Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February's Picks

February has been a rough month. We lost Donald Byrd, Reg Presley, Tony Sherdian, Tandyn Almer, Kevin Ayers and closer to home the 11 month old daughter of a fellow record buff/acquaintance, little Ana Cru who never got the chance to live the life any of us have been privileged to have. On a personal note I've been recovering from hernia surgery, which has been no picnic that's for damn sure. But as my high school vice principal (who'd lost two sons and somehow kept a positive exterior) wrote in my yearbook "upon us all a little rain must fall". So I'm breaking the rules and listing more than 10 tunes. Read on McDuff...

1. THE JAM-"This Is The Modern World"
I was watching the brilliant documentary on the making of "All Mod Cons" and came across this clip of the good old Jam bashing this out on "T.O.T.P" and it sent me back to rediscover this bitter little pill of angst and cynicism.

2. MR. LOCO-"Hombre Religioso"
From the soundtrack of Jack Black's hysterical flick "Nacho Libre" this melodic little ditty is so catchy and simplistic that I haven't been able to shake it from my brain after watching it over the weekend for the first time in ages, but I'm a sucker for any good pop song with a decent string section (and the rest of the soundtrack isn't bad: Alan Hawkshaw, Esqiuvel, Caetano Veloso, John Cameron, etc).

3. THE PRETTY THINGS-"What's The Use"
For me and The Pretties we part ways after "S.F. Sorrow", that was until I was watching a documentary of Netflix instant view about the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream and a jangly tune was playing in one segment which thanks to the beauty of the Shazam program on my phone I was able to ascertain the title of and what do you know it was The Pretties from their 1970 LP "Parachute. Just goes to show you can be wrong about things!

4. DONALD BYRD-"Cristo Redentor"
R.I.P. Donald Byrd.  This is my fave track because it was the first I ever heard back in the 90's on a public radio station's jazz show and it's probably the only song that really grabs me on this unusual album. With it's chorus and stellar trumpet they don't get any smoother than this AND it's from his LP which boasts the coolest cover ever.

5. THE SUGARBEATS-"Alice Designs"
From the pen of the late Tandyn Almer, my fave track he wrote (right up there with "Shadows & Reflections" but I like this even more, if you can believe that?!?!). Cut by a U.K. band who previously issued a Beach Boys cover it's wrapped in some amazing harmonies with hints of trippy/exotic '67 stuff (subtle flute, tabla etc) and unearthed c/o one of the usually mediocre "We Can Fly" volumes.

6. TEN YEARS AFTER-"Losing The Dogs"
With it's 1967 release date and trippy looking cover you'd mistake Ten Years After's debut LP to be psychedelic.  Nothing of the sort.  This number has this Delta blues via Mick Green guitar style (later so beloved of Dr. Feelgood) combined with a plonky knees up style barrel-house piano (quite reminiscent of the ivory tinkling on label mate David Bowie's B-side "Did You Ever Have A Dream?", and no surprise as it was co written by Gus Dudgeon who produced most of Bowie's Deram stuff). It all makes for an amazing tune with some silly lyrics ("sittin' in my cell yeah thinkin' bout my wife, last time I saw her she was layin' on my knife..").

7.THE TAGES-"Have You Seen Your Brother Lately"
Easily one of my fave tracks by Sweden's Tages from their 1967 masterpiece pop psych opus album "Studio".  It's woodwinds and strings are propelled along by some Macca-esque bass lines giving it a perfect dreamy/pop-sike "period" feel without sounding derivative or forced.

8. SPOOKY TOOTH-"Sunshine Help Me"
Obscure 60's U.K. mod/r&b quartet The V.I.P.'s got psych and became Art, who then mutated into Spooky Tooth who delivered this brilliant debut 45 on the Island label (home of the V.I.P's and Art as well).  A perfect melding of soulful Small Faces style psych/pop and the heavier stuff (ala Hendrix).  Sadly it went downhill from there.

9. WILLIAM SHATNER-"Mr. Tambourine Man"
Oh what madness! At times Shatner sounds like he's mutating into an Irish brogue before the 5th Dimension/Jimmy Webb style orchestration/backing sweeps him away and begins with yet another exasperated sounding persona!

