Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December's Picks

No year end "Best of 2010" picks here because I've basically never followed anything "contemporary" and always equated "contempt" with "contemporary".  I've always looked back and rarely forward so with that said here's December's picks:

1. THE RATS-"The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone"
Hull's The Rats are known for being the origin for 2/3's of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars.  I'm not sure if Mick Ronson was in the band yet.  I've long wanted to hear this number due to it's interesting title.  I actually found it on iTunes of all places on a new UK 60's CD comp called "Do You Dream?".  I was not disappointed.  It's a bit like early Wimple Winch but with some punchy chunky/freakbeat hooks that recall The Game or the early Move with the bizarre lyrics of The Who or Creation at their most idiosyncratic (with some way out backwards cymbals during the heavy over the top guitar solo).

2. THE UNDERTONES-"Girls That Don't Talk"
A B-side tacked on as a bonus cut on the CD reissue of Derry's fave five's second LP "Hypnotized" this number embodies the wonderful period where punk and power pop peacefully coexisted with wonderful results.

3. GEORGIE FAME & THE BLUE FLAMES-"Tom Hark Goes Bluebeat"
Good clean fun from Fame's 1964 Columbia E.P. "Rhythm  And Bluebeat" that was devoted entirely to ska covers. Cheery, cheeky and never fails to put me in a good mood!

4. TONI BASIL-"Breakaway"
Long before the awful 80's hit "Mickey" and she became famed for her choreography work Toni made a rare as hell 45 on A&M of this soulful tune backed with a Graham Gouldman number called "I'm 28".  "Breakaway" is soulful, danceable and because of that it was immediately picked up on by the Northern Soul scene and now costs too much money to own.  My pal Keith Patterson turned me onto a short promo film that was made for it (see below) with Toni (and the mighty bush) by Bruce Connor, catch it before he gets it yanked from YouTube as he often does.......

5. RUDI-"14 Steps"
Back in the after The Jam broke up I was for awhile, desperate for any Jam related scraps.  This involved buying almost anything Jam related (including one single by the very questionable Questions, which resulted in no further purchases of their material).  Among them were this Belfast band called Rudi who I believe had a single or two on the Weller financed Jamming label.  I heard them on the "Rodney On The Roq" comp LP doing a number called "Crimson", I bought the single for an astonishing 50 cents at a local record shop and this was the flip.  To me they were like a cross between The Skids and The Ruts, both whom I liked and still like and recently rediscovered these guys, who I still like!

6. THE ZOMBIES-"She's Coming Home"
A decade or so ago I read an interview with The Zombies in "Mojo" and they were talking about all these teen angst records they were making when no one in the band had actually experienced anything like that and you can hear it in the naivete of the lyrics with such youthful concepts on love like:

"baby baby I'll be good to you if you would only try again to love me too"

Only teenagers with zero experience in life can write stuff about "trying to love", like people are actually mentally capable of changing their mind about being in love.  I'm still in this weird spot on The Zombies, who like The Creation I've been sort of forced into a redoubt about because so many so called "hipsters" (someday someones gotta help me out on that one as most of the "anti-hipsters I see I perceive as hipsters!) who've co-opted them for their own.

7. MARK MURPHY-"Out Of This World"

"You're right out of a book, fairytale I read when I was so high.  No armored knight was more enchanted by a Lorelei"

So sings Mark Murphy in one of my fave tracks from his brilliant "Rah!" album with smooth tones and a descending brilliant musical backing that's smokey in both it's delivery and imagery. Just goes to show British 60's psych wasn't the only genre that infused kiff and fairytale legends..........

8. MADNESS-"Bed And Breakfast Man"
Youthful nostalgia seems to have been a recurring theme for me musically this month and it's no better represented by the cheeky chappie happy sounds of those Nutty Boys from Camden Town.  Madness, were to me, "back in the day" something I refrred to as "fairground ska", my then description of their Vaudevillian rocksteady which with age and experience taught me was more Fab Four meets Kilburn & The High Roads than Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker. "Bed And Breakfast Man" is a perfect marriage of all of that and more.

9. ROY BUDD-"Get Carter:Main Title"
One of the coolest themes from one of the coolest films!  I took a three hour train ride on business recently and played the "Get Carter" (1971 not that awful Stallone remake) soundtrack on my iPod while re-reading "Jack's Return Home" (the story that the screenplay is loosely derived from) and the track fit perfectly.  If you've not seen the film you owe it to yourself, Roy Budd's jazzy harpsichord, tabla, bass and Doors-y electric piano instrumental works perfectly (complete with train/rail sound affects) with the opening sequence of the film as our protagonist Carter (Michael Caine) takes the train from London to Newcastle.

10. THE WHO-"Bell Boy"
I have a love-hate relationship with the "Quadrophenia" album, sometimes I derisively refer to it as "ELP's mod album" but more than often I find comfort in the nostalgia that it brings when I can blot out the synths and recall when it and the whole "mod" thing filled me with joy and optimism.  On Sunday I went down to Asbury Park (my own personal Brighton as a teenage Central New Jersey mod in the early/mid 80's) to meet some friends I'd met through the mod scene well over 25 years ago and the number popped into my head, as it often does when I run into any of the old "faces" that I'm happy to see.

