Friday, July 30, 2010

July's Picks

It's the end of July.  It's been a straight month of 90-100 degree days here in Lower Binfield, Flatland and it's made me lazy.  I hate Summer, always have. I don't look good in shorts and I hate having to wear them in public, but when it's 98 degrees out who wants to wear tapered ankle swingers?  Not me.  Bring on the cold so I can get out my Pringle sweaters, my suede jacket, my porkpie collection, my scarves, my dufflecoat and my wool patterned trou!  But wait we're here to chat music , not weather.  Appylodges......

1. HERBIE HANCOCK-"Speak Like A Child"
LOVE, love, love this number.  It's from an unscripted moment from an unwritten film in my mind set on a hot sweaty Summer's day in NYC in the late 1960's encapsulated for 7 minutes and 52 seconds.  It's mellow, not too busy and despite it's time period not polluted by the funkiness that put me off most post '66 jazz.  Paul Weller must've liked it as he borrowed it's title for his synth soul band's debut release.

2. WAYNE FONTANA-Waiting For A Break In The Clouds
I've been digging a lot of Wayne Fontana solo (post Mindbenders) stuff I'm coming across on YouTube (best new place to get free music) and this one sticks in my craw the most.  Poor Wayne sorta faded away after two solo hits, but this B-side is perfectly in the U.K. 60's pop-psych that I so adore.

3. SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES-Come Round Here (I'm The One You Need)
A brilliant bit of Motown magnum opus style with no expense spared on the production, delivery etc.  Motown's gotten a bad shake because of all the tracks you've heard one too many times but past those 12 songs you never need to hear again there's gems like this.  I like soul music. Make mine Motown.

Back in 1980 when I was a young budding mod I liked a lot of music, not just The Jam and the Specials and from the moment I heard this on the radio on WNEW's "Things From England" (wedged in between The Jam and XTC I believe) I loved it.  You'd think with my distaste for a lot of 80's music and 80's production I wouldn't be able to like a lot of it now, but Julian Cope and Co. had it down.  Maybe it's the punchy horns on this or the urgency of it all, but you've got to admit this was and still is an amazing record.

5. DERRICK HARRIOTT-"Tang Tang Festival Song"
This my friends is a wonderful bit of proto-rocksteady with amazing horns and that murky bass/keyboards mix before it got slowed down and mutated into something white college students could blast while smoking too much reefer.  An Island records 45 from '68 that my friend Jennie Wasserman played me on a Derrick Harriott compilation album.

6. HAMILTON & THE MOVEMENT-"I'm Not The Marrying Kind"
This was another one of those amazing mondo obscuro U.K. 60's bands Bill Wyman produced, gave songs to, managed etc (see The End, Moon's Train etc).  Billy wrote and produced this one and given his penchant for shagging everything that moved one can't help but think this was a none too subtle message to pass on to Mrs. Wyman instead of fessing up.  It's a perfect slice of soulful British r&b, punctuated by great horns and a lead singer with an amazingly soulful voice.  Though one cringes when imagining a '67 Stones version with Mr. Drawl himself, Mick Jagger attempting the lead vocals.

7. LOS SHAKERS-"Espero Que Les Guste No.42"
Uruguay's Shakers will go down in history for their classic "Break It All" with their "Hard Day's Night' posturing and even a drummer with a big honker (and their LP which even got a release here in the States).  But after "Revolver" hit things were never the same anywhere no matter what country you were from.  Backwards tapes, rushes of harmonies, off beat drum rolls, you name it this number has it.  I'll take this any day of any of that over hyped Tropicalia stuff.  This was unearthed for the world on the CD compilation "Pepperisms-Around The World", a nice look at how the Fabs took acid and how everything after "Help" changed the face of 60's music all over the world.

8. GEORGIE FAME -"Blossom"
Georgie Fame's response to Blossom Dearie's tribute to him "Sweet Georgie Fame", it's a pretty straight forward jazz number with some great melodies and licks.  My only complaint is that his voice is run through a Leslie making it sound more like The Moody Blue's "Dear Diary" than a straight ahead jazz record, which it is in every other respect. One of Georgie's finest compositions!

9. THE JAM-"Boy About Town"
Sharp crisp little Rickenbacker riffs, horns, massive key changes, a driving beat.  Man in 1980 The Jam had it down, they'd gotten away from the multi-layers of guitar overdubs that threatened to turn LP's like "Setting Sons" into Boston and were rediscovering minimalism  and added some horns to fatten that up a bit.  "Sound Affects" was the first Jam LP I bought hot off the presses and I often refer to it as their "Revolver" (with all it's backwards bits, horns etc it WAS!), sadly the gig was up and Weller got tired of being a spokesman for 14 year old's like me.

10. THE HOLLIES-"Tomorrow When It Comes"
Status Quo's "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" affected British 60's music just about as much as Procol Harum's Bach infused "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" did a year earlier.  The Hollies, never one to miss a good trend duly went off and wrote their own wah-wah psychedelic pop master piece "Tomorrow When It Comes" utilizing the same technique. Sadly it never saw the light of day till the 90's.  In the 90's Britain's Aardvarks (also never ones to miss a lick nicking) took the riff from this and re-wrote it as "Till The Morning Comes".

11. (one extra) KING PLEASURE-"Moody's Mood For Love"
I can never turn down King Pleasure, his vocalese perfection is the epitome of cool.  Somethings are left brief and sweet.  Till next month......

