Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September's Picks

1. XTC-"Generals And Majors"
Dedicated to the 164 Simple Simon US generals and admirals who endorsed Donald Trump for President.

2. THE CALIFORNIANS-"The Cooks Of Cake And Kindness"
From the pen of Russ Carter and John Alquist this 1969 B-side was unearthed 30+ years back when the good folks at Bam Caruso saw fit to include it on their second long playing compilation LP "The 49 Minute Technicolor Dream". Beneath an array of tablas, fuzzed out guitars, horns and chants is a vision of pre-Apocalyptic times (a drought) delivered by saccharine sweet West Coast style harmonies.

3. THE BAR-KAYS-"Midnight Cowboy"
Whilst searching on YouTube for Lee Morgan's reading of the John Barry penned film theme I came across this interesting version by The Bark-Kays from 1969.  It starts with an interesting spacey guitar intro before the sweet Hammond sweeps in the main lick and it grooves along with razor sharp Memphis horns. Dig it.

4.DAVID BOWIE-"Come And Buy My Toys"
From the Dame's debut 1967 untitled album comes this beautiful piece of music with sparse backing of just bass and acoustic guitar (the latter expertly handled by John Redbourne). The devil is in the detail of it's simplistic music and Bowie's confident, youthful vocals. I still can't believe he's gone.

5. THE SEARCHERS-" Can't Help Forgiving You"
This Jackie DeShannon/Sharon Sheeely composition graced the band's "1964 "Play The System" E.P.  It's catchy thanks to a memorable little 12 string lick and I find myself singing it frequently because it flows off one's tongue so easily in a lazy sort of way.


Tucked away on the flip of their 1967 opus "Nights In White Satin" , "Cities" is a melancholic little ditty written and sung by Justin Hayward.  It's simple musical backing is highlighted by the band's tight harmonies and some kitschy harpsichord.

7. BIFF BANG POW-"The Chocolate Elephant Man"
Very few of the bands I adored in the 80's held up three decades on but I'm happy to say that Alan McGee's band Biff Bang Pow did on their debut LP "Pass The Paintbrush Honey".  With slightly out of tune jangly guitars and a cheery yet maudlin melody this one is carried by some disembodied harmonies and an interesting cacophony at the climax.

8. DEE DEE SHARP-"Deep Dark Secret"
Now we're cooking with gas! This 1964 single unfortunately spelled the end to Miss Sharp's ride on the US hit parade but in my book it's her best track and is also her most sought after!

9. SHY LIMBS-"Reputation"
Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" opened the floodgates for Bach inspired organ tracks in Britain worthy of one of our bog standard "Top 10" lists.  None was finer than this amazing opus of phlanged Hammond brilliance from 1969 that is majestic and ethereal.

10. ZOOT MONEY-"Soma"
Recorded during the brief period as Dantalian's Chariot , this instrumental raga with jazzy flourishes was later utilized on Zoot's 1968 LP "Transition" (which strangely on the back cover is credited to "Zoot Money & The Big Roll Band).  It's a bit on the longish side but delightful nonetheless with sitars intertwining with jazzy flute.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: Don Fardon

DON FARDON-Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'/Sunshine Woman German Vogue DV 14852 1969

Don Fardon has graced our page many times before so we'll dispense with any in depth history.  Don fronted the Coventry beat/r&b combo The Sorrows and after an LP and 6 singles (including their only hit, "Take A Heart") he parted ways with them in 1966 to go solo.  His solo career in Germany seemed quite prosperous as today's subject was his 5th single in just two years. Like many of his German releases this single was not issued in the U.K.

The A-side was a cover of the American act Crazy Elephant's sole hit "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'".  It's a pretty mundane track no matter who's doing it and though it's got some horns on it they sound like a pop record and the whole thing sounds sorta , well, lifeless despite Don's best efforts in the vocal department.

The real gold is on the flip side, "Sunshine Woman" .  Written by Fardon along with Tony Ritchie and Derek Spence (the former cut a US only version of "Coming On Strong" utilizing the back track from Fardon's version) it's one of his strongest tracks up there with "I'm Alive". Starting with some cool bass and bongos it weaves in subtle organ and horns that gradually build to include phlanged piano and then a groovy psychedelic wash on the bridge where horns and catchy guitar merge.  Above all Fardon's strong vocals carry the whole tune that's a perfectly danceable mix of soulful r&b and pop (with mild psychedelic trickery).