"But I see a face coming through the haze I remember him from those crazy days...."

Happy Holidays to all of you and best wishes for a super, safe, happy and healthy 2011!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Favourite Freakbeat

THE FAVOURITE SONS-That Driving Beat/Walking Walking Walking U.K. Mercury MF 911 1966

Back in the day (early 90's) I bought this vinyl bootleg LP comp called "Psychedelia Volume Two: The Fairy Fellers Master Stroke".  On it was this powerful bit of freakbeat called "Walking Walking Walking" by a band called The Favourite Sons.  I'd never heard of the band or the track but I was floored.

Fast forward to the late 90's and I've tracked down the single.  On the A-side we have a freakbeat version of the Willie Mitchell soul classic "That Driving Beat" with the originals main horn lick replaced by some fuzz guitar.  It's somewhat soulful but way too freaky to be "r&b", sort of like The Koobas when they covered "You Better Make Up Your Mind" (see Anorak Thing January 13, 2009 entry).  Not a patch on the original but still interesting.

And on the flip we have the monster that is "Walking Walking Walking".  The best way I can describe this is imagine Ali Mackenzie of The Birds fronting The Eyes or The Game.  The vocalist's voice reminds me a lot of The Bird's front man's pipes and the pinnacle of the track is the distorted power chords that make the song the freakbeat legend (in my book anyway) that it is.  The number comes complete with a perfect distorted freaky solo that bears the archetype freakbeat '66 sound.

"That Driving Beat" was included on the CD "That Driving Beat Volume One" while "Walking Walking Walking" is on the CD "English Freakbeat Volume Three" (where it was obviously nicked from the "Psychedelia Volume Two" LP comp!).

Hear "Walking Walking Walking":

Hear "That Driving Beat":

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Was 30 Years Ago Today

It doesn't seem like 30 years ago that I strolled into high school on a Tuesday morning (cheers to John from Rockit Scientist for correcting me and reminding me that it was not a Monday morning) to meet my then friends, Woody, Rudie and Johnny X at the wall near the drama hall where we'd slouch every morning before classes began not cool enough to freely mix in the commons without getting smacked or verbally abused.  Stupid bloody Tuesday?! Leaning on the wall in the shadows by the drama hall was suitably punk rock enough.  Rudie and Woody were punks, I was a 14 year old mod.  I can't quote it verbatim, as it was, well 30 years ago but a visibly anguished Johnny X blurted out "John Lennon's dead" "They shot him".  I seem to recall making some flippantly glib response that if it wasn't Paul Weller or Joe Strummer I couldn't care less, one dead B.O.F. (Boring Old Fart).  I felt like a complete tw*t by the day's end and did my penance by borrowing a "Sgt. Pepper" square LP badge from Johnny X and wore it around for a bit.

Despite being a Beatle's fan since the moment my mom handed me three dog eared LP's in 1975 ("Meet The Beatles","Something New" and "Beatles '65") I never felt affected by Lennon's passing.  I never worshipped at the church of Lennon failing to see his genius beyond that of his music. I'm sure this was fostered by being a nearly lifelong believer that he lost the plot once he took up with the lady who's name forever sealed the fate of meddling musician's girlfriends and went out of his way to be "weird" and swinging at the rails about everything. I still never got my head around his "solo" material for some reason. Though I've got the rest of my life to try.......

At the time we joked that if only Chapman had aimed a bit differently....., crass I know but what do you expect from 14-15 year old's.  I think the saddest part was he felt really safe, secure and almost anonymous living in New York City which he'd adopted as a second home and that he got killed by some creepy fan who personified "celebrity stalker".  30 years on we're still all scratching our heads on that one....

My generation's take on Lennon:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing By The 80's Truth.......

THE TRUTH-Who's Wrong/She's A Roller U.K. Pye 7N.15598 1965

This was the second 45 by a 60's U.K. duo (Frank Ailello and Steven Jameson) known as the Truth (who made way better records than a bunch of flat-topped, bomber jacket wearing soulies in the 80's who also called themselves "The Truth").  In my book it's their best of all seven of their singles.  "Who's Wrong" is driven by a cool little incessant riff and some scowling vocals.  The lyrics are purely cynical;

"well this guy comes by and tells me I should cut my hair and wear a tie and he turns around does his best friend in, puts him in the ground and collects on him.."

 But it contains a great line in the form of the chorus that innocently protests "I ain't hurtin' anybody by bein' me".  Pure mod/beat cool '65 style where the music is still sort of like a beat group but punchier.  "She's A Roller" is okay, not really my thing, but not unlistenable either.  The vocals and instrumentation are great it's just the song itself does absolutely nothing for me!

"Who's Wrong" has bee reissued on Castle's "Doin' The Mod Volume Four: Ready Steady Stop" CD compilation while "She's A Roller" has been included on their "Doin The Mod Volume One: The Go Go Train". Both sides are also available on the Truth CD collection/compilation "Who's Wrong: Mod Bedlam 1965-1969".

Trivia note:
Steve Jameson went on to make Northern Soul records under the moniker of Nosmo King in the early 70's.