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Anorak Thing Heroes: Dr. Feelgood

I've often said that "stadium rock" crap of the mid 70's spawned punk rock. I'd like to think it also spawned "pub rock", a U.K. mid 70's phenomena that incorporated a low rent, no nonsense gang of r&b loving musos who played in pubs to smaller audiences. No one better exemplifies this description than Canvey Island's Dr. Feelgood. Led by lead singer /gob iron blower Lee Brilleaux and lead string bender Wilko Johnson (who played in the choppy style of the legendary Mick Green of The Pirates), "the Feelgoods" (as they were known to fans) were balls up rock n' roll that didn't need 20 minute guitar solos, or lasers, blow in the back of your Roller or champagne and caviar. Their debut LP 1974's "Down By The Jetty" was all about stale pints of bitter, John Lee Hooker 45's, beat up guitars and crisp sharp r&b purists keeping it short, simple and (in today's vernacular) real. All in that order. One listen to "Down By the Jetty" and its opening cut "She Does It Right" and you can hear where the licks and choppy chord patterns at breakneck speed on The Jam's first two LP's came from. Their next LP, 1975's "Malpractice" follows the same seamless r&b non stop party formula with originals lodged in between covers. Their third LP, 1976's "Stupidity" was recorded live gives us an idea what the band were capable of outside the studio. Wilko Johnson moved on and was replaced by Gypie Mayo. Gypie played on the band's only UK top ten hit, "Milk And Alcohol" a rocking tale about going to see a gig by washed up, half dead r&b star. In my estimation its one of the better post Wilco Feelgoods #'s (along with "As Long As The Price Is Right", which was my first exposure to the band in the 80's).  Which leads us to a bit of their impact on me...

Wilco and Lee in full steam.

My first introduction to them came in 1983 or 1984 when I'd read about them in a Jam book ("A Beat Concerto") that I'd just purchased at a local record shop (The Record Setter on Rt. 18 in East Brunswick, NJ).  I went back to the same shop and bought the above mentioned single for 49 cents (on purple vinyl nonetheless).  In the early 90's my friend Kevin Power (on recommendation from our mutual friend John Jorgensen) purchased the Edsel LP reissue of "Down By The Jetty" and played it for me.  The first few seconds of "She Does It Right" blew my mind.  There was no question where that first Jam LP came from.....the rest as they say, is history.

"She Does it Right" live on the telly 1975, no long haired 20 minute prog jams here!

For anybody who's as Feelgood's mad as me Julien Temple has put together a documentary on the lads titled "Oil City Confidential".  Though it never reached the theaters here in the States it can be yours on DVD from  That is provided you've got a multi region DVD player or if you don't you can go here and get codes to "hack" yours into a multi region player like I did with mine two years ago:

The official film trailer for "Oil City Confidential"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We got the hi-fi high and the lights down low.....

THE BIG THREE- "At The Cavern" E.P. ( What'd I Say/ Don't Start Running Away/Zip A Dee Doo Dah/Reelin' And Rockin') U.K. Decca DFE 8552 1963

With the discovery of The Beatles in 1962 Liverpool was inundated with swarms of A&R men looking for the next best thing. Having passed on The Beatles Decca grabbed a few, The Mojos and arguably Britain's first "power trio" : The Big Three.  Despite just 4 singles and one E.P. (and numerous personnel changes) The Big Three's recording career was short, barely 18 months.  Their line up for this E.P., referred to as their "classic Big Three line up" was: John "Hutch" Hutchinson (drums/vocals), Brian Griffiths (guitar) and John Gustafson (vocals/bass).  Never very stable, the band had numerous personnel changes. In fact by the time of this E.P.'s release in November 1963 the line-up who played on it disitergrated with John Gustafson and Brian Giffiths moving on to form a band called The Seniors with Ian Broad from Rory Storme and The Hurricanes (Gustafson eventually joined The Merseybeats to replace Billy Kinsley a few months later). 

The final product of this line up was our E.P. in question recorded live on a sweaty Thursday night (August 29, 1963 to be exact) by producer Noel Walker in front of a packed audience at Liverpool's legendary Cavern Club.  Opening with Cavern DJ Bob Wooler's wordy hipster intro ("Welcome to the best of cellars. We got the hi fi high and the lights down low so here we go with The Big Three show") the band barrel through an insane amphetamine version of Ray Charles "What'd I Say" full of false stops, audience participation and pure 100% adrenaline. It's almost anti-climactic when the band launch into an original (a rarity for most Liverpool groups) called "Don't Start Running Away", which though lacking the punch of it's predecessor manages alright. The flipside is a half assed version of "Zip A Dee Doo Dah", where the band sounds like a drunken frat rock band.  Things close with Chuck Berry's "Reelin' And Rockin'" which differs little from the original but still has some enthusiasm.

TRIVIA: Decca photographer David Wedgbury failed to capture all three members onstage during the recording of their set so the band were forced to put their sweaty black suits back on and pose onstage afterwards.

Johnny Hutch onstage at The Cavern during the recording
of the E.P. Pic by David Wedgbury

All four tracks were included on a recent Big Three CD retrospective "At the Cavern" along with some of their other rocking sides.

