behind The Moody Blues, Georgie Fame and The Move (as well as being responsible for helping a young Tony Visconti gain a foothold in the U.K.). What most of you may not know is that he cut half a single once. Well not really but...read on.

"A Quick One For Sanity" is actually one of those countless numbers of Graham Bond Organization tracks that laid (and in the case of others still do) unreleased. Essentially it's a version of a number called "It's Not Goodbye" cut in 1966 (which did not see a release until the "Solid Bond" compilation LP of 1970). This musical backing is different, but sessentially the same song, just another recording, possibly earlier? This is not the first, or the last time a Bond instrumental would be utilized by another artist. The Who's "Substitute" B-side "Waltz For A Pig" is the his work (with the G.B.O.), as is a track "Blew Through" on the 1970 Philamore Lincoln LP. Of course by this point the classic G.B.O. line-up of Jack Bruce(bass), Dick Heckstal Smith(sax) and Ginger Baker (drums) had ceased to be as Bruce moved (briefly) onto Manfred Mann and later joined Baker in Cream. It's driven by the characteristic Bond heavy Hammond sound and a jazzy solo by Smith. One wonders why Cordell threw together such an ensemble.

The otherside is the second Deram imprint by a young woman folk singer named Beverley(later Beverely Martyn after marrying the late folksinger John Martyn). She had the honor of being the first artist to release a record on Deram (DM 101, a Randy Newman track called "Happy New Year") in December 1966. It is said that she'd had some fleeting liaisons with Donovan before taking up with Paul Simon during his U.K. "hiatus" from Simon & Garfunkel that lasted a few months (whereupon he returned to the U.S. with a British accent...cringe!). This led to her appearance at the Monterrey Pop festival and her voice being heard on Simon & Garfunkel's "Fakin' It" (where she cheekily can be heard to say as a bell on a shop door rings "Good morning Mister Leitch have you had a busy day". Leitch being Donovan's surname). One ponders the state of things between her and Donno as she covers his "Museum" (from his U.S. only "Mellow Yellow" LP and also a U.S. only single by Herman's Hermits). The backing musical style is laid back with almost a trad jazz feel, a day late and a pound short or just in time to catch the brief U.K. "1920's craze"? I'm not sure, but it sure sounds "campy" to me. Beverely's voice is great as always, just out of place with the rag time backing which is rather sadly, lame.

"A Quick One For Sanity" did gain a reissue recently on of the "Instrumental Hipsters" CD compilations but the Beverely side has yet to surface. Maybe someday Decca will issue more Deram cuts on some fresh new CD compilations instead of force feeding us the same old Amen Comer and Small Faces cuts.

Hear "A Quick One For Sanity":


Of Don Arden Cash In's And Westmoreland Terrace Hashish Sessions

THE SMALL FACES-Patterns/ E Too D German Decca DL 25297 1966

The Small Faces history is well documented so I won't bore you or waste your time trying to recap things because there are people and books far better qualified to tell you all about it. To give you a little background the 45 we're talking about here comes at a time period where the band had left Decca records and the clutches of the evil Don Arden and moved out to the hip label Immediate and the business naive but hip speaking/dope smoking Andrew "Loog" Oldham.
Never one to pass up un-used material Arden and the folks at Decca set about plundering the vaults to try to cash in on the charges after they'd moved on to greener pastures (witness similar earlier events with The Who where Brunswick, a Decca imprint, were milking their "My Generation" LP for tracks for 45's after the band had jumped ship to Robert Stigwood's hip new label, Reaction).

