Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Foreign E.P.'s Part Six: Portuguese Band, Spanish E.P.

OS CLAVES- E.P. Keep On Running/Where Have All The Good Times Gone/Fare Theee Well/Creer Spain 1967 Marfer MEL 2016

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Genesis of Genesis

GENESIS-"From Genesis To Revelation" U.K. Decca LK4990 1969

1. Where The Sour Turns To Sweet
2. In The Beginning
3. Fireside Song
4. The Serpent
5. Am I Very Wrong ?
6. In The Wilderness

1. The Conqueror
2. In Hiding
3. One Day
4. Window
5. In Limbo
6. Silent Sun
7. A Place To Call My Own

Most of you, if not all of you are familiar with Genesis. Most of if you are also perhaps familiar with their debut LP.  If not sit down and read on...

Formed at the Charterhouse public school (that's "private" if you're an American) in 1967 the band were discovered during an alumni day by former Charterhouse student and pop personality Jonathan King. Their line up comprised of: Peter Gabriel (lead vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitar), Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass) and Chris Stewart (drums).  King christened them "Genesis" and secured a deal for them with Decca records.  In  February 1968 they released their debut single, the Jonathan King produced "The Silent Sun" b/w "That's Me" (Decca F 12735) which failed to register any impact.  Undeterred King sent them back to the studio and in May of 1968 their second single, "A Winter's Tale" b/w  the curiously titled "One Eyed Hound" (Decca F 12775) was launched, again failing to generate any activity.  Strangely despite two unsuccessful singles King urged them to begin work on an LP, which began in the fall of 1968 with a new drummer (John Silver) replacing Stewart.  King again handled production with help from arranger Arthur Greenslade who handled the album's lush orchestration (strings, brass, etc).

In March of 1969 their debut LP "From Genesis To Revelation" appeared. The album sank without a trace.  It has been suggested that with it's black cover with small gold letters many shops placed it in their religious section, regardless the public weren't buying.  The band later went on record after their luck and persistence provided them with fame as being unhappy with King's production and the orchestration (like The Moody Blue's "Day's Of Future Past", they recorded their basic tracks and had no idea what to expect).

The LP, regardless of the band's criticisms, is actually an amazing collection of orchestrated pop that falls somewhere in between the first three album's by The Moody Blues Mark II and The Bee Gee's and The Zombie's "Odyssey and Oracle".  It's basic backing tracks are heavily reliant on the piano which leads them through a great deal of melodic adventures, all lushly wrapped in strings and brass and sometimes offset by distorted guitar and the band's angelic harmonies.

    The pre-debut LP line-up 1968

"Where The Sour Turns To Sweet" opens the album with it's choral pop, swirling symphony and horns. "In The Beginning" bursts forth with a barrage of feedback and is characterized by some mindbending phlanging guitar, one of my faves on the LP. My absolute favorite track is next. "The Serpent" takes a more biblical slant on the old concept of "the evil one" and "temptation" with a nice repetitive riff and a chorus of Moody Blues style backing vocals and lyrics obviously inspired by too many theological discussions after too much kiff:

"and god created man from dust with a soul inside his mold, and god created womankind the vessel of Satan's hold.  Creator made the serpent wise, evil in his tempting eyes, but man is wonderful, very wonderful look at him.  Beware the is my world and it's waiting for me, paradise before my eyes..."

The next track, "Am I Very Wrong?" sounds positively Zombies-like with it's piano led melody and holiday cheer-like chorus augmented by some carefully placed trumpet and flute.  Eerie.  "The Conqueror" is a full on excursion into archetype British 60's psych pop balanced by some solid piano and the LP's trademark Moody Blue's Mark II style harmonies. 

Side Two's "One Day" is another one that stands out more than the rest (really there isn't an unlistenable track on the whole long player if you ask me). The trumpet lick and sweeping strings mesh perfectly with the deluge of choral voices that sing behind it all which almost sound as if they're phlanging together. "In Limbo" has a brass/orchestration with acoustic guitar and bar room piano tinkling that brings to mind The Pretty Thing's brilliant (and often unjustly panned) "Emotions" LP.   Their Bee Gee's like debut single"Silent Sun", is next, recalling  The Brother's Gibb at their finest on their untitled debut album.  It's closed by the somber "A Place To Call My Own" that has a distinct "West Coast" feel to it. Of course like many other brilliant Decca LP's (The end's "Introspection" the LP did not make a blip commercially and is now highly collectible.

It was followed up by one more Decca single culled from the album ("Where The Sour Turns To Sweet" b/w In Hiding" Decca F 12949) in June of 1969 which followed the path (or lack thereof) of it's predecessor's which meant the band would have to wait another two years for stardom to finally arrive in it's prog glory in 1971.

Since Jonathan King owns the rights to all of the band's Decca material the LP (with all their singles as bonus cuts) has received numerous reissues over the years on CD and is readily available.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Peter Quaife 1944-2010

PETER QUAIFE:Original Kink 1944-2010

The Kinks original bassist Peter Quaife has died.  I would like to write more but I am off to watch Portugal play Brazil in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, like the rest of the original Kinks, Pete was an avid footie fan so I think he would understand. 

Pete on his Vespa SS180: a true anorak 1966

Thursday, June 24, 2010


THE MINDBENDERS-The Letter/My New Day And Age U.K. Fontana TF 869 1967

Having broken with Wayne Fontana, The Mindbenders (Eric Stewart-lead vocals/guitar, Bob Lang-bass and Ric Rothwell-drums) had a string of fairly successful records with Fontana records. Our focus today is their sixth single for the label.