Both sides were compiled 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. "Sunshine Woman" came to my attention first via one of the short lived "New Rubble" series "Volume Six:Painting The Time" CD compilation.

Hear "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'":

Hear "Sunshine Woman":

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


We here at Anorak Thing H.Q. were shocked to hear of the passing of the great Prince Buster last week.
In his honor we have compiled a "Best Of..." playlist for your listening pleasure. Click on the title to hear the track.  Enjoy.

1. "Ghost Dance"

2.  "Hard Man Fe Dead"

3. "Blackhead Chinaman"

4. "Cincinnati Kid"

5. "Ten Commandments (From Man To Woman)"

6. "That Lucky Old Sun (Wash Wash)"

7. "The Barrister (The Appeal)"

8. "Al Capone"

9. "Open Up Bartender"

10. "Green Green Grass"

11. "Sounds And Pressure"

12. "Burning Creation"

13. "They Got To Come My Way"

14. "Big Five"

15. "Rough Rider"

Monday, September 12, 2016

Donovan: Live at the South Orange Performing Arts Center 9/11/16

Going to see Donovan was going to be somewhat of a crap shoot. Despite being a fan of his 60's music these past 40+ years I am consistently irked by his endless streams of boastfulness and name dropping from both his autobiography from a few years back and subsequent interviews. So bearing this in mind it was with much trepidation that I decided to attend.  It's always struck me as rather odd considering the bulk of his work are his own compositions and that he would need resort to the latter, but it seems to have become his forte and possibly his "shtick".  My gears are thoroughly ground when these involve The Beatles (more on that later). So boldly I decided to go even though it might have meant gripping the edge of my seat as he once again laid claim to writing a verse in "Yellow Submarine" or retelling how he taught the Beatles how to finger pick in India with the Baba Zeeba or perhaps again claiming he pioneered World Music and invented Celtic rock. As for what to expect musically there was some hope. Though I know he performed the entire "Sunshine Superman" album live in it's original running order in the U.K. a year or so ago with John Cameron as musical director with a full band behind him I was not expecting so much here in America. It was being advertised as "Donovan -Sunshine Superman The 50th Anniversary" so there was a glimmer of hope, however so faint.

My friends and I arrived at the South Orange Performing Arts Theater to see a small riser with a white sheepskin on it and a low microphone in front with a solitary Roland amp behind and an acoustic guitar on the rug. Clearly it was going to be musically sparse evening. No band, certainly no John Cameron and I felt the twinge of regret that we would have an earful of stories, boasts, sparse musical numbers and the inevitable bane of any gig where the audience is 65 and over: the dreaded sing along.

Donovan came on and wasted no time digging into material from his early "denim" period on Pye records (Hickory in the USA), in particular the "Fairytale" LP: "Catch The Wind", "Colours", "Little Tin Soldier", "The Alamo", "Josie", "Donna Donna" and my personal favorite, "The Universal Soldier". All of which were delivered fairly well with much warmth and appreciation from the man for the sold out performance. He then proceeded to tell the tale of Paul McCartney showing up at his flat guitar in hand and singing him an early version of "Eleanor Rigby". Macca, he said, had come to his flat because he was "known for his children's songs" (a whole year plus before his "For Little Ones" album, hmmmmm) and needed help with a tune he was working on called "Yellow Submarine". Donovan stated that he came up with the line "Sky of blue, sea of green...".  Well......, okay and then sang a few lines of "Yellow Submarine". He did a subtle but perfect version of  "Guinevere" and that was sadly the extent of his "Sunshine Superman" LP offerings, no "The Trip", "Celeste" or "Fat Angel" (there was a rather lack luster "Season Of The Witch" in the second set...) and a whole lot of ramblings about "Celtic" and "Spiritual" etc etc all delivered with these odd awkward pauses which I'm not sure were an affectation or a method of breath control.

