Friday, September 26, 2014

Jimmy Page Did Not Play On Every Cool Record Made In The 60's, BUT.....

This should provide some closure or perhaps further stoke the flames of conjecture on just what records Pagey DID play on.....

September's Picks

1. SLADE-"Omaha" (Live B.B.C.)
Slade kick the guts out of the already powerful Moby Grape number by wiping it clean of any West Coast "love your brother" hippy bullshit and turning into a 100 mph amphetamine sulfate stomper delivered at breakneck speed with solid precision from an 1969 Beeb session. Musos to a man.

2. DAVID ESSEX-"So Called Loving"
Before you all recoil in horror....this number was unearthed by Decca/Deram for their "Northern Soul Scene" CD eons ago and I've finally gotten into it no doubt thanks to the VERY British production/backing which is tops in my book.  I'm still no closer to figuring out when the fuck this number is from as the CD liner notes are vague and it's not showing up in any of Mr. Rock On's discogs.

3. DEE AND THE QUOTUM-"Someday You'll Need Someone"
One of the sad things about owning just way too much music is you'll have had a track on a comp for ages and then it gets comped again and your mind is blown, only to discover you've had it all along.  Case in point this Canadian group's trippy phlange masterpiece from 1969 originally on "Rubble 18: Rainbow Thyme Wynders" and recently pricked up my ears on RPM's "Keep Lookin'" box set!

4. THE WILDWEEDS-"No Good To Cry"
I was first familiar with this number via Jimmy James & The Vagabonds and after some research tracked down the original by this blue eyed soul band from Connecticut from April 1967 which in my book slays all comers (including John Fred & The Playboy band who also covered it).  My pal Edmund Rudolph tells me they were fronted by one Al Anderson who went on to form NRBQ.

5. FABIENNE DESOL-"When My Mind Is Not Live"
My old friend Layla turned me onto this incredible cover of Status Quo's track recently and though not being a fan of much "new" music I was bowled over by this immediately.  The backing music is spot on to the original and Fabienne's dead sexy French accent just turns the whole thing into nothing short of KILLER.

6. GEORGIE FAME-"Try My World"
August 1967 saw Georgie Fame release his second single on CBS with his revamped sound and band.  I imagine most of his hardcore r&b loving fans were put off when this happened but I think the brilliant production touches by Denny Cordell and the sophisticated feel of this number pulls it off.  I've always imagined this playing in some cheezy Swinging London film with it's harp, muted trumpet solo and muzaky piano.

I've no idea how I came across this hysterical little groover from 1966 on the legendary ESP Disc label that I'm totally besotted with.  The lyrics are hysterical and the mildly r&b-ish groove is damned infectious and deserves to be comped somewhere. One wonders what the Hell's Angels M.C. thought of this number.

9.THE MOODY BLUES-"Peak Hour" (Live BBC 1967)
One of my main gripes with The Moodies essentially brilliant "Days Of Future Passed" album is the annoying orchestral bits linking all the amazing songs together.  The live BBC CD released a few years back remedies this while giving a glimpse of how amazingly tight they were both vocally and musically as this session from '67 proves.

10. DAVID BOWIE-"Maids Of Bond Street"
One of my fave tracks from Bowie's eponymous debut 1967 Deram LP is this ode to an actress who has it all except for the boy who's shunned her and the bright lights and big city that took her away.  It's one third Left Bank (as in Parisian sense with it's accordion, not the NY band ), one third jazz (check out the swing to the drums, bass, piano and choppy guitar chords)  and one third "light program" (dig the strings).  And it works!  And contains one of Bowie's most unusual lines "gleaming teeth sip aperitifs" . Criminally left off the U.S. edition!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Artwoods: Steady Gettin' It Dissected

The Artwoods “Steady Getting’ It: The Complete Recordings 1964-67” has been long awaited. With a host of live BBC tracks and an entire live disk culled from a gig in Denmark from 1967 it’s release has been the subject of much anticipation here.

The big surprise of disc one for me are the four demos by The Art Wood Combo.  The quality is amazing and sound surprisingly like the Graham Bond Organization sans saxophone. “Chicago Calling” being my fave of the four with a ska beat version of “Talkin’ About You” coming in as a close second. The rest of the tracks are the band’s A and B sides as well as the four cuts from their rare as hell E.P. “Jazz In Jeans” and their two cuts as The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. All these tracks are good, but you knew that already.  All the mixes are Mono so they sound a bit cleaner than what we’ve been used to with a harder edge on quite a few tracks making even numbers I’d been previously unimpressed with sound “new” and “fresh”. The really big news on this disc is the BBC sessions from ’65-’66 (all in pristine quality, no hand held mikes up to the radio speaker like some Beeb tracks in other places). Solid, well executed versions of Artwood’s faves “Goodbye Sisters”, “She Knows What To Do” and “Can You Hear Me” swing as do previously unheard live BBC versions of “Smack Dab In The Middle” and “Jump Back” and there’s two brief interviews with lead singer Art Wood.


Disc Two comprises of the band’s rare 1966 LP “Art Gallery” and more BBC sessions from ’66-’67 (equally in amazing quality).  It also brings to light one of the difficulties of the band’s career: all twelve cuts on the “Art Gallery” were covers and all the BBC cuts save “In The Deep End” are covers as well. That said the LP is a great eclectic mix of Stax (Eddie Floyd and Booker T), Atlantic (two Solomon Burke tracks!), Jazz (Jimmy Smith), Motown (Marvin Gaye), two Lee Dorsey numbers and others. The highlights from the BBC sessions from 1966 being storming versions of Marvin Gaye’s “One More Heartache”, Benny Spellman’s “I Feel Good”, Eddie Floyd’s “Things Get Better” and what would be the B-side of their final single, a band original “In The Deep End”. The 1967 session is equally powerful with “In The Deep End” again with its A-side, a version of Marvin Jenkin’s “What Shall I Do”, Otis Redding’s arrangement of The Fab’s “Day Tripper”, Billy Preston’s “Steady Gettin’ It” and the Mitch Ryder melding of “Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly”.

