Friday, October 29, 2010


GARY FARR & THE T-BONES (featuring Keith Emerson) with special guest Chris Barber live 1966:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part Nineteen: Wilson Pickett

WILSON PICKETT-Mini Skirt Mini/Back In Your Arms/Born To Be Wild/Toe Hold  E.P. Portugal Atlantic E.P.02-59 1968

October's Picks!

1. The Len Price Three-“Rentacrowd”
I’m never one for “new” bands but my pal Kate sent me a link of the video for this one and it blew me away. This number is sort of a cheeky/chappy laddish power pop type thing. I played it for my wife and she said “I’ve heard this before” until I pointed out that no she hadn't, she was thinking of The Who’s “Substitute”. I like this one because it’s got lots of attitude and delivered quite nicely, it's a good two finger salute to all these crap "bedroom bands" who thanks to the internet can create an "image" without actually playing or the dreadful and faceless wonders that I like to call "fan bands".  Have a peek at the video below:

2. The La’s-“Doledrum”
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away an old girlfriend turned me onto The La’s sole, untitled LP. It still has it’s moments for me, and no track is better exemplified than this one. My favorite bit of the tune is the swirl of ethereal voices in lieu of a guitar solo. I like The La's because they made one album and then vanished which is a pretty unique thing to to do unlike Blur who hung around way past their expiration date.

3. Gabor Szabo-“Mizrab
From his recently reissued on CD 1967 LP “Jazz Raga’ (aka the “Sitar Scooter” album amongst us anoraks as it’s sleeve features a mod looking fellow astride a scooter clutching a sitar). Gabor lays down some intricate guitar picking with (as the title suggests) a raga slant amongst layers of trippy guitar goodness.

4. Andy Lewis-"Come Away With Me"
From his second LP “You Should Be Hearing Something Now”, Weller bassist and Blow Up club DJ/founder lays down a really dreary sound behind guest vocalist Johnny Cooke.  The instrumentation reminds me of a cross between some imaginary film score by Les Reed or Tisley’s instrumentation on the horribly (unjustly) criticized Pretty Thing’s album “Emotions”. Awhile back I put together a CD soundtrack for a fake film called “The Girl Who Lived Upstairs” and included this, which sat well amongst 60’s tracks that evoked “kitchen sink”.

5. Scott Walker-“The Rope And The Colt”
The odd man out on the essential Scott Walker CD compilation “Boy Child” is this spaghetti Western film track where Scott sings uncomfortably of a land where the rope and Colt (the gun not the type of horse) “are king”. The part of the track that really blows me away is the simplistic guitar solo that sounds straight off an Ennio Morricone record and the backing vocalists who sound like The Jordanaires!

6. Scott Walker-“Little Things(That Keep Us Together)”
It’s a Scott Walker kinda month, but autumn always was the time of year that I first went whole hog on his stuff many years back and his music lends itself perfectly to the season. “Little Things..” also lends itself perfectly to the current mind numbing news headlines that preach nothing but death tolls and misery to the point that it’s almost desensitized us and turned us into self centered emotionally numb zombies. From his last good LP "Till The Band Comes In". Like the song says:
Find a place you can hide, the time will arrive when you need a friend, stop looking at us we’re waving goodbye…”

7. Bobby Hutcherson-“Head Start”
From his 1966 LP “Happenings”, Bobby lays down a barrage of groovy vibes (atmospherically enhanced by some fine piano work by Herbie Hancock) throughout the album and this is the pick of the litter. Nice as either background OR foreground music!

8. The Rolling Stones-“Stray Cat Blues”
Laugh if you will or shake your heads in disbelief but I hadn’t heard this song before I bought it from iTunes last week. I was familiar with the live version from “Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out” (which I had when I was 11 or 12) but not the original on “Beggar’s Banquet”. I’ve never been a fan of too much post-psychedelia Stones but this one’s interesting. It sounds really half baked, like a demo or something but it’s earthy (in a good way) and we’re not even talking about the lyrics!  Now I've gotta order Keef's book......

9. Factory-“Path Through The Forrest”
This one is an insane mega rare U.K. 1967 psychedelic classic that I’ve loved for almost 25 years now and recently rediscovered. I think the only thing trippier than this song was Dr. Hoffman’s legendary bike ride home from the lab! With its layers of intricate clockwork guitar work, lysergic metronome beat and eerie vocals it’s one of the most psychedelic records ever made.

10. Reg King-“So Full Of Love”
When I read on the Internet that Reggie King, lead singer of one of my favorite 60’s bands The Action passed away I began immediately revisiting all of his stuff. This melancholy “lost track” from the sessions from 1969 (with pretty much all of his old band mates from the last Action line up) cropped up on a vinyl only 10” E.P. called “Missing In Action” and I dare say it betters anything on the LP. With its tabla and “Rolled Gold/Brain” era Action styled harmonies it’s a winner in my book. Good bye Reg, rest in peace.

Some more for Reg because just one isn't enough..........

11. The Action-"It Really Doesn't Matter Anymore"
"Whatever you've got to do, do tomorrow, cos it really does matter anymore..."
There are so many great tracks on "Rolled Gold " (or "Brain", if like me you owned them both) and it's hard to pick one but this is among them.  Behind the "Never Ever" era Action sound on this tune is a heavy riff that's a precursor of things to come with Mighty Baby and some congas/tabla giving it that "Eastern feel".

