Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September's Picks

1. BLUR-"She's So High"
It's hard to believe it was almost 20 years ago to date and I was a recently demobbed soldier and my friend Dave Woj and I were well into our umpteeenth pint one sunday night at Old Bay when this trippy video came on by this band doing this song on the pub's sole TV. Anyway it reminded us alot of the pseudo-psychedelic sonic onslaught perpetuated a few years earlier by our good friends Lord John.  I duly purchased "Leisure" the very next day at Jack's in Red Bank and for the next 4 or 5 years this was my favorite band until "The Great Escape". It just boggles my mind because it literally, seems like not that long ago.

A nice bit of weirdo b-side action from the Teens, this was the flip of their jaunty stab at Randy Newman's "The Biggest Night Of Her Life" from late '67 and unearthed on one of the "New Rubble" compilations.  It has some spooky backing vocals and some great phlanged piano, subtly trippy without being clumsy.

3. MASTERSWITCH-"Action Replay"
Brilliant one off single by a punky band with power pop leanings which has sadly been overlooked on the CD compilation scene.  Lead singer Jimmy Edwards later formed Time U.K. with Rick Buckler and the two of them later formed the ill famed Sharp with Bruce Foxton.

4. THE SNEETCHES-"Empty Sea"
A brilliant little pop song from a quirky band from the late 80's/early 90's, it has all the trappings of that era as far as recording techniques but the melody and snappy vocal harmonies wash all that "contemporary" stuff away in it's lush grooviness!

5. CHAD STUART & JEREMY CLYDE-"The Emancipation Of Mr. X"
Utilizing a them later explored by Blur ("Tracy Jacks" ) and The Len Price Three ("Mr. Grey") Chad & Jeremy give us the tale of a 9 to 5 executive who has enough of the daily grind and finally snaps, in the most melodic, orchestrated pop way possible. From their amazing LP "Ark".

6. 999-"Boys In The Gang"
One of my favorite English punk bands this number captures why I like them.  Their tunes are melodic and unlike a lot of their peers they could actually play, very well too!

7. PANDAMONIUM-"The Sun Shines From His Eyes"
A jaunty piece of pop-psych found of the flip side of the lysergic, Hollie's influenced "No Presents For Me" is this simplistic but groovy little ditty of sing-along semi psychedelic '67 style goodness.

8. HERMAN'S HERMITS-"The Man With The Cigar"
As a kid I thought this B-side of "A Must To Avoid" was boring, years ago I gave it another shot and was immediately taken by it's somber backing vocal, simplistic/melodic guitar solo and the general down trodden ambiance of this great number.

9. JOHN WONDERLING-"Midway Down"
After being familiar with The Creation version for 25+ years imagine my surprise to find out last year that it was a cover by a U.S. artist named John Wonderling!  The original is far trippier than The Creation's Kinks style kitsch and features a groovy little fairground organ bit!

10. SYD BARRETT-"Octopus"
Until I read Rob Chapman's "Syd Barret-A Very Irregular Head" I'd long believed this song to be a bunch of entertaining gobbledygook psychobabble.  It turns out that the majority of the lyrics are fragments of lines from poems, literature and children's stories cleverly linked up by Syd and pit to music, in fact all this years I thought he'd been singing "The Madcap laughed at the man on the border.." when in fact he was/is singing "mad cat"! Genuis.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

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

THE MERSEYBEATS-Don't Let It Happen To Us/It Would Take A Long Time U.S. Fontana F-1513 1965

This was The Merseybeats 6th U.K. single (Fontana TF 568 May 1965) .  I'm not certain how many of their releases cropped up here in the States on Fontana besides this one. You've got to hand to American labels who kept plugging away at releasing records by Liverpool bands in 1965 long after the city was a dead zone for A&R men. The Merseybeats are one of my favorite Liverpool bands alongside Billy J and Co. and The Big Three, sadly though they seemed to have had crap stage outfits as photos (like the one below) will attest.

The A-side is a semi lukewarm version of The Shirelles number, doesn't really do anything for me at all.  Kinda weak actually.  The flip side, "It Would Take A Long Time" is my fave of the two.  It never made it onto Edsel records legendary Merseybeats compilation "Beats And Ballads" so it was new to my ears when I first picked this single up from the long gone Cheap Thrills record shop in New Brunswick, NJ back in the 80's. It was penned by band members Tony Crane and Aaron Williams and has a slight country feel (well Ringo always claimed Liverpool was the country music capital of Britain!).

