Thursday, December 20, 2012

December's Picks

1. THE ASSOCIATION-"Looking Glass"
"Who's that standing there, who's that standing there, what's her name?  Does she still wear morning in her hair and smile the same?"
Hypnotic classic 1966 Association with all the usual ingredients: magic harmonies, top notch production and intricate musical arrangements (dig that fuzz guitar playing along with a trumpet).

2. PAUL McCARTNEY-"Too Many People"
You can fill what I know of solo Beatles stuff on a 90 minute CD-R.  Cheers to my friend Jennie Wasserman for sticking this in my brain where it's been for the past month and suitable for relief in this crazy world we live in.

I've only just embraced the 60's S.D.G. Mk.II stuff (of the pop psych vein) and this one really blows my mind and is, in my estimation, far more enjoyable than covers of say, "Looking Back".

4. THE EYES-"Please Don't Cry"
Sometimes owning a lot of 60's stuff you forget the bands that were obscure back in the day but now seem as common as the Small Faces or The Creation.  Add The Eyes to that list.  I always loved this number because in the middle of their pop-art/Who tribute period they still managed to record a perfect beat group number like this in 1966.

5. THE FALLING LEAVES-"She Loves To Be Loved"
Classic British 60's r&b track, jazzy flute, bluesy guitar licks and laid back Mose Allison style vocals with soul. Parlophone (U.K.) January 22, 1965.

6. THE NARC TWINS-"Old Joe Mushroom"
Local heroes of sorts, in the early 90's these guys (a duo) were a studio only act who released a few cassettes.  To say they were psychedelic is putting it mildly.  The best comparison I can draw is the U.K. act Vibrasonic (before they went "surf") meets The Dukes of Stratosphear, but I think these guys were doing it longer than the former. The cool thing is all of their catalog is available now for free download which you can do here. I suggest you do.

7. THE BUMP-"Winston Built The Bridge"
Mondo obscuro 1969 track from a band from Detroit that sounds more U.K. '67, unearthed  by the good folks about Bam Caruso for Rubble Volume 20 "Thrice Upon A Time (Nothing Is Real)".  Totally lo if but quite good with a heavy dose of phlanging at the end.

God bless the "Mod Jazz" CD series on Kent for bringing obscure little groovers like this to the surface with a driving beat, wonky sax, go-go organ and a bunch of cats yelling contemporary zany shit at each other while the band plays ..."uh she must be goin' down to the Trip A-Go-Go...she got them real hip bell bottoms on" etc. From "Further Adventures Of Mod Jazz".

9. THE JAM-"Running On The Spot"
I hate being "personal" here because this blog is all about music and it's ability to take one away from the world and it's harsh reality but I'm still reeling, seething and in some small way aching from the deaths of so many little innocent children in Connecticut last Friday.  I was running around the track at the gym the other day and this track came on my iPod gym playlist and lyrically it summed up how I feel in regards to all of it: the shooting, humankind, the armchair politicians who want to forward articles on what we should have done or what we should be doing and the naive sad fuckers who actually think their elected officials are going to make some sweeping change. I'm loathe to get up on my pulpit like so many FaceBook politicians but I've spent all of my adult life (from age 18 onwards) in some form of civil service be it the military or working for the federal government and people I'm here to tell you I don't think "the man" has your best interests at heart if big money isn't behind it.

I was hoping we'd make real progress -
But it seems we have lost the power
Any tiny step of advancement
Is like a raindrop falling into the ocean -
We're running on the spot - always have - always will
We're just the next generation of the emotionally crippled.
Though we keep piling up the building blocks
The structure never seems to get any higher
Because we keep kicking out the foundations
And stand useless while our lives fall down.
I believe in life - and I believe in love
But the world in which I live in - keeps trying to prove me wrong.

Out in the pastures we call society
You can't see further than the bottom of your glass
Only young but easily shocked
You get all violent when the boat gets rocked -

Just like sheep - little lambs into the slaughter
Don't fully grasp what exactly is wrong -
Truth is you never cared - still -
You get all violent when the boat gets rocked -

Intelligence should be our first weapon
And stop reveling in rejection
And follow yourselves, not some ageing drain brain
Who's quite content to go on feeding you garbage
We're running on the spot - always have - always will?
We're just the next generation of the emotionally crippled.

10. THE PEDDLERS-"Tell The World We're Not In"
I picked up on this tune watching the creepy/seedy post Swinging London flick "Goodbye Gemini" and this was the opening title track.  I instantly recognized it as the Peddlers but was at a dead end of tracking the tune down. Luckily my pal Larry Grogan over at Funky 16 Corners came through with an MP3 as it's not on any of their CD comps (which all compile their CBS 45's, this one was on Phillips).  It's like a funky '67 Georgie Fame tune with some groovy organ and an underlying jazzy feel, perfect.  And check out the film it's quite good!

The Peddlers by Gered Mankowitz

Monday, December 17, 2012

My U.K. 60's "Mod" Top 200

I got an e-mail recently from a reader who stumbled upon my "Mod Top 200" and asked why I hadn't included anything British in it.  As mentioned in the original piece I'd left British and Jamaican tracks out as it would've gone to 1,000 easily.  Well I decided to put some time and effort into it and come up with my personal Top 200 British 60's "mod" singles.  The criteria being: the records were recorded by British artists in the 60's who either were mods or were loved by mods or made a 45 that was  released during that "era" or happened to have a song about mods or for mods (I've omitted Kim Fowley's "Rise Of The Brighton Surf"). I've skipped more "freakbeat" angled stuff (The Sons of Fred, The Koobas etc) and more commercial but still amazing acts (The Moody Blues, the Manfreds et al) from the r&b vein as well.  But it's been fun , hopefully there are no duplications.  All tracks were released on 45 in the U.K. in the 60's.

