Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Uglys

THE UGLYS-A Good Idea/The Quiet Explosion U.S. ABC-Paramount 45-10773 1966 

Birmingham beat act The Uglys (also listed as The Uglies) cut 4 singles in the U.K. for the Pye label. Oddly the first 3 of them were released here in the States on the ABC-Paramount label (for a full Ugly's discography pop on over to our fave site which we're a frequent contributor to: 45cat).

The Uglys are best known to the world as the launch pad for one Steve Gibbons, a name that means virtually nothing to me but I've heard bandied about quite often. The band had a revolving line up but thanks to the Brumbeat website I've been able to nail down the personnel on this 45 as : Steve Gibbons (vocals/guitar), John Hustwate (bass), Jimmy O'Neill (keyboards) and Jim Holden (drums).

"A Good Idea" was their last of 3 U.S. releases (launched in February 1966). It's a mid tempo number driven along by some Farfisa and some cracking drumming behind Gibbon's laid back vocals.  The backing vocals are pretty slick too.  I like it but my real fave is on the flip and has been a fave ever since the early 90's when I first heard it on a slapdash CD comp Sequel did called "Paisley Pop". "A Quiet Explosion" could be considered a social commentary of sorts lyrically, but all that's swept aside by the absolutely insane, hypnotic carnival organ on speed trills being played beneath some amazing drumming and manic basslines.  Production is credited to one Alan A. Freeman, he was not the same as Alan Freeman the 60's British DJ, but is better known as Petula Clark's producer in the 60's prior to Tony Hatch.  Both sides incidentally are group originals.

Both sides were issued on the long out of print CD compilation "Paisley Pop" and on a out of print Ugly's CD retrospective "The Quiet Explosion".

Hear "A Good Idea":


Hear "The Quiet Explosion":


Saturday, May 25, 2013

May's Picks

1. JOE BATAAN-"Subway Joe"
I'm a complete whiteboy when it comes to Latin stuff.  It's not usually my bag, but a friend posted this on FaceBook awhile back and wow, I'm hipped.  What a groove with great percussion, solid backing vocals, "in your face horns" and hysterical lyrics about a cat and a chick in New York City fighting over a seat on the Subway train.  From 1966.

2. VIRGIN SLEEP-"Secret"
It's spring time here in anorakland and it's perfectly encapsulated by this brilliant slice of 1967 Deram pop psych from guys who wore Ben Sherman's and had high parted hair but laid down some mystical stuff. Complete with Mellotron, flute, organ, searing guitar and yes even a cello. Just pop this on your tongue and tell me what you see.....

I'm a bit uninterested in 60's French pop because for a while there we seemed so inundated by it.  I'm a huge Jacques Dutronc fan but beyond that, meh.  This number actually pricked up my ears after dragging out the "Le Belle Epoque" CD comp and giving it another shot.  It has a great melody with some cool orchestration and is a duet with Serge Ganisbourg (one of my least favorite Gallic performers when it comes to his voice), but somehow it still works.


4. GENE AMMONS-"Angel Eyes"
A groovy bit of jazz with some nifty organ c/o our hero Johnny "Hammond" Smith and Ammon's sweet tenor from the "Angel Eyes" LP on the Prestige label.


5. T-REX-"London Boys"
Not to be confused with the 1966 Bowie classic of the same name, Bolan borrows it's title and the theme for his 1976 homage to the mod scene via a recycled "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" riff, disco strings and Gloria Jones almost overpowering backing vocals.  Disposable but fun.  I recently discovered it on a deluxe edition of the "Futuristic Dragon" LP generously provided by a good friend.

6. BYRON LEE -"Love At First Sight (Reggae)"
Copped a 45 of this recently at a record show and always enjoyed the Sounds Nice tune "Love At First Sight" (a Hammond instrumental of Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin's "Je T'aime"), so imagine a reggae version of that and it's pretty damn cool!

7. THE COWSILLS-"Mr. Flynn"
After watching the amazing Cowsill's documentary on Showtime last month I became interested in the band and my pal Larry over at Iron Leg was kind enough to burn me a CD of some of their stuff including this harmony drenched pop psych ditty that comes across like the Episode 6 meets The Who's "Glow girl" (it sounds oddly quite similar to the latter). Lyrically one wonders if this was a not too obvious dig at their tyrannical father/manager. B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T!


I recently snagged a used See For Miles 60's CD comp called "The Blue Beat Ska And Reggae Revolution" and it contained this track.  The liner notes told me little about it but it's the first reggae/rocksteady record I've ever heard a Mellotron on!  And the Mellotron lick seems to almost resemble "The Lonely Bull".  Boss sounds indeed.


9. THE DENTISTS-I Had An Excellent Dream"
Discordant, jangly neo-60's Medway sounds that were never far from my turntable back in '85-'86 alongside the prisoners, the times, Biff Bang Pow and The Direct Hits!  And now through the miracle of YouTube we can see them performing the number live in 1986!