Hear "Who's Wrong":

Monday, December 6, 2010

Up The Junction

MANFRED MANN-Up The Junction Theme/Sleepy Hollow UK Fontana TF 908 1968

Manfred Mann were one of those rare British 60's bands who managed to stay on top from the beat/r&b boom through psychedelia despite personnel and genre changes. I've always much preferred the Paul Jones era Manfreds, nothing against Mike d'Abo, I think he's a fine vocalist I just thought that most of the Manfred Mann Mark II stuff was a bit too "bubblegum" for me (exceptions being their brilliant "debut" with him Dylan's "Just Like A Woman", their second 45 with him "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James" and it's U.S. only B-Side "Each And Every Day" which was cut by Siomon Dupree and The Big Sound as "Daytime, Night Time"). Aside from that I'd rate their "Up The Junction" LP as the high water mark for me because I found little pleasure in any of their stuff like "My Name Is Jack", "Ha Ha Said The Clown" (which poses the question: which is more dreadful the Yardbirds or the Manfred's versions?!) or their huge hit here in the States "The Mighty Quinn" (not to be confused with a film of the same name, which I haven't seen but I'm sure sucks based on the premise of naming a film after a hit song). On the subject of that we have a song here today that also happens to be the title of a film.

1968's "Up The Junction" is one of my top ten favorite British films of the 60's.  I was just thrilled to see it's been released on DVD (in the U.K.).  I'm not going to give you the run down on the plot in detail but let's say it's like this, a deb gets bored with the mansion and Roller etc and takes a flat in the East End gets a job in a factory and becomes enamored with knees up's and all the gritty working class stereotype stuff whilst dating a young mod who in turn is so desperately keen to escape all of this.  The Manfred's soundtrack makes the film and I couldn't imagine a better band for it.

The title "Up The Junction" is certainly Brian Wilson-esque with it's layers of harmonies and production, not to mention numerous key and timing changes and a multitude of instruments.  Lyrically and musically  it's the perfect backdrop to the gritty, dreary factory worker setting of the film.  For anyone who's ever worked in a factory it's a pretty depressing thing and this number, to me, captures it all perfectly, in fact so much so it's close to the bone for me. "Sleepy Hollow" is not really my thing, it's a little too close to the saccharine pop period of theirs that immediately followed this 45/LP.  It's not unlistenable just way out of character from it's brilliant topside.

Both tracks are on RPM's reissue of the "Up The Junction" LP which I cannot recommend enough!

Hear "Up The Junction":


Friday, December 3, 2010

God Save The Village Green

In honor of The Kinks brilliant track "The Village Green Preservation Society"

We are the Village Green Preservation Society

God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety,

We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties.
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do

We are the Draught Beer Preservation Society
God save Mrs. Mopp and good Old Mother Riley.
We are the Custard Pie Appreciation Consortium

God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded them
We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular.
Help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula,

We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity.
God save little shops, china cups and virginity,
We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliate

God save tudor houses, antique tables and billiards.
Preserving the old ways from being abused.
Protecting the new ways for me and for you.

What more can we do
God save the Village Green.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dreadful Singles By Otherwise Decent Bands Part Two

FIRE-Round The Gum Tree/Toothy Ruthie Germany Decca DL 25359 1968

"Father's Name Is Dad" by Fire, one of the greatest 60's British freakbeat records off all time right? Well then Fire made their second single, and like the caption said below this German P.S. 45 in the liner notes to a Bam Caruso "Rubble" volume: "horrible 2nd single". They weren't kidding. Cool as hell looking sleeve, three geezers with a cannon, nice red tint. Happy as a clam to locate this one, till I got it home and played it. "Round The Gum Tree"? Awful, god awful, bubblegum crap that rots your teeth in one listen, with annoying "Alvin & The Chipmunks" backing vocals. Sold at a record show!

And with the death of my comprehension....

FELIUS ANDROMEDA-Meditations/Cheadle Heath Delusions U.K. Decca F 12694 1967

Possibly one of the oddest records of British 60's psychedelia is this one off 45 by the curiously named Felius Andromeda. At the time of it's release(November 1967) the band claimed in  "Record Mirror" that it was recorded in a North London church (the accompanying photo, see below, had them decked out in monk's robes and they went on to add that during a seance Old Nick himself sent a message that the record would be a hit).  None of this was true and none of it came true!  The tracks were actually recorded at Maximum Sound Studios in London, though the organ bits were recorded in a church near Willesden!  The band on the record were: Bill Haine (vocals), Pete Parks (guitar), Alan Morgan (bass), Dennis Couldry (organ) and Mick Richardson (drums).

"Meditations" is spooky, with it's churchy organ, Gregorian chant backing vocals, disembodied vocals (that sound like they're being sung by an acid casualty) and my favorite bit of all, the wiggy violins giving it that archetype Decca/Deram pop-psych feel that I spout off about so often here.  When I first heard it on the third vinyl volume of the "Chocolate Soup For Diabetics" series in 1986 after sleeping all day from an all nighter I was suitably taken immediately at how weird and way out it was. The lyrics are pure fried brain material in my book:

"through the ruins of my mind I see premonitions of my destiny, and with the death of my comprehension my heart is locked in my soul's redemption"

"Cheadle Heath Delusions" follows a bit of the same formula though sans the Gregorian chant backing vocals. The lyrics though not as way out are still pretty funny with lines about:

"I see public houses with no beer..." (good god no!)

