Sunday, October 30, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear "Desdemona":

Hear "Remember Thomas A. Beckett":

The MEGA rare U.K. picture sleeve.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

White Girls On Motown:The Lewis Sisters

Until Motown set up their Rare Earth label for white rock n' roll acts, pale faces, other than Chris Clark, weren't something you associated with Motown.  To every rule there is an exception and that being two Caucasian jazz singers called The Lewis Sisters.  They were reputed to be school teachers (a Motown 45 single picture sleeve even credited them as "the singing school teachers") and both held music degrees. They cut just two singles for Motown via their V.I.P. imprint:

"You Need Me"/"Moonlight On The Beach" V.I.P.-25024 August 1964
"He's An Oddball"/"By Some Chance" V.I.P.-25018 May 1965

They really were sisters and their names are Helen and Kaye.  They startred out in the 50's as jazz singers bumping elbows with Les McCann with whom they recorded an LP for Liberty called "Way Out Far" in 1959.  Eventually they gravitated to Motown where they were initially signed as recording artists but eventually utilized for songwriting (penning the Gladys Knight and the Pips classic "Just Walk In My Shoes" among others) but their output there was limited to the two singles above.  The best of which for my money is "He's An Oddball". They did also record a number of vocal tracks for demos for the label, one of which was the brilliant "Don't Make Me Live Without Your Love" which is in my book their greatest effort. In fact it's among my top ten favorite all time soul tracks.  The track was issued on the essential double 2002 CD "A Cellarful Of Motown Volume 1".

Kaye's 15 year old daughter Lisa cut a 45 on V.I.P. as well called "Hang On Bill"/ "Puppet On A String" in 1965 (V.I.P.-25023).

Hear "He's An Oddball":

Hear "You Need Me":

Hear "Don't Make Me Live Without Your Love":

My old pal Larry Grogan blogged about them in a bit tacked onto a Bill Dogget piece on his Funky 16 Corners blog which you can read here:

A rare French E.P. featuring both of their V.I.P. sides,
courtesy of

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Revenge Of The Cybermen Explained!

It's long been a topic of conversation since back in the day that The Prisoners had nicked "Revenge Of The Cybermen" from the music being played in the dance hall scene in the famous "Get Carter" film.  I'd long thought the number in "Get Carter" sounded a lot like Willie Mitchell's "30-60-90".  Recently I stumbled upon a video upload on YouTube of the scene with information clearing it all up.  It would seem the song in "Get Carter" is indeed "30-60-90" but instead of the Willie Mitchell original (which it's clearly not) it's performed by a group called the Jack Hawkins Showband from a live LP they recorded called "Everything Is Beautiful" from a gig at the Blackpool Larcano.

Pic courtesy of

Graham Day of The Prisoners obviously has a sense of humor about it all as this clip of him and his band The Goalers proves as they cover "30-60-90" at a gig in Dublin where he cheekily introduces it as "a number I thought I wrote a long time ago"!

And here's Willie Mitchell's original version that started it all:

And here's The Prisoners "Revenge Of The Cybermen":

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Page One Perfection: The Lovin'

THE LOVIN'-Keep On Believing/I'm In Command U.K. Page One POF 035 1967

The Lovin' were your archetype British 60's freakbeat band. They made just two singles for Larry Page's Page One label, but what a great two singles they were.

Formerly known as The Children the band were snatched up by Page who, in the spirit of '67, renamed them The Lovin'. They were: Stuart Moore (lead vocals), Rob Duffy (vocals/rhythm guitar), Steve Taylor (vocals/lead guitar), Ian Day (bass) and Mike Jackson (drums).

"Keep On Believing" was penned by the songwriting duo of Dwyer/Price (who'd penned The Loot's,  another Larry Page act's, debut 45 "Baby Come Closer" see

It's not as hard edged as the other three tracks cut by The Lovin' but it's still quite good reminding me a bit of The Creation thanks to their utilization of very high pitched backing vocals and distorted guitar chugging along.  The flip side, "I'm In Command", is far superior in my book, with it's slightly overblown melodic main lick (it sounds like they cranked the amp up to "11") and some great power poppy vocals.  It's a perfect slice of when beat group sounds met the harder/wiggier edge of freakbeat.

