Friday, April 29, 2016

April's Picks

1. JIMMY CASTOR-"Leroy Is In The Army"
This was the follow up to Jimmy Castor's taunting/ Latin boogaloo smash "Leroy Your Mama's Calling". In fact I like it much better than it's predecessor because it's not as monotonous and certainly lyrically more hysterical.

2. BARRABAS-"Wild Safari"
Possibly the only redeeming thing about HBO's trainwreck of a TV show "Vinyl" (or as I like to call it "The Richie Finistra Cocaine Snorting Hour") was that one of the episodes ended with the Ryan/Quaid offspring (the show is all about star's children getting jobs), the Dwight Schrute of A&R (now consigned to the mail room) going to an underground club with his co-worker who looks like Juan Epstein's stoned older brother and the DJ is spinning this hypnotic funky little groover from 1972.

3. OSCAR TONEY JR.-"Turn On Your Lovelight"
One of my favorite readings of this Bobby "Blue" Bland's classic is this 1967 reading by Oscar Toney Jr. It eschews the usual arrangement that everyone else uses as a template and strips it down and rebuilds it into something quite incredible.

4. MADNESS-"Bed And Breakfast Man (Peel Sessions)"
This Peel session version of "B& B Man" knocks the stuffing out of the original LP version in my estimation.  Wow, what a punch!!

5. NINA SIMONE-"Mississippi Goddamn" 
What the fuck is the world coming to people?  North Carolina?  Mississippi? Nina Simone's track still rings true 50+ years state mentality where they'll let yahoos carry assault weapons into the supermarket but they're worried about what sex is using the restrooms and whether doing business with people from alternative lifestyles are going to raise religious objections. Sometimes, I am ashamed to be an American.....

6. THE ALLUSIONS-"Roller Coaster Man"
One of my fave Aussie 60's tracks is this jaunty little ditty with some powerful Kink "Tired Of Waiting For You" chords meets The Beatles "Help" album.

This 1968 reggae instrumental formed the backing track of Willie William's 1977 track "Armagideon Time" (later covered by The Clash). Here in it's barest form of bass, drums and horns it's trance inducing groove that I never tire of.

8. THEM -"Mighty Like A Rose"
There's a new deluxe three CD Them box set out.  I had previously passed on it as I had already had a two CD Them set, then I discovered the third disc was a bevy of kick ass BBC tracks and unreleased tunes like this rocked out Them version of "Mighty Like A Rose" and my fate was sealed. AND it has some incredible liner notes by Van Morrison who has a pretty crystal clear recollection of things!

9. THE DENTISTS-"Flowers Around Me"
Jangling, discordant, slightly out of tune guitars and lots of "la la la's", like a dole queue Byrds that's the best way I can describe these guys and their brilliant debut LP "Some People Are On The Pitch....".  Very little 80's music dated well for me but this album still holds it's own.

10. BONGO LES & HERMAN-"Dr. Who Pt 2"
With a shrieking horror style intro worthy of a Lee "Scratch" Perry record this number quickly develops into a funky little reggae instrumental that's bouncy and infectious thanks to it's organ and ringing bell and later a melodica . Written and produced by the great Derrick Harriott.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

10 Cool U.K. Mid 60's Songs That You Possibly Haven't Heard

Scan c/o

1. THE SLENDER PLENTY-"Silver Tree Top School For Boys" U.K. Polydor 56189 1967
We tackled this raw David Bowie composition way back when here. It still hasn't gotten it's due on a proper reissue anywhere (like most of the obscure UK 60's Polydor output it cries for a proper reissue). Behind a dose of extra fuzz guitar and some backing vocals worthy of the crowd chant in the stands at the F.A. Cup finals The Slender Plenty tell the tale of a public (that's "private" to us Americans) school where things are not quite as they should be thanks to a magical weed.

2. THE FRESH WINDOWS-"Summer Sun Shines" U.K. Fontana TF 839 1967
This A-side is often overlooked in favor of it's kitschy social observation flip "Fashion Conscious". "Summer Sun Shines" is a ballsy mid tempo number with regal horns, perfectly enunciated British accents on the lead vocals and tight harmonies that reminds me of the Tremeloes when they "let their hair (hang?) down".

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3. THE MIRAGE-"Hold On" U.K. Phillips BF 1554 1967
This punchy, go-go groover from The Mirage dates from 1967 but sounds totally "mod '66" like a cousin to Carnaby's "Jump And Dance".  With it's punctuated "go go" vocal refrain, and descending melody that reaches a fuzzed out guitar crescendo it packs a serious punch. Strangely it was released AFTER the band's December '66 stab at "Tomorrow Never Knows" (Phillips BF 1534 December 1966).

