We're kicking December's Picks off a bit early as , well... we want our Xmas holiday away from the Internet...happy holidays to you all and see you in 2015!
1. AMOS MILBURN-"Christmas Comes But Once A Year"
This mid tempo rock n' blues holiday number by Amos Milburn is one of my "seasonal favorites" so it's a fitting way to kick off this month's playlist!
2. THE BOB SEGER SYSTEM-"Sock It To Me Santa"
#1 in my "seasonal favorites" is this balls out December 1966 belter by Bob Seger that soulfully mimics James Brown's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and Mitch Ryder and proves indeed that some white boys had soul in the 60's.
"He's dressed real mod from head to toes, he's lost a little weight but his jelly still rolls...".
3. THE SYN-"Grounded"
The Syn were pretty much the Marquee Club's house band opening for mod faves The Action and The Who frequently. This number owes a great deal to both in the high, soulful backing vocals that are every bit The Action and the controlled feed backing/toggle switch Rickenbacker guitar is pure Who. Slap on some groovy Farfisa and a driving beat and you have this Deram 1967 masterpiece.
4. RORY STORM & THE HURRICANES-"Brand New Cadillac (Live)"
Ramshackle, pretty awful drumming (not Ringo as one of our reader's has pointed out, he had the night off!) and lo-fi but the energy and rawness can't be matched. One listen and you've heard the exact moment that The Milkshakes were conceived. From the CD "Live At The Jive Hive" (really a church hall in Liverpool) which collects an entire gig recording in March, 1960 that's so vibrant you can almost imagine what it was like being there.
5. RICHARD BERRY & THE PHARAOHS-"Louie Louie"
Dobie Grey sang "but the original is still the greatest" and one lisen to this and you'll agree that although the Kingsmen version is a classic this beats the shit out of it and leaves it gasping for air with it's faux Caribbean accent, cool as hell delivery.
6. THE VAPORS-"News At Ten"
"Times gonna make you a man someday and you won't wanna go out and play with your friends..."
7. THE WHO-"Leaving Here" (Version 1)
My all time fave cover of Eddie Holland's mod opus is this version cut by The Who when they were still the High Numbers. Though erroneously credited as the first version on several Who products the version first properly reissued was actually a second go the band had at it produced by Shel Talmy. This version finally saw the light of day as a bonus cut on the "Odds & Sods" CD (which cocks it's origin up in the liner notes). This take is far more gutsy in my book, no doubt fueled by certain "substances"?
8. THE SMALL FACES-"Understanding"
In the spring of 1982 I pooled my hard earned, saved, scrimped $$ together and bought a ticket to see The Jam, the first LP by The (English) Beat and my very first Small Faces LP. It was a shoddy affair called "By Appointment" (see above photo) that contained a host of Decca era tracks (including several alternate versions that would not see a proper issue until the deluxe edition of the 1st LP) and even a song that wasn't them but was in fact a Decca folk trio named Adam, Mike and Tim who's "Little Pictures" was listed as "What's The Matter Baby". None of the tracks on this album stood out as much as "Understanding": bass heavy, the lyrics ("but people if you don't understand what I'm puttin' down there is no more I can do.."), the whistle blown right after a thundering drum break and the almost Satanic "la la la la" chant. Magic to my ears then and still is.
9. DC FONTANA-"Saturn In Her Eyes"
I'm usually the "last to know first two go" on stuff. That'd explain DC Fontana, whom I've only recently been hipped to by a pal in the U.K. (hello David!) who sent me their CD "Six Against Eight". This number blows my mind with it's otherworldly mix of fuzz guitar, combo organ, strings, brass, table, sitar the whole kitchen sink, damned trippy!
10. CARLOS MALCOLM-"Monkey Man Ska"
This brilliant number is more r&b/Latin than ska but it encompasses all of those genres with a surprising beat that never fails to make my toes tap. I discovered it on a U.S. LP comp on Amy records titled "Jamaica Ska" (one of several U.S. mid 60's LP comps of that name) launched in a somewhat misguided attempt to bring ska into middle America.