Wednesday, April 29, 2015

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Geno!

GENO WASHINGTON & THE RAMJAM BAND-Que Sera Sera/All I Need U.S. Kapp K-796 1966

I always find it ironic and fascinating that there were a few ex-American servicemen making a killing in Britain in the 60's as singers in English soul/r&b bands.  Evansville, Indiana's Geno Washington was one of them. Having been discharged from the U.S. Air Force Washington chose to stay in the U.K. where he'd been stationed and blagged his way into fronting The Ram Jam Band, an all white British soul/r&b act (hear about it here in an episode of The Modcast).

This was his third and final 45 issued in his home country in December 1966 and his only on the Kapp label (his two previous singles were both on the Congress label:  "Water" b/w "Understanding" CG-269 in May of '66 and "Hi! Hi! Hazel" b/w "Beach Bash" CG-273 in July '66).  Like his two previous Congress releases this Kapp offering failed to give Geno a hit in the U.S.A. Kapp later issued Geno's debut long player "Hand Clappin' Foot Stompin' Funky-Butt...Live!" here (KS-3515) early in 1967.

Washington's version of "Que Sera Sera" is no doubt based on The Shirelles 1966 version though I find it outclasses any other takes I've heard on it.  The Ram Jam Band's stellar Hammond n' horns recipe really bring it on in this number and Geno gives it his best as well with an interesting part towards the end where the band kicks into a ska rhythm and Geno begins improvising with it after shouting "Hey! Policeman stop that man!" with a blast of a whistle.

"All I Need" is pretty lackluster as it doesn't exactly do Geno any favors in the vocals department as it isn't exactly suited though the musical backing is solid as always and there's a kitschy little organ solo.

Both sides are available on the double Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band CD retrospective "My Bombers My Dexys My Highs:The 60's Studio Sessions".

Hear "Que Sera Sera":

Hear "All I Need":

"Que Sera Sera" live on German TV's "Beat Club" live at London's Marquee Club:

Friday, April 24, 2015

April's Picks

I recently checked out an old movie with Debbie Harry and and a mod looking Norman Reedus ("The Walking Dead") called "Six Ways To Sunday" and it featured this amazing unreleased 1969 track by an all girl band from Nashville that blew my mind and is by far the best song I've heard this year.  The trailer above features it. I highly recommend you check out the song and the film.

2. REG KING-"In My Dreams"
Reg King's re-recording of The Action's "Rolled Gold/Brain" classic was featured on his 1971 untitled solo LP.  It's a lot heavier than original but still works and it's pretty interesting.It also features former Action members Mick Evans, Roger Powell and Martin Stone as well as Brian Godding of Blossom Toes fame backing him up.

3. WYNDER K. FROG-"I Feel So Bad"
A Hammond tour de force with strings version of a Jackie Edwards tune from their debut 1967 Island records LP "Sunshine Super Frog". This number has a certain quality of sophistication AND soul to it that makes it required listening.

4.BRENDA LEE-"Is It True"
Brenda Lee was brought over to the U.K. in 1964 to cut this Carter/Lewis track and it features the distinct volume pedal string bending guitar style of a young Jimmy Page. I'd love to know who else played on the session, the drumming leads me to suspect Bobbie Graham and though I'm not remotely a Brenda Lee fan both this (and it's flip, a rocking version of "What'd I Say") are incredible.

5. BRENTON WOOD-"Psychotic Reaction"
I had all but forgotten Brenton Wood's insane cover of the Count  Five's "Psychotic Reaction" (I can't really call it a cover, it's more of a cover up with Wood's vocals and a cheezy combo organ placed over the top of the Count Five's track).  I'd love to know how that came about but seeing as they were label mates on Double Shot anything is possible. Interestingly it only came out as a 45 in Italy!

6. LOVE-"Dream"
From their "Four Sail" LP I discovered this song in the intro of a low budget zombie film called "Mulberry Street" (worth checking out actually).  It reminds me of what would've happened if the Bee Gees cut a record with Jimi Hendrix, I kid you not.  Put that in your ear and dig it!

I have always preferred Pete's 1965 demo of "Magic Bus" to the original and hearing it in "Lambert & Stamp" made me dust off "Scoop" and it's brilliance all came flowing back.  The disjointed percussion, double tracked vocals and acoustic guitars all have the right amount of echo on them and are utterly hypnotic in my book.