Hear "What'd I Say" from the "At The Cavern" E.P.:

E.P. Moodiness

THE MOODY BLUES- E.P. U.K. Decca DFE 8622 1965 (Go Now/Lose Your Money/Steal Your Heart Away/I Don't Want To Go On Without You)

This May 1965 offering is an interesting E.P. as it features three previous Moodies "A" sides, their debut single "Steal Your Heart Away" and it's flip,  "Lose Your Money" (Decca F 11971 September 1964), their #1 smash "Go Now" (Decca F 12022 November 1964) and their previous single "I Don't Want To Go On Without You" (Decca F 12095 February 1965).  Usually British 60's E.P.'s either carried two singles (A's & B sides) or four non-LP/non-45 tracks.  This is sort of an oddity as it contains three previous A-sides, two of which failed to register much of a chart impact!  Curious stuff.  The sleeve photo is yet another classic example of brilliance from Decca's in house lensman David Wedgbury.

All four tracks are available as bonus tracks on the various CD reissues of their debut LP "The Magnificent Moodies" .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Scene-Something That You Said: Some Things Age Well

THE SCENE-Something That You Said/Stop-Go U.K. Diamond DIA 003 1984

Those of you that are familiar with this blog will know my feelings on most 70's/80's "mod" records. Without going into one of my rants (which means I'm going to) a lot of it stems from my perception that a great deal of these bands didn't age well for me. Maybe it was the anthemic "youth" message that just lacks substance to a married 43 year old dad, maybe it was that some of them sounded like third rate Jam copyists. Another stumbling block on this genre for me is production and the reliance on the (then) contemporary production and recording effects. There'd be a band who looked mod but had guitars that sounded like U2 or god forbid, had a synthesizer. Now I'm not down on synths, Ultravox's "Vienna" LP is still a fave but I'm a firm believer in the dogma that if you're going to call yourself a mod band then you need a Hammond or some sort of combo organ or something that sounds like one. Enter The Scene. No anthems, no synths, no crappy clothes, no Flock of Seagulls style-production, no tinny/crappy sound and no scent of cash-in.

Flashback to October 1984, I'm in London at The Merc on Carnaby Street.  Though I'm not sure what this had to do with The Merc of today as this one was just a teeny little shop run by a friendly older Asian guy named Jimmy and it was pretty much nothing but records, fanzines, rally patches, badges and t-shirts (no clothes in sight).  On the wall there was this poster of these four sharp looking geezers called The Scene and copies of their single "Something That You Said" hanging everywhere and it looked amazing with four panel pics of each band members and stark minimalistic black and white graphics, serious looking.  I inquired what they were like and a few seconds later Jimmy obliged.  In stunned silence I listened and left the shop with a clutch of other "mod" records, among them six copies of "Something That You Said" for myself and my pals back in the States.  I was in a pub around the corner from Carnaby Street (god what the hell was the name of that place?!) looking over my finds and a few mods were eyeing me. Eventually one of them came over and chatted and then they all did and after numerous insults about my being American they were looking over my purchases and advised me to "bin" all the 45's except The Scene ones and that I should come with them to see The Scene play in a few nights (sadly I was going to be in Wales and missed ever seeing The Scene, but I left the place quite wobbly after my first ever pints of beer in a pub).  Without going into detail about the other records I bought that day let's suffice to say they were all sold eventually on E-bay in the late 90's with the exception of a few Squire singles I snagged and one other, today's entry.

The Scene had grown out of a band called 007 who'd been around since the early 80's .  As The Scene they had previously released an earlier single ("Looking For Love"/"Let Me Know"  Diamond DIA 001) in 1983 and at the time of this single's release their line-up was: Andy Welsh (vocals), Gary Wood (guitar), Russell Wood (bass) and Andy Orr (drums).

"Something That You Said" still sounds as brilliant today as it did to an 18 year old in London in 1984.  I think what grabbed me then and still does is that it has power. It's not tinny sounding.  What I love most about it are the "ba-ba-ba-ba's", they're reminiscent of The Action or any other great 60's band.  The gritty little guitar licks during the break are nifty and the whole thing is pretty damn forceful.  I think what appeals to me is it's firmly 60's influenced but it's still original in the fact that it's not a case of "let's get some crappy vintage Vox gear and make a shitty garage record".

The flip "Stop Go" was recorded live in Belfast (or so the sleeve claims) and shows the same vitality as the A-side and the band's Rickenbacker 330 firmly jangles through.  In fact it reminds me of The Plimsouls if they were British (and better dressers).  I seem to recall reading stories in the mod fanzine press back in the day that the band did an Irish tour where they allegedly spent all their cash early into it on booze.  I'm wondering if this was recorded on the same tour, if it's in fact true. Either way it's a great story and makes me wish I'd had the chance to meet these guys and hear them play.

Through FaceBook I've become acquainted with their guitarist Gary Wood who informs me that The Scene have reformed and are doing a bit of gigging in the U.K.  I've also recently discovered that all of their material (their three singles plus various tracks from compilation albums) is available on CD from Detour records along with recordings the band made prior when they were called 007.

Check out The Scene's MySpace page:

Hear "Something That You Said":

Hear "Stop-Go" :

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Move Part Two

THE MOVE-I Can Hear The Grass Grow/Wave The Flag And Stop The Train U.K. Deram DM 117 1967

Since we covered the whole Move story in an earlier posting (see August 13, 2009 entry) let's skip all that and get down to their second single . Their debut "Night Of Fear" rocketed to #2 in the U.K. charts turning the "five Brummie thickos" (as they were described by their late lead singer Carl Wayne) into over night stars. Stardom demanded a new single A.S.A.P. and in house tunesmith/lead guitarist Roy Wood responded. What always blew me away was that Roy Wood wrote some lyrically trippy tunes and was a professed and confirmed non-drug taker. Where most people suspected Roy's songs were about drugs more than often they dealt with mental illness (more on that in a bit).  Released on March 31, 1967 today's topic made it to #5 in the U.K. charts.