"The Letter" is of course The Box Top's track.  I question the wisdom of some A&R man who probably suggested it because their version came out hot on the heels of the original (September 1967).  Guess which charted higher?  Well this version stalled at #42 and was sadly their last 45 that charted at all (they released three more singles on Fontana before chucking it in). It's not bad, it's far poppier than the blue eyed soul delivery by Alex Chilton on the original. I actually prefer The Mindbenders version, probably because I wasn't bludgeoned to death by it on "Oldies radio" my whole life like the original and because it's got these groovy sweeping strings and funky trumpet that all sort of phase together sounding like a kitschy 60's flick.  Of course it's amazing because it was orchestrated by none other than the great man himself John Paul Jones and produced by our resident Mancunian hero Graham Gouldman!  The flipside is where the real gold is!  Penned by Eric Stewart it is by far the trippiest thing the band ever did. It kicks off with some slowly fading in drums with some groovy phlange effects and some psychedelic guitars and apocalyptic lyrics concerning urban sprawl.  There are equally "far out" effects on the vocals and guitars that don't overpower the number in any way. The band's next single would also be produced by Gouldman and feature a controversial track he composed called "Schoolgirl", that concerned the unwanted pregnancy as a result of a smooth talking slippery character.

Both tracks are on pretty much any of the CD comps that join both their material with Wayne Fontana and without him.

Hear "My New Day And Age":

Liverpool's Last Gasp Part Three

THE REMO FOUR-Live Like A Lady/Sing Hallelujah Germany Star Club 148577STF 1967

I've always had this fascination with the last vestiges of musical eras and the band's that hung tight against the times and still managed to produce some good music as changing times swallowed them up and obliterated their genres.  This scenario is no better exemplified than that of Liverpool in the 60's.  By 1966 Liverpool was commercially a musical no-man's land and though their were still loads of bands who were still getting signed and making great records that sounded nothing like "beat music" ( The Clayton Squares or Wimple Winch to name but a few).  Effectively the days of Scouse band's "making it big" were over, due in no small part to the fickle record consuming public who'd had enough of Liverpool.  A&R men had pillaged the music scene their in '63/'64 and signed everybody and their brother up and took them down to London to record.  Some survived the eventual decline of the beat boom but the cities greatest commercial successes drove the final nail in the coffin with "Revolver" and the dirt was piled six feet above the lid with "Sgt. Pepper".  A few hung on (see my account of The Escorts last 45 in the May 2, 2010) from the "Class of '63/'64" with good results.  As indicated in my previous post Liverpool's Remo Four survived by heading to Germany where they built a comfortable career where they released an LP "Smile" in 1967.

Shortly after the LP they issued their final single in Germany (which had been released in the U.K. the previous year as Fontana TF787).  Discographies claim it was released in 1967 but a scan of the U.K. pressing below shows otherwise:

The band's musical output had been entirely cover version's of American artists songs and "Live Like A Lady" marks the first time a band original graced vinyl c/o the pen of guitarist Colin Manley.  It's vastly different than anything the band ever recorded before as it deviates from their usual jazzy r&b/soul vein and veers into total freakbeat turf with some nasally weird lead vocals and a powerful riff that breaks into a proto Crazy World of Arthur Brown organ lick immediately followed by a baroque piano riff before slamming back into the meaty Kinks-style chord bashing that drives the track. These boys were obviously, ahead of their time. The flipside sees the band return to their mod/jazz roots with an interpretation of a number no doubt culled from one of their favorite cover sources: Oscar Brown Jr. with "Sing Hallelujah" .  Whereas Oscar's version is upbeat, The Remo Four turn it into a somber dirge that reminds me of a less heavy moment on the first Deep Purple LP, proving that once again, The Remo Four were ahead of their time.  Sadly this was their last official release, tough the did record the groovily trippy "In The First Place" for the film "Wonderwall", the track itself would go unreleased until the 90's.  Keyboard virtuoso Tony Ashton would join their equally talented drummer Tony Dyke, along with ex-Birds/Creation bassist Kim Gardener as the moderately successful Ashton, Gardener & Dyke in 1968.

Both sides of this single were issued as bonus cuts on the "Smile" CD reissue.  "Live Like A Lady" also appeared on Bam Caruso's Rubble Volume 16 "Glass Orchid Aftermath" while "Sing Hallelujah" cropped up on Volume One of "That Driving Beat".

Hear "Live Like A Lady":

Hear "Sing Hallelujah":

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More Last Gasps From Liverpool

THE REMO FOUR-"Smile" Germany Star Club 158 034 1967

Heart Beat
The Skate
No Money Down
Rock Candy
The 7th Son

Brother Where Are You?
Jive Samba
Nothin's Too Good For My Baby Baby

Back in the day (mid/late 1980's) my 60's music guru Ron Rimsite used to recommend records to me when I'd swing into the old Venus Records on West 8th Street in NYC where he worked (or as my pal Larry Grogan once observed "from his perch behind the record counter where he'd dispense insults and advice", or something to that affect).  Most of the time I'd adhere when financially possible.  Once he flung an original copy of a German only LP by a Liverpool band I was vaguely familiar with from a Star Club compilation LP (I was quite mad over the "Liverpool beat group" sound in '86) called "Smile" by The Remo Four. "Mod-man" he said in his nasal North Jersey accent, "you need this".  "What's it like?" I said. "Like Georgie Fame but 100 times better and worth more than all of his records.  It's $25, it's like stealing at this price".  For whatever reason I passed, probably because back then I wasn't yet insane enough to spoend that sort of money on records.  Years later I not only sat down and heard it but kicked myself for passing on such a high dollar LP.  Such is the life of a music mod anorak I digress.