2.  THE RIOT SQUAD-I Wanna Talk About My Baby
4. WINSTON G.-Judge And Jury
5. THE BUNCH-You Never Came Home
6. THE WHEELS-Don't You Know
7. THE BLUE FLAMES-Orange Street
10.  THE HIGH NUMBERS-I'm The Face
12. LISTEN-Everbody's Gonna Say
13. THE ARTWOODS-Molly Anderson's Cookery Book
14. THE QUIK-King Of The World
15. THE V.I.P'S-Don't Let It Go
19. THE ALAN BOWN SET-I Really Really Care
21. KEVIN KING LEAR-Count Me Out
22. HAPPY MAGAZINE-Satisfied Street
26. THE SOUL AGENTS-Let's Make It Pretty Baby
27. TONY COLTON-Run Pony Rider
28. THE BO STREET RUNNERS-Baby Never Say Goodbye
29. THE UNTAMED-My Baby Is Gone
33. WYNDER K. FROG-Turn On Your Lovelight
34. THE ST. LOUIS UNION-English Tea
37. THE ACTION-Land Of A Thousand Dances
39. THE EYES OF BLUE-Don't Ask Me To Mend Your Broken Heart
40. THE GASS-One Of These Days
46. THE MEDDY EVILS-Ma's Place
47. THE QUIK-Soul Full Of Sorrow
48. THE GASS-The New Breed
53. BLUESOLOGY-Mr. Frantic
54. JACK BRUCE-Rootin' Tootin'
55. WYNDER K. FROG-Shook, Shimmy, Shake
56. THE BUNCH-Don't Come Back To Me
57. THE LOOSE ENDS-Send The People Away (People Gotta Go)
58. THE ST. LOUIS UNION-Think About Me
60. TONY COLTON-You're Wrong There Baby
61. THE PREACHERS-Hole In My Soul
62. DOUBLE FEATURE-Just Another Lonely Night
63. THE SMALL FACES-I've Got Mine
64. DAVE ANTHONY'S MOODS-New Directions
65. THE WHEELS-Call My Name
66. THE PETER B'S-If You Wanna Be Happy
70. THE MARK LEEMAN FIVE-Going To Bluesville
71. THE CHEYNES-Down And Out
72. THE BO STREET RUNNERS-Bo Street Runner
74. THE ACTION-Baby You Got It
77. WINSTON G.-Bye Bye Baby
78. THE ORGANISERS-The Organiser
79. THE PERSUASIONS-La, La, La, La, La
80. DUFFY POWER-If I Get Lucky Someday
81. THE GRAHAM BOND ORGANIZATION-Tell Me (I'm Gonna Love Again)
84. THE AMBOY DUKES (U.K.)-High Life In Whitley Wood Part 1
86. THE SOUL AGENTS-Gospel Train
87. THE SHEFFIELDS-Bags Groove (Skat Walking)
88. THE ARTWOODS-Goodbye Sisters
89. WYNDER K. FROG-Green Door
90. THE EYES OF BLUE-Heart Trouble
94. A BAND OF ANGELS-Invitation
95. THE QUIK-Bert's Apple Crumble
96. CHRIS FARLOWE-Everyone Makes A Mistake
97. THE WILD ONES-Purple Pill Eater
98. TIMEBOX-Save Your Love
99. STONE'S MASONRY-Flapjacks
101. THE ST. LOUIS UNION-East Side Story
102. THE MEDDY EVILS-Place Called Love
104. THE HIPSTER IMAGE-Can't Let Her Go
105. THE SMALL FACES-Grow Your Own
106. THE ALAN BOWN SET-Baby Don't Push Me
107. THE UNIVERSALS-Green Veined Orchid
108. THE CHEYNES-Goin' To The River
109. THE UNTAMED-Once Upon A Time
110. THE BLUE CHIPS-Some Kind Of Lovin'
111. JOHN LEE'S GROUNDHOGS-I'll Never Fall In Love Again
112. CHRIS KERRY-The Seven Deadly Sins
114. MIKE PATTO-Can't Stop Talking About My Baby
115. THE FALLING LEAVES-She Loves To Be Loved
117.  ZOOT MONEY'S BIG ROLL BAND-Big Time Operator
118.  THE EXCEPTION-The Eagle Flies On Friday
120. THE EYES OF BLUE-Supermarket Full Of Cans
122. THE PLATFORM SIX-Money Will Not Mean A Thing
123. GEORGIE FAME-No Thanks
124.  ROBERT PLANT-I've Got A Secret
126. THE ACTION-Twentyfourth Hour
128. THE MIKE COTTON SOUND-I Don't Wanna Know
129. WINSTON G.-Cloud Nine
131. THE HIPSTER IMAGE-A Little Piece Of Leather
133. THE TRIBE-Love is A Beautiful Thing
134. THE BLUE ACES-That's Alright
135. HAMILTON AND THE MOVEMENT-I'm Not The Marrying Kind
137. THE RIOT SQUAD-Gonna Make You Mine
138. TONY COLTON-Lose My Mind
139. THE SHEVELLS-I Gotta Travel All Over
140. REY ANTON AND THE PRO FORM-Premeditation
141. ROD STEWART-I Just Got Some
142. THE UNTAMED-I'm Asking You
145. ZOOT MONEY-Zoot's Suite
146. CLIFF BENNETT AND THE REBEL ROUSERS-Three Rooms With Running Water
147. THE LOOSE ENDS-Taxman
149. THE MIKE COTTON SOUND-Soul Serenade
150. THE V.I.P.'S-Straight Down To The Bottom
151. THE HABITS-Elbow Baby
155. THE WES MINSTER FIVE-Railroad Blues
156. WYNDER K. FROG-Sunshine Superman
158. THE CHECKMATES-It Ain't Right
159. THE MOQUETTES-Right Sting Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo
160. THE SMALL FACES-Almost Grown
162. THE PARAMOUNTS-Don't Ya Like My Love?
166. HAMILTON KING-Ain't It Time
167. DUFFY POWER-Tired Broke And Busted
168. THE PLEBS-Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
169. THE PETER B'S-Jordell Blues
170. THE UNTAMED-Just Wait
171. WINSTON G. -Cloud Nine
172. JACK BRUCE-I'm Gettin' Tired (Of Drinkin' And Gamblin')
174. A BAND OF ANGELS-Cheat And Lie
175. THE PREACHERS-Too Old In The Head
176. TONY COLTON-I've Laid Some Down In My Time
177. THE ACTION-I'll Keep Holding On
178. LINDSAY MUIR'S UNTAMED-Trust Yourself A Little Bit
179. THE SOUL AGENTS-Don't Break It Up
180. THE WORRYING KYNDE-Call Out My Name
182. THE WHEELS-Road Block
183. THE CIRCLES-Take Your Time
184. THE LOOSE ENDS-That's It
185. THE RIOT SQUAD-Anytime
186. MIKE PATTO-Love
187. LISTEN-You Better Run
188. THE MEDDY EVILS-It's All For You
189. THE CHEYNES-Respectable
190. KEVIN "KING" LEAR-Mr. Pearly
191. THE GRAHAM BOND ORGANIZATION-Love Comes Shining Through
192. THE BUNCH-You Can't Do This
194. DOUBLE FEATURE-Come On Baby
195. THE REMO FOUR-Sing Hallelujah
196. GEORGIE FAME-Bend A Little
197. THE GASS-Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)
198. THE SENATE-Can't Stop
199. TIMEBOX-Soul Sauce
200. THE WES MINSTER FIVE-Shakin' The Blues

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Through Kaleidoscope Eyes:Tambourine Days: The Definitive Story Of Kaleidoscope And Fairfield Parlour-by Peter Daltrey

"Tambourine Days: The Definitive Story Of Kaleidoscope And Fairfield Parlour"-by Peter Daltrey

Kaleidoscope, the U.K. variety, have long been one of my favorite British 60's psychedelic bands ever since "A Dream For Julie" and "Flight from Ashiya" first sprang from the grooves of Bam Caruso's "The 49 Minute Technicolor Dream" in 1985. The band amassed 5 singles and two LP's before becoming Fairfield Parlour and releasing two singles (one under the moniker of "I Luv Wight"), one LP and one E.P. Their debut LP "Tangerine Dream" ranks up their with "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" and Caravan's eponymous debut as one of my favorite U.K. psych albums of all time.  When I discovered that their lead singer Peter Daltrey had penned a book chronicling his career I jumped at it.  Perhaps too quickly.