8. MANFRED MANN-"Oh No Not My Baby"
Check out the intricate intertwining of Hammond and horns at the intro and the power chords and vibes a bit later on and you'll see why the Manfreds were one of the hottest bunch of musicians in the mid 60's with a perfect balance of soul, jazz and r&b.

9. ADAM & THE ANTS-"Dog Eat Dog"
It makes me proud, so proud of you to see the innocence shining through....

10. THE MONKEES-"Words (original recording)"
The Monkees original recording of "Words" sat on the shelf until their 1990 "Missing links Two" compliation.  The guitars are harder edged, there's some trippy little raga licks, an "Along Comes Mary" style flute and the whole thing is 100 times better than the "Pleasant Valley Sunday" flipside version. Check out the backwards tape action at 2:36!  Curiously this version was used in the TV show which left Monkeemaniacs waiting 24 years to own it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Anorak Thing Playlist Mixes: "REVOLVER"

I'm the king of making myself playlists, for entertaining, for the gym, for listening in the car etc.  They often have a theme.  To inaugurate the first of what I hope will be many playlists here I've started off with one that I made awhile ago with various artists doing tracks from The Beatle's "Revolver" LP in the album's original running order.

 1. THE LOOSE ENDS-"Taxman"
Funky bongos, go-go organ, cowbell and a groove that seethes London 1966, The Loose End's version was released cannily on August 5th , the same day as the "Revolver" LP and "Disc & Music Echo" reported that the band presented a copy to Edward Heath at No. 10 Downing Street. Sadly no pictures exist to corroborate that claim!

Hear it on: "The Freakbeat Scene" CD Deram/Decca

2. THE ELIMINATORS-"Eleanor Rigby"
From their 1966 Pye LP "Guitars And Percussion" (NPL 18160) of instrumental treatments of  60's pop classics like this take on "Eleanor Ribgy". It breaks from the typical Shadows instrumental mold care of some nice volume pedal work on the guitar with a wiggy bossa nova feel thanks to the organ and percussion with some thundering kettle drums perfectly accenting the while thing.

Hear it on: "Instrumental Diamonds Volume 3: Out Of This World" CD Sequel

3. LOBO- "I'm On Sleeping"
Okay laugh it up back there.....done?!  Anyway mid 70's boredom merchant Lobo (real name Roland Kent LaVoie, news to me I'd wrongly assumed for the past 4 decades they were a band!) cut a decent version that was released as a B-side in 1974.  He stuck to the plan and did it pretty much like the Fab's but undercut it with some subtle strings and weird mood that really makes it sort of dreamy AND lysergic. See there was life after "Me And You And A Dog Named Boo"!

Hear it on: "Just A Singer" CD Rhino/Atlantic

4.CORNERSHOP-"Love You Too"
Cornershop were one of those bands everyone beat me to death with in the 90's that sent me heading to the hills and my U.K. 60's freakbeat 45's.  One day in a Starbucks I heard this wiggy version of "Love you Too" and lo and behold thanks to Shazam it was Cornershop. It's pretty much just a modern note for note cover of the original but actually works.  If it ain't broke....

Hear it on; Cornershop "Something Makes You Feel Like" CD Ample Play Recordings

Sleeve c/o

5. EPISODE SIX-"Here There Everywhere"
Easily trumping The Fourmost's version (which was released on....Agust 5th, 1966) the Episode Six version was launched a few weeks later (August 19th to be precise). Sticking to a light arrangement with some subtle organ it's carried by the band's harmonies led by the lead vocals of a young Ian Gillian before he became a headbanger.

Hear it on: "The Roots of Deep Purple: The Complete Episode Six" CD Sequel

6. THE SHE TRINITY-"Yellow Submarine"
U.K. female group The She Trinity crash into a Mickie Most produced cash-in unleashed on August 19, 1966.  It has a raw feel not at all unlike a  Delmonas/Headcoatees record accented by a brief bash of "Louie Louie" after the line "and the band begins to play" and a sketch comedy bit where the Beatles are sighted through the periscope and predictable female Beatlemaniac hysteria ensures. This record is dying for a reissue somewhere!

Hear it on: 1966 single (U.K.) Columbia DB 7992

7. THE CHORDS-"She Said She Said"
'79 mod heroes The Chord's show they're not afraid to love the Fab Four on their debut 1980 LP "So Far Away" (Polydor POLS 1019) .  It's sort of pedestrian at times but works because they have a punky little bash at it and in the last 30 seconds offer a wonderful cross of harmonies meets football terrace chanting!

