Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beat Beat Beat

DAVE CURTISS AND THE TREMORS-You Don't Love Me Anymore/This Sweet Girl Of Mine U.K. Phillips BF 1257 1963

Things don't get much more obscure than this beat fans! Here's an off the wall 60's British beat 45 from a truly unknown group from Clacton, Essex (I believe) who had a few other U.K. 60's 45's and a U.S. only release of the fuzzed out version of "Que Sera Sera" on the tiny Karate label in '64!

The A-side "You Don't Love Me Anymore" is a killer. Yeah it's got that hiccuppy style vocal where every guy in 1963 England was trying to sing like an American or some hillbilly from Lubbock, TX, yeah it's got a volume pedal effects guitar solo that would've done Joe Meek proud but best of all it's got these hysterical, rapid fire delivered lyrics about a guy who's girl keeps trying to do him in "as I lay there thinking in my hospital bed, after you came to see me just for old times you'd said , the doctor drank my milk and then he fell to the floor which confirms my suspicions maybe baby you don't love me anymore..". The B-side, "This Sweet Girl Of Mine", is passable but tepid beat group stuff, not rocking enough to be beat, too upbeat to be a ballad, strictly yawnsville!

Dave Curtiss did get a brief glimpse of the limelight when was touted as either the bassist or lead singer (depending on who you hear it from!) in a pre-Deep Purple concept called Roundabout, but had to return to France for a gigging commitment playing in Michel Polnareff's backing band giving Nicky Simper (ex-Johnny Kidd & The Pirates) a shot on bass!

Neither cut has turned up on any legit compilations to my knowledge, which, in the case of the topside, is criminal. Luckily I found it on YouTube for you all to give a listen!

"You Don't Love Me Anymore":

Skip Bifferty

SKIP BIFFERTY-Man In Black/Mr. Money Man U.K. RCA 1720 1968

Skip Bifferty are a very typical late 60's U.K. psych/freakbeat band in that they made a hideously rare LP (unititled RCA 7941 in July 1967) and three amazing singles.

Skip Bifferty were from the Newcastle area and were comprised of Graham Bell (vocals), John Turnbull (guitar), Colin Gibson(bass), future Ian Dury and The Blockheads member Micky Gallagher (keyboards) and Tommy Jackman (drums). They had previously cut two 45's on RCA ("On Love"/"Cover Girl" RCA 1621 August 1967 and "Happyland"/"Reason To Live" RCA 1648 November 1968). They were managed my the infamous Don Arden, best or worst known for his unscrupulous dealings with the Small Faces. The third and final single as Skip Bifferty has Steve Marriott credited as an "arranger" and Ronnie Lane as a "producer" but it seems this was erroneous as most Small Faces scholars seem to deny that this ever occurred. One would expect that at the time of this single's releases (July 1968) The Small Faces had long ended their association with Arden and would probably not be involved in a session with one of his artists.

"Man In Black" is a legendary record, from Gallagher's melodic piano pounding, Gibson's swooping bass and the overall feel of the song it's one of the best of it's genre. Lyrically it seems to be able a mysterious man in black, is he the horned one or someone evil to beware of (perhaps a thinly veiled number about Arden, more on that in a bit). Interestingly though it's an upbeat happy tune not at all in line with the lyrics! On the flip "Money Man" was also the lead off track on the band's sole untitled LP. It's a pop psych track with a very "music hall" feel from it's melodic almost nursery rhyme chorus and high falsetto snippets where the band sing "half pound", "half shilling" etc beforehand. It's also got a driving riff after all this that gives it a "freakbeat" edge. The record sadly went nowhere and soon the band were forced to change their name to Griffin to escape the evil one's clutches (that'd be Arden, not Satan, though some might be inclined...) .

Both sides have seen reissue on a variety of places, though the best place to get them both is on the essential two CD Skip Bifferty CD "The Story Of.." which complies all their A- and B-sides, the LP tracks, BBC sessions and cuts recorded as Griffin and as another of their alter ego's Heavy Jelly.

"Money Man":

Hear "Man In Black":

Monday, September 28, 2009


TINTERN ABBEY-Beeside/Vacuum Cleaner U.K. Deram DM 164 1967

British 60's psychedelia does not come any finer than this sizzling Deram records two sided monster slab of freakiness! Unleashed on November 24, 1967 this single commands upwards from $1,000 on up. In my 25+ years of record collecting I have never owned or seen a copy. I know of no one who owns one and no one I know has ever seen a copy. I'm making an Anorak Thing exception here. Normally I only write about 45 rpm's that I have owned, but this one is such a great platter it would be criminal to overlook it. Apologies to whoever the owner of the copy scanned above is. If you have any objections to it's use I will take it down post haste. These two fine tracks first came to my attention on a legendary LP compilation "The Great British Psychedelic Trip" on See For Miles records in the lysergic summer of 1986. They have both remained steadfast favorites since then and despite time, my enthusiasm for both tracks has never waned. The band at the time of the singles release were David McTavish-vocals, Don Smith-guitar, Stuart McKay-bass and John Dalton-Drums (not the same John Dalton of Mark Four/Kinks fame). There has been much confusion as to what they A or B side of this record was, but as you can see by the original 1967 Deram A-label demo copy above "Beeside" was not the B-side. Both sides were written by David McTavish and produced by one Jonathan Webber.