He was a mod before you was a mod:Peter Daltrey 1965

With that said the band's lead singer (and co author of all of their tunes with guitarist Eddie Pumer) has quite a tale to tell based on the band's career (which began in 1964 as The Sidekicks and then The Key who in turn became Kaleidoscope).  My first complaint is the book is rather slim.  My second is that the photo reproduction quality in several, if not half of the photos is atrocious, as if they'd been plucked (pixelated) from thumbnails on the web. I'm sorry but  $37.17 (actually I just checked my credit card statement and it cost $48.50 with shipping) for a soft covered 6" x 9" book is enough with high quality photos, but with these poor reproductions, well the book would have been better served without them.

Bitching and gripes out of the way (not yet) I liked Daltrey's writing style but feel I'm no closer to learning more about Kaleidoscope than I was before I read an interview with him in a zine 20 years ago (was it "Bucket Full Of Brains"?) where he divulged that all their whimsical psych tracks were composed not on L.S.D., but in the guitarists bedroom after a bit of Chinese and copious amounts of cheap red Spanish plonk! Initially I was blown away but it seems that the period leading from their debut 45 "Flight From Ashiya" to the LP "Faintly Blowing" lasted but a few pages. Fairfield Parlour receive just a bit more space than Kaleidoscope, but then it's downhill for me. In fact at least a quarter of the book is devoted to listing his discography (he has evidently been quite prolific as a solo artist these past 15 years).

The book's numerous appendixes (including an essay on their day trip to France to mime "Flight From Ashiya" and "Holidaymaker" on TV among them and a touching piece on the funeral of bassist Steve Clark, tragically run down and killed on Chelsea Bridge in 1999) make up for the brevity I guess and there's a few interviews with Daltrey (obviously conducted via e-mail or mail) but I'm left feeling that for my money I really didn't get what I paid for. Maybe I'm still in a state of euphoria after reading the amazingly well put together Action book., maybe I'm just old and grumpy.  Or maybe, I'm just a consumer who when paying a large price for something so small, expects great things from it.
Interested parties can order the book direct like I did from here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Old Mods Long Awaited Story: The Action "In The Lap Of The Mods" Reviewed

I've been long excited about The Action's "In The Lap Of The Mods" book like it was the second coming.  The Action, along with The Small Faces, The Kinks and David Bowie are my favorite 60's artists.  From their first single as The Boys all the way down to the material cut before they became Mighty Baby (released in the 80's on a mini LP "Speak Louder Than") and even lead singer Reg King's 1971 solo LP I'm all on board as a one man American cheering section. I'm still, 18 years later, slowly wrapping my head around Mighty Baby.

Authored by original 60's Action fans (the late)  Ian Hebditch and his partner Jane Shepherd, it's a solid pleasure from cover to cover. They have done the unimaginable. It is without a doubt the best book I have ever read on a band (coming in just ahead of "Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years 1947-1974").  No fact or anecdote is left behind.  With input/quotes from all band members, their associates, fans and friends (with a forewords by Sir George Martin who produced all 5 of their Parlophone singles and uber Action fan Phil Collins) there's no shortage of facts or information lacking here at all.

I sprung for the deluxe edition that came in a  slip cover/box with a extra magazine sized book titled "Where The Action Is: Your Chance To Catch The Unbelievable Action" (a day by day account of their gig/recording and TV appearance history chock full of news clippings and 45 label/sleeve scans) and a facsimile one sided acetate of their 1965 Decca audition disc, a cover of The Temptations "Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)".

I learned a lot about the band's history in reading it, if you're an Action freak like me you might find these little facts interesting:

*Lead guitarist Pete Watson played on the band's first single as "The Boys" and was in the band for most of their career. Previous reports had him joining shortly before they became The Action.

*The Boys, NOT The Action, supported The Who during their Tuesday night Marquee Club residency in 1965 and were eventually removed from the bill at the request of Who managers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert because they felt they were "upstaging" The Who.

*The Action gigged with David Bowie and The Buzz, The Syn, The Alan Bown Set, Bluesology, The Syn, The Byrds, The Attack, The Pretty Things, Dantalion's Chariot, The James Mean, The Mike Stuart Span, Timebox,  etc to name but a few!

* For their July 1966 "Ready Steady Go!" appearance  to promote "Baby You Got It" bassist Mike Evans and and drummer Roger Powell were tripping on L.S.D.

*A month after Reggie King left the band they recorded the five tracks released as "Speak Louder Than".

*The band only used the name "Azoth" for a week, switching back to the Action and then, eventually, Mighty Baby.

*The very last gig under The Action moniker was December 27, 1968 at the Oasis Club in Portsmouth.

* Our fave scribe here was the catalyst in the chain of events that led to the band's brief reformation in the late 90's.

I think one of my favorite parts of the book are the in depth looks at the 60's U.K. mod scene (with a particular perspective on the Birdcage, a club in Portsmouth where the band had a hard core mod following).  I especially enjoyed reading various perspectives from original 60's mods who's opinions are both varied and very strong on a variety of subjects included within.  For instance there is a great deal of varying opinions on The Small Faces, some feel they were mods, others feel they were "commercial mods".  The Action fall under similar varying opinions as well, to some the were a "band for mods", for others they were "mods in a band".  Regardless all concerned agree on one thing, live onstage, they were a force to be reckoned with. Oddly there was a great deal of belief that their singles did them no justice and that they were "softened" up to have commercial appeal.  Hmmm. To each his or her own I suppose!  There is also a great deal of attention paid to my favorite period where the band began looking towards "West Coast sounds" from late '66 onward till their metamorphosis into Might Baby. This is a period that has received scant notice in my 30+ year quest for Action information and it was fascinating to read about them. And for the completist there is a list of every song ever performed by the band live (both in the 60's and during their "reunion gigs in the late 90's)!

The book (both by itself or in deluxe edition format) can be ordered by going here, I suggest you do so post haste as the printing is limited to 400 copies.

Monday, November 26, 2012

November's Picks

1. TERRY CALLIER-"Johnny Be Gay If You Can"
We here at "Anorak Thing" were stunned to hear of Terry Callier's passing at the end of last month just as a deadly hurricane battered the shit out of us.  Folks are very often apt to both praise and dig Terry's 70's work. Here at Anorak H.Q. my fave (alongside "Ordinary Joe" and "Look At Me Now") is this stellar cut from his debut which to me sounds like what our hero Oscar Brown Jr. would've sounded like with just an acoustic guitar.

2. THE BUNCH-"You Can't Do This"
U.K. mid/late 60's mod/r&b/blue eyed soul is without a doubt one of my favorite genres of music.  This number from a 1967 CBS B-side lovingly unearthed on one of the newer "Rubble" CD's has all the essential ingredients of the genre: a poppy melody, tight brass punctuations and catchy call and response vocals.

3. THE ACTION-"In My Lonely Room"
No doubt influenced by the load of their music going down here at the moment and in no small part due to my hovering over the new Action book "In The Lap Of The Mods" comes this one. Woah. Ladies and gents I'm gonna own up and go on record and state it's NOT lead singer Reggie King who owns this number but the backing vocalists (Alan "Bam" King and Pete Watson).  The latter are both also responsible for the Rickenbacker (6 and 12 strings respectively) guitar sounds that give this number it's originality and and make it not merely another sad Motown knock off.

