Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December's Picks (And Everyone's)

1. DR. FEELGOOD-"All Through The City"
My pal John Jorgensen loaned me the Feelgood's documentary "Oil City Confidential"and I immediately busted out and dusted off "Down By The Jetty". This one is one of my faves on it, a great end of the night/coming home with the milkman" tune, something I haven't done in a long, long time!

2.BLUR-"There's No Other Way"
Twenty years ago I was living just two scant miles away from Anorak Manor here and playing the crap out of this CD, and believe it or not 20 years on it still sounds pretty good as I wind down the same lanes I did as a much, much younger and thinner man. From when they wore baggy pants and went through the silly period where they trooped down to the Merc and decided they were mods, silly art school twits.

"Oil City Confidential"sent me also scurrying to revisit Johnny Kidd and company.  There are at least half a dozen U.K. 60's covers of this number that I'm aware of and this has always been my fave thanks to Johnny's voice and Mick Green's brilliant chops on the six string.

4. THE MIKE STUART SPAN-"Children Of Tomorrow"
Bleak, heavy guitar stuff.  These guys are always touted as psychedelic heroes but I see more of a parallel with the equally mislabeled Open Mind or a less wanky Eire Apparent. Regardless this is very powerful stuff.....

Mighty stuff this, hands down my fave version of this tune ever.  The strings and horns make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck every time!! It never fails to make me stop what I'm doing and wait for the crescendo in the middle where it all kicks in much like the bit on "A Day In The Life".

6. THE BUNCH-"Spare A Shilling"
Quirky spot of U.K. mid 60's psych pop unearthed care of the "We Can Fly"series, it's well produced, catchy and bears little resemblance to their previous 45 (see )
where they sounded like a more mod version of The Animals '66.  The horns and organ are still there but there's a touch of "fairy dust" to it and an all around jaunty "feel good" bit to it.....

7. OLIVER NELSON-"Sound Pieces For Jazz Orchestra"
One of the benefits of having a used jazz CD section at my local record shop means I can always walk out with three or four classic 60's jazz discs for under $20.  This CD "Sound Pieces" on Impulse, was a recent catch.  It's sort of all over the place but this particular number a brilliant little piece from '66 that seems to anticipate David Axelrod.

8.JACQUES DUTRONC-"Comment elles dorment"
Boozy, almost country western crooner from Jacques second LP from 1968 (his first three LP's were all untitled) where he sings rather laconically. Like nearly all of his tunes I haven't a f*cking clue what he's on about but he's got a great voice and the music and production are great!

9. THE KINKS-"Do You Remember Walter"
This one is utterly timeless because the older I get and the more lost people get in the shuffle of life the more of an impact this number seems to have on me on days where I'm reflecting on those who I've become disconnected with.

10. THE RICH KIDS-"Ghosts Of Princes In Towers"
Punchy punky power pop care of Glen Matlock and Midge Ure, a million miles away from Glen's previous band's New York Dolls wall of noise guitar style and nowhere near the bleak synth angst of Midge's next big job.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Polydor In The 60's: Home of the Cool-Part Two

1. THE SOFT MACHINE-"Love Makes Sweet Music" Polydor BM 56151 1967
Like the Jack Bruce number mentioned in the previous posting, this track came to me via a dodgy Polydor LP compilation called "Rare Tracks".  It blew me away so much that I snapped up a copy of the single as soon as I saw it on the wall at Rockit Scientist in NYC. Forget any preconceptions of tedious jazzy prog jams you may associate with the Soft's as this 45 will knock you on the ear with it's cheery Blues Magoos style pop.  Oddly I do not think it has ever been legally reissued anywhere yet.  More crimes.

2. THE GODS (Thor-Hermes-Olympus-Mars)-"Garage Man" Polydor 56158 1967
Found on the flip side of the frantic/bluesy style rework of the "Come On Down To My Boat Baby" this pre Ken Hensley/Uriah Heep 45 features the lead guitar talents of a young Mick Taylor shortly before being snapped up for finishing school in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Taylor plays some very Bluesbreakers like runs while the lead singer tells the tale of woe of purchasing a lemon from"the garage man" with some nifty combo organ filling in the background.

Hear it on:
"Echoes From The Wilderness"

3. THE CREATION-"How Does It Feel To Feel" Polydor 56230 1968
Too much has been written on these guys everywhere so I'll suffice to say I was never a fan of a lot of their post Planet material, but this monster is an exception.  Musically it bears no resemblance to the hippie jams that were going around in '68 when this dark 45 hit the streets and Eddie Phillips guitar pyrotechnics and Jack Jone's ominous beat paint the bleakest, meanest tale ever sang about the dark.

Hear it on:
"Our Music Is Red With Purple Flashes"

4. NICKY HOPKINS and THE WHISTLING PIANO-"Mr. Pleasant" Polydor 56175 1967
Yet another "Rare tracks" entry, ace piano session man Nicky Hopkins takes the Kinks cheeky track and adds a bit of knees up to it with his bar room piano treatment with a chorus of slightly off key whistling (ala Whistling Jack Smith).  Unreissued of course!

5. THE SLENDER PLENTY-"Silver Tree Top School For Boys" Polydor 56189 1967
We've discussed this '66 Bowie track elsewhere here numerous times and it was also cut by the Beatstalkers but this is my fave.  It's droning fuzz guitar is faithful to Bowie's original demo while the lyrics campily portray dope smoking at a posh public school (ripped from the headlines after Bowie read of a pot smoking scandal at Lancing College).

Hear it on:

6. THE LION TAMERS-"Light" Polydor 56283 1968
Flipside of a track called "Speak Your Mind", "Light" first came to light thanks to Bam Caruso on the "Rubble Volume 17:A Trip In The Painted World" LP (the only LP volume I missed out on actually, so I had to wait a good twenty years to hear it on CD on the box set). It's whimsical without being too twee with a slight hint of trippiness!