"Beeside" begins with a faint piano that descends in volume until banished by a burst of slowed down cymbal flashes and a tapestry of melotron. Then there's some Macca '66-'67 style bass and backwards guitars before the ethereal lead vocals begin. The whole track is a mindblast, there's so much going on it it musically while the lead singer sings about pollination. And in the timely British pop psych tradition there's some muted regal trumpet during the chorus. God I love this stuff. The flipside is equally brilliant, forget that it's a paen to a house cleaning device, "Vacuum Cleaner" is just as freaky. What blows me away by this song is it's essentially sparse. For most of the song there's just vocals, some very dominating bass and drums. In fact it's what today's folks might consider a "bass n' drum" record, both a quite heavy in the mix driving the whole thing along with quite a heavy groove. Then out of nowhere comes the guitar in time for the solo which is a concoction (I think) of wah-wah, fuzz, compression and mind numbing aural madness and then it vanishes again....The record never charted and vanished. There was talk of a second single "Do You What You Must"/"How Do I Feel Today" (with guitarist Paul Brett who moved in to replace Don Smith who'd left after this single) but nothing came of this. In the early 90's a U.K. psych fanzine (who's name I forget) published a scan of the label of this 45, but since it has never surfaced anywhere else I'm inclined to believe it was a fake.

Four unreleased tracks (the above mentioned single tracks and "It's Just That The People Can't See" and "Naked Song") were discovered on acetate and lovingly compiled on a limited edition 7" E.P. (long out of print) and cropped up on the 2007 psychedelic CD compilation "Psychedelic Jumble Volume One:What's The Rush, Time Machine Man?" None of these tracks bear any resemblance to the DM 164 single, lacking their array of instrumentation, studio wizardry or overall freak out sounds, but there are interesting to hear. One can only wonder.

"Beeside" and "Vacuum Cleaner" turned up on the Rubble LP/CD "Staircase To Nowhere" (Rubble 12) and are also part of the Rubble Box "Volume Two" and are also on the LP/CD "Chocolate Soup For Diabetics Volume One". "Vacuum Cleaner" is also on the Decca CD compilation "The Psychedelic Scene"


"Vacuum Cleaner":

"Do What You Must":

"It's Just That The People Can't See":

"How Do I Feel Today":

Friday, September 25, 2009


WINSTON G.-Riding With The Milkman/Bye Bye Baby U.K. Decca F 12623 1967

One ponders why, when they were compiling all their "Scene" CD's (ie "The Mod Scene", "The R&B Scene" et al) Decca overlooked this two sided monster by one Winston G. I couldn't tell you who Winston G. was, I've seen photos of Winston G. and The Wicked and have read of one "Winston Gork" and that the pre-Eric Clapton Yardbirds lead guitarist Top Topham was briefly part of the line up, but haven't much to tell other than the fact that there were several Winston G. records on various U.K. labels in the 60's. There were two singles on Parlophone then two more on Decca, this was the third and final one.

"Riding With The Milkman" is a bit twee. The intro has this slightly phlanged keyboard part that reminds me of what psychedelia would've sounded like if Joe Meek hadn't eaten a 12 gauge and had been around to participate in it. It's not a bad tune really, just a bit limp, but it does feature an infectious catchy chorus that's rather sing-along like. On the flip we have a raver. "Bye Bye Baby" is one of those British 60's records that owes so much to blue eyed soul belter Steve Marriott and his Small Faces (sse The Mojo's "Till My Baby Comes Home" etc). Starting of with a solitary distorted guitar chord and a throaty Marriott worthy style shout "bye bye...girl", it rocks. The number chugs along with an almost "I'm A Man"/"Jean Genie" style lick that descends into a perfectly distorted freakbeat guitar solo. It doesn't get much more "mod" than this in '67 England kids, not everyone was "tripping the light fantastic"!! Both sides were produced by the late Bobby Graham, the famed U.K. 60's session drummer.