4. THE LOVIN'-"Do It Again" U.K. Page One POF 041 1967
The Lovin' cut just two singles in their short career under the production of Larry Page before mutating into the far more poppier act The Nerve. Both of their 45's were released in '67 on Page's own Page One label. "Do It Again" begins with a wall of distorted guitar and features a cool descending bass line.  The lead vocals are poppy but the backing is as tough as anything the Creation or The Game ever did.

5. THE HUMAN INSTINCT-"Go Go" Mercury MF 990 1967
New Zealand's Four Fours moved to the U.K. in 1966 and had previously recorded this number back home on the Zodiac label in 1965 (Z45/1259). Their U.K. update lacks none of the punch of the previous version and pounds away with a throbbing, kinetic groove accented by the powerful backing chant of "Go Go". This was their final of three 45's for Mercury before moving to Deram where they took on a decidedly different (but equally good) approach.

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6. RICK & SANDY-"Lost My Girl" Decca F 12196 1965
Richard Tykiff and Alexander Roberton were Rick & Sandy, a duo who made some fairly pedestrian beat/ballad 45's in the mid 60's but standing shoulders above was this rocking little number from the Summer of 1965. Propelled by the duo's close harmonies (not unlike The Brooks) it's the tough musical backing that gives this song it's punch and keeps it from being just another beat number. Recalling The Hollies at their best in '65 it's worth a listen.

7. THE PYRAMID-"Summer Evening" U.K. Deram DM 111 1967
The subject of our very first post 8 years ago (gulp) was this little gem on Deram. With a slight raga guitar , lush organ, vibes and tabla "Summer Evening" is wrapped in layers of beautiful harmonies that could easily be mistaken for a track by The Cyrkle or The Buckinghams. They released just this one single which leads one to wonder what they would have been capable of.

8. THE LOOT-"Don't Turn Around" U.K. CBS 3231 1968
I have long been perplexed by The Loot.  They had multiple releases on both CBS and Page One that ran almost concurrently each have its own different style which always led me to suspect that they were two different bands. The Page One releases have a rougher Troggs feel while the CBS sides were more polished. "Don't Turn Around" is a lushly orchestrated pop psych track with all the trimmings (backwards cymbal intro, woodwinds, raga riffs, tight West Coast harmonies, strings etc).  It seems all airy fairy Summer of Love trappings till you catch the lyrics which are a total put down of weekend hippies and peace and love merchants and drip with cynicism . "You're the conformist to convention, I am the one who's free...what are you going to be tomorrow when you have thrown your flowers away".

9. HERBAL MIXTURE-"A Love That's Died" U.K. Columbia DB 8021 1966
Brainchild of the legendary U.K. blues muso Tony McPhee, Herbal Mixture are best known for their second 45, the proto-psych  "Machines".  This was their debut and owes more to mod/Who with it's punchy "in your face" chord changes and high backing vocals. What intrigues me the most about it is the intensity and power of the guitar because it's so lo-fi and when the solo comes in you'd swear the entire guitar track was all cut live on one track. Brilliant.

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10. ROB STORME & THE WHISPERS-"Where Is My Girl" U.K. Columbia DB 7756 1965
In 1965 "Melody Maker" sat Pete Townshend down for their "Blind Date" column where he was played this single. Intrigued he took the bass line and later reused it in "Substitute". "Where Is My Girl" is a driving poppy beat number with an incessant bass/piano line that will of course sound familiar to Who fans that almost has a Motown feel to it while the band ply some VERY Beach Boys influenced harmonies.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: The Tommy Burton Combo

TOMMY BURTON COMBO-Lavender Blue/I'm Walking UK Blue Beat BB 237 1964

Blue Beat is of course primarily known for ska and mento records made by West Indian artists. There are of course a few notable exceptions where British artists cut some sides for the label. BB 237 from 1964 by the Tommy Burton Combo is one such disc. We profiled an earlier Blue Beat release by a British band way back when over here.  The band were led by the late jazz saxophonist/ pianist Tommy Burton and oddly this was his sole 45 release in the 60's.

"Lavender Blue" is a dreadful piece of faux ska akin to the horrid Migil Five.  It's a perfect example of a dance band deciding to become contemporary or hip and cash in on that "new crazy rhythm all the kids are on about". Predictably it fails miserably.

