Thursday, May 31, 2012


THE ACTION-Never Ever/Twenty Four Hours (sic) Holland Parlophone R 5572 1967

I don't own it, but I wish I did. Picture sleeve scan courtesy of Reynaldo Moldonando.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Clapton Is God ! (?): Mayall USA Part Two

JOHN MAYALL AND THE BLUESBREAKERS Featuring ERIC CLAPTON-I'm Your Witch Doctor/Telephone Blues U.S. Immediate ZS7-502 1967
Well I don't know if I buy that, but it sounds good right?! That's what was alleged to appear dabbed on walls in London in '66 when Eric Clapton was John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers new guitar slinger having fully joined in April 1965. this single was originally issued in the U.K. as Immediate IM 012 in October 22, 1965 crediting "John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers (and later relaunched again by Immediate in September 1967 as IM 051 crediting "John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton" as did today's postings  American pressing) .  It was John Mayall's third 45 and "God's" first with Mayall and Co. The session for both sides was produced by Jimmy Page, who at the time was doing quite a bit of dial twiddling for Andrew Loog Oldham's new label (among them 45's by Nico, The Fifth Avenue etc).

The line up at the time was the same as the famous "Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton" ( U.K. Decca  LK 4804 July 22 1966 and U.S. London LL 3492 mono and PS 492 stereo 1967) album: Mayall (vocals, harp, keyboards), Clapton on guitar, John McVie (bass) and Hughie Flint (drums). It also marks not only the vinyl debut of Eric Clapton with the band but Mayall's new Hammond organ as well.

"I'm Your Witch Doctor" is classic Bluesbreakers, from Mayall's Hammond intro note segueing into Clapton's blistering guitar licks to Mayall's bluesy lead vocals.  The jazzy swing is undercut by the blues based guitar licks and it all works very well indeed thanks to the nifty little stops and Mayall vocalising along with his organ trills. For me it marks the end of the band's classic British r&b "Flamingo jazz" style before they became an all out "blues rock" group.

"Telephone Blues" is not as swinging in my book. It's sadly traipsing into the B.B. King turf that quite honestly bores me when it's being recycled by a batch of British blues devotees.

Both sides are available on a variety of places since Immediate stuff has been reissued very heavily, more often than not illegally. If you're concerned with legit products there's the double CD "Immediate Pleasure" of various tracks for the label that contains the A-side

Hear "I'm Your Witch Doctor":

Hear "Telephone Blues":

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Somewhere In New York:Paul Weller Live 5/19/12

When I got word that Paul Weller would be coming to NYC for two nights I decided I'd go.  After two decades of what can best be described as either hit or miss or partial to near ambivalence about his material I'd been suitably jolted by his  "Wake Up The Nation" LP (us old folks still call them LP's) to want to have a look.  After all "Wake Up The Nation" was to me, the best Weller product I'd heard since 1980's "Sound Affects", true story.  A month later after purchasing tickets for the fellas and I he launched his new LP "Sonik Kicks".  I had a problem.  After numerous listens I could not get my head around it save it's Ultravox-like opener "Green".  So it was with much trepidation that the Likely Lads (my gang of men friends) set off for the Big Apple....

Weller NYC gigs have always had an interesting cross section in my limited experience (I've seen two, both in NYC).  I hadn't been to a Weller gig since 1992 or 1993 but the demographic hadn't changed too much (although there was a distinct absence of any "mods" this time around, bar some of my band of merry men and I am happy to report that the NYC scruffy Brit pop/Indie mods are gone or at least absent from Weller gigs ).  There were the rich Euro/Brit jetsetters who flew over just for the gig and told everyone and sundry about it, those dedicated Wellerites who'd follow everything he did and probably pine for his unreleased "house" Style Council LP, those sad fuckers who go to bed every night praying one day they'll log on and discover he's patched it up with Bruce and Rick and then there's what "Mojo" faithfully described as:
"fortysomething year old men in Fred Perry tops, arms folded wondering what arty mini-suites like "Trees" are playing at".
Though in NYC they all seemed to be wearing gingham Ben Sherman's! On my way to the gents during the riot girlll opening band (my pal Kevin mused "They've seen The Runaways movie and formed a band") I bumped into Andy Lewis, Weller's bassist and all round cool guy (AND an amazing musician in his own right who's Acid Jazz releases have garnered more iPod time in Anorak Thing Manor than his employer.  Andy assured me that despite what I felt about "Sonik Kicks" that I'd possibly appreciate it live and that I should keep an open mind and that there'd be much more than the new LP and promised an enjoyable two and a half hours of music ahead of us.  He did not lie on any count!