12. The Action-"Come Around"
This one is my fave from "Rolled Gold/Brain", at least today it is.  I'll let the lyrics say the rest:

"Let us be one another, let us put our hearts together,
Let the god in each of us reach out and kiss the sky above,
Let us walk in angel's footsteps, treading softly to the ground
and we will try for it is easy, come around,
Let us show one another things we never usually see
love and kindness now together gave to you and you to me,
Cos I'm growing up and dying and thinking bout my life,
Button down your collar, straighten up your tie, stand by,
stand by,
Said there is a reason to live in misery, stand by, stand by,
Come around, come around",

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rare 1967 Action Photo Unearthed!

Wiggy pic of the brief  Reggie King/Ian Whiteman line up circa 1967!  Dig Bam's stache!

Paddy, Klaus & Gibson

PADDY, KLAUS & GIBSON-No Good Without You Baby/Rejected U.K. Pye 7N.17060 1966

Cream were NOT the first Sixties "supergroup power trio".  That moniker goes to Paddy, Klaus & Gibson.  Liverpudlians Paddy Chambers(lead vocals/guitar) and Gibson Kemp (drums) had been in a multitude of Liverpool beat groups between them like The Big Three, Faron's Flamingos, Rory Storme and The Hurricanes, Kingsize Taylor and The Dominos and The Eyes(not to be confused with the mod/freakbeat icons of the same name).  Klaus Voorman (bass) of course was one of the Hamburg "exi's" who were old pals with The Beatles.  The band were managed by Tony Stratton-Smith (who also managed The Koobas and The Creation) who secured them a deal with Pye records, though eventually he was bought out by Brian Epstein. The band cut three singles before breaking up in late 1966.  Paddy went on to join the final line up of The Escorts (see Anorak Thing May 3, 2010 entry), Klaus did the cover of The Fab Four's "Revolver" and The Bee Gee's 1st LP and replaced Jack Bruce in Manfred Mann.  I can't claim to know where that left Gibson Kemp?!

This was their second Pye single which was released in February 1966. "No Good Without You Baby" is a tepid, lifeless, soulless version of the Marvin Gaye number which had already been masterfully covered by The Birds in October 1965 as the A-side of Decca F 12257.  The flipside, "Rejected" (not to be confused with the amazing single by The Fenmen of the same name) is a different kettle of fish.  It's a catchy, rhythmic little number with some laid back Georgie Fame-ish style vocals, stride piano, a jazzy beat and is imminently danceable.  The lyrics are pretty amusing, concerning a guy who takes two jobs to please a materialistic woman who leaves him for another man because he's never home.

"No Good Without You Baby" was reissued on Sequel's CD compilation "Doin' The Mod 2: Jump And Dance" while "Rejected" appeared on their "Doin The Mod 1: The Go Go Train" CD.

Hear "Rejected":

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Morning breaks, sun comes up, no mistakes, hangs me up....Reg King R.I.P.

I hate to whinge on about something that might be perceived as silly, but you'll have to bear with me......

I had the strangest of dreams last night involving two deceased, missed aunts and an ex who is, to me, deceased but not at all missed.  In the dream The Action's "In My Dreams" was playing faintly.  I woke up in a weird mood.  I played the track all the way to work during my 12 mile commute.  It seemed fitting.

Reg King was laid to rest today. A gentleman in the U.K. whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting (and whom I know through a mutual acquaintance) and who is an amazingly talented writer went to the service today with his mum.  He told me that the minister spoke of how Reg charmed the nurses in the hospital with his singing near the end of his battle with cancer.  And still no mention in the national press.  If you Google Reg King The Action R.I.P. all you will read are postings on mod related message boards and blogs, like this one.  Not one mention in the National Press or anywhere else, just the dedicated. The closest of any mention is some sterling comments by Phil Collins on the band in a recent interview about his Motown covers CD on Billboard's website from a few weeks back.  The greatest white soul singer Britain has ever produced is gone and not a mention of his passing anywhere, but Paul the freaking Octopus gets a big obit on the Beeb's website.  In my eyes the Octopus died in 2006 and his name was Roger Keith Barrett.  He was my first hero to die.  Reg King was my second.  I'm going to the pub at lunch and having a pint for him.

I went to the pub at lunch yesterday and had a pint for him and re-read my two first real Action pieces of genuine info: the "Record Collector" article on them from the 80's and the segment on them in Kev Pearce's book "Something Beginning With O". In retrospect hopefully Reg will get some accolades, I am hopeful that "Mojo" will do a piece on him and I'm sure Paul Weller and Phil Collins will have something to say.


CALEB-Baby Your Phrasing Is Bad/Woman Of Distinction U.K. Phillips BF 1588 1967

Okay folks we're onto something(s) here. First off this is the second time in our blog history where we've written about a record that I've never owned or even seen a copy of (the first was discussed here). Second, and like that post it's one of the most insanely expensive AND insanely brilliant British psychedelic records of the 60's, and of all time for that matter..........

Without turning this into a Wikipedia entry, Caleb Quaye was a session musician for Dick James Music (he later, through this connection would wind up playing guitar for Elton John, among others) and producer (The Loot, Apple etc). When I first heard "Baby Your Phrasing Is Bad" back in 1985 on my friend Rudie's copy of "The 49 Minute Technicolour Dream" my mind was blown.  At our pal Mick from Mod Fun's urging we both went out and snagged the two "Rubble" volumes he recommended at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ.  I bought "The Psychedelic Snarl" which featured it's flip side , "Woman Of Distinction".  And like the lead off track from "The 49 Minute.." said "strange things are happening".  It was as if my uptight mod consciousness about psychedelia was blown to bits upon hearing that track.  There was no turning back, I was now, very nearly a fully fledged psychedelic mod.  There are lots of "defining moments" in "modernism" for me and this was one I will always remember.  Up till then nearly ever band I liked, save The Pink Floyd, could be justifiably connected to "mod" in some way.  There was no way of that happening with either side of this record!  What also amazes me was that a few years back I discovered Caleb Quaye was not some back combed bouffant wearing British white boy he was actually a light skinned black gentleman, proving, once again, there are indeed many colors in our psychedelic rainbow!!

