Saturday, April 30, 2011

Andy Lewis:41

ANDY LEWIS-"41" Mini LP (Acid Jazz) 2011

These days when folks mention Andy Lewis they usually feel compelled to mention the club night he used to do, what band he used to DJ for or what mega star he plays bass for.  Well I'm not having any of that because from the two great long players AND this solid new mini LP I figure the man has more than earned his keep on his musical merits not to necessaitite any name dropping or "star connecting".  Overall its a brilliant mix of vintage keyboards of all sorts, contemporary beats and slightly lysergic feel at times with nods here and there to eras gone by without attempting to note for note sound like it's 1967 or 1971.

"41", the title track is a slightly contemporary sounding groovy little instrumental. It reminds me of the "Life On Mars" theme  in concept only: a groovy sci-fi type instro with smatterings of cool keyboards (vintage Mellotron, 70's TV theme synths, chimes etc ) and a cool Gerry Anderson show sounding space port announcement "this is 41" on the intro.  "Complexity" is a nice bouncy number with the intensity of  a classic Makin' Time 45 with shades of the long lost 90's fave The Dylans. "Sky Bar" hits a "Black Is Black" sort of groove with some nifty bongo type beats going on in the background and some trippy background vocals that again has me recalling The Dylans and their one good (debut) album. "Yarbles" is a Mellotron/Melodicia instrumental  thats what happens when  "2,000 Light Years From Home" and "Grooving With Mr. Bloe" have a drunken one night stand. "Centre Of Attention" is sort of Blur somewhere between their first three CD's before it all went, horribly, wrong. The vocals have a distinct Damon Albarn meets John Squire feel and the lyrics are pure 90's scenster/hipster (though these days I'm not sure what the latter is) put-down.
"Mr. Camera" is my fave track of the LP. Its a rapid fire socio topical Ray Davies style observation that never lets up.  Upon a first listen I thought the witty rejoinder chorus was "Mr. Cameron don't like it...", but alas with my car windows down I heard it wrong (it was an 80 degree Easter sunday so the windows were down and the sunroof was open). Someday people will look back and hear this track and suss that was 2011 encapsulated (or one would hope).  Above all the lyrics are great: "don't wanna be a pilot in the Royal Air Force and drop bombs on the Taliban.....but I quite like sitting by the river and watching the boats go by" and "but I quite like spending my money on secondhand clothes and LP's". Amen! "Last Song Of the Year" is a lazy, downtrodden kitschy closer, another of my fave tracks of the bunch.  Musically the key changes reminds me of something I would've heard on my transistor radio in the early 70's when my mother banished me to the backyard to "play outside".

I'm told there is a third LP in the making, which I can't wait to hear.  Watch this space for more!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Harry's Still Freaked Out: 10 Lysergic 60's Classics

  10 Lysergic 60's Classics NOT From England:

We here at "Anorak Thing" are always on about British 60's psych so I decided it was about time to give credit to some of the other acts from other countries who took a musical trip on the technicolor rainbow ride knows as psychedelia.  A lot of countries did not make the cut because I wanted to limit the number to ten. Also because a few countries just didn't have a lot of freakout records.  Take Holland for instance.  I've heard lots by Group 1850, Q65, The Outsiders, Dragonfly etc but none of what I've heard so far is trippy like The Pink Floyd or  The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. I skipped Brazil because I'm bored to death with Tropicalia which to be honest though brilliant in places (like Caetano Veloso's debut LP) isn't exactly brain cell destroying stuff.  Let's face it psychedelia basically skipped France.  The Ye-Ye girls all sang about L.S.D. and France Gall made a few trippy pop songs on her LP "1968" but France in the 60's was pretty unhip and ignored what was going on anywhere else in the world not taking too many cues from the U.K. or U.S. past 1964.  I also decided to skip foreign versions of other people's psych cuts, like the Canadian version of "See Emily Play" or the Australian cover of Eire Apparent's "Mr. Guy Fawkes". I also made sure the list wasn't entirely from the U.S. so here's what I came up with...

1. The Klan-"Nobody Will Ever Help You"
Belgium's Klan produced a slew of catchy mod/pop songs like their Dutch counterparts The Motions before taking a cue from Pink Floyd and throwing in spacey backing vocals, Rick Wright-esque organ, and at the number's ending a disembodied "announcer" repeats random phrases while the guitar player gets all "See Emily Play" with his guitar (see Sparrow below).

2. The Tea Company-"Come And Have Some Tea With Me"
Technically most psych-heads might disdain this commercially produced LP geared purely at psychedelic exploitation by the good folks at Smash records who were known for putting out some oddball records (Gary and The Hornets anyone?).  But for a cash in its an incredible bit of complex psychedelia with a cacophony of effects that are just as trippy as anything made by real god honest freaks.  The title track (which also opens the album) is a mish mash of distorted/phased horns with lots of echo and fuzzed out guitar building to a frightening crescendo.