10. TONY SHERDIAN-"Shake It Some More"
I learned of this track via The Jay Jay's killer version of it c/o my pal Keith Patterson.  I turned my friend John Jorgensen onto it and his band The Swingin' Neckbreakers began covering it.  It came full circle when John came upon some VHS tapes of episodes of "Beat! Beat! Beat!" containing Tony doing the original, less raw than The Jay Jay's but equally rocking and hands down Tony's best tune.

11. KEVIN AYERS-"Oh! Wot A Dream"
 I was never a fan of Soft Machine bar their debut 45 but upon hearing Ayers solo material for the first time via a care package cassette comp from a thoughtful friend in 1990 during a stint in the Army during the great oil war I was suitably drawn to find out what it was all about. I was most pleased. Written about and for Syd Barrett.

12. REGGIE KING-"Merry Go Round"
From the out of print Circle records 10" E.P. of unreleased Reggie King post Action solo cuts ("Missing In Action") comes this delightful piece of music that would not sound out of place among tracks by The Action's "Brain/Rolled Gold" "albums" (not unsurprising as most of his ex-band mates were in on the sessions). Fear not fans, this track (along with many other "Missing in Action" cuts) are included on the brand new Reggie King CD "Looking For A Dream", which oddly enough is available here in the States on iTunes!!

13. THE YARDBIRDS-"Only The Black Rose"
Rest in peace little Ana Cru, wherever you are, shine on, brightly.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Can You See The Real Me Before I Get Tired And Old:The Who Live

The Who "Quadrophenia" live at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey 2/22/13

I had struggled with going to see The Who's several month long U.S. tour of their "Quadrophenia" LP since it was first announced and I got a gander at the ticket prices.  I mused that I'd rather spend the money on the Action book (which was actually more than an individual ticket for the gig we attended).  The price seemed outrageous, the possibility that they were "tired" and "played out" seemed equally possible, I hate the atmosphere of "stadium rock" (especially the corny sing alongs and proles who carry on like it's a religious rite) and none of these prospects filled me with enthusiasm. Reviews from people I knew varied.  The sheep all loved it, my hardcore Who fan pals, were more cautious (by the way Johnny Bluesman I'm still waiting for that phone call on how the gig was before we committed to buying tickets!). Luckily they were playing so many dates that my malaise, indifference and downright laziness did not get in the way of date availability (they'd played on the East Coast in November already and were back again) and my thoughtful wife dutifully scored us tickets for a date in Atlantic City , NJ, the East Coast answer to Las Vegas. Like Las Vegas it's the biggest gathering point of douche bags and ill mannered sorts and a perfect place for a late night sweep to cleanse the nation of it's worst citizens in one fell swoop (vote for ME!). My wife summed our seats up perfectly: "they're not in the nosebleed section but we're not at the front of the stage either".  Thanks to the two jumbo tron monitors to the left and right of the stage we got a perfect view of Roger's abs and Pete's almost complete metamorphosis into Donald Pleasance and the sound was perfect and so was the view. We settled into our seats to the left side of the stage. Dead ahead of us was the soundboard. With the sound crew I noticed a hardcase looking bald man in a black crew neck and was staring at him as he looked really familiar  As his eyes met my glance I realized I was eye to eye with Bill Curbishly, one time Shepherd's Bush mod/hard nut and long time Who road manager....I smiled. He didn't smile back right away till he clocked me.

 The band played the entire LP in it's running order with three overhead circular screens above the stage (scooter lamps actually) where they projected a host of wiggy old clips of the 60's (mods, Brighton pier, themselves in various 60's/mod points of their career).  After awhile the video screen images got pretty lame.  If they'd kept it at the subject matter concerning the LP it would've been fine but when they veered off to Vietnam, various American shithead politicians, Maggie Thatcher, 9/11, the Occupy lefties etc I thought it was a bit too pretentiously indulgent.  Though there was a powerful scene during "Love Reign O'er Me" of Brighton's West Pier engulfed in flames which was pretty spooky.  Rather than give you a track by track run down I've just written it all the way I;m recalling it, little images and bits that remain in my shoddy memory......