"I see tramps with umbrellas, see young girls with old fellas"

Interestingly enough the band were offered the option by Dick James to have the single released on Deram but went with Decca instead , not that it mattered it wasn't a hit!  The band disintegrated soon thereafter but I've noticed in the comments posted on YouTube by Mick  Richardson that the band reunited and played a gig in September 2010!

Felius Andromeda looking witchy in "Record Mirror"

"Meditations" has been reissued on a variety of CD's, the easiest to find are Decca/Deram's excellent "The Psychedelic Scene", "Psychedalia" and "Chocolate Soup For Diabetics Volume Three". "Cheadle Heath Delusions" has been included on Bam Caruso's "Rubble 11: Adventures In The Mist" which can be found as part of the "Rubble Two" box set.

Hear "Meditations":


Hear "Cheadle Heath Delusions":


***********Special thanks to Marmalade Skies for providing information on the band**************


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

U.K. Late 60's "Head" Sounds

VILLAGE-Man In The Moon /Long Time Coming U.K. Head HDS 4002 1969

There are a slew of classic British 60's numbers that are so amazing, yet barely reissued who's original copies aren't exactly on par with that of say, a 60's Kinks 45 in the price tag department.  I never really was fortunate enough to own too many of these singles and since I like to write pretty much exclusively about records I've owned that leaves the category a bit slim.

On that topic I give you an obscure 1969 45 on the aptly named Head records label (home of both LP's by former Action members Mighty Baby).  I heard this track first on the dubious quality "Electric Sugarcube Flashbacks" compilation LP series (on the vinyl "Volume Four") and it took me awhile to get my head around the first few years as it was sort of "long" (4:15).  Led by British 60's organ r&b legend Peter Bardens this was their sole 45 and featured future Elvis Costello and The Attractions bassist Bruce Thomas.

"Man In The Moon" starts out with some ethereal organ and then gets a bit heavy with some great bottom end bass.  What I love about this record is it's from 1969 and despite the organ work it's not overly heavy like some of the plodding/wanky Deep Purple stuff of the period.  Halfway through it gets a bit "improvisational" but never too "way out" either.  It reminds me of early Atomic Rooster if they were a bit more "lysergic".

"Long Time Coming" is an organ based instrumental that's not at all heavy, it's a weird hybrid of 60's U.K. mod/r&b and British 60's instrumental theme music (like my faves The Barry Grey Orchestra for instance).  If not for the zooming bass runs I could easily imagine this as the theme song for some Gerry Anderson TV show with puppets!

It's perplexing but neither side had been officially released on CD until after Peter Barden's death.  Both tracks cropped up on his now out of print double CD compilation "Write My Name in the Dust: the Peter Bardens Anthology 1963-2002" and only the A-side had seen a reissue and that was on the above mentioned long player and an equally dubious catch all "Electric Sugarcube Flashbacks" CD volume in the early 90's.

Hear "Man In The Moon":

Hear "Long Time Coming":


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tony Colton's Debut

TONY COLTON-Lose My Mind/So Used To Loving You U.K. Decca F.11879 1964

Here kids we have a debut 45 by the legendary U.K. singer/song writer Tony Colton (whom with Ray Smith was responsible for writing such tracks as Zoot Money's "Big Time Operator", The Shotgun Express "I Could Feel The Whole World Turn 'Round" and The Merseybeat's "I Stand Accused", among others).  Tony is best known for his 3 hard hitting r&b 45's on Pye, but before those he released a solitary 7" on Decca.

Like many other subsequent releases Tony's vocals are a perfect blend of British 60's beat and the Mose Allison/King pleasure inspired tones of Georgie Fame.  "Lose My Mind" is a perfect example of this sort of thing and the caterwauling of The Breakaways (presumably) on backing vocals (they sang on early Georgie Fame releases) drive Georgie Fame comparison home.  And yes there's a groovy little Animal's style organ solo.  The number has a "call and response" feel to it and reminds me of 60's British beat groups like The Zephyrs or The Untamed who were adept at playing r&b as well. I can't for the life of me tell you what the flip is like, apologies!

"Lose My Mind" has been reissued on the CD compilation "New Rubble Volume Three: Watch Your Step".

Hear "Lose My Mind":

Monday, November 29, 2010

Will the last Manfred out please turn the lights off....

MIKE VICKERS-"I Wish I Were A Group Again" U.K. Columbia SX6180 LP 1967

Side One:
1.Matthew & Son
2. Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James
3. Waterloo Sunset
4. Proper Charles
5. Pretty Flamingo
6.On A Carousel
7. D.D.D. (Dead Beat, Dead Pan, Dead Cert)

Side Two:
1. Sunshine Superman
2. Morgan-A Suitable Case For Treatment
3. Daydream
4. Puff Adder
5. Monday Monday
6. Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear
7. On The Brink

Mike Vickers is a man who wears a coat of many colors: original Manfred Mann guitarist, A&R man for EMI, arranger and producer extraordinaire, composer and the beat goes on. He left Manfred Mann in 1966 and by 1967 he had released his debut LP.  Long before the likes of The Mike Flowers Pops (remember their 15 minutes in the 90's?) Mike's album was, and still is, a kitsch classic.  Utilizing a selection of interpretation's of "easy" versions of then contemporary standards alongside a smattering of his own compositions, "I Wish I Were A Group Again" is slice of 1967 documenting when hip met camp.  What is interesting about it is that Vickers was a 25 year old former member of a pop group, not an old school composer or arranger capitalizing on the "young sound" like Enoch Light or Tony Hatch.