3. The Byrds-"Artificial Energy"
David Crosby's ode to speed from "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" is by far the most wigged out thing they ever did.  This is mainly down to the phased/compressed horns that glide from speaker to speaker like The Tijuana Brass on acid and array of "psychedelic" effects on everything including the vocals that anticipate the coming of Julian Cope and The Teardrop Explodes who were never above a flanging horn section or two. "I'm going to die before my time..."

4. Aorta-"What's in My Mind's Eye"
I can't tell you much about these guys except they were from Chicago and this track hails from their untitled 1969 LP. This track is lushly orchestrated like a '67 British Deram/Decca 45 but it has this element of freakiness to it that sets it apart from orchestrated pop-sike candy floss.  Maybe its the effect on the vocals, maybe I'm having a flashback.

5. Sparrow-"Isn't it Strange"
Pre-Steppenwolf John Kay wigginess from 1966 of all times!  The vocals are unearthly and reek of a mind losing his mind, like Jim Morrison but more far out and there's the great Zippo-on-guitar neck Syd Barrett effect before Syd Barrett ever made a record and top it off with some moody percussive bits that anticipate "S.F. Sorrow".  Yes kids, they knew how to get their freak on up in Canada!

6. Lloyd's World-"Brass Bird"
Australia, like Sweden is a tough country to pick just one or two psychedelic tracks by.  A lot of their stuff is heavily influenced by their Colonial cousins the U.K.  This one is fairly poppy in parts but shows that like in the U.K., psychedelia was, in part just a bunch of mods who got turned on and blew their minds after hearing "Itchycoo Park" (this number especially is drenched in phasing/flanging aka "skying").

7. The Dee-Jays-"Striped Dreams, Checked Fear"
Though technically British The Deejays were based in Sweden for pretty much their entire career so we'll consider them Swedes.  This was from their last LP titled, appropriateluy, "Haze" (amongst such acid eating numbers like "Who But the Bomp" and "Little Children" eeeek). Cut in 1967, its a truly lysergic song that utilizes a bit of phasing, snippets of "Come All Ye Faithful" as a chorus and some brilliantly ominous flanged piano chording beneath a "Crimson And clover" style bassline.

8. We All Together-"It's A Sin To Go Away"
You could fill a shot glass with what I know about 60's South American psych, its a genre I haven't quite gotten around to investigating.  These guys hailed from Peru and were brought to my attention via the second "Nuggets" box set.  This one starts out like a Procol Harum meets Vanilla Fudge type number with some churchy organ and evolves into a choral pop tripfest awash in flanging and backwards guitars.

9. Los Shakers-"Espero Que Te Guste 042 "
Uruguay's Shakers were the biggest Beatle fanatics in the Americas so when the Fab's got trippy with "Revolver" Los Shakers ditched "A Hard Day's Night" and got suitably freaked out with this track (well in truth they'd already began moving away from the '64 Beatles...).  No track better encapsulates their "new" sound than this cut full of "Revolver" era trademarks like "Tomorrow Never knows" drum beats, buzzing backwards guitars, soaring harmonies and the lot!

10. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band-"The Smell Of Incense"
Eclipsed by a lame ass semi hit cover version by The Southwest F.O.B. (aptly nicknamed by Mike Stax in "Ugly Things" once as  the Southwest S.O.B's) this is the original.  The WCPAEB were probably the biggest bunch of lunatics who in my estimation out freaked The Byrds and Love in the studio by a million microdots.  It was hard to pick just one track by them and this Eastern influenced number sets into a groove so heavy you'd swear if you closed your eyes you could smell the incense and a cloud of kiff smoke enveloping the room.

In the compositional technique phasing, popularized by composer Steve Reich, the same part (a repetitive phrase) is played on two musical instruments, in steady but not identical tempo. Thus, the two instruments gradually shift out of unison, creating first a slight echo as one instrument plays a little behind the other, then a doubling with each note heard twice, then a complex ringing effect, and eventually coming back through doubling and echo into unison. Phasing is the rhythmic equivalent of cycling through the phase of two waveforms as in phasing. Note that the tempi of the two instruments are almost identical, so that both parts are perceived as being in the same tempo: the changes only separate the parts gradually. In some cases, especially live performance where gradual separation is extremely difficult, phasing is accomplished by periodically inserting an extra note into the phrase of one of the two players playing the same repeated phrase, thus shifting the phase by a single beat at a time, rather than gradually (see flanging and/or skying).

Flanging is an audio effect produced by mixing two identical signals together, with one signal delayed by a small and gradually changing period, usually smaller than 20 milliseconds. This produces a swept comb filter effect: peaks and notches are produced in the resultant frequency spectrum, related to each other in a linear harmonic series. Varying the time delay causes these to sweep up and down the frequency spectrum.

Coined by Richard Norris and Phil Smee of Bam Caruso records in the 80's to describe the oscilating effects created using "phasing" or "flanging" on such records as Caleb's "Baby Your Phrasing Is Bad" (and also more well known tracks like The Small Face's "Itchycoo Park" ).  Interestingly the first record to ever utilize this effect was  "The Big Hurt" by Toni Fisher in 1959!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

April's Picks

1. THE ASSOCIATION-"Looking Glass"
Musical trippiness with bending harmonies from the crucially overlooked "Renaissance" album.

