Thursday, January 21, 2016

Anorak Thing's Top 5 Great "Mod" Albums

What is "mod"? What makes an album "mod"? That argument has troubled message boards, Internet forums, social media and boozy post gig gatherings for eons. Is a "mod" long player one that was recorded by a group of people who were mods or was it made by a group of people beloved by mods or even made by a group of people who weren't mods  but specifically recorded it with mods in mind?  Too many questions and the answer is pointless because as Billy Harner observed in his groovy soul side "What About The Music? and that's what we're here for. To me "mod"  is in the eye (and more importantly the ear) of the beholder and to my eyes and ears it's the 1960's on both sides of the Atlantic from the American music that spawned it to the British music that was influenced by it and made it their own. I have been on this wild ride called "mod" since 1980 so my musical tastes have been all over the place. I recently was contacted by Adaptor Clothing and asked what my top 5 mod albums would be for a piece they would be doing on their Instagram account.  Picking 5 long player's was no easy task so I just went with ones by some of my favorites that encapsulated what it was all about to me. Read on squire.

1. GEORGIE FAME & THE BLUE FLAMES-"Sweet Things" U.K. Columbia SX 6043 1966
My intro to Georgie Fame came via a "Ready Steady Go" VHS tape in 1984 and a crusty 45 of "Yeh Yeh" that belonged to a friend's dad.  Shortly after I sprung for a copy of "20 Beat Classics" and it was on. But for me Fame's most "mod" LP was a toss up between his debut LP "Rhythm And blues at The Flamingo" and "Sweet Things" (I honestly decided which one to profile here by flipping a coin). "Sweet Things" was Georgie Fame's third U.K. LP (released in the States in an altered form as "Getaway") was also his last with the Blue Flames AND his next to last with Columbia records before moving to the more M.O.R./full on jazz sounds with CBS. For me it perfectly epitomizes "mod" as it weaves little bits of a patchwork of songs and styles that I have come to believe original 60's mods enjoyed. Just a run down of the track selection culled from American soul labels should be enough to get the idea:  Motown (The Spinners "Sweet Thing" , "My Girl" and Stevie Wonder's "Music Talk") , Chess (Billy Stewart's "Sitting In The Park") , Stax (Rufus Thomas "The World Is Round" and The Mar-Key's "Last Night"), Atlantic (Don Covay's "See Saw") to a host of other US soul/r&b groovers (Joe Hinton's "Funny", " The In Crowd", Sam Cooke's "It's Got The Whole World Shaking" and Lee Dorsey's "Ride Your Pony") and even ska (a cover of the randy Lord Kitchner ditty "Dr. Kitch"). None of them were note for note copies of the originals and were all delivered in the celebrated "Hammond n' horns" recipe that made the band famous and beloved of modernists then and now.

2. THE ACTION-"The Ultimate Action" U.K. Edsel ED 101 1980
Back in 1984 here in New Jersey/New York no self respecting mod worth their salt would be without a copy of this collection of singles and unreleased material by the 60's U.K. mod band The Action (along with Georgie Fame's "20 Beat Classics" and The Artwood's Edsel comp "100 Oxford Street") . The bonus at the time this came out for most mods was it had liner notes by Paul Weller( where he namechecked other 60's "mod" bands who I would later discover). Produced by the legendary George Martin The Action released 5 singles in Britain on Parlophone from 1965-1967, none of which were hits. The band drew from a host of American soul/r&b sides from better known artists like The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas or to more obscure ones like Maurice & The Radiants or Mickey Lee Lane. Like Georgie Fame their covers were interpretations, not carbon copy attempts at the originals and they benefited from having in their line up one Reg King, possibly one of the finest soul singers Britain ever produced.  The Action introduced me to a side of American soul music I might not have heard had they not recorded Maurice & The Radiant's "Baby You Got It" or Mickey Lee Lane's "Hey Sah-Lo-Ney" that set me on a course to seek out all the 45's they covered. With shifting times and tastes in late 1966 The Action became strongly influenced by West Coast American sounds like The Association and produced (in my estimation) their finest single (and their last) "Something Has Hit Me" (written by Americans Tandyn Almer and Larry Marks) and backed with the magnificent "Something Has Hit Me" penned by lead singer Reg King and journalist Nick Jones.