Weller and band took the stage to a greeting that equalled the sound all the Chelsea fans made in the Belgian bar we'd been at a few hours earlier when they trounced Munich.   Kicking in with "Green" the place and mood was electric.  Resplendent in a kipper tie, immaculate Weller hair and a suit with lapels large enough to carry him to the Falklands with a strong headwind the man wielded an Epiphone solid body and looked high on playing.  I will own up and admit that Andy was right, "Sonik Kicks" did indeed sound brilliant live!  My highlights of the "Sonik Kicks" set were (beyond the stellar opener): the string quartet and trippy Floydian '67 effects on "Sleep Of The Serene" segueing into "By The Waters" where I saw for the first time in the 30 years I've been going to see him live, Paul Weller perched atop a stool clutching a microphone while Steve Craddock in the absolute coolest fucking double breasted suit I've ever seen strummed an acoustic and immaculately arranged string section did their thing.  Then there was the Melodica laced "Study In Blue" (with a guest spot by Mrs. Weller Hannah on vocals) with it's "Armagideon Time" extended dub reggae swatches towards the end and the "Interstellar Overdrive" meets "Tomorrow Never Knows" screamadelia of "Drifters" that was absolutely trippy.

The band came back for an acoustic set that saw all band six members perched on stools and all but Andy strumming acoustic guitars (Andy had a groovy Epiphone semi acoustic bass).  The set opened with "The Butterfly Collector", which actually worked well and of course sent the Jam deprived members of the audience into insanity and included one of my fave "early" Weller solo tunes "Out Of The Sinking". 

Off they went and came back for an electric set, electric in more ways than one with punchy versions of my faves like "From The Floorboards Up", "Stanley Road" (with Weller on electric piano) and "22 Dreams" which until tonight I'd never paid any mind to and is now a favorite!  "Foot Of The Mountain" became a bit "jam bandy" (and not in the Woking three piece sense) but kept shorter than I'd seen it played before and my faves from the previous LP like "Wake Up The Nation" and "Fast Car/Slow Traffic" kicked out the jams.  Sadly there was no "7 + 3 Is The Strikers Name" (which he'd played the previous night or so I read). 

The band beat an exit and returned to a thunderous encore.  By now a flatulent German my age or older  had violated my personal circle space and beyond his noxious odor I had to contend with his fist pumping and juvenile jumping up and down and flailing limbs with near childish enthusiasm. Encore #1 brought more "old" solo faves like "Into Tomorrow" which brought me back to being a demobbed soldier in the Summer of '91 and hearing this new and interesting "Weller solo debut" and another "old" solo fave "The Changingman" (aka E.L.O.'s "10538 Overture").  There was a second encore.  By now I was weighing the issues of ruining a $1,300 suit and traumatizing my family by getting locked up for assault as the German had now taken to swinging the handkerchief which he'd been mopping his balding head with all night and I contemplated seizing it and wrapping it around his neck from behind in a low horse stance to gain control of his balance.  When the second and final encore brought "Town Called Mallice" der arschloch was in full on idiot dancing cuming in his pants mode and I was in no mood to enjoy it.  Maybe it was also the weird sing along frenzy that swept the venue and caused me to suddenly feel as I did when I took my wife to see Crosby and Nash for her B-day and all the 60+ hippies caterwauled out of key to every favorite: nauseated.  Not at all by the band or even their decision to play the track but by the corniness of the sing along "oldies" feel the night suddenly had taken with thousands of hands reaching into the air and swaying like they'd seen the messiah and wanted a piece of him.  I suddenly found it odd that Weller as a practice, disowns Jam reunion talk but here's several thousand people crooning along off key to possibly the best known Jam tune in their a difference my friends?  You tell me. But no matter what it wasn't going to piss on my parade that was, as Andy promised, an amazing two and a half hour evening!