"I Can Hear The Grass Grow" indeed has a  sort of "psychedelic message":

"my mind's attracted to a magnetic wave of sound.  With the streams of colored circles making their way around".

Led by bassist Chris "Ace" Kefford's rumbling bass run intro , "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" is a perfect vehicle for The Move's well oiled "West Coast" harmony vocals machine and some very melodic licks and manic drumming keep it lively.  What I've always dug about The Move were their vocal prowess.  During the breaks Roy Wood takes a line while the rest do Beach Boy's styled "oo-oo-oo's" then Ace Kefford shows off his soulful Windwood style pipes for a line before it all comes back to lead singer Carl Wayne.  And that's rhythm guitarist Trevor Burton singing the barely discernible bass vocal parts on the chorus.

The flip, "Wave The Flag And Stop The Train" is another classic pre-perm (I'm referring to the period where some of the band got perms and they all started wearing kaftans and all that clobber) "mod era" Move track when they were as powerful as the Who or The Creation.  The chunky rhythm of this track is propelled by Ace's funky bass and Bev Bevan's classy but disciplined drum breaks, and of course once again the four man vocal team lends it's hand (and Roy even gets to sing a verse) before it all fades out. The lyrics?  About a girl trying to throw herself from a moving train.
The band listen to the playback of "I Can Hear The Grass Grow"

Both sides have been issued on numerous Move compilations but I strongly recommend the box set ("Anthology") that came out last year where you can hear both tracks in pristine quality!

The flower power pre-perm Move play "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" live on
German TV's "Beat Beat Beat"  June 26, 1967

Hear "I Can Hear The Grass Grow":

Hear "Wave Your Flag And Stop The Train":

Ace Kefford signing copies of "I Can Hear The Grass Grow"
at an April 1967 Move "in store"

The Move outside The Tiles, early 1967.  The mod look
is fading and the flower power look is coming.

"I Can Hear The Grass Grow" live on French TV 1967, try not to laugh at Car's showboating and bad hair.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Folk Rock!

SIMON & GARFUNKEL-Sounds Of Silence U.S. Columbia LP CL 2469 (mono); LP CS 9269 (stereo) 1966

1. "The Sounds of Silence"
2. "Leaves that Are Green"
3. "Blessed"
4. "Kathy's Song"
5. "Somewhere They Can't Find Me"

Side Two:
1. "Anji"
2. "Richard Cory"
3. "A Most Peculiar Man"
4. April Come She Will"
5. "We've Got A Groovy Thing Goin'"
6. "I Am A Rock"

So here's how this goes...two New Yorker's cut a few folk LP's and eventually get pissed off at each other and go their seperate ways.  One runs off to England for a month or so comes back (with a nice British accent, now how many American's do we know went over to Blimey and came back with accents?  Too many to list.)because there's this thing Bob Dylan invented called "folk rock" and the folks at CBS records have slapped the same sounds you heard on Mr. Zimmerman's brilliant "Like A Rolling Stone" onto some of their previously issued tracks like "Sounds Of Silence" and the kids are buying it faster than brill cream.

Enter our LP in question which was released on January 17, 1966.....for all of my jaded observations on the commercialism and cynicism about the the heartless, clueless and shameless U.S. record industry I love this album.  Was it a big attempt to cash in on "folk rock"?  Of course it was.  But once in awhile the suits get it right and come up with something that sounds great.  And being a 60's Anglophile it's been a base for a mother load of covers by British artists, in most cases hot on the heels of it's release (more on that further down)!

The LP kicks off with the somber "Sounds Of Silence".  I can remember tramping around a snowy sidewalk on the Lower East Side at about 2 or 3 in the morning (that's NYC) in the late 80's with this playing in my head .  It was one of those perfect moments for a perfect song, there were no iPods or CD Walkmans in existence then so I had to play it in my head.  Like a great deal of the tracks on this platter this is one of what I call "the table for one" soundtrack numbers that seem to reflect isolationism, disenchantment and unintentional solitude.  "Blessed" is another one that evokes all of that, plus all the name checking NYC places reminds me of the gritty Big Apple you saw in "Midnight Cowboy" and was still fairly visible when I was in my youth pounding the pavement's of NYC at ungodly hours and in (now gentrified) ungodly neighborhoods back in the mid/late 80's.

"I've got nowhere to go, I've walked around Soho for the last night or so..."

Of all the album's tracks this rates as one of my faves because it also evokes a nihilism fueled cynicism in it's lyrics that 43 years later still have an acidic bite to it:

"my words trickle down from a wound I have no intention to heal.......I have tended my own garden much too long"

"Somewhere They Can't Find Me" is one of my other choice favorites.  It's lyrical imagery of a part time crook on the run is interwoven in some groovy Fender Rhodes noodling and subtle trumpet care of Hugh Maskella (or so I've heard) and brilliant words from Rhymin' Simon before he became the musical vampire of Third World people in later years:

"oh baby you don't know what I've done.  I've committed a crime I've broken the law.  But when you were here sleeping and just dreaming of me I held up and robbed a liquor store..."

It's intro is a melody nicked from a track called "Anji" by our eternal hero Davey Graham, whom Simon was presumably turned onto during his brief U.K. sojourn.  Originally copies of the LP incorrectly credit Bert Jansch with writing the track. 