The Remo Four would've been just another nameless Liverpool beat group who backed the likes of Johnny Sandon and Tommy Quickly hade they not shuffled a few members and moved to Germany in 1966. They became a hot live commodity there and the un-official houseband for the TV show "Beat Club" (where they can be seen in many episodes).  Most notable of these are them kicking the guts out of The Little Boat Race's "Whatcha Gonna Do About It", smoothly delivering Oscar Brown Jr.'s "But I Was Cool" and doing their stunning, raw version of "Peter Gunn", among others.  With their guitar, bass, organ and drums four piece set up they had, by '66 widely embraced jazz/r&b/soul leaving their "beat group" image in the dust of their back pages (leaning heavily on material by my personal favorite, the late/great Oscar Brown Jr.).  Their records did fairly well in Germany.  They were all pretty much covers and after the 1966 issue of "Peter Gunn"/"Mickey's Monkey" (Star Club 148552 STF) they set about recording their debut German only long player "Smile". The personnel in the band at this time were: Colin Manley-guitar/vocals, Tony Ashton-keyboards/vocals, Phil Rogers-bass and Tony Dyke-drums.

The Remo Four performing "Peter Gunn" live on "Beat Club" 1966

Though it contains no originals the album is one of my favorites, not only because of their arrangements and playing but because of the diversity.  By all accounts I've read in 1967 mod was as good as dead in most of England except the provinces and small hold out scenes like Manchester. It was still swinging on the Continent and the Remo Four's choices of material on the LP shows that they were still flying the flag over in Germany.  Kicking off with a jazzy version of Gloria Jone's "Heartbeat" (from her Tower LP "Come And Go With Me") is no bad way to start and the LP just gets better from there.  The band then offer their take the Dean Parrish track, "The Skate" (with plenty of groovy organ)  before sliding into a version of Chuck Berry's "No Money Down" that's been turned into a blues number with Mose Allison styled-laid back vocals. Jack McDuff's "Rock Candy" is next delivered at a breakneck speed before the Mose Allison tribute continues with a fairly note for note version of "7th Son".

Side Two opens with Junior Walker and The Allstar's "Roadrunner", not much different from the original but with some nifty guitar licks. From the album "...Goes To Washington" comes a soulful reading of Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Brother Where Are You", a creative choice in both material and arrangement. A version of Nat Adderley's "Jive Samba" is next with some very tasty drum work c/o Roy Dyke and is delivered in a Booker T & The M.G.'s style and an amped up, amphetamine driven version of Stevie Wonder's "Nothin's Too Good For My Baby" closes the LP.  It's not terribly soulful, vocal wise but still well done thanks to again, the stellar 4 piece musicianship that carries the whole LP.

The band released one last 45 after the LP in Germany, an original written by Colin Manley called "Live Like A Lady" (more on that one soon) b/w Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Sing Hallelujah" (Star Club 148577STF) , though they later composed/recorded a track, "In The First Place" for the film "Wonderwall".  "Smile" got a CD reissue by the Repertoire label with their two Star Club singles, alternate mixes and an unreleased number as bonus tracks.

Hear "Jive Samba":

Hear "No Money Down":

Hear "Brother Where Are You?":

Hear "The Skate":

Hear "Heart Beat":

Friday, June 18, 2010

No Mickey Taking Here!

TONI BASIL-Breakaway/I'm 28 U.S. A&M 971 1966

Toni Basil is a name that is justifiably associated with bad 80's music on the strength of her dreadful hit who's name I dare not type, complete with a video of her dressed (at the age of 39!) as a cheerleader that needs to be locked away forever with parachute pants, white Capezio shoes and see through mesh sleeveless Cham's shirts to ensure they never blight the world again.  But long before this blight appeared Toni was an accomplished dancer and a choreographer for the "Shindig" show (where a young Teri Garr was a dancer, see below pic). It can safely be assumed that through her "Shindig" connections she got signed to A&M and cut this double sided monster sizzler 45.

"Breakaway" is known these days because some soulies in Northern England decided it was a great record (it is, really) and drove the price and demand up so high that can no one but sweaty/smelly record collecters can afford it.  It was written by the late Ed Cobb (the man who not only penned The Standell's  "Dirty Water" but another Northern soul staple Gloria Jone's "Tainted Love" as well as another soul classic "Every Little Bit Hurts", among many others).  Regardless of the "Northern" tag it's actually good.  It's a mid tempo groover that has a solid Motown feel thanks to the drums and the infectious rhythm.  Toni's voice is not entirely soulful or strong but the number has a feel that can move even dance floor zombies like this anorak.  "I'm 28" comes from the pen of our hero Graham Gouldman (see June 14, 2010 entry).  The track had previously appeared in the U.K. in January 1966 as "Getting Nowhere" by Friday Browne (Parlophone R 5396), produced by George Martin. Toni turns it into a dirge, but what a wonderful dirge it is, in fact I like a lot, more than the A-side even.  The lyrics concern getting older:

"I'm 28, it's getting late
What have I got to do?
My time is going, my fears are growing
My chances now are few
Dress revealing, sex appealing
Fur and feather, suede and leather,
Naughty, haughty, sure to glamorize...
It's all been advertised
But... it's getting me nowhere"

Bleak and brilliant stuff from a 23 year old gal who could move like a cat on the dance floor and was quite a looker as well!
"Breakaway" can be found on a few Northern Soul CD compilations, "I'm 28" cropped up on the wonderful 4 CD Rhino box set "One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost & Found".  A promo film was made for "Breakaway" by film maker Bruce Conner, a black and white affair that featured Toni frugging and eventually taking off all of her clothes. It's often on YouTube but the good Mr. Connor bitches and it's taken down immediately, which is a pity as it should be seen if you're a straight male 60's anorak.