The album opens with a cheeky version of Cat Steven's first big smash, the social commentary ode to the worker bee drone "Matthew And Son" utilizing an array of female and male choral voices, jangling piano strings (Lalo Schifrin style) and flutes.  His ex-band mates most current hit "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James" is next, following the same formula (as do most tracks on the LP). "Proper Charles", a composition by Vickers follows the then vaguely hip-for-five-seconds 1920's trad jazz trend (ala The New Vaudeville Band), ack.  The Manfred's "Pretty Flamingo", The Hollie's "On A Carousel" and Ray Davie's "Waterloo Sunset" receive pretty much the same treatment.

Side Two's version of Donovan's first "electric" hit "Sunshine Superman" is amazing.  Layer upon layers of vocals are interwoven among flutes, those plucked piano strings, muted trumpets and an interesting part where a male vocalist recites "Milkman,postman, batman,he-man, beggar man etc" almost ad libbing till it's time for the "solo" whereupon the vocals just chant "Dononvan-Donovan" to the tune's melody.  Brilliant stuff.  An interesting version of the theme from "Morgan-A Suitable Case For Treatment" is next with flute, tuba and some regal sounding trumpet that's half jazzy, half kitschy.  The Loving Spoonful's "Daydream" is next, pass.  "Puff Adder" is a Vickers original highly reminiscent of some of the other jazzy Manfred Mann pieces like "The Abominable Snow Man", though a tad more "Steptoe And Son" than Mingus!  A version of the Mamas and Papas hit "Monday Monday" is next and it's a tad too Ray Conniff Singers for my liking. Randy Newman's hit for Alan Price, "Simon Smith And His amazing Dancing Bear" is next with it's "ba-ba-ba-ba's" and tandem saxophone/xylophone with jazzy punctuations in between some slightly off key vocals the sound like they were recorded by a mike down the hall.  "On The Brink" closes the LP.  It had previously been released as a single (coupled with "Puff Adder") in August 1965  as Columbia DB 7657.  Well known to lots of soul types (though I'm not sure why)where it was "covered up" on the Northern Soul scene and retitled "Boogaloo Investigator" by the Matt Parsons Organization.  Yeah I know don't ask me I'm just passing on what I've read.  How in the you-know-what can Northern types dance to this?  Anyway it's one of my faves on the album with it's keyboards and horns playing what sounds like double time and then sped up. Very catchy!

The LP has been reissued on CD by EMI and is still, luckily available.

George Harrison, Mike, George Martin and Macca 1968

Hear "On The Brink" (and tell me if YOU can dance to it):

November's Picks

1. The Cigarettes-"They're Back Again, Here They Come"
A spunky classic '79 mod number from one of the lesser known bands of the era.  Far more punk rock in it's delivery with Johnny Rotten aping lead vocals. The message about the rise of xenophobic fascists still resonates today as we're surrounded by xenophobic racists. From "This is Mod Volume One".

2. The Greenhornes-"Saying Goodbye"
I'm rarely impressed by anything that has been recorded in the past 20 years so when my pal Bob Woj hipped me to this I was blown away at how "mod" it sounded and completely alien to anything else I'd ever heard by these guys before.  Downloaded from iTunes.

3. The Boomtown Rats-"I Never Loved Eva Brown"
Cheeky and almost like something out of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" Modest Bob (or is it Sir Bob?) and Co.'s campy "rock opera" about Adolf and Eva never fails to amuse with it's hysterical lyrics and brilliantly intricate musical delivery. From their "Tonic For the Troops" LP/CD.

4. Dantalian's Chariot-"Recapture The Thrill"
One of the "lost tracks" from Zoot Money and Andy Summer's psychedelic/post r&b combo.  Simple, acoustic and mellow without any of the freak out/mind numbing factors involved in their sole single "Madman Running Through The Fields". From their now out of print LP excellent "Chariot Rising", but I found all the tracks on YouTube!!

5. Marvin Gaye-"No Good Without You Baby"
For 25+ years I've always wanted to hear where The Birds (and everyone who covered their version) got this number from and my friend Chaz came through recently with a CD-R of two of Marvin's 60's LP's and obliged.  Though not as powerful as The Birds cover, the original is still a classic slice of mod friendly Motown, amazing!

6. The Barracudas-"Summer Fun"
No matter what time of the year it is if I'm playing this number I can't help but think of the last day of tenth grade and hitting the beach with a gang of friends as this number blasted from a boom box (well they weren't "boom boxes" then, more like a portable cassette player w/ one speaker).  Infectious stuff. From their LP?CD "Drop Out With The Barracudas".