"Baby Your Phrasing Is Bad" uses the same groovy phasing effect that The Small Faces utilized on the drums on "Itchycoo Park", but the WHOLE song is run through a "phaser".  It's sonic trippery throughout the entire number, like one big oscillating mindblower.  The lyrics are sort of trippy too and I'm not sure if they're about a cat who can't understand his gal because her phrasing is bad or because he's so far out there he can't figure out what she's saying. "Woman Of Distinction" applies the same effect but the song is not as "out there" as the A-side. It's a medium paced number that almost reminds me of The Apple (whom Caleb produced actually!), just as good as the A-side though certainly not as mind numbingly lysergic!

Both sides of have cropped up in many places.  "Baby.." is on Rubble's Volume Two "The 49 Minute Technicolour Dream", "Chocolate Soup For Diabetics Volume Five" and Rhino's "Nuggets II" box set, while "Woman Of Distinction" appears on Rubble Two "The Psychedelic Snarl" and "Chocolate Soup For Diabetics Volume 4".

Caleb Quaye

Hear "Baby Your Phrasing Is Bad":

Hear "Woman Of Distinction":

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reggie King R.I.P.

Words are flitting around the Internet that Reggie King, the lead singer of one of my fave 60's bands The Action, has passed away. After lots of back and forths between my peeps and I on FaceBook Pete Watson's daughter Luann was kind enough to pop me a line telling me that it was confirmed by her dad that Reg had indeed passsed away from cancer and would be buried tomorrow.  I wrote this dozen's of times today on FaceBook and I will write it for the final time: it would've been awful if this had been a rumor but even more so if it were to be true.  Two of my fellow Action fans/scribes over in the U.K. have fittingly paid their tributes which I strongly suggest you read:

I'm not really sure what to write.  I'm not one of those guys who gets all philosophical on his blog or on FaceBook when So and So from "Happy Days" or the guy who played harmonica on "Grooving At The Mud Hole" dies. I reserve these moments for people who really affected me in some way instead of being just some pop culture has-been foot note. The Action, along with The Small Faces and Georgie Fame are, however my favorite 60's band.  From their Motown covers to their half baked (double entendre) "lost Sessions" CD/LP "Brain/Rolled Gold" and even Reg's 1971 untitled solo LP (and it's even more brilliant outtakes mini LP "Lost In Action") Reg's voice set the band apart from others.  It didn't matter if he was crooning soul covers, aping the West Coast harmony sound of the Association , getting heady with tracks like "Brain" or back to the blue eyed soul stuff with "You Go And Have Yourself A Good Time" on his solo LP Reg knew how to deliver the goods in his own style. Unlike many of his peers and contemporaries Reg didn't try to sound like anybody else, he sounded like Reg.

I think with his passing it's best to let the man himself sum it up with a song that perfectly suits when someone else has moved on with "You Go And Have Yourself A Good Time":

Rest in Peace Reg.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy B-Day Manfred: Manfred Mann Mark One E.P. Number Four

MANFRED MANN-There's No Living Without Your Loving/Let's Go Get Stoned/Tired Of Trying, Bored with Lying, Scared Of Dying/I Put A Spell On You U.K. E.P. HMV 7EG 8922 1965

This was the last E.P. released by what I call the "classic" Manfred's line up before guitarist Mike Hugg split.

"There's No Living Without Your Loving" is one of those ballad's lead singer Paul Jones was so fond of.  Not really an awful track but by no means a great one either.  The band's cover of the Ashford/Simpson composition "Let's Go Get Stoned" is brilliant.  It's soulful, it's jazzy (with some neat little B-3 licks by Manfred) and it swings and by the time it's over you want to "stop by the wine shop on your way home and say let's go get stoned".  The crown jewel of the E.P. for me is "Tired Of Trying, Bored With Lying, Scared Of Dying". It's a brilliant social commentary from the pen of Paul Jones addressing xenophobia, teenagers, racism etc:

"You cry about the teenagers for breaking your rules, it don't occur to you you never built enough schools.."

"the fascists horrify you it's a sin and a shame, discrimination, immigration what's in a name.."

The number is delivered with some rocking piano tinkling and very distorted guitar licks with usual top notch vocals from Paul Jones. I've always been suspect of versions of Screaming Jay Hawkins "I Put A Spell On You", but this version is an exception. It's actually probably one of the better versions I've heard with some very soulful vocals from Paul Jones and a moody/jazzy feel throughout the whole number care of some subtle organ, enthusiastic backing vocals from the rest of the boys and a kick ass sax solo!

All of the tracks on this E.P. can be found on the essential Manfred Mann CD compilation. "Down The Road Apiece: Their EMI Recordings 1963-1966".