Williams, Gustafson and Crane, 1964

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 "Don't Let It Happen To Us":

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Zombies-She's Coming Home

THE ZOMBIES-She's Coming Home/I Must Move U.K. Decca F12125 1965

Without a doubt nearly all of The Zombies 60's single tracks are amazing. I can honestly say that unlike The Beatles or The Hollies there are no equivalents to the mundane boredom of "Love Me Do" or lame American covers like "Stay" or "Searchin'" in the Zombies U.K. A-side discography. Picking a favorite Zombies number is really a tough call, but today's A side item rates as one of my faves ever since I first heard it in a "new light" on the "Time Of The Zombies" Epic U.S. double LP in 1986 (I owned it on 45 for over a decade and never really dug it!).

September 1965's "She's Coming Home" (the band's fourth U.K. single and third American one) has all the makings of your typical Zombies "teen angst" number: the tragic protagonist, his long lost (but soon to be returning love) and this somber minor chords tastefully accented by Rod Argent's piano and organ (whilst Colin Blunstone soulfully croons).  Ken Jone's production is, as always, top notch and crystal clear.  On the flip we have "I Must Move", a number that easily could have made an A-side.  Starting out with Paul Atkinson's echo drenched acoustic guitar it's one of the St. Alban's boy's greatest triumphs in my book.  The harmonies and melody are precision pop at it's finest.

Both sides can be found on a multitude of products, I personally recommend Big Beat's CD "The Singles Collection" which collects all their Decca AND CBS British 45 rpm tracks, in Mono!

Hear "She's Coming Home":

Hear "I Must Move":

For entertainment purposes here's Brenda Holloway tearing up "Shes' (He's) Coming Home":

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


"Quadrophenia".  It's a word or phrase guaranteed to spark an intercine (or is it "inter-scene"?) war among a group of mods at it's very mention. There are of course, two "Quadrophenia"'s, the original 1973 double LP by The Who and the dreadful but easily lampoon-able 1979 film (released 32 years ago today actually).  We are here today to talk about the album.  For me it has been an up and down relationship.  The double album and I are like an old married couple who have the stereotype love/hate relationship but like it or not it is still, thanks to it's beginnings, a very large part of me.

I was first introduced to the album's tracks via the film soundtrack double LP in 1981 when I purchased a cut out of it.  It was not until the summer of 1982 that a friend and I took a copy out of the library in his town to listen to that I finally became acquainted with it in it's original form. I think what struck me immediately was the songs content.  As much as I loved The Jam they never SANG about mods (lucky for them!) and the '79 bands did but in a more subtle way and here it was The Who singing about beach fights, suits, pills and yes the hallowed mode of mod transport, the scooter (a Vespa GS scooter to be exact).  Townshend's lyrical imagery is still to this day as powerful as it was when I heard some of these tracks  that summer day in my friend's stepfather's parsonage study.  "The Real Me" (which opens the album after the quasi-psychedelic "I Am The Sea") still packs a massive "ooomphhh" thanks to the sheer power of the number.  Bassist John Entwistle's impeccable brass work carries the album and it's no better exemplified on "The Real Me".  In fact most of the tracks still have a certain punch to them, like "5:15", "Cut My Hair", "Is It in My Head?" ,"The Dirty Jobs", "Bell Boy" and even the synth laden instrumental "Quadrophenia" all still sparkle for me in their own little way. Though I disdain the "Quadrophenia" film for what it has become and what it spawns (moronic impressions of mod, that dreadful "we are the mods" chant etc) I must say that "I Am The Sea"/"The Real Me" is a perfect way to begin any film and the shots of Phil Daniels riding his Lambretta around (past loads of late 70's vehicles) cannot be ignored.

I think my disdain for "Quadrophenia" occurred as part of my backlash in the mid 90's that resulted when NYC was suddenly inundated by these scruffy Brit pop type mods who I derisively referred to as "yob mods" because of their faux football terrace behavior, their lack of style and their literal belief that Blur's "Boys And Girls" was how life should be, in that order. Thanks to Blur et al there was this sudden influx of "new mods" who were taking the film quite literally and on about beating up "rockers" and basically carrying on like a bunch of primates. The film and all the tribal crap espoused by it was being taken as gospel and suddenly it was a guide on how to behave in the way that Richard Barne's "Mods" book had been for me in '81. This was, in some small part due to the British music papers and that dreadful "Touched By The Hand Of Mod" piece that espoused Blur, Mantaray, Thurman and loads of bands (real and "bedroom") that were never heard of again where it was all "speed, scooter, Quadrophenia". With this there was also a sudden praise for the LP by these "ace face's in trainers" and my head began to turn by unfortunately associating it with them. It put me off on the album for very long time. I seem to recall many, many years ago flogging it on some online mods forum while all this was happening as being the result of what would've occurred if "E.L.P. made an album about mod".  This was of course at a time where I'm assuming I was not amused by it's banks and layers of synthesizers and was not at all interested in 70's music outside of Bowie and Bolan! Fool.