"Keep On Believing" was reissued on Bam Caruso's "Rubble Volume 16: Glass Orchid Aftermath" but criminally "I'm In Command" has not been reissued.  It has been covered live by New Jersey's power pop trio The Insomniacs, brought to their attention by yours truly (see a brief clip of them performing it below).

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

Hear "Keep On Believing":

Monday, October 24, 2011

October's Picks

1. 5:30-"You"
A blast from this past.  This one time mod band reinvented themselves on the heels of The Stone Roses and issued the excellent "Bed" CD in 1991 with quite a few powerful tracks, like this one and 20 years later it still sounds quite powerful in it's wall of wah-wah guitar oblivion!

2. ALICE COOPER-"Beautiful Flyaway"
My pal Ray Fracalossy turned me onto this track (and "Shoe Salesman") on a much treasured mix tape he made me while I was away during Desert Shield/Storm from their "Easy Action" LP.  "Beautiful Flyaway" is a brilliant, melodically intricate piano driven piece of pop perfection, not what you'd expect from these heavies!

I'd known of these guys from "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" 45 but it wasn't until some dark times in 1986 that a S.F. pen pal turned me onto their "They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles" LP which she kindly sent me a copy of (bless you Carrie White wherever you are!). This tune was and still is the best on the album.  Disjointed, bleak and chillingly atmospheric.

4. THE WILD ANGELS-"Please Don't Touch"
This rocking U.K. 45 version of the Johnny Kidd classic on the B&C label (home of some early Atomic Rooster singles) actually dates from '69 and sounds more like '65, killer!

5. THE AUTUMN LEAVES-"Why Must You Feel So Bad"
One of the crappy things about owning WAY too much music is you unintentionally overlook stuff so with ye olde iPod on "shuffle" this gem came across and I'd forgotten how freaking cool this LP/CD by this Twin Cities group  ("Treats And Treasures") is, in fact it stands as my fave long player on the 90's!

6. VAMP-"Floatin'"
Drearily downtrodden 1968 offering from Vamp, a  band comprised of ex-Pretty Thing Viv Price, Andy Clark, Mick Hutchinson, and ex- Fleur De Ly Pete Sears delivered in almost stoned, heavily Anglicized lead vocals.  One of the crown jewels of the dodgy 1983 "Perfumed Garden" compilation LP.

7. REGGIE KING-"So Full Of Love"
Why is it that the best Reg King solo tunes didn't make it on the LP? This one was left on the cutting room floor and fittingly issued on the "Missing In Action" E.P. It easily could slide for "Brain" era Action material with it's tabla, raga licks, near Eastern style vocal melodies and groovy harmonies.

8.  SLADE-"How Does It Feel"
This is one of my fave Slade tracks.  I think it's down to the grandiose bombastic delivery (flutes, horns, strings) which make it all sound very full and not unlike some brilliant tracks on "Quadrophenia"  like "5:15" or "Dr. Jimmy".

9. GENERATION X-"Promises Promises"
Long before MTV, "Rebel Yell" and obscurity Billy Idol fronted Generation X and sang about pathetic rock n' roll dinosaurs in this anthemic power punk number, and then within 8 years became one.............

10. THE KINKS-"Autumn Almanac"
Hands down the best song ever written about my favorite, but rapidly short in these times of global warning, season.  I can't feel the rustle of leaves beneath my feet or the cool morning fall air without this Kinks klassick popping into my brain!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Face of '68 Says Goodbye To The Herd

THE HERD-Sunshine Cottage/Miss Jones U.K. Fontana TF 975 1968
The Herd are best known as the home of one Peter Frampton (after stints with The Preachers and Moon's Train aka The Train).  They actually cut three 45's in the U.K. prior to Frampton's joining.  Upon becoming their lead singer they cut 4 singles on Fontana in the U.K. (all hitting the U.K. Top 20). This would be their 5th for Fontana and their last with Frampton who left in early 1969 to join Steve Marriott in Humble Pie.