"Riding With The Milkman" recently surfaced on the U.K. 60's psych/pop CD compilation "Fairytales Can Come True Volume Three: Let's Ride" while "Bye Bye Baby" has cropped up on Psychic Circle's Cd comp "With The Sun In My Eyes".
Hear "Riding With The Milkman":
Hear "Bye Bye Baby":

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obscure British 60's Beat Via London

THE ZEPHYRS-She's Lost You/There's Something About You U.S. Rotate 5006 1965

The Zephyrs would've been a nondescript British 60's beat group had it not been for their last two brilliant 1965 singles produced by Shel Talmy. For once I can actually tell you something about a band. They had four singles prior to this release and unlike many "beat" groups from this era were from London not Liverpool, Manchester or Birmingham (this was their fifth, the next and final one "I Just Can't Take It/"She Laughed" Columbia DB7511 is worth seeking out as well). The members were John "Chippy" Carpenter-drums/lead vocals, John Peeby-guitar, John Hinde-bass and Mick Lease-organ. "She's Lost You"/"There's Something About You" was their fifth single, which as Columbia DB7481 in the U.K. scraped up to #48 on the pop charts. Fortunately it was also released here in the States on the obscure Rotate label . One always questions the motive of weird little American labels who put out singles by English bands nobody ever heard of in their home country, but thankfully for us anoraks they did!!

The Zephyrs, pic courtesy of  Alvaro Rubio Romo

"She's Lost You" is a typical bluesy type British beat number, too poppy to be Them but gritty enough to not be mistaken for The Searchers. The key to it is it's combo organ driven riff and laid back vocals. On the flip side is the ever catchy "There's Something About You". I'll always be indebted to my pal Keith Patterson for turning me onto this number. Manic drumming, a happy-go-lucky feel and some syrupy backing vocals swing along with the nifty little guitar/organ riff that eventually peels into a pretty wiggy little organ solo . It reminds me The Zombies, musically, at their most manic/uptempo and The Applejacks on one of their handful of decent records.

"She's Lost You" was contained on the CD comp "That Driving Beat:UK 60's Freakbeat Rarities Volume Two" and has recently also popped up on the deluxe box set that compiles volume's one through five of the series. "There's Something About You" has sadly proved illusive on the reissue front , though with six singles under their belt you'd figure the world is ready for a Zephyrs CD compilation?! Luckily there's a lovely clip Miss Claudia Elliott located on YouTube of it listed below! I do find it amusing that an un-mod group like The Zephyrs are seen playing at a 60's mod bastion like The Scene, I wonder how much they paid the punters to pretend they liked them or did they drag in fake ones for the filming?

"There's Something About You" from the film "Primitive London": 

"She's Lost You":

Aussie Soul!

LYNNE RANDELL-Stranger In Your Arms/Ciao Baby U.S. Epic 5-10147 1967

My intro the Lynne Randell in the 1980's did not come because I'd heard one of her songs on a cassette from a generous friend or knowledgeable mentor, it was because I saw a compilation LP on the Australian 60's reissue label Raven of her stuff with the most alluring sleeve. The album was called "Ciao Baby" and it featured a b&w photo on the cover of a rather tasty blond gal with a mod haircut and a youthful, sultry look. The music on it was passable, very few of the tracks grabbed me after cursory plays. Years later in the early part of the 1990's (when I began heavily immersing myself in soul music, especially danceable stuff) I rediscovered it and found myself entranced by a very soulful number of hers called "Stranger In My Arms". I began DJ-ing the tune from the LP and eventually came up with a few hundred dollars to score a mint U.S. pressing of it with a groovy picture sleeve (see above). It was issued in the U.K (as CBS 2847) and Australia (as CBS BA-221387) as well, but not with a cool piccy sleeve! Lynne, like many 60's Australian music stars, was actually born in the U.K. but raised downunder when her parents immigrated there. She had quite a prolific singing career there in '65-'67, doing mostly covers of other artist's (ie Lulu, Petula Clark, Little Anthony and the Imperials etc).

"Stranger In Your Arms" is an uptempo swinger, lushly orchestrated strings, precise horns and an angel's chorus of female backing harmonies that sweep in with the intro. Lynne's vocals are strong. The music is what makes the number "soulful", much like Len Barry's "1-2-3", where the lead vocalist does not necessarily sound soul inspired, but the backing beat does. "Ciao Baby" is a fairly weak number in comparison, having previously been recorded in the U.K. by The Montanas as a flip side of "Anyone there (U.K. Pye 17282). It's got this wonky Tom Jonesy feel (in a bad way, not "Dr. Love" etc) ie. typical schlocky pap peddled by publishers for folks who don't write their own material to fill up B-side space with etc. Nuff said. Both numbers were recorded, it's reputed in New York City while Lynne was in the United States as a guest on a Monkees tour of all things (where publication of a photo of Davey Jones and Lynne sparked teen magazine speculation of "romantic involvement" AND one Jimi Hendrix was making his American debut before being forced from the tour). Footage of her cavorting around NYC was filmed for a "Ciao Baby" promo film and can be viewed below.