"Down by the jetty", Asbury Park, NJ Spring 1995: me and Rob Farrell are forced into the sea by the NYC yob mods infringing on our patch.

Luckily time erased both the Brit pop mods who moved onto their next "cool" thing and my distaste for the album, which thanks to occasional doses of iPod nostalgia has come back into my world. It's funny but on the occasion that I get to get out and about and meet one of my friends from "the old days" (the 80's) I'm immediately always jarred into remembering, quite fondly, a rather appropriate line from "Bell Boy":

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

Then there's this delightful blog with some groovy factoids about the film: recently began taking advance orders for the November, 14, 2011 deluxe edition, titled "Quadrophenia:The Director's Cut Box Set" which in the style of David Bowie's "Station To Station" box set looks like quite a treat! It is set to include 4 CD's (including two discs exclusively of demo's), a 7" 45 of "5:15" b/w "Water", a 100 page hardbound book, collectible" insert cards and a DVD all housed in a groovy LP sized, album cover facsimile box!  I think I'll be pre-ordering mine....

To my wife, if you're reading this, this could be my B-Day AND Xmas gift...

"Some nights I still sleep on the beach....": British mod early 80's.

"A beach is the place where a man can feel he's the only soul in the world that's real..."
Asbury Park, NJ 12/19/10

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cool Foreign E.P. Sleeves Part 39: The Tages

THE TAGES-In My Dreams/I Still Remember/Those Rumors/Dancing In The Street E.P. France Impact IMP 200.006 1966

Friday, September 9, 2011

I got a feeling of optimism...General Public

Back in early 1984 it was sort of weird period for me to be a mod or whatever it was that I was trying to be.  The Jam were long gone, all the '79 mod and ska bands were gone and I was clinging to hopes that new bands would emerge (luckily within six months I'd be digging deep into..."the Rubble" he heh heh and turn my back on "contemporary music" till Brit pop's 15 minutes).  True I'd gotten really into a West Coast band called The Three O' Clock, but there weren't British (and in my Anglocentric mod music world that meant a lot)and they were just a tad too new wavey for me to REALY follow with the ssme conviction that I'd worshipped the Jam, The Specials or (ack!) Secret Affair. Then in the spring of 1984 there came a burst of hope from my car radio on WPRB, my local "cool" college radio station one day whilst driving around (I was 17 and yes I had a car, more on that some other day).  The voice sounded incredibly familiar, was it...?  Yes it was!  It was Dave Wakeling of the (English) Beat!  The band were called General Public and the record was called "Tenderness".  I immediately located a British music monthly (I can't recall what, possibly "The Face"?) and it mentioned the band's line up which was a veritable freaking super group: ex- members of The Specials, The (English) Beat, Dexy's Midnight Runners/The Bureau and even Mick Jones from The Clash!!  My ship came in!

I was completely blown away by it, it had all these great bits (an oboe even reminding me immediately of the 1st LP era Bowie tracks I was so enamoured with) and it sounded so fresh (it holds up okay but admittedly it's a bit "too 80's" for me now). I immediately bought the single in the "import" bin of a record store in Quakerbridge Mall (where I'm still known to snag an occasional Ben Sherman or three when I'm in the area 27 years later........) and played it constantly and put it on a cassette tape and it was on in my car 24/7 (alongside other un-mod numbers like Aztec Camera's "Oblivious", The Cure's 'Love Cats" and of course heaps of Squire, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Syd Barrett...., but the latter is another teenage tale for another day). When it eventually garnered a U.S. release I snagged that one too. In fact my U.S. copy is still brand new and my U.K. copy is literally unplayable. Maybe that's because I played it so many times or that I played it so many times on my then crap stereo (actually wait by then I'd actually had a nice stereo that my mom actually bought for me on credit that i was paying her back for bi-weekly). But the record reminds me of this brief kernel of brightness and optimism in my mundane, depressing world that was the spring of 1984 knowing that I'd finally be out of high school in a few short months and feeling young and actually for once, happy. Every time I hear it I'm 17 again and in the seat of my Triumph Tr-7 tooling around with the sunroof open with my French crew cut in a well worn pair of desert boots and a tennis shirt (non Fred Perry at this point in the game) before the weight of the world was thrust upon me with adulthood.