Hear it on: "So Far Away" CD Captain Mod

8. ROY REDMOND-"Good Day Sunshine"
This Jerry Ragovoy produced 1968 version  cut by one Roy Redmond has an incredible Wilson Pickett feel to it from the punchy brass and groovy female backing vocals to Redmond's powerful voice this will easily make you forget the abomination that was cut by The Eyes two years prior.

Hear it on: "The Best of Loma Records: The Rise And Fall Of A 1960's Soul Label" CD Warner Brothers

9. THE JAM-"And Your Bird Can Sing"
Not really the Jam but from what I recall it's Paul Weller and then Jam producer Peter Wilson horsing about it the studio where they cut a few covers.  It's not great but it is interesting to hear the Jam/Paul Weller do a Beatles cover before "Come Together".  The organ playing along with the main riff makes a bit more interesting as well. Next...

Hear it on: The Jam-"Extras" CD Polydor

10. CILLA BLACK-"For No One"
Issued as the October 1966 flip to "A Fool I Am (Dimello Parlami)" (Parlophone R5515) good old Cilla could always count on a Fab Four track or two thanks to their old association and sharing the same manager in  Brian Epstein. Cilla's voice is shrill at times. The saving grace is George Martin's stellar arrangement featuring a very regal sounding trumpet (that sounds better than the original version's).

Hear it on: "The Best of 1963-1978" CD EMI

11. PLUME-"Doctor Robert"
Here's an interesting one.  A Canadian single from 1967 sung in French.  It sticks to the Fab's original arrangement though it's sped up a bit it's damned interesting as, well you don't get to come across many 60's Beatles tracks in other languages.

Hear it on: 1967 single (Canada) Plume CN-9026

12. THE LAMBRETTAS-"I Want To Tell You"
More '79 mods....from the Lambretta's 1981 second LP "Ambiance" recorded after they had shed their suits and parkas. The band confidently and competently handle George's original with gusto and aplomb, a true gem on an album otherwise lost in a jazz chorus effect/Police-aping mess.

Hear it on: "D-a-a-a-ance: The Anthology" CD Sanctuary

Another August 5th release.  This one actually charted in England (#6!). Recorded in July 1966 at EMI'S Abbey Road Studio 3 it was produced by David Paramor and Paul McCartney (though uncredited on the 45 label). It's a tour de force testament to the powerful soulful vocals of Cliff Bennett and the stellar ability of the Rebel Rousers brass section (Moss Groves and Sid Phillips) that is beyond any shadow of a doubt the best "Revolver" cover version out there.

Hear it on: "At Abbey Road 1963-1969" CD EMI

14. THE MIRAGE-"Tomorrow Never Knows"
Freakbeat/proto psych act The Mirage took a chance and released this as an A-side in December '66 (Phillips BF 1534) where it promptly sank without a trace (backed by the solid mod/freakbeat "You Can't Be Serious" which should've been the A-side).  Instead of carbon copying the Fab's I have to give them credit by making it their own by speeding it up and adding an almost Who-feel to it with droning feedback that gives it a trippy feel.

Hear it on: "Tomorrow Never Knows: Singles And Lost Sessions 1965-1968" CD RPM

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Scaffold: Into The 70's

THE SCAFFOLD-All The Way Up/Please Sorry U.K. Parlophone R 5847 1970

The comedy/satire trio of Scaffold persevered long after the 1960's. Comprised of Paul McCartney's younger brother Mike (using the nomme de guerre of "Mike McGear"), poet Roger McGough and John Gorman they were fixtures in the U.K. throughout the mid to late 60's where they actually racked up quite a few hits.  American 60's music fans will know them best as the white suited trio singing in a Watney's commercial on one of the old "Ready! Steady! Go!" VHS volumes (to the tune of their hit "Lilly The Pink").  I recently stumbled on this one for $2.00 in a record store in Minneapolis and took a chance on it. It was their 9th single for Parlophone (and their first of the decade).  The label credits the A-side from being the theme to a film called "All The Way Up" which a little Googling tells us was a 1970 comedy.

"All The Way Up" is a typical boozy Scaffold sing along type number number. It's jaunty and cheeky with some rocking backing actually (and this nifty organ that swoops in).  It's chorus easily screams "theme song" though it sounds more suited as a TV sit com theme than a film tune.

Messers Gorman, McGear and McGough aka The Scaffold

"Please Sorry" (composed by Mike McGear) follows the usual Scaffold nursery rhyme rhyming lyrics but with some pop psych type strings. Not at all unlistenable to not catchy enough to want to play more than once!