Hear "Tired Of Trying....":

Hear "I Put A Spell On You":

Ian & The Zodiacs

IAN & THE ZODIACS-Why Can't It Be Me/ Leave It To Me U.S. Phillips 40343 1966

Like our hero's The Remo Four, Ian and The Zodiacs were one of those Liverpool bands who were virtually unnoticed "back home" and packed off to Germany where they worked for nearly three years achieving a modicum of stardom and success over there.

This 45 was criminally unissued in the U.K. and came out in Germany on Star Club and Phillips in the U.S.  It's easily one of my most favorite records by a 60's Liverpool band.  It's got a cool underlying riff beneath it all and some powerful vocals from lead singer Ian Edwards. The track reminds me, musically, of a mid 60's Roy Orbison number with some a "mod" feel to it.  "Leave It To Me" is more of a ballad thing with an acoustic guitar and harmonies, reminds me of Peter and Gordon or Chad & Jeremy, not bad but pales with that rocking A-side!

Ian & The Zodiacs perform "Why Can't It Be Me" live on German TV's "Beat Club" 1966

"Why Can't It Be Me" was on the Dig The Fuzz compilation LP "Clap Hands Daddy Come Home" and both sides of the 45 were featured as  bonus tracks on the CD reissue on one of their Star Club LP "Just Listen To.." on Repertoire,
The band's lead singer Ian Edwards sadly passed away in October 2007.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

David Bowie 60's Covers: Billy Fury

BILLY FURY-Silly Boy Blue/One Minute Woman U.K. Parlophone R 5681 1968

Despite the fact that he was still an unknown David Bowie had chalked up a few releases of his compositions by other artists, in no small part due to the persistance of his manager Kenneth Pitt. Among them were Kenny Miller ("Take My Tip" Stateside SS 405, April 1965), Oscar ("Over The Wall We Go" Reaction 591012 January 1967), Ronnie Hilton ("The Laughing Gnome" HMV Pop 1600 July 1967) and Pitt's other act, The Beatsalkers doing what would be the first of three Bowie tracks ("Silver Tree Top School For Boys" CBS 3105 December 1967). Despite all of these releases by 1968 David Bowie was in limbo. He'd been dropped by Deram after just three singles and a debut LP (see Anorak Thing June 1, 2009 entry), none of which charted and attempts at being signed by another label were grim (even being turned down by Peter Asher at Apple records). Nonetheless Pitt continued to plug away at both getting a new recording contract and pushing Bowie's material for other artists to cover.  He managed to convince Billy Fury's manager Larry Parne's that Bowie had something to offer his client. By 1968 Billy Fury's hit days were long gone. Despite a switch from Decca to Parlophone in January 1967 he hadn't scored a hit on EMI's label. Game for a chance at anything Parnes agreed to record a version of "Silly Boy Blue", a track that had already graced Bowie's debut album, as Fury's next single.  Sadly it did nothing for either the artist or the composer.

Billy Fury's version of "Silly Boy Blue" follows the original closely, opting to utilize the Buddhist slant lyrics of Bowie's LP version and all their Tibetan imagery of yak butter statues and reincarnation (the lyrics on Bowie's original demo cut with The Lower Third at R.G. Jones studios in Morden, Surrey in 1965 concern running away and growing old and pre-date his brief flirtation with Buddhism that led to the lyrical re-write). The production is over the top, not in an excessive way but in a full on manner with horns, strings and lush production/arranging (arranging care of Alan Tew and production and musical direction care of future Jam producer Vic Smith).  Fury's vocal delivery is far punchier than Bowie's which makes the number more interesting in my book and the fade out is downright chilling.  The flip is pretty much a note for note cover of The Bee Gee's original, though lacking the spark that propels the A-side.

Billy Fury 1967

Both sides have just been reissued on the brand new Billy Fury CD compilation "The Complete Parlophone Singles".

Hear "Silly Boy Blue":


THE KINKS-Dedicated Kinks E.P.:Dedicated Follower Of Fashion/Till The End Of The Day/See My Friend/Set Me Free U.K. Pye NEP.24258 1966

I very recently noticed that amongst all my fave U.K. 60's groups I've blogged about (Who, Small Faces, Action, Move, Zombies, Georgie Fame, Manfreds etc) there's one I've left out: THE KINKS!

For shame!  Well there's not much I can say about them that hasn't already been written so I've scoured my old archives for scans of something interesting and came across this U.K. E.P. which came out in the Summer of 1966 (in the midst of a crisis plaguing the band as Ray Davies was going, temporarily off the rails).  All four tracks were all previously issued as Kinks A-sides but what makes it interesting is that it's far less common than other U.K. Kink's E.P.'s like "Kinksize Hits" or "Kinksize Session" and perhaps as scarce as the more in demand "Kwet Kinks" (featuring the U.K.'s first airing of their U.S. "hit" "A Well Respected Man"). 

Cool pic of the lads in action on the Continent, 1966

I'm not going to bother to blag on about where you can find these tracks as 60's Kinks songs have been licensed everyplace. I've got these tracks on the CD versions (with bonus cuts) of the "Kinda Kinks" and "Kontroversy" LP's.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part Eighteen: The Motions uit Den Haag

THE MOTIONS-I've Waited So Long/It's Gone/For Another Man/I've Got Misery France E.P. Disques Vogue INT 18017 1966