3. VARIOUS ARTISTS-"The Sue Story" U.K. Sue ILP-925 1965
God bless Guy Stevens. Though more famous for being a producer of legendary rock n roll albums our focus on Guy is when he was an uber American r&b obsessed DJ at the legendary London mod Mecca The Scene and for setting up a U.K. branch of Sue records with Island records supremo Chris Blackwell. Stevens was also famous for making tapes of his famous record collection (for a fee) for British bands to cover obscure American sides. Though many of the releases on the U.K. Sue label were just British issues of American sides he went one step further and took some liberties releasing 45's that had no connection with the U.S. label (James Brown, Otis Redding, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Lightnin' Hopkins etc) and continued to do so until early 1967. Sue (the U.K. sort) is a label I only became interested in over the past decade or so (sadly for my wallet) but it seems to me to be a perfect case of a label geared towards U.K. soul/r&b aficionados and well...what sort of people in Britain back then were mad about this stuff? Mods. In 1965 Stevens compiled 16 tracks as "The Sue Story" an interesting mix of U.S. r&b/soul sounds for exactly those sort of fans. Interestingly only one track was culled from a U.S. Sue release (Ike and Tina Turner's "I Can't Believe What You Say") and a vast majority of the tracks were issued in the U.S. long before 1965. They ranged from James Brown's "Night Train" (1962),  Bobby Peterson's "Rockin' Charlie" (1960) to Bobby Parker's "Watch Your Step" (1961) to Donnie Elbert's "A Little Piece Of Leather" (1965) to  Bob & Earl's "Harlem Shuffle" (1963) to name but a few ultimately creating possibly the most varied and original compilation in the U.K. geared towards modernist leanings.

4. BOOKER T & THE M.G.'s-"Soul Dressing" U.S. Stax 705 1965
Booker T & The MG's came into my axis thanks to "Green Onions" on the "Quadrophenia" soundtrack double LP. I bought "Soul Dressing" because of its cool looking cover. This second album by these Memphis instrumental supremos was long in coming as keyboardist Booker T Jones was a full time student at Indiana University and did most of his recording during breaks and the Summer (their first, "Green Onions" had been released nearly three years prior). By 1965 Jones was finished school and the band released "Soul Dressing" containing 12 cuts, 11 of which were group originals (the sole cover being Don Covay's "Mercy Mercy"). Kicking off with the funky title cut led by Jone's Hammond and guitarist Steve Cropper's distinct twangy Fender Telecaster (previously issued as a single in July 1964) the album oozes cool thanks to it's soulful sounds with a slight jazz undercurrent and assistance from a horn section which not only adds to the jazzy vibe but gives them a fuller touring soul band sound.  It was massively digested in Britain with mod/r&b legend Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames covering the upbeat "Outrage" as the flip to 1965's "Something" 45 and The Small Faces recording the distorted/raw "Plum Nellie" (which would surface on their second Decca album "In The Beginning") where Cropper's buzzing guitar completes with Jone's churchy organ and sharp horns bring up the background. "Big Train" builds on the "Green Onions" formula and "Night Owl Walk" is positively jazz territory (the first time I heard it I mistook it for a Hammond B-3 jazz artist!). And of course the sleeve is an arty/minimalist masterpiece in itself in just three colors.