Hard core!  The mighty shadow and company wail on their "solo" debut release.  Jack Bruce blows a mean harp, Bond wails vocally and on the Hammond, Dick Heckstall-Smith blows a mean jazzy sax and Ginger Baker thumps the tubs, mod jazz indeed.

I'd long only been familiar with the Aretha Franklin's version on Columbia (via The Zombies cover on their Rhino "Live at the BBC" LP back in the day) and was recently surprised to discover this one, the original!  Though Aretha's cover is a killer I find this one far superior!

4. FREDDIE ROACH-"Googa Mooga"
B-3 greatness from Kent's amazing "From Route 66 To the Flamingo" LP/CD compilation.

5. ANDY LEWIS-"Complexity"
Uptempo, poppy, zippy and very cool track from Mr. Lewis latest, a Mini LP called "41" (watch this space for a review shortly).

6. MARK MURPHY-"This Train"
Reworking/rewording from his rare as hell Immediate album "Who Can I Turn To", a patchy affair at best, this is one of the LP's best tracks!!

7. JACQUELINE TAIEB-"La Plus Belle Chanson"
Whimsical fairground organ driven bit of candy floss Gallic pop from the "Swinging Mademoiselles" CD compilation, I first heard this a few weeks back in Starbucks and thanks to Shazam!  I was able to find out who it was.  Ain't technology grand?

8. THE TEARDROP EXPLODES-"And The Fighting Takes Over"
A way out Julian Cope exercise from the band's second and last LP "Wilder" with cascading trippy trumpets, heavy chorus effect on muted guitar and spooky keyboards whilst Jools sings in his best disenfranchised/disembodied vocal.

9. DONOVAN-"Mellow Yellow"
Brilliant psych/jazz infusion where rag time meets Swinging London all thanks to the impeccable arrangements of one John Paul Jones. The best "pot party" ever committed to vinyl!

10. OTIS REDDING-"(Sittin' On The)Dock Of The Bay"
This was my very first introduction to Otis Redding at the age of 9 or 10 with a 3 LP V.A. "Best of the 60's" set on the dubious mob-run Adam VIII record label.  It's become my favorite Otis track, I think the vocals are perhaps most bluesy thing he's ever done with an almost ominous weariness about them. Add Steve Cropper's string pulling with the delicate balance of the Bar-Kays horns and you've got one beautiful tune.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cottoned To Jazz/R&B

THE MIKE COTTON SOUND-Round And Round/Beau Dudley U.K. Columbia DB 7382 1964
This is the second 45 by the "reborn" Mike Cotton after he ditched that dead boring trad jazz, grandad and moved into jazzier r&b as played by Messers Money, Bond and Fame.  Though never as popular as any of the acts they still made some very cool singles and an untitled LP that ranks as one of the most collectible British albums of the 60's.

"Round And Round" is a brilliant moody little piece with hushed vocals, tasty combo organ (c/o future Animal Dave Rowberry) and a brilliant trumpet solo from Mr. Cotton at a tempo much like The Sorrow's "Take A Heart".  "Beau Dudley" is a rollicking version of "Bo Diddley" with all stops pulled out to create that "there's a wild party in the recording studio" sound with some wiggy sax/harmonica dueling and frantic ivory tinkling.  A bit boring after awhile but well played. The Mike Cotton Sound were: Mike Cotton (trumpet, harmonica and lead vocals), John Beecham (trombone), Johnny Crocker (clarinet, tenor/alto sax), Stu Morrison (bass), Tony Pitt (guitar), Dave Rowberry (keyboards) and Jimmy Garforth (drums).

"Round And Round" appeared a few years back on the CD compilation "Breaking Point: 20 Hard Edged Beat Diamonds". Both sides of this 45 appeared as bonus tracks on the bootleg CD reissue of their rare as hens teeth untitled LP on the Rocking Beat label, who though on the never never always turn out a great sounding product!

Mike Cotton :a man and his horn.

Hear "Beau Diddley":

Hear "Round And Round":

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goodbye Eric!

THE YARDBIRDS-For Your Love/Got To Hurry U.K. Columbia DB 7499 1965

Ever hear the one about the famous British "blues" guitarist who got pissed off that his r&b band decided to record a Graham Gouldman "pop" song that charted so he jacked it in and quit?

"For Your Love" was the third Yardbirds single, and the final one to feature Eric "Slowhand" Clapton who quit because being a blues purist  he did not want to play pop songs, fair enough.  And again to be fair there's not much guitar on it, just the rocking bit in the middle, the rest is propelled by Relf's bongos and Brian Auger's harpsichord (that's right, I heard it from the man himself, he was booked for the session and showed yp and asked where was the organ or piano and for the first time in his life played a harpsichord, true story, heart crossed).  I think it stands as one of their best efforts, especially the soulful main chorus where everyone gets a chance to sing, rousing stuff. Gouldman's own combo The Mockingbirds cut a version of it but it was never issued, leaving The Yardbirds to have a first go at it!  "Got To Hurry" is a bluesy instrumental with key charges reminiscent of "Green Onions", fairly pedestrian but it gives Clapton a chance to show off before he took off.