Enter Peter Green

THE PETER B'S-If You Wanna Be Happy/Jordell Blues U.K. Columbia DB 7862 1966

This here kids is the vinyl debut of the legendary John Mayall's Bluesbreakers/Fleetwood Mac guitar hero Peter Green. The Peter B's (also known as Peter B's Looners) were an instrumental quartet featuring Peter Green -guitar, Dave Ambrose (later to join The Brian Auger Trinity)-bass, Peter Bardens (ex-of The Cheyenes and Them)-keyboards and Mick Fleetwood (ex-Bo Street Runners and The Cheyenes)-drums.  The band were managed by the famous Gunnell brothers (along with other more famous London r&b acts like Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames, Zoot Money & The Big Roll Band, Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds and John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers).  Falling under the Gunnell's umbrella meant that the band got a great deal of exposure playing with their other acts, backing or opening for many visiting American soul/r&b acts, playing as last minute substitute for the other acts and playing the host of clubs run by the Gunnell's (The Flamingo, The Ram Jam etc).  Despite this exposure the band never really became anything more than a springboard for some very famous names and eventually mutated into The Shotgun Express a vehicle for the vocal talents of Rod Stewart and Liverpudlian Beryl Marsden (see Anorak Thing February 11, 2009 entry).  They secured a few BBC sessions (which have yet to see the light of day save one track, see below) where the band showed off their affinity for jazz/r&b where they played Big John Patton and Booker T and the M.G.'s covers.  Among the tracks they performed in their last B.B.C. session (February 2, 1966 on "Jazz Beat") was a Caribbean flavored interpretation of Jimmy Soul's 1963 hit "If You Wanna Be Happy".  This became their one and only single which was released in March 1966.

As indicated above "If You Wanna Be Happy" has a light Caribbean inspiration, not really a ska vein but more of a cod Calypso thing built around Barden's organ with a kitschy ascending/descending organ scales solo that reminds me of a late era Tornado's record (see Anorak Thing February 10, 2010 entry for comparison) with some mock patois chat.  It's catchy and kitschy.  The flip "Jordell Blues" is a straight out bluesy number built around Barden's jazzy piano and some bursts of guitar pyrotechnics from Green.

The band as drawn by Peter Bardens, 1966.

Surprisingly neither side, has to my knowledge, been reissued anywhere before. This is rather surprising given the host of star players featured in the band and the fact that they recorded for EMI's Columbia output one would suspect it would not be that difficult to license/re-issue the tracks?

"If You Wanna Be Happy" was reissued on the now out of print double CD retrospective "Write My Name in the Dust: the Peter Bardens Anthology 1963-2002".

Hear "If You Wanna Be Happy":

Hear "Jordell Blues":

AND a groovy snatch from their February 2 1966 live BBC session doing "Outrage":

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pretty Things:Good Bye To R&B

THE PRETTY THINGS-Rainin' In My Heart/London Town/Sittin' All Alone/Get A Buzz  U.K. Fontana TE 17442 1965

I'll own up to being bored sh*tless by The Pretties earlier r&b sides and it wasn't till what I call their "Mod period ("Come See Me", "Midnight To Six Man" etc) that my interest really starts for them.  That was, till I owned this E.P.  It took me ages to dig it and I bought it because, well it looked cool.  It's also one of their last 7 inches from the "classic line-up" which to me included the soon-to-be-leaving madman Viv Prince on drums.

"Rainin' In My Heart" still bores me, more of that boring bluesy Pretties era stuff that just leaves me cold. Sorry, I much prefer The Olympics rocking version on Loma.  "London Town", now here we're onto something kids.  It's mind blowing to me, the way it starts with just acoustic guitar and bongos and Dick Taylor's little riffs bleed in and out here and there while Phil May sings in this sleepy (stoned?)/weary tone like he's just travelled the length of the British Isles.

"Sittin' All Alone" could be a bit mundane and bluesy by it's title but it's not .  It's got these great sorta out of tune 12 string bits and these snippets of rave up double timed strumming ever now and then and these ominous but atmospheric background harmonies (yes that's right, harmonies on a Pretty Things record). It also sounds somewhat "stoned" too.  Which leads us to..."Get A Buzz".  If "Get A Buzz" had more feedback and some faint Hammond it'd sound like a number from the first Small Faces album.  The whole thing is sort of this ad lib, piss take attempt at being soulful, it isn't, not by a long shot.  But that doesn't mean it's not great.  The whole number sounds like it's just going to fall apart from lack of cohesion any second, but it doesn't, not for 4 minutes plus it doesn't after lots of harp blowing and nifty string bending from Dick and Phil who sings like he was making it all up on the spot!  In the end Dick turns up the fuzz and everybody calls it a session.

All four of the E.P.'s tracks are available in multiple places. I've got them as bonus cuts on their second LP, CD reissue on their "mod period "album "Get The Picture".

The Artwoods: Fin

THE ARTWOODS-What Shall I Do/In The Deep End U.K. Parlophone R 5590 1967

By 1967 The Artwoods had been giving a good show up and down the British Isles in a transit van for 5 years with little to show for it but a small, now horribly collectible, discography. By 1967 they had released 5 singles, an E.P. and an L.P. before being dumped by their label Decca. A one off followed on EMI's Columbia label, but it would be their last as The Artwoods.