5. SMALL FACES-"Small Faces" Decca LK 4790 1966
The debut album by the Small Faces was recorded with "new" keyboardist Ian "Mac" McLagan (who replaced original member Jimmy Winston who features on a few of the album's tracks) and released in May 1966 . Winston shares composing credits on  three tracks on the platter so it's safe to say he's on those. It contains 12 tracks and was padded out by the band's debut single "What'cha Gonna Do About It" and their third single "Sha La La Lee" (Mac's debut with them released in January) . Opening with a rousing version of "Shake" sung by bassist Ronnie Lane it's a tour de force of what was pretty much the band's live set in parts. This is perfectly validated by the inclusion of extended improvisations like "Come On Children", the storming but brief 1:46 long organ instrumental groover "Own Up Time" (allowing new boy Mac to flex his Hammond organ chops), "E Too D" with it's demonic chanting in the back ground building on lead singer Steve Marriott's white boy soul belting and the rip off of Muddy Waters "You Need Love" (titled "You Need Loving" here) where Robert Plant would replicate Marriott's wailing "wayyyy down inside.." syllable for syllable on Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" 3 years later. The album showcases their gritty, r&b live act but also exposes the "poppy" direction manager Don Arden was pushing them into with Kenny Lynch penned numbers like "You Better Believe It" and "Sorry She's Mine" (both of which lose the intended saccharine edge thanks to Marriott's incredibly soulful voice). The album cover photo by David Wedgbury is one of the most iconic snaps of the 60's with the band looking sharp as hell in their mod togs and perfect hair.  Mac told me they were all stoned out of their minds when it was taken and pointed out the spliff they'd drawn on the children's chalk (illustrating the point by writing "spliff" in Sharpie when he autographed my copy). Incidentally I bought my copy in the late 90's from a Small Faces fan who ran a record shop in Northfield, Minnesota who had acquired his copy via special order in the 60's. Unlike him I don't foresee myself selling this, ever.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Mike Vickers (The Baker Street Philharmonic)

THE BAKER STREET PHILHARMONIC-Love At First Sight/Tycho U.S. World Pacific 77928 1969

Multi instrumentalist and one time Manfred Mann member Mike Vickers was a jack of all trades in the 60's (and to this day too I'm sure).  A musical genius as well as an amazing producer and arranger , he was never out of sight in the 1960's releasing a string of amazing 45's as The Mike Vickers Orchestra we explored his dynamic solo debut LP awhile back here.

I'd not heard of this single till once again my friend and fellow blogger Larry Grogan (of Funky 16 Corners and Iron Leg fame) stumbled upon this while crate digging.  No doubt a studio concoction by Vickers, the A-side is an instrumental version of the famous Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin hit "Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus". The number was simultaneously covered hot on it's heels by Vickers here with The Baker Street Philharmonic as well as Sounds Nice featuring Tim Mycroft in August '69 (who in my book cut the best version utilizing a nice dreamy Hammond) and a bit later in a groovy/funky reggae version by Justin Hinds being backed by Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. I've never been a fan of the original (or Gainsbourg or Jane B for that matter) but the tune itself  but this version sticks to the Hammond instrumental idea but embellished by a slight choral backing and lush strings making it far more "easy listening" than the Sounds Nice version (if that's at all possible?!).  The real catch of this 45 is it's flip, a Vickers original called "Tycho".  Led by a positively hypnotic melodic organ riff and backed by celestial sweeping strings it has a regal air about it like something straight out of a post Swinging London film like "The Killing Of Sister George" or "Goodbye Gemini".  The bridge is amazing and uplifting!

Mike Vickers: genius at work.

I can't tell if either track has been reissued but copies of the single are quite easy to find and not at all pricey either!

Hear "Love at First Sight":

Hear "Tycho":

Monday, January 18, 2016

January's Picks: David Bowie

This month's picks are devoted to a dedicated to David Bowie. All posts are credited to David Bowie unless otherwise indicated.

1. DAVY JONES- "Baby Loves That Way" U.K. B-side ("You've Got A Habit Of Leaving") Parlophone R 5315 1965
With it's feedbacking power chord intro from guitarist Dennis "Tea Cup" Taylor, cool backing vocals and Shel Talmy production Davy Jones and The Lower Third could not help escape comparisons to The Who. But the number has a lot more going for it.  It's bouncy enough to be a late era Applejacks 45 but the lyrics are unusual for the mid 60's as it's basically about a loose girl who despite her indiscretions still "treats me good each and every night" and Bowie actually pulls off a few soulful vocal moves after the distorted solo before it all fades outs. His last 45 before he became David Bowie it was also his last working with Shel Talmy.