Hear it on:
"Rubble Volume 17:A Trip In The Painted World"

7. THE PEEP SHOW "Mazy" Polydor 56196 1967
These cats were a short lived U.K. psych group managed by none other than one time ace face and High Numbers svengali Peter Meaden. You can read more about the band and Meaden's involvement over here at Kevin Pearce's excellent down loadable blog:

"Mazy", the flipside of the somber "Your Servant Stephen", is a trippy number full of jangling reverberations, hippy Indian flutes, cascading psychedelic effects that rate it as one of the classic British 60's lysergic monsters!

Hear it on:
"Rubble Volume 13: Freakbeat Fantoms" and on "Mazy:The Secret World Of The Peep Show" a Peep Show CD compilation (also available for download from iTunes)

8. STU BROWN & BLUESLOGY-"Just A Little Bit" Polydor 56195 1967
Another inclusion on the old Polydor "Rare Tracks" LP was the final single by Bluesology featuring Reggie "Elton John" Dwight pounding the ivories. Most of you might know this track from the freakbeat version by The Act, which was actually cut almost a year later.  This version is more r&b with some brilliant horns and barrel house piano work trotting along with the driving drum beat.  Again, there's been no sign of any reissue action.

9. JOHNNY GUSTAFSON-"Just To Be With You" Polydor MB 56022 1965
This was the debut solo single by ex-Merseybeat bassist Johnny Gustafson, who left The Merseybeats when Billy Kinsley returned to claim his spot.  Johnny Gus always had the pipes and this soulful outing is a perfect example of that! 

Hear it on:
 A now out of print German Mersey's CD "A and B Sides, Rarities".

10. THE NIGHTRIDERS-"It's Only The Dog" Polydor 56116 1966
We discussed who these guys morphed into over at:

These Brummies chose to cover an obscure non-hit from The Kingsmen (which did not see a U.K. issue), replacing it's near "Louie Louie" meets "Chain Gang" licks with something a bit meatier and far more punchy with some snotty Jagger-esque vocals.  It's been on two different "Electric Sugarcube Flashbacks" LP's  but hasn't, to my knowledge, popped up on any CD reissues or legit comps.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cat Stevens '67 Tribute To The Everyman

CAT STEVENS-Matthew And Son/Granny U.K. Deram DM 110 1966

There are a multitude of cool Deram 45's by Cat Stevens, but this, his second for the label, is my favorite. "Matthew And Son"joins the ranks of loads of great U.K. mid 60's records that tackle the topic of the everyman and his workaday drudgery (The French Revolution "9 Till 5", Rupert's People "Reflections Of Charles Brown", The Kinks "Dead End Street" etc). It's also a classic example of some of the wonderful creative, orchestrated pop singles released on Deram in '66-'67. Like most of these, Steven's tune is sympathetic to the cause of our working stiff protagonist behind an array of brass and strings and his rapid fire vocal delivery with stellar arrangement by the famed "easy" listening arranger/producer/conductor Alan Tew is razor sharp.  It's like the "Smithers Jones" 1966 in my book. It's flip, "Granny", to me is equally as powerful. With it's clockwork tapping behind a subtle build up of strings, brass, piano and some nifty jazzy guitar (dig the licks during the middle brass "solo") the whole thing falls into place.

Pop star Cat rubbing elbows with Cliff, Samantha Juste (aka Mrs. Dolenz) and Micky Dolnez

Both tracks can be found on the Deram reissue CD of his debut LP "Matthew and Son"with a host of other 45 rpm bonus tracks (some in mono and stereo mixes).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The first time

In every modernists life there's always a plethora of "first times": their first bespoke pair of trousers, the first time they heard The Jam, their first parka, the first Small Faces record they bought.  I was recently reminded of my first time I ever saw The Move on video.  In the 80's there was no YouTube, cool 60's videos were something that changed hands so many times they were over-duped to the point where you could hear the audio but you could not determine whether it was The Who or The Kinks you were watched because the quality had deteriorated so badly!  There were few "dealers" selling this stuff and if they were it was the same washed out crap: Cuby and The Blizzards in a zoo with Van Morrison miming "Mystic Eyes", Zachary Thaks in a rehearsal space, etc.

In May 1989 my friend Mike Sin and I took a trip to California for Mods Mayday '89.  We spent the week in San Diego and wound up hanging out with The Funseekers from Minneapolis who happened to be there the same week too.  One night after a Funseekers/Trebels gig at the Casbah Club, Mike Stax invited us all back to his pad to hang out and watch videos and he proceeded to show us live clips from a German TV show called "Beat Beat Beat" and here in crisp, black and white were the Move playing three songs live, rapid fire in their original 5 piece line up. I had never seen any footage of The Move (I also saw, for the first time that evening, live footage of the Small Faces and Creation for the first time as well!), and I was...well "moved".  It was aired on June 27, 1967 (the episodes other guests were P.P. Arnold and Graham Bonney lip synching and The Creation, The Warriors and Cherry Wainer and Don Storer performing live) .  This is classic pre-perm Move, they'd clearly been in their flower power gear for a few months, having ditched the gangster garb that spring and were obviously now more reliant on Roy Wood's quirky originals than the obscure soul/r&b covers that were part of their craft in their op art/mod gear pre-gangster days of their late '66 Marquee Club period.  As you can tell there is still some evidence of their syncopated soul/r&b onstage moves (no pun intended) in this clip that the peace and love flowers and bells have failed to erase, also present are their aggressive stage stance, something they incorporated into their act with their gangster suits and TV/car smashing antics onstage.  Regardless the Summer '67 Move are something to behold as you can see performing live "Walk Upon The Water", "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" and "Night Of Fear":

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Polydor In The 60's: Home of the Cool-Part One