US Issue Front

US Issue Rear

U.K. Issue

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Wynder K Frog

WYNDER K. FROG-I'm A Man/Oh Mary U.S. United Artists UA 50320 1966

No one in this little mod/r&b/soul community of ours can deny the mighty Hammond organ power that was the short lived late 60's British combo known as Wynder K Frog.  They racked up three LP's and 5 singles plus a rare as hell flexidisc in the U.K.  In the U.S. their last two LP's were released on United Artists and they had a contribution to the "Touchables" soundtrack LP.  Today's specimen is the only U.S. 45 I have ever encountered by them. Interestingly it was not released in the U.S. in this form, the U.K. issue of "I'm A Man" (Island WIP 6014) featured "Shook, Shimmy Shake" as it's flip, while this American pressing featured a track that was not issued in the U.K. called "Oh Mary".  We discussed the U.K. pressing at:

As discussed in the post above the band's treatment of "I'm A Man" is legendary stuff.  "Oh Mary" is an interesting number.  It was written by a West Indian singer named Jackie Edwards (who also wrote "Somebody Help Me" and "Keep On Running", both of which were covered by The Spencer Davis Group).  He released a version of "Oh Mary" in the U.K. (as Island WI 287 in July '66) on the B-side of a track called "Think Twice", it was also later cut by the U.K. r&b band The Primitives in their European based phase and graced a rare French E.P. by them. The Wynder K. Frog version is basically the backing track of the Jackie Edwards version with Mick Weaver's funky Hammond instead of Jackie's vocals.  Regardless of how "recycled" that may seem it's a killer record thanks to it's powerful "Hammond n' horns" mixture and rate right up there with their other monster B-3 tracks.

Both cuts are available on the three CD Wynder K Frog CD collection "Shook, Shimmy & Shake: The Complete Collection 1966-1970".

Hear "Oh Mary" by Wynder K. Frog:

Hear "Oh Mary" by Jackie Edwards:

Hear "I'm A Man":

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On The Road To Cairo with Jools & Brian

JULIE DRISCOLL, BRIAN AUGER AND THE TRINITY-Road To Cairo/Shadows Of You France Marmalade 421405 1968
So tell me, is it me or doesn't ol' Jools look like a youthful Jam era Paul Weller on this sleeve? Sorry just asking...

I'll have to say it's taken me a good 20+ years to get my head around "The Road To Cairo". As songs go it probably wouldn't be interesting if it was done by anybody else but let's face it Jools voice is pretty hard to compete with and that's what finally brought me around on it. Auger's churchy organ adds an air of cool mysteriousness about it as well.

"Shadows Of You" is by far the better of the two. The crack music section of Brian Auger on the Hammond, Dave Ambrose on bass and Clive Thacker on drums lays down an amazing jazzy groove for Driscoll's soulful voice to springboard off of. Jools voice of course is top notch on this.  Although she's got a great voice I far prefer her singing group originals or tracks that are non-U.S. soul covers.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that she's bad at them they just are usually carbon copies of the original and it's far more interesting to hear her interpreting someone else's work in her own style or even better a group original!
Both sides were compiled on the still in print CD compilation "Brian Auger:The Mod Years" as well as a far more exhaustive compilation of Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and The Trinity's material called "A Kind Of Love In 1967-1971".

Some Jools pin-up action because there are far too many pics of men on this blog.

Hear "The Road To Cairo":

Hear "Shadows Of You":

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Liverpool's Escorts

THE ESCORTS-Come On Home Baby/You'll Get No Loving That Way U.S. Fontana F1512 1965

The Escorts were one of those late era Liverpool bands who got signed in '64 when the whole Merseybeat bubble had just about burst and sadly missed the boat in the fame and top ten hits game.  They recorded six singles in '64-'66, none of which sadly made much impression.  They are most famous because their lead singer, Terry Sylvester, jumped ship to join the Swinging Blue Jeans to replace Ralph Ellis in 1966 before the Escorts final single which we discussed over at:

Sylvester then moved on to The Hollies in January 1969 to replace Graham Nash, a post he held until 1981. This was The Escort's fourth release (seeing the light of day over the pond as Fontana TF 570 in May 1965). It was written by the Addrisi brothers (responsible for the rocking "That's When Happiness Began" and  The Association's smash "Never My Love", among others). "Come On Home Baby" is my favorite of all the Escorts tracks. It's driven along by future Hollie Sylvester's strong lead vocals and excellent harmonies.  It has a nice gritty little guitar solo as well.  The flip side, "You'll Get No Loving That Way" is a mid paced number that's actually quite decent and is slightly reminiscent of The Everly Brothers.

Both sides were compiled on The Escorts LP/CD anthology on Edsel "From The Blue Angel".

The Escorts in possibly the worst get ups next to the Merseybeats Henry VIII collars....

You can hear both tracks as well as the entire "From The Blue Angel" over at:

Or hear "Come On Home Baby":