Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part 38:The Motions

THE MOTIONS-Every Step I Take/Stop Your Crying/Hard Time Blues/Everything That's Mine E.P. France Vogue 18097 1966

The Loot on CBS

THE LOOT-Whenever You're Ready/I Got What You Want U.K. CBS 2938 1967

I'm completely puzzled about The Loot.  We've discussed several of their records on the Page One label (you can view them here):


What always perplexes me is that they couldn't have possibly have been the same band as has often been reported in various fanzines and even "Record Collector"!  They managed five singles on Page One and two on CBS.  The two CBS offerings by "The Loot" (today's topic included) in no way musically resemble the Page One act called 'The Loot".  That's not to say that either version is bad, in fact I rather like the CBS Loot tracks I've heard.  That's both sides of today's post and it's CBS follow up the anti-flower power cash-in "Don't Turn Around" (UK CBS 3231) and equally dig the Page One Loot's tunes like "Baby Come Closer", "She's A Winner" and "Radio City".  Can anyone of you sort me out?

The reason being that the band were signed overseas to a contract with the Belgian label Pallette for European releases by Hal Carter and Stan Phillips (who were involved in The Troggs management, continuing the band's Troggs connection) which were in turn licensed to the CBS for a British release creating quite a bit on curiosity and confusion over the years. 
Okay onto the music at hand! "Whenever You're Ready" is a slick '67 style pop song, nothing trippy, nothing "comtemporary" in any sort of gimmickery, just a straight ahead uptempo pop song.  I'd compare it to The Grass Roots but with better lead/backing vocals and some groovy organ behind it all.  "I Got What You Want" is in a similar vein, though far superior in my book because it's a bit punchier with some cool power chord breaks and has some great 60's  young lad on the pull lyrics "your body's so slim, but you won't give in.....".

Both sides appeared on Radioactive's short lived "The Loot: Single's A's & B's" CD compilation.

Hear "Whenever You're Ready":

Hear "I Got What You Want":

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Equals

THE EQUALS-Laurel And Hardy/The Guy Who Made Her A Star Belguim President PTF 200 1968

Well kids we here in Lower Binfield are hunkering/bunkering down for the inevitable onslaught of Hurricane Irene which should hit us around midnight tonight.  In the Dunkirk spirit that prevails in this household I give you today's post....

The Equals have always been one of my fave 60's bands.  I first heard "Baby Come Back" on the Friday night 60's program on WPRB back in 1984 and within a year had secured their U.S. 1968 RCA LP "Baby Come Back" which had some of their best tracks, including a number that I was already familiar with through a cover by '79 mod heroes The Purple Hearts called "A Guy Who Made Her A Star"!

Admittedly "Laurel And Hardy" is probably one of thee worst Equals tracks ever, it's just god awful unlistenable stuff!! But flip the record over and woah!  "The Guy Who Made Her A Star" is actually pretty subtle as Equals tracks go.  It lacks that amphetamine driving force found on so many other stompers like "I Won't Be there" or "Softly Softly", but this is in no way detrimental  to the song.  It's slow groove is it's key as Derv Gordon sings about the girl who became a star and forgot all about the guy who busted his back getting her there.  Eddie Grant plays a brilliant but low key solo and it's back to business, killer track.

"Laurel And Hardy" has graced several Equals "Greatest Hits" compilations, though I'm not sure whether or not "The Guy Who Made Her A Star" has ever been comped anywhere. Sadly it does not appear as though there has been an exhaustive Equals CD compilation nor do there appear to be too many Equals CD's even in print!

Hear "The Guy Who Made Her A Star":

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More From The Genuis of Graham Gouldman

THE HOLLIES-Look Through Any Window/So Lonely U.K. Parlophone R 5322 1965

The Hollies and Graham Gouldman, a winning combination. Both hailed from Manchester and like fellow Mancunians Herman's Hermits , The Hollies recorded several Graham Gouldman compositions (both groups recorded versions of "Bus Stop").  "Look Through Any Window" was the first Gouldman track The Hollies recorded.  It went to #4 in the U.K. upon it's release in August 1965 (it also became their first U.S. single to chart in the Top 40 reaching #32). Gouldman would later give the band "Bus Stop" (June 1966) and cut a version of a track of his called "Schoolgirl" which would go unreleased until recently.

"Look Through Any Window" kicks off with Tony Hick's characteristic 12 string intro and becomes a Hollies three part harmony tour de force with lead vocalist Alan Clarke, Hicks and Graham Nash.  One of the track's strongest instrumental assets is drummer Bobby Elliot (check out the clip below of him in action as the band play live on German TV's "Beat Club", readers will note The Hollie's also performed "Very Last Day" and "I Can't Let Go" on the same episode while fellow guests The Walker Brothers lip synced...).

The flip side "So Lonely", a band original, starts out with a jarring, distorted chord of vibrato from Hick's 12 string again. It's somber but equally decent with some great Everly Brothers style harmonies from Nash and Clarke (The Hollies would later back Don and Phil doing a version of their own for their 1966 LP "Two Yanks In England").