The flip side is where the magic happens! The band tear into Fats Domino's "I'm Walking" in an interesting mix that combines the guitar licks you'd find on a raw British beat 45 and a solid sax of a mid 60's British r&b record.  The vocalist has a raw voice that reminds me of the lead vocalist on some of the records by Liverpool's The Dennisons. The lead guitar playing reminds me of the style that Jimmy Page was fond of using at the time. Overall the number reminds me of The Dave Clark Five if they had a wild guitarist in the ranks and a jazz player on sax letting it wail.

The B-side screams for a reissue somewhere, but to my knowledge it has not popped up anywhere yet!

Hear "I'm Walking":

Thursday, April 21, 2016

10 Cool U.K. Mid 60's R&B Songs That You Possibly Haven't Heard

1. HAMILTON KING-"Ain't It Time" HMV POP 1356 1964
This self penned number by Hamilton King starts with some Animals styled combo organ and mandatory harp blowing. The vocalist (presumably Hamilton King) sings with almost utter detachment. The most interesting part of the tune is the steady, groovy Farfisa or Vox Continental behind your run of the mill '64 Rolling Stonesy r&B (come to think of it this track reminds me of "Off The Hook").

2. STU BROWN & BLUESOLOGY-"Since I Found You Baby" Polydor 56195 1967
Bluesology's page in rock n roll history stems from their keyboardist Reggie Dwight who went on to own a minor football team and write a tribute to Lady Princess Di. Their final single added lead singer Stu Brown's name to the moniker and pumped up their sound with some really tough horns (I always thought the horns were Bluesology's strong suit) and slightly overblown vocals by Brown. It was their last and the band imploded shortly afterwards.

3. THE SHEVELLS-"I Gotta Travel All Over" United Artists  UP 1125 1966
This mid tempo little groover was penned by John Mayall (and like "Something" which was given to Georgie Fame, was never recorded by the author himself). It jogs along at an "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" style pace and far outshines it's A-side , a cover of Jackie Edwards "Come On Home" . The band then switched to Pye where they backed Mike Stevens on a killer version of Jackie Paine's "Go Go Train".

4. THE MEDDYEVILS-"It's All For You" Pye 7N 17091 1966
The strangely named meddyEvils (spelled exactly like this on their record's labels) put out just two singles in their short spell on the Pye label, both are excellent. "It's All For You" is a brilliant r&b dirge in 4/4 time with some strong sax, swirling/churchy Hammond, barrel-house piano and impassioned lead vocals. The best part is the end where it almost sounds like the sax and organ are competing to finish the track.

5.  THE ST. LOUIS UNION-"Think About Me" Decca F 12508 1966
One of the greatest double sided British r&b couplings was this final 45, a cover of Bob Seeger's gritty "East Side Story" backed with this stormer by Manchester's finest r&b purveyors The St. Louis Union. Starting with some soulful piano and hand claps it's an incredible groove with it's busy, descending bass line and slashing guitars behind Tony Cassidy's lead vocals.  There's a great sax solo that duels with some Nicky Hopkins style ivory tinkling and zooming bass that completes this killer tune.

6. THE QUIK-"King Of The World" Deram DM 139 1967
The Quik cut just three 45's on Deram, all in 1967 and all of which are solid examples of mid 60's British mod/r&b heavy on the "Hammond n' horns" formula. "King Of The World" was their second single released in July of 1967 (and saddled with a lackluster attempt at "My Girl" on the flip) and follows the "party" template set by it's predecessor's B-side "Bert's Apple Crumble" with wailing Hammond, smooth sax, hand claps and a raucous feel to it.

This mondo obscure coupling by a singer named Kenneth Washington with legendary trombonist Chris Barber and Gary Farr's backing group The T-Bones is a rare instance of what I would call British "gospel r&b". There's a funky soulful horn refrain, an "I'm A Man" style organ groove and some spiritual style call and response backing vocals. Surprising it all works. I'd love to know more about this band and record.  Anyone?

8. HAMILTON & THE MOVEMENT-"I'm Not The Marrying Kind" CBS 202573 1967
Written and produced by Bill Wyman (co-authored with Moon's Train lead singer Peter Gosling), I've often wondered if this was sort of a not-so-secret message from Bill to his Missus, have a listen to the lyrics and prove me wrong since Billy was a self confessed shag monster (god knows how or why he was by far the fugliest Stone!). Regardless it's a full on, brassy, powerful affair and is a perfect example of mid 60's soul British r&b (dig the incredible horn section in the middle). Again I have to get up on my soapbox and ask if Wyman could produce amazing records like this why did the Stones mid 60's UK recordings sound like shit from a production stand point?

