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

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Who: Quadrophenia - Can You See the Real Me? (documentary)

The West Pier, Brighton photo courtesy of Lois Wilson

Last night in 500 places around the country North Americans were treated to a special one night only engagement in theaters for the screening of an hour and a half long documentary on The Who's 1973 LP "Quadrophenia". I suspect it has already been shown in the U.K. as until yesterday an hour long version with a BBC logo in the corner was on YouTube, it has since been withdrawn thwarting my efforts to link it here!

I duly set out to a nearby theater with my three faithful chums to see what it was all about.  I was pleasantly surprised.  With Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey (and archival footage of the late John Entwistle) telling the story of the original LP it was enjoyable on their recollections alone.  And is it me (for a moment, for a moment) but is Pete slowly morphing into Donald Pleasance? What sweetened it was a variety of things.  There was loads of original 60's footage of mods being interviewed, shopping for clothes, dancing and even the moron element in Brighton on scooters and fighting rockers. There was even a snippet of Mickey Finn & The Blue Men playing their ska'd version of Bo Diddley's "Pills" live in the 60's!!  There was legendary mod Irish Jack sitting in a pie and mash shop with Pete and "Mods"/"Maximum R&B" author Richard Barnes chatting about mod (both figure quite frequently on their own in the documentary with Jack even walking you through the former location of the famous Goldhawk Social Club).  Original 60's mods and longstanding "Who family" associates Bill Curbishley (manager) and John "Wiggy" Wolff (tour manager) are on hand to discuss the 60's mod scene and the band's disillusionment and subsequent disengagement from herion addled managers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert. Curbishley is seen wearing a nice pale purple cashmere v-neck, inspiring me to go out and order one this morning! Original LP engineer Ron Nevison and Pete Townshend alternately play various mixes of the album and highlight certain pieces of its songs . Photographer Ethan Russell is on hand with lots of discussion on the LP's original photo booklet and the  "model" who played "Jimmy" (aka "Chad", real name Terry Kennett who passed away last year) as well as two ladies who featured as mod girls in the photos.  Best of all no Bono, who's pretty much a required fixture in most rock n' roll documentaries. Add lots of great footage of Brighton and the Palace Pier and of course the actual songs themselves and you've got a great little documentary which will hopefully be available elsewhere. If you're a mod or ever were one or a Who fan I highly suggest you check it out.

It's also been recently announced that The 'Oo are taking to the road again to play the entire LP in honor of it's 40th anniversary kicking off on November 1st and running into 2013.

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's Easy: 10 Great Easybeats Tracks

My fave 60's band from Downunder will always be The Easybeats. Led by diminutive lead singer Stevie Wright, the band featured guitarists (and the band's songwriters) Harry Vanda and George Young (older brother of future AC/DC brats Angus and Malcom and younger brother of Alex aka George Young of the band Grapefruit), Dick Diamonde on bass and Snowy Fleet on drums (later replaced in 1967 by Tony Cahill of Aussie ravers The Purple Hearts) they cut a slew of singles and LP's from 1965 to 1969. There will always be a warm spot in my heart for that magical U.S. United Artists 45 (see below) that came into my hands as a 60's obsessed pre-teen setting off my intro to them and seeing as they haven't gotten much press here I figured it was time to give them some............

On "Ready! Steady! Go!" 1966

1. "Sorry"
My first hearing of this was NOT the original, but a version by The Three O'Clock, though I duly went out in early 1984 and purchased the amazing Rhino LP comp. "Friday On My Mind:The Best Of..." and immediately my mind was suitably blown by this catchy bit of power pop/mod magic.

2. "The Shame Just Drained"
This track was left over from a session towards the end of their career it's one of my faves despite being somewhat rough with some killer high noted harmonies and some nice solid bass. Not bad at all for a throwaway track and later the title track for an Easybeats LP compilation of rarities and curios.

3. "Friday On My Mind"
Ah back where it all began.  There are many other numbers by them that are better than this (as you can read) but it's still the song that introduced me to them and in the 80's/90's as a healthy young man an anthem of sorts as dating always involved going to see a girl in a city.