In the U.K. in the 60's Polydor records may not have had the star power that EMI or Decca had but if you go through their discography they had as many cool U.K.  freakbeat/mod/r&b/psych 45's (and loads of U.S. soul/r&b singles as well) as EMI or Decca.  I decided to compile a list of my faves.  It started out as a top twenty then I knocked it back down to ten.  It was no mean feat as there were multiple Creation 45's on the label and I also had to narrow it down to exclusively English acts (sadly forcing me to omit such numbers as Aussie Normie Rowe's Graham Gouldman track "Going Home" , Nederbeat heroes The Golden Earring's "That Day", mega rare Northern soul fave Tony Middleton's "To The Ends Of The Earth" and the Swedish Steampacket's "Take Her Any Time", which was released in the U.K. by The Longboatmen to ensure there was no confusing them with the Long John Baldry crew). I also omitted 45's by The Bee Gees and The Jimi Hendrix Experience for the same reason.  Sadly there is no Polydor compilation of any of these tracks.  There could easily be, like Decca/Deram and EMI did years ago, CD's focusing on the different genres: a psych one, an r&b one etc.

1. THE BETTERDAYS-"Don't Want That" Polydor BM 56024 1965
One of the immediately apparent visions of cool from was this raw slice of '64 Stones/meets '65 Yardbirds.  It's harp wailing is bluesy but the slashing guitar work and Jimmy Page style guitar solo and Nicky Hopkins style piano tinkling reeks of Birds/Who influence and anticipates freakbeat, it's flip a so-so version of 'Here Tis", graced the legendary "Pebbles Vol 6: The Roots Of Mod".

Hear it on:
Bootleg 45 reissue

2. JACK BRUCE-"Rootin' Tootin'" Polydor 56036 1965
Other than the six CD Jack Bruce box set this brilliant debut solo 45 by the then Graham Bond Organization bassman is nowhere to be found on reissue which is absolutely, positively criminal as this single is beyond all shadow of a doubt one of the finest British 60's r&b 45's to have ever been laid down.  Bruce croons in a jazzy Mose Allison style about how hip he is while (presumably) his G.B.O. band mates lay down a solid groove.  It doesn't get better than this mods.

Hear it on:
Jack Bruce "Can You Follow" box set

3.THE DEEJAYS-"Black Eyed Woman" Polydor BM 56501 1965
"Speak it now....", so begins the raw and gritty track by these Swedish based Brit exiles on one of their two British 45 releases. First brought to my attention on one of the "Transworld Punk" LP comps in the 80's this track offers one of those rare moments where frantic U.K. r&b/proto freakbeat crossed wires with the snottiness and D.I.Y of U.S. 60's styled garage music.

Hear it on:
"Rubble Volume 13: Freakbeat Fantoms"

4. JASON'S GENERATION-"It's Up To You" Polydor BM 56042 1966
Backed by the curiously titled "Insurance Co.'s Are Very Unfair" this track first came to my attention in the late 90's on a bootleg CD titled "Purple Hearts From Pastures Gone". Produced by Harvey Lisberg (who managed Graham Gouldman and Herman's Hermits) I don't know a thing about the band.  The track is as a common theme here (unintentionally), very American influenced.

Hear it on:
"Purple Hearts From Pasture's Gone"

5. THE VOIDS-"I'm In A Fix" Polydor BM 56073 1966
The flip side of "Come On Out", this track would easily have been at home on one of the "Back From The Grave" comp albums with it's cheesy fuzzed out main riff, off key vocals and sloppy production that sounds like a bunch of American teenagers in a garage, but alas it was cut by a bunch of British guys and like the people of Stonehenge "No one knows who they were or what they were doing, but their legacy remains".

Hear it on:
"Echoes From The Wilderness"

6. THE SUGARBEATS-"Alice Designs" Polydor 56120 1966
Pure genius.  This Tandyn Almer track (composer of The Action's "Shadows And Reflections" and The Association's "Along Comes Mary") is both unique because no one else covered it in the U.K. (originally cut in the States by the mondo obscure Mr. Lucky & The Gamblers whose version is more frantic and not at all "harmonic") and amazing because of it's layers of West Coast style harmonies, trippy flute and masterful production.  Akin to '67 vintage Action it's one of the greatest tunes of it's genre.

Hear it on:
"We Can Fly Volume 3"

7. GARY WALKER & THE RAIN-"Spooky" Polydor 56237 1968
Though not a patch on Dusty's classic reading of The Classics IV version Gazz and Co.'s version is pretty groovy, though not as strong as their other tracks it merits inclusion here because I think their arrangement is subtle even though it's fairly close to the original.

Hear it On:
"Album No.1" LP reissue on CD with bonus tracks.

8. THE FLEUR DE LYS-"Mud In Your Eye" Polydor 56124 1966
The Fleur De Ly's have a few brilliant freakbeat classics and also a few of duds in their 7 single U.K. discography.  This, alongside their version of The Who's "Circles" and it's flip "So Come On" (Immediate IM IM 032) exemplifies what freakbeat is all about: maniac drumming, crashing guitars, an incessant/driving riff etc  It doesn't get much heavier than this in '66 kids.

Hear it on:
"Reflections", a Fleur De Ly's CD retrospective.

9. THE CARAVELLES-"Hey Mama You've Been On My Mind" Polydor BM 56137 1967
Known here on these shores for their  hit "You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry", this U.K. female duo cut a bunch of unremarkable singles until this one. With it's Spector-esque production and angelic vocal delivery what's not to love?  Not a hit but easily their most in demand and collectible 45.

Hear it on:
"Dream Babes Volume Five: Folk Rock And Faithful"

10. KINGSIZE TAYLOR-"Thinkin'" Polydor 56152 1965
Liverpudlian Ted "Kingsize" Taylor's career was all but limited to Germany (where he spent most of his time) after the Beatles brought Merseybeat into the national spotlight. This was one of his handful of U.K. 45's (actually his last) and was recorded after the dissolution of his back up band The Dominos.  It bears no resemblance to the rock n' roll sounds cut during his Cavern days and is more reminiscent of the smoother more soulful r&b played by the likes of Cliff Bennett in '65-'66.