2. "I Dig Everything" U.K. A-side Pye 17157 1966
David Bowie did not actually live in London for long periods as an adult until moving in with manager Ken Pitt in 1967. His swinging London was observed from dossing on people's couches or floors in between sneaking back home to the relative safety of mom and dad's semi detached in Bromley. He croons convincingly about it in the mod/boho/Swinging London Summer of '66 without a care (no doubt aided in youthful optimism and possibly by substances) and observes that "I've had more friends than I've had hot dinners, some of them are losers but the rest of them are winners".  While Bowie sings with wide eyed, hopeful appreciation and a devil may care saunter producer Tony Hatch lays on all the 60's kitschy trimmings: soulful organ, some congas/guiro giving it a Latin feel and a jazzy flute that ties it all up in a cosmopolitan mod gift.  But the public didn't care and Pye records sent him on his way which led him to....

3. "The London Boys" U.K. B-side ("Rubber Band") Deram DM 107 1966
Props to Decca A&R man Hugh Mendl who saw something in a demo (the track was previously rejected by Tony Hatch and Pye as a fourth single for the label) by David Bowie and The Buzz called "The London Boys". This Deram version was recorded at the famous R.G. Jones studio in Morden, Surrey with a session trumpet player (with woodwinds later added upon signing with Decca) it is musically minimal but brilliant.  "The London Boys" is the (literal) amphetamine comedown of "I Dig Everything" and it's "new in town /watch out London here I am" optimism. It's an admission of failure to make it big in the bright lights of the city with "in" crowd living in squalor and too proud to retreat home with an ending full of resignation but with nowhere else to turn "now you wish you'd never left your home, you got what you wanted but you're on your own..". As the brilliant but subtle horns play on mournfully and the organ whirls like something from a radio soap opera serial Bowie belts out "now you've met the London boys" like the Francis Albert Sinatra of modernist Bohemia.

4. "Ashes To Ashes" U.K. A-side RCA BOW 6 1980
"Ashes To Ashes" and it's David Mamet directed video was once again a litmus test for street cred by the Thin White Duke which he passed (as usual) with flying colors. Embracing the Blitz kid/New Romantic movement in it's infancy before the mainstream picked up on it by featuring a bunch of Blitz club punters (including the late Steven Strange of New Romantic darlings Visage) in the promo video and creating a bleak, synthesizer painting on an otherwise unknown canvas proved Bowie was the Godfather of New Romanticism while he cavorted in face paint and a ballerina cum clown costume effectively showing the creator mixing freely with his creations and before it went bust he was long gone reinventing himself to a whole new audience.  Imagine The Who digging up a bunch of mods in late 1978 and featuring them in a video for "Who are You?" long before the '79 mod scene was nary a whiff?  The last minute of this number has always been endearing to me with it's spooky wash of synths and Bowie's "my mama said to get things done you better not mess with Major Tom" mantra beating Ultravox and Gary Numan to it.

5. "Right On Mother" unreleased demo 1970/1971
Ex-Herman's Hermits front man Peter "Herman" Noone cut this unreleased Bowie composition in October 1971, six months after scoring a hit (#12) with "Oh You Pretty Thing" (yes original pressings say "Thing" not "Things") as a flip side to "Walnut Whirl". Bowie's demo has never been legitimately released but it's a fun track with just him on piano and vocals and would not have all been out of place on "Hunky Dory".  One would presume it was written about his mother's reaction to him living with Angie, though by the time it was written they'd already presumably tied the knot.

6. "Width Of A Circle" LP cut "Man Who Sold The World" Mercury 6338 041 1970 
At 8:09 "Width Of A Circle" borders on pointlessly long but it's an incredibly structured track that is not at all dissimilar to something you'd have heard on King Crimson's "In The Court Of the Crimson King" meets the late 60's Moody Blues if they'd had a madman on lead guitar. Bowie's lyrics are at their most oblique and the chord changes are insane and one wonders what this number must have sounded like live. Mick Ronson's solo is interesting to compare with an unreleased track he cut in 1967 with his group The Rats "The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone" as it borders on indentical.