7. Joe Jackson-"Don't Ask Me"
Back when I was 15 I thought Joe Jackson ranked right up there with The Jam and the Specials or Secret Affair.  And why not?  Skinny ties, vintage suits, short hair and rocking songs with one of New Wave's greatest bass players in the form of one Graham Maby. "Don't Ask Me" was the b-side to the equally cool 1979 45 "One More Time" and is driven by Maby's typically cool, speedy bass line and some mean harp blowing by J.J. before he lost the plot with "Jumpin' Jive".

8. Christopher Colt-"Virgin Sunrise"
From one of the latter Bam Caruso "Rubble" volumes ("Rubble Volume 17: A Trip In A Painted World" to be precise) comes this Eastern flavored 1968 Decca 7" ditty with raga style guitars, Middle Eastern style guitar melodies and a vocal melody reminiscent of a Muslim muezzin's prayer call (one day "Anorak Thing" is going to explore who started this trend in British 60's psych records).  Perfect Autumn music:

"I feel the breath of the morning, tops of the trees are warm with the sun, everything round me is waking chimney's breathing the day has begun, turn down the road on a carpet of leaves hands in pockets and breath like smoke, noise of the living is waking around me like a day in the past when the world awoke....."

9. The Eggy-"You're Still Mine"
This freaky little gem from 1969 was unearthed by the Bam Caruso guys who had reinvented themselves as "Strange Things Are Happening" and issued their "Circus Days Vol. One" LP/CD compilation with this number that provides a detail of split second when freakbeat and bovver boy/glam collided.

10. Syd Barrett-"Wouldn't You Miss Me"
The highlight of the "Opel" LP/CD of lost Syd Barrett cuts, this version is far superior to the previously released "Dark Globe" in my book.  Classic, simplistic solo Syd.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

A selection of European Picture Sleeve 45's for Dave Davies brief "solo" career in the 60's:


A well kiffed looking Dave, Holland


Germany 70's issue

Germany 60's issue




Monday, November 22, 2010

Flower Power!

THE SYN-Flowerman/14 Hour Technicolour Dream U.K. Deram DM 145 1967

The Syn were a five piece who garnered quite a bit of notice with stints at the Marquee club.  You can hardly see an advert for the club in '67 without failing to notice a Syn gig listed.  The book "London Live" by  Tony Bacon chronicles the number of Marquee appearances by band and The Syn according to it, played there a 36 staggering times (even The who with their "Maximum R&B" residency only managed 29 gigs there)!  Like most of their peers The Syn embraced "flower power" head on.  Both sides of this single make it quite clear which side they're on.

This was The Syn's second and final single and it was released in September 1967.  Both sides were group originals. The line-up for the single was: Steve Nardelli (vocals), Peter Banks (guitar/vocals), Chris Squire (bass/vocals), Andrew Jackman (keyboards/vocals) and Gunnar Hakonarson (drums).

"Flowerman" grew (nyuck!) out of a band stage favorite originally titled "Flowerman Opera" (the band were found of using the word "Opera" as they'd also had another cut they did live called "Gangster Opera").  Like The Attack's "Neville Thumbcatch" (Decca F 12725 January 1968) it's subject professes a love of all things green and flowery.  Not so much your peace and love type number but a Kinks style romp about a fella who "make(s) a living yes by giving attention to rhododendrons".  All good fun!  "14 Hour Technicolour Dream" commemorates the famous Alexandra Palace "happening" of  April, 29, 1967 that saw The Syn play amongst a host of other acts of the "class of '67".  The track is one of The Syn's best in my estimation, putting to use their array of vocal talents for some tight harmonies, piercing guitar bursts and strong vocals by Nardelli who sings about the event (name checking super groupie Suzi Creamcheese in the process).

Both sides have been reissued on The Syn "box set" "Original Syn". "14 Hour Technicolour Dream" has appeared on both Decca/Deram's "The Psychedelic Scene" and Rhino's essential box set "Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969".  "Flowerman" has not, to my knowledge been reissued on CD anywhere else.

Hear "Flowerman":


Hear "14 Hour Technicolour Dream":


Mega rare French pressing

The equally scarce German pressing

In Review: An Introduction To Syd Barrett

(Octopus courtesy of M)

An In Introduction To Syd Barrett CD EMI/Capitol

We here at "Anorak Thing" are easily exited by remasters, mono mixes, new stereo mixes etc.  There have been a slew of these resissues in the past few years that sound brilliant: the Mono mix of Pink Floyd's 1st album, the Stereo reissue of The Move's debut LP, the Mono mix of the Small Faces second LP on Immediate, the recent Beatle's British Mono box set and the Mono/Stereo mixes two CD set of David Bowie's debut LP.  So it should be no surprise that we here at "Anorak Thing"  should be all hot an excited at the new EMI CD compilation of Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd material.  Lovingly remixed (on certain tracks) and fully remastered under the supervision of David Gilmour the results of this 18 track CD is stupendous to say the least (plus one bonus download tune available for those who have purchased the CD of the previously unreissued Syd solo track "Rhamadan").  And you even get the lyrics to every track included in a little booklet (another reason why you should buy the actual CD and not the download).  This made for one or two lyrical surprise I can tell you!  Being a total anorak I'm going to go through this one with a fine tooth comb.