Which leads us to Side Two ....and a note for note cover version of Graham's acoustic instrumental "Anji, which though lacking the nimble fingers of the original still comes off pretty well and gets an A+ for probably being the first Americans to cover the master.  There are more bits of "plagiarism/inspiration".  The next "Richard Cory", is lifted from a poem by American poet Edwin Arlington Robinson in title and storyline, though Simon adds some gritty industrial realism with his lyrics while a groovy little three chord "Memphis" style lick shuffles in the backdrop amongst the "Highway 61 Revisited" style organ/guitar/bass/drums. Our song's protagonist is a wealthy industrialist/philanthropist, whose money can't buy him happiness so he goes home and puts one in his brain as seen through the eyes of a prole eking out a meager existence in one of his factories.  The suicide topic continues with a social observation on "A Most Peculiar Man" (pre-dating Ray Davies similar topic "Did you See His Name"), about a loner who ends it all as seen through the eyes of of his fellow apartment dwellers (one can easily imagine a 1960's NYC apartment building).  There's some brilliant stuff going on in this one, especially the discordant acoustic guitar slashes when the actual suicide is touched upon in the song and faint keyboards that sound like chimes. "We've Got A Groovy Thing Goin'" takes Nat Adderley's "Work Song" (made popular with rock n' roll crowd via fellow Columbia artist Oscar Brown Jr.) and rearranges a few notes and adds new lyrics, still it's a groovy little number!!  "I Am A Rock" closes the album.  It's perhaps the greatest misanthrope anthem of all time.  Again the groovy "Highway 61 Revisited" arrangement brings it home and again one can't help but conjure up seedy images of the old Big Apple before Disney/Giuliani wiped away the filth and an individual who doesn't want to move beyond the four walls that safely surround him. 

"I have my books and my poetry to protect me.  I am shielded in my armor. Hiding in my room, safe within my room, I touch no one and no one touches me"

Wow, solid stuff.

Of course our heroes across the pond wasted precious little time getting in on the "Sounds Of Silence" bandwagon. In the U.K. The Hollie's cut "I Am A Rock" on their January '66 LP "Would You Believe" (Parlophone PMC 7008), Justin & Karlsson cut a decent version of "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" in February '66 (Piccadilly 7N 35295), Adam, Mike & Tim served up " A Most Peculiar Man" in April '66 (Columbia DB 7902), Them released  their final single with Van Morrison, a rocking version of "Richard Cory" in May '66 (Decca F 12403) and The Kytes released "Blessed" in June of '66 (Pye 7N 17136).  Of course none of these made any chart impact whatsoever as the originals were riding high in Britannia. While over in Sweden Ola & The Jangler's cut a half decent version of "We've Got A Groovy Thing Goin'" in their mother country as the flip side to "Poetry In Motion" (Gazell C-186) in '66.

1985 East Coast Mod Scene Anthem

THE ARTWOODS-I Feel Good/Molly Anderson's Cookery Book U.K. Decca F 12465 1966

Back in 1985 everyone on the East Coast Mod Scene that was in my little clique (well not "mine" but one i belonged to) owned about half a dozen of them same LP's. Among them were Georgie Fame's "20 Beat Classics", The Action's "The Ultimate Action" on Edsel Records and another Edsel compilation LP "100 Oxford Street" by The Artwoods. I first heard The Arwood's "What Shall I Do" (more on that 45 soon) on a various artists LP called "My Generation" (see December 18, 2009 entry). I liked it and wanted to hear more and took a gamble on their above mentioned Edsel album. The track that blew me away instantly was "I Feel Good". I turned my pals Mod Fun onto it and they began covering it live. By now the number had reached legendary status in our crowd.

Fast forward to 25 years later.  By now I've long been familiar with the original version by Benny Spellman, which I admit I prefer, in fact I rarely listen to The Artwoods these days, but this number still has it's charm in nostalgia for me.  For those not in the know The Artwoods were fronted by Ron Wood's brother Art, with Derek Griffith's (guitar), Malcolm Pool (bass) future Deep Purple man Jon Lord (organ) and Keef Hartley (drums). Signed to the Decca label they released 5 singles, an impossibly rare E.P. and an equally unobtainable for less than a month's pay-check LP ("Art Gallery") before moving to Parlophone for their last 45 as The Artwoods (their final 45 was issued under the pseudonym of The St. Valentine's Day Massacre on Fontana in 1967).  Like many of their mod/r&b peers the band relied heavily on U.S. soul/jazz/blues and r&b covers.

Released in August of 1966 The Artwood's version of "I Feel Good" bears little resemblance to the plodding, steady, horns driven Benny Spellman original.  Instead it relies on a crisp fuzz guitar and a trebly bass that kick the song in at twice the speed of the original.  Art Wood's lead vocals lack the soul of the original of course but Lord's underlying Hammond and the band's subtle backing vocals give it a life of it's own.  On the flip we have the wonderful "Molly Anderson's Cookery Book". On their previous single, a year earlier the did a fuzzed out cover of Sam & Dave's "I Take What I Want " (Decca F 12384).  The flipside was a cheeky jazzy instrumental curiously titled "I'm Looking For A Saxophonist Doubling French Horn Wearing Size 37 Boots".  On our single in question they repeated the zaniness with "Molly..".  Essentially it's a chance for Griffith's and Lord to play Wes Montgomery and Brother Jack McDuff while Wood recites a bizarre recipe ("add 73 Spanish newts....and one sound proof gorilla") in deadpan delivery. 