Sonik Kicks Set
1. Green
2. The Attic
3. Kiling I Klang
4. Sleep Of The Serene
5. By The Waters
6. That Dangerous Age
7. Study In Blue
8. Dragonfly
9. When Your Garden's Overgrown
10. Around The Lake
11. Twilight
12. Drifters
13. Paperchase
14. Be Happy Children

Acoustic Set
15. The Butterfly Collector
16. Out Of The Sinking
17. Aim High
18. All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)
19. You Do Something To Me
20. Devotion

Electric Set
21. Moonshine
22. From The Floorboards Up
23. 22 Dreams
24. Stanley Road
25. Foot Of the Mountain
26. Wake Up The Nation
27. Fast Car/Slow Traffic
28. Echoes Round the Sun
29. Whirlpool's End

Encore #1
30. Pieces Of A Dream
31. Into Tomorrow
32. The Changingman

Encore #2
33. A Town Called Malice

Monday, May 21, 2012

May's Picks

1. KILBURN & THE HIGH ROADS-"Billy Bentley"
I stumbled upon these guys back when "Mojo" did a roots of punk CD about 6-7 years ago (after seeing their PRT 10" floating around for all of 25-30 years and thinking they looked sorta cool on the sleeve).  I went whole hog on these guys shortly after investigating further, much to the determent of Madness, who owe pretty much 85% of their early sound to these guys!

2. FIRST CREW TO THE MOON-"The Sun Lights Up The Shadows Of Your Mind"
You can fill a paper cup with what I know about U.S. 60's music as I've been into the English thing since before I can remember so every now and then I hear a track by a U.S. 60's band that is not only new to my ears but blows me away.  I heard this on a freebie "Mojo" magazine CD (unlike the shit ones they've been doing the past five years or entire CD of no name cover versions of tunes from "Smile" REALLY?!?) of U.S. 60's garage/psych tracks called "I Can See For Miles" and it's a perfect mix of Farfisa propelled garage punk tainted with the technicolor hand of L.S.D.

3. THE STRANGLERS-"English Towns"
"There is no love inside of me, I gave it to a thousand girls...". Good old Stranglers, one of the brilliant sides on "No More Heroes", setting them above the pretty much nil talent, New York Dolls aping and gobbing safety pin crowd.

I've no idea who these guys were and I've dug this track since 1985 when I first heard it on a cassette of one of the Red Rooster's 60's radio shows called "Mod Mondays" from WNYU, I'm 100% sure they're American.  Primal garage punk with all the ingredients.

5. CAROLE KING-"Pleasant Valley Sunday"
I was in Barnes & Noble last week browsing and I heard what I thought was The Mamas and The Papas covering "Pleasant Valley Sunday", thanks to Shazam on my smartphone I found out it was actually Carole King's demo, and I still liked it!

6. THE TROGGS-"When Will The Rain Come"
"Cellophone" was The Troggs 3rd U.K. album and bore fruit that didn't necessarily include their usual 3 chord Kinks formula, like this hypnotic near raga sung by their drummer, the late Ronnie Bond.

7. GENE CLARK-"I Found You"
Back in the mid 80's when Edsel reissued "Gene Clark with The Gosdin Brothers" on vinyl I was pretty well steeped in Byrds material and the LP floored me more than anything I'd heard from The Byrds, and still does in some way no doubt aided by amazingly crafted tracks like this one!

8. THE FOUR TOPS-"You Keep Running Away"
All too often I overlook American 60's sounds in my lifelong quest for all things old and British, lucky a certain Sun Dried Sparrow from the U.K. recently shared a CD-R with this brilliant track that I'd never heard before from '67 that is one of the reasons The tops are my fave Motown act: boss vocals, stellar arrangement with strings, horns and baroque harpsichord.  Brilliant!

9. RAY DAVIES-"Stand Up Comic"
Every now and then R.D. pulls off a decent "solo" tune, like this.  I stumbled on this watching a Ray documentary on YouTube and it blew me away with it's "The Cat" meets "One Mint Julep" groove with loads of lad-ish mockery delivered rapid fire, witty, jazzy and of course cleverly. In the 60's Ray wrote about what he saw and sometimes taking the piss at a what he saw, this time it's the rapidly degenerating world (England) that he claims he sees around him in interviews so often with the Chavs and "lad culture" he seems so concerned about.

10. IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS-"Sweet Gene Vincent"
It's Ian Dury month here......."White face, black shirt, black hair, white Strat, Bled white, died black"

And because I can't type, spell or count...

11. ANDY LEWIS-"Barney's Theme"
No let up in this cat's set up: a swanky and soulful instrumental (of sorts if you exclude the only lyrics, a chorus that goes "Hey there everybody dance now, get yourself together..")  that's got it all: horns, muzaky 70's synth solo, Mellotron, loads of happy "ba ba ba's" and a funky Nicky Hopkin's style piano pounding throughout.  Groovy!

