Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December's Picks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. MARK MURPHY-"Out Of This World"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Favourite Freakbeat

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

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

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

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

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

Hear "Walking Walking Walking":

Hear "That Driving Beat":

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Was 30 Years Ago Today

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

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

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

My generation's take on Lennon:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear "Who's Wrong":

Monday, December 6, 2010

Up The Junction

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

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

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

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

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

Hear "Up The Junction":


Friday, December 3, 2010

God Save The Village Green

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

We are the Village Green Preservation Society

God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety,

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

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

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

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

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

What more can we do
God save the Village Green.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dreadful Singles By Otherwise Decent Bands Part Two

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

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

And with the death of my comprehension....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Felius Andromeda looking witchy in "Record Mirror"

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

Hear "Meditations":


Hear "Cheadle Heath Delusions":


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


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear "Man In The Moon":

Hear "Long Time Coming":