"I Feel Good" has appeared on all The Artwoods CD compilations (there were 3 of them the last time I checked) and "Molly Anderson's Cookery Book" has finally been reissued on Repertoire's "Singles A's & B's" (after being omitted from "100 Oxford Street" and the CD reissue w/ bonus tracks of their sole LP "Art Gallery").

Hear "I Feel Good":

Hear "Molly Anderson's Cookery Book":

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mod Anthems: Part Two

THE COASTERS-Shoppin' For Clothes U.S. Atco 45-6178

I'm sorry kids but it doesn't get any closer to defining what "Anorak Thing" is all about than this amazing record by The Coasters.  I first heard this on a cassette tape back in the mid 80's when a Welsh mod penpal named David Kennard (where are you now mate?) sent me a tape of a BBC radio documentary on mods filled with great clips of music and comments by original mods.  Playing in the background were a variety of tunes, some of which I've yet to decipher, some I already knew.  The quest led me to some amazing finds (it was here I first heard Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbird's "Buzz With The Fuzz" and The Ikettes "I'm Blue (Gong Gong Song)").  It also led me, eventually to this track.

It's somber, slow, cool, suave and above all it's about a guy going into a shop to buy a suit:

"I was shopping for a suit the other day
And walked into the department store
I stepped on the elevator and told the girl
"Dry goods floor"

When I got off I saw a salesman was coming to me
He said "Now, what can I do for you"
I said "Well go in there and show me all the sport's clothes
Like you're supposed to"

He said, "Well, sure, come on in buddy
Dig these fabrics we got laid out on the shelf"
He said "Pick yourself out one
Try it on, stand in the mirror and dig yourself"

Ohhhhhh...That suit's pure herringbone
Ohhhhhh...Yeah, that's a suit I'd like to own
Ohhhhhh...Buddy, that suit is you
Ohhhhhh...Yeah, I believe it too

I see for the business man you feature the natural shoulder
That retail, wholesale indeed
It's got the custom cuffs and the walking short
He said "And I'm gonna let you have at a steal"

And for the playboy you have the latest in tweed
With the cut-away flap over twice
It's a box-back, two button western model
He said, "Now ain't that nice"

Ohhhhhh...Them buttons are solid gold
Ohhhhhh...You made a deal, sold
Ohhhhhh...That collar's pure camel hair
Ohhhhhh...Well, you can just set it down right in that chair

Now you go back there and you get that paper and let me sign on the dotted line
And I'll make sure I get all my payments in right on time
Hey wait a minute buddy, let me go back there and do a little checking on you
Then the man come back, he said "I'm sorry my man but your credit didn't go through"
Why, what you mean

Ohhhhhh...Ain't this a shame
Ohhhhhh...My heart's in pain
Ohhhhhh...Pure, pure herringbone
Ohhhhhh...That's a suit you'll never own
Oh, Lord have mercy
I got a good job, sweeping up after school... "

Hear "Shoppin' For Clothes":

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Manfred Mann:Pop Jazzbos Part Two

MANFRED MANN-Instrumental Assassination E.P.: Side One: Sunny/Wild Thing Side Two: Get Away/With A Girl Like You U.K. Fontana TE 17483 1967

As previously discussed in our May 28, 2009 installment, Manfred Mann were no strangers to jazz and as we discussed in that date's posting on they'd already released "Instrumental Asylum" (U.K. HMV 7EG 8949) an E.P. with jazzy versions of four current pop hits.   With a switch from HMV to Fontana in August of 1966 AND a new lead singer (former Band of Angels lead singer Mike D'Abo who replaced Paul Jones) the Manfred's had seen their share of personnel shuffling.

In December 1966 they released a second E.P. of jazz styled interpretations of the top forty called "Instrumental Assassination".   The line up for the E.P. comprised of Manfred Mann on keyboards, Mike Hugg on drums/vibes, Tom McGuinness on guitar, Dave Richmond on double bass, and strangely, new bassist Klaus Voorman on recorder.  Presumably this was an "in" joke and also presumably because the E.P. was perhaps recorded before Voorman had joined?  I'm a little unclear on that one. Housed in a stylish E.P. sleeve bearing an image of a Walther P-38 pistol in a bold font it's eye catching.

Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" (also a sizable hit for Georgie Fame in the U.K. in September 1966) is first on the chopping block. It's sloppy and sounds like a bunch of the guys went to the pub, got pissed, came back and cut a half hearted jazz version of "Sunny" accented by some slightly off key shouting the chorus in unison.  Next.  Their label mates Trogg's "Wild Thing" is next, it's interesting because Manfred utilizes a Mellotron which gives it a more "way out" feel.  Side Two's "reading" of Georgie Fame's U.K. #1 "Getaway" is my fave of the lot.  It starts out with a voice chanting "Getaway" deep enough to sound like a bullfrog croaking and moves swiftly into a swinging vibes led groover with some excellent drumming by Mike Hugg and some nice Hammond complementing the vibes.  The Troggs are again the subject (odd how the E.P. is essentially two Troggs and two Georgie Fame hits!), this time it's "With A Girl Like You".  It begins with a sawing double bass and progresses into a descending military march where each instrumental (guitar, vibes etc) all come in one at a time.  It doesn't get as swinging as "Getaway" but it's still quite interesting, of course slightly marred by the drunken sounding "vocals" (luckily away from the mikes) and every time you think the number is about to end the military march drumbeat resurrects it!