When the lights went dim and the scooter lamp screens projected lapping waves and the sound of them came mixed as strains of my fave Who track "The Kids Are Alright" echoed through the cavernous auditorium the stage was set for the inevitable bellow of "Can you see the real me can you? Can you?" it kicked off with 'The Real Me" and it's punchy brass and funky bass lines. The band were tight as hell there was no doubting that. Sadly Roger's voice can't hit the notes he used to so everything was delivered deeper and more than once I noticed him pull the mike away from his mouth when the chance appeared that he might just not hit that note.  At times it was like watching your fave footballer try to get the ball and score that last winning goal before retiring and instead he's mid field gasping for air.  Pete's voice is no better, in fact at times he sounded like Red Foxx ("But I'm one ya big dummy.."?). I'm also thinking that since this show has been on the road so long that maybe Roger and Pete's voices may have suffered from doing this several times a week? But I think maybe I'm making excuses. Pete helped out by singing "Drowned" and his brother Simon (on hand as second guitar) took the lead of "The Dirty Jobs" (where he switched the first and second verses). Pete played "I'm One" on his own under a white spotlight.  His voice was raw and haggard but he delivered it with conviction. On "Helpless Dancer" Pete refrained from singing the line "just like the lesbians and queers" instead pointing to the audience for some reason, whether it was an attempt at being "P.C." or a bit for audience participation I'll never know, or maybe he just couldn't hit that note. For "Bell Boy" they showed footage of Moon singing the track live with the audio of the original vocal track.  As I'm down on backing tapes I'll make an exemption and state it was better than some guest clown coming up and doing it. And while we are on the subject on Mr  Moon let me state emphatically that Zak Starkey WAS the engine that drove The Who that night.  Moon's shoes aren't easy to fill (ask Kenny Jones) but he did an admirable job by rather than replicating Moon's drum bits note by note he cleaned them up in my estimation by adding his own style (I've always thought Moon's drumming was sloppy by the time "Quad" rolled around). And he looked pretty cool in a burgundy button up with white cuffs and collar like his old man wore in'65/'66 (and sported a cool pair of burgundy Tartan trou as well).  John Entwistle too came back from the dead on the jumbo tron for a 40 minute bass solo on a tune called "5:15" which was clearly NOT the length of the tune or his bass solo. The two man brass section were my faves, especially during the instrumentals "The Rock" and "Quadrophenia" (equally powerful on "5:15") which literally made the hairs on my legs and neck stand on end. But there was plenty of typical rock n' roll wankery.  The WAY too long guitar solos on "I've Had Enough" and "Love Reign O'er Me" being primary examples of why this thing is a joke that I've never gotten or found funny, the microphone swinging, no smashing guitars though......

After they finished "Quadrophenia" they played all the usual Who hit garbage: "Who Are You", "Baba O'Reilly", and a few more "hits"(ie lameness) prompting a big audience singalong, though I'd actually been serenaded all night long as the cow next to me caterwauled along with ever song on top of her lungs in my ear in between repeated "wooooo"'s and yelling "Pete" (even funnier during Moonie's "vocal spot" she kept yelling "Keith!" on top of her lungs). They closed with "Tea And Theater" and I got a chuckle when Roger repeatedly told the audience to "shut the fuck up" as the howls threatened to drown out Pete's acoustic guitar he smiled the first time he said it but by he second time he had to utter it he was clearly NOT pleased and added "You take the time to listen you should take the time to learn as well".  I couldn't agree more with the man...After the show we walked back down the boardwalk to our hotel with a slight mist rolling in off the sea on the wet planks with the waves crashing in the distance and past the remains of the Hurricane Sandy ravaged Steel Pier and I swore I could hear a trumpet playing out in the distance....