Both tracks are available in a variety of places, none better than the 6 CD set we earlier touted:

Hear "So Lonely":

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part 37: Los Salvajes!

LOS SALVAJES-Todo Negro (Paint It Black)/Una Chica Igual Que Tu (With A Girl Like You)/Es La Edad/Que Alguien Me Ayude (Somebody Help Me) E.P. Spain Regal SEDL 19.522 1966

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Ska Odyssey

I can say with 100% absolute certainty that ska was part of my "mod growing process" when I hit the ground running in 1980. This was entirely thanks to seeing The Specials on "Saturday Night Live"! In fact I was somewhat aware at the time that ska had something to do with mod, but it would be a few more months before I'd read more and put the two firmly together. It also had a large part in creating a division in my "mod" days as well all the way up to the present day in a way. Despite a steady diet of The Specials, Madness, The (English) Beat and Bad Manners (I was never much on The Selecter, still ain't) throughout the early 80's I did not hear my first original ska records till after December, 30, 1984 when I met a wonderful skinhead girl at a Mod Nite in NYC, an event which was documented by her at the time and reproduced here:

She made me cassettes with original versions of tunes all of the 2-Tone bands had covered as well as a host of other classic ska/reggae/rocksteady tracks. I was on my way. At the same time in 1984 I met the first mods I'd ever encountered. They were all from Northern New Jersey or the NYC metro area drawn together by a love of music etc. Sadly by 1985 there were already little "factions", a "scene war" if you will with music being the root of the division. Utterly ridiculous when there were never more than 50 of us. I was firmly in what I'd like to think was a more progressive camp. Unfortunately this degenerated into a classic narrow "us vs. them" scenario. "Them" being a coterie of NYC mods who listened to pretty much nothing but ska (both original and mostly second wave bands), The Jam and pretty much acted like the music world existed from 1979 to 1982 (oddly being all but ignorant towards any '79 U.K. mod bands). They wore the "uniform": Fred Perry's, Dr. Martens, Harringtons, bomber jackets, monkey boots, porkpie hats (actually stingy brims but I'll save that rant for another post), braces, etc. "Us" being people who wore more post 1965 clothes like paisley shirts, Nehru jackets, patterned 60's style trousers, polka dot shirts, red jeans, tinted granny glasses, Beatle and Chelsea boots, etc. We listened to all of the above but also were spreading out a little further and enjoying new English bands like The Prisoners and The Times as well as American 60's garage, less well known UK bands like The Creation, The Birds, The Eyes or The Artwoods, British 60's r&b like Georgie Fame as well as "dangerous" sounds like The Pink Floyd, The Herd, etc. "We" had a variety of bands we followed.  Though the two "mod" bands (Mod Fun from Northern New Jersey) and The Secret Service (from Long Island, NY) were the only ones from our age group on the NYC "scene" there were a multitude of 60's type garage bands.  "They" had The Scene, an NYC mod band (not to be confused with the vasty superior UK mod band of the same moniker) and a handful of local ska bands. Though people came from a variety of areas out mutual stomping ground was NYC, fortunately there was never any real stomping, just silly arguments (usually in print in our own fanzines) and lots of scowling, sneering, dirty looks and the usual juvenile stand offishness.  "Their" headquarters was, for a while, a decadent multi floored ex-disco coke club called The Danceteria on West 37th Street, ours was a shithole on the edges of the garment district one block away from a hooker strip called The Dive on West 29th Street. It wasn't all black and white though, my friends and I freely mixed with punks we knew, teds, "garage" scene people and even normal folks who didn't dress a certain way but like us, were there for the music at 257 West 29th Street.  They pretty much stuck to "their" clubs and we stuck to "ours" after bands from both camps, Mod Fun and The Scene played a semi legendary "mod nite" at a run down basement called The Subway Club in Queens, NYC. Funnily enough both of our home bases shut down in 1986!

Mod Fun's (a band firmly in "our" camp) 1984 debut single "I Am With You" contained the line "I got some 2-Tone records sitting on my shelf, that's the sound for me".  By 1985/86 they were singing on stage "I got some 2-Tone records sitting in the trash and that's the place for them" after the black lash within the "mod scene" when it became the "psych mods" vs. the "ska mods".   It was pretty silly and petty but because of the open social hostility we faced from "them" it would be several years before I would ever wear DM's or a Fred Perry because it was too "ska mod".