The music press at the time claimed that this record was to be produced by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, but they are, as you can see, not credited on the label. In fact it was produced by Frampton and keyboardist Andy Bown. I'll have to say it sounds rather muddy compared to the earlier opus works on Fontana (produced by Steve Rowland) and obviously Bown and Frampton were still finding their feet in the knob twiddling department.

"Sunshine Cottage" is an interesting track as it couples both Frampton's lead vocals with the baritone of bassist Gary Taylor on the chorus (also along for the ride was actor Victor Spinetti's brother Henry on drums who had recently replaced Andrew Steele).  Taylor's Righteous Brother's styled vocals were often utilized for single lines in various Herd numbers, sometimes to good effect, though on this number it sounds a bit corny.  What carries the number is the groove set by Frampton's distorted guitar and the catchy chorus.  Sadly it fizzled in the chart's no doubt aiding Frampton's decision to jump ship.  The flip side "Miss Jones" is a cheeky misogynistic number about a secretary from the point of view of a lecherous boss, very dated but somewhat rocking lead vocals, I know what Andy Bown and Gary Taylor's voice sounds like and this isn't it, wonder who it could be?  Whoever it is it's the same vocalist who sang on the post Frampton 45 "The Game" and a few unreleased post- Frampton era cuts that have cropped up (ie "Follow The Leader"). Anyone got any idea?

German 45 P.S.
Both sides are available on a variety of Herd CD's, the best and most recent (and more to the point, still in print!) is "Paradise Lost: The Complete Fontana Years".

Hear "Sunshine Cottage":

Hear "Miss Jones":

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Manfred Mann's Swedish Only 45

MANFRED MANN-You're My Girl/Box Office Draw Sweden Fontana 267.906 TF 1968

One of the grooviest things about being a former record collecting nerd is that rare moment where you discover a song you've never heard before by a band you've owned tons of records by that is only available on an off the wall foreign pressing. Case in point, today's item, a Manfred Mann 45 with an A-side only issued in Sweden (the cut appeared in their 1966 Fontana LP "As Is", their first with Mike D'Abo as their lead singer).

"You're My Girl" is a wiggy track for Manfred Mann.  It has a disjointed rhythm with some guitar bashing away chords while vibes play along with a bizarre effect that almost makes them sound like the recording is under water.  I think that's what grabbed me immediately when I first heard the track on a CD-R bootleg compilation many years back.  "Box Office Draw" utilizes the same guitar effects as the band used on "Just Like A Woman" and relys on the pop precision backing vocals and the lead vocals of Mike D'Abo, in fact the melody and pace  seems a bit similar to "Just Like A Woman's" flip "I Wanna Be Rich" in parts!

"Box Office Draw" can be found on the U.K. CD "The Very Best Of The Fontana Years" while both cuts can be found on the CD reissue of their "As Is" LP.

Hear "You're My Girl" :

Hear "Box Office Draw":

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More Who Covers: From Sweden The Mascots

THE MASCOTS-So Sad About Us/Stewball Sweden Hep House HS 09 1967

The Mascots were a Swedish 60's group who cut two LP's and a whole load of great singles during their four years of existence (1964-1968).  Next to The Tages they're one of my fave Swedish 60's groups and like the Tages they embraced a few styles along the way.  Starting out as another British beat group influenced band they moved on to embrace a slightly harder more rocking "mod" influence (which is where today's subject leads us).