Slagging The Who off is like talking shit about an old friend you've been through thick and thin with.  They come out and give you 101% and no one will deny their generosity with an all proceeds benefit going for cancer research this Thursday night with Elvis Costello and The Attractions at Madison Square Garden among other admirable fund raising events they've been a part of.  But like any relationship with an old friend you've got to be honest and the time has come for me to say to The Who, it's time to chuck it in. It's long overdue and it's getting embarassing.
And to quote The Jam "but didn't we have a nice time? Wasn't it such a fine time?"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Teenage Wildlife:David Bowie 1965 Footage

Footage of David Bowie (in my estimation shot during his pre-mod/Lower Third days whilst still with The Manish Boys, in fact I'd swear the first three lads you see in the clip are members of the band) shot on a London street in 1965 was recently discovered.  You can read all about it here and watch the cine clip below. It's not much but still amusing, especially when young Davy Jones notices he's being filmed and flashes a friendly grin.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Neat Change 1968

Here's some confusion, two pics of the same band, The Neat Change, known for their lone '68 Decca (U.K.) 45 "I Lied To Auntie May".  Find the full deal about them and their lead singer Jimmy Edwards here. Cheers to Sean Cavanaugh by inciting me by reposting the skinhead/hard mod pic below on FaceBook......



Ode To A Footballer

DON FARDON-Belfast Boy/Echoes Of Cheers U.S. Decca 32696 1970

Today's piece is perhaps the first rock n' roll record to ever mention a football player by name (that's soccer to the rest of my countrymen who are not as pretentiously Anglocentric as me). Of course we are discounting  Monkeypick's main man's QPR Supporters 45.  Cut by former Sorrows front man Don Fardon (responsible for the world's first airing of J.D. Loudermilk's "(The Lament Of The Cherokee) Indian Reservation" in April 1967) it was his 8th solo 45 being released in the U.K. on the Youngblood label in April 1970 (YB 1010). It featured, as the label indicates, in a B.B.C. documentary "The World of Georgie Best".

George Best 1966

Written by our "Anorak Thing" songwriting champions Tony Colton and Ray Smith (the men behind fave tunes here by The Shotgun Express, Danatlian's Chariot , The Merseybeats, Thane Russal and Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, to name but a few)with help from Johnny Harris. It's a decidedly 70's record with it's cheezy porn film Moog, which is luckily aided by some groovy phlanged piano and Fardon's soulful voice.  The lyrics themselves are prophetic about Best's meteoric rise (and fall, which of course no one had any way of knowing in 1970 when this song was released and he was still a "star"):

"just play the way the ball bounces and bounce the way the ball plays, cos you won't have long in the limelight, no you won't have many days..."

It's easy to see how this track became so popular because it's so infectious and certainly must have been a rousing anthem for his legion of fans. It's also a swan song of sorts as Best's career on the pitch was never again as big as it was in the 60's, or so my footie mad Man U. pals tell me.....don't ask me I don't know shit about football.
Messers. Best & Fardon (and friend) promote Georgie's boutique.


The B-side "Echoes Of Cheers" is not, as the title might suggest another stomping terrace anthem like the A-side. Written by the same composers of the a-side it's a moody ballad that's fairly devoid of any soul and is sort of indicative of a lot of the crooner type tunes Fardon would cut in the 70's. It's not painful, but you won't play it as many times as the A-side that's for sure!

Both tracks are available on the RPM Don Fardon retrospective CD "I'm Alive 68/69 Hip-Pop And Swinging Beat".

Back in the late 80's when I was Sorrows mad I found a sealed Canadian copy of Fardon's LP "Belfast Boy"  (which also contained his MONSTER version of Tommy James "I'm Alive").  I didn't dig it. Like a total tool I sold it on E-Bay in the late 90's.  D'oh!

Hear "Belfast Boy:"

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

R.I.P. Reg Presley

Word flitted around on Monday night that Trogg's lead singer Reg Presley succumbed to his battle with cancer. The Troggs were introduced to me via oldies radio in about 1977 or 1978 when I purchased a Fontana reissue 45 of "Wild Thing" b/w "With A Girl Like You". A few years later I scored an original copy of their US Fontana LP "Wild Thing" at a yard sale in atrocious condition (which I then reduced to an even further unplayable state by repeated airings of it on my horrible little stereo which had probably never had it's needle changed). Over the years I came upon a succession of 45's, E.P.'s, LP's and finally all of their 60's albums on CD's Repertoire did with bonus cuts.