4. KALEIDOSCOPE-"Love Song For Annie"
Powerful stuff from Kaleidoscope's (the U.K. 60's sort) second LP "Faintly Blowing", powerful stuff both musically and lyrically with some tasteful, but faint organ, massive guitar/bass/drums backing and poetic lines.
"Come all you believers but leave your books behind, your knowledge is wasted here for love there's always time..."

Formed from the remnants of Aussie 60's punk/r&b legends the Purple Hearts came The Coloured Ball's, a loud yobbo balls up rock n' roll band and darlings of the Downunder 70's youth cult known as the sharpies (more about them here).  I recently stumbled upon a Purple Hearts retrospective on iTunes with some Coloured Balls numbers tacked on, including this bludgeoning of the Steve Miller hit, delivered full speed ahead with a bit where they break into  The Mockingbird's "You Stole My Love" (an Aussie 60's hit for Steve Furber and The Bowery Boys), no doubt fueled by amphetamines and crates of Crown lager......

6. BOB DYLAN-"Lay Lady Lay"
Like most rock n' roll artists I like from the mid 60's 1968 is pretty much the benchmark when things got stale and shitty.  Bob Dylan's career is certainly no different.  I've tried very hard to get my head around "Nashville Skyline" to no avail but this number always gets me.  As a small child I remember my dad playing the crap out of it on the juke at a diner near where we lived in Maine. As an adult I've come to appreciate it's subtle pedal steel and understated grooviness.

The first three Undertones albums automatically propel me back to 1980-1983 and my youth where though it was not all fun and games  there were lots of fun moments, and none better sound tracked by the harmless, poppy, happy sounds of the boys from Derry.

8. GARNETT MIMMS-"As Long As I Have You"
One of my most sought after 45's is a U.K. only live pressing of this track where Mimms is backed by ace U.K. r&b musos The Senate (written and produced by Ben E. King, whom they also backed).  The original version though not as vibrant and rocking, is still amazing and comes from an LP of the same name he cut for United Artists.  The lyrics have always struck me as incredibly 'mod".  How about you?

9. MAKIN' TIME-"I Know What You're Thinking"
Okay show of hands, who here that was a mod in the 80's had a thing for Fay Hallam and was jealous to find out that that jammy bastard Graham Day from The Prisoners was her boyfriend? Our own Brian and Anita.  I too ahile to get into Makin' Time as they were, at times too polished.  Well that didn't last and I came around and played the crap out of this tune from their "No Lumps Or Fat Or Gristle Guaranteed" LP till a cassette arrived in the mail featuring....

My then girlfriend sent me a cassette tape of the new Bam Caruso Pretty Thing's '65-'67 LP compilation "Closed Restaurant Blues" in around late 1986 that opened with this monster changing my life forever and led me to utter "Makin' who?" and turned me onto the post r&b Pretty Things that I was otherwise unfamiliar with!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Jam 30 Years Gone

I still can remember it like it was yesterday, 16 year old on a cold boring Friday night in November (or was it December?)stuck home with fuck all else to do laying on my bed staring at the ceiling with my local college radio station WPRB on and the DJ  remarks that he'd just read that Paul Weller announced that The Jam were splitting up.  I wish I could say I was gutted, but I wasn't.  I worshipped The Jam and in a way I wanted them to go on forever but I was honestly so far up my own ass in teen angst that their existence was almost superficial to me.  In retrospect it marked the last contemporary band I devoutly followed in my life. Maybe I was broken up, I honestly don't know, I was more concerned with the usual shit a 16 year old thinks about: chicks, getting into with their parents, hating school and nearly everybody there.

Looking back the post "Sound Affects" Jam wasn't my favorite period, it wasn't then and it still isn't. Honestly I had more important things to listen to in 1982.  I'd fully absorbed nearly all of the 60's tracks The Who had to offer and was buying Small Faces LP comps with a ridiculous practice of obtaining them for a few tracks I didn't have and 60's Bowie was just around the corner as was The pink Floyd and a more in depth look at The Kinks.  When I play "The Gift" or any of the band's output from 1982 I'm left cold about a lot of it, the horn section in my estimation was the first indication it was going horribly wrong.  Certainly there ARE exceptions, The Kink's-ish "Just Who Is the 5 O'clock Hero?", the moody jazziness of "Shopping" (my fave '82 Jam track) or "Running on The Spot". Bands are never the same when you start adding new members or augmenting existing ones. I recoiled in horror the first time I'd heard "Precious" on a black and purple striped 12" maxi single (now there's an 80's anachronism for you).  It was like Pigbag for god's sake.  And that awful dreadful soprano saxophone.  Augh. Maybe it's best The Jam split because well, god knows they'd have gone to record "Long Hot Summer".  I still have the greatest respect for Weller for just walking away from it all, the only way he could've done it better was if maybe he'd walked up to the beach after their final gig in Brighton and kicked his shoes off on the shingle and walked straight into the ocean leaving a pair of loafers behind as the band's legacy.  Of course I'm being dramatic and symbolic, I'm not honestly suggesting Weller should've topped himself but I think you get what I'm driving at.  When an artist ceases to truly be inspired by what they're doing you become Pete Townshend and play the same tired boring shit for 50 years to the numb and dumb. In a way Weller ensured that wasn't happening.  Think about it, The Beatles and The Jam are perhaps only the two hugely successful bands I enjoy who said 'No!" every time the dreaded "reunion" issue was brought up.  I think that in itself speaks for something.  That said it couldn't have been easy for Messrs. Foxton and Buckler to carry on the show after knowing a pink slip awaited them (as evidenced by the "T.O.T.P." clip below where they look well and truly pissed off as Weller practices his soul-less white boy dance moves looking naked without a Rickenbacker to hang onto).

For the past 30 years there's been that ugly topic of Jam reunions.  I think Paul fobbing off suggestions of a Jam reunion are funny given the fact that he was on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" bashing out "Running On The spot" (the number the Jam opened with at the one and only gig I'd ever seen them do, Trenton War Memorial, May 1982) and peppers his sets with Jam tracks, but since he wrote all of them why the fuck not right?  For the longest time I was the world's biggest From The Jam basher. When they were due to come around I watched some live footage of them with some friends and we decided that for $17 it'd be worth it to check them out even if their lead singer is merely a first rate Paul Weller impersonator.  The tour was scrubbed though.....but I'm glad The Jam never reunited.  Band reunions are always spotty affairs that go go a variety of ways, all too often in a route that's not very positive. And I'm glad The Jam aren't on the list like that travesty out there now called The Zombies or one of those joke bands they never quit like the Rolling Stones.  I do feel for people who weren't old enough to see the real Jam or got into them too late or whatever the case may be but between Weller playing a set that's 10% Jam tunes and From The Jam playing at set that's 90% Jam tunes I think you can get an idea.  The Jam's break up wasn't the end of the world, it was a milestone in a way and a millstone for Paul Weller to shake.  Could The Jam have pulled off most of those early Style Council records? Indeed I'm certain, but I'm glad they didn't because I'll gladly take "Precious" (which I've kind of come to enjoy in bits...if I can blot out that Kenny G sax) any day over "The Money Go Round".

