Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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

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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.

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