Of course you can find both of these cuts pretty much anywhere because Giorgio Gomelsky (their first manager) pretty much licenced the crap out of their stuff, leading to a plethora of sub-par official and very un-official Clapton era Yardbirds products on an exploitation level only equalled by The Small Faces under similar circumstances!

The Yardbirds entertaining Sir or Lord Somebody, forget this chap's name but he was keen to seem "progressive" and invited the Yardbirds to play at his house.  Keith Relf and Chris Dreja look like off duty mod airline pilots while Jim McCarty adjusts his necktie.

The 1965 Yardbirds at The Marquee late in Clapton's career with the band, courtesy of a gentleman who's name I've misplaced!

Giorgio Gomelsky chats with Sir/Lord Whatsisname while an apprehensive Eric Clapton looks on in Levi's, groovy shirt and with a #2 crop.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rare Mod Volume 3

Various Artists-Rare Mod Volume 3 U.K. Acid Jazz CD AJXCD238 2001

Acid Jazz has been releasing quite a few 60's related items as of late (check this space for more), none better than the third installment of their all 60's/all U.K. "Rare Mod" compilation series that contains exclusively unreleased tunes.  I've decided to give you a quick track by track rundown:

1. The Montanas - Open The Door
I've got to say despite digging most of The Montanas 60's sides this one didn't really grab me.  It's a bit heavy, organ driven and reminds me of one of those late 60's tracks that crops up on "Le Beat Bespoke" that aren't always my scene.

2. Sean Buckley & The Breadcrumbs - No Matter How You Slice It
Heroes from the ancient "Searching In The Wilderness" LP comp thanks to their  "Everybody Knows" comes Sean Buckley and The Breadcrumbs.  Their offering here isn't as frantic but still great.  It's got a sort of '66 mod/soul discotheque feel with soulful vocals, cool breaks, organ and enthusiastic backing vocals.  Yeah!

3. Andee Silver-Baby I Need Your Loving
Some lame assed U.K. Motown covers stayed unreleased for a reason.  Nuff said.

4. Dave & The Diamonds - Think About Love
Slash and burn freakbeat stuff here driving with distorted guitar, punky/snotty vocals and a great tempo.

5. The Creation - Life is Just Beginning (Alternate Take)
With trepidation I whined "oh I've heard this before", but I didn't.  There's an extra verse an followed by a cool little orchestral bit that none of us has heard before.  A new trick for an old dead dog.

6. The Iveys - Chicago Calling

Lo-fi boring sophomore attempt.  Just lame. Not the pre-Badfinger lads.

7. Derry Wilkie & The Pressmen - Can You Think Of Another

Led by one of the handful of black singers working the Liverpool scene, the late Derry Wilkie, the music is pretty decent in this track but the vocals are a bit flat but I seem to recall an unnamed Liverpudlian beat musician referring to Wilkie as "the most soul-less black man I've ever heard".  Nuff said.
8. Goldie & The Gingerbreads-Look For Me Baby
New York transplants led by Goldie Zelkowitz/Genya Ravan pull out all the stops with a punchy version of The Kink's tune with some groovy organ.  I once heard that Georgie Fame played organ on some of their stuff but that's yet to be substantiated.  One of the best of the bunch here!

9. John’s Children - Desdemona (Alternate Take)

As above with the Creation track you're expecting something you've heard but again you're wrong.  This one features an entirely different lead vocal track (Andy Ellison sounds bored and unenthusiastic), wiggy organ going on in the background (reminiscent of the noodlings on "Indian Thing" by The Shotgun Express) and the "offending" lines 'lift up your skirt and speak/fly" replaced by a tamer "Why do you have to lie/speak".

The St. Louis Union

10. The St. Louis Union - About My Girl
Our Mancunian mod/r&b heroes The St. Louis Union appear here with a nifty unreleased gem full of some B-3 worthy of a Brian Auger or Dave Davani record and some bluesy belting from the late/great Tony Cassidy. The liner notes state it was recorded in the home of some cat in Huddersfield!

11. Kenny Bernard & The Wranglers - Midnight Hour
Boring live version from a normally decent U.K. r&b combo fronted by another black gentleman.

12. The Nocturnes - Sunflower
The Nocturnes were sort of a poor man's Episode Six (if that's possible), running the gamut of U.S. West Coast pop harmonies (best exemplified by their version of Jimmy Webb's "Carpet Man") but as this contribution and a track on the previous volume show, they had some groovy mod/soul up their sleeve with this number driven by some way out guitar and slight Hammond, like The Mamas and the Papas jamming with The Artwoods!

13. The Montanas - Dr Nero
Another heavy unreleased Montanas cut, dating, like the previous track, from 1970. This one is a bit more likable as it's frantic and has a cool bit that resembles to classical melody that The move used at the end of "Disturbance" but still has that feel that most records made by once "cool" Sixties artists who grow their hair and try to get "with it" after it was way, way too late.