4. "It's So Easy"
Way back when (1987-1988 to be exact) I was in a band who later became The Insomniacs.  Our lead singer and a good friend of mine David Wojciechowski introduced this Merseybeat style "beat ballad" to us at rehearsals from his well played copy of their debut LP "Easy".  I didn't like it at first but it grew on me and still reminds me of us rehearsing in my tiny bedroom at my parents house.

5. "Goin' Out Of My Mind"
This 1966 monster came into my life courtesy of the essential 60's Aussie various artists "Ugly Things" LP's in the mid 80's. This is a stormer in total Kinks/Troggs fashion and later a staple of many an Insomniacs set. It still has power and vitality to it 27 years later with it's Kinks style power chords, incessant/catchy riff and typical high backing vocals.

Late era 1968 with ex-Purple Heart Tony Cahill second from left in the back with shades

6. "Falling Off The Edge Of The World"
The band cut a few soppy ballads (like the abysmal "Hello How Are You?" which this tune was the flip side of) and it wasn't exactly their best genre but I'll make an exception for this one because it's so magnificent.  It's high harmonies, excellent key changes and jaded lyrics ("and even the children see that you don't stay respectable now")  all work. Pretty heavy stuff from a bunch of guys in their early 20's.

7. "Fancy Seeing You Here"
Another late era track from their '68 LP "Vigil" (their last) with some jangly/melodic guitar work that sits right up front and strikes me easily as one of their most memorable riffs with layers of their well honed high pitched backing vocals.

8. "Good Times"
From it's catchy, soulful intro (with vocal help from Steve Marriott) this number is a non stop groover and easily the closest they ever got to soul/r&b.  Maybe it's the cowbell, or the subtle 12 string or Marriott's raw backing vocals on the chorus but this number sounds like what you'd have gotten if the Who jammed with the Spencer Davis Group.

9. "Saturday Night"
Gritty and almost leering, lead singer Stevie Wright sounds like that juvenile delinquent punk on the corner as he lazily drawls the tale of a goddess who just appeared on the pavement before him beneath catchy /incessant "na na na" backing vocals, powerhouse drumming, Who/Kinks power chords and high Who/Creation/Kinks style backing voices all reaching a crescendo amidst the hushed middle bit.

10. "Pretty Girl"
Found on the flip of the mediocre "Heaven And Hell" this Shel Talmy production (he recorded several tracks with the band in the U.K. in '66-'67) starts with layers of cool Merseybeat style harmonies with the playing and vocals becoming more intense as the track goes on with the oft mentioned groovy Who style backing vocals.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jon Lord-R.I.P.

Today I learned that the legendary organist Jon Lord passed away.  Jon Lord was the very first British 60's organist I was impressed with, long before I'd discovered Graham Bond, Brian Auger, Zoot Money and was only scratching the surface on my Georgie Fame schooling.  Back in 1985 I became a devotee of Lord's 60's r&b outfit The Artwoods like many other of my friends thanks to Edsel's Artwoods compilation LP "100 Oxford Street". And it would be his treatment of a great deal of U.S. 60's r&b/soul/jazz organ numbers that would give me these tracks first exposure, ultimately leading me to seek out the originals.  After The Artwoods Jon Lord moved onto fame and fortune with heavies Deep Purple. Unlike the current crop of modernists who are all things "heavy" (as in "heavy, man") 1970's I don't really concern myself with what Mr. Lord did after the third Deep Purple album "III".

In his honor I've picked a few tracks for you where his organ playing shines, read on and rest in peace Jon Lord (all releases U.K. unless otherwise noted):

1. THE ARTWOODS-"Goodbye Sisters" A-side single Decca F 12206 1965
Leading off the band's third 45 Lord's subtle organ work breaks into a jazzy little solo halfway through the track.  It's restrained and totally at odds with everything else in the charts in August 1965 with the exception of Brian Auger.

2. THE ARTWOODS-"Be My Lady" L.P.  track "Art Gallery" Decca LK 4830 1966
I will own up and admit my first airing of this tune came via The Artwoods.  Lord and Co. pump it up a bit and play it considerably faster (providing a template for The James Taylor Quartet version some 20 years later). It's not so much of a cover as an interpretation and Lord's organ playing is more "churchy" sounding than Booker T's.