9. JACK BRUCE-"Rootin' Tootin'" Polydor BM 56036 1965
Probably the rarest British r&b 45 is this single, the solo debut by Jack Bruce cut in between his leaving the Graham Bond Organization and his brief his tenure with Manfred Mann.  This was the flip of "I'm Gettin' Tired (Of Drinkin' And Gamblin')" and musically it sounds exactly like what you would expect from the GBO and for years I thought it was them!  The line up was actually: Bruce (lead vocals, bass, harmonica), Don Rendell (saxophones), Mike Falana (trumpet) and John Stevens (drums). A perfect specimen of jazzy, suave British mid 60's r&b.

10. THE WES MINSTER FIVE-"Railoroad Blues" Carnival  CV 7017 1964
The Wes Minster Five cut four singles for the obscure Carnival label (primary a ska imprint based in the U.K.), three on their own and their debut backing female vocalist Maynell Wilson.  This is my favorite of the lot, an uptempo jazzy organ/horns instrumental not unlike the two 45's Georgie Fame cut on the R&B label (another British label with a primarily ska output but with the odd British r&b release).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: Oscar (aka Paul Nicholas) Does Pete Townshend

OSCAR-Join My Gang/A Day Gone By U.K. Reaction 591006 1966

We chatted a lot about Oscar/Paul Nicholas/Paul Dean in a previous entries, both of which you can dig here and over here. Today's specimen was his debut single under the "Oscar" moniker released in October 1966 on Robert Stigwood's short lived but brilliant Reaction label sandwiched between The Birds (aka Bird Birds) final 45 and Cream's debut.

"Join My Gang" rests in the ranks of those Pete Townshend 60's compositions that the Who never recorded like The Barron Knight's "Lazy Fat People". Strangely it's just as idiosyncratic lyrically as say "I'm A Boy" or "Pictures Of Lily" but hearing Oscar do it makes you wonder what a Who version would have sounded like. Perhaps it was too light weight or maybe Pete felt he'd foisted enough perverse little ditties on the band. That said "Join My Gang" is a light, jaunty little piece of pop with some silly lyrics with a main chorus of "You can join my gang. That would shake the world, you can join my gang even though you're a girl" with some VERY '67 Bowie style oboe in the background and some jangly folk rocky guitar. It's catchy and the melody to the chorus is pretty damn infectious.

I am going to own up about the flip.  I'm not sure if I ever played it and since I sold it to my friend Tom Davis a few years back I have no way of having a listen.

"Join My Gang" was issued on Volume 14 of the "Piccadilly Sunshine" psych pop CD series. "A Day Gone By" has yet to resurface.

Oscar stirs up shit "Disc & Music Echo" October 29, 1966

Hear "Join My Gang":

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

10 Cool 45's On Island (The WI Series)

A bit ago we covered 10 Island 45's from their post '66 WIP series.  In this installment we're tackled their first series, WI which ran from 1962 to 1968.

1. OWEN GREY-"Shook Shimmy Shake" WI-252 1965
Owen Grey cut several interesting ska 45's on Island. This one bridged a link between soul and ska (a wining combination in my book) and is easily his most in demand on the label.  This hybrid was none is better illustrated by this soulful release from 1965 that combines the jazzy/r&b horns of ska with Grey's powerful voice that's like a cross between Jackie Wilson and Clyde McPhatter.

2. THE CIRCLES-"Take Your Time" WI-279 1966
One of the rarest British artist releases on Island is this one off 45 recorded by members of Screaming Lord Sutch's group The Savages under the name The Circles. This Bobby Bland composition was originally cut as an obscure US r&b/soul 45 by Little Mr. Lee and the Cherokees (Sure Shot 5006). The Circle's version is a mid tempo slow boiler that isn't initially impressive on a first listen but grows on you.

3. DERRICK HARRIOTT-"Tang Tang Festival Song" WI-3153 1968
Steeped in a deep funky bass/keyboards/conga groove is this incredible rocksteady number that has repeatedly eluded this writer on a regular basis.  For me the strength in this number has always been the smooth horns that slid in almost unnoticed at first beneath the chunky rhythm. It's a very infectious earworm that's not easily forgotten.