The third and final disc is for bona fide Artwoods completists only.  It's a 12 song live set from the interestingly named Funny Park in Denmark from 1967.  The sound quality is atrocious to the point that Art Wood's vocals are nearly obliterated by all the instrumentation.  It was a chore to actually listen to this entire disc in one sitting despite the fact the the band were a tight unit even this late in their game. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Amen

AMEN CORNER-High In The Sky/Run, Run, Run U.S. Deram 45-7521 1968

Today's topic was Cardiff, Wales favorite sons Amen Corner's fourth U.S. 45 release issued in October 1968 . It was released previously in July in the U.K. as (DM 197) where it became their highest charting record reaching a respectable #6.  No such luck in the U.S.A where their name would never pop up in the Billboard chart readings.  Issued in conjunction with their U.S. Deram LP "Round Amen Corner"  it was one of the first numbers I ever heard by them and still remains a fave.

Amen Corner's strength in my book always lay with their strong horn section twin sax attack of Allan Jones and Mike Smith which in my estimation helped compensate for lead singer Andy Fairweather Low's occasionally strained voice. "High In The Sky" benefits from the strong horn section as well as a nice fairground style feel to their churchy Hammond and grooves along quite nicely. The pounding, fluid James Jamerson style bass line weaving in and around the horns and Hammond is a further indication of how shit hot this band was.

"Run Run Run" suffers from the above mentioned tendency  by Fairweather Low in the vocal department, who like Chris Farlowe always seemed to be given numbers with keys he could never quite hit.  And regardless of what the musical backing is like (it's not at all un-listenable) it's lame, the tune itself is pretty weak as well.

Both sides can be found on the Deram CD reissue of their LP "Around Amen Corner".

See a half assed mime attempt from German TV's "Beat Club" below:

Hear "Run Run Run":

Saturday, September 13, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Cryin' Shames

THE CRYIN' SHAMES-(Don't Go) Please Stay/What's News Pussycat U.S. London 45-LON 100 1966

The Cryin' Shames sole U.S. release was their debut British single (Decca F 12340 February 1966), the Joe Meek produced cover of The Drifters 1961 opus "Please Stay". A minor hit at home (#26) it remains an obscurity here having failed to do anything. Curiously it was titled "(Don't Go) Please Stay" here.

Drenched in typical Meek echo induced organ "Please Stay" is a weak tune regardless who's playing it or who's twiddling the dials. The vocals sound like lead singer Charlie Crane has something in his mouth or has just had dental work and it's a sad example of how much crooner schlock Meek was wont to shell out whilst simultaneously recording monsters like The Buzz "You're Holding Me Down" (we profiled that one here).

The curiously titled "What's News Pussycat" bringing up the B-side (curious because the title does not appear in the lyrics) is far more entertaining.  It's a harmonica led bluesy/r&b thing with some downright Dylan inspired drawling lead vocals, far more listenable than the A-side and has zero to do with the Bacharach tune "What's New Pussycat".

"Please Stay" appears on Castle Music's double CD comp "Joe Meek The Alchemist Of Pop" whilst "What's News Pussycat" cropped up on their highly recommended CD comp "Joe Meek Freakbeat".

Watch "What's News Pussycat" on ABC-TV's "Where The Action Is":

Watch "Please Stay"on ABC-TV's "Where The Action Is"(embedding disabled by some prat):

Friday, September 5, 2014

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides:"Professor" Stanley Unwin's U.K. 45.

STANLEY UNWIN-Goldilocks/The Saucy Apprentice U.K. Pye 7N 15436 1962

Most of you here are aware of Stanley Unwin from his narrative on The Small Faces 1968 LP "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake", some of you may even have heard his 1960 spoken word LP "Rotatey Diskers" (Americans will perhaps know him from the film "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" as The Chancellor of Vulgaria).  If you don't know of him he was an English comedian who created his own whimsical language called "Unwinese". "Unwinese" consists of throwing lots of endings on words (he was quite fond of "bold" or "load" on things, whereas "sing" would become "singbold" or "singload" or adding "Y" endings on words).  In a country that embraced numerous eccentric comedians, Unwin became quite famous and in demand eventually leading to a career and ultimately being asked to narrate The Small Faces LP after spending some time with them to pick up on their "dialogue".

It wasn't till record browsing at the end of last year that I became aware of his single which I dutifully snapped up (at an affordable price I might add).  I had heard a few things on YouTube from "Rotatey Diskers" so I was quite surprised that unlike the album both tracks on the 45 have a light jazzy backing as the LP is, from what I've heard, spoken word only. Stanley Unwin's "material" isn't something you'll listen to over and over again but it is amusing for a cursory look.

"Goldilocks" will certainly come as no surprise to Small Faces fans as he uses a few phrases recognizable from "Ogden's.." with some mild jazzy piano, stand up bass and muted trumpet tinkling away in the background whilst Stanley recites his interpretation of Goldilocks over the top.

"The Saucy Apprentice" follows the same formula with a jazzy backing that sounds at times, faintly like "Cheesecake" but the music is a bit more swinging making it sound like a wiggy beatnik record!!

Hear "Goldilocks":

Hear "The Saucy Apprentice":

Stanley Unwin narrating in-between The Small Faces "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" LP on the TV series "Colour Me Pop" 1968:

 For more clips please visit this website and click on "audio":