Released in the U.K. as Decca F12619 on the 26th of May 1967, "Patterns/E Too D" is a curious piece of Small Faces history. As documented in many places we've all read of how the band's members Steve, Ronnie and Mac all shared an apartment @ 22 Westmoreland Terrace in London's Pimlico neighborhood where countless hours of hash smoking and music listening were done (or so I've read I'd just been born on the other side of the ocean so I wasn't there!). The band's hash use no doubt provided a certain source of inspiration. "Patterns" is no exception. It is perhaps a demo or an unfinished track that lay un-issued in Decca's hands(much like the trippy way out "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" more on that tracks source a bit later). It's a duet of sorts between Steve and Ronnie, fairly musically sparse just bass, guitar, drums and some faint organ (Hammond fan that I am I 've always found that the organ was too low in the Decca era S.F.'s mixes). Regardless of whether it's a "demo" or a throwaway track it's still enjoyable and I'm sure the lyrics possibly were influenced by altered states where (I'm told) people notice the details of things more clearly than they normally would. "E Too D" of course was already released on their debut Decca LP LK4790 exactly a year earlier. I've never owned a copy of the U.K. 45 but the German version we've got here sounds like a slightly different mix. "E Too D" is one of those classic S.F.'s ravers that was probably born out of onstage improvisation. Here's some '66 vintage Small Faces live at the Marquee to give you an idea of what I'm on about:
It was on my very first S.F's LP, a terrible cash in LP called "By Appointment" that I bought in the spring of 1982 (the same day I purchased tickets for my very first and last Jam concert) where it was mis-titled "Running Wild". I was struck then and still am now by the groovy near demonic chanting that goes on in the background "da da da da... etc"(Ronnie and Mac I assume?) while Steve belts out the blues of lyrical self reflection ("sometimes I look inside me and I don't like what I see.."). All of which leads to a musical climax as the band raves up while Steve begins repeating, like a bad trip or drug induced paranoia "See those colours, hear those voices, what's those voices, I can't take any more voices". Of course brilliant as both sides were the record stiffed and did not chart because by now the band were in the Immediate camp. The fact that it sold so poorly makes it the most collectible of all Decca S.F.'s singles. European copies (like this one with the ever cool picture sleeves) are equally elusive. The Decca VS Immediate war was heating up. Less than a week after this singles release on June 2, 1967 Decca would issue "From The Beginning" LK4879, a compilation album of previously released and unreleased tracks (among the latter were a Jimmy Winston sung version of "Baby Don't Do It", an amazing version of Booker T's "Plum Nellie", the aforementioned Ronnie Lane trip-out "Yesterday Today And Tomorrow" and his equally mind blowing and sadly prophetic "That Man"). This was no doubt a cash in response as had Immediate issued the band's 2nd LP (and untitled) masterpiece as IMSP 008. But that, as they say is another story for another day.

"E Too D" for your listening pleasure:

Mod Is Dead:Psychedelia Is King

 "Martin Stone, who now works for Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, started off playing for this ultimate mod band called The Action. Then they went hippie. One day after, everyone had gone hippie overnight and grown moustaches and sideburns, they went down to some gig in Bournemouth. Their van was met off the motorway by the local mods and given a presidential entry, a scootercade into Bournemouth. All the mods turned out and then they get on stage and start playing twenty-minute brain-damage madness".
-Martin Cropper in "Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961-1971"