We here at "Anorak Thing" have done our share of hawking The Troggs so rather than do some long winded accolade or one of my boring, pedestrian 'Top 10's" I'll leave you with some old pieces which you can view here, herehere, and here.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Graham Bond Organization Box Set

For well over a decade there has been talk of the plethora of unreleased Graham Bond Organization material existing in the vaults.  At the  of 2012 it was announced that Germany's Repertoire Records would be issuing a 4 CD G.B.O. box set "Wade In The Water: Classics, Origins & Oddities" which I duly advanced ordered (and you can order it here).  No stone has been left unturned (though the oft reissued spotty sounding "Live At Klook's Kleek" set is conspicuously absent from the package). Rather than give you a track by track review I thought I'd go through some of the highlights.

Some of the more interesting aspects of Disc One are records The Graham Bond Quartet/Organization made with other artists. Seven tracks recorded in a session backing Duffy Power (for what would be the band's debut vinyl appearance backing him, which we profiled here) are included.  The band (as The G.B.'s) next backed Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin on a rare as hell jazzy 45 on the Black Swan label and seven tracks with Ranglin are also included. I'd long expected them to be ska flavored as Ranglin made some ska records and Black Swan was predominantly a ska label but they are far from, coming across as Wes Montgomery jamming with Jimmy Smith. Also included are several songs recorded under the moniker of The Graham Bond Quartet (including their EMI audition session including "Wade in The Water" which first saw the light of day on the CD "R&B At Abbey Road").

Disc two is predominantly composed of stereo mixes of tracks from the band's 1965 debut LP "The Sound of '65" (Columbia records) and tunes from their brief period on Decca records which came prior to singing on with EMI's Columbia outlet.  Among them are their sole Decca 45 "Long Tall Shorty/ b/w "Long Legged Baby", "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Little Girl" and "Strut Around" from a 1964 Decca LP compilation called "Rhythm And Blues" (which also featured the tracks on the Decca 45) and the powerful "Harmonica" from the film "Gonks Go Beat". A previously unreleased track called "What Am I Living For" from the first LP session is included along with other previous unissued tracks from '64 like "Green Onions", "Honey Bee" and a different recording of "Hi Heeled Sneakers".

Disc three contains Stereo mixes of all the tracks from their 2nd LP, 1965's "There's A Bond Between Us" as well as two songs cut backing singer Winston G. ("Please Don't Say" and "Like A Baby", Winston's debut 45). Unlike other Winston G. tracks I've heard these are dead boring. Disc three also houses my all time favorite G.B.O. single, April 1965's "Tell Me (I'm Gonna Love Again") b/w "Love Comes Shining Through".  There are a slew of unreleased tracks on disc three  (six actually) including Ginger Baker's first recorded original, the brilliant "Cold Rain" (featuring Graham Bond on Mellotron, an instrument the G.B.O. used frequently) which sounds like an autobiography of a junkie. The disc concludes with their powerful dirge "St. James Infirmary" (you can read about the U.S. pressing here).

Disc four starts out with the last G.B.O. Columbia 45 ("Soul Tango" b/w "Wade In The Water", a different take than the U.S. 45 version that also previously graced the "Sound of '65" LP). It also contains their amazing B-side recorded as "The Who Orchestra" for The Who's "Substitute" single. There's the band's final 45 for Page One in '67 ("You Gotta Have Love Babe" b/w "I Love You", with an alternate mix of the former as well).  The disc is rounded out by a slew of live cuts of varying degrees of quality, most are interesting only for the sake of historical posterity and in my book don't warrant too many repeated listenings.

Harry Shapiro's 1992 Graham Bond book, "The Mighty Shadow" is available again after long being out of print and is for sale by the author at by going here. I was fortunate enough to score a copy and Harry kindly inscribed it to me.  After seeking the book since 1992 when Midnight Records advertised it (and never stocked it) to say I'm pleased is an understatement!

Cool Foreign Picture Sleeves Part 47

THE WASHINGTON D.C.'s-32nd Floor/Whole Lot More France CBS 2226 1966