The Who were monstrously huge in Scandinavia (Sweden in particular) and in '65-'66 had made numerous pilgrimages there, so it's no surprise that any Swedish bands covered their material.  The Mascot's version of the Who's "A Quick One" album track "So Sad About Us" is not nearly as jangly or punchy as the original but it's still good as it trades the Who's melodic/ Rickenbacker feel to a plodding/harder edged delivery.  The band change the lyrics during the bridge a bit for some reason, but considering they're singing in a second language from their mother tongue I find it pretty impressive regardless (and amusing, they sing "all the kids are jumping around and everybody's there...", or so it would seem, instead of "but you can't switch off my loving like you can't switch off the sun").  The B-side, "Stewball" an old folk-blues standard was probably learned through The Hollies (who were possibly even bigger than The Who in Sweden) version on their "Would You Believe" LP (who learned it from Peter Paul and Mary's interpretation!).  I was never fond of the track and the Mascots don't do it much justice, but no one really can!

Both cuts are available on the RPM double CD reissue of their second LP "Ellpee".

Hear "So Sad About Us":

Hear "Stewball":

Pic courtesy of Jon Burchard

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Billy J. Kramer's Hip Makeover

BILLY J. KRAMER-The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker Part 1/BILLY J. KRAMER & THE DAKOTAS-Chinese Girl U.K. Reaction 591014 1967
Billy J. Kramer had seen better days by 1967, his previous record,  "Sorry" (Parlophone R 5552), recorded without The Dakotas, was his last before EMI washed their hands of him.  Enter his manager Brian Epstein's new business partner Robert Stigwood and his new label Reaction.  Stigwood's newest charges, an Australian combo called The Bee Gees, were supplying all and sundry (especially those Brit solo singers whose careers were past their expiration date) with new material consisting of tracks unreleased by themselves in the hopes of bolstering the flagging careers of these artists. See our earlier entry on Billy Fury cutting a Gibb brothers track (backed with a tune by another new hopeful, David Bowie): .

Billy J. was given a track of theirs called  "The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker Part 1" (a similarly down on his luck Gerry Marsden was given a Brothers Gibb track called "Gilbert Green"  which was released on CBS 2946 in August 1967, as he too had been ushered off EMI).  Sadly for Kramer, Fury or Mardsen the Gibb's Midas touch only worked on their own careers and nobody elses. 

"The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker Part 1" is not a terrible record, it was suited for Billy's new supper club/cabaret persona in it's big solo vocal delivery but it's odd and abrupt key changes ratchet up the freakiness quotient during the chorus that breaks up the dreary, slickly produced pap.

The flip side is another horse of another color!  Written by former backing band mates Mick Green and Robin MacDonald, "Chinese Girl" sees Billy J. being backed by The Dakotas for one last time.  Forget the slightly un-P.C. lyrics if you can and focus on how rocking this number is.  Mick Green does his brilliant string chopping in between some raga style licks with a "Train Kept A Rollin'" feel to it all.  No ballad/supper club crap here kids. There is also a superior alternate version titled "Kinky Chinese Girl" that was in the can and available on an exhaustive EMI Billy J. CD compilation ("Do You Want To Know A Secret: The EMI Years 1963-1983") and is also available from iTunes with way out distorted guitars, a new lead vocal track and some serious phlanging that needs to be heard as well. I daresay it's way better than the original.

Kramer had one more excellent record after this in the following year when he cut an excellent version of Harry Nilsson's brilliant "1941" for the NEMS label (56-3396) in March.

 German pressing on Polydor with Billy in his groovy "Mad Max" hairdo, having finally chucked his quiff.

"The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker Part 1" can be found on a compilation CD of 60's versions of Bee Gee's compositions called "Maybe Someone Is Digging Underground". "Chinese Girl", as mentioned about can be found in alternate version form on the CD set "Do You Want To Know A Secret: The EMI Years 1963-1983" and in it's original 45 mix form on the A.I.P. CD/L.P. "English Freakbeat Volume 5".