Both sides show a weird darkness to them, like their choice of material and the somber mood of both tracks reflected their career.  Even both titles reveal a plaintive sense of foreboding doom: "What Shall I Do" and "In The Deep End".  Why?  For starters The Artwoods career was never helped by the choosing of American r&b, soul and blues numbers as their A-sides, made null and void once the English public began to have greater access to American import 45's and domestic pressings of some of these became available.  Why would you want to hear The Artwoods version of a Benny Spellman track when you could own the original?  Granted most of their choices weren't exactly lifted direct from the U.S. Top 40 R&B charts, so they at least get high marks for their material choices.  Once again their one off EMI single was no exception to any of those rules.  "What Shall I Do" is a pretty faithful note for note version of Marvin Jenkin's "What Shall I Do" (originally released in the States on the Palomar label) differing from the original only by adding some Bluesbreakers styled guitar licks from guitarist Derek Griffith's who trades the lick with organist Jon Lord and "fattening up" the sound a lot from the mildly jazzy original.  I like it though, it's tough thanks to the fuzz guitar and fuller sound. The B-side is far more heavier and almost a precursor to Jon Lord's future band Deep Purple with some very heavy (well "heavy" for an Artwoods record) guitar raga licks and Brian Auger Trinity style organ noodling.  Of course it sank without a trace and is rarer than their Decca singles.  The band made one more 45 as the ill advised St. Valentine's Day Massacre eight months later ("Brother Can You Spare A Dime"/"Al's Party" U.K. Fontana TF883) before chucking it in for good.

Both tracks have resurfaced on the Repertoire CD compilation "Singles A's & B's" and as bonus cuts on their CD reissue of their lone LP "Art Gallery".

Hear a groovy BBC session of the band from May 9, 1967 featuring a cover Billy Preston's "Steady Gettin' It", the Otis Redding styled version of "Day Tripper" and their B-side "What Shall I Do":

Hear "What Shall I Do":

Hear "In The Deep End":

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

100 LP's You Should Own

These aren't necessarily my faves but these are 100 albums I think everyone needs to own, or at least hear:

1. The Moody Blues-Days Of Future Passed
2. John Barry-The Knack And How To Get It O.S.T.
3. Scott Walker-Scott 3
4. Dr. Feelgood-Down By The Jetty
5. Kaleidoscope-Tangerine Dream
6. The Pink Floyd-Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
7. Bill Fay-Time of The Last Persecution
8. Fairport Convention-Liege And Leif
9. Nick Drake-Five Leaves Left
10. Billy Nicholls-Would You Believe
11. The Hollies-For Certain Because
12. T Rex-Electric Warrior
13. Locomotive-We Are Everything You See
14. Elastic Band-Expansions On Life
15. Mighty Baby-Mighty Baby
16. Davy Graham-Midnight Man
17. Herbie Hancock-Takin’ Off
18. Chad & Jeremy-Of Cabbages And Kings
19. The Everly Brothers-Beat & Soul
20. Simon & Garfunkel-Sounds Of Silence
21. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles-Going To A Go-Go
22. Mark Murphy-Rah
23. The Tea Company-Come and Have Some Tea With Me
24. John Mayall-Bluesbreakers With John Mayall
25. Manfred Mann-Up The Junction
26. Gene Clark-With The Gosdin Brothers
27. David Bowie-Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
28. Booker T & The M.G.s-Green Onions
29. The Kinks-Are The Village Green Preservation Society
30. The Faces-1st Step
31. The Beatles-Revolver
32. The Bee Gees-Bee Gees 1st
33. Georgie Fame-Two Faces of Fame
34. The Rolling Stones-Aftermath
35. Caetano Veloso-Tropicalia
36. The Specials-More Specials
37. Kilburn & The High Roads-Handsome
38. XTC-Black Sea
39. Gabor Szabo-Jazz Raga
40. Hank Mobley-The Turnaround
41. Howlin’ Wolf-Howlin’ Wolf (the “Rocking Chair” LP)
42. Os Mutantes-same (1968, 1st LP)
43. The Graham Bond Organization-There’s A Bond Between Us
44. Deep Purple-Shades of…
45. Various-Club Ska ‘67
46. King Pleasure-King Pleasure Sings (w/ Annie Ross)
47. Mose Allison-A Word From Mose
48. The Yardbirds-Five Live
49. The Who-Sell Out
50. Tommy James & The Shondells-Crimson & Clover
51. Curtis Mayfield-Superfly
52. The Jimi Hendrix Experience-Are you Experienced?
53. Gal Costa-Gal Costa
54. Dexter Gordon-One Flight Up
55. Grant Green-Grantstand
56. The Beatles-Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band
57. Jacques Dutronc-same (1st LP)
58. The Small Faces-Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake
59. Caravan-same
60. The Stone Roses-same
61. The Zombies-Oddysey And Oracle
62. Bob Dylan-Highway 61 Revisited
63. The Velvet Underground-Peel It And See
64. The Jam-All Mod Cons
65.The Outsiders-C.Q.
66. Prince Buster-Fabulous Greatest Hits
67. Oscar Brown Jr.-Sin & Soul
68. The Clash-London Calling
69. The Pretty Things-S.F. Sorrow
70. Donovan-Sunshine Superman
71. The Tages-Studio
72. David Axelrod-Song Of Innocence
73. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers-Moanin’
74. Lee Morgan-The Sidewinder
75. The Byrds-5D
76. Duncan Browne-Give Me Take You
77. Gary Walker And The Rain-Album No. 1
78. Serge Gainsbourg-Couleur Café
79. Manfred Hubler and Siegfried Schwab-Vampryos Lesbos Sexadelic Dance Party
80. Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity-Open
81. Various Artists-This Is Soul
82. The Move-same
83. The Association-Renaissance
84. Love-Forever Changes
85. Walter/Wendy Carlos-A Clockwork Orange O.S.T.
86. Milt Jackson-same
87. George Benson-It’s Uptown (The Most New Exciting Guitarist On The Jazz Scene Today)
88. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band-Part One
89. The Turtles-Battle Of The Bands
90. Stiff Little Fingers-Inflammable Material
91. The Stranglers-Black And White
92. The Doors-same
93. The Beach Boys-Pet Sounds
94. Jorge Ben-Ben E Samba Bom
95. Harry Nilsson-Pandemonium Shadow Show
96. Vashti-Just Another Diamond Day
97. Kevin Ayers-Joy Of A Toy
98. Alice Cooper-Easy Action
99. The Sweet-Desolation Boulevard
100. The Troggs-Cellophane