Hear It On:
"Chocolate Soup For Diabetics Volume Three"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November's Picks

1. GRAHAM DAY & THE GAOLERS-"I'm Glad I'm Not Young"
You've gotta love a track that sings "young and still carefree I was walking down the street, dressed in pink paisley, Beatles boots upon my feet, I got a punch in the nose for wearing funny clothes..".  It's taken me some time to get my head around these guys, possibly because like The Len Price 3 they're not doing anything musically that my home team The Insomniacs weren't doing 20 years ago, but it's still rocking regardless of it's lack of complete originality. From their LP "Triple Distilled".

2. PAUL WELLER-"7 & 3 Is The Strikers Name"
I think this is possibly the strongest track Weller has ever written since "Going  Underground", I really do. It's clever, catchy, trippy and above all has lyrics that grab you: "Curse my master and his slaves and his soldiers too, curse those fuckers in their castle they're all bastards too". Heavy soul indeed.

3. MENSWEAR-"125 West 3rd Street"
Remember Menswear?  The crux of that hideous "Touched By The Hand Of Mod" piece in "N.M.E.", a bedroom band that became more known for being "seen" and when they were finally "heard" they surprised everyone by actually making some competent music?!  Their untitled debut CD had about three good songs on it, this was one of them, a pastiche of Bolan and Roxy Music via "Velvet Goldmine".  Britpop's second wave was all about faux mods in make up with exaggerated John's Children/Creation fringes, crap Merc suits, trainers and running jackets, playing 90's rock n' roll with a glammy edge, Menswear to a 't".  Oh and b.t.w, 125 West 3rd Street (in NYC anyway) is a hardware store............since 1933!

4. SLIM HARPO-"Tip On In"
I'd long accused The Stones of nicking this number's rhythm during the long drawn out improvisational part of "Goin' Home" till I realized that "Goin' Home" predated this number by a year!!  That said I think it's quite okay for an American blues man to cop a Stones lick and turn into something gritty and groovy like this 1967 45 on Excello.

5. EDDIE COCHRAN-"Summertime Blues"
This number always gets me. Cochran's slight affectations have an almost Southern Elvis twang (he was born in Minnesota and raised in California) and that bass, that bass must've kept Jet Harris awake at night trying to get that sound!  I can't help but think of my dad every time I hear this and think of how he told me this number takes him back to being a teenager pounding the pavement in his decaying seaside town looking for a Summer job in the late 50's.

6. THE QUIET FIVE-"When The Morning Sun Dries The Dew"
I stumbled upon this mellow beat ballad on an iTunes playlist and was blown away by it's melding of pre-Moody Blues solo Justin Hayward meets Unit 4+2.   I've no clue who these guys were other than they were British and had a few 45's in the 60's (and did a killer version of the Stones "I Am Waiting").

7. THE BLUE JEANS-"Sandfly"
An odd one off B-Side of the Hollies-esque (ie "Do The Best You Can") style "Hey Mrs. Housewife" single by The Swinging Blue Jeans from 1969 during their has been/chicken-in-the-basket cabaret days.  Coincidentally their lead guitarist, ex-Escort Terry Sylvester, joined The Hollies the previous year to replace Graham Nash. It's 1969 so of course it's a bit trippy (well as trippy as these guys could be) with it's funky groove laid down by a slight Hendrix chug to the tepid guitars with some very funky bass and minimal organ all about how groovy it would be (from a voyeuristic point of view) to be a sand fly.

8. THE STYLE COUNCIL-"Party Chambers"
I digress, when T.S.C's debut single "Speak Like A Child" came out I liked it's flip side, "Party Chambers" better. Despite my abhorrence for all things synthesizer (bar the odd Ultravox "Vienna" era tune) I love this track, I don't know why, but I do.  I think it reminds me of game show music from my childhood in the early/mid 70's and therefore perhaps makes me feel somehow smug and secure?!  Maybe it's the beer..............

9. BOOKER T. & THE M.G.'s-"The One Who Really Loves You"
I don't recall the last time I dusted off the old "Green Onions" LP/CD, so I decided it was time and became reacquainted with their jazzy/Jimmy Smith-esque debut album and as always this track never fails to leap out at me amongst it's somewhat mediocre other tracks that fill it out.

10. JON-"Upstairs, Downstairs"
Some day someone is going to catalog the massive number of Gibb brothers compositions they recorded and demo'ed while still based in Australia, most of which, like this track, never saw a legit Bee Gee's version issued and were instead issued by other artists utilizing a Bee Gees backing track (joining the ranks of Ronnie Burn's "Coalman" and "Exit Stage Right" and Adam Faith's "Cowman Milk Your Cow") . But till then we're going to have to make do with killer tracks like this one!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Four Pennies '66

THE FOUR PENNIES-Keep The Freeway Open/Square Peg U.K. Phillips BF 1491 1966

The Four Pennies get slagged off quite often because of their tepid hit "Juliet" (which was actually a B-side)!  They actually had some killer tunes, among them a rollicking reading of  Leadbelly's "Black Girl" (Phillips BF 1366 October 1964), an interesting take on Buffy St. Marie's "Until It's Time For You To Go" (Phillips BF 1435 September 1965), an upbeat single originally cut by Bobby "The Polish Prince" Vinton called "Trouble Is My Middle Name" (Phillips BF 1469 February 1966) and a Georgie Fame-ish number called "She Didn't Say Yes" on their 2nd LP "A Mixed Bag" (Phillips BL 7734 1966).