4. CARLOS MALCOLM & THE AFRO CARIBS-"Bonanza Ska" WI-173 1965
The origin of many 60's ska instrumentals are a constant source of amusement for me.  More times then often it would be a movie theme (see #7 below) and a TV theme as well. Taking the theme from the 60's TV Western "Bonanza" and throwing a ska rhythm behind it has to be one of the more ingenious ones I've heard offered here by Carlos Malcolm, one of many "entertainers" who primarily played calypso music who quickly switched to ska when it appeared it might eclipse samba and bossa nova as the "next big thing".

5.  WYNDER K. FROG-"Turn On Your Lovelight" WI-280 1966
Wynder K Frog's Island debut was this storming, jazzy instrumental version of Bobby Bland's "Turn On Your Lovelight".  Masked in some solid horns the number of course brings organist Mick Weaver's Hammond virtuoso ability to the fore and like most of the first few Wynder K Frog 45's is decidedly more jazz than r&b.

6. JACKIE EDWARDS-"I Feel So Bad" WI-3006 1966
The rarest of all Island 45's in the WI series is this mid tempo number.  Thanks to it's near legendary status on the Northern Soul scene it's damned near impossible to come across with copies running hald a grand when they do surface. Wrapped in Syd Dale's melodic strings and some subtle horns Edwards belts his way through this slow burner with gusto. Highly recommended.

7. THE SKATALITES-"Guns Of Navarone" WI-168 1965
Certainly the most well known ska 45 on Island and certainly their best selling was this March 1965 interpretation of the theme to the World War Two cinema epic "Guns Of Navarone". Built on a powerful horn section (including the legendary Roland Alphonso on saxophone and Don Drummond on trombone) It's easily the most famous ska instrumental of all time.

8. THE V.I.P.'s-"I Wanna Be Free" WI-3003 1966
Soul/r&b legends The V.I.P.'s debut with Island was this October 1966 Joe Tex cover produced by Island supremo Chris Blackwell.  I actually enjoy it more than the original because they slow it down and give it a more down trodden feel thanks to the belting vocals of Mike Harrison and a gritty guitar solo by Jim Henshaw and aided in no small part by the rest of the band on backing vocals.

9. THE TENNORS-"Ride Your Donkey" WI-3133 1968
Also known as The Tenners, The Tennors cut a variety of 45's for a host of labels in the U.K. using both monikers. This release first saw a U.K. issue twice on the Fab label (each time with a different flip side as Fab 41) before it came out on Island.  It's a perfect mid tempo rocksteady groover and one of the last few of the label's WI series.

10. THE FREAKS OF NATURE-"People! Let's Freak Out" WI-3017 1966
In 1966 the late degenerate Kim Fowley took The Belfast Gypsies (former members of the now Van Morrison-less Them) and cut this insane little r&b number that was relesased in the U.K. on the tail end of '66. With it's Bo Diddley rhythm and licks and a pounding/frantic r&b feel it's not too far removed from anything Them ever cut. Regardless it's a glorious rave up!

Monday, April 11, 2016

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Outer Limits

THE OUTER LIMITS-Just One More Chance/Help Me Please US Deram 45 DEM 7508 1967

The Outer Limits were a British quartet from Leeds who took their name from the sci-fi TV series and were led by future star of "Christie", one Jeff Christie . This was their sole release on Deram (others 45's followed on Immediate and their offshoot Instant).  Originally released in the U.K. as Deram DM 125 in April 1967 it's American issue came out in June.

"Just One More Chance" is an amazing track.  The first time I heard it I swore it was The Action because the lead singer sounds so much like Reggie King it's uncanny and it sounds not at all unlike our Kentish Town mod heroes in their '66-'67 period. It's somber and soft but nonetheless incredible!

The flip sounds like an entirely different band (and it sounds like an entirely different lead vocalist but it's not, it's lead singer Jeff Christie with a cold, cheers to Ray who runs the Jeff Christie website for pointing that out).  "Help Me Please" is an upbeat slice of stuff that sounds like a frantic American mid 60's garage record with soulful vocals with it's supercharged combo organ  that recalls The Blue Magoos or The Outsiders.

The band also joined The Move, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Pink Floyd, Eire Apparent, Amen Corner and The Nice in 1967 for a famous (or infamous) package tour. Their next single "The Great Train Robbery" was issued as a promo only on Immediate in the U.K. and stock on the Instant label in mid 1968 and sounds entirely different.  Lead singer/lead guitarist Jeff Christie went onto the release the dreadful "Yellow River" as Christie in 1970. The other members were  Gerry Layton (rhythm guitar), Gerry Smith (bass) and Stan Drogie (drums).  More can be found about the band by going to this Jeff Christie website.