"Ska-mods" and "psych-mods" at a Mod Nite, The Subway Club, Queens, NY July 1985

In the end by the late 80's most of "us" were not in the least bit remotely mod (save me and maybe half a dozen die hards, three of whom in 1989 formed The Insomniacs, who are still out there) and "them" had all moved onto other things. Then "it" started happening again in '87-'88. There was a third wave of ska bands, mostly American, all third rate if you ask me (it's my soapbox so I get to say what I feel), with them came not many "ska mods" but half assed skinheads, or as we called them "ska kids": braces, baggy trousers, bomber jackets, DM's, flat caps. By this time I'd already discovered the essential "Club '67 Ska" LP and the two volumes of "Intensified" as well as a host of other things (like the tasty Prince Buster LP reissues), having foolishly (temporarily) disdained the second wave of ska because of the previously mentioned element I was equally appalled by the third wave and in my elitist snobbery was driven even deeper into 60's ska/rocksteady which was fortunately easily available. Socially I was briefly drawn into that circle by some mutual acquaintances who introduced me to a very lively and peaceful mob of skinheads (also on the fringes of this scene were a few ex-"ska mods" from '84-'86 who were now "scooterists", basically people who were too scruffy to be mods or too wimpy to be bikers).  Though we may not have agreed on a lot musically we all drank rather heavily so various NYC Lower East Side watering holes became our H.Q's in the late 80's. There was Nightbirds aka Jailbirds because of the large number of high school girls (aka jail bait) who'd somehow wander in AND be served resulting in a mass of drunken 17-18 year old girls.  There was Sophies , a former old man bar which was run by an old Polish lady. She later banned my bald brethren after a brief but rather bloody (literally. no one was killed but there were some severe beatings and a few stabbings) Nazi Skinhead vs. S.H.A.R.P. (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) civil war ("no skinnyheads" she'd yell when skinheads would enter, a few years later in the early 90's oddly the place was overrun by ex-pat Polish right wing neo-fascists after the fall of communism).  Then there was Mona's, which had the best jukebox NYC has ever seen and the best draft beer selection of the three.  And what was the music of choice in all three of these bar's jukeboxes?  Original 60's ska/reggae.  No Specials, no Madness, no Toasters and no Potato 5.

These days, like "Northern soul", I prefer ska/reggae in liberal doses, not pounded into my brain for an entire evening and certainly not by 3rd, 4th and even 5th generation bands.  I still like Madness more than The Specials (though I like The Specials too), but maybe that's because I like Kilburn and the Highroads and these days I'm torn between smoother produced "rocksteady" stuff or kitchen sink produced old Blue Beat records.

August's Picks

1. SHORTY featuring Georgie Fame-"Oliver's Gone"
This rocking tune is from the U.S. only untitled  1970 Epic album which Rev-ola reissued on CD.  For those not familiar Fame briefly put together a band called Shorty (or joined them depending on which version you hear) and cut this live LP.  This is the opening track, far more "rock n' roll" than anything he's ever done but with some tasty Telecaster licks, jazzy flute and of course Fame's dulcet tones and organ!

2. THE LOOT-"Don't Turn Around"
Brilliant tongue and cheek dig at weekend hippies with all the musical pop psych trappings (phasing, backwards cymbals, orchestral backing etc) and stabbing lyrics: "you're the conformist to convention I am the one who is free..." and makes one wonder whether The Loot were sending themselves up?! From the most comprehensive British 60's psych product ever, the 4 CD set "Real Life Permanent Dreams".

3. THE STRANGLERS-"Choosy Suzie"
Growing up my best friend was Stranglers mad and they still remain a nostalgic footnote in my mind and as I grew older and CD's arrived I investigated them further and alongside the Clash and the Jam they rate as one of my faves from the "Class of '77".  I never much paid any mind to their misogynistic lyrics, much preferring to concentrate on J.J. Burnell's fluid bass lines and Dave Greenfield's "Ray Manzarek of punk" keyboards!

4. THE TEENBEATS-"It'll Soon Be The Weekend"
This previously unreleased '79 mod band cut came from a CD comp of various Southern England "mod" bands called (snicker) "Mod City" and I'll have to say it far surpasses any of their singles or their contributions to the famous 1980 LP compilation "Uppers On The South Downs".  It's a jangly, well produced power pop killer and totally reminds me of The Plimsouls with tapered trousers and better ties!

5. THE HOLLIES-"Too Many People"
It was hard to pick one Hollies song because I've been playing the crap out of the new EMI 6 CD set "The Hollies-Clake, Hicks & Nash Years" that comprises of everything they did from '63-'68 but this one has been a fave as of late after rediscovering it on the box set.

6. THE HOLLIES-"Honey And Wine"
One more! Back in the late 80's when all the NYC 60's styled garage bands had broken up or jumped ship to their MC 5/Stooges/ NY Dolls bandwagon there were a few holdouts The Secret Service and a relatively newer band from Long Island called The Fugitives.  They did a lot of Merseybeat style material and a shitload of Hollies covers, among them was this gem which I didn't dig before they made me go back and investigate it, and it's now among my fave tracks by Clarke, Hicks & Nash!

7 COUNT MACHUKI & THE DESTROYERS-Movements (The Joe Gibbs Way)
Believe it or not I heard this tune from a Starbucks reggae CD comp "Jamaica: Island In The Sun", which is full of 16 amazing late 60's to mid 70's reggae/rocksteady tracks.  I must've played this 1969 track about 20 times the other day.  It's probably one of the best "toasting" tracks and the Joe Gibb's production is top notch (esp. the groovy organ), The Specials and The Beat obviously took notes.