That's Toni in the back w/ Terri Garr 1967

Here's the "Breakaway" promo film sans the song featuring lithe Toni and her monstrously large bush (WARNING:it contains nudity):

Hear "Breakaway":

Chad & Jeremy-Redemption

CHAD STUART & JEREMY CLYDE-Of Cabbages And Kings  U.S. Columbia LP CS 9471 1967

Chad & Jeremy have taken a lot of slagging over the years, probably more based on the fact that because, as one book referred to them, they were "Hollywood's Brits".  You couldn't watch a U.S. 60's TV show without them being there, the token un-offensive, well spoken, intellectual Brits ("Batman", The Dick Van Dyke Show" etc) with their TV friendly smiles and nerdy demeanour. Like some badly manufactured Hollywood creation like "The Potato Bug" they became pretty much an anathema to any serious rock n' rollers, and though I sang praises of "A Summer Song" in my April 17, 2010 entry, that's pretty much how I felt about them till I stumbled upon this LP.  Like many other LP's my friends have urged me to pick up, it's taken me awhile. Keep in mind that when 99% of your friends have similar musical tastes it's fiscally hard to heed all their recommendations and this was one that repeatedly fell through the cracks these past 10 years or so.

Long after the British Invasion bubble burst and they were resident Californians somehow someone at Columbia had faith and let them record and release this magnum opus.  Fans of 60's masterpieces like Simon & Garfunkel's "Bookends" and Duncan Browne's "Give Me Take You" will have no trouble getting their head around it. Like their previous hit and miss material it's based on their folky duo concept only built up considerably by witty numbers ensconced in layers of sitars, horns, flute, and every other studio instrument they could dig up. They got "serious" by using their surnames and with help of the legendary Gary Usher set about recording this wonderful LP.  Of course it went absolutely nowhere, by this point anyone interested in records with psychedelic album covers wasn't about to investigate a band they'd seen acting dorky on a half hour TV show and anyone who found their act charming wasn't about to buy a record with two psychedelic looking nerds on the cover! The first side is light poppy/orchestrated numbers while the second side (titled "The Progress Suite-Movements) contains orchestrated instrumentals amongst vocal numbers while the band's new friends, the zany folks at the Firesign Theater, provide spoken word snippets on contemporary topics ranging from the Vietnam War to the industrial complex, computers and yes,banks.  See kids things aren't much different than they were 43 years ago!

The opening cut on Side One (also in abbreviated form it was the LP's sole single), "Rest In Peace" is a tapestry of sitars, trumpets, black humor, churchy organ and an opening melody that seems almost too similar to Kaleidoscope's "The Murder Of Lewis Tolani".  It's my fave of the lot and a good omen to the rest of the LP. "The Busman's Holiday" is Donovan (esp. the woodwinds and harpsichord) meets Ray Davie's on "Face To Face", delightful stuff chronicling the life of a touring musician interspersed with screaming girls shrieks.  Really. "Can I See You" again reminds me of Kaleidoscope (the U.K. variety) with glimpses of the "old" Chad & Jeremy. "Family Way" anticipates "The Conqueror" by Genesis and parallels Cat Steven's first two Deram LP tracks with the unwed pregnancy topic (no doubt lost on American listeners who were probably unfamiliar with the phrase). "I'll Get Around To It When I Can" strikes me because, on a personal note it addresses time. But it's a choral poppy delight that I find myself playing as often as the opening cut.  The harmonies are beautiful, just beautiful.

Side Two opens with ominous "Prolouge" full of jazzy trumpet, flute, woodwinds, timpani, sitar, strings, the kitchen sink and the lot.  It's like some opening credits music to one of those powerful films made in the 60's that have never been bettered! "Decline" is a vehicle for the Firesign Theater's socio-politico commentary on top of zany music, like the incidental music behind a production line churning out washing machines, gas guzzling cars or weapons of war scene. The sitar and trumpet backed social observation choral pop of "Editorial" returns the lads vocals that seems to recall childhood innocence ("eat up your rice Billy Grey, there's starving in India they say").  I know I had that one growing up, though sometimes it'd be "China" (and then an uncle would quip "let the Communists starve"). "Fall" repeats the formula of "Decline" with the above mentioned spoken word sound bytes that shifts into an angelic church choir, weird yet creepy singing "Onward Christian Soldiers", like the bomb worshippers in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" before degenerating into combat sound effects. "Epilouge" reminds me of the jazzy brilliance of David Axelrod's late 60's tracks before sliding into the vocals with baroque piano string plucking (ala Lalo Schiffrin) and sitar with some wild chord/tempo changes.  Positively an amazing way to close an LP!