"Just One More Chance" appeared on the excellent Deram/Decca CD compilation "The Mod Scene" while "Help Me Please" was on their "Freakbeat Scene" CD as well as Bam Caruso's "Rubble 12: Staircase To Nowhere" LP/CD.

Hear "Just One More Chance":

Hear "Help Me Please":

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Only In America U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Herbie's People

HERBIE'S PEOPLE-Semi Detached Suburban Mr. Jones/Residential Area U.S. Okeh 4-7265 1966

Today's specimen is a US only pressing of a track made famous by Manfred Mann: "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James" (the title was changed by the Manfred's from it's original "Mr. Jones" so as not to give them impression that it was about their former lead singer Paul Jones).

The Herbie's People's version was released in the US in December 1966, two months after it appeared in the States on the flip on Manfred's "Each And Every Day" (Mercury 72629). It's not much different from the Manfred's version though it's far more upbeat and punchy and dare I say it, more poppy. Interestingly there's a harmonica solo.

The real gem is the flip, "Residential Area" (previously unreleased in the U.K. it would not surface there until February 1967 on the flip of "Humming Bird" as CBS 202584). Starting with some blistering guitar work that clashes with its Ivy League style squeaky clean harmonies it actually works. It's an interesting little social commentary ditty about the rich girl/poor boy scenario and is well worth a listen with the freaky guitar appearing throughout.

"Semi Detached Suburban Mr. Jones" has yet to surface any place but "Residential Area" cropped up on  Past & Present's "New Rubble Volume 6: Painting The Time" CD.

Hear "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. Jones":

Hear "Residential Area":

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Merle Haggard R.I.P.

American working class spokesman.  Elvis may have been the King but in my old man's house Merle was the King:

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Scott Walker Dedicated To The Neo Stalinist Regime

SCOTT WALKER-The Seventh Seal/The Old Man's Back Again (Dedicated To The Neo-Stalinist Regime) Japan Phillips  SFL-1248 1969

Scott Walker. You either love him or hate him.  If I hated him I would not devote time to anything he did so.....

Today's specimen is an unusual Japanese only 45 that takes two tracks from his 4th solo LP "Scott 4" (the last Scott LP to bear numerals in the title). Both Scott and The Walker Brothers were huge in Japan so it's no surprise that such an oddball 45 was issued there as the Japanese released a host of interesting Walkers items.  And speaking of Japanese Walker Brothers items you can check out a gallery of Japanese Walker Brothers and related 7 inches here and a bit on Gary Walker's Japanese only album here. The Japanese had previously issued a 45 of two cuts from his previous album "Scott 3" : "If You Go Away" b/w "Two Ragged Soldiers" (Phillips  SFL-1216) which was like today's subject, not issued in this coupling anywhere else.

"The Seventh Seal" named after the famous Ingmar Bergman film is basically a musical synopsis of the film. That might sound incredibly lame to anyone who has never heard this tune but it's the musical backing that gives it it's edge from the Spaghetti Western horns and Flamenco acoustic guitars intro to sweeping, mournful strings and ends with it's Gregorian chant backing vocals while Walker paints a bleak visual picture with his incredible lyrics and in his full on overwrought delivery. "This morning I played chess with death said the knight, we played that he might grant me time...".

"The Old Man's Back Again (Dedicated To The Neo-Stalinist Regime)" is my favorite Scott Walker track of all time. Awash in Soviet Army men's chorus style backing vocals, bittersweet strings and the funkiest bass line ever on a Scott Walker record  the man from Ohio croons with fluidity with lyrics that paint a bleak picture of life in the gray, drab, cold Soviet Union.  It takes it's verses from different points of view in the Soviet experience: a woman cringing as "they" take her husband away, the breadlines "where they queue all day like dragons of disgust" with the suspicious old women watching while waiting for food to finally a lone sentry standing guard in the rain who's mother called him "Ivan" with Walker singing "he'd like another name, the one he's got's a curse".  It ends with Walker scat jazz improvising over the echo drenched Georgian chant/Soviet Army men's chorus.

As mentioned above both cuts are contained on his highly recommended album "Scott 4" as well as the amazing collection (and my introduction into Walker's solo career) "Boy Child '67-'70".

Hear "The Old Man's Back Again":