Today's article in question is their next to last of six singles for the Phillips label before the band went bust in late '66 (with bassist Fritz Fryer moving on to A&R/production work and handling numerous cool sessions like The Open Mind!) and in my opinion it's their best with both sides being equally amazing. Released in the Summer of 1966 it's not at all different from the beat/ballad style they employed on their earlier sides relying heavily on some tight harmonies and lead singer Lionel Morton's strong vocals.  "Keep The Freeway Open" starts out with some jangly guitars that remind me of The Poets or the Zombies and has a rapid fire vocal delivery with some clever rhyming.  It's a ballad of sorts but it's so wonderfully done it's not at all twee or sappy.  "Square Peg" follows the same formula but with more treble on the guitar adding an almost "British folk rock" feel to it.  It's also possibly one of the handful of British beat songs about a guy in jail because he killed someone!  The backing vocals add layers of texture beneath the

Both sides have been compiled on a budget U.K. CD called "The Very Best Of.."

Hear "Keep The Freeway Open":

Hear "Square Peg":

Sunday, November 27, 2011

60's Anglo Power Pop Defined: The 'Orrible 'Oo Debut!

Where to begin....unless you've had amnesia or have spent a lifetime in a cave in the Himalayas you can't help but be familiar with with the power pop prototype that is The Who's "I Can't Explain".  Just a few short months (6 to be exact) after releasing a single as The High Numbers ("I'm The Face"/"Zoot Suit" U.K. Fontana TF 480) the band had ditched their aping of U.S. r&b tunes and lead guitarist Pete Townshend began branching out and writing his own original (and what he deemed at the time on a BBC session as "commercial") pop compositions.

From it's Kinks inspired ringing Rickenbacker opening chord intro to it's smooth high backing vocals (care of The Ivy League) the number exemplifies "power pop" in the purest mid 60's Anglo pop sense.  This blue print of short bursts of basic chord progressions with high register backing vocals spawned countless other bands like The Eyes, The Game, The Smoke, The Favourite Sons and dozens, if not hundreds more. Keith Moon's sloppy drums accented by some well place hand claps (but not Jack The Barber this time) tie it all up in a nice little package. Produced by Shel Talmy it ranks, to me, as one of the most classic moments in the history of British 60's rock n' roll.

I first heard it on a New York FM rock n' roll station, possibly WNEW, at the onset of my mod-dom.  I was immediately captivated (having only been familar with "My Generation") by what I heard and even more so when the DJ told us it was The Who.  My friend Woody was happy to announce that not only did he own the track on his "The kids Are Alright" double LP but that he'd gladly let me take such "rock n roll bullshit" off his hands for free.  Sadly the version contained on it was the "live" on "Shindig" version full of screamagers and off key harmonies, I had to wait another year before purchasing "Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy" to acquire it. Twenty years later I had both the original U.K. and U.S. 45 pressings (actually two U.S. pressings, the rainbow Decca label and the pink Decca label), and still do, some things you just don't part with.

U.S. pressing

Sadly lost forever, The Who plugging their debut 45 on "Ready Steady Go" 1965

Groovy German 45 P.S. c/o of:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Here Come The Nazz............ Nice

THE SMALL FACES-Here Come The Nice/Talk To You Germany Columbia C 23 524 1967

It's tough to choose a favorite Small Faces song, even harder to choose a favorite Small Faces European picture sleeve 45! I've owned, probably over three dozen SF's picture sleeve EP's/45's and today's topic is both one of their coolest looking sleeves and one of their best tunes.

The sleeve, a German pressing, is a work of art.  Mac and Ronnie are wearing some boss three button suits, Steve has a white Levi's jacket and is investigating a pair of aviators shades, Ronnie's got on desert boots and Kenny is wearing a brilliant looking pair of striped shoes and a striped long sleeved tennis shirt with a pair of (presumably) white Levis.  How fucking cool is that?

I'll save you all the SF's history lesson and get down to business.  The band's keyboard  player Ian McLagan has stated that "Here Come The Nice" came from repeated listenings of Lord Buckley's "The Nazz" (aka "Here Come The Nazz") with liberal dosings of hash at the band's communal pad at 22 Westmoreland Terrace, Pimlico, London.  The band's code word for stoned just also happened to be "nice" and one of their catch phrases was "it's nice to be nice". You can groove on the hysterical spoken word piece below by Lord Buckley, with or without herbal enhancement, it's your choice.  In a time where the BBC were allegedly upset by song lyrics like John's Children's "Desdemona" or The Beatles "I Am The Walrus"  the notion that a band could manage to not only get airplay but reach #12 in the U.K. pop charts in June 1967 with a song about a drug dealer without getting banned or censored is nothing short of amazing! The delivery is perfect with some excellent harmonies by Ronnie and Mac backing Steve's typically soulful lead vocal track while the percussion and subtle Hammond build a solid layer beneath it all.

The flip side, "Talk To You", is equally brilliant stuff with some great piano licks by Mac (backed up by some cool Hammond beneath it all).  Steve's vocals are as soulful as ever with string backing vocals from Ronnie and Mac. The number holds the distinction of  being the band's first B-side to grace an LP as well (it appeared two weeks later on their second album, their untitled debut Immediate LP,IMLP 008).

Both sides appear pretty much everywhere but I strongly advise you hear them in Mono on the double 35th anniversary edition CD of their second LP.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Lovin'

THE LOVIN'-All You've Got/Do It Again U.S. Fontana F-1606 1967

Here's another weird one, the last of two 45's by a U.K. freakbeat group called The Lovin' before the underwent a name change and a musical makeover and became The Nerve. Like The Loot, they were managed and discovered by Larry Page AND had some minor Troggs connections. Page signed them to Page One where they released two 45's (see

This one was issued in the U.K. as Page One POF041 in October 1967. I am assuming that the Larry Page/Troggs connection got them a release in the States on the Troggs U.S. label Fontana, odd considering there were U.S. Page One singles, though perhaps the U.S. branch of Page One was not launched at this point in time as most U.S. Page One releases are from 1968. Then again all The Troggs U.S. records from this time were on Fontana too, go figure!