14. The Preachers - Get Back To The One
The moddy jazz of the Bill Wyman produced, Peter Frampton sung Preachers only got one U.K. 45 but luckily there are more swinging sax accented killer tracks like this one lurking in the archives!

15. Sean Buckley & The Breadcrumbs - Shatterproof
Another Sean Buckley cut firmly in the Mod" camp, rocking but owes more than a bit to The Trogg's 1st single's B-side "The Yella In Me".  Dig the nifty bass!!

16. Dave & The Diamonds - Such Is Life
This one reminds me of a cross of Dave Davies fronting The Sorrows circa '65,  cool stomping beat with wiggy guitar and plenty of "la la la's" to compliment the campy lead vocals.

17. The Iveys - Little Egypt
Mama said if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all. Good old Mama.

18. Unknown - Pink, Purple & Blue
An unknown group offering a great little beat/harmony number about a discotheque dollybird who parties too hard every night.  It's a very decent social commentary about the underside of Swingin' London by a band we'll never know.

19. Gary Brooker - Verse One
In between his stint with South Coast r&b connoisseurs The Paramounts and Procol Harum organist Gary Brooker cut a few unreleased cuts.  This one is somewhere between Booker T and Whistling Jack Smith!  Odd but amusing!

20. Wainwright’s Gentlemen - Ain’t That Just Like Me
A fairly pedestrian version of a number bettered by the Tony Jackson era Searchers, not terrible but rather pointless!!

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part 30 : The Kinks

THE KINKS-Till The End Of the Day/Where Have All The Good Times Gone/What's In Store For Me/I'm On An Island France Pye E.P. PNV 24 160 1965

You've got to love French 60's E.P.'s.  I know of at least 3 Kinks ones that feature shots from this "Ready Steady Go" performance that graced French E.P.'s, though there may be more (including one of them posing on a stairweel backstage, also utilized in a Small Faces photo shoot).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ready! Steady!

THE CLOCKWORK ORANGES-Ready, Steady/After Tonight U.K. Ember EMBS227 1966

With a name like "Ready, Steady" by a lad-ish sounding group like the Clockwork Oranges you'd expect this record to be as mod as "I Can't Explain" by the Who or well, "Jump and Dance " by Carnaby (see  Well you're half right.  But would you expect it to sound like Britain's attempt at the Beach Boys?!  Here you have it kids, the world's only surf-mod record!!  It has that frenzied feel of an early Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich record (possibly due to it being co-authored by Howard Blaikley, who along with Allen Howard wrote every Dave Dee track, more on that in a sec) with some great shouted vocals punctuated by some backing vocals and phrasing in the melody of The Beach Boy's "I Get Around". It's amazing no one in the Beach Boys camp ever sued, probably proof of how few people actually heard the record!  But it's a solid disc, from the lead vocals, the backing vocals and the musical backing.  The flip, "After Tonight" is a dead boring ballad, like a fourth rate Four Seasons. It was previously cut by Dave Dee etc on their first album. I know abosolutely nothing of who The Clockwork Oranges were, where they came from or what became of them so if you're aware let us know. I've heard that Terry Clarke (formerly of The Herd, he sang on their first two singles before being replaced in 1966 by Peter Frampton after the band's third single) was their lead singer but this has yet to be verified.  A German picture sleeve shows them as a five piece. They were produced by newly arrived American producer Jim Economides.

Both sides were collected on the CD compilation "Ember Beat Volume 3 (1966-67): After Tonight".

The record got a release at the home of surf music in the U.S. on Liberty Records as F-55887 and a release in Germany (Columbia 23.226) came with a picture sleeve!

Hear "Ready, Steady":

Hear "After Tonight":

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Roulettes U.S. Pressing:live posting from the pub via Droid

THE ROULETTES-The Long Cigarette/Junk U.S. United Artists UA 990 1965

This was the seventh "solo" 45 by Adam Faith's sometime backing band The Roulettes, a talented U.K. 4 piece who cut some excellent records with little chart success.  "The Long Cigarette" was the closest they ever came to a hit.  I can't be 100% certain but I believe the band had previously released their fourth single "Bad Time" in the States on United Artists, however U.A. did release their second single "Soon You'll Be Leaving Me" in The States and it is this label that is the source of today's topic.

"The Long Cigarette" is an infectious sing-along beat ballad with some strong vocals and great key changes. It knocked me out the very first time I heard it on a compilation album called "My Generation" (see ). I promptly went out and snagged their Edsel compilation album "Russ, Bob, Pete & Mod" and the rest is history.  Equally as enjoyable as the "A" side is it's flip, "Junk", a groovy electric piano instrumental with some great Steve Cropper style buzzing guitar work and jazzy breaks, easily one of my favorite British 60's instrumentals of all time.

Both sides appear as bonus tracks on BGO's still in print reissue of their impossibly rare (we're taking a grand on up per copy) LP "Stakes And Chips".