Sundazed re-released the LP on CD (and probably vinyl knowing them) in 2002 and unlike most of their other re-issues (West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band for one) it's still in print and available.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Masters of the B-3 Part One: 'Baby Face' Willette

'Baby Face" Willette-"Face To Face" Blue Note BST 84068 1961

When you think of B-3 Hammond organ jazz in the early-mid 1960's the first names that always come to mind are the Jimmy's (Messer's Smith and McGriff) then you've got "Big" John Patton, Richard "Groove" Holmes. Trudy Pitts, Shirley Scott, Larry Young and bubbling under is "Baby Face" Willette.

Certainly not the most well known of all of the 60's jazz Hammond heroes, but certainly not the least.  This 1961 platter cooks thanks in no small part to the solid backing unit of the great Grant Green (guitar), Fred Jackson (tenor sax), Ben Dixon (drums) and of course the melodic organ noodling of  'Baby Face' himself.  I'm no authority on jazz and what I know about it can fill one sheet of double spaced notebook paper (do they still make that?), but I know what I like and I like my jazz before it got busy, funky and too out there (pre-'67 please) and this LP is where it's it for me.  It's straight up "mod jazz" in both the parka wearing sense and the trad jazz trumping sense.  Check out if you care, it's been reissued on CD and is hopefully still out there.

Hear "Face To Face":

Monday, June 14, 2010

Unsung Heroes of the 60's Part One: Graham Gouldman

Graham Gouldman never got his fair shake in the Sixties as far as I'm concerned.  Manchester's tunesmnith cut 1 single with his band The Whirlwinds in 1964, 5 singles on three different labels with his band The Mockingbirds in 1965-1966 and  two solo singles (one in '66 and another in '68).  None of them were hits.  Sad?  Tragic?  Yes because he'd of course graced the U.K.  #1 slot several times when folks had hits with his songs (The Yardbird's version of "For Your Love" and The Hollie's "Bus Stop" to name a few). From the pen of Graham Gouldman:

The Downliner's Sect-The Cost Of  Living
The Ace Kefford Stand-For Your Love
Herman's Hermits-Upstairs, Downstairs
                           -No Milk Today
                           -The London Look
                           -East West
                           -Oo She's Done It Again
                           -It's Nice To Be Out In The Morning
Sarah Jane-Listen People
Toni Basil-I'm 28
Normie Rowe-Going Home
The Hollies-Look Through Any Window
                  -Bus Stop
                  -School Girl (Unreleased)
The Mindbenders-School Girl
                           -Uncle Joe The Ice Cream Man
Wayne Fontana-Pamela Pamela
                           -The Impossible Years
Jeff Beck-Tallyman
The Yardbirds-For Your Love
                      -Heart Full Of Soul
                      -Evil Hearted You
                       -You Stole My Love (Unreleased)
The St. Louis Union-Behind The Door
The Mockingbirds-I Never Should Have Kissed You
                            -That's How It's Gonna Stay
                            -I Can Feel We're Parting
                            -You Stole My Love
                            -Skit Skat
The Chords Five-Some People
Dave Berry-I'm Gonna Take You There

Foreign E.P.'s Part Five

THE SMALL FACES-Here Come The Nice/Become Like You/Talk To You/Get Yourself Together France Columbia E.P. ESRF 1876 1967

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Foreign E.P.'s Part Four

OLA and the JANGLERS-Alex Is The Man/Our Love/Bird's Eye View Of You/Mary Come Home France EMI EP EGF 975 1967

Foreign E.P.'s Part Three

THE KINKS-Waterloo Sunset/Act Nice and Gentle/Mr. Pleasant/This Is Where I Belong Germany Pye E.P. EPD 15040 1967

From Bradford Via The Motor City

KIKI DEE-The Day Will Come Between Sunday And Monday/My Whole World Ended The Moment You Left Me U.S. Tamla T 54193 1970

The U.K.'s Kiki Dee had a pretty hard slog before Elton John scooped her up and thanks to their awful duet made her a household name on both sides of the pond.  What's criminal is that she made quite a few good records in the Sixties before fame.  Forget the pricey "Magic Carpet Ride" rendered mega expensive thanks to those "Northern" jugheads, my bets are riding on this 1970 single as her crown jewel.  Kiki goes down in history as being the only British female singer ever signed to Berry Gordy's ranks.  From her U.S. Tamla LP "Great Expectations" (TS303) came this amazing little number . A subsequent 45 release by her from the LP ("Love Makes the World Go Round"/"Jimmy") would be released on their "rock n' roll" offshoot label Rare Earth (R 5025 1971) where the likes of R. Dean Taylor, The Easybeats and the aptly named Rare Earth would musically reside.  I bought the LP in a book store in Philly in the early 90's on the strength of the LP's blinding artwork (pretty much the same as the above U.S. 45 P.S. only lacking the blue border).  I thought Kiki looked really smart , though I later found out after reading an interview with her in "Record Collector" that she was wearing a wig in the shot! The opening cut on the album, our 45 in question here, blew me away.  A few years later I scored a German P.S. 45 at the Princeton Record Exchange during their great sale of all of Radio Free Europe's 45's and then purchased this American one from my pal, Baltimore's first Northern Soul DJ, Matt Cochran.

I'm not sure how to best articulate this one beyond giving props to Kiki's strong/sultry voice and of course the usual squeaky clean, over the top Tamla-Motown production/backing so........ 

Have a listen for yourself:

Fortunately for anyone interested all of her Tamla/Motown output was recently collected on a U.K. CD "Love Makes The World Go Round:The Motown Years".