"All You've Got" is perfect freakbeat.  It begins with slightly out of tune, jangling, distorted guitar with a heavy beat and a chunky/heaviness to it all behind a fey, weary sounding lead vocalist with trademark high backing vocals (ala Who/Creation). "Do It Again" is heavier, with the same hard edged, plodding, primitive Troggs style beat behind a wall of distortion and the oft mentioned high vocals.  Both sides perfectly encapsulate the freakbeat sound before psychedelia came and wiped "guitar bands" out of vogue.  The band were soon out of the "freakbeat" genre and with help from Reg Presley of the Troggs became the pop outfit The Nerve, but that's another record for another entry!

"All You've Got" appeared on Bam Caruso's "Rubble 16 Glass Orchid Aftermath"  LP/CD  and "Keep on Believing" was on the "Circus Days Volume 3" CD/LP.

Hear "All You've Got":

Hear "Do It Again":

I'd like to extend a hearty thanks to Ellis Kingston's "Shindig!" Issue 20 Lovin'/Nerve article, from which some information for this piece was culled!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

From Sweden: The Mascots

THE MASCOTS-Words Enough To Tell You/Walking With My Angel Sweden Decca F 44508 1966

The Mascots are one of my favorite 60's Swedish bands after, of course, The Tages.  There are best known for their melodic/harmony beat ballad "Words Enough To Tell You" which first came to the attention of the faithful through the 80's compilation album of 60's Swedish tracks "Searching For Shakes" and doubtless a new generation of fans through it's inclusion on the "Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond, 1964–1969" CD box set.

"Words Enough To Tell You" is a perfect balancing of the "beat ballad" style yet not too corny or weak with nods to both The Zombies and The Hollies at their best!  The bands powerful harmony style crossed with the Poets/Zombies-like amplified acoustic 12 string is truly infectious. "Walking With My Angel", written by Goffin/King, was originally cut by Bobby Vee though I'm certain the band copped it from Herman's Hermits.  The arrangement is certainly similar, needless to say no matter who's doing it it's a pretty weak tune.

Pic courtesy of Jon Burchard

There needs to be a good Mascots CD, their double LP/CD "1964-1968" is out of print (it is available for download from to UK buyers only though). As mentioned earlier you can snag the A-side on "Nuggets II" and the CD reissue of "Searching For Shakes" but that's about it!

Hear "Words Enough To Tell You":

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Mohawks Part Two

THE MOHAWKS-The Champ/Sound Of The Witchdoctor U.S. Cotillion 45-44002 1968

I first heard "The Champ" by The Mohawks at an Empire State Soul Club dance back in the late 80's (1988 I'm thinking?), who if you don't know, were, bar none, THE best soul night New York City has ever seen, nor will see as far as I'm concerned (I was proudly, one of the first 100 members, member #73 to be exact, still have my old membership card). Back then there was of course the typical rumors (all untrue) of who they were that have long since been settled in even the most provincial of places (like New York City in the 80's).

Anyway this was the debut single by organ master Alan Hawkshaw's wonderfully funky and camp studio musician consortium known as The Mohawks.  It first was released in the U.K. on Pama (PM 719) in 1968.  What prompted a U.S. release I will never know!  Loosely based on the main riff Otis Redding/Carla Thomas vehicle "Tramp" (well more than loosely, outright plagiarized I'd call it!) "The Champ" follows the typical Mohawks formula of fluid organ lines from Hawkshaw's Hammond, female backing vocalists repeating the title and horns behind it all.  The flip side we have "Call Of The Witch Doctor" which is quite a departure from The Mohawks material. For starters it's not heavy on the organ and sounds like a calypso/ska track (nicking it's intro/main riff from "Sweet Soul Music") with use of some very ska horns (complete with a Rico-esque trombone solo!), not a bad track at all, just not what you'd expect!

Both cuts surfaced on the CD/LP reissue of their legendary LP "The Champ" on Vampisoul Records.

Hear "The Champ":

Hear "Sound Of The Witch Doctors":

Alan Hawkshaw reunited some years back with his studio cohorts and played a series of gigs as "The KPM All Stars" (KPM stands for Keith Prowse Music, a studio music library), one of which from London's Jazz Cafe can be viewed below where Alan Hawkshaw leads the band through "The Champ":

Thursday, November 10, 2011


XTC were the first band I'd ever seen live (April 11, 1981 at the Capitol Theater in Passiac, New Jersey with Joan Jett and The Blackhearts and Jools Holland and His Millionaires).  I wish I had photos of it, but I don't, my friend Rudie took hundreds of pics, but neither he, nor his photos are with us today.  Can any one out there oblige me with some photos?  Their set was mostly material from "Black Sea" as well as favorites from "White Music", "Go 2" and "Drums and Wires" as well as a few previews of tracks that would be on "English Settlement" and they tore it up.  Andy Partridge was wearing a white ruffled shirt and a gray jacket that resembled something a Civil War officer would've worn, every time he sang it looked like his head was about to explode as his face turned bright red as he bellowed all the numbers out like a man on a mission.  The following year we were set to see them again and Andy got "stage fright", which nobody, myself included, who'd ever seen them play bought for one minute.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Move Get Sued !