Hear "The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker":

Hear "Chinese Girl":

Monday, October 17, 2011

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Duffy Power

DUFFY POWER-I Don't Care/Where Am I? U.S. Veep V 1204 1964
Duffy Power wasn't a household name in Britain, so I'm not sure what prompted the good folks over at Veep records in the States to decide to release a 45 of his here! Perhaps it was the success of the rolling Stones that allowed similar obscure U.K. r&b artists to gain a release here, we'll never know.  Veep was an odd choice as they were primarily a soul label!  "I Don't Care" was Duffy's 11th U.K. 45 (it was actually the B-Side to "Where Am I?" which was released in August of 1964 as Parlophone R 5169 no nary a ripple of interest).  I chose "I Don't Care" because it's a bluesy r&b number that's well suited for Duffy's smokey voice. "Where Am I?" is a ballad and though he's pretty much got the pipes to carry off anything the tune itself is sadly lacking.

Both sides have been collected on the amazing double CD on RPM chronicling Duffy's 60's r&b output "Leapers And Sleepers", a must for any fans of mod/jazzy British 60's r&b.

Hear "I Don't Care":

Hear "Where Am I?":

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Soulful Brit R&B sounds of Winston G

WINSTON G.-Cloud Nine/I'll Make You Cry Tomorrow U.S. Warner Brothers 7003 1967

This is the third of five singles by a group called Winston G. We spoke about a later single by them earlier at:

This single is a soulful affair, in fact you'd think it was another band based on our previous entry (which was actually the single following today's item in question)!  It was released in the U.K. as Decca F 12444 in 1966.  It's not to be confused with the late track of the same name by The Temptations.  It contains high pitched female backing vocalists (not unlike the horrid Breakaways shrill noise on Georgie Fame's "Fame At Last" LP) which puts me off a bit but luckily the lead vocals and the powerful horns make it a great track (I the arrangement was done by Les Reed, who also did the same for Paul & Barry Ryan).  I haven't a clue what the flip is like as I never played it, guess I should huh?

"Cloud Nine" was reissued on the British 60's r&b/soul CD compilation  "Mix A Fix:U.K. Floor Fillers 2".

I've since found some groovy info on the illusive Winston G:

Who it would seem formed the basis of The Fox ( responsible  for the 45 "Hey Mr. Carpenter"/"Seek And You Find", NOT The Fox on Fontana), more on that 45 soon I promise!

Hear "Cloud Nine":

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

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

THE MOHAWKS-Baby Hold On Part One/Baby Hold On Part Two U.S. Cotillion 45-44037 1969

More Hammond B-3 goodness from this Alan Hawkshaw studio only vehicle, this time from the U.S.A on the Cotillion label ,as far as I know this and the issue of "Champ" (Cotillion 45-44002, more on that one soon) were their only releases on the label.

Had this been the 80's "Baby Hold On, Part One and Part Two" would've been edits from a 12" extended dance mix.  Both tracks are typical brass and organ workouts with some backing studio female voices adding a chorus and singing the title repeatedly.  I like "Part Two" better because the organ really cuts into some seriously groovy trills which is really the only reason you'd own a Mohawks 45 in my estimation!

Pic c/o

"Baby Hold On" was issued on the legit Vampisoul CD reissue of The Mohawks insanely collectible LP "The Champ" but not in form of this single (ie "Parts One And Two").

Hear "Baby Hold On Part One":

Hear "Baby Hold On Part Two (edited)":

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It was 30 years ago...........

Thirty years ago this month The Jam released "Absolute Beginners" (U.K. Polydor POSP 350). I can recall with absolute certainty not being very impressed by it at first (a common issue with most Jam singles for me after "Going Underground", which was the first Jam single I bought hot of the presses after becoming familiar with them). I was far more impressed at the time by the B-side, "Tales From The Riverbank". I think I still prefer it, though that's not to say "Absolute Beginners" doesn't still resonate in my 45 year old mind in a positive way. It blows me away that thirty years ago I bought this piece of plastic (and it came with a cool little insert, which you can see below with the lyrics, a must for a teenager who's ears were not yet attuned to British accented songs).  And I still have it, with all of my other Jam singles.

