Monday, February 6, 2012

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The First Gear

THE FIRST GEAR-A Certain Girl/Leave My Kitten Alone U.S. Mar Mar 315 1965

One of the fave topics of conversation among us U.S. anoraks is oddball U.K./Euro 45's that garnered an obscure release over here in the States like the Richard Kent Style and Buzz 45's on Coral (more on both of those soon I promise), The Motions single on Congress and a host of others.

Today's topic was released in the U.K. originally as Pye 7N15703 in October 1964 (it would be the first of two 45's by The First Gear).  For some oddball reason it came out here in the States on the Mar Mar label (the label also issued a 45 of "Night Train", Mar Mar 313, by session drummer and Beatle stand in Jimmy Nicol). The record was produced by Shel Talmy and his favorite session guitar player Jimmy Page contributed guitar, his distinct volume pedal style can easily be discerned both sides of the record. "A Certain Girl", written by Allen Toussaint, was first recorded by Big Easy favorite son Ernie K. Doe as the A-side to his 1961 Minit 45 634 (and in the U.K. as the 1962 B-side to "I Cried My Last Tear", London  HLP 9487).  The Paramounts and the Yardbirds had both previously released the number as a B-side track.  In the U.K. it first backed The Paramounts version of "Little Bitty Pretty One" in February 1964 on Parlophone R 5107 and was found on the flip of the Yardbirds debut, "I Wish You Would" on Columbia DB 7283 in May of 1964.  The First Gear's version is fairly decent, with some nice zooming/driving bass and beat group style backing vocals culminating with a nice classic mid 60's J.P. session man solo.  The flip. "Leave My Kitten Alone", originally cut by Little Willie John back in 1959 on the amazing King label (45-5219) is unique because The First Gear were the first band in the U.K. to commit it to vinyl. The Fab Four had played it in their Cavern days and included it in a '64 BBC session and even recorded a  version during the recording of what ultimately would be their "Beatles For Sale" LP (the number was never issued).  The First Gear's version is by far the most way out of them all with it's amphetamine driven pace, Page's blistering licks (dig the way out solo) ad the manic delivery.  It was also a highlight of the legendary "Pebbles Vol. 6: The Roots of Mod" British 60's r&b compilation album.

"A Certain Girl" was reissued on Sequel's "Doin' The Mod Volume Three: Maximum R&B" CD and along with "Leave My Little Kitten Alone" turned up on Castle's Jimmy Page sessions compilation "Hip Young Guitar Slinger".

Hear "A Certain Girl":

Hear "Leave My Little Kitten Alone":

******45 label scan courtesy of Haim Kenig **********

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