THE MOVE-Flowers In The Rain/(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree Portugal Stateside PSS 1001 1967

I don't think any band other than The Move can go down in history for being sued by a Prime Minister for libel.  In August 1967 the band's manager Tony Secunda (unbeknownst to any of The Move) printed up promo postcards for distribution to promote their new single "Flowers In the Rain" featuring a cartoon of then Prime Minister Harold Wilson in his bathtub with his personal secretary Marcia Williams (now herself a politician)taking dictation next to him, NOT Wilson in bed with Williams as Wikipedia and other sites are quick to mention (I saw the actual postcard or a clever knock off at a record show once, it was online for awhile too till , obviously, someone made them take it down).  Wilson of course, was not amused.  He sued The Move for libel and won.  In October, 11, 1967 the High Court upheld the suit and designated that all royalties accrued from the song would go to charities of Wilson's choice.  To this day song writer Roy Wood does not see a penny from the song, which has gone on to be used in TV commercials and ranks, allegedly, as one of the band's greatest selling singles of all time.  It also holds the distinction of being the first pop song ever played on the BBC's Radio One's , by DJ Tony Blackburn (after of course George Martin's brilliant orchestrally lysergic "Theme One").  Radio One was the Beeb's new more rock n' roll friendly format created in response to the defeat of pirate radio.  The incident led to a management rethink and the band parted ways with Secunda (briefly winding up under the evil Don Arden!). Today's 45 rpm specimen comes from Portugal.

"Flowers in The Rain" marks a departure for The Move from their harder edged five piece power pop/mod sound of their first two singles on Deram which you can read about here:

"Flower In The Rain" benefits from some brilliant pop psych orchestration scored by a young American named Tony Visconti who'd just come under the wing of the band's producer Denny Cordell, who took them along with him to the label Regal Zonophone (previously only the home to "Christian" rock n roll like The Joy Strings et al).  It also marks their debut in the genre of carefully orchestrated, well crafted psychedelic pop that would lead to other famous tracks like "Blackberry Way".  Like most good Move singles lead singer Carl Wayne shares the vocals, with lead guitarist Roy Wood taking the chorus. The flip side, "(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree" is in the same vein orchestration wise, a bit too twee for me I'm afraid, I prefer the version cut by their Brummie pals The Idle Race for a U.S. only release.  You can read about that here:

Roy Wood takes the lead vocals on this track but the melody is just too saccharine for my ears.  I was never a huge fan of this track and I'm afraid time has done little to change that!
The band in Secunda's office at the time of the lawsuit, pic courtesy of Getty Images.

Both sides can be found on a variety of Move CD's, we recommend the double CD deluxe edition of their untitled debut 1967 LP or the equally cool 4 CD box set "Anthology 1966-1972". There's an amazing BBC player segment on the track and it's political ramifications  that you can hear here.

A few other issues of the 45:

Rare South African 45 P.S.

German 45 P.S.

French 45 P.S.

Belgian 45 P.S.

Spanish 45 P.S.

U.S. pressing

U.K. pressing

If you were friends with me in the 90's you probably received a U.S. copy of this single from me along with a U.S. pressing of "Fire Brigade" as I literally bought a dozen copies of each at the Princeton Record Exchange for 50 cents a copy (along with equally as many U.S. copies of Prince Buster's "The 10 Commandments" on Phillips and U.K copies of Roy C's "Shotgun Wedding" on U.K., all at the same price)!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Soul Brother Clifford!

THE EQUALS-Soul Brother Clifford/Happy Birthday Girl Germany President 14 539 AT 1970

If you ignore their attire on their later records you'll find that even later in their career The Equals made some pretty cool records!  "Soul Brother Clifford", a 45 from 1970, is one of my favorites and always has been.  In 1997 when I started a DJ night called Hub City Soul with my co-conspirator Scott Belsky he spun it at nearly every night (and to great aplomb).

Led off by some groovy organ (U.K. copies credit the record as "The Equals with Al Dickinson (organ)") the band tell a tale of a cat who's organ playing in church is so funky that everyone is getting up on Sunday morning to go check him out.  Their reggae-ish shuffle is laid into a typically upbeat and funky Equals groove with their standard exhorted chorus and likeable groove. I had a cheap Korean Equals CD that contained a weird version without the organ and a completely different vocal track from Derv Gordon where he does some improvisational lyrical stuff at the end after chanting the title he exhorts "even the white people".  "Happy Birthday Girl" is boring proto glam 12 bar rock n roll with rollicking piano and is an exercise in late 60's U.K. "rock n' roll nostalgia" mediocrity.

Good luck finding any affordable original record Equals CD's at the moment with either of these tracks!

True Story:
DJ-ing at the very first Mod Chicago in 2002 a gang of racially mixed English ex-pats for some reason began chanting the number after The Embrooks set, I quickly dug the record out and spun it and had my hand shaken numerous times and offered many drinks. They were amazed that an American knew of The Equals let alone played their records. Hey we Yanks are good like that.

Hear "Soul Brother Clifford":

Hear "Happy Birthday Girl":

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fame At Last: Georgie Fame

GEORGIE FAME (AND THE BLUE FLAMES)-"Fame At Last E.P.":Get On The Right Track Baby/Point Of No Return/I Love The Life I Live/Gimme That Wine U.K. Columbia SEG 8393 1965
Georgie Fame is one of my favorite 60's British artists ranking right up there with The Small Faces, The Kinks and Bowie's '65-'67 output.  And like The Small Faces and The Kinks you can find a variety of picture sleeve 45's and E.P.'s by him out there.  Fame released 6 E.P.s in the U.K. for the Columbia label, this was his fourth, released hot on the heels of his U.K. #1 "Yeh Yeh".  Oddly all four tracks on the E.P. had previously seen issue on his 2nd U.K. LP "Fame At Last" (Columbia 33SX 1638), which coincidentally featured the same cover shot as today's E.P. subject!  The Blue Flames line up at this time was considered by many to be their "classic" line up composing of Mick Eve (tenor sax), Johnny Marshall (baritone sax), Tex Makins (bass), Speedy Acquaye (congas) and Red Reece (drums). My copy, as scanned above was autographed by the man himself at a gig during a week long residency at the Blue Note in New York City, he made it a point to tell me that if you looked closely at the photograph on the LP you'd notice his fingernails were dirty!