TRUE TRIVIA FACT: I had a friend who liked Kiki's hairdo on the U.S. P.S. 45 so much he had his girlfriend get her haircut like it, this was of course before any of us knew it was a wig.

    German pressing of the same 45

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Big In Japan Part Two: Not Likely!

Part two of our "Hen's Teeth" series of 60's picture sleeve eye candy (as in "rare as a..."):

JOHN'S CHILDREN-Desdemona/Remember Thomas A. Beckett Japan Polydor DP-1560 1967

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Walkers 60's Swan Song

THE WALKER BROTHERS-Images U.K. LP Phillips BL 7770 1967

Everything Under The Sun
Once Upon A Summertime
Blueberry Hill
Stand by Me

I Wanna Know
I Will Wait For You (Theme from "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg")
It Makes No Difference Now
I Can't Let It Happen To You
Just Say Goodbye

By April 1967 The Walker Brothers were pretty much at the end of their U.K. hit parade run with their last two singles of 1966 failing to reach the Top Ten. December 1966's "Solo Scott/Solo John" E.P. saw to it that the rot was set to begin and that the ego's of Scott Walker (Engel) and John Walker (Maus) were firmly ready for the death race. "Images" was to be the trio's third and final 60's LP.  Produced by Johnny Franz  and orchestrated by Reg Guest it is not their strongest LP but certainly one of their most unique.

         Solo Scott
It opens with the optimistic pop of the Crewe/Knight composition "Everything Under The Sun" which sounds like all of their other hits in arrangement, tempo and delivery (perhaps Eric Burdon was right when as a guest on "Jukebox Jury" when he quipped "all their records are starting to sound the same"). "Once Upon A Summertime" from the pen of Legrand/Mercer/Marnay is pure M.O.R. boredom, adult pop.  Scott's original "Experience" is interesting, it's almost delivered in waltz time that at times melodically resembles Marty Robbin's hit "El Paso" with trills of trumpets that alternate between Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and the melody of German beer garden music.  And since it's from the pen of Mr. Scott Walker it's lyrically his version of "Eleanor Rigby". John's pointless version of "Blueberry Hill" is pure corn, schlock, garbage despite some jazzy sax.  Awful stuff, but  this was merely an indication of who was about to rise from the ashes of this trio as the star.  The death knell of it all is next track, one of Scott's original compositions "Orpheus".  It's the sweeping strings and melody is a precursor to Scott's solo opus "Plastic Palace People" (from his solo LP "Scott 3") and in a style that had already become his forte lyrically and musically with the track "Mrs. Murphy" the previous year on the "Solo Scott/Solo John" E.P.(see January 11, 2009 entry).  Like all good Scott Walker cuts this one is a bleak portrait of an extramartial affair that ends with with Scott singing "and make your bed for me for the things we ought not to do"
and then intoning verbally "drive us all, round the bend".  Unfortunately any shred of Scott's cred is ruined by his crooning of the pathetic cover of "Stand By Me" which closes side one.

      Solo John
Side two is redeemed by the  inherently soulful stylings of John Walker's  "I Wanna Know".  It is the cloest the band ever came to Northern soul in my estimation.  With some great female backing vocals (that seem to recall  Edwin Starr's "Agent Double O Soul"(Ric Tic R-103), Motown styled horns and a great subtle touch of fuzz guitar underneath the sheer veneer soul surface it's the album's crown jewel. " I Will Wait For You" (from the film "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg") is of course more A.O.R. schlock, but Scott's vocal mastery make the track at least bearable beneath Reg Guest's lush orchestration.  "It Makes No Difference Now" follows the same nauseating pattern. John Walker's original "I Can't Let It Happen To You" is actually quite good with a great melody and minimal accompainiement from acostic guitar, organ and bass (topped off with a regal trumpet solo in the middle).  It's somber pop is refreshing amidst the deluge of orchestrated pap. It's Scott's turn again with his original baroque harpischord laced "Genevieve" that again indicates what we'd be hearing very soon from the man. The closer "Just Say Goodbye" would be just another boring ballad if it wasn't for the amazing build up of orchestral brillance (very similar to Leon Russell's touches on Gene Clark's solo masterpiece "Echoes") created by Reg Guest preventing the whole thing from degenerating into yet another Walker's Spector/Righteous Brothers pastiche LP track.  It's ominous to hear the boys singing "just say goodbye" in the fading moments of the brilliantly executed track with their end just around the corner.  The band released two more singles after the LP, neither of which troubled the charts, and by the Summer of Love it was all but over till December when "solo" Scott returned to the chart's with his Top Ten smash "Jackie".

The LP has been reissued on CD by Phillips in the U.K. with four extra tracks.

John's Children: Playing Funeral Games (Again)

JOHN'S CHILDREN-Come And Play With Me In The Garden/Sarah Crazy Child U.K. Track 604005 1967

Hot on the heels of the mega rare/withdrawn John's Children psychedelic/freakout opus "Midsummer Night's Scene"/"Sarah Crazy Child" (Track 604005 June 1967) came this, their 5th single and their third with guitarist Marc Bolan. Marc had already penned their controversial third single A-side "Desdemona" (Track 604003 May 1967, his debut with them) .  By this point Bolan was sick of manager Simon Napier Bell's publicity stunts and playing in a band who for all intents and purposes were much like a 1967 version of The Sex Pistols: a gimmick designed by a Svengali more interested in headlines and reactions than actual music, so he left.

    "Mods & Rockers":the band outside their club with some friends, 1967.