Robin Gibb R.I.P.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Paul Weller In New York City

Paul Weller played an invite only gig in NYC on May 17, 2012 at the former site of CBGB's (where The Jam played in 1977)where he played "In The City" and "Art School":

He then made an appearance on "Jimmy Fallon Live" dusting off "That's Entertainment":

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Web Exclusive: Paul Weller (5/17/12) - Video -

I'm going to see the Modfather with the lads tonight in the Big Apple.  I think the last time I saw him live was possibly 20 years ago.......more to follow!  I've not gotten my head around "Sonik Kicks" save it's Ultravox "All Stood Still" meets '77 Bowie inspired opener "Green" which you can hear below.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Maximum R&B!

The Who live at the Pier Pavillion, Felixstowe, Suffolk, U.K. September 8, 1966: 1. Heatwave 2. So Sad About Us 3. I'm a Boy 4. Substitute 5. My Generation

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mayall USA Part One

JOHN MAYALL-Jenny/Pictures On The Wall U.S. London 45-20037 1968

Prior to his legendary LP "Blues Breakers featuring Eric Clapton" John Mayall was not a name anyone in the American record buying public was familiar with. Today's topic was his 10th U.K. single (his 11th if you count the two different issues of "I'm Your Witch Doctor", more on a U.S. pressing of that next), being released in the U.K. as Decca F 12732 in February 1968.  If my estimates are correct "Jenny" was his third U.S. 45. It was not an LP track but harks from the period of his "Bare Wires" LP, his last to bear the "Bluesbreakers" moniker and also the last to feature Peter Green.

The first time I heard "Jenny" it blew me away.  It was almost eerie.  Very bare bones, just guitar with some blues licks overdubbed (by Peter Green).  The eerie part is the echo on it all and Mayall's odd murmurings.  I think it's one of his finest vocal tracks, totally soulful.

May 5, 1968  Zurich, Switzerland
Eric Burdon, Stu Leathwood (Koobas) , Keith Ellis (Koobas), Roy Wood (Move), Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Carl Wayne (Move), John Mayall, Steve Winwood, Trevor Burton (Move) and Roy Morris (Koobas).

"Pictures On The Wall" is too countrified for me.  Maybe it's the dobro, maybe it's the "down on the farm" feel/beat, but it just leaves me cold.

Both tracks are available as bonus cuts on the Cd reissue of Mayall's 1968 LP "Bare Wires".

Hear "Jenny":

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In Defense Of Herman...............

Herman's Hermits get a lot of crap.  True they made some records that are sort of heavy on the cheese , but they've also got a slew of great tracks, mostly on B-sides and LP's.  And they had a load of LP's here in the States,with no less than eight U.S. Hermits LP's on MGM compiled in the 60's (not counting "Best Of.." volumes) there were plenty of U.K. 45 and E.P.tracks to choose from to stack them out. Most of which first saw their initial release over the pond in 7" form.  What's always irked me, and I digress that I'm sure I've had this rant before here, is that there was always a stigma that they couldn't play since a few of their records were fleshed out by producer Mickie Most with session musicians to knock them out faster.  As you can see by a host of live clips on YouTube (and a few below) they were obviously competent musicians in their own right.  Here's ten reasons to vindicate Herman's Hermits:

Peter Noone, "Ready! Steady! Go!" 1964

1. "The Man With The Cigar" B-side Columbia DB 7791 (UK) and MGM K13437 (US) 1965
Beneath some solid backing vocals from the Hermit's and some groovy volume pedal guitar work Peter Noone croons, convincingly about the boss who's always on his back and busting his balls to the point that he's about to snap.

Peter Noone, Keith Moon and Hermit's bassist Karl Green unwind after a long month on the road, presumably having met the Moonshine Man. August 23, 1967 Flint, Michigan

2. "Moonshine Man" B-side Columbia DB 8235 (UK) and MGM K13761 (US) 1967
Zooming "Taxman" style bass line, funky "Mother's Little Helper" style raga-esque guitar swatches and the trippiest lyrics ever to grace a tune by our squeaky clean but booze loving Herman's Hermits as they sing of the joys of potent home brew and the man who makes or is it childhood whimsy about night time?  A "Here Comes The Nice" of backwoods hard liquor?!. Also found in the States on the flip of the soppy/sappy "Don't Go Out Into The Rain (You're Gonna Melt)" (MGM K13761).