You can read about my Style Council experiences here and here and the most recent Weller gig I caught here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October's Pick's

1. BRUCE FOXTON-"Senses Of Summer"
I'm a bit confused by Bruce's new "solo" LP as it's basically Bruce and his two band mates in From The Jam, so much so that their lead singer Russell Hastings sings nearly all of the tracks, including this groovy Mellotron laden number that comes across like "Sound Affects" era Jam meets Plasticland jamming with The La's!

2. GENERATION X-"The Invisible Man"
One of the few tracks chopped off the American edition of their untitled debut LP (and replaced by lots of powerful 45 rpm A-sides) is this number that I've taken an instant like to it's '65 Who via 1977.  People are always on about how "mod" The Jam were in comparison to the rest of the Class of '77 and too many times overlook the image of this band who's music was just as much, if not more "mod" to my ears.

3. THE CREATION-"How Does It Feel To Feel (U.K. Version Mono)"One of my fave tracks by The Creation has always been this menacing ode to nightmares and death with it's pop art barrage of guitar power, thundering drums, ominous droning groove (topped off by a very Hendrix inspired guitar was '67 after all) and catchy powerful chorus "how does it feel to feel..."

4. PETER & GORDON-"Morning's Calling"Lois and Mole Embrook turned me onto this one, not what you'd expect from these guys, a really jangly folk rock number that wouldn't be at all out of place on the first Association album!

5. THE MOONS-"Jennifer (Sits Alone)"
One of the several groovy tracks on the latest "Mojo" freebie CD "Move On Up" (which in most cases I bin immediately) is another number that like the Bruce Foxton track listed at #1 benefits from Paul Weller's studio and Mellotron.  There's something about this number that has snatches of '67 Hollies or Paul and Barry Ryan's "Two Of A Kind" album (which is never a bad thing) that just bowls me over!

6. SCOTT WALKER-"The Look Of Love"From Scott's horribly rare (never reissued) 1969 long player "Scott Walker Sings Songs From His T.V. Series" comes his take on the Dusty Springfield "classic", though not a patch on old black eyes version Scott manages to pull it off because, well he was a crooner and his A&R folks were no slouches (and in some instances were the very same people who worked with Dusty).

7. HARDIN & YORK-"Little Miss Blue"
One of the MANY great things about RPM's "Looking Back" 3 CD set from earlier this year is it widened my knowledge about quite a few bands I'd never heard music by before like this ex-Specncer Davis Group Mk. II offshoot duo of Eddie Hardin & Pete York.  It's soulful Hammond grooviness is not to far removed from the S.D.G's '66-'67 mod/r&b pre-pop psych sound and thus easy to get my head around.

8. OTIS REDDING-"Look At That Girl"
Every now and then I stumble upon something playing at Starbucks that boggles my mind and luckily the "Shazam" app on my phone identifies it for me immediately (usually then progressing to an iTunes visit to purchase said tune).  Case in point this, Otis Redding track I'd never heard before from his posthumous 1969 album "Love Man" which was actually cut in '67, brilliant stuff.

9. YUSEF LATEEF-"The Plum Blossom"
I just finished reading Pete Townshend's autobiography last week and he mentioned this tune that Cat Stevens had nicked for "I Love My Dog" and duly tracked out down.  It's a pleasant track from his 1961 LP appropriately titled "Eastern Sounds" that seems to fit Autumn perfectly with his exotic sounding Chinese flute. According to Pete Yusef now gets royalties from the Cat Stevens track!

10. WILKO JOHNSON-"Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window"
Dr. Feelgood's string puller leaves behind the Mick Green homage style to go almost jangly/Byrdsy in this spirited take on a Dylan tune from his solid rocking 1981 solo LP "Ice On The Motorway". Totally out of character but full of character!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rudy's Dead

LITTLE GRANTS & EDDIE-Rudy's Dead/Everything Is Alright  U.S. President PT 107 1968

Filling the "we don't have a fucking clue" zone comes today's specimen.  This 1968 45 (1967 in it's original U.K. issue on President PT 159) is no doubt the work of Equals lead guitarist/song writer Eddie Grant.  One suspects by the title and credits that it was perhaps the case of fame opening the door for relatives.  I'd like to think Eddie called upon some younger siblings to make this record after he began riding high with The Equals.  But that as we say, is merely a stab in the dark.  Any enlightenment from those of you out there would be much appreciated.

"Rudy's Dead" sounds like a Musical Youth of 1968.  I don't mean that as a put down, it's certainly no "Pass The Dutchie" (and that my friends is a good thing).  What draws the comparison is the sound of the vocalists, they're obviously young kids but it's groovy with the spoken words (Prince Buster style) in patois about Rudy, who alas, is "dead and gone". The music has a distinct '67 rocksteady feel, but you can hear from the tone of the guitar that it's obviously Eddie Grant and perhaps his band mates and full on reggae, something The Equals would never dip their toes in. In fact the guitar line bears more than a striking resemblance to "Baby Come Back" in it's sounds.

"Everything is Alright" starts out with a groovy reggae-fied lick straight out of Stevie wonder's "I Was Made To Love Her" and sadly degenerates into a twee/fey number owing to the too youthful playground vocal antics of the Little Grants.  Grating.

I don't know if either side has ever been reissued, but copies of it, both U.S. or U.K. pressings seem fairly easy to come by.  They had one more single in the U.K. "Rocksteady '67" b/w "Bingo" (President PT 172 December 1967) which combines both the pro's of this A-side (good groove and Prince buster style toasting) and cons of the B-side (the childlike caterwauling).

Eddie Grant in between smelling the roses and producing Little Grants and Eddie.

Hear "Rudy's Dead":

Hear "Everything Is Alright":

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Big Jim Sullivan R.I.P.

We here at "Anorak Thing" are gutted to read of the passing of U.K. session guitar slinger extraordinaire Big Jim Sullivan.

Ten of the Most Monster 60's British Mod/R&B Records

Okay I'm sure a lot of you will debate with me about "mod R&B".  I could have just called it British R&B but that would've left it open to the "other" type like The Pretty Things or the Soul Agents played.  I'm talking about the soulful sort of R&B played by British bands who not only talked the talk but walked the walk by looking as cool as the music they spouted.  It wasn't easy choosing ten tunes from a genre that vies with 60's British psychedelia for my all time hands down fave type of music to listen to but here it goes.....all selections are U.K. issues b.t.w.

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1. THE LLOYD ALEXANDER REAL ESTATE-"I'm Gonna live Again" President PT 157 1967
Holy cow Batman! After a good 30 years of digging U.K. 60's mod-ish sounds I am consistently impressed that there are still tracks out there from the genre that I have never heard and this one is a perfect example. To me it perfectly encapsulates everything "mod": soulful horns, ska rhythms, groovy Hammond, powerful key changes. strong backing vocals and poppy yet assertive lead vocals. Magic. Pure magic.