Hear "The Long Cigarette":

Hear "Junk":

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Final Episode

EPISODE SIX-Mozart Versus the Rest/ Jak D'or U.K. Chapter One CH 104 1969

Rather than give you the whole run down on the Episode six let's suffice to say they were a five piece U.K. pop group who specialized in sunshiney harmony pop with the odd foray into weirdness.  By 1969 they lead singer Ian Gillian bolted to Deep Purple(on the condition that the Purp's fire bassist Nicky Simper so he could bring his bass buddy from the Six, Roger Glover along with him).  With both of them gone the band soldiered on for one last 45, today's article, that did not require much pop precision harmony.

"Mozart Versus The Rest" is pretty boring, they were already beaten to the punch on the "rock plays heavy guitar/speed versions of classical pieces " by Jeff Beck's stab at "Bolero" and Dave Edmunds and Love Sculpture's "Sabre Dance", its a dull pointless exercise in how fast a band can play and how clever they can be to incorporate classic music into rock n'roll, like the late George Harrison quipped on "The Simpsons" once: "it's been done".  However the flip is where things get good and groovy. "Jack D'or" is a spooky instrumental with some heavy drums and bass backbeat, blistering guitar and eerie "ooos and aa's" backing vocals worthy of a Satanic ritual scene in a late 60's Hammer film and a voice slowly saying "Jack D'or" every now and then.

Both sides were compiled on two now out of print Episode Six CD's:  the two disc "Love Hate Revenge" comp and the older RPM "Complete Pye Sessions".

Hear "Mozart Versus the Rest":

Hear "Jack D'or":

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Mike Stuart Span/Leviathan

Here's some bits of a U.K. TV documentary "A Year In The Life" that featured the Mike Stuart Span in their recently renamed incarnation as Leviathan, enjoy.

The Rocker: A Homage To A Local Character

For several years now in the decaying industrial town next to the town I work in there's been a character who floats up and down the streets all day long that my friend and former co-worker John nicknamed "The Rocker".  He's a white guy probably in his 40's-50's, a massive man who's got a shock Sammy Haggar-ish blond hair and is never without his Ray Bans and a cigarette in hand or mouth.  His attire is exclusively black.  I think I first noticed him in the summer when he had on a black suit jacket with the sleeves rolled up, a turquoise t-shirt, black jeans and black cowboy boots with silver metal tips. Sometimes he'll have on a beret or a cowboy hat or a stingy brim, but they're always black, everything he wears save his shirts are black.  We've surmised that he doesn't have a job, probably lives at home and might've had a band once (it was reputed he was once seen walking up the street blowing a harp).  But he's mostly known for just strutting the sidewalks in the 1-2 mile radius of this shitty little town on the river in his rock n' roll gear. This morning I was running very late but had to check my P.O. Box and there he was outside the Post Office pulling on a Marlboro (he had a carton under his arm) in his black leather rattlesnakeskin print, black jeans, a magenta shirt with dice printed on it and dig this, silver Beatle boots!  I pulled in next to the Post Office blasting Freddie Roach. I was wearing an off white mac, a pink/white/black plaid Ben Sherman, conservative grey flannel trousers and a pair of brogues.  He said to me as I got out of the car "McGriff or Smith?", stunned it took me a minute to comprehend and I said "Freddie Roach".  He then proceeded to comment on my attire: "You've got this great 60's Ivy League thing going man, if your hair wasn't so long I'd take you for a mod" (my hair is sort of between haircuts and as long as, say Steve Marriott in late 1966, only it won't center part because well, I'm too lazy to train it).  I was pretty well blown away, before I could speak he offered his hand and said "My name's Dan but folks around here call me The Rocker", it was with all my strength that I withheld my laughter and reciprocated and bid him good day and as I walked into the Post Office he said "Be cool baby".

This one's for you Dan........

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tony Christie on Acid Jazz ?!?!

TONY CHRISTIE-Now's The Time/Season Of the Witch/Beautiful Woman U.K. Acid Jazz 2011

The name Tony Christie will mean nothing to you if you're an American, if you're British then you're in the know.  I'm not sure how best to describe ol' Tone for you if you're a Statesider so let's just say he's sort of like Tom Jones if Tom Jones had never made any kick ass beat records in the mid 60's. One of my best friends is from Huddersfield, Yorkshire and he shudders at the very mention of his 1973 semi hit "Avenues and Alleyways" (the theme for a TV show called "The Protectors" across the pond), always much to my delight.  Christie's biggest U.K. hit was called "What I Did For Maria" (#2, yawn). His other hit, at #18 was called "Show Me The Way To Amarillo", which some of you Yanks might know from a YouTube video made by a bunch of British soldiers stationed in Iraq who did a hysterical bit of pantomime to it from their basecamp.