8. THE LIGHT-"Back Up"
A brilliant burst of U.S. 60's Californian Anglophile mania from "Where The Action Is:Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968".  This number embodies the best U.S. 60's record qualities: the right amount of fuzz and just a modicum of snottiness, throw in a dash on Who-like stops and frantic/manic rave up's from any number of other U.K. bands and you've got one hell of a number.

9. THE KINKS-"Where Did My Spring Go?"
Yesterday in a fit of frustration I went with a number three and a half crop at the barber's, being unsure what to do with my hair.  The problem is it brought out all my gray and I now look like 90% of the the over 40 U.K. mod scene.  It immediately reminded me of this great wistful Kink's number.  "Where did my youth go....".

Groovy Tuetonic dance floor filler that owes more than a bit to The S.D.G's "I'm A Man"  (dig that organ!) that never fails to put me in a good mood. The Daisy Clan (who were also German) do a groovy English language version on the third installment of the essential "In Kraut" German 60's/70's compilation series.

Monday, August 22, 2011

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

THE LOOT-She's A Winner/Save Me U.S. Page One 21.017 1968

We already nattered on about The Loot for a bit over at:

This was their only U.S. single to my knowledge.  "She's A Winner" was issued in the U.K. first  as Page One POF 095 with "Radio City" as the flip side, it was re released with the same catalog number but bearing a different flip side "Save Me" (no relation to either the Dave Dee or Aretha Franklin numbers of the same name).  Oddly "Radio City" again appeared as the flip to their final U.K. single "Try To Keep It A Secret" (Page one POF 115 January 1969).

"She's A Winner" was my introduction to the band on a cassette taped presented to me in early 1985 called "Carnaby Classics" by the legendary Ron Rimsite.  Among choice 45 cuts by The Smoke, The Syn, The Herd, Idle Race etc was this leeringly lethargic monster.  Like their debut 45 that we blogged about in their earlier mentioned entry, "She's A Winner" cannot be written about without a mention of The Troggs.  Again this number, like so many Troggs tunes, oozes primal sexuality in the most basic, knuckle dragging way.  From it's slowed down "Kinks on downers" opening chords (accented by some hand claps) to it's primitive beat and jeering/leering drawn out vocals the track is a solid gass all the way through! The flip side,"Save Me" enters our "Anorak Thing" oft quoted genre of "great A-side, crap song on the B-side that sounds like a different band", I've no clue what they were going for on this! Both sides were produced by Troggs drummer Ronnie Bond.

"Save Me" (as already mentioned is not to be confused with the Dave Dee etc or Aretha tune) sounds COMPLETELY like a different band (like most of their flip sides) coming off like a cross between the late 60's Troggs saccharine or late period pop Manfred's. Utterly soulless, bland, pop.

Both sides cropped up on the now scarce Radioactive Loot 45 rpm CD Anthology "The Loot: Singles A's & B's".

Hear "She's A Winner":

Hear "Save Me":

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Our Top Ten Joe Meek Productions

Picking 10 favorite Joe Meek productions wasn't easy, I could've just chosen the two Jason Eddie and the Centermen and David John & the Mood singles he produced and rounded that off with the last two Riot Squad 45's.    I've also omitted the more obvious one's like The Tornado's "Telstar" or The Syndicats "Crawdaddy Simone".

1. THE BUZZ-"You're Holding Me Down" 1966
Not to be confused with David Bowie's backing band these guys were actually Scottish.  The first time I heard this track was in the late 80's on a bootleg LP comp called "Searching in The Wilderness", shortly after it appeared in far better quality AND in it's correct length on Bam Caruso's "Freakbeat Fantoms" LP that didn't chop off it's frantic ending.  The whole track is a cacophony of fuzz guitar and depraved sounding vocals with typical Meek compression, the whole thing resembles a paranoid speed freak, something Meek was aware of.

Hear it on: "Joe Meek Freakbeat: You're Holding Me Down":

2. PAUL & RITCHIE & THE CRYIN' SHAMES-"Come On Back" 1966
This was the final of three singles by this Liverpool band (all produced by Meek).  It was also among his last productions before his death in February 1967 and is easily his most "psychedelic".  It's haunting combo organ and distorted bass with swatches of slashing guitar bleeding through is hands down the most trippy thing Joe Meek ever did while the song itself has elements of U.S. 60's "garage" to it.  Meek's productions all but ignored psychedelia and he tended to utilize the same tricks he'd been using since the early 60's on all of his records right up until the end but this one seems a bit more "contemporary" than the rest.