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2. THE EYES OF BLUE-"Don't Ask Me To Mend Your Broken Heart" Deram DM 114 1967
No band better exemplifies this piece than these Welsh blue eyed soul belters who achieved just two brilliant 45's in this vein for Deram before getting heavy and going "progressive", a phrase that is the bane of mod/r&b in my (narrow) book. This was the flip of their final single, the much in demand soul stormer "Supermarket Full Of Cans".

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3. THE QUIK-"Soul Full Of Sorrow" Deram DM 155 1967
All three of this band's 45's are smoking and all three of them will set you back quite a bit.  Best known for their Small Faces on dexy's Hammond instro classic "Bert's Apple Crumble" this was the flip of their third and final Deram 45 "I Can't Sleep" that perfectly mixes their sax/organ groove perfectly with just a sprinkle of freakiness.

4. THE GASS-"Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)" CBS 202647 1967
Yet another band with three excellent singles (among them a killer swipe at Jimmy Holliday's "The New Breed"), this was their third and final installment, a soulful reworking of Roy Orbison's hit redone with sassy horns and organ underpinnings.

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5. THE RICHARD KENT STYLE-"Go Go Children" Columbia DB 7964 1966
Angel trumpets and devil's trombones!  This single is the archetype example of where soulful mod r&B met the sinister side of freakbeat.  The horns are like a mutant clarion calling on the freaks in the mod scene to come out from their crevices and groove, the "My Generation" of the "out crowd" generation with it's looping bass line, "Hall Of The Mountain King" style horns and ballsy vocal delivery.

6. THE LOOSE ENDS-"Taxman" Decca F12476 1966
I've no idea who these guys were but their take on the fabulous Fab Four "Revolver" track has the danceable organ groove of the Spencer Davis Group and the sneering punkiness of an early Who record (with SOUL!). Their second and final single, released the very same days as the LP it was taken from!

7. THE BUNCH-"We're Not What We Appear To Be" CBS 202506 1967
Though from the year of all things psychedelic, and these lot certainly dipped their oars in the great pop-psych lake on their latter CBS 45's, though the first two (this was the second) firmly embraced a good dose of soul mod r&b with Hammond and horns.  This track is an essential "go-go" ode to night life and all things flash and stylish delivered like The Animals circa '66 being backed by Georgie Fame's horn section.

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8. THE ELASTIC BAND-"8 1/2 Hours Of Paradise" Decca F 12815 1968
True these cats were a bunch of longhairs who released a pretty heavy Decca/Nova LP in later days but their two Decca 45's are precision produced hand clapping, Hammond, mod soul.  Have a listen and tell me I'm wrong!

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9. DOUBLE FEATURE-"Baby Get Your Head Screwed On" Deram DM 115 1967
From the pen of fellow Deram artist Mr. Cat Stevens comes this groover with horns, soulful piano/vibes, bongos, strings and even a fuzz guitar chiming with the sax! This was their first release and never fails to disappoint in my book!

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10. THE UNIVERSALS-"Green Veined Orchids" Page One POF 049 1967
A brilliant bit of Small Faces second album styled "soulful psych" ("psych" in lyrics only as this number packs a powerful horn section).  Both of this bands Page One 45's are worth picking up in the ghost of a chance you have of finding them.  This is my favorite of them both!

Monday, September 24, 2012

September's Picks

1. The Four Tops-"Walk Away Rene"
The Four Tops pulled off quite a few covers of "contemporary" tracks like no one else could thanks to the power of Levi Stubb's.  Shit he could sing the ingredients from the side of a cornflakes box and make it sound good, but their "pop" covers period is no better exemplified by any other track than this!

2. Dexy's Midnight Runners-"Tell Me When My Light Turns Green"
We here at "Anorak Thing" will always hold a torch for pre-"Come On Eileen" Dexy's perfectly illustrated by this soulful number full of their trademark ballsy horn section.

3. The Pretty Things-"Defecting Grey"
The Pretties managed a few brilliant seven inch moments between their much maligned but fucking amazing "Emotions" LP and the somewhat overrated "S.F. Sorrow" epic.  This was one of them, quite lysergic and convincingly at that, aided in no small part due to the production of Norman Smith, also responsible for similar miracles with the very first Pink Floyd album.

4. Andy Lewis-"Mr. Camera"
"Don't wanna be a teacher, don't wanna be a preacher don't want to be a painterman, don't wanna be a pilot in the Royal Air Forece dropping bombs on the Taliban.....but I quite like spending my money on second hand clothes and LP's...". Amen.

5. The Babyshambles-"Delivery"
My pal Dave Woj from The Insomniacs shared a bunch of CD's by these guys a bit back.  I'd been skeptical but dove into them with an open mind and was suitably impressed, especially by this punchy "Kinks updated" style track, a formula Dave's band perfected long before Pete Doherty smoked his first ciggie.

6. Manfred Mann-"Trouble And Tea"
One of the beautiful things about living near a groovy used record store is you never know what you'll score there.  Well I stumbled upon a $9.99 Japanese CD of  the Manfred's first Mike D'Abo era LP "As Is" (with both stereo and mono mixes) and couldn't pass it up as it'd been on my Amazon wish list for eons.  And wow, this mono mix of this tune contains an entire flute track I'd never heard before and additional un-heard guitar/organ licks that make the number even better than it was in stereo!

7. XTC-"In Another Life"
Cheers to my pal Matt for hipping me to XTC's "Wasp Star" CD, which after a few serious listens becomes their first long player (bar their two Dukes of Stratosphear LP's) I've enjoyed since 1982's "English Settlement".  This track indeed has the kitchen sink drama and jauntiness that would've been right at home on the previously mentioned platter. And of course it's 12 years old there's no danger in me liking something "contemporary".

8. The Prisoners-"Melanie"
The Prisoners are one of those rare bands from the 80's that stood the test of time because they were never "too mod", never "too garage" (their Englishness obviously making them impenetrable to all the comic book 80's American garage scene stereotypes) and above all were masters of their instruments.  Yeah they nicked a few tunes here and there but they rocked as this video clip from 1983 proves!

9. Booker T & The M.G.'s-"Something"
It's own up time kids.  I'll admit here and now I've long avoided "McLemore Avenue" because, well I pretty much disdain any post '67 stuff the Fab's did bar a track or two here and there so why would I enjoy the Memphis foursome doing the whole "Abbey Road"?  Well that still holds true but I must say I do dig their treatment of this number, which in it's original form is the template for my dislike of all things Fab Four post psychedelia.

10. Barbara Streisand-"Our Corner Of the Night"
Stumbled on this reading the set sale list on this cool site run by the cat behind this VERY cool blog.
Who'd have thought Babs had it in her?  This 1968 A-side sounds like Reparta and The Delrons cutting a disc with Sandie Shaw!  Wowee!
Babs and her "natural look" in the 60's.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cool Foreign E.P.'s Part 46: Wet Seats In The Front Row!

THE MERSEYBEATS-"Merseybeats On Stage" Long Tall Sally/I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry/Shame/You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover U.K. Fontana TE 17422 1964

Monday, September 10, 2012

Geno! Geno! Geno! Geno!

