Monday, October 27, 2014

October's Picks

1. THE LOOSE ENDS-"Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore"
One of my favorite examples of freakbeat is this U.K. 1966 cover of The Young Rascals 1965 track on Decca. The vocals take a snatch of Jagger vitriol and dash it with some soul, pile in a blistering, distorting lead guitar solo and this, my friends, is what freakbeat is all about.

2. THE POPPY FAMILY-"No Blood In Bone"
I stumbled upon this trippy number while watching a movie earlier this month and Shazam-ed it and lo and behold it was from The Poppy Family, a one hit wonder duo famous for "Which Way You Going Billy" (second in playground serenades by classmates to me to "Billy Don't Be A Hero" in the early 70's). The number has a wigged out vibe with it's psychedelic intro and immediately lapses into this funky groove with electronic strings, throbby bass, fuzz guitar, groovy organ and lots of phlange! And it has a damned infectious groove!

3. JUNCO PARTNERS-"Natural Thoughts"
From their untitled 1970 LP which has appeared recently on iTunes comes this hard driving number that my pal Ivy Vale turned me onto a good 20 years back that is not at all unlike The Small Faces '68 in parts with soulful vocals, a driving rhythm section and some balls.

4. THE PEDDLERS-"On A Clear Day You Can See Forever"
One of my fave Peddler's tunes is their jazzy/supper club/easy version of "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" with it's swirling strings, harp and organ.  Used with perfection in an episode of "Breaking Bad" where they're cooking blue meth.  Odd.

5. SIMON & GARFUNKEL-"Patterns"
Besides coming back with a fake British accent after his brief month long hiatus across the pond Paul Simon also came back with a deep appreciation for Davy Graham, Bert Jansch and "Eastern" tinged folk music. This number from their "Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme" album has an Eastern slant to it with tabla, Graham style guitar licks and a very British '67 pop/psych feel to it. Originally cut by Simon and the other guy on their '65 LP "The Paul Simon Songbook" it was re-recorded following Simon getting "tuned in" and (perhaps) "turned on".

6. JETHRO TOE (TULL)-"Aeroplane"
This is the flip of the 1968 debut 45 by those flute driven hippies (with their moniker deliberately sabotaged on the label credits by their producer who thought "Jethro Toe" wasn't as naff as "Jethro Tull").  Believe it or not it's a great mid tempo number that sits somewhere between The Moody Blues and Jason Crest, wonderfully produced with some jazzy little tinges.  Wow!

7. DUFFY POWER-"Red White And Blue"
One of the crown jewels of RPM's Duffy Power compilation "Vampers And Champers" (also released previously as "Just Stay Blue" or "Little Boy Blues"), a collection of unreleased mid 60's tracks cut by the master himself is this brilliant little track.  Soulfully wailing above some jazzy stand up bass, jazzy little guitar licks and some mild drums (and a harmonica solo, naturally) this number epitomizes "cool" in my book.

The Move onstage at the Marquee Club during their residency 1966

8. THE MOVE-"Can't Hear You No More"
Unearthed on a tape for their "Anthology 1966-1972" box set the pre-record contract Move (at the height of their soul covers period) cut a great "beat group" version of Betty Everett's classic for this radio session from January 1966 shortly after the groups formation.

Speaking of The Move....this September 1965 single by Mike Sheridan's Lot (Formerly Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders) features the talents of Roy Wood on lead guitar and vocals (distinctly noticeable on the chorus but singing the whole number in tandem with Mike Sheridan) before he cut one more single with them and jumped ship to start the Move.  This number is British 60's beat group perfection in my book.

10. GENE CHANDLER-"(Gonna Be) Good Times"
In my book the ultimate 60's r&b/soul anthem is not "The IN Crowd" by Dobie Grey but this one by Gene Chandler from 1965 on Constellation records:
"Early evenin' and the weather's fair, dark glasses and don't give a care,
Finger popppin' out on the street all dressed and neat".

Sunday, October 26, 2014


We here at "Anorak Thing" are paying tribute to the late, great Jack Bruce by directing you all to go give a listen to his 1965 debut 45 on Polydor records.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Well Respected Odyssey

My first inkling of the Kink's came from their 1965 U.S. hit " A Well Respected Man" which I'd heard on an Oldies station that my mother always had on at some point in the late 70's . I'd no idea who this band singing were but I knew they sounded British.  I could only recall the melody after awhile as the words slipped from my brain.  There was no Internet, no iTunes, no YouTube, no Shazam and humming it to my parents and friends was about as useful as trying to get a four year old to translate ancient Hebrew. So I devised my own lyrics that I sang to myself to it's melody to keep it fresh in my head in the hopes that one day I'd discover it's true identity (I did the same for The Hollie's "On A Carousel"):

"with my monophonic electric double neck guitar I go driving past here house here in a big black shiny car"

Silly yeah I know but I was all of 12 or 13 .  It wasn't until a few years later I was humming it in school in the hall (it had a great echo down this one ancient corridor) and a teacher heard me.  Instead of reprimanding me he said "Kinks eh?" I'd like to think I said "I beg your pardon", but I was in my early teens so my answer was more than likely: "What?". The reply was something to the effect of  "the Kinks, they're a British group".  Conversation led to the divulging of this songs title and I scrawled it on the inside of a notebook: "A Well Respected Man" by The Kinks. As mentioned above there was no iTunes or way to instantly find this song, not that I had any money to do so anyway so it was all but forgotten until Xmas of 1982 or 1983 (in a time period where I'd reconnected myself with British 60's sounds that were from 1980 on dashed away by punk and '79 mod and ska bands). For Xmas my parents bought me a British Kinks compilation LP called "The Kinks Greatest Hits" (more than likely from Jamesway a department store chain who's record department always had loads of odd British LP's on Marble Arch, Pickwick and etc, you can read more on my Jamesway experience here).  They'd no idea whether I'd heard of them or not and to be honest I'd all but forgotten them till I heard that tune. It was an odd comp as it contained "A Well Respected Man" (which was not a hit in the U.K. just an E.P. track as mentioned earlier) as well as another E.P. tune "Wait Till Summer Comes Along".