Strangely the E.P. actually managed a U.K. chart placing (#40, their lowest chart placing in the U.K. for a 7" to date), their lowest chart placing to date and it is interesting to note it was produced by Shel Talmy (who began working with the band upon their signing to Fontana).  I'm not certain if it has ever been reissued as any Fontana era CD compilations seem to have overlooked it.

Hear "Getaway":

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Syd Sings!

SYD BARRETT-Octopus/Golden Hair U.K. Harvest HAR 5009 1969

When The Pink Floyd decided not to pick him up any more on the way to a gig in the Spring of 1968 the world had wrongly assumed it had heard the last of Syd Barrett. On November 14, 1969 he was back with a new single produced by ex-bandmates David Gilmour and Roger Waters.  Both the A and B sides were new and would later crop on his debut LP "The Madcap Laughs" (a line in "Octopus") released in January 1970 (U.K. Harvest SHVL 765).

Unless you've been living in a mud hut in Paupa New Guinea or a cave in Afghanistan since 1967 you'll know this so I won't bore you with the stories of Pink Floyd's late founding father Syd Barrett.  You don't need to know how wiggy he was either.  If you do you can read the lyrics to "Octopus":

"Trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro'
you have no word
trip, trip to a dream dragon
hide your wings in a ghost tower
sails cackling at every plate we break
cracked by scattered needles
the little minute gong
coughs and clears his throat
madam you see before you stand
hey ho, never be still
the old original favorite grand
grasshoppers green Herbarian band
and the tune they play is "In Us Confide"
so trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro'
you have no word
Please leave us here
close our eyes to the octopus ride!

Isn't it good to be lost in the wood
isn't it bad so quiet there, in the wood
meant even less to me than I thought
with a honey plough of yellow prickly seeds
clover honey pots and mystic shining feed...
well, the madcap laughed at the man on the border
hey ho, huff the Talbot
"Cheat" he cried shouting kangaroo
it's true in their tree they cried
Please leave us here
close our eyes to the octopus ride!

The madcap laughed at the man on the border
hey ho, huff the Talbot
the winds they blew and the leaves did wag
they'll never put me in their bag
the seas will reach and always seep
so high you go, so low you creep
the wind it blows in tropical heat
the drones they throng on mossy seats
the squeaking door will always squeak
two up, two down we'll never meet
so merrily trip forgo my side
Please leave us here
close our eyes to the octopus ride!"

Needless to say you get the drift. But for me there's something entertaining to this track. Sure it's pure gobbledygook, but it's entertaining gobbledygook from it's choppy chaotic chord/key/tempo changes (recording with Syd must've surely been an exercise in patience AND madness) and Syd's rapid fire wordplay delivery. Try and sing it all sometime and not screw it up. Mad genius indeed. The flip, "Golden Hair" is a James Joyce poem put to music. I'm not terribly down with poetry, and certainly not any by James Joyce and even a Syd fan like me can't be converted by him mucking around with some. But you've got to give the boy credit for pulling it off. It's spooky and lovely!

Of course the single went absolutely nowhere and became extremely collectible, copies before Barrett's death in 2006 were changing hands in the vicinity of $100-$200, and have since tripled.

Our hero outside his Earl's Court Square flat 1969.
Pic by Mick Rock, the Pontiac was Syd's.

As mentioned earlier both tracks are available on his debut LP "The Madcap Laughs", which you should hear at least once before you check out. There's also a groovy version of "Octopus" called "Clowns And Jugglers" where Syd is joined by The Soft Machine who back him.  This was lovingly unearthed for the outtakes compilation "Opel".

Hear "Octopus":

Hear "Golden Hair":

Hear "Clowns And Jugglers":

Syd badge from Ivor Trueman's "Opel" fanzine, 1980's.
I've still got mine somehow!

The JB 7's Last Stand at the R&B Corral

THE JOHN BARRY SEVEN-Twenty Four Hours Ago/Seven Faces U.K. Columbia DB 7414 1964

I'm not going to give you a run down on the history of Sir John Barry and his beat instrumental combo The "JB 7" as their drum logo proclaimed, but I will tell you two things about our 45 in question: it was their last and it was their first to feature vocals!

By 1964 The JB 7 had logged an impressive 11 singles, but by this time the veritable band which had been a who's who of British session musicians (among them pianist/arranger Les Reed, guitarist Vic Flick and drummer Bobby Graham) was barely a shell of it's former self.  In 1963 Barry left the band in the hand's of trumpeter Alan Bown remaining part of the band in name only.  By the time of this singles recording the band's line-up was: Bown (trumpet), Mike O'Neill (vocals/keyboards), Terry Childs (baritone sax), Dave Green (tenor sax), Ron Mencinos (guitar), Stan Haldene (bass) and Ernie Cox (drums).

Released in November of 1964, "Twenty Four Hours Ago" suffers from a somewhat strained vocal performance but the musical backing is solid.  With the full power of three horns and added Hammond organ the band could easily have passed for a Flamingo Club "Hammond n' horns" r&b combo.  The flip side, the mod-titled "Seven Faces" is far superior.  It's a mod-jazzy instrumental that's led by Bown's trumpet with some tasty Hammond licks and brilliant sax work and could easily be confused as an outtake by The Graham Bond Organization or Zoot Money's Big Roll Band.