Hear it on: "Joe Meek Freakbeat: You're Holding Me Down":

3. THE TORNADOS-"Stingray" 1965
Meek produced a staggering 14 singles of these guys, this was among their last batch  and was their 12th.  It's a version of the Barry Gray theme song to the Gerry Anderson children's animated puppet show "Stingray" (which was incidentally his first color TV program).  Meek buries the theme underneath bubbling water sound effects, screeching sonic effects punctuated by male vocalists singing "stingray" over the top of a typical Tornados guitar/organ surf instrumental lick topped off by a frantic, wigged out guitar solo.
Hear it on: The Tornados-"Riding The Wind-The Anthology":

4. JASON EDDIE & THE CENTERMEN-"Whatcha Gonna Do Baby" 1965
Jason Eddie (real name Al Wycherley) was the brother of singer Billy Fury.  He never became as famous as his brother but his records were far better, especially his first two Meek produced 45's. "Whatcha Gonna Do Baby" is awash in swirling organ drenched in echo that sounds straight out of a horror film backed by Meek's trademark percussion (over miked tambourine, tom toms and floor stomping).  Penned by Cooper and Levine I'm curious to see if an American artist did it first?! Jason Eddie was no Billy Fury in the vocalist department but all of his tracks with Meek could've easily filled this list!

Hear it on: "Joe Meek Freakbeat: You're Holding Me Down":

5. GEOFF GODDARD-"Skymen" 1963
Geoff Goddard's story is perhaps the saddest of all of Meek's cohorts.  He wrote and produced a great deal of material with Meek before their falling out in 1964 and never received critical acclaim or financial credit for any of his efforts. He cut 4 singles of his own with Meek.  This was the final one from October 1963.  Keeping with the wave of success with The Tornados "Telstar" (which Goddard playing keyboards on) and the "space" theme Goddard warbles on about extraterrestrial visitors offering a message of peace with similar "Telstar" style effects.

Hear it on: "Joe Meek-The Alchemist Of Pop":

6. GLENDA COLLINS-"Something I've Got To Tell You Baby" 1966
Joe Meek had very few female vocalists on his roster but none better or as well known as the dynamic Glenda Collins. The track, the ultimate musical confession of infidelity, was written by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley and had previously been recorded by The Honeycombs on their second LP "All Systems Go" where it showcased for the first time, drummer Honey Lantree on lead vocals ( it also cropped up on Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich's debut LP).  I think Glenda's February 1966 version is the definitive one in my book.  Meek took no chances and secured the services of arranger Ivor Raymonde to wrap it up in strings and massive orchestration, but in the end sadly it was not a hit despite the stellar arrangement and Collin's powerful vocals .

Hear it on: "Joe Meek-The Alchemist Of Pop":

7. THE HONEYCOMBS-"That Loving Feeling" 1966
This September 1966 release was the band's final offering after a string of ten singles under Meek's tutelage.  My old pal Keith Patterson once aptly described it as "The Honeycombs outdoing The Episode Six" which is a true assertion as the numbers harmony male/female vocal style is akin to to that of The Episode Six's records.  Starting out with a part raga/ part Flamenco guitar lick it has a slight Middle Eastern feel and is carried by Honey Lantree's backing vocals and the compressed combo organ (and a typical echo drenched guitar solo).

Hear it on: "The Best Of...Produced By Joe Meek " (out of print but available for download through iTunes and Amazon.Com)

8. THE RIOT SQUAD-"I Take It that We're Through" 1966
This was the band's second of 4 singles recorded at 304 Holloway Road (their fourth and final single was Meek's last causing a friend to quip "it was so late it practically had Meek's brains on the master tape reel") and it's my favorite.  It combines some wild sonic reduction on a fuzzed out guitar lick while the compression on the saxophone bends the sound so it resembles some sort of Middle Eastern reed instrument while the band's high pitched backing vocals are given the Meek touch.

Hear it on The Riot Squad "Jump" and "Joe Meek Freakbeat: You're Holding Me Down":

9. DAVID JOHN & THE MOOD-"Diggin' For Gold" 1965
The last two of three singles by this killer r&b combo were produced by Meek.  "Diggin' For Gold" is probably the quirkiest.  It's piano solo (with muted hammers, a fave Meek trick) is pure Joe Meek as are the backing vocals and the compressed drums/percussion.  The gritty vocals come to an ubrupt end after a frenzied build up (ala "You're Holding Me Down").

Hear it on: "Joe Meek-The Alchemist Of Pop":

10. THE BLUE RONDOS-"Baby I Go For You" 1964
This blistering guitar work on this track is often erroneously credited to Jimmy Page, and was also said that it was none other than a young Ritche Blackmore. I have also read it was the band's lead guitarist Roger Hall.  Regardless it's a primnitive slice of gritty proto-freakbeat by this North London five piece characterized by some searing guitar licks and an over the top solo with typical Meek percussion behind it all.