3. "No Milk Today" A-side Columbia DB 8012 and B-side MGM K13681 (US) 1967
Fellow Mancunian Graham Gouldman had quite a few tracks recorded by the band.  This one was an A-side in the U.K. while here in the States it was unfortunately tucked away as the flip side to "There's A Kind Of Hush", but that didn't stop it from getting airplay and can still be heard on U.S. "Oldies" formats to this day (it charted as a B-side at #35). Brilliantly orchestrated by John Paul Jones it's one of the greatest mid 60's pop records right up there with The Action's "Something Has Hit Me" in my book!

4. "My Reservation's Been Confirmed" LP track "Both Sides Of..." MGM E/SE 4486 (US) 1967
Somewhat influenced by "The Train Kept A Rollin'" comes this track, full of lines about riding trains, being late, blistering guitar licks and possibly the most rocking out they ever did, though the vocals sound less than inspired it still works. Originally found in the U.K.  on the flip of "No Milk Today" (Columbia DB 8012).

5.  "For Love" B-side Columbia DB 7987 (UK) and MGM K13548  1966
Issued on both sides of the Atlantic as the flip to the twee "This Door Swings Both Ways", this one has more funky volume pedal guitar work, cracking drums and a great descending melody as Peter Noone sings about people out cruising the streets at night "for love", flashing their headlights prowling around backstreets etc.  Very seedy sounding actually, but amazing musically!

6. "Ace, King, Queen, Jack" LP track "Blaze" MGM E/SE 4438 (US) 1967
Throbby bass, a Bo Diddley via The Pretty Things beat and lots of Who-isms (toggle switch Morse code action on the guitar, high "ah ahhhhh's" on the backing vocals) while Noone sings the ode to a degenerate gambler who can never leave the table (and steals, ponces off women etc).  It's possibly THE weirdest H.H's number ever as the band winds down Noone does a soliloquy on dustmen being replaced by "mammoth machines that move noiselessly about the streets" in his best Manchester accent while whilst engaging some zany "Punch & Judy" type voices whereupon they all break into "My Old Man's A Dustman".

7. "Museum" A-side Columbia DB 8235 (UK) and MGM K13787 (US) 1967
Like David Bowie's 1966 Pye 45 "I Dig Everything", the Hermits take on Donovan's "Museum" is the ultimate Swinging London (via crack session men) trip, in a musical sense. From its faint Hammond swirling, congas, bossy uptown brass et al (all c/o the band's top notch arranger John Paul Jones) it's what I'd expect a sanitized musical version of "Swinging London" to sound like.  I know that possibly reads like a put down, it's not but let's face it, H.H.,'s were NEVER going to be the Fab Four, The Stones or those darlings of the 1967 London underworld  The Pink Floyd.  Still all in all it's one of their most amazing tracks.

8. "Marcel's" B-side Columbia DB 8327 (UK) and MGM K13885 (US) 1968
Found on both the U.K. and U.S. flip of "I Can Take Or Leave Your Loving" (their last U.S top 40 hit, clocking in at #22  for Xmas 1967) heres another "out there" H.H's number, albeit lyrically as the band sing about a way out cat named Marcel lives in Wapping who has a houseboat on the Thames where "it's an East End wonderland", no doubt from the freakshow that turns up at his groovy pad (have a listen). Written by band members Keith Hopwood and Peter Noone with their manager Harvey Lisberg and his client/songwriter Graham Gouldman.

"Ready! Steady! Go!" 1965

9. "The London Look" E.P. Track "The London Look" Yardley SLE 15 (UK) 1968
Another song from the pen of Graham Gouldman, this one was a track on a giveaway promo E.P. "The London Look" for Yardley's soap.  Beneath an amazingly tight array of baroque harpsichord, acoustic guitar and piano Peter Noone sings about picking up a girl on the street and showing her London.

10. "Just A Little Bit Better" A-side Columbia DB  7670 (UK) and MGM K13398 1965
A tad hokey for some with it's Buddy Holly-esque "oh-ho-ho" bits, I think this one is quite rocking, from the busy guitar bits going on throughout the number, chimes and a gritty little guitar solo I think it's easily their "beat period". And as the above live clip from "The Ed Sullivan Show" proves, they could not only play but dig the vocal harmonizing bits and the playing, no slouches in fact it sounds just like the record (though curiously minus that guitar solo!).