Bring you a tale from the pastel fields
Where we ran when we were young
This is a tale from the water meadows
Trying to spread some hope into your heart
It's mixed with happiness - it's mixed with tears
Both life and death are carried in this stream
That open space you could run for miles
Now you don't get so many to the pound

True it's a dream mixed with nostalgia
But it's a dream that I'll always hang on to
That I'll always run to
Won't you join me by the riverbank

Paradise found down by the still waters
Joined in the race to the rainbow's end
No fears no worries just a golden country
Woke at sunrise, went home at sunset

Now life is so critical, life is too cynical
We lose our innocence, we lose our very soul

True it's a dream mixed with nostalgia
But it's a dream that I'll always hang on to
That I'll always run to
True it's a dream mixed with nostalgia
But it's a dream that I'll always hang on to
That I always run to
Won't you join me by the riverbank
Come on and join me by the riverbank

Equals Debut (of sorts)!

THE EQUALS-Baby Come Back/Hold Me Closer Germany President 19456 AT 1967 

The Equals, you can't go wrong with the original 60's Equals.  Their mix of rock n roll soul/r&b and ska/reggae rhythms was ahead of it's time as was the fact that they were probably the first multi racial rock n' roll band to grace the U.K. Top 20.  They were even bigger on the Continent where today's copy comes from (Germany to be precise). Hailing from North London they were: Derv Gordon(lead vocals), Lincoln Gordon (rhythm guitar), Eddie Grant (lead guitar), Pat Lloyd (bass) and John Hall (drums).

"Baby Come Back" was the band's second single, hitting the streets in early 1967 in the U.K., initially it did not chart but instantly made #1 in places like Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands (to name a few). Upon a re-release in the U.K. in 1968 it became their only British #1 becoming certified as a gold disc. It became they only U.S. Top 40 entry reaching #32.

For those who haven't heard it "Baby Come Back" it is characterized by Eddie Grant's infectious funky guitar lick that sounds straight off of an early Wailers session (perhaps it was the intention?) and Derv's distinctly West Indian accented lead vocals and rousing chanting backing vocals from the rest of the band. "Hold Me Closer" utilized the same guitar effect but was faster and punchier (thanks to the locomotive engine beat laid down by John Hall).  It contains some well placed horns that punctuate the number at the right moment too.

Sadly as discussed in previous posts there sadly seems to be a lack of legit original recordings Equals CD's in print at the moment!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stop Me If You've Heard This One:True Tales of Record Collecting Part One

Back in the mid to late 1990's I was forced to move back to the family homestead for a bit as I was rather heavily in credit card debt due to A.) one too many shopping trips to 99X for clothes, B.) one too orders to Craig Moerer's record mail order business and C.) living right across the street from Vintage Vinyl. True story ten grand later!

My record collecting pal Haim Kenig informed me that the Princeton Record Exchange had acquired a massive collection of 45's from the recently shut down Radio Free Europe (who knew the end of the Cold War and the fall of communism would be manna for record geeks?) and that they would be hitting the shelves.  I left work at lunchtime and met him there and we each took one end of the store and worked our way across the store till we were literally in the same box.  The next day I took the whole day off and and we met up first thing in the morning. We took lunch and dinner breaks at the nearby Athenian restaurant (R.I.P) and spent the entire time the store was open going through everything crouched over as all the boxes were on the floor beneath the LP bins (also R.I.P.) Ah to be young, I'd be in traction now if I did that for more than a few hours let alone two days!  Nearly all of the rare stuff had been snatched as it had been gone through by the people who worked there and a few dealers they knew before it hit the shelves.  I borrowed some $ from my dad with the intention of starting a "records for sale" little side gig and came home with probably enough to fill one of your standard white oblong cardboard 45 boxes.  Most if not all were German pressings of 60's stuff, well over half of it went on E-Bay a year or so later and the rest on my website/list  about 5-6 years ago.  The collection ran from basically the early 60's to the 80's, a lot of it was crap.  There seemed to be an ungodly large number of Joni James and Jack Jones 45's, I don't know if it unnerved the Commies but it'd sure get under my skin.  I did score some great stuff (The World of Oz, The Mirror, Chris Farlowe, Paul & Barry Ryan, The Rattles, The Small Faces etc) the picture sleeves were usually in bad shape with lots of stickers (see examples below) and shredded but the records were in great shape.  I'm not sure why because I'm quite certain Radio Free Europe wasn't giving Gene Latter, Screaming Lord Sutch, The Pretty Things or Twice As Much any heavy turntable rotation!