                                                 The Action 1967
It must have been something to watch the transformation from "mod" to "psychedelic" in Britain in the Sixties. These days people refer to it as "freakbeat", but that term did not exist until the 80's. For all intents and purposes the bands that were mods that were getting freaky or out there were still mod bands, rhythm n' blues combos, beat groups or pop acts. There were loads of bands like The Action, The Animals, The Small Faces, Zoot Money, Graham Bond etc who were still heavily into soul and r&b, especially onstage, but who started dressing way out (kaftans, beads, bells etc) and were creating commercially psychedelic sounds in the studio. On the other hand there were way out bands with some of the most twisted post freakbeat/ proto-psychedelic records like Virgin Sleep, The Score, Tintern Abbey, Herbal Mixture, and The Flies who in photographs, were mod as hell with the bouffant hairdos, Ben Sherman shirts, vertical striped sweaters, suits and chisel toed shoes. No one can pin point the precise moment it lapsed but it almost certainly followed The Beatles "Revolver". After The Fab Four sported mustaches soon everyone had them from The Smoke to The Move, even Ray Davies and Steve Marriott are glimpsed in photos from this period sporting a hairy upper lip. And after the Fab Four got psychedelic in the studio everyone followed suit. Think about it, before "Revolver" (or maybe "Pet Sounds" depending on who you favor) everything was not terribly "strange". "Revolver" kicked the door in on the old decaying house of mod, and "Sgt. Pepper" was the blockbuster bomb that flattened it and sent its remaining bits to far flung provinces where long hair was still unheard of. I'd have loved to have seen the reaction from some gum chewing teeny booper dollybird who sang "She Loves You" incessantly the first time they'd heard "Tomorrow Never Knows" or what those scooter riding mods thought of the proto-Mighty Baby Action doing Coltrane's "India". Psychedelia and mod did not always go hand in hand. The Pink Floyd griped about gigging with The Move because "they brought too many mods with them". This was presumably when the Move were still doing syncopated stage moves, West Coast harmonies and soul covers, before they donned beads and caftans and Ace Kefford and Trevor Burton got those dreadful perms! Simon Dupree and The Big Sound led the Ben Sherman wearing contingent with their soul covers and lively stage act. I'm sure their hit "Kites" with it's airy fairy dreamy Eastern feel did not indebt or endear them to their modernist flock. I guess the whole "swirly" vs "modernists" thing in England years back might have mirrored what was happening in '66 and I suppose that the shudder and chill I get when seeing "Austin Powers" mods must be how the r&B/soul loving bunch felt the first time they heard "Odgen's Nut Gone Flake".
     Virgin Sleep:Incredibly mod looking but lethally musically lysergic.

             The Move 1967:the Hendrix perms are just days away

         Herbal Mixture: Mod  music? Not!

Hear The Action's "Strange Roads" from 1967:


Hear Herbal Mixture's "Machines":


Hear Virgin Sleep's "Love" from 1967:


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

God Bless Bam Caruso Part Three

TURNSTYLE-Riding A Wave/Trot U.K. Pye 7N17653 1968

One of the things I've always loved about British Sixties pop-psychedelic music is it's overwhelming use of strings on many of it's records. It has always been perplexing to me that British major labels (especially, I've found, Pye and Deram/Decca) afforded acts with no hit history (or even a history period!) such lavish studio affectations like string sections. Turnstyle are one of those acts. I've no clue who there were, where they were from, in fact I paid scant little attention to this record when it's "A" -side popped up on Bam Caruso records 1988 LP compilation "Professor Jordan's Magic Sound Show" Rubble 10 (which plumbed the Pye/Piccadilly archives ). Years later I won a pile of Pye psych pop 45's from a seller on E-Bay and lying within was this Turnstyle 45 and I still failed to notice it's genius. In fact I foolishly sold the 45 and it was not till The Embrooks began covering it that I went back and investigated it (still kicking myself these days over it as I last heard it was going for $500-$1,000).

"Riding A Wave" starts with a male vocalist singing "I'm sitting down by the sea, thinking about my problems..." accompanied by some sappy strings. But as soon as the opening verse is done it all gives way to some chunky guitar and bass that recall the ballsy late '66/early '67 Move material and the punchy chorus "and my mind says I'm happy and I'm riding a wave", delivered rather passionately. Pretty soon the strings are sawing away at a frenzied pace meshing themselves perfectly with some blistering guitar licks reaching a monstrous crescendo during the break. Magic!! All this orchestral lush-ness expended on a bunch of nobodies?! What were the A&R men thinking back then? Luckily for us I guess they Kinks and Petula Clark records funding their coffers on such idiosyncratic expenses! The flip "Trot", is another cliched British psych pop example:the flipside that sounds like an almost entirely different band. Luckily in this case it's not an issue because it's still good. There's no strings, just crunchy mod/freakbeat gritty power chords chugging out a primitive sub-Troggs/Loot style riff and a sneering vocalist who sounds like some Dickensian street urchin as he leers "This is the season for hanging 'round here..". It picks up and gets somewhat heavy with a rave up of sorts towards the end with some chunky guitar solo work.

Luckily both cuts are available on an RPM CD "A Glass Menagerie" that compiles late 60's Pye psych tracks.

And you can hear them here :


"Riding A Wave"