The Riot Squad (David Bowie top center) March 1967

7. THE RIOT SQUAD-"Little Toy Soldier" Acid Jazz E.P.  AJX329S 2013
For a very brief period  Bowie (March 1967 to be exact) was involved with The Riot Squad , a band who had a varied line up history and more recently lost their record contract with Pye and their producer Joe Meek (who one month prior took his own life). Bowie had recently ceased live work with his backing band The Buzz and was awaiting the release of his debut LP with Deram.  His  manager Kenneth Pitt had previously brought Bowie back an acetate copy of what would be The Velvet Underground's debut album. It had more than a profound effect on him as he and the band crept in on the sly to  Decca's studio with engineer Gus Dudgeon on April 5, 1967 to record a few tracks. Among them was a cover of "I'm Waiting for the Man" and this "original". With it's chorus borrowed from a line in the Velvet's "Venus In Furs" it's a perverse tale of a girl who has a toy soldier in which she winds up to whip her and not satisfied with his degree of sadism continues to wind him so tightly he flays her to death.  Musically it would have been not at all out of place on his first LP but lyrically it would certainly have been too much for the staff at Deram to abide by (in fact neither his manager nor producer Mike Vernon were aware of the session). In 2013 Acid Jazz released four cuts from the session as a 7" E.P. including "Little Toy Soldier" and "I'm Waiting For the Man" (both previously only available on bootlegs).

8. "Round and Round" U.K. B-side ("Drive In Saturday") RCA 2352 1973
Chuck Berry's "Around And Around" (re-titled by Bowie as "Round And Round") is best known for Mick Ronson's Nigel Tuffnel style guitar solo at the end. Cut during the sessions for "Ziggy And The Spiders From Mars" it was utilized as a flip for "Drive In Saturday" over a year later and is certainly one of the less common '72 era cuts. It sounds somewhat half baked but also seems to convey what a good time they were all having doing it and in the end if it's rockin' who cares? A live version guest starring Jeff Beck closed the Ziggy "farewell" performance on July 3, 1973 but due to Beck's disapproval it was left off the D.A. Pennebaker "Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars" film.

9. "In The Heat Of The Morning (Live BBC 5/26/68)"
In 1968 David Bowie was shit out of luck.  Deram rejected his recordings of "Let Me Sleep Beside You" and "In The Heat Of The Morning" and after three singles and one LP he was sent packing as he'd been with Pye little over a year prior.  Someone up there someone liked him because he was accorded a radio session for John Peel's "Top Gear" program where he cut 4 numbers with a full orchestra (conducted by Tony Visconti) and a host of session musicians including Herbie Flowers on bass and Mr. Mohawks/K.P.M. supremo Alan Hawkshaw who's funky organ work gives this cut some serious chops.

10. "Life On Mars" LP cut "Hunky Dory" RCA SF 8244 1971
Beneath Rick Wakeman's beautiful piano work (described by Wakeman in fascinating detail in the "Five Years" documentary, currently available here in the States on demand on Showtime) and sweeping strings Bowie croons about disaffected youth through the eyes of a young girl seeking refuge in the cinema (or so I've always liked to believe). Born out of Bowie's failure at writing an English lyric for "Comme d'habitude" (later gaining fame with Paul Anka's English lyric as "My Way") "Life On Mars" is accented by some incredibly beautiful chord changes and is easily his most sophisticated arrangement since leaving Deram.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides:Yesterday Man Redeemed!

CHRIS ANDREWS-Hold On/Easy Australia Decca Y7372 1967

Chris Andrews is best known for his September '65 U.K. smash "Yesterday Man" (#3) and for penning a slew of hits for Adam Faith and Sandie Shaw.  In true classic 60's fashion of bland M.O.R. pop stars being capable of something "freaky" we have his September 1967 track "Hold On".  Our copy is Australian, it's U.K. issue was Decca F 22668. It was produced by Ken Woodman (responsible for some of our fave "easy" releases in the 60's) and unlike several of his other singles was NOT a hit.