"Come And Play With Me In The Garden" is a lyrical rewrite of "Desdemona's" B-Side "Remember Thomas A. Beckett" . The latter was at the time described by a Napier-Bell as being "about a guy who goes funny and starts playing funeral games in his garden").  This time instead of being about an axe wielding murder (who's also in love with his victim's corpses) it's the Summer of Love so the song is, this time around about running around in nature.  It sounds like a lot of flower power schlock, but it's actually quite pleasing to the ears. Simon Napier-Bell, never one to miss a chance for controversy, and being flamboyantly gay and never one to shy away from naked young men had the band get naked for promo photos to launch the 45 with flowers strategically placed to avoid trouble with the Obscenity Squad.  Color versions of this pic were utilized on foreign picture sleeve versions of the single. The flipside was a leftover from the Bolan days, "Sarah Crazy Child" which had previously graced the flip of the withdrawn earlier mentioned 45. It's one of the earliest Bolan tracks that provides a glimpse of what sort of lyrics the world would be in for in his dark, slightly Dylan-esque style. It's a bit odd, but entertaining thanks to the way out lyrics and it's minimal delivery (drums and some out of tune bass and guitar).  On a personal note this was my very first introduction to the band on a budget Polydor compilation LP I purchased in the summer of 1984 called "Medium Rare" (which also afforded my first hearing of The Birds in the form of their "Daddy Daddy").

The single sank without a trace of course.  Both sides are pretty much on any John's Children compilation CD floating around out there.

Hear "Sarah Crazy Child":

Hear "Remember Thomas A. Beckett":

The St. Louis Union-REAL Mod Music

THE ST. LOUIS UNION-East Side Story/Think About Me U.K. Decca F 12508 1966

There aren't a lot of U.K. 60's groups who exemplify "mod" in my estimation the way the Manchester's St. Louis Union did. Like my hero's The Action they were fronted by a soulful voiced blond cat. This band's gent in question was named Tony Cassidy. Coming from Manchester and having built a solid reputation playing at that city's fabled mod Mecca The Twisted Wheel, in late '65 they won a Melody Maker sponsored "beat competition" which secured them a deal with Decca.  This lead to their debut crap debut 45 (Decca F 12318 January 1966), a pointless cover of The Fab's "Girl" b/w an even more pointless version of "Respect", which actually reached the lower rungs of the charts (and garnered a U.S release as Parrot 9812).  It's safe to say the band had little choice in the debut 45 material and anybody that cool looking can't be slagged off for doing what some cigar chomping suit at the label who passed on The Beatles said!  Their next 45 was a shade better, the somber Graham Gouldman penned kitchen sink drama called "Behind The Door" backed with a killer Hammond and sax work out called "English Tea" (Decca F 12386 April 1966).   In September 1966 they appeared in all their mod glory (dig lead singer Tony Cassidy's suedehead crop and half the band in Ben Sherman's!) in the ridiculous Spencer Davis Group celluloid vehicle "The Ghost Goes Gear" .  They have two numbers in the film; an unreleased variation of "English Tea" retitled "English Teeth" sans sax but with some tasty fuzz guitar and another equally amazing unreleased vocal number titled (presumably) "I've Got My Pride" delivered in the Georgie Fame via Mose Allison vocal style. 

The band had but one single remaining and on October 21, 1966 their third and final single hit the streets.  It's a really odd choice and I'd love to know how the band got a hold of it but the A-side is a full on mod/r&b treatment of the Bob Seger and The Last Heard ( U.S. January 1966 Hideout 1013 ) number "East Side Story".  It's one of those great numbers that tells a story, this time about a down on his luck guy on the wrong side of the tracks who tells his girl that he's decided to take his knife and go out mugging ("those folks uptown got bread to burn, when they see me flash my knife they'll be fearing for their life..."").  Of course he goes out and never comes back ("the night passed like a thousand years the tenement room echoed her tears, then came a knock upon the door two men she'd never seen before, did you know Johnny Brown Miss, we hate to tell you this but has he a relative you know..").  This is without a doubt, powerful stuff and The St. Louis Union's mod Twisted Wheel tour de force Hammond n' horns sound steamrollers through propelled by Tony Cassidy's amazingly soulful voice and some cool Birds-styled twangy distorted guitar near the end. The structure and sheer power of this tune blows me away every time. The flip is a soulful track called "Think About Me", not as powerful as "East Side Story" but every bit as exciting thanks to this solid drumbeat backed by some driving bass/keys/sax.  Sadly this single spelled the end and according to what I've read the band split up by 1967. 

"East Side Story" was reissued on the Deram/Decca "CD "The Mod Scene", "Think About Me" has eluded compilers for now, sadly.  Both tracks surfaced years back on a bootleg LP compilation "Mod Meeting" featuring all the band's tracks one one side and all the recorded output of the equally mod and legendary Richard Kent Style on the other.