3. THE ARTWOODS-"Things Get Better" LP track "Art Gallery" Decca LK 4830 1966
Covering Stax tracks without encroaching on full on blasphemy in my book is no easy feat.  What makes this Eddie Floyd cover is Lord's playing. There's no organ on the original and it's mostly driven by horns.  The Artwoods version relies of Lord's groovy Hammond and guitarists Derek Griffith's fuzz guitar to carry it through.  Lord plays the horn breaks with swirling organ with stellar results.

E.P. sleeve scan c/o Reynaldo Moldonando

4. THE ARTWOODS-"A Taste Of Honey" E.P. track "Jazz In Jeans"  DFE 8654 1966
One of the crown jewels of the band's rare as hell "Jazz In Jeans" E.P. comes the bands instrumental take on "A Taste Of Honey", amid Griffith's Wes  Montgomery style licks Lord's tasty Hammond dominates the track.  I'm not sure whether it was inspired by another similar version or if this arrangement was all the band's own but regardless it's magical.

5. THE ARTWOODS-B.B.C. Session "Saturday Club" May 13, 1967
By the time The Artwoods cut this "Saturday Club" session they were truly behind the ball and falling fast.  They'd been dropped by Decca after a staggering three year run with 5 singles, an E.P. AND an LP and picked up an option with Parlophone who'd released what would be their final 45 ("What Shall I Do"/"In The Deep End", Parlophone R 5590) as The Artwoods a month earlier (another single would follow for Fontana as The St. Valentine's Day Massacre in November but that's another story). In the session the band serve up a somber "What Shall I Do" but it's their Otis Redding inspired version of "Day Tripper" and Billy Preston's "Steady Gettin' It" where Lord's Hammond virtuoso shines, clearly carrying the water for a band that was sadly, commercially past it.

The Artwoods at home base (The 100 Club) with Lord at the far right.

6. SANTA BARBARA MACHINE HEAD-"Rubber Monkey" LP track "Blues Anytime Volume Three" Immediate IMLP 019 1968
In November 1968 the world first heard of the result of when Birds (and future Creation men) Ron Wood and Kim Gardener (bass) convened in Decca's studio in late 1966 with Lord and In Crowd (later to morph into Tomorrow) stick man John "Twink" Alder on an Immediate budget compilation album. By then Wood was in The Jeff Beck Group (before again crossing paths with Gardener in The Creation), Lord was in Deep Purple and Twink was now a Pretty Thing.  Written by Lord and arranger/producer Gus Dudgeon (who'd recently began work engineering what would become David Bowie's debut LP) the number provides an excellent bridge between Lord's Booker T/Jimmy Smith/Billy Preston inspirations and his own personal style that would become a firm trademark for his next band, Deep Purple.

45 sleeve scan c/o

7. DEEP PURPLE-"One More Rainy Day" B-Side single Parlophone R 5708 1968
Tucked away on the flip side of the band's June 1968 debut "Hush" comes this original Lord penned with the band's then vocalist Rod Evans.  Amid layers of multi tracked organ Lord takes his playing up a notch with classical trills replacing jazzy ones. No longer aping American B-3 players the man clearly his own sound going and this is one of the tracks that defined it.

8. DEEP PURPLE-"And The Address" LP track "Shades Of Deep Purple"  Parlophone PMC/PCS 7055 1968
The maniacal opening track to the first Deep Purple LP is this Lord/ Ritchie Blackmore original that kicks the guts out of you the first time you hear it. Lord's organ licks spin around your head till they're practically floating in the air no doubt spawning a host of both imitators and admirers.

9. DEEP PURPLE-"Emmaretta" A-side single Parlophone R 5763 1969
Setting a guitar/organ groove that along with "Hush" practically invented the whole Manchester indie organ scene's trademark, this 1969 single fully pumps it up into "heavy" turf. It's an original by Lord/Blackmore and Evans and in my book the last good thing they did on 45.

10. DEEP PURPLE- "Exposition:We Can Work It Out" LP track "The Book Of The Taliesyn" Harvest  SHVL 751 1969
From their second long player comes this two part number that begins, interestingly, with a track titled "Exposition" where Lord weaves some insane organ trills before it all lapses into a proper savaging of The Fab Four's "We Can Work It Out".  Lord's playing on the latter is somewhat restrained, but only just, many time appearing like an animal that might just burst it's cage.