Hear it on: "Joe Meek Freakbeat: You're Holding Me Down":

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: John's Children

JOHN'S CHILDREN-Smashed Blocked !/A Strange Affair U.S. White Whale WW238 1967

The fact that John's Children even got a record released anywhere let alone the U.S. is a miracle, this was their only U.S. 45 release (they even managed a U.S. only LP "Orgasm" but that's another story for another day) !  Back in 1985 I chose this track's title as the moniker for my short lived on again/off again modzine.  In the late 90's a group of younger folks in New York City were so moved by it they named their DJ night after it (which recently sadly came to an end after over a decade). For those who aren't aware of the band John's Children were a four piece discovered by Yardbirds manager/impresario Simon Napier-Bell in 1966 whilst on holiday in St. Tropez, you can read all about them and their meeting in his excellent book "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me".  The band's line up at the time of this single were: Andy Ellison (vocals), Geoff McClelland (guitar), John Hewlett (bass) and Chris Townson (drums), Marc Bolan would join soon after their second single which we've already discussed:

In the U.K. the track was issued as "The Love I Thought I'd Found" as Columbia DB 8030 in October 1966 (where a title like "Smashed Blocked" would not have passed the censors). The band's manager Simon Napier Bell used only vocalist Andy Ellison on this track and had the backing track cut by session musicians in L.A. (including, it is thought, the legendary Hal Blaine on drums).  It's nothing short of brilliant in my book.  It's title leads you to believe it'd be some four chord mod Who-Kinks power pop opus but instead it's a weird ballad of sorts, like the Walker Brothers coming down from an acid trip! Ellison's vocals sound weary, lost, confused while they're totally filled up by a brilliant barrage of instrumentation that's carefully choreographed punctuated by some cool horns and blasts of Farfisa organ.  The flip side is a bizarre ditty called "A Strange Affair" that is entirely spoken word (I'm not sure which member of J.C it is, or if it's any member at all) about an odd lad named Ernie who mows lawns in the cemetery with similar horns from the A-side and weird backing vocals that almost sound backwards at times!  The record went nowhere in the U.K. and despite Napier Bell's claims that the record was a huge regional success in places like California etc and that the group used the money they made from it's royalties to buy a club in their native Leatherhead, Surrey called The Bluesette I tend to take that story, like many others, with a grain of salt.  Regardless it makes good copy.

The original line-up 1966

Interestingly the U.K. issue only credits Simon Napier Bell as the composer on the A-side (on the U.S. issue he shares the credit with John Hewlett) while the U.K. B-side credits Simon Napier Bell and Andy Ellison.  The U.S issue credits the B-side to one "Fingers Groin"!

An interesting original German pressing that combines both of their first two A-sides, note second line up photo featuring Marc Bolan
A promo film for the track turned up on film a few years ago and was uploaded to YouTube, unfortunately it's backwards (the guitarists all appear left handed)but it's nonetheless brilliant to see.  You can view it below.

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.

Hear "A Strange Affair":

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Merseybeats via James Brown

THE MERSEYBEATS-I Love You, Yes I Do/Good Good Lovin' U.K. Fontana TF 607 1965

Back in the 80's Edsel records introduced myself and a host of other mod/60's types to Merseybeat music via their LP compilations of material by The Mojos, The Escorts, The Big 3 and The Merseybeats and a various artists LP of Liverpool '63-'64 material culled from the Oriole label called "Let's Stomp".  The Merseybeats were my fave of the bunch, they also had a larger scope of material of all of the bands mentioned. That meant that the folks at Edsel had a wide range of tracks to utilize for their "Beats And Ballads" compilation LP .  One of the tracks they overlooked (the band had 8 singles, three E.P.'s and a LP to choose from) was the B-side from this 45 from September 1965, their next to last single for Fontana. Interestingly the band were then being managed by The Who's handlers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert and the latter produced the 45.

Interestingly both sides of this single came via James Brown. The A-side, "I Love You, Yes I Do", is taken from the flipside of Brown's 1961 single "Just You And Me Darling" (a stage favorite of their stable mates The Who).  The Merseybeats turn it into a soppy dead boring beat ballad, it's lifeless and utterly pointless (the James Brown original is no rocker either!). The flip side is "Good Good Lovin'" is also a J.B. 1959 track It was covered by Chubby Checker, which is most likely where The Merseybeats heard it from as the J.B. side was not issued in the U.K. but the Checker version was in 1961.  I'm not certain why the compilers over at Edsel left this track off in favor of a few weak ballads (like the A-side). Hands down it is without a doubt one of the most red hot Liverpool 60's singles ever.  It's manic!  The band play their hearts out and rock it out at twice the speed of the James Brown original and, literally, make it their own with some raw guitar licks.  I turned my pals The Swingin' Neckbreakers onto it in the early 90's and it became a staple of their live repertoire for quite a while.

Both sides appeared on the excellent 2002 Bear Family CD "I Think Of You" which compiles all of their original 60's tracks (including a few German language versions of their tracks) in one place.