Cool Foreign 7 Inches Part Seventeen:Booker T & The M.G.'s

BOOKER T & The M.G.'s-Soul Limbo/Heads Or Tails France Stax 16038 1967

Great British Pop Genuises: Duncan Browne

DUNCAN BROWNE-On The Bombsite/Alfred Bell U.S. Immediate ZS7 5010 1968

The name Duncan Browne usually doesn't raise too many eyebrows.  He's known among us anorak's for his rare 1968 Immediate LP "Give Me Take You"(U.K. IMPS 018 and amazingly, according to this 45's label, U.S. Z12 52012. Has anyone ever seen a U.S. pressing?). Though not as heinously collectible as the Billy Nicholl's LP on the same label it's still a scarce one. I can't tell you much about Duncan Browne other than I like his stuff.  His music would fall into the same genre as Nick Drake, early Al Stewart or Bill Fay in my estimation had any of them been backed by The Zombies.  Any of the album's tracks would not be at all out of place on Chad & Jeremy's "Of Cabbages and Kings" LP (see June 18, 2010 entry).

"On The Bomb Site" is a work of choral pop precision with it's angelic voices, muted horns, and harpsichord wrapped around Duncan's Colin Blunstone-ish tones and acoustic guitar.  The lyrics are decidedly English and evoke the oft discussed childhood past time of playing on bombsites that littered post war Britain with:

"those were days of wooden swords and dragons would appear I was Lancelot and you were Guinevere"

There are some creative metaphors about growing old and leaving childhood games behind amidst the lush arrangements:

"but there came a dragon I couldn't fight he was too strong"

All in all it's a wonderfully, wistful paean to the simpler times and the carefree days of youth before the weight of the world and adulthood came along and ruined it all.

"Alfred Bell" starts out with a chorus of children chanting on a playground (or bombsite?)

"Alfred Bell he's no good chop him up for firewood..."

It's less orchestrated than the A-side and reminds me of Cat Stevens more somber moments on either one of his Deram LP's .  Lyrically it's another social observation in that great vein of British 60's vignette songs.  This time it's about a lonely, old, sad teacher from dawn to dusk, another perfect British 60's personal encapsulation of a sad, tragic, yet fictional figure.

Duncan Browne and friend

Both sides of this single are available on the CD reissue of the highly recommended "Give Me Take You" LP.

Hear "On The Bombsite":

Hear "Alfred Bell":

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Religious Experience........

Get thee to a store that sells a multi region DVD player OR go to this site and see if they've got hack codes for the one you own:

Because kids, I'm talking about the greatest music film I've seen in my life:"Telstar".  Forget  garbage like "Stoned", forget even amazing films like "Slade in Flame", this, as they say is "the sh*t".  I'd always thought a pic about the life of Joe Meek would be a worthy subject and well, someone's done it, and done it VERY well too.  What I liked most about it is, like most period pieces being shot in the U.K. these days there was meticulous attention to detail.  It was made even better by the fact that other than the Screaming Lord Sutch "live" scene and Duffy's version of the Cryin' Shames "Please Stay" all original versions of Meek's creations were used (the credits roll as "Crawdaddy Simone" by The Syndicats brilliantly plays).  How often does that happen?!

The magnificent Con O'Neill as Joe Meek in "Telstar"

Con O'Neill does a fabulous job at portraying Joe Meek and really gives you the feel of what, by all accounts, the man was about.  Along for the ride are Kevin Spacey (Major Banks, one of Meek's financial backers), Pam Ferris as Meek's ill fated landlady Mrs. Shenton, JJ Feild as Heinz Burt and downright spooky Tom Burke as Geoff Goddard. Another very cool touch are the cameos which read like a who's who of pre-Beatles 60's British rock n' roll playing various characters (leaving younger actors to play themselves), many of whom were artists who worked with Meek: Jess Conrad (who plays Larry Parnes!), Mike Sarne, Clem Cattini, Chas Hodges and John Leyton.  Rita Tushingham plays a fortune teller and there's even Jake Arnott (author of "The Long Firm") on board as a board of trade member.

The Real Deal: Joe Meek

The film sticks to most of Meek's life and death in meticulous detail enough to give you an idea what he was like (or so I've gathered from reading about him).  It offers a few fictitious moments though. Such as, no one is really sure if Meek ever received a demo from Brian Epstein, though it's possible but he's seen on the phone with him while binning a Fab Four demo tape complaining to his assistant about "Brian and his Liverpool beat group".  The film avoids the "Suitcase Murder" which figured prominently in Joe's final months and also leaves out the time he hung up on (after cursing out) Phil Spector, which would've been interesting. It takes the liberty of giving Mitch Mitchell a perm when he was drumming for a session where Meek pointed a shotgun at him to "get the take right"(maybe it's best he and Phil never met!), even though Mitchell had not adopted an Afro hairstyle well after joining Jimi Hendrix.  Don't expect lots of "air" time for your faves, here's just a glimpse of The Honeycombs and it glosses over all of Meeks act's save The Tornados, John Leyton, Heinz, Screaming Lord Sutch and The Outlaws.  No Syndicats, Tom Jones, Riot Squad or David John & the Mood I'm afraid.  The film is riveting and as it draws to a close with it's inevitable violent conclusion the tension is chilling numb.

