Saturday, October 29, 2016

October's Picks

 1. THE BEE GEES-"Idea"
All too often I forget about The Bee Gee's , especially their third post-Australia LP "Idea". The title cut has plenty of hooks and the usual precision harmonies of their trademark but has something extra that I can't quite put my finger on.

2. BIG MAYBELLE-"Oh Lord What Are You Doing To Me"
This slow burner by Big Maybelle takes a bit to get cooking and starts out as a fairly standard, nondescript ballad but it builds in no small part to her powerful delivery.

3. THE WANTED-"East Side Story"
Though not a patch on the Bob Seger & The Last Heard version or the superior St. Louis Union cover, this 1967 reading by Detroit's The Wanted is worth a listen as well.  It sticks to the Seger arrangement but adds some harmonies and gritty guitar not found on either of the previously mentioned versions that really give it a reason to listen to more than twice.

For the better part of 20 years I'd been familiar with this as the flip of the UK freakbeat band The Score's reading of The Fab's "Please Please Me", little did I know it was a Chuck Jackson tune until I heard it on the new Kent CD compilation "Modernism" which blew my mind. I duly went out and bought a copy.

5. IDLE RACE-"Impostors Of Life's Magazine"

I'm not the world's biggest Idle Race fan because well, I'm not a fan of E.L.O and Jeff's Lynne's voice, that gripe out of the way I have always dug this catchy pop psych ditty with plenty of hooks, blistering guitar and strains of cool strings, even if Lynne uses the same vocal effect on every single record he's ever made.

6. THE TRAITS-"Nobody Loves The Hulk"

When I was a kid my parent's best friends had a daughter a year older than me who had loads of cool comic book related records that we would groove to in the basement. Among them was this number which until coming across it on YouTube (via a cover by Baltimore's highly recommended Stents) I had completely forgotten about for the better part of four and a half decades.  It's a mid tempo folk rocker not unlike The 13th Floor Elevators and holds up despite it's novelty appeal. And that original copy is now worth $50!!

Yet another mid 60's ska track from the "rude boy" genre and more than a passing influence on The Special's "Rude Boy's Outta Jail".  Released on Island in 1966.

8. THE REMO FOUR-"Brother Where Are You?"
Liverpool's Hamburg based Remo Four were big fans of Oscar Brown Jr. performing "But I Was Cool" live on "Beat Club" and cutting this smooth reading of a track from his "Oscar Brown Jr Goes To Washington" on their sole long player "Smile" with great results.

9. JACKIE SHANE-"In My Tenement"
Jackie Shane is semi legendary, if not only for having the brass to be a trans-gendered soul singer in the 1960's but also for making some highly collectible mid 60's soul sides like this one on Sue from 1963, a perfect bookend (lyrically anyway) to Garnett Mimm's "A Quiet Place".

Released in the U.K. on Sue as "The Whip" by Alexander Jackson and The Turnkeys, this smoking r&b instrumental featuring sax and piano and gritty Steve Cropper style guitars trading licks is catchy regardless of which pressing you own (and sits high up on my "wants" list). I like "The Whip" better as a title.  What the f*ck is a "flea pot"?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: Duffy Power with help from The Paramounts

DUFFY POWER-Tired Broke And Busted/Parchman Farm UK Parlophone R 5111 1964

Duffy Power has long been one of my favorite 60's British r&b performers. We discussed two of his earlier singles for the Parlophone label over here and here. Today's topic was his fourth release for the label where he was backed (albeit uncredited) by fellow r&b label mates The Paramounts (who of course would later find fame as Procul Harum).

"Tired Broke And Busted" was originally cut by Floyd Dixon in 1952 in the US and released on the Aladdin label. Power's version stays pretty much true to the arrangement in practice. It's a bit more uptempo and utilizes some wailing harp (absent from the piano blues shuffle of the original). As always Power's voice is in top form and gives it all he's got and Robin Trower provides a brief but raw little guitar solo on top of Gary Brooker's subtle stride piano.

A host of British r&b bands recorded Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm" . Duffy Power was actually the first believe it or not beating The Nashville Teens, Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames and John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers and Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers to a U.K. release. Power's version maintains the same uptempo arrangement Georgie Fame utilized with some tasty piano from Gary Brooker and blistering, but restrained guitar bursts from Robin Trower. TRIVIA NOTE: Early U.K. promo copies listed the track as "Parchment Farm".

Both sides were collected on the excellent RPM Duffy Power double CD "Leapers And Sleepers", which I cannot recommend enough if you don't already own it. "Tired Broke And Busted" also graced EMI's excellent CD compilation "Rhythm And Blues (With A Little Soul) At Abbey Road 1963-167" (which was my first introduction to the track).