Hear "Good Good Lovin'":

Hear "I Love You, Yes I Do":

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part 36

THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS-Rumors Gossip Words Untrue/Now the Summer's Gone/I'm Gonna Have You/Don't Make Me Over EP France HMV EGF 950 1966

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Great Pop Covers 101: The Searchers-Western Union

THE SEARCHERS-Western Union/I'll Cry Tomorrow Norway Pye 7N 17306 1967

By the time of this 45's release (April 1967) the hit making days had long expired for Liverpool's The Searchers.  This was their 16th 45 for the Pye label in the U.K. and was to be the next to last for the imprint.  The band were at the time of this single's release Mike Pender (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Chris Curtis (lead guitar, vocals), Frank Allen (bass, vocals) and John Blunt (drums).  Not that this bothered the folks at Pye in Norway who issued this single there with a photo of the previous line up featuring their previous drummer Chris Curtis.  For more on Mr. Curtis check out:

Copping the Five American's hit "Western Union" (which saw the light in the U.S. in January 1967) the band's label presumably were hoping for a leg up on the U.K. release (which came out on Stateside simultaneously).  Sadly for our Liverpudlian heroes, it failed.  As foolish as it may have been to record, their version of "Western Union" is pure brilliant mid 60's Searchers: jangly guitars, precision harmonies and even a raga-esque guitar solo.  The flip side, "I'll Cry Tomorrow", a Pender-McNally original, is typical ho-hum Searchers B-side Pressings of this single rate as one of the rarest and most expensive of all of their Pye releases (it was their next to last Pye single, their last being the equally cool/rare "Secondhand Dealer"/"Crazy Dreams"), perhaps an indication of how few were actually pressed!

Blunt, McNally, Allen & Pender 1966

Both sides cam be found on a variety of Searchers CD collections, namely the three CD retrospective "The Definitive Pye Collection".

Hear "Western Union":

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part 35

THE EASYBEATS-Saturday Night/Who'll Be The One/You Me We Love/Heaven And Hell E.P. Portugal Unuited Artists UEP 12 033 1967

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My bombers, my dexys, MY high: Dexy's Midnight Runners

Few things give me everlasting musical joys in life.  Well maybe that's not entirely true but being swamped in more music than one could ever hope to be able to listen to I often overlook (that's a clever term for "forget") certain bands and the importance they once had in my life because the hustle and bustle and daily grind doesn't allow me the leisure and pleasure to sit on my ass and listen to music all day long. Dexy's Midnight Runners are one of those bands.

My Dexy's badge, still got it.  I wear it, appropriately, on my donkey jacket.


In my semi-rural teenage years there was no Internet, no cable TV, no fanzines, just good old Creem magazine.  Each issue had a feature called "Letter from Britain" that covered something going on across the Atlantic.  One month there was a feature on a band called Dexy's Midnight Runners (who I had a photo of in a book called "Cool Cats:25 Years of Rock n' Roll Style") and something called "Northern soul", I reckon this was about 1981.  The article mentioned enough mod friendly things about them and I was duly moved to go out and purchase a copy of their album "Searching For The Young Soul Rebels".  I'll admit that most of it did not impress me (in fact there are still several tracks on it that to this day are akin to sharp fingernails running across a chalkboard, I'm speaking to/of you "Thankfully Not Living In Yorkshire It Doesn't Apply"), but the stand out tracks still...well they still stand out: "Burn It Down", "Tell Me When My Light Turns Green", the brilliant big ballsy brass sound of "The Teams That Meet In Caffs" and of course "Geno", their excellent ode to Swinging London soul legend Geno Washington.  In my adult age I've come to appreciate Geno Washington, especially if I look at him from the point of view from a young soul starved British anorak.  His voice was less than mediocre and his onstage charisma more than compensated for that and sometimes you've got to go with what you've got and when Sam & Dave aren't at your beck and call I guess you'd take a demobbed Air Force Yank soul brother, even if he couldn't sing! Thanks to Creem magazine I knew who "Geno" was. The message was clear, passionate and the horns bowled me over.

Soon thereafter I made it a point to keep my ears open for Dexy's on my local college radio station (WPRB). There were more tracks that struck my fancy, "Liars A To E", "Plan B" and then eventually even "Come On Eileen" (almost a full year before being beaten to death with it daily by U.S. Top 40 radio when suddenly everyone knew who that band I'd painted a block lettering logo on a white sweatshirt in acrylic paint was!). With "Come On Eileen" came their second LP "Too Rye Ay" which collected the previous singles. I recall buying it at Crazy Eddie's in the import section shortly after Xmas in 1982 with the posthumous live Jam album "Dig The New Breed" and The Kink's "Live Kinks"(aka "Live A Kelvin Hall"). Of course I was blown away by the tracks I'd already heard and was equally taken by new ones like "The Celtic Soul Brothers", "Till I Believe In My Soul" and my favorite Dexy's track of all time "Let's Make This Precious". I fell in love with that song and later I fell in love TO that song (and the person I fell in love with would drag me to see a local band called Black 47 who's sax player was none other than original Dexy's member Geoff "JB" Blythe, who would regale us with Dexy's war stories over snakebite's at Black 47's home base Paddy Reilly's) . It's arrangement still makes the hairs stand up at the back of my neck: the horns, the organ, the driving beat and best of all the sweeping, Northern soul twinged strings. Magic, fucking magic, no other way to say it. I somehow overlooked their ridiculous bumpkin outfits (and was shocked to see once smart ex- Secret Affair drummer Seb Shelton shirtless in overalls with dirty feet for christ sake three years after the "Glory Boys" LP).