1. "Arnold Layne"
I don't notice much different here from the mix that came out on a "bonus" CD E.P. of the first three Pink Floyd singles back in '97 when there was a 30th anniversary Mono edition of the 1st album issued with this 6 cut "mini CD".  There are faint differences, for instance Syd's guitar is a bit more up in the mix bringing to light his "Zippo lighter" technique before and during Rick's Farfisa solo.

2. "See Emily Play"
Again I'm not hearing much, Syd's vocals are a bit more up front but other than that....

3."Apples And Oranges"
This is the first time I've heard this number in Stereo.  I never had the privilege of owning the original UK 45 and my French copy was beyond unplayable and my previous airings were on the Dutch EMI LP "Masters Of Rock" that I bought in 1985 and the Mono mix on the above mentioned "First Three singles" CD E.P.  The first thing that's apparent to me is how much of the track is dominated by Syd's multi tracked guitar bits, quite amazing considering all those dreadful "Syd stories" had him "completely mad" by this point in time.  Rick's organ really soars during the break and I've realised for the first time that bar the wiggy guitar work how much this track resembles The Moody Blues.

4. "Matilda Mother"
This is the alternate version that featured lyrics nicked from a poem by Hilaire Belloc and alternate lyrics by Syd.  It's in actuality the "original version" as it was recorded first and intended for the first album but because the rights could not be secured from Belloc's estate at the time of it's release it did not see the light of day until the 40th anniversary Mono box set reissue of the LP in 2007.  How it differs from the that version is that it's longer, the vocals and guitar work are also a bit forward in the remix.  The extended ending goes on for about a minute longer resembling a Doors track from their debut LP with Syd just noodling around on the E and G strings before Rick throws in some churchy/Ray Manzarek style bits.

5. "Chapter 24"
This track bears little difference to my ears from previous versions, the vocals, as is the case with everything I've heard on this CD, are more up front and Rick's piano is a bit up in the mix as well giving it a "chamber music orchestra" feel.

Maybe it was the toxic air I breathed whilst driving to work when I first played this number (passing numerous sewage treatment plants, two to be exact) but I immediately noticed there is a slight delay in the double tracking in the vocals so that the Syd singing comes out of your right speaker is just ever so slightly followed by Syd's double tracked vocal from your left.  Trippy!  Rick's Johanna thumping is more easily discernible sounding like a piano lesson in a big empty Cambridge house added with the old pump organ, in fact I never realised how lost this track would be without his array of keyboard work!

7. "Terrapin"
One of Syd's most brilliant bits from his debut solo LP "The Madcaps Laughs", simple, unsure, awkward at times but nothing short of enjoyable.  I can't find much here different except maybe the guitar is a bit more "up" in the mix?

8. "Love You"
I've always viewed this as more of a throw away track, not unlistenable but not one I'd play all the time like "Octopus" or my all time Syd fave "Love Song" that seems to pre-empt Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance.  There's not much noticeably different here. It is however a typically Syd number in respect to it's completely out there lyrics.

9. "Dark Globe"
This one's always been a bit hard for me to hear sometimes.  It's sad and it's tragic especially if you read too much into the lyrics that seem to be a plea for help if you choose to interpret them in that way:

"Won't you miss me, wouldn't you miss me at all?"

10. "Here I Go"
Syd's Tele is way up in the mix on this remix.  You can really get a feel where Jerry Shirely was trying to desperately play along with Syd's ever changing-about-to stop-any-second delivery!  Truly a case of someone earning their "fee" to play on a session.  This number always reminded me of a drunk guy fronting a cheezy wedding band trio who aren't familiar with the song he wants to play and him making up the number as it went along. I was partly correct by all accounts I've read on the session(s).

This one's tasty, starts out with Syd's bare, single tracked acoustic guitar before the take dissolves and then it's starts up "proper".  Gilmour has done a fantastic job making these solo LP tracks breathe new air and this track is a shining example bringing Syd's gobbledygook lyrics to the fore (they're actually a William Burrough's style cut up of multiple pieces of poetry and children's story bits as pieced together brilliantly by Rob Chapman in his thoroughly essential book "Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head"). There's a completely different vocal take of Syd's brief "spoken word" part in the middle where he recites "isn't it good to be lost in the wood.." sounding almost like he's reading an official testimony here instead of the sing-song manner on the original take.

12. "She Took A Long Cool Look"
I'm going to own up, I never liked this track.  It's one of, sadly, a preponderance of examples where Syd's solo album "genius" is merely a fine line between "cutting room floor crap".  No remixing can shape this up.

13. "If It's In You"
As I mentioned above, some tracks just don't cut it from "solo Syd".  For the past 26 years this number has made me cringe the same as the very first time every time I hear this. The dreadful attempts at Syd trying to hit the opening vocal notes are both embarrassing and painful to hear every time.  Are they a record of how out there Syd was and how musically useless he was becoming?  Possibly. For completists only.

14. "Baby Lemonade"
Not much difference to be noted here other than that there's some more noticeable bass work/organ on the parts preceding the vocals.  More nonsensical lyrics from Syd only this time they're wrapped up in easily listenable vocals from the lad and as usual Jerry Shirely's workman-like drumming holds the whole balloon down.