"Hold On" starts out with some shimmering, distorted guitar worthy of The Fleur De Ly's or a Jimmy Page session that continues through the whole number giving it some real balls while Chris croons in his usual fashion.  There's some subtle organ running through the back that compliments the freaky guitar and the whole thing actually works.

"Easy" is a piece of inoffensive pop that falls somewhere between Donovan's "Bleak City Woman" and The Kinks "Little Miss Queen Of Darkness".  He would go on to cut a slew of soppy, sappy M.O.R. tunes however there was one more redeeming point 1969's "Maker Of Mistakes" (flip of his internationally successful "Pretty Belinda") a nice slice of regal, toy town pop psych worth checking out.

"Hold On" graced  Past And Present's "New Rubble Volume Six: Painting The Time".

Hear "Hold On":

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I never thought I'd need so many people....David Bowie R.I.P.

David Bowie "Ready Steady Go" March 4, 1966
The death of Ian "Mac" McLagan at the end of 2014 was like a gut punch.  I'd met him, drank with him, laughed and chatted with him numerous times and even named a child after him and it was like losing a friend.  I never met David Bowie, I never shared a pint with him or talked about his shoes in 1966 nor did he ever know my daughter's name or inquire of her welfare. But somehow that doesn't make it any easier to accept his unexpected passing. My two "brushes" with David Bowie were from thousands of feet away.  In 1999 I purchased the 1966 Pye singles box set "I Dig Everything" at Rockit Scientist in NYC and walked down to French Roast on 6th Avenue with it in hand afterwards for a croque monsieur and citron presse and upon seeing the box set in my hand both the host and waitress pointed out to me that I'd missed the man himself by ten minutes (upon hearing this from the host I actually popped out the door and looked up both ends of 6th Avenue to see if I could spot a 5 11" Englishman sauntering coolly down the Avenue, no luck). Apparently he was a regular there.  Previously I was at his 50th birthday gig at Madison Square Garden on January 9, 1997 where an assortment of jack asses from crap bands joined him onstage after he played tunes from the newly released "Earthling". I spent most of the night cringing (especially when Lou Reed got lost during "White Light White Heat" as David tried in vain to show him the chords as Lou stood staring at his music stand) but it was all worth it when he took the stage for the final number with an acoustic 12 string and said "This is where it all began, I don't know where it's going to end" and proceeded to play a mind blowing "Space Oddity". Despite having to endure crap like Billy Corrigan or Frank Black I was blown away about how "on" Bowie was the entire time.  Either he really enjoyed being onstage and was high on the atmosphere or he was such a consummate professional that he was able to convince us all he was having a blast and went backstage and took off his party mask.  His voice was in top shape and he bounced around the stage like a ballet dancer doing kung fu. It just struck me today while writing this that he was the same age then as I am now. And now, 19 years later he's gone.

David Bowie first came into my life in the early 1970's.  My family had moved into a house in 1971 or 1972 and there was a teenage girl named Peggy who lived next door who bonded with my mom.  Her parents looked like they were from the 1950's and acted like it too.  Clearly they weren't hip nor were they the least bit interested in what Peggy listened to.  My mom, though hardly hip was at least still in her 20's and owned a large RCA  stereo in a wood cabinet that looked like a piece of furniture that she liked to play VERY loud (even if it was The Bee Gees or Neil Diamond).  Peggy would frequently bring albums over and my mom would let her play them.  My first glimpse of David Bowie was an LP cover with a scary looking orange haired guy in what looked like pajamas standing in an alley. I had honestly forgotten what "Ziggy Stardust" sounded like and actually remembered more about  the tracks on Alice Cooper's "Schools Out" album, T Rex's "Electric Warrior" and Don McLean's "American Pie" LP (Peggy's other frequent choices ). It was not until the the late 70's that I heard "Space Oddity" on a rock n roll radio station I listened to called WPIX (before I discovered college radio) that David Bowie was brought back into my axis.  I still had not connected him with the "Ziggy.." album until the same station played "Hang Onto Yourself" and I remembered how I knew the song and the DJ discussed the whole era at length.  My best friend dutifully loaned me a grubby original cassette of "Ziggy..." that an uncle passed onto him and it began. My parent's (my mom was always finely attuned to my musical tastes at Xmas as a kid) bought me "Changesbowie" for Xmas and it was all over from there.