Seb Shelton before,  1979

And after, 1982

After that there was a cobbled together cash in EMI LP compilation that I bought called "Geno" with B-sides and unreleased tracks (including mildly amusing versions of "Soul Finger" AND "The Horse")and then it was all over for them as far as I was concerned, never really dug "Don't Stand Me Down" (or as I derisively referred to it as to my friends "Don't Stand Me Up").
Pop culture reference on Fox TV's "Family Guy"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Earl Royce

EARL ROYCE & THE OLYMPICS-Que Sera Sera/I Really Do U.S. Tower 137 1965

Today's specimen is  a 45 by a Liverpool band called Earl Royce and The Olympics on the Capitol records subsidiary Tower (home to loads of off the wall U.K. acts like The Toggery Five, The Beat Merchants, the pre-Wimple Winch act The Four Just Men and even the first two Pink Floyd 45's among MANY English others.....).  This was an American issue of their debut British single (originally released on Columbia DB 7433 in December 1964).   The band only released two 45's in the U.K. and appeared in a "Battle of the bands" scene in the Gerry and The Pacemakers celluloid "Ferry Cross The Mersey" doing a tepid version of "Shake A Tail Feather" .

Doris Day's signature tune, "Que Sera Sera" was featured in the live repertoire's of many beat groups. However the inspiration was more likely from the r&b group The High Keys 1963 interpretation.  This version  differs quite a bit from that only borrowing bits of their backing vocal technique and losing their Latin flavor turning it, instead, into a true "beat ballad".  Earl Royce's (presumably the band's lead singer I'm guessing) hic-cuppy vocal style on their version is quite spirited with the guitar bits mimicking the style on Mickie and Sylvia's "Love Is Strange".  "I Really Do" has a country and western feel with some Carl Perkin's inspired lead guitar, not really my thing but at least it's different fare from a beat group. Both sides were produced by George Martin (who produced both of their singles).

Earl Royce & The Olympics with pedophile monster Jimmy Saville and  fellow Scouser Gerry Marsden

All of the band's material was collected as bonus tracks on the CD reissue of the "Ferry Cross the Mersey" soundtrack on EMI (which is also available for download from iTunes).

Hear "Que Sera Sera":

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Tages Get Trippy (Danish Pressing)

THE TAGES-I'm Going Out/Fuzzy Patterns Denmark Odeon SD 6005 1967

The Tages are without a doubt my favorite 60's band from "the Continent", hailing from Sweden they made an incredible number of consistently great records from 1964 through to their demise in early 1969.

By April 1967 their career had seen a variety of genres: British style beat music, moddy Who styled r&b, "Rubber Soul"-esq. baroque rock n' roll, harmony infused "sunshine pop" and then dabbling in psychedelia.  This 45, their 14th, landed somewhere in the middle of the latter two genres.

"I'm Going Out" is a cover of a Leslie Gore  track that originally graced the B-side of her last big U.S. hit "California Nights" (the band also recorded "Treat Me Like A Lady", a version of her "Treat Me Like A Lady", a track from her "California Nights" album). The Tages utilize their knack for precise harmonies on this track and though it's not one of their best tracks it's well done and not at all unlistenable. The B-side is a territory that The Tages rarely brushed against: full blown psychedelia .  This is their first experiment with the sound (their next example of full on lysergic energy is the wiggy "Revolver" influenced tale of a transvestite "She's A Man" on their essential November 1967 LP "Studio"). They were much more suited to pop-psych tracks like the strings infused "Have You Seen Your Brother Lately?" (also found on "Studio") or "Pet Sounds" influenced "I Read You Like An Open Book" single (their final 45, December 1968) but I am amused with what they came up with on the B-side. "Fuzzy Patterns" is their ode to perhaps, a hallucinogenic experience. It's a pretty trippy affair with it's hammering piano led riff that is encompassed by a chorus behind Who like bass runs that occasionally degenerate into backwards guitars, "Astronomy Domine" style announcements and back and forth.  It's not at all amatuerist for a band who rarely did this sort of stuff and it actually sounds pretty convincing instead of smelling of "cash in", then again The Tages can do no wrong in my boook (except maybe their soul covers....).

"I'm Going Out" is available on the CD issue of the Tages double LP "Tages 1964-1968", which was my first introduction to their work and amazingly still in print for (hopefully) a new generation of Tages fans to explore.

Hear "Fuzzy Patterns":

Hear "I'm Going Out":