Professor emeritus of the B-3, rest in peace sir.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Graham Gouldman and the Aussie Who Wasn't Afraid To Go To 'Nam

NORMIE ROWE-Going Home/I Don't Care (Just Take Me There) U.K. Polydor 56159 1967

There were lots of rock n' roll musicians who escaped going to Vietnam in the 60's and early 70's.  Usually they'd have some high paid doctor cook up some bullshit, or in the case of U.S. resident alien Davy Jones, get deferred because you were your father's sole support of income! Or famous right wing kook Ted Nugent who made it a point to get filthy and not bathe for weeks before being called down to the draft board or Scott Walker who at one point actually was considering becoming a British citizen to avoid being drafted and then after Prague '68 made asinine remarks in the press urging young Americans to "fight communism everywhere"!!  Over in Australia young men were being called up too and though I'm sure plenty of them wiggled through like their American counterparts a few didn't.  One of them was Normie Rowe, a huge sensation Downunder. 

Before the call-up, before England, 1966

Normie Rowe and his backing band The Playboys had quite a string of successful hits in Australia before taking a page from the book of the likes of The Bee Gees, The Easybeats and The Twilights who all left Australia for a crack at the U.K. Normie and Co. did the same in August of 1966.  Despite a large push by his U.K. label Polydor (with four singles released in a year) he had little impact.  His final U.K. release was today's subject, a previously unrecorded/unreleased composition by Graham Gouldman called "Going Home" recorded in the U.K., produced by Giorgio Gomelsky and arranged by David Whitaker. It was issued back home in Auz on Sunshine QIK 1731.

"Going Home" is a pop psych classic.  With it's sweeping strings that fade in and out and create a dream scape Rowe sings in an almost Gene Pitney type voice.  In the first verse he comes in early and re-repeats the first few words again, I'm not sure if this was a mistake or something intentional but he does it on each verse afterwards as well.  The flip is a track comprised by Gomelsky associate and Blossom Toes member Brian Godding titled ""I Don't Care (Just Take Me There)".  You'd expect some Blossom Toes type flower psych but the number is nothing of the sort.  It's a perky piece of well crafted/session man fodder akin to the likes of The Foundations or Love Affair. At first I did not care for it despite it's groovy "ba ba ba ba" backing vocals and raga guitar solo, but after a few listens it's infectious melody stuck in my head.  The record, like all of Normie's previous U.K. releases, failed so he headed off to tour North America with Roy Orbison (where oddly his cover of "Shakin' All Over" had garnered a release on the Jubilee label as 45-5518).  After the tour was over he then headed back home via the U.K. where most of the Playboys remained to cut a monstrously rare/in demand one off single for Immediate "Sad"/"Black Sheep R.I.P." (IM 054 June 1967, an Australian issue, a little less rare was on Festival's Sunshine offshoot label as QIK 1872). 

Rowe's career continued back home until September 1967 when he received his draft notice.  Unlike many other entertainers Rowe took a page from Elvis Presley's book and went willingly, being inducted in February 1968 and 11 months later was shipped off to Vietnam where he served with distinction in the Australian army as a crewman on an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier until honorably discharged a year later.  Sadly Rowe's career was never quite the same as it'd been in '65-'67 but he remains to this day a powerful advocate for Vietnam Veteran's and in 1979 contributed music for the soundtrack to the Bryan Brown film "The Odd Angry Shot" about Australian S.A.S. troopers in Vietnam in 1967/1968.

"Going Home" was reissued as part of Big Beat's amazing series of Australian 60's music on their pop psych volume "Peculiar Hole In the Sky: Pop-Psych From Down Under" CD.

Hear "Going Home":

Photographs above of Normie Rowe in Phuoc Tuy province, South Vietnam, in May 1969. All courtesy (with many thanks) of the Australian War Memorial website:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cool Foreign E.P.s Part 45: The Troggs

THE TROGGS-Wild Thing/Lost Girl/From Home/The Yella In Me France E.P. Fontana 460.974 ME 1966