A week or two later I was back and a staff member at the store told me they'd found half a dozen more boxes that weren't out yet and that no one had gone through them from the store or otherwise and dutifully hauled them out and placed them in the corner.  I found a nice U.S. copy of the Dream Police "Living Is Easy" in  mint condition and there amongst the Shelia E 45's and Heino E.P.'s was the stuff that legends are made of...with it's center missing was Columbia DB7686 aka "On The Horizon"/"Crawdaddy Simone" by The Syndicats.  It was in VG++ condition, in a tattered green and white U.K. Columbia stock sleeve with a few stickers on the label.  It was $15!!  I was broke.  I no longer had a credit card and it was Thursday and my ATM was tapped (I got paid the next day).  I stashed it back where I'd found it and went out to a payphone and began calling my pals in the area.  Shaggy wasn't home, Kevin either.  I panicked.  I took the chance of asking the clerk who brought them out if he could hold a record for me and he hemmed and hawed and eventually said no that it wouldn't be fair or some bullshit.  I contemplated shoplifting it, surely the fine and shame and minor criminal record would be worth it right?  No.  So I stuck it in a Shelia E 45 sleeve and put it in another box and wrote down it's location on a scrap of paper in my wallet.  I went back the next day when I got paid and was there when they opened the store. It was gone.  I suspect my asking the clerk to hold it sent some signals and perhaps I was watched and they too sussed what I'd hid.  Maybe some Shelia E fan entered right after I left and stumbled upon it, I'll never know. The Dream Police 45 was still there though.

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Dame On Deram

DAVID BOWIE-The Laughing Gnome/The Gospel According To Tony Day U.K. Deram DM 123 1967

It's well known that one record that haunts Mr. David Bowie: this campy April 1967 single by him which was reissued at the height of the Ziggy era (1973) and much to the surprise and chagrin of all concerned, charted reaching a respectable #6! In 1990 when Bowie's audience were able to "phone in" votes for their favorite Bowie tracks to be performed N.M.E. attempted to encourage readers to vote for "The Laughing Gnome" so that Bowie would add it to the repertoire. Their effort failed.

It's really not as awful as everyone slags it off to be, certainly it's the least favorite of all of the 60's Bowie tracks pre-"Space Oddity" tracks in my book but hey whatever.  The inane sped up chipmunk voices (gnomes in this case) are a bit much and the lines are pretty corny: "Why don't you get your hair cut you look like a Rolling Gnome" "Yeh I went to the London School of Eco-gnomics"..... but the instrumental backing is amusing (woodwinds and tinkling piano and some nice murky bass, a formula utilized on his debut LP two months later).  The B-side is where it's at in my books.  I'd long sworn Bowie sang "Waste of f*ckin' time , take a look at my life and you'll see, have a quick butcher's" at the tracks fadeout, but a commenter at this excellent Bowie blog:

has convinced me it's "waste of flippin' time,.."!  Sigh, and here I thought Bowie had snuck in an "f" bomb in '67.  The number is a brilliant study in cynicism as Bowie singles out names of people who've disappointed him or slighted him (edging on bordeom where he quips "Your mind, blow it, blow it!") while his backing band of Derek “Chow” Boyes (keyboards), Derek “Dek” Fearnly (bass), John “Ego” Eager (drums) provide backing amongst some renaissance fair styled baroque woodwinds.  And how many other records do you know of came with a bassoon solo? Just this one.