GENO WASHINGTON AND THE RAM JAM BAND-Water/Understanding/HI! Hi! Hazel/Beach Bash PYE France PNV 24178 1966 

Geno Washington. 60's American "legend" on the British 60's night life club circuit.  Darling to soul happy British mods (often deprived of the "real thing").  Subject of Dexy's Midnight Runner's 1980 45 anthem/tribute "Geno" (and first brought to my attention in a 1980 music magazine article on Dexy's).  You don't meet a lot of Geno Washington fans.  To many (myself included) he was a product of a fearful British record label that knew they didn't have a ghost of a chance of matching American soul/r&b hits and in a sometimes shoddy manner decided they would issue their own "homegrown" version, unfortunately more times then often this involved inferior versions of American stormers.  In a way I felt bad for the British mod/soul 60's fanatics.  Here in the States we had Motown/Stax/Chess acts live galore.  They got a couple of Motown and Stax package tours and Geno butchering "She Shot A Hole In My Soul".

Unlike fellow American ex-pat ex servicemen working the U.K. circuit like Herbie Goins, Geno didn't really have the pipes.  I often wonder if John Schroeder and the people at Piccadilly were like "He's black and he's an American, that'll do, find him a tight backing band and we'll run with it". A lot of his material was often third rate covers of American soul tracks "You Got Me Hummin'" for example (or the above mentioned painful Clifford Curry track).  Live his backing band were the shit as they say: tight, wailing, but again for all his enthusiasm Geno wasn't much of a front man in the lead vocal department.  His vinyl studio sessions expose the flaws in his even more.

Today's copy was his first French E.P. (actually once owned by the DJ Emperor Rosko! See scan below) that compiled his first two Piccadilly U.K. 45's : "Water"/"Understanding" (Piccadilly 7N 35312, April 1966) and "Hi Hi Hazel"/"Beach Bash" (Piccadilly 7N 35329, July 1966) .

"Water" has a solid backing and Geno's voice isn't bad.  Geno himself swore that his recorded live gigs were always better than the studio sessions but I beg to differ.  Without John Schroeder's guiding hand in the studio (he produced virtually all of their 60's studio sessions for Piccadilly/Pye) things were toned down and his voice was kept in check, live he could go beyond his already modest limitations.  "Understanding", not to be confused with The S.F's gem of the same name is my fave on the E.P.  With a nice organ/sax groove backing it on top of a pumping bass line it's easily danceable and well within Geno's ability.  "Hi Hi Hazel" is possibly one of the worst songs ever written. no matter who's doing it's an abomination: Gary & The Hornets, The Troggs, Geno and the boys included....  "Beach Bash" is better known to everyone as "Bush Bash" by The Markeys .  My assumption is that in the spirit of the 60's with Geno having a sizable mod contingent following in light of of the Brighton/Clacton/Margate punch up's it would be clever to rename the number "Beach Bash".  Whereas the original relies on a soulful organ beginning lapsing into a jazzy sax bit then Steve Cropper's twangy Telecaster string pulling The Ram Jam Band pump it up a bit (dexy's?) and leave out the organ solo making it a showcase for the bands twin saxophone attack that resembles a '79 ska record and the guitarist giving it a little Link Wray action before, interestingly swinging the whole band into a ska rhythm!
Geno Washington & Co. rocking out at their home base, The Marquee 1966

All four of the E.P.'s tracks can be found on a variety of CD's. I have them on a double CD "My Bombers My Dexy's My Highs:The Sixties Studio Sessions", which though two discs is a bit much Geno for anyone, can be found on the cheap quite easily.

Witness the mediocrity that is "Hi Hi Hazel":


"Beach Bash":

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Autumn Of Love: The Troggs

THE TROGGS-Love Is All Around/When Will The Rain Come U.S. Fontana F-1607 1967

I usually get a lot of stick for liking certain tunes that have been played too many times. One of them is The Troggs "Love Is All Around". Sadly it's all too often lumped in with all of that "Summer of Love" headbands and hippy shit. But for four lads from Andover they were having none of it.  In "Mojo" the man himself Reg Presley mused

"I got back from America, I smelt the Sunday lunch cooking, phawwww, after about 25 years on burgers, I kissed my wife, my little daughter, four years old. We went into the lounge and those Salvation Army girls, The Joystrings, were on television banging their tambourines and signing something like "love,love, love".  I went over to turn it off, knelt down and got a bass line in my head and I got it."

Regardless of how dreadful it's become thanks to a version by some crap 90's band that somehow became a staple of every equally crap wedding (Had it played at your wedding?  You're a knob!) the number still resonates with me. I remember the first time I bought a 45 of it (see above) the first thing that got me were the strings.  Amazing.  The melody, the bass line and those damned chilling strings get me every time and I'm back watching the sun set in that rinky dink little room on the second floor with Continential soldier wall paper and fold up stereo watching the sun set through a drafty old window.  And the band made a wiggy little promo film that summed it all up; weird, sunny, leering, foil coated spirit of '67 (no one had Hendrix perms luckily!).

Love is all around for Pete Staples, Reg Presley steals a kiss....

Flip it over and you've got a powerful number which despite my owning this 45 since the mid/late 70's I did not get my head around until at least ten years ago! "When Will The Rain Come" marks Ronnie Bond's vocal 7" debut.  He also penned the number.  Delivered beneath a hypnotic almost raga scale style guitar and deep near Gregorian chant vocals it's unlike anything you've ever heard those fellas do, I think, to a degree that's where it's charm lies.

Both sides are available in a variety of places, I suggest the CD reissue of their LP "Cellophane" (issued in tandem with the following LP "Mixed Bag"). We here at "Anorak Thing" would like to wish lead singer Reg godspeed in his battle against lung cancer and hope he's in remission and out there belting them ouit once again!

U.K. issue
Hear "When Will The Rain Come":

Monday, August 27, 2012

August's Picks

Well after a week of frolicking in the Atlantic with the Anorak family I have returned. To add to the summer's end feel of our holiday in the sea, sand and sun I've chosen ten tracks that played through my mind as I grew red, tasted salt water through my nostrils and heard the sounds of sea gulls, crashing waves and children's screeches...........

1. KALEIDSCOPE-"Holiday Maker"
"The white surf is breaking softly on the sand and the seagulls try for the bread that's in your hand but you don't understand for why they cry you're a holiday man with the sunshine in your eyes..."

2. TURQUOISE-"The Sea Shines"
An unreleased number from a brilliant quartet from Muswell Hill who released two brilliant 45's on Decca, this one would've made an excellent single!

3. THE HUMAN INSTINCT-"Death Of The Seaside"
Jaunty quintessential Kinks '67 style ditty from a group of Kiwi expats summing up the season's end with Nicky Hopkin's style ivory tinkling.

4.THE BEACH BOYS-"Catch A Wave"
You can't have sea, sun and sand without the Garcons De La Plage!

5. THE FRESH WINDOWS-"Summer Sun Shines"The A-side of the famous "Fashion Conscious" is this delightful little romp dedicated to sunshine in an archetype '67 sing along style .