Fame's treatment of  Ray Charles "Get On The Right Track, Baby" is well known and he adds his own bit of jazziness to the number but keeps it pretty faithful to Brother Ray's with the exception of a slight increase in the tempo (and sweetened by Speedy's congas and some nice sax work, a trademark of the '64 era Blue Flames). Gene McDaniel's "Point Of No Return" is no carbon copy either. Fame and Co. take the sharp punctuations of the original and turn into into a more swinging number by adding some tasty Hammond/sax action from the get go. In fact it ranks as one of my fave tracks by the band from this era, fattened up by a very smooth sax solo by Johnny Marshall and Speedy's incessantly pleasant conga drums. Mose Allison's "I Love the Life I Live" is next up, it is pretty faithful to the original but with Georgie replacing the stride piano with some tasty Hammond and his own laid back vocal mix style.  The always hysterical "Gimme That Wine" originally cut by Lambert Hendricks and Ross, closes the E.P.  Fame pulls out all the stops in cheekiness whilst sticking to the originals arrangement but adding some twists of his own c/o his trademark groovy "Hammond n' horns".

You can find "Get On The Right Track Baby" and "Point Of No Return" on two essential Fame CD's (both still in print) the famous "20 Beat Classics" and more recent "The Mod Classics '64-'68". "I Love The Live I Live" can be found on "20 Beat Classics" and the budget compilation "The Very Best of.." CD.  All of the tracks are also available on the essential Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames 5 CD box set "The Whole World's Shaking".

Hear "Get On The Right Track Baby":

Hear "The Point Of No Return":

Hear "Gimme That Wine":

"Anorak Thing" wishes to thank Nick Rossi for his informational assistance in the composing of today's post.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Applejacks

THE APPLEJACKS-Tell Me When/Baby Jane U.S. London 45LON9658 1964

The Applejacks, as we've discussed in earlier posts were unfairly maligned  for a variety of reasons in the 60's.  The sexists dismissed their having a female bassist as a gimmick and their hit reading of Lennon and Macca's "Like Dreamers Do" forever consigned them as musical footnotes in the great catalog of "bands who's Beatles covers gave them their only hit".  I wholeheartedly disagree and feel that The Applejacks, despite a few weak tracks, are on the whole a pretty rocking group.

Today's article is a U.S. pressing (in fact it's the only U.S. Applejacks single I've come across) of the band's U.K. debut 45 (Decca F 11833, February 1964). "Tell Me When" is an upbeat ditty propelled by the band's tinny, tinkling piano and happy go lucky feel.  "Baby Jane", written by the talented Pete Dello (later to front the Deram act and write other Applejack's tracks "It's Not A Game Anymore" and "Make Up Or Break Up") is one of their most rocking sides.  With a driving beat, cool bass runs and a punchy feel it is set apart from so many mediocre 60's British beat group records!

The band would go on to cut six more singles for Decca, their next being their highest charting (#20) U.K. hit "Like Dreamers Do" five months after this debut.

Both sides are included on the highly recommended Applejacks complete Decca recordings anthology, a CD reissue of their untitled Decca LP put out by Cherry Red.

Hear "Baby Jane":

For a cool interview with their bassist Megan Davies go to:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

John's Children: Lift Up Your Skirt And Get Banned

JOHN'S CHILDREN-Desdemona/Remember Thomas A Beckett Germany Polydor 59 104 1967

Today's topic is one of the most famous John's Children tracks, not necessarily their best, but it's well known because it marks the debut of their newly recruited guitarist Marc Bolan and because it contained a line which allegedly incurred some wrath from the BBC (though I honestly find it hard to believe the Beeb would be so troubled by a band so obscure). Who knows, maybe this was more P.R. from their manager Simon Napier Bell who freely admitted to encouraging their outlandishness!

"Desdemona" was never one of my favorites by the band until I became a T Rex fan.  I think it's down to Bolan's warbling "Desdemona" backing vocal that always rubbed me the wrong way till I got used to his elfin warbling.  The number is pretty mundane in itself in musical delivery other than a freaky interlude where Bolan can be heard coaxing some feedback in the middle, what's most interesting are Bolan's quasi beatnik lyrics which I find quite cool. And then of course there's the "offensive" line "lift up your skirt and speak/fly" line which I don't perceive as anything sexual just good old witchy/proto hippie gobbledygook.

I prefer the flip side, "Remember Thomas A. Beckett".  It's full of silly crash bang wallop drumming and some off kilter backing harmonies.  It is purported that the band used the funds gained in royalties from "Smashed Blocked" in The States to buy a club in Leatherhead, Surrey called The Bluesette which they renamed "The Thomas A. Beckett", whether this was more the productive yarn spinning on their then manager Simon Napier Bell, I'll never know but it sounds impressive!  To me the lyrics speak of necrophilia ("won't your blues eyes ever shine?  Whys your hand cold all the time ?") and murders ("you're running, I'll follow, you're screaming, I'll catch you, and chop you in pieces...").  Thomas A. Beckett of course was a historical figure, (not to be confused Thomas Beckett with the Archbishop of Cantebury, murdered on Henry VIII's order in 1170) who was , for a time, Australia's chief justice in the late 19th/early 20th Century.  Strange lads those John's Children, one wonders what Andy Ellison and John Hewlett had in mind when they wrote it!!

Recently Acid Jazz unearthed an "alternate" version of "Desdemona" that featured on their "Rare Mod Volume Three" CD that contained the line "why do you have to lie?" in place of "lift up your skirt and speak/fly", showing that despite all pretensions of rebellion John's children were not above conformity if need be................

Both tracks are available on a variety of John's Children CD compilations ("The Complete John's Children" and "Smashed Blocked"), which are all sadly, out of print. What the fuck is up with that?!

Hear "Desdemona":

Hear "Remember Thomas A. Beckett":

The MEGA rare U.K. picture sleeve.