15. "Dominoes"
This remix sounds vastly different from what I'm used to, the organ is more pronounced, the backwards bits in the background seem to come in earlier and Syd's vocals sound more downtrodden (if that's at all possible?!).  I've always enjoyed this track and it's even better now!

16. "Gigolo Aunt"
This track was one of my faves when I first bought the Harvest double packaging of Syd's two solo LP's back in 1984, I always thought it went on a bit too much but by then Syd was, by all accounts, coming close to the end of his musical AND mental tether. I was dismayed to discover y reading the lyrics he sang "thunderbird shale", for the past 26 years I'd always thought he was singing "thunderbirch ale" which I've long thought would've made a great name for birch beer flavored, high alcohol content mircobrew!!

17. "Effervescing Elephant"
Trivia time here kids, this is the earliest known Syd Barret composition (it was written in his mid teens) AND it's the only Syd solo track that features a "session musician" (outside Jerry Shirely and his ex-band mates) in the form of a tuba player.  Syd's child friendly lyrics and the night time "jungle" sound affects never fail to tickle me.

18. "Bob Dylan Blues"
Another Syd solo track that's composition dates from his pre-Pink Floyd days this number lay in the archives till discovered by David Gilmour a few years back.  Jealously written about Dylan who was then taking 1965 Britain by storm it's perfectly tongue firmly in cheek.  Why it was never used on his solo LP cringe worthy bits like "If It's In You", "She Took A Long Cool Look" or "Masie" were is beyond me.

The bonus point!!:
Long discussed in writing and never heard on the bootleg circuit (to my knowledge anyway, though for quite some time "Lanky Pt. 1" was being circulated  around as "Rhamadan" till 1988's "Opel" came out with "Lanky.." and put all that business to rest) comes this download only track that you can get if you purchased the CD (if you get it via download from iTunes it's only available if you buy the whole bloody album!).  It took me a bit to figure out how because it's written in tiny teeny print on the back of the CD case that pretty much requires a microscope.  Anyway to get it, place your purchased CD in your drive, bring up your web browser and type in:

They're ask you a few questions which you fill out and BAM then Syd's your uncle, for free!

The track itself is more of a long percussive jam that wouldn't have been at all out of place in a groovy early 70's horror film or soft core Euro porn flick(VERY reminiscent of "Vampryos Lesbos").  It's not as unlistenable as many have described it but I can also see why it never made it onto either of Syd's solo LP's, though I do find it unusual that it didn't make it on the Syd box set from way back because, well did we really need another version of "If It's in You"?  I rest my case.  Anyway at a staggering 20:18 it's pretty much bass, drums, percussion and organ/piano/Mellotron in a "free form jam" with the sound affects of a motorcycle tearing off .  Odd thing though, there's no guitar or vocals on it which leads me to ask: how is this a "Syd" track?

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Mojos Last Stand

THE MOJOS-Unitil My Baby Comes Home Again/Seven Park Avenue U.K. Liberty LBF 15097 1968

The Mojos were just another Liverpool band who by some miracle hung on by the skin of their teeth enduring personnel changes and retaining a record contract with Decca for four years before finding themselves out in the cold at the close of 1967. It is often stated in various places that the band broke up in '67, but as you can see by this label scan that was not entirely correct. By some grace and providence their got a one off deal with Liberty which resulted in this single which came out in June 1968.

"Until My Baby Comes Home" bears no resemblance whatsoever to the beat group who scored a minor hit with "Everything's Al' Right" in March 1964 (Decca F 11853), probably because it was four years later and The Mojos FINALLY got "with it", unlike their last Decca releases.  It opens with a melodic yet blistering guitar and some funky bass and electronic piano noodling.  The lead vocalist is purely Steve Marriott influenced.  The flipside, "Seven Park Avenue" is equally cool, repeating the same type of electric piano driven number with less freakbeat guitars with the lyrics concerning a boarder in a rooming house falling in love with his landlady.  The bass and electric piano interplay provides a good groove on this one that reminds me of The Zombies when they really got cooking/swinging on say, "It's Alright With Me" or "Indication".

Strangely only "Until My Baby Comes Home" has seen a reissue and that was on Psychic Circle's "Mix A Fix:U.K. Floor Fillers Volume Two" CD a few years back, which I find odd that such a brilliant track would stay relatively unknown for so long.

Both sides appeared on the 2009 RPM CD Mojos singles retrospective "Everything's Alright". AND "Until My Baby Comes Home" is on the 2012 RPM 3 CD set "Looking Back".
Reader and original Mojo on this record Anthony House contacted us and wrote:
"Hi ,
 Just to put the record straight . The line up of the Mojos in 1968 was , Stu James ( vocals , piano , guitar ) Duncan Campbell ( vocals , bass ) Eddie Harnett (vocals , guitar ) Tony House ( drums ) . This was the line up that recorded the Mojos Liberty release in 1968 at Bob Potter Studios in Camberley , Surrey UK.

Kind regards

Tony House"
MANY thanks Mr. House!!!

Hear "Seven Park Avenue":

Hear "Till My Baby Comes Home":