Both sides are available on a Scaffold compilation called ":Scaffold At Abbey Road 1966-1971"

Hear "All The Way Up":

Hear "Please Sorry":

Monday, April 13, 2015

Solid Floor Fillers: Don Fardon "I'm Alive"

DON FARDON-I'm Alive/Keep On Loving Me U.K. Young Blood 1969

God bless Rob Bailey's 2004 "Le Beat Bespoke" CD compilation which brought the world Don Fardon's cover of Tommy James and The Shondell's "I'm Alive" (flipside of their May 1969 single "Crystal Blue Persuasion", though in truth the first version was released in April of 1969 by Johnny Thunder).

Fardon's version is easily my favorite of the bunch due in no small part to the stellar arrangement and musical backing directed by Nicky Welsh.  From it's subtle bongos and fuzz guitar intro that gives way to some powerful horns and catchy little guitar licks while the ex-Sorrows front man soulfully croons above some angelic Flirtations style female backing vocals.  The whole thing is a dance floor tour de force!

"Keep On Loving Me" vaguely reminds me of a bubblegum version of "Keep On Running".  It starts out alright and has some great poppy hooks but the falsetto  backing vocals at times are too syrupy-sappy pop crappy for my liking, which is a shame because the backing is hard driving.

"I'm Alive" is available as mentioned above on the excellent "Le Beat Bespoke" CD and both sides are available on a Don Fardon Castle records double CD anthology called "Coventry Boy" and a CD by RPM called "I'm Alive: 68/69 Hip Pop And Swinging Beat" of Fardon's material from that era.

Tom Jones cut an amazing cover version of "I'm Alive" as a bonus cut on his 2008 CD "The Hours" which uses the Don Fardon version as it's note for note template which is well worth seeking out. No doubt inspired by this was a 2010 club dance mix of Don Fardon's version remixed and released with a music video (see below, with a cameo by Don Fardon as the gardener).

Hear "I'm Alive":

Hear "Keep On Loving Me":

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

There are things I have to say that must be heard.....

ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS-San Franciscan Nights/Gratefully Dead U.K. MGM 1359 1967

Eric Burdon & The Animals lead the psychedelic charge in the charts in 1967. The Pink Floyd and company may have been the real psychedelic renegades but Eric and his band of brothers were constantly in the charts and music weeklies and still selling records on both sides of the Atlantic in massive doses (especially here in the States where The Animals, like The Yardbirds, Dave Clark Five, Zombies and Herman's Hermits were far bigger than their home country).

Unleashed in October 1967 Burdon and Co.'s ode to the city of love "San Franciscan Nights" is just too contrived and must be taken with a grain of salt in the understanding that it's author's was viewing it all through lysergicly enhanced rose colored glasses. Musically it's an okay track, but I somehow can't get past the whole hippie ethos of it all.  Maybe it was real and it was beautiful but the hippie dream for me is always soured by Yippie assholes waving North Vietnamese Army flags, the great unwashed and socialites screaming in their death throes at 10050 Cielo Drive.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's heavy guitar/funky groove knocked Britain into a spell that everyone fell under and none more so than his friend Eric Burdon, a former Geordie flat cap now a Swinging London acid messiah and crown/clown prince of the city's "IN" crowd night spot set. "Gratefully Dead" falls face first into that pond with it's funky Chambers Brothers groove and bursts of Hendrixy guitar while Burdon preaches his gospel of peace, love and more love like he's tripping his brains out and addressing their entire human race through one great megaphone.  As jaded as the message may sound it works because the backing track is so damned rocking and funky.  The number comes to an abrupt halt at 3:08 like someone leaned on the turntable before springing back into life. Whether it's title is meant as some sort of transatlantic show of psychedelic solidarity and brotherhood or a two finger salute to those unspectacular Frisco longhairs I'll never know, sadly I suspect it was the former.  For whatever reason the Animal's U.S. label must have been concerned about the title as "Gratefully Dead" was never released here on either the "San Fran.."  flip side or as an LP track (it was curiously replaced on the U.S. B-side with the A-side of their previous U.K. release "Good Times" as U.S. MGM K 13769).

"San Franciscan Nights" is on about 100 Eric Burdon & The Animals compilations, in fact I think there's a law that if one is issued it must contain this track. "Gratefully Dead" is more elusive, the only place I've ever seen it in a reissue was on a deluxe CD of the band's 1968 LP "Winds Of Change".

Hear "Gratefully Dead":