Lynne sadly passed away in 2007 from complications relating to a life of struggling off an on with an amphetamine addiction, a habit which began in the 60's when her manager commented that she was adding a few pounds and gave her the "perfect solution to stay thin". In her obituary in the Australian press her son was quoted as attributing her death to "the end result of a long term substance abuse problem". To my knowledge I'm not certain whether either track has been reissued on CD.

"Stranger In Your Arms":

"Ciao Baby":

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy To Be A Part Of the Human Industry:The Small Faces First Immediate LP

The Action's Last Single

THE ACTION-Shadows And Reflections/Something Has Hit Me U.K. Parlophone R5610 1967

There aren't many U.K. 60's bands that can get me babbling as much as The Action. Long held in high esteem amongst 60's consigenti their singles are getting harder and harder to find. In fact I saw their 1980 Edsel records compilation "The Ultimate Action" go for $200 on E-Bay last year! Lucky for you folks who aren't insane enough to buy their 45's or any other pricey vinyl there's always a still in print CD compilation "Action Packed" featuring all of their 5 60's singles and a host of unreleased cuts.

I won't bother to try to give you their whole history but let's just state that by 1967 the band had released 5 singles as The Action, all on Parlophone and all produced by George Martin. Despite being a hot live band who were tirelessly gigging they had not notched up any hits. Their repertoire was largely built around U.S. soul/r&b covers (some well known, some quite obscure) with a sprinkling of group originals. By 1967 their image as soul aficionados had changed with a distinct appreciation for "American West Coast sounds" which would produce both group originals in this vein and covers like The Association's(more on them in a bit) "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies" and "Along Comes Mary" and The Byrd's "I See You" and "Why" in their live set (versions of both "I See You" and "Pandoras.." along with John Coltrane's "India"were recorded for BBC sessions, unfortunately only versions of "India and "I See You" exist). By this point the band had long seen the departure of guitarist Pete Watson(who left in December of 1966) . They continued as a four piece with Reg King (vocals), Alan "Bam" King (lead guitar/vocals), Mike Evans (bass/vocals) and Roger Powell (drums).

As large fans of The Association (easily indicated by giving a listen to their previous single which comprised of two band originals: "Never Ever"/"Twenty Fourth Hour U.K. Parlophone R5572 2/67) it should've been no surprise that their next single should be somehow connected to them. "Shadows And Reflections" was penned by Tandyn Almer (responsible for The Association's hit "Along Comes Mary") and Larry Marks. The track was previously released in the U.S. by The Lownly Crowde (MGM K 13740) and later by Eddie Hodges as "Shadows And Reflexions" (Sunburst 773 November 1967) and The Byzantine Empire (U.S. Amy A-11,046 November 1968).  You can hop on over to my pal Larry Grogan's blog to hear and read all about the latter.

The Action's version is much fuller. Led of by some baroque harpsichord (more than likely played by George Martin who added piano to other tracks by the band) and propelled by Reggie King's soulful voice it's nothing short of a masterpiece. The number really gains it's strength when Alan King and Roger Evans add their backing vocals then comes a horn section solo that adds a distinctly "Swinging London" feel. Classic! On the flipside we have my favorite Action tune of all time: "Something Has Hit Me", penned by Reggie King and his friend Peter Jones. Starting with an A capella intro and some perfectly blended harmonies it's more than obvious that The Association were the inspiration behind this track. King's vocals are as soulful as ever and the precision of the backing vocals are second to known. As with the A-side subsequent CD reissues tend to mix the music "down" and the vocals "up" on this number, and being a true anorak I'm here to swear that the original 45 has a tasty piano riff at the break that really adds moody atmosphere to the track that isn't as forceful on CD. Regardless it's hard to dent the sheer power of this number that's musically sparse (just acoustic guitar, bass and drums with the added piano bit) making the vocals the driving force on this track. They don't make them like this anymore, and sadly The Action didn't either as sadly this was their final single.

Both tracks are available on the more recent Action CD compilation "Action Packed" or the older Action CD collection "The Ultimate Action" (utilizing the same tracks but with less cool pics and no label scans in the sleeve notes). Both also cropped up (in far superior audio quality) on the now strangely expensive 80's Edsel LP compilation "The Ultimate Action" (with small sleeve notes by Paul Weller), which made an entire generation of mods, like me, dedicated Action disciples.

"Shadows And Reflections":

"Something Has Hit Me":