Hear "East Side Story":

A really cool 60's Manchester band site with loads of pics, clippings, reminiscing etc on the band:

Hear "Think About Me":

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May's Picks

1. The Fifth Dimension-Carpet Man
Being a life long musical Anglophile I've been pretty much inundated by British versions of American tracks first (see below for another example).  Case in point Jim Webb's masterpiece "Carpet Man", first by The Parking Lot (backed by the depressingly beautiful "World Spinning Sadly") and then  the far superior of the two by Brit harmony bunch The Nocturnes.  Well shame on me because after sussing the ORIGINAL cut by The Fifth Dimension I've decided both British versions don't have a patch on this, in fact I went back and played The Nocturnes and you can't even make out half the cynically brilliant lyrics!!v=zLrO7YzNbiE

2. Tim Rose-Morning Dew
Again I digress, there's been no shortage of versions of this cut in the land of Boddington's, Rowntree's wine gums and mushy peas and heard by me before the original.  First to my ears was The Episode Six version, then The Move's soulful B.B.C. version with bassist Ace Kefford doing his bit (see below, last time I write that I swear) then The Jeff Beck Group.  It wasn't till Matt Kaplan hit me with a nice '68 "Top Gear" session that I got to hear Tim Rose's original.  Wow.  Man is it incredible.  His vocals are quite soulful (I can see where The Move took their cue) but at the same time really downright venomous and angry sounding and the backing music is pretty darn ominous!!v=Pb57HpieVB0

3. The Move-Don't Throw Stones At Me
The Move were unfairly labelled "psychedelic" because of their late '67 Hendrix perms and cod Sgt. Pepper gear that made them look like they were wearing Dave Dee, Dozy etc psychedelic circus clown's cast offs.  The truth of the matter is that for well over a year before the public first heard them with "Night Of Fear" in December '66 The Move were pretty much a balls up, welll honed machine that specialized in both soul/r&b AND  West coast harmony vocal numbers (much like our heroes THE ACTION).  Unfortunately most of this was lost on those of us not old enough to catch them at the Marquee club in 1966.  Thankfully recent unearthing have provided many glimpses of this period and none better exemplified in this Roy Wood penned soul tune from the double packaging of their debut LP sung by bassist Ace Kefford with obligatory Move/West Coast harmonies on the backing vocals.

4. The Tremeloes-Let Your Hair Hang Down
You'd find it hard to believe the cheeky chappies who charted with the whistle along version of Cat Steven's "Here Comes Ny Baby" or struck gold with the somber crisp harmony hit "Silence Is Golden" were capable of espousing orgies, drugs and the like.  Have a listen to this track, the April '67 flip of "Silence Is Golden" lovingly reissued (with liner notes by the great John "Mojo" Mills, he of "Shindig" , the greatest mag in the world fame) on their CD comp "What a State I'm In:The Pop Psych Sessions".!v=TyxL-Jipg4s

5. The Kelly Brothers-Crystal Blue Persuasion
Matt Kaplan again hipped me to this killer soul cover of the Tommy James & The Shondell's hit released as a 45 on the Excello label (home of the great Slim Harpo among others).  It takes the original one step further by sounding like a mish mash of the original dashed with the infectious "Soulful Strut", or maybe that's just my imagination playing tricks on me.!v=OJVbUs3YenI

6. The Electric Elves-It Pays To Advertise
I ragged on all of my 60's anorak/record geek pals for mourning the loss of one headbanger by the name of Ronnie James Dio.  By all accounts he was actually a good guy and despite my utter contempt for heavy metal it just goes to show you can't judge a book by it's cover.  Ronnie was from the fairly isolated (in the 60's anyway) town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He cut this Who homage in 1967 on the MGM label, just goes to show you even rural and cultural isolation can be penetrated by the beat!!

7. Dantalian's Chariot-World War III
As we've discussed a few times here in previous entries this lot were Zoot Money & Co. after ditching Rufus Thomas, Hush Puppies and Flamingo all nighter's for L.S.D., kaftans and all night raves at the Roundhouse. Though they only released one 45 (see October 1, 2009 entry) they cut an LP's worth of tracks that range from sitar fueled ragas, jazzy Gabor Szabo styled jams and slightly heavier adventures like this piece that takes the riff from an old Zoot Money Hammond and horns B-Side ("The Mound Moves") and with a dash of lysergic acid diethylamide and apocalyptic visions.  They concocted this solid groover in the same manner that the Small Faces used a similar recipe to turn "I've Got Mine" into the phlanged out wigginess of "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake".  The wah-wah effects on the organ gives it a similar feel to The Pink Floyd's legendary unreleased clasic "Scream Thy Last Scream".!v=52rMQuX038o

8. Jeff Beck-Tallyman
Jeff Beck's always come across as sort of a cabbage and he made a pretty reluctant pop star on his first couple of Micky Most produced sides.  His version of this Graham Gouldman number charted fairly high in the U.K. and his less than lively vocals are more than compensated for by some cool arrangements and bursts of guitar brilliance.!v=h9W0O3rcwhE

9. Coleman Hawkins-Juicy Fruit
From the killer LP "Blues Wail: Coleman Hawkins Plays the Blues" laid on me last week by my brother in jazz here on the job. This LP blows me away and this track is one of my fave's. Dig the part where trumpeter Idress Sulieman holds a note for one minute straight!  Woah!

10. Roy Orbison-There Won't Be Many Coming Home
I was reading Alan Clayson's Yardbirds book over lunch last week in in between his usual b.s. of pushing his pals Dave Berry, Dave Dee and Co., The Pretty Things AND The Downliners Sect he made mention of a controversial 60's anti-war cut by the Big O.  I tracked it down and damn if you don't have moist eyes by the time this is done you're a heartless bastard.  With lot's of friends I served with in the army who've done their bit more than once or twice in Iraq or Afghanistan firmly on my mind it's hard not to play this one and think of the phrase "All gave some, some gave all".  This number resonates just as strongly today as no doubt it did upon release some 43 years ago.!v=6td9cl9Z9Fw