David would release one more 45 on Deram (DM 135), a re-recorded version of an album track called "Love You Till Tuesday" in July of 1967 before his contract expired and he moved on to perms, art labs and songs about wayward spacemen.  Both tracks are on any multitude of Deram era Bowie comps, we strongly recommend hearing it on the deluxe 2 CD edition of David's first LP where you can hear both mono and stereo mixes of both tracks.

Trivia Note:
"The Laughing Gnome" was recorded and released by personality Ronnie Hilton in the U.K. in July of 1967 as HMV POP 1600 where Hilton delivered it spoken word in a semi thick Yorkshire accent.

Collector's Note:
As with all original 60's U.K. Bowie Deram releases the matrix numbers on the original issues are upside down.  The 70's reissues bear the same serial numbers but have the matrix number right side up.

Hear "The Laughing Gnome":

Hear "Gospel According To Tony Day":

Cha-cha-cha-ching, French 1973 reissue

Monday, October 3, 2011

Down at the Flamingo.....

GEORGIE FAME & THE BLUE FLAMES-"Rhythm & Blues" Night Train/Parchman Farm/Work Song/ Baby Please Don't Go U.K. Columbia SEG 8382 1964

Live records in the 60's by British artists are sometimes patchy affairs but none conveys the feeling of an intimate setting like Georgie Fame's debut LP recorded live at London's mod/jazz Mecca The Flamingo. No one else in the world is better associated with this famous London r&b night spot than Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames, so it should only seem fitting that Fame's debut 1964 LP should be recorded live at the club ("Rhythm & Blues at the Flamingo" Columbia 33SX 1599).  This was his second U.K. E.P. (his first was discussed over here:

The E.P. titled "Rhythm & Blues", was released in November 1964, exactly two months before his "Yeh Yeh" single took him to the  #1 slot in the U.K. for several weeks. It contained four tracks from the LP recorded one sweaty night live onstage to an appreciative, lively crowd.

Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames 1964
The Flamingo audience was a curious mix of Soho figures, U.S. servicemen (they can be heard shouting in between tracks on the album), West Indians, mods and seedy underworld types.  The U.S. servicemen were allegedly eventually banned from the club by the U.S. military after a stabbing occurred on the premises. One of my favorite blogs discusses the incident here, but this was BEFORE the recording of the LP/EP so who knows:

The E.P. opens with James Brown's "Night Train" (also the LP's opener) from the moment they're introduced and the band kick in you can almost feel the electricity just listening to the track as the band's horn section and Fame's Hammond put the number through the paces (and accented by Speedy Acquaye's conga drums).  It's followed by a reading of Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm" (punctuated with some excited shouts by Georgie's gang of U.S. fans present for the recording).  No one in the U.K. did Allison's work as well as Georgie Fame in my estimation and this track nails it.

Side Two opens with an interpretation of Oscar Brown Jr's reading of Nat Adderley's "Work Song" with full enthusiasm.  Mose Allison's "Baby Please Don't Go" closes the E.P. (it closed the L.P. as well) in all it's rawness and once again showcases Fame's adept skill at interpreting Allison's work masterfully adapting it with Hammond and horns. All four tracks are well executed, but sadly the recording quality sounds a bit muffled (not nearly as crisp as The Big Three's live E.P. from the Cavern a year earlier) with certain instruments sometimes being hard to hear as if the mics were far away from the stage, regardless it's a priceless piece of British r&B history that perfectly, no doubt, encapsulated a brilliant moment.

Georgie outside the Flamingo with his yoga mat.

The LP has never been officially released on CD but tracks from it appear on a host of Georgie Fame CD's in the U.K. "Parchman Farm" and "Work Song" were compiled on the essential Big Beat G.F. CD "Mod Classics 1964-1968"  whilst "Night Train" and "Baby Please Don't Go" appear of the CD "The Very Best Of..."

Hear "Night Train":

Hear "Parchman Farm:

Hear "Baby Please Don't Go":