Anyway now that we're done with the history lesson Tony has cut some tunes for Acid Jazz, which I've only just discovered despite it being over half a year ago.  Much in the spirit of Tom Jones (who recorded an uptempo mildly contemporary reworking of Don Fardon's "I'm Alive" (using Fardon's version as a template to good affect and an incredibly soulful  bonus only Amazon.Com download called "Feels Like Music"), Christie "got with it".  Like these efforts by Jones the recordings have a fairly modern production value to them but the people playing on them are clearly well aware that they are recording something clearly inspired by something 4 and a half decades ago.  I'm not quite sure what this E.P. is because I downloaded it from iTunes.  It's not on the Acid Jazz website listings as a CD E.P. or a 45 and confusingly describes it as "number of discs 5" (what?)!

For £4.90.  I'm assuming it is perhaps...ah whatever.  "Now's The Time" is the title of his latest LP/CD (also on Acid Jazz).  It's an uptempo number lead by some heavy brass, a bit slick and "modern" but there's a funky bit of guitar/bass and drums in the back of it all that's virtually indistinguishable from the multitude of stuff of this nature that Daptone is cranking out here in the States.  Christie's vocals are quite good (he's 68), not a full on soul man like fellow senior citizen Dean Parrish but no supper club crooner either.  The impetus behind my buying this was his over the top version of Donovan's "Season Of The Witch" that I'd read about over at:

  "Season Of the Witch" is campy, funky, fast, hard and doesn't mess around. It's got some nifty flute, strong horns and footloose and fancy free groove.  Heavy stuff here indeed and I, surprisingly dig it.  "Beautiful Woman", dead boring.

I've been digging the LP and though I'll say it's not as good as the first two tracks on this "product" I'll have to say it's not bad at all!!

The Epic Splendor

THE EPIC SPLENDOR-It Could Be Wonderful/She's High On Life U.S. The Hot Biscuit Company 1452 1967

Way back when I found multiple copies of this 45 at the Princeton Record Exchange and bought them (they were $1 each) as I figured anyone who covered a track by the British band The Smoke (of "My Friend Jack" fame) were worth a listen for a buck, and the sleeve looked pretty cool too!  I've no idea who The Epic Splendor were, you can pop on over to one of my fave blogs to read more:

Granted "It Could Be Wonderful" is nowhere near as amazing as The Smoke's original version, but they get an A+ for effort.  The Epic Splendor speed it up a bit, in the process losing the soulful bassline of the original.  After a few listens it's not bad at all, the vocals are a bit weak and the flute is annoying but the rest of the arrangement is pretty rocking! I'd love to know how they got ahold of it as it wasn't released here in the States (in fact I don't know if any Smoke 45's ever came out in the States, though I do know 'My Friend Jack" turned up on Capitol in Canada). "She's High On Life" is better.  It reminds me alot of an album track by The Association with it's minor chords and happy sunshine pop feel, plus some groovy vocals and baroque sounding orchestration, very cool, very cool indeed!

Hear "It Could Be Wonderful" and "She's High On Life":

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

R&B + Mellotron

THE GRAHAM BOND ORGANISATION-Lease On Love/My Heart's In Little Pieces  U.K. Columbia DB 7647 1965

Little known to most of the world who inaccurately often refer to The Moody Blues as the first "pop" (ie in the "rock n' roll" sense) group to use the mysterious Mellotron, is the fact that the Graham Bond Organisation did so first. Though there's no footage remaining (that we know of) to prove it I did read in vintage magazine clippings that Graham and Co. used one on "Ready Steady Go" to promote their new single "Lease On Love" (and below see photos from that episode) and that he gave host Cathy McGowan a demo of how it worked on the show, now wouldn't that be cool to see pop up on YouTube?  Ah we can dream can't we?

Anyway it was with it that the G.B.O. unleashed their 4th single in August of 1965 (their 4th as the G.B.O though the band had also backed Duffy Power which was sort of their vinyl debut, we'll get to that one someday I promise!).  The Mellotron would also be used on their second and final album "There's A Bond Between Us" (especially prevalent on the amazing Jack Bruce sung "Hear Me Calling Your Name").  As most of you may know and for those who don't the band comprised of Bond (lead vocals/keyboards), Jack Bruce (bass/vocals/harmonica) Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax) and Ginger Baker (drums). "Lease On Love" has an almost gospel feel to it with Jack Bruce doing the "response" to Bond's "call" (in a most soulful way I might add) while the band plays a fairly low key groove around the whole thing, nothing flashy (highly unusual for them I might add).  Behind Bond's faint organ you hear snatches of Mellotron, not the symphonic beast of pop sike proportions like "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "We Love You", but it's there and Bond was there first. Strangely the track is devoid of any sax, just bass, drums and keyboards. "My Heart's In Little Pieces" is an organ blues belter in the best Artwoods style tradition.  Bond wails like Bobby "Blue" Bland or Jimmy Witherspoon and cooks the B-3 like Jimmy Smith.

Sadly there's been no legal "proper" GBO singles CD which is more than a crime.  For years there was talk about the multitude of unreleased 60's G.B.O. tracks being released with the singles as a box set by Robert Stigwood (who if I am correct owns the G.B.O's Columbia era material) but nothing ever came of it.  Fortunately I just discovered both of these tracks are available as bonus cuts on the CD reissue of "There's A Bond Between Us", which you should go out and snag (along with the CD reissue of their 1st LP "Sound of '65" with bonus cuts).