Anyway I've watched this film twice and I'll probably watch a third and fourth time to pick up on things I've missed.  Hopefully someone in the U.S. will get with it like they did with the Scott Walker documentary "30th Century Man" and domestically release it on DVD here. 

The Tornados, with Larry Parnes (played by Jess Conrad far left) and Joe Meek (far right) accept their gold record for "Telstar".

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mad Henry Goes Solo.......Chris Curtis "Aggravation"

CHRIS CURTIS-Aggravation/Have I Done Something Wrong U.K. Pye 7N.17132 1966

The story of ex-Searchers drummer/lead singer Chris Curtis is a sordid one that could easily make for a depressing but interesting bio pic like "Telstar" did for Joe Meek. Born Chris Crummy (I'm serious) he founded The Searchers and sang on quite a few of their numbers as well as penning several B-sides and LP tracks before being booted out in 1966 after a somewhat disastrous Australian tour with The Rolling Stones. Known to many on the pop scene for his gobbling handfuls of speed and his twitchy/uptight mannerisms, George Harrison is alleged to have nicknamed him "Mad Henry" .  Posted below is a famous clip of the band playing the "NME Pollwinners Concert" in '64 doing "What'd I Say" where he is completely, presumably out of his head on uppers.  Watch how his band mates, especially guitarist Mike Pender, stare incredulously at him:

 His hyperactivity (no doubt a by product of his massive speed consumption) and homosexuality were well known in circles at the time (both Bill Wyman and Dave Davies have documented some of his semi-seedy/druggy behavior in both of their books) and led to more than their share of problems in his career. It has been said that The Searchers original bassist Tony Jackson was given his walking papers after attempting to blackmail the band's manager for a bigger cut by threatening to "out" Curtis.  In his very last interview Curtis intimated that Jackson "threatened Tito Burns (the band's manager) that he'd reveal something about me to the public", a move which saw Jackson out and in came ex-Cliff Bennet's Rebel Rouser Frank Allen. The band finally had enough of his speed induced behavior and paranoia and he left in March 1966.

Curtis was nonetheless a very affable man who's pop contacts enabled him to cut a solo single in June of 1966.  "Aggravation" is an uptempo cut written by Joe South (more on him in a bit).  Curtis' ear for good American tunes often meant that he was the man behind many of the tracks The Searchers covered from both publishers demos (he was a champion of Jackie DeShannon) and cover versions of tracks like "Love Potion Number Nine".  He also authored and produced the amazing "Snakes Snails & Puppy Dog Tails" for Alma Coogan in 1965.  On "Aggravation" Curtis had the assistance of Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and no doubt female vocal group The Breakaways.  It's a rather swinging number in sort of a Tom Jone's "discotheque" way with it's horns, female backing vocals and driving beat and is carried quite well by Curtis' strong voice.  It blew me away the first time I heard it on a PRT records 10" E.P. called "It Happened Then" in the mid 80's.  The flipside is a composition of his own called "Have I Done Something Wrong" (perhaps a thinly veiled message to his ex-bandmates?).  It falls flat for me because it's sort of cod country, the production is amazing and it's got lots of nice touches but the song itself is just a "cry in your beer dirge".  For Scouser sh*tkickers only I'm afraid.

The single failed and the vinyl world heard no more of Chris Curtis (though versions of "Baby You Don't Have To Tell Me" and "I Who Have Nothing" from presumably the same session, have popped up on the "Rare Unearthed Merseybeat" series) but he continued producing records, among them "I Love how You Love Me" By Paul & Barry Ryan and a version of The Hollie's "Have You Ever Loved Somebody" by Paul & Barry (which went up against a version by his ex-bandmates).  By 1967 he had added L.S.D. to his drug diet and the stories only grew in outrageousness and number. Curtis of course will be forever credited (somewhat erroneously) as the man who formed Deep Purple albeit as an idea called "Roundabout".  Speaking to "Mojo" a few years ago organist Jon Lord attempted to clear up some of the misnomers on the subject.  He was never in the running for the drum spot, they weren't room mates (Curtis was dossing at Lord's apartment) but several facts, according to Lord ARE true: Curtis introduced Lord to the man (Tony Edwards) who would become Deep Purple's manager, he covered Lord's apartment in tin foil while Lord was off touring with The Flowerpot Men and he suggested a German based guitarist named Ritchie Blackmore to him.  There is conflicting stories about another Joe South recording called "Hush" which would give Deep Purple their first hit (in America anyway).  Curtis claimed in an interview with Spencer Leigh in "Record Collector" in 1998 that he played Lord the Joe South original when they were "roommate's", Lord maintains they'd heard Billy Joe Royal's version in lots of clubs/ballrooms where it was a big dance floor hit.  Who's to know?  Since Curtis did already record a Joe South track his story is plausible.

Curtis retired from music in 1969 and went to work for the Inland Revenue Service (the U.K.'s version of the I.R.S.) before retiring in 1988 and passing away in 2005.

To my knowledge neither side has seen any sort of CD reissue, though it is possible it's been slipped on a Searchers CD anthology as they shared the same label.

Hear "Aggravation":

Hear "Have I Done Something Wrong":