New Wave/punk and to a greater extent "mod" entered my universe in late 1979 and by 1980 David Bowie was among the four contemporary albums that blew my mind (and quite possibly the first and last time such a large volume of current releases assaulted my senses) with his "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)" safely nestled along with The Jam's "Sound Affects", XTC's "Black Sea" and The Teardrop Explode's "Kilimanjaro". Little did I know it was the last Bowie album I would enjoy in it's entirety.

By 1982 mod had firmly redirected me back to my life long interest in British 60's music with The Who, The Small Faces and "Pebbles Volume Six: The Roots of Mod". Sometime in late 1982 or early 1983 I went round my friend Steve's house and he told me he had something for me to listen to. He sat me down and played me something on massive volume that resembled  The Who called "Baby Loves That Way" and announced it was a 60's David Bowie record and showed me a 10" EP sleeve with a shot of Davy Jones and The Lower Third looking mod as hell on the cover . I tracked that down post haste. The next two years were spent obtaining every track released by Bowie in the 60's on a variety of compilations/collections. Interestingly enough my first exposure to a 60's mod Bowie track came in the form of the '79 mod band The Purple Hearts who covered "I Can't Help Thinking About Me" on their album "Beat That" in 1980.

Bowie gave me a wealth of rich music to dabble in and it is varied so it was never boring as if every period was a different artist and each new rediscovery is always a pleasure. We parted ways musically after "Scary Monsters" and there were a few tracks here and there that I liked but it never troubled me that I couldn't get down with his trip-hop, indie rock et al stuff or whatever trend he was prefacing or riding. None of these mattered as I still had my fave '65-'67 period , the first Deram LP (which fights a daily war in my brain with The Small Face's first Immediate platter for "The Favorite Album of All Time" mantle), the "Berlin period" (my second fave era after the 60's), Ziggy, the coke hoovering Philly soul period (which I have, in the last year, come to appreciate), the curly haired folkie and the guy in a dress playing mind numbing heavy rock. I find almost ironic that this Thursday will be the 50th anniversary of his first single as "David Bowie".  Happy 50th anniversary David Robert Jones as "David Bowie" wherever you may be.  God speed spaceman.

"So I cried for all the others till the day was nearly through for a realized that God's a young man too..."

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: Ray Cameron

RAY CAMERON-Doing My Time/Gateway Getaway Car U.K. Island WI-6003 1967

Here's one to file under "I have no f*cking idea who this is". Here's an interesting little r&b-ish 45 that was released on Island in 1967. Both sides lyrically carry a sort of crime/prison theme ("Doing My Time" and "Gateway Getaway Car").

"Doing My Time" starts with some clanking chains and fuzz guitar before launching into a jaunty tongue and cheek number that reminds me of late r&b era '66 Zoot Money and The Big Roll Band and Herbie Goins & The Nightimers thanks to it's horns. The break consists of the lead singer reading a football results style report of prison escapes: "and now here are the final escapes for this week: Dartmoor -4 Wormwood Scrubs-2, Liverpool -2 Strangeways-2, Pentonville -3 Brixton -1...".

"Gateway Getaway Car" is a Mose Allison via Georgie Fame style number with a tasty sax/guitar lick on top of some clever lyrics about a getaway car.  It sounds more like a classic '64-'65 British Flamingo club r&b record, not at all what you'd expect for something in 1967!

Both sides were written by Ray Cameron and our hero Alan "Mohawks" Hawkshaw and were produced by Island supremo Chris Blackwell and Jimmy Miller (who produced a slew of excellent 45's on Island before moving on to produce the Rolling Stones). Neither has been comped anywhere to my knowledge and I am of course always grateful if any of you could tell me more about Ray Cameron or this record! There was a Canadian born British based comedian in the 60's/70's named Ray Cameron, could it be the same person?

Hear "Doing My Time":

Hear "Gateway Getaway Car":