6. THE PYRAMID-"The Summer Of Last Year"I've babbled enough about this 45 elsewhere numerous times, still a summer favorite!

7. THE WHO-"Drowned"
"Let me get back to the ocean, let me get back to the sea, let me calm and let me be strong and the tide can set me free...."

8. THE GUN-"Sunshine"
Mantra-esque (it basically only has one verse repeated over and over) driving rocker found on the flip of their "hit" tune "Race With The Devil", simplistic yet heavy without being tedious, in my book anyway.

9. GABOR SZABO-"Summertime"
Groovy offering by my fave jazz guitarist in his own un-inimitable raga style, jazzy, trippy (in a lysergic kinda way) and in depth without being over indulgent.

10. THE KINKS-"End Of The Season"
Sums it all up rather succinctly does it not?

Anoraks on holiday.........

Friday, August 3, 2012

Donovan, dried banana peels and my intro to flower power.

DONOVAN-Mellow Yellow/Sunny South Kensington U.S. Epic 5-10098 1966
What we have here is a much treasured item from my childhood that I've managed to hang onto. Back in 1977 or so my friend was happy to share his dad's battered and forgotten 45's with me (though I'm not sure why they were so "VG" or "VG-", the singles were only 11 years old, my Embrooks 45's are that old and still in tip top shape! Guess his folks, like mine, weren't much on record care).  In my pursuit of all things British I came into possession of this.  My first Donovan 45 was a reissue on Epic's "Memory Lane" label where they'd paste two hits on a single with a suitably hippy flower label (see below).  My mind was blown and my little stereo (if you could call it that, a turntable that flipped down between to speakers and all folded up like a suitcase) played "Mellow Yellow" 24/7.  I played it for everyone.  My mother's eldest sister (my favorite aunt) was unimpressed (older and not a rock n' roll fan she remarked "I liked this better when it was "I'm Just Wild About Harry" intimating that Donno nicked it), most of my friends thought it was "weird" but this idiot son of a mom's friend (one of those awkward childhood things where two friends decided their children should be friends too) decided there was something to the lyrics and soon someone told him it was about smoking dried banana peels to get high.  Later on his mom complained to mine that she'd found banana peels under his bed that he admitted he was drying to "smoke like the song *****  ****** played me".  The older and wiser, savvy girl Pam up the street assured us it was about a vibrator ( I wasn't old or cheeky enough to ask Pam for a demonstration).  I decided I'd ask my Uncle Bill, who was married to my dad's only sibling (who herself had contributed a bevvy of 60's "British Invasion" 45's to my "cause").  He was a hip guy with wiry hair and a Fu Manchu, not unlike a 1968 Roy Wood.  He assured me that all of these were incorrect and that if I really liked the song it should be about whatever I wanted it to be about because "as way out as Donovan was he'd probably want it that way too". Fair enough!

Scan c/o

Well let's cut to the song . "Mellow Yellow" was Donovan's second U.S. single as the "new Donovan" having ditched his folkie, boho denim Dylan bit and got with it. Released in the States in October '66 (Britons would have to wait till February '67 to hear it due to some litigation issues) it rode the crest of new progressive British records that wasn't beat music and mop top haircuts, this was proto flower power. With some brilliant brass work care of the mighty arranging skills of John Paul Jones Donovan takes us on a trip that's one third Swinging London proto hippy, one third jazz/beatnik hipster and one third kiff cloud magic (magik?) as he sings in a laid back "couldn't-give-a-shit" tone. There's even a "guest" bit by Macca who can distinctly be heard uttering "yell-o" in the break in the bit where the sound of party revelry can be heard (from smoking too much dried bannana skins?) during the brilliant brass segment. Regardless of what it is about people here in the States dug it, heavily, and it went to #2 in the pop charts.

Another still from the great lost wiped from the BBC footage category

On the flipside we have the brilliant "Sunny South Kensington", one of my favorite Donovan tracks where he name checks Jean Paul Belmondo, Mary Quant and Allen Ginsberg whilst mentioning Cromwell Road and Portobello, all delivered in rapid fire beat poetry prose style singing.  The track is driven along by some kitschy harpsichord and a funky organ solo that fades into a groovy bit of bluesy ivory tinkling.

Both sides are available on the indispensable "Mellow Yellow" LP (also available in "deluxe" edition with alternate mixes, etc).

British pressing c/o

Hear "Sunny South Kensington":

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July's Picks

1. JACQUES DUTRONC-"Les Responsables"
The time has come for my self imposed ban on this number to be lifted now that the snotty, grubby little neo-mod hipsters who played it to death have moved on to whatever it is these sort of types enjoy leaving it back with who it started with: old dogs like me.

2. PETE SHELLY-"Homosapien"
Thanks to my pal Vince Grogan who reminded me how great this tune was/is after forgetting about it for well over two decades!  Despite it's weak sister new wave synth dabblings it has enough balls to still rock!

3. THE PRISONERS-"Shine On Me"
How unfortunate it was that when The Prisoners briefly reformed in 1997 for this one single it was one half Inspiral Carpets, one half The Charlatans, two bands that would have never existed had it not been for these guys.  Despite somewhat heavy commercial overtones this track works even if they've done better.

Dear lord can it really be nearly 31 years ago that I first heard this tune on WNEW's "British things" where every Friday they played the Top 20 tracks from the U.K. charts?!  It still holds up thanks to the powerful brass and Cope's vocals.

5. PETE TOWNSHEND-"Uniforms"
"On my parka is some band I don't really understand....".  In 1982 P.T. speaks to a 15 year old Anorak Thing and I listen.....

6. THE BARRACUDAS-"Summer Fun"
Flashback, last day of school 1982 and straight to the beach with the gang of misfits with this track from their classic "Drop Out with..." LP blaring away on the boombox all day long.  The "ba ba ba's" still get me every time.

7. JOHN MAYALL-"Suspicions"
This is what Georgie Fame would've sounded like in '67 if he hadn't dropped r&b like a hot potato to run off to CBS who were shaking a fistful of cash at him. Driving horns, just a subtle bluesy solo without overdoing it and some impassioned vocals from Mayall who sings it like he means it.

8. THE REMO FOUR-"Live like A Lady"
Sadly their final 45, shame as they were just starting to get freaky and the flip, a version of Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Sing Hallelujah" sounds like what Pink Floyd would've sounded like had they attempted straight ahead jazz! Comes complete with quaint Elizabethan pianette solo before ploughing back into the heavy freakbeat groove!

9. MIKE PATTO-"Love"
I just noticed how "off" the tambourine is on this number but that doesn't stop me from digging it! This 45 is essentially the final Bo Street Runners single but credited to their second lead singer Mike Patto, a poppy little slice of soulful stirrings sowing the seeds to Timebox's blue eyed soul.

10. HOUSE OF FIRE-"The King's English"
Somewhere between Ride, '67 Pink Floyd, ex-Lord John studio only duo The Narc Twins and The Dukes of Stratosphear comes this jaunty little track from a four piece from rural Pennsylvania from their recent self produced, untitled CD E.P. that sounds positively delightful!

House Of Fire live 7/21/12