Hear "Tired Broke And Busted":

Hear "Parchman Farm":

Thursday, October 20, 2016

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Jackie Lomax as "One"

ONE-Hey Taxi/Enter My World US Columbia 4-44256 1967

We discussed 60's Liverpudlian musician Jackie Lomax awhile back in this earlier post, so we will dispense with the long musical background on him on this piece. This 45 was a one off U.S. only release credited to "One" who in reality were The Lomax Alliance, a short lived band who cut just one 45 but also a host of amazing unreleased cuts detailed in our earlier post.  Both of theses tracks are in my estimation among his strongest pieces of work.

"Hey Taxi" is an amazing two minute pop song. The chords and guitars remind me of some of the catchier moments of Gene Clark's first album with it's "Revolver" style licks, subtle brass and a bouncy/poppy feel. I can't help but feel it has an "American sound" to it.

"Enter My World" is even better , albeit too brief (it lasts less than a minute and a half).  Led by a tough riff backed by some slick harmonies and a bouncy feel like the A-side, it's accented by some perfectly placed bells and is incredibly catchy.

Both sides are available on the highly recommended Lomax CD compilation "Lost Soul: The Singles And Demo's '66-'67" and as a download from iTunes.

Hear "Hey Taxi":

Hear "Enter My World":

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Hollies U.S. Debut

THE HOLLIES-Stay/Now's The Time US Liberty F-55674 1964

The Hollies first appearance in the US came in January 1964 when Liberty records launched them with a cover of Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs 1960 hit "Stay" (previously released in the U.K. as their third single in November 1963). It was also their only single on the US label as subsequent releases were issued on the Imperial label.

The Hollies version of "Stay" eschews the annoying/screechy falsetto of the original (at least till the middle of the song anyway) and works because the band kick it up and turn the slow dance bump and grind of the original to an amphetamine raver at twice the speed. The best bit is Tony Hicks gritty little guitar solo that reminds me of The Milkshakes.

"Now's The Time" is a Clark/Nash original (published under their real names prior to the adoption pseudonym "L. Ransford"). It was the band's third original composition (for the band's first 4 singles in the U.K. their originals were only permitted on the B-sides until they had enough clout to be given a top side). "Now's The Time" is a frantic Merseybeat (Manc beat?) style raver delivered at double time with the requisite twangy/frenetic guitar solo and in my book is way better than the top side.

Both sides are available in a host of places, the best being the highly recommended 6 CD set "The Hollies: Clarke Hicks & Nash Years" which is still available from Amazon for a stunningly low price.

Hear "Stay":

Hear "Now's The Time":

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: Truly Smith Does Chris Clark

TRULY SMITH-I Wanna Go Back There Again/The Window Cleaner German Decca DL 25 304 1967

I first became aware of U.K. 60's female vocalist Truly Smith when I saw a photograph of a French E.P. of hers in a booklet of French 60's 45 and E.P. picture sleeves that came with a dodgy Eva records album in the 80's. I saw the E.P. first hand in Paris and was intrigued by her dollybird look but it wasn't until the late 90's that I came across our subject today at the Princeton Record Exchange when they were selling 45's that had once belonged to Radio Free Europe. I took a chance and decided to hear what she was all about with this German pressing of her doing Chris Clark's "I Wanna Go Back There Again". It was issued in the U.K. in August 1967 (Decca F 12645) and beat the Clark original to a UK release (which didn't come out until January 1968!). This pressing came out in September of '67 and was her sole German release.

"I Wanna Go Back There Again" is believe it or not BETTER than the original version to my ears.  It's more uptempo and though Truly Smith's voice is entirely different than Chris Clark's I find her delivery is a bit more enjoyable to my ears than Clark's husky tone and the musical backing is actually a bit more dance-able.

The flip side "Window Cleaner" sounds like it could be a groovy social observation in the style of Barbara Ruskin, but nothing doing.  It's a dreadful little ditty with muted horns that recall the New Vaudeville Band at their ickiest and another dreadful example of how 1920's were ever so briefly "hip" in 1967.

"I Wanna Go Back There Again" was recently unearthed for Decca's CD comp "Love Hot Me: Decca Girls 1962-1970", it's flip has thankfully not.

Truly Smith on "Beat Club" German TV:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

I've Read It In Books

Anorak Thing still rolls on but we've started a new blog about the printed word called I've Read It In Books.  Head on over here and check out our first post.