"A Well Respected Man" first saw the light of day on the "Kwyet Kinks" E.P. (Pye NEP 24221 in September 1965). a month later it was launched as an A-side in the United States where it rose to # 13( the fourth Kinks single to break the American top 20, their next to last hit of the 60's here in the States). To me it epitomizes crucial trademarks of Ray Davie's 60's songwriting: social commentary and the distinction between the classes. The lyrics probably didn't mean much here in the States and it's probably the only time the word "fags" was used in the American Top 40 (though certainly not the derogatory phrase we Yanks know it as). It's lyrically cynical but it's bitterness is assuaged  by it's bouncy cheeky chappie delivery because of course Ray is merely taking the piss out of these morally bankrupt, decadent Toffs . Again I'm sure all this flew over everyone's heads here.

Kinda Kinky

I've borrowed the lyrics from one of those dodgy lyrics websites but they seem accurate to me.

'Cause he gets up in the morning,
And he goes to work at nine,
And he comes back home at five-thirty,
Gets the same train every time.
'Cause his world is built 'round punctuality,
It never fails.

And he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And his mother goes to meetings,
While his father pulls the maid,
And she stirs the tea with councilors,
While discussing foreign trade,
And she passes looks, as well as bills
At every suave young man

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he likes his own backyard,
And he likes his fags the best,
'Cause he's better than the rest,
And his own sweat smells the best,
And he hopes to grab his father's loot,
When Pater passes on.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he plays at stocks and shares,
And he goes to the Regatta,
And he adores the girl next door,
'Cause he's dying to get at her,
But his mother knows the best about
The matrimonial stakes.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Spencer Davis Group Mk. II Part II

THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP-Time Seller/Don't Want You No More U.S. United Artists UA 50202 1967

As discussed in an earlier entry here the 2nd line up of the Spencer Davis Group had a dual life as a pop psych band and an r&b act. Here we have another example that follows suit.

"Time Seller" was the new look S.D.G. line up's (discussed in our earlier entry) U.S. debut 45 hitting the streets in August 1967 (it's U.K. counterpart on Fontana TF 854 was released a month earlier). It's an amazing little pop psych number that starts with some VERY '67 sounds: sawing cellos, harpsichords and soulful vocals and an amazing melody (with some typically silly lyrics courtesy of band members Spencer Davis, Eddie Hardin and Phil Sawyer). This is the stuff that dreams are made of, especially in the "Summer of love" (god what an awful phrase, I hear it and I have to picture Monkey boots,  #2 crops and  Desmond Dekker until it goes away).

"Don't Want You No More" is typical pedestrian white boy '67 blues (when everyone and their brother wanted to be John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers).  Yawn.  The only treat is the cool organ solo, sadly offset by twangy blues licks and it's back to sleep.....

Both tracks can be found on their U.S. LP "With Their New Face On...".

Hear "Don't Want You No More":

 Cool 1967 promo film for "Time Seller":


Sunday, October 5, 2014

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels:The Swinging Sound of Jimmy James & The Vagabonds

JIMMY JAMES & THE VAGABONDS-Red Red Wine/No Good To Cry U.S. Atco 45-6608 1968

Sixties London night spot live sensations Jimmy James and The Vagabonds never troubled the hit parade in the U.K. but that didn't stop their U.K. label Piccadilly from issuing a slew of 45's there. Managed  by  mod kingpin Peter Meaden, who became their manager after being eased out of that role for The Who, they were a  band of musos oiled into a well drilled r&b/soul machine after initially playing ska/calypso. Like Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band they worked hard, gigged daily, put on some energetic shows but fame remained elusive for them, no doubt like Geno et al owed to the fact that their material was for the most part, covers of U.S. soul/r&b.

This was their third single in the States, their second on Atco (who also released their LP "The New Religion"  as Atco SD 33-222 in 1967). A good year before Tony Tribe's reggae-fied version Jimmy James and Co. covered Neil Diamond's March 1968 track "Red Red Wine". It was released in the U.S. in September 1968, three months after the U.K. issue (their first on the Pye label as 7N 17175 ) with a different flip than it's U.K. counterpart utilizing the their previous G.B. A-side "No Good to Cry" as the underside here.

Jimmy James & The Vagabonds live 1968 c/o

"Red Red Wine" is delivered in a slow orchestrated manner.  It's not a bad tune and Jimmy James certainly has a great voice but it's purely M.O.R. stuff.  The real guts are on the uptempo soulful B-side "No Good To Cry".  The number was originally cut a year earlier in the U.S. on the Cadet label (5561) by a white soul band called The Wildweeds, once again illustrating the continuing "cover band" issue.  Jimmy James and the boys pull out all the stops but pretty much stick to the original arrangement, the only difference being the production on the Vagabonds version is a bit better but it's unfortunately nowhere near the original!

Both sides have been issued in a variety of compilations as Castle, who owns Piccadilly/Pye is pretty easy with their licensing. The best place is on a double CD of their material "Sock It To 'Em J.J.: The Soul Years" that is still in print and collects the best of their Piccadilly/Pye material.

Hear "Red Red Wine":

Hear "No Good To Cry":