Intermission came after the 40 minute first set concluded and he was back with more music and even more stories. There was an amusing story about running from girls in Blackpool while on a bill on the pier with (dig this line up): The Who, The Walker Brothers, The Swingin' Blue Jeans, The Hollies, a stand up comedian and a ventriloquist. He ran into Peter Noone who was running from girls at another gig in town and they shared a joint in the men's public convenience whilst discussing their new found adulation (Peter Noone is amusingly on YouTube telling the same story but says that it was Brighton, check it out here, it's quite funny). He talked about India but luckily no mention of the finger picking (he did say that Beatle George contributed a verse he didn't use on "Hurdy Gurdy Man") . This set was pretty much all the "hits": "Mellow Yellow", "Sunshine Superman", "Season Of The Witch", "Hurdy Gurdy Man", "Lalena", "There Is A Mountain", "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" etc and a tune he says he'll never record about his guitar which like all of his guitars has a girl's name, okayyyyyy. This set was 50 minutes and about half way through little D (Dylan is the "Big D") began encouraging the audience to join in.  Maybe he likes it that was because it has a homey, family sing along feel to it or maybe he was tired and wanted someone else to do the singing, we'll never know but it was "all of you over there", "now just the ladies" , "now the fellas in the balcony" etc... I didn't sing or clap, I slunk into my $56 seat and cringed. There's nothing worse than sing along's at gigs in my book. And then it was done.  He stood up and bowed, took off his guitar and left the stage (to a thunderous applause I might add) and the lights came up.  He was supposed to be out front signing autographs (I bought an autographed pic of him wearing the same jacket as me earlier) so I passed figuring it wasn't worth the wait to ask him what I've wanted to for years: since he seems like a very peaceful and passive fellow how did he feel that his songs were used in rather violent sequences in movies (the first victims of the Zodiac killer to the tune of "Hurdy Gurdy Man" in "Zodiac" and Billy Batz getting stomped to death by Joe Pesci and pals in "Goodfellas" while "Atlantis" plays on)? Instead we repaired to a nearby pub for a pint and a decompress and debrief on the evenings entertainment.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Hardin & York

HARDIN & YORK-Tomorrow, Today/Candlelight US Bell B-799 1969

One of the more interesting "supergroups" in the U.K. late 60's was the short lived venture known as Hardin & York . Keyboardist Eddie Hardin had previously played with A Wild Uncertainty before joining the Spencer Davis Group in 1967 to replace Steve Windwood. By the end of 1968  Hardin and original S.D.G member Pete York (drums) both left to form this duo.

The group cut just one single and three albums in their short career.  "Tomorrow Today" was released in the US, UK and Germany.  Our American specimen was released in June 1969, one month after the UK issue (Bell BLL 1064). "Tomorrow Today" is  a groovy little blue eyed soul number not at all unlike The Spencer Davis Group when they were playing rocking Hammond driven material . It starts out light with just some piano and acoustic guitar and then in comes Hardin's churchy Hammond, his soulful vocals and some amazing female backing vocalists with so much soul that it's powerful (care of the British due Sue & Sunny).  The backing vocals blend perfectly with the organ and Hardin's voice giving it a gospel feel. Magical stuff!

"Candlelight" is a bit heavier and due to some serious over  phlanging and organ noodling. At times it's pretty akin to early Deep Purple, musically anyway. It's not terrible but in light of the monster A-side it pales considerably and doesn't really make me want to play it repeatedly.

"Tomorrow Today" live on German TV's "Beat Club" November 1969:

Hear "Tomorrow Today":

Hear "Candlelight":

Thursday, September 1, 2016

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Duffy Power as "Jamie Power"

DUFFY POWER-There's No Living Without Your Loving/Love's Gonna Go US Jamie 1307 1966

Here's a weird one for the ages. This was the second Duffy Power 45 issued in the US under the odd moniker of  "Jamie Power". I have long wondered why they made a mistake with the name as it was not utilized anywhere else in the world. It was also his third US 45 release (the previous US issue was 1965's "She Don't Know"/"Love's Gonna Go" as Jamie 1299). Today's 45 entry was issued in 1966 and again utilized "Love's Gonna Go" as the B-side.  We tackled Duffy's first US 45 way back when over here.

"There's No Living Without Your Loving" had previously been tackled by Manfred Mann in November 1965 . Duffy Power's version has an almost folk rock feel to it with it's "Needles And Pins" style acoustic guitar before sweeping strings and horns come in and give it a Walker Brothers feel (dig the horn solo in the middle that totally sounds straight off a Walkers session). The strong spot of it is of course Duffy's adaptable voice.

"Love's Gonna Go" is a far more somber affair, perfectly suited to Power's smoky, blues shouter voice and is the stronger of the two sides for my money. It gets down and gritty when he blows a harp solo in the middle and some twangy guitar licks appear behind the bluesy bass, piano and drums backing.

Both sides were included on RPM's essential double CD Duffy Power collection "Leapers And Sleepers".

Hear "There's No Living Without Your Loving":

Hear "Love's Gonna Go":