10. THE CREATION-"Like A Rolling Stone"
The time has come my friends to reclaim The Creation from those hipsters who took them away from us all these years ago in the late 90's!  This Dylan cover was one of my early faves since I purchased my very first Creation LP (a dodgy French LP on Eva that paired a few of their tracks with all the singles by The Mark Four and one by the unrelated Mark Five for good measure back at Sounds on St. Mark's Place in NYC on the same day I bought "The Ultimate Action" and a pair of Jam shoes).  It works because of the cool backing vocals and jangly guitar.  And recently scoring a VG+ copy of their German only '67 LP put me in even more of a Creation mood!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Farewell To The Kidd: Johnny Kidd's Posthumous U.K. 45

JOHNNY KIDD AND THE PIRATES-Send For That Girl/The Fool U.K.  HMV POP 1559 1966

Johnny Kidd will forever be remembered for perhaps the first classic British rock n' roll record, 1960's "Shakin' All Over". But by 1966 Johnny Kidd was, by all accounts a has been. The hits were gone and life was a revolving door of 45's that went nowhere, backing band members that came and went and incessant spotty gigs up and down Great Britain for chump change.  Today's subject is his final 45, released posthumously on November 11, 1966 following his death in an accident in the group's van on October 7th on the way back from a gig in Lancashire. It also marks a milestone in my record hunting as I recently secured a copy of this 45 thanks to the eagle eye of one Sean Cavanaugh who spotted it on E-bay and gave me a bell.  I'd been seeking this single ever since I first heard it back in 1985 on See For Mile's Johnny Kidd LP comp "Rarities".

The Pirates saw many a person in their line up (the most famous being Mick Green who left to go back Billy J. Kramer as one of The Dakotas).  I think Kramer and Kidd have some interesting career parallels.  Both saw their glory days eclipsed by 1966 and both issued their final 45's with them and their backing band sharing label credits on one side and being billed as a solo performer on the other (you can read about Billy's final single with The Dakotas here) and both of their 45's attempted "new" sounds.

Johnny Kidd 1966

By the time this single was recorded (August 1966 according to the meticulous liner notes of "The Complete Johnny Kidd" CD set) The Pirates were Mick Stewart (guitar), future Deep Purple member Nicky Simper (bass) and Roger Pinner aka Roger Truth (drums). "Send For That Girl" was nothing like anything Kidd had ever recorded.  At some moments the backing brass at times sounds almost phased like the horns on The Byrd's "Artificial Energy"  meets Brian Jones "Pipes Of Pan At Joujouka" on others (during the chorus for instance ) they're playing in almost Stax style.  Kidd's voice is strong as ever and beneath it all The Pirates hold down an almost folk rock feel with a nice twangy guitar solo from Stewart.  "The Fool" is the complete opposite.  Though credited to just Johnny Kidd on the label  he's backed by The Pirates.  It starts out with a "Smokestack Lightning" style lick and is far more slower and subdued than it's top side. In fact it's pretty pedesterian, Kidd sounds boozy or bored or both and Stewart plucks along in an almost Mick Green style which is about the only thing of interest in this number.   Presumably the band's former keyboardist (who left prior to their fateful final gig) Ray Soaper supplies the organ.

Both tracks can be found on the essential EMI double CD compilation "The complete..." which contains every track ever recorded (including an alternate take of "Send For That Girl" minus the horn overdubs).

Possibly the last Johnny Kidd and The Pirates photo. Taken at Kidd's home 1966.
Left to right: Nicky Simper, Roger Truth, Mick Stewart and Johnny Kidd.

Hear "Send For That Girl":


Hear "The Fool":


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Motor City Appreciation: The Roulettes

THE ROULETTES-The Tracks Of My Tears/Jackpot U.K. Parlophone R 5419 1966
The Roulettes have always been a fave of mine since stumbling upon "The Long Cigarette" on an EMI compliation album called "My Generation" which soon sent me off to purchase their archtype compilation LP on Edsel "Russ, Bob Pete and Mod". No strangers to Motown (they'd previously tackled "Stubbon Kind Of Fellow on their 3rd Parlophone single back in December of '64 as R 5218), this would be their seventh and next to last 45 for the label.  You can read a bit about them after Parlophone here.

"Tracks of My Tears" faithfully follows the pace of the original but is interpreted in the two guitar/bass and drums formula with special use of the band's talent for harmony vocals.  It's soulful but still punchy enough to keep their "beat group" tag and no one can accuse them of attempting a Smokey Robinson & Co. carbon copy that's for sure.

It's flip, "Jackpot" is another guitar vs electric piano number in the vein of "Junk", the B-side to "The Long Cigarette". Not as gritty (or as good) as "Junk" but still pretty interesting.

Both sides are on BGO's CD reissue of their rare as hen's teeth LP "Stakes And Chips" as bonus cuts (which covers their entire Parlophone output).

Hear "The Tracks of My Tears":