Cathy McGowan interviews Bond on "R.S.G." about his Mellotron

Bond performing on "R.S.G." @ the B-3 with a Mellotron behind him.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Move On Italian TV 1966

December 1966 Italian TV feature on fashion in London featuring The Move and a previously unseen promo film for "The Disturbance":

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Tages-"Miss MacBaren"

THE TAGES-Miss Mac Baren/Get Up An Get Goin' Sweden Platina PA 130 1966

One of my favorite 60's bands and certainly my fave 60's band from "the Continent" is Sweden's The Tages. Easily one of their best tunes in my estimation is "Miss Mac Baren", a number they made up in the caff before a recording session inspired by a wall advert there for a tobacco brand called Mac Baren (without getting sued mind you!), see below.

I was first turned onto them on a cassette by our scene "guru" Ron Rimsite with a track called "The Man You'll Be Looking For".  My first "cool" girlfriend, a mod chick with impeccable 60's tastes and very into Euro 60's sounds bought a used Tages double LP ("Tages 1964-1968") comp from Ron Rimsite over at Venus Records in NYC and though she enjoyed it my ethusiasm for it was more than hers so she passed it onto me in early 1987.  "Miss Mac Baren" was one of the many tracks that jumped off those two LP's at me, but none seems to encapsulate that period in my life better than it. In the mid 90's when I began avidly seeking out Tages singles I managed to cop this.  Like most 60's Tages releases on the Swedish Platina label it was a black and white sleeve tinted (and blank on the back).  The multi harmonies and catchy distorted guitar lick underpin this moderate paced track. "Get Up An' Get Goin'" is not their best track.  The Tages were notoriously bad 75% of the time they attempted r&b/soul tracks and this is one of them.

 "Miss Mac Baren" is on the CD version of "Tages 1964-1968" and it's still actually in print and available from Amazon!

Hear "Miss Mac Baren":

Hear "Get Up And Get Goin":

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part 29

JULIE DRISCOLL, BRIAN AUGER & THE TRINITY-Road To Cairo/Season Of The Witch/Shadows Of You/ This Wheels On Fire Germany Polydor 60062 1968

#1 With A Trumpet(s):The Love Affair "Everlasting Love"

THE LOVE AFFAIR-Everlasting Love/Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday U.K. CBS 7232 1967

It matters not that this record was entirely session musicians being fronted by the band's cocky/youthful (17 at the time of it's release) lead singer Steve Ellis, because in my estimation, with records that are this bombastic it matters little who did what.  "Everlasting Love" was originally cut in the States by Robert Knight, though his original is far more subdued, lacking the fast pace of this version it's not bad, this, is better. Again in my estimation, this version blows the original to smithereens, from the thundering drums, the full effect of the brass and the throbby bass it's a non stop white soul stormer.  In fact it was undoubtedly the prototype for the upbeat Carl Carlton hit version many years later.
For The Love Affair, though a band in name only at this point, this was their second single and it hit the ground running in time for Xmas of 1967 and topped the U.K. charts in January 1968.  They had previously cut a single for Decca (a decent version of The Stones "She Smiled Sweetly" backed by the amazingly soulful "Satisfaction Guaranteed"  U.K. Decca F 12558 in February 1967).  Sessions for the debut Decca 45 also yielded a Small Faces's styled raved up version of the Spencer Davis Group's "Back Into My Life Again" and a mod/soul groover titled "Sweetness And Tenderness", both sadly, until recently remained unissued!  The flip, "Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday" is typical A&R man B-side crap that would've cropped up on any U.K. 60's band records by groups who didn't write their own material (see Dave Dee etc, The Foundations, The Fortunes etc).

The Love Affair and friend in a Mini Moke, early 1967

Hear "Everlasting Love" live on "Top of The Pops" 1968:

Hear the "studio" version and "Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday" (ick):

The Untamed Debut!

THE UNTAMED-So Long/Just Wait U.K. Decca F12045 1964

What really will always perplex me is how both sides of this record have gone unreissued, hell they aren't even on RPM's now out of print Untamed CD compilation "Gimme Gimme: The Singles And Unissued Rarities"!! I'm assuming it's because it was not produced by Shel Talmy who owns the rights to all of the material on the mentioned CD, it was their only Decca single, their next would be on Parlophone, then onto Stateside for one more then Talmy's Planet for their final two!

The Untamed were an r&b combo from the Brighton area led by Lindsay Muir  that released 5 amazing singles in just two short years. Their records varied in style but were always firmly in the r&b vein.  "So Long" is akin to any early Animals 45 , mid tempo with combo organ and an energetic groove, "Just Wait" follows the same mould with a tad more jazzy feel than the "A" side.  Strangely as previously mentioned, this was not produced by Shel Talmy, who produced their next four singles. Talmy took Muir under his wing and stayed with him throughout all the band's constant line-up and label changes.

As mentioned above neither track has been reissued!

Hear "So Long":