The John Barry Seven (Alan Bown far right)

The band disintegrated shortly after this single and Alan Bown took sax men Haldene and Green with him along with Mike O'Neil's replacement Jeff Bannister to form the nucleus of Anorak Thing friendly mod/r&b band The Alan Bown Set, but that, as they say is another story for another time!

"Twenty Four Hours Ago"  and "Seven Faces" were reissued on the CD collection "John Barry: The EMI Years 1962-1964 Volume Three".

Hear "Twenty Four Hours Ago":

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Great British 60's Freaky 45's

THE SLEEPY-Love's Immortal Fire U.K. CBS 3532 1968

Every now and then you come upon a record by a band you've never heard of and the song just blows your mind you find yourself thinking "how come I've never heard this or how come nobody I know has ever turned me onto this?".   A number of years ago my then girlfriend and I hit Rockit Scientist in NYC (NYC's grooviest CD/vinyl emporium) and I bought this CD compilation of U.K. 60's tracks in a D.I.Y. series called "Jagged Time Lapse" and several glasses of red wine later we were playing this track over and over.  In fact thanks to it's brilliance (and perhaps the wine) decided to skip going back into NYC to attend "Smashed Blocked" and just stay in and continue to groove on this tune.

Years later I'm no closer to knowing who they were or what their story is, but I'm still blown away by this record.  It's got all my favorite mid/late 60's ingredients: flute, a groovy Hammond organ, vocals by a guy who sounds suitably stoned and "mellow", man. The groove it lays down is down right infectious. It's like some song from an imaginary 60's Swinging London film I came up with in my head years ago while being nice, only better. It's good to know that after 25+ years of "Rubble", "Chocolate Soup" and "Electric Sugarcube Flashbacks" there are still a great deal of amazing British psych records like this that have yet to be comped!

Hear it for yourself and be forever changed:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dozens Like Us

THE PURPLE HEARTS-Millions Like Us/Beat That U.K. Fiction FICS 003 1979

Back in 1981 at the height of my mod mania a friend scored a pile of U.K. "new wave" 45's at a local flea market for .50 a piece.  Among them was the debut single by a U.K.'79 mod band, The Purple Hearts (not to be confused with those Antipodean 60's r&b/freakbeat/mod legends of the same moniker).  Luckily I managed to persuade him to pass it onto me after a good deal of begging, pleading, bribing etc.  Being the lone mod in a small little gang of punks in a rural New Jersey town I took a lot of verbal ribbing from my friends (a nice alternative to the rib kickings we'd often take from the knuckle dragging headbangers or testosterone filled jocks).  One of them derisively referred to the record as "Dozen's Like Us" as his mock ultimate mod putdown and on ocassion took to referring to me as "Shadbolt Stebbing" (two of the band's members last names). 

Nearly 30 years later most of the '79 mod bands I listened to in the early 80's provide little more than a nostalgic flash that's usually well and truly over after a playing (or attempting playing) of a 2-3 hour iTunes "'79 mods playlist".  Most of The Purple Hearts '79/'80 material for some reason, still appeals to me (Squire and the odd Chords number too), and none more so than this brilliant debut 45 launched in August 1979 just as the Summer of Mod was in some ways drawing to a close. I think what doomed a vast majority of '79 mod bands was their tendency (intentional or not) to come off like a poor man's Jam.  The Purple Hearts vitality, brutality and angst filled 2-3 minute power pop bursts transcended the usual '79 stuff.  True "Millions Like Us" might sound anthemic in it's title but it's sincere and doesn't get up on it's "mod soapbox" with boasting like "Glory Boys" or any of that.  It was far more appealing to this 14-15 year old's ears and mind and still is:

"I wonder why we got so much to prove,
I wonder why we carry on like we do....."

Or my favorite line, which still holds true today:

"You can live by yourself and bore yourself,
you can survive on anything at all, but unless
you're putting something in you'll get nothing
out you'll never win..."

Of course all of this is delivered over a cacophony of harmonious, powerful '65 Who/'66 Creation styled power chords, rave ups, feedback, slashing guitars and a thumping beat. I don't think there was ever a finer record offered by any British mod scene after the 60's, and probably never will. The best part of it all is the slow boil rave up that starts at about 1:54 into the track that builds to a crescendo of pure mod/power pop mayhem.

The flipside, "Beat That" is equally cool.  A little slower and more chaotic/discordant than the A-side it's still spunky with some searing cynicism from the pen of guys who were probably just out of their late teens and living at home with mom and dad:

"Oh how I wish it hadn't happened,
oh how I wish I hadn't been caught,
there's a mortgage and it's over my
head I've got a wife and two kids to
support.  The divorce came through
the other day..."

The B-side was re-recorded for the band's debut LP "Beat That" where it lost a bit of it's spark. But The Purple Hearts went on to make some more great records, covering , and in turn turning me onto 60's Bowie ("I Can't Help Thinking About Me") and The Equals ("The Guy Who Made Her A Star"). Luckily both sides of the 45 were added as bonus cuts (along w/ the other Purple Heart's Fiction records 45 tracks) for the CD reissue of the "Beat That" album and someone at Rhino records had the forward thinking to include "Millions..." on their power pop compilation "Starry Eyes-UK Pop 2 1977-1979" in their magnificent "D.I.Y" series.

Hear "Millions Like Us":

The Purple Hearts in the film "Rough Cut And Ready Dubbed".

POSTSCRIPT:The latest (September-October 2010) issue of "Shindig!" magazine features a spread on The Purple Hearts. For more info go to: