Monday, November 28, 2016

November's Picks

1. HANK JACOBS-"So Far Away"
From the U.S. Sue label came this 1963 instrumental that I often overlook as being too "well known" and it turns up somewhere and reminds me of what a great little tune it is. Sadly none of his other stuff is remotely affordable any more!

2. OLIVE BONE-"Jugger Tea"
Here's a mega obscure 1966 instrumental released by U.K. Parlophone as a B-side single full of heavy brass, busy guitar licks and a jazzy groove.  I have no idea who they were but this track swings.

The Applejacks publicity still from the film "Go Go Big Beat"

The Applejacks are often unfairly maligned for their one off U.K. hit, the Lennon/Macca throwaway "Like Dreamers Do".  Somehow Decca must have seen some promise in them as they were allowed to record an LP in 1964 full of the usual lame beat group covers ("Kansas City", "Too Much Monkey Business" etc) and this down trodden beat ballad reminiscent of The Zombies at their most wistful , angst ridden best.

"I can see her lyin' down in her satin dress in a room where you do what you don't confess"
I've gone weird. I turned 50, grew a moustache and started listening to Gordon Lightfoot. The end is nigh.

5. TURQUOISE-"Tales Of Flossie Fillet"
Turquoise should have been stars, Dave and Ray Davies grew up on the same street as them, they were friends with Keith Moon and John Entwistle and managed and produced by Tom Keylock (though the idea of a guy from a car hire knowing his way around a recording studio sounds pretty ludicrous). "Tales Of Flossie Fillet" is a jaunty little tune not unlike the Kinks '68. "Dave and Ray" (Davies) and "Moon The Loon" get a mention in the last verse....Sadly once Keylock's career with The Stones waned so did his interest in the band and their Decca contract evaporated soon thereafter.

6. LAUREL AITKEN-"Rock Steady"
From my favorite U.K. 60's ska/reggae label, Columbia Blue Beat, this 1967 45 by Laurel Aitken is mostly New Orleans boogie woogie r&b with a slight ska beat behind it all propelled by some solid sax/piano backing. It's sort of mundane but I enjoy it's laid back simplicity.

7. PETE MOORE-"Catwalk"
By the mid 90's I was musically restless. Bored with Britpop and with very few 60's British/Euro things being unearthed on compilations and BANG! I stumbled upon the kitsch/music/lounge scene. Not "lounge" in that dreadful tiki/Madmen/mambo/Sinatra scene but lounge as in 60's/70's UK/Euro music library sounds, kitschy versions of pop standards and instrumentals from films (where sometimes the principals even kept their clothes on) and the like. "Catwalk" by Pete Moore is a perfect example of this, unearthed by the Karminsky Experience Inc. for the excellent Deram comp "Inflight Entertainment" dripping with Hammond, flutes and a rhythm not unlike "Spooky".

8. XTC-"Are You Receiving Me?"
Brilliant, quirky, jerky, ultra-Anglo aggro pop with a slight 60's twist. In my book XTC stood ahead of the plethora of faceless, talent-less no way new wave scene with their frantic/frenetic little melodies and pop quirks.  The guitar solo on this always takes me back. XTC were the first live band I ever saw and will always occupy a special place in time for me.

9. MARIANNE FAITHFUL-"Something Better"
I always felt bad for Marianne Faithful. She had it all, beauty, the voice, a pop star boyfriend and a music career and poof it all went. Although "Something Better" is a Goffin/Mann composition the lyrics seem painfully tailored for her which makes it work even more, no matter how tragic.

10. 5:30-"13th Disciple"
Imagine my surprise that the band behind 1985's "Catcher In The Rye" on the "Cutting Edge" compilation LP were still hanging in there. My friend Bob gave me their new CD "Bed" for my 25th birthday and a few weeks later I was in a pub and this video came on and stopped me dead in my tracks with their stripey jumpers, Rickenbackers and Epiphones and John's Children haircuts.  It's held up remarkably considering my disdain for most things "Britpop".

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Honeybus

HONEYBUS-Girl Of Independent Means/How Long US Deram 45-DEM-7522 1968

Britain's Honeybus (lead by prolific songwriter Pete Dello) released a slew of 45's in the U.K. and on the European continent but their US discography is slim with just a release of their U.K. hit "I Can't Let Maggie Go" (#8) and today's subject, "Girl Of Independent Means", their final American side issued here in October 1968. Pete Dello had left the band a few months prior being replaced by Jim Kelly (lead vocals/ guitar).  The other members were Ray Cane (bass/vocals and also one of the band's other songwriters), Colin Hare (rhythm guitar) and Pete Kircher (drums).

"Girl Of Independent Means" was the bands fourth U.K. 45 (Deram DM  207 September 1968). It's a great mid tempo pop song. Starting off with a oft copped lick ("I'm A Man")  before injecting some innocuous trumpets preceding the lead vocals.  On the surface it's an incredibly pedestrian tune but it's hooks and top shelf production (care of the band!) make it easy to listen to over and over. Like so many other mid/late 60's U.K. Deram sides no expense is spared in production and the backing music.

The flip side "How Long" is a jangly soft pop number with some slick harmonies and intricate folk rock guitars giving it a very distinct American "West Coast" feel. Even the guitar solo reminds me of a Buffalo Springfield record and the vocals have me thinking of Moby Grape! Quite out of place in the year of blues rock jams or psychedelic freakouts in Britain.

Both sides are available on Castle's two CD Honeybus anthology "She Flies Like A Bird: The Honeybus Anthology".

Hear "Girl Of Independent Means":

Hear "How Long":

Friday, November 18, 2016

Mose Allison R.I.P.

Sadly it seems we have been forced to eulogize a great deal of artists this year.  I reserve eulogies for people whose material I appreciate on a grand scale and try not to turn this into the Death Blog of Music.  Now I am forced to mourn the passing of Mose Allison.  I first heard of Mose Allison in 1982 when reading the influential "Mods" book by Richard Barnes. His music was brought to my attention in the late 80's by a young lady who knew I liked Georgie Fame (though I unwittingly had been hearing his material via British 60's r&b for quite some time), his music was further brought to my attention by an older jazz hipster I worked with who was my jazz mentor and presented me with a copy of Mose Allison's 1970 Atlantic LP compilation "The Best Of....".

I was fortunate enough to see him play in 1996 in a small club in St . Paul MN called the Artist's Quarter to less than a dozen people for a mere $15.  He did all his "hits".  He even dedicated "Baby Please Don't Go" to me in his un-imitable cool style saying "this next one is for the young gentleman who so enthusiastically applauded my previous number" (his "Parchman Farm" was so incredible I bolted upright and clapped perhaps a bit too quickly and loudly).

In my tradition of Top 10's here are my favorite tracks by Mose Allison.

1. "The Seventh Son" US Single Prestige 45-150 1959
Mose's second single and easily one of his most famous tracks, a reading of Willie Dixon's "The Seventh Son," extenuates everything about the man: laid back, cool, mellow and witty. And to top it off it gives a nice glimpse of what ivory tinkling chops he had.

2. "V-8 Ford Blues" album track "Sings And Plays" Columbia SX 6058 1961 US LP
"V-8 Ford Blues" is Mose at his wittiest and smoothest in one of his many classic "put down" songs. It features his bizarre yammering away while he solos and the contains the rare mention of an automobile, something absent from usual lyrically timeless material.

3.  "I'm Not Talking" album track "A Word From Mose" US LP Atlantic SD 1424 1964
My introduction to Mose Allison, like many, came through The Yardbirds interpretation of this catchy, busy "hit" driven by his barrel-house piano playing and wise ass "I'm a badass don't f*ck with me" boastful vocals.

4. "Swingin' Machine" album track "Swingin' Machine" US LP Atlantic 1398 1962
"Are you tired, are you uninspired , if you're bored you just can't afford to miss out on the scene when I unveil my little swingin' machine".  So goes the opening line to one of my fave Mose tracks, aided in no small part to some trombone and sax which add to a fuller, almost more sophisticated sound to his usual delivery.

5. "Parchman Farm" US Single Prestige 45-130 1958
"Parchman Farm" was the "Louie Louie" of the mid 60's British r&b scene (as the video clip above will attest). Understandably, it defined Georgie Fame's vocal style and remains one of Mose Allison's most endearing tracks. In case you're from Mars or have been kept in your momma's basement for the past 5 decades, it's a humorous look at life in a work gang penitentiary.

6. "Young Man Blues" (aka "Back Country Suite: Blues") album track "Back Country Suite" US LP Prestige PRLP 7091 1957
Brought to many via The Who's boisterous reading on "Live At Leeds", this track was actually titled "Back Country Suite: Blues" when it was first aired on his "Back Country Suite" album.  On top of some slick stride piano Mose, in one of his shortest tracks (1:28), laments the plight of the young man.

7. "If You're Goin' To The City" album track "Swingin' Machine" US LP Atlantic 1398 1962
I've always classed Mose's material in two categories: "rural" (bass, piano, drums) and "urban" (all of the above plus horns). His 1962 "Swingin' Machine" LP falls into the later musically. Lyrically, it has a "country boy in the city" feel that just evokes New York City in black and white 1962: 24/7 diners, big cars with big fins, hustlers, 42nd Street and the hustle and bustle that is the Big Apple with smooth horns to accentuate the "busy" feel of the concrete jungle.

8. "Baby Please Don't Go" US Single Columbia 4-41717 1960
Not all of Mose Allison's treasures were his own. He could work wonders with other folk's material too like this stormer, chock full of his scat muttering on top of some free form piano tinkling and a laid back feel both musically and vocally. And, of course leading to Van Morrison and Them's debut 45 and my first hearing of the track.

9. "Foolkiller"album track "A Word From Mose" US LP Atlantic SD 1424 1964
Originally released on his 1964 Atlantic records long player  "The Word From Mose", "Foolkiller" incorporates paranoia with jest on top of some intense piano hammering. First brought to my attention by the Brian Auger Trinity who cut it as a single in 1965, Atlantic reissued the track as a US 45 in 1966.

10. "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" album track "Mose Takes To The Hills" Epic BA 17031 US LP 1962
Another upbeat reading of a track not of his own composing, this bright, spry interpretation of "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" is as fitting an epitaph as any.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: Mike Quinn and the Breadcrumbs

MIKE QUINN & THE BREADCRUMBS-Toothbrush Nell/Fairy Cakes (For Tea) UK Jay Boy BOY 7 1969

Released on the Jay Boy label (an interesting late 60's UK label set up by Eddie Kassner that released a variety of sounds: soul, reggae, freakbeat, psych MOR etc) this one off 45 credited to Mike Quinn and The Breadcrumbs is an interesting release. Mike Quinn was allegedly the owner of several London boutiques who in grand 60's tradition proved that if you were famous you made a record! (Sean Buckley &) The Breadcrumbs were best known for their searing Shel Talmy produced monster "Everybody Knows" from 4 years prior (first unearthed in the late 80's on the epic "Searchin' In The Wilderness" compilation album).

"Toothbrush Nell" is a slightly mediocre piece driven by a banjo and sung in an overdone accent in a lazy way not unlike Ray Davies when singing in his disinterested "posh" voice. In fact the pace reminds me a lot of a 1966 Kinks track, minus the multiple chord and tempo changes and contains far more innuendo and double entendre than R.D. would ever dare use. Presumably Mike Quinn is the "vocalist" on this track.

The real treat is of course the flip side "Fair Cakes (For Tea)", which on the subject of Ray Davies is a great little bit of social commentary about a spoiled rotten, self centered rich girl. Sung by Sean Buckley over a kitschy, cheeky musical backing it sounds more like a 1965 or 1966 track than it's 1969 release.

"Toothbrush Nell" has not been reissued but "Fairy Cakes (For Tea)" appears on Psychi Circle's 2007 CD compilation "Fairytales Can Come True Two: Fairy Cakes For Tea" where this writer was first introduced to it. Mike Quinn later cut a tongue and cheek 45 on CBS in 1969 called "Apple Pie"(previously cut by Jon Isherwood and issued on one of the early "Strange Things Are Happening" compilations) worth having a listen to (especially for it's "Give Peace A Chance" pisstake intro).

Hear "Toothbrush Nell":

Hear "Fairy Cakes (For Tea)":

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mid 60's Relaunches

The advent of the British beat music boom slew the careers of lots of performers on both sides of the Atlantic be it the bryl creamed American solo performers or their British counterparts across the pond or British instrumental combos or even the 50's rock and roll legends who inspired these new upstarts.  But this boom also led to attempts to reinvigorate the stalled careers of many of these unfortunates.  Sadly none of them were resuscitated by this but it did produce some amazing tracks.

1. JET HARRIS-"My Lady" UK Fontana TF 849 1967
The musical career of ex-Shadow Jet Harris was long dead by 1967 with his last 45 (with former Shadow's partner Tony Meehan) issued by Decca in early 1963 and one final 45 on his own on the label in early 1964. Fast forward to 1967 and Harris  looked set for a relaunch when he cut this Troggs cover (with musical accompaniment by Tony Meehan) . It out freaks the original by replacing it's minimal music backing by adding some wonky guitar, high pitched flutes, blaring sax and high end brass.  Sadly it failed but gave Jet bragging rights for flying the freakbeat flag higher than anyone else.

2. ADAM FAITH-"Cowman Milk Your Cow" UK Parlophone R 5635 1967
Early 60's idol Adam Faith was one of many performers who hinged their hopes of rebooting their music careers by receiving material from the then hot Bee Gees. Like many of the tunes they gave away this jangly, somber number was never released by the Brothers Gibb.  It's an incredible piece with some raga guitar and solid backing (allegedly by his former backing band The Roulettes) and The Bee Gees on backing vocals and Faith carrying the whole thing very well. It failed to chart and rates as his rarest and most in demand 45.

3. GENE VINCENT-"I Was Born To Be A Rolling Stone" US Challenge 59365 1967 
In 1966 has been Gene Vincent was signed to the Challenge label where he cut 3 updated/modern (ie "contemporary") 45's.  "I Was Born To Be A Rolling Stones" is a cracking number delivered on top of a jangly folk rock feel (and and interesting sequence while vibes seamlessly slide in with the 12 string). I have always wondered if the line "I went over to London, lordy what a swinging town but a fast talking phony with a big cigar tried to bring me down" was directed at Don Arden who had fleeced Vincent in the past. Sadly none of his sides for the label revitalized his career but makes for some amazing listening.

German Polydor release

4. BILLY J. KRAMER & THE DAKOTAS-"Chinese Girl" UK Reaction 591014 1967
Released as the B-side to Billy J's Bee Gee's cover "The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker", "Chinese Girl" was cut at the end of 1966 with The Dakotas backing him (it was written by Dakotas Mick Green and Robin McDonald). If one overlooks the un-PC lyrics and inane rhymes and concentrates of the musical backing you're in for a ride and indeed this should have been the A-side and left the toytown schlock of the A-side on the bottom where it belonged (it didn't chart anyway).  Interestingly there is an even more way out alternate version with far wilder guitars and stronger vocals on the EMI collection "Do You Want To Know A Secret: The EMI Sessions 1963-1983".

5. BRENDA LEE-"Is It True" UK Brunswick 05915 1964
Like many other American artists Brenda Lee fell on hard times in the wake of the "British Invasion" and was among one of the first American's to go to Britain to record in an effort to jump start their career.  Armed with a Carter/Lewis composition, Mickie Most in the production seat and a host of session players (among them Jimmy Page, who's distinct guitar style is instantly apparent on this track) Lee set about recording in London. "Is It True" is a rollicking number but despite Page's raw guitar pyrotechnics, Vernon's girls backing vocals, Lee's gutsy delivery and a plug on "Ready Steady Go" notwithstanding it only become a modest hit ( #17 in the UK and the US) but failed to restore her to her former glory.

6. BOBBY RYDELL-"When I See That Girl Of Mine" US Capitol 5513 1965
Hats off to Bobby Rydell who attempted to get "with it" and cut and released this Ray Davies track before the Kinks version hit the States in October 1965.  The musical backing is tight and tough (dig the restrained, searing guitar work in the mix) and despite making it a rocking record it did nothing for Bobby or his finished musical career. This year the track was part of the "Kinked: Kink Songs And Sessions 1964-1971" CD compilation featuring covers of Ray and Dave Davies compositions.

7. BILLY FURY-"Silly Boy Blue" UK Parlophone R5681 1968
Billy Fury too joined the ranks of hopefuls who cut a Bee Gees composition in the hopes of some chart action, but it's not his version of "One Minute Woman" on side B we're concerned with but his over the top delivery of David Bowie's "Silly Boy Blue" on the topside. Released 11 months after David's airing on his debut LP, Billy Fury gives it his all and the amazing backing arranged by Alan Tew and produced and directed by future Jam producer Vic Smith add to the weight of this monster, but it hit is was not.

Scan c/o

8. DEL SHANNON-"Mind Over Matter" UK Liberty LIB 10277 1967
In February 1967 Stones Svengali and Immediate records boss Andrew Loog Oldham brought Del Shannon over to the UK to cut an entire album at London's Olympic studios with a host of heavy hitters providing the musical backing and Immediate artists Billy Nicholls and Andrew Rose and David Skinner (aka Twice As Much) providing several of the songs. The subsequent long player "Home And Away" was shelved due to lack of funds at Immediate (leaving Shannon understandably enraged) and not released until 1978 as "And The Music Plays On" (in 2006 it was issued with the original title and artwork on CD). However in 1967 two tracks "Mind Over Matter" and "Led Along" from it were issued on a single in the UK (other tracks came out on the US on separate releases in '67 as well). "Mind Over Matter" is an amazing piece of lushly orchestrated pop (with arrangements care of Arthur Greenslade) that's infectious and easily carried along by the stellar production and musical backing. Sadly it did nothing chart wise and rates as the former Charles Westover's most collectible 45.

9. GERRY MARSDEN-"Gilbert Green" UK CBS 2946 1967
Gerry Marsden was yet another U.K. down on their luck artist having a crack at a Brothers Gibb composition in the hopes of relaunching their career through the management of Robert Stigwood (who like Billy J. Kramer was inherited by Stigwood following his merger with Brian Epstein). Though unlike everyone else this cut was previously released by The Bee Gees (two months prior on their LP "Bee Gees 1st"). The musical backing sounds straight off of a Deram/Decca pop psych record and that's what makes this work, but sadly for Gerry Mardsen it didn't stop his one way ticket to cabaret/panto and sank immediately.

10. ROY ORBISON-"There Won't Be Many Coming Home" US MGM  K 13760 1967
From the soundtrack of the odd film "The Fastest Guitar In The West", Roy Orbison took a lot of heat in 1967 when he released this poignant anti-war single with folk rock leanings and orchestral backing on top of a martial military beat. It did not revitalize Roy's career but luckily for him he would only have to wait another two decades for that.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

R.I.P. Martin Stone

It is with sad regret that we report the passing of guitarist Martin Stone. Stone's career in the 60's was a curious path starting with a 45 on Mike Vernon's Purdah label by Stone's Masonry ("Flapjacks"/"Hot Rock") , then moving onto the Savoy Brown Blues Band for their 1967 Decca debut album "Shake Down". Then onto The Action in 1967 playing on their legendary "Brain/Rolled Gold" sessions and the material on the "Speak Louder Than" mini LP (recorded in 1968 but not issued until 1985) and was with the band when they morphed into Mighty Baby.  After Mighty Baby he was almost like a Zelig of rock n roll winding up in Chilli Willi and The Red Hot Peppers, Snakefinger, The Pink Fairies and alongside Joe Strummer in the 101'ers!  To pay tribute to Martin I have chosen five tracks from his 60's career to illustrate his career that I hope are representative of him and his memory. R.I.P.

1. STONE'S MASONRY-"Flapjacks" UK 45 Purdah 45 3504 1967
Imagine the '66 Small Faces with the '67 Mayall's Bluesbreakers era Peter Green on lead guitar and you've got this track. That said it really reminds me of the bastard child of "Own Up Time" and "Curly" with it's funky organ and powerful swooping blues licks.  Issued on Mike Vernon's insanely collectible Purdah label it rates as the rarest Martin Stone release.

2. SAVOY BROWN BLUES BAND-"The Doormouse Rides The Rails" UK LP track "Shake Down" Decca SKL 4883 1967
Joining the Savoy Brown Blues Band for their debut album "Shake Down", this track is Stone's most legendary contribution to the LP. His nimble fingers run through this blues tour de force in what I think is the strongest track on the album.  However his time with them was brief as he and the band's roadie were the subject of a drug bust which saw him ejected from the group by their manager. He was not unemployed for long.....

4. THE ACTION-"In My Dreams" Unreleased track recorded 1967
After the Savoy Brown gig ended in 1967 Stone joined the legendary 60's mod band The Action for what would be their last recording session with producer George Martin resulting in this beautiful track that would remain unissued until a collection of 1967 unreleased tracks were collected as "Brain: The Lost Sessions". Stone's bursts of guitar blend perfectly with Reggie King's vocals and Ian Whiteman's flute and give a small hint of what was to come.

Martin in 1967

4. SOUTHERN COMFORT-"Netti Netti" UK LP track London SES 97911 1969
Stone was convinced to join hard up blues player Walter "Shakey" Horton in a 1968 session along with The Butterfield Blues Band's bassist Jerome Arnold and Jessie C. Lewis, Otis Rush's drummer. The album did not come out until 1969 and is worth a small fortune now. Oddly Horton is not on the hypnotic "Netti Netti" (it was made up on the spot and recorded after Horton lapsed into unconsciousness after his third bottle of whiskey). It's a wild psychedelic mix of backwards guitars, raga licks and droning period head trip stuff that's mindblowing and out of place on this album but exciting

5. MIGHTY BABY-"Egyptian Tomb" UK LP track Head HDLS 6002 1969
In the first month of 1969 Stone along with Ian Whiteman (keyboards/flute/sax), Alan King (guitar), Mike Evans (bass) and Roger Powell (drums) shed the name the Action and were reborn as Mighty Baby. The opening cut of their untitled debut long player was "Egyptian Tomb" a group composition that's an entrancing barrage of smooth woodwinds and guitar pyrotechnics on top of the powerhouse engine of Evans and Powell.

Mighty Baby 1969

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Billy J. Kramer Channels Marvin Gaye

BILLY J. KRAMER with the DAKOTAS-Neon City/I'll Be Doggone US Imperial 66143 1965

Billy J. Kramer and The Dakota's career had long ground to a halt by the time today's subject was released in the U.S. in December 1965. "Neon City" was his 7th and final U.S. 45 (in the U.K. it was 8th in the U.K. issued as Parlophone R 5362 November 1965).

"Neon City" is a nondescript piece of Drifters inspired pop, it's not awful but it's utterly unremarkable certainly doesn't warrant a play more than once. The musical backing of horns, backing vocals and strings sounds more suited a Walker Brothers record.  Clearly George Martin and the folks at Parlophone were trying desperately to find a niche to restore Billy to his former glory (howewver fleeting it may have been).  In fact the musical backing is the only thing remotely interesting about this track.

Ready Steady Go 1965

Marvin Gaye's "I'll Be Doggone" (covered by fellow Liverpudlian's The Searchers only a few months earlier on their 4th LP titled, predictably, "Searchers No. 4") should have been the A-side.  Though it's doubtful that a Motown cover by a British artist would have a snowballs chance in hell of charting in 1965 on either side of the Atlantic it's still an amazing track. The number's greatness is due in no small part to the backing by The Dakotas.  One time Pirate's guitarist Mick Green bashes through with his choppy Fender Telecaster power chords mixed with an amplified acoustic guitar playing the main riff in a formula that totally gives this version its guts.  Kramer's vocals sound confident and almost contemptuous and the Dakotas response to his call sound interesting as well.

Dakotas Mick Green and Frank Farley

Both sides have been collected in several places, most recently on the 4 CD compilation "Do You Want To Know A Secret: The EMI Sessions 1963-1983".

Hear "Neon City":

Hear "I'll Be Doggone":

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Best Of Sue Records (U.K.)

The U.K. Sue label has long been a favorite of mine. From 1963 until 1968 it served as a UK outlet for a varied discography of US soul, blues r&b and even jazz 45's, many of which were never issued on the U.S. Sue label. In our continuing new tradition of "Top 10's" I've chosen 10 releases on the label that are my favorites. It wasn't an easy task but hopefully I have covered the gamut of this exciting, diverse label.

1. BILLY PRESTON-"Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" WI 4012 1966
Not to be confused with the Gerry and the Pacemakers number, this monster mellow/moody Hammond B-3 masterpiece is a version of a Louis Jordan track that's hands down my favorite of all the U.K. Sue releases and Billy Preston's finest dripping with soul AND blues through his masterful organ workout. Originally released in the States in 1965 as Vee Jay VJ-653.

2. TONY WASHINGTON AND THE D.C.'s-"Show Me How (To Milk A Cow) WI 327 1964
One of the rarest U.L. Sue 45's is also the label's sole foray into ska territory. Jamaican vocalist Washington cut a host of ska 45's in the U.K. for the likes of Sue, Decca and Black Swan before cutting this one off for Sue. It smacks of cash in (especially the title and lyrics that smacks of a "how to" ska dance tutorial) but it's so well done and damned infectious that I can't help but love it.

3. THE PLEASURES-"Music City" WI 357 1965
Originally released way back in March 1963 on the Catch label (100), "Music City" is a smooth r&b number with male and female vocals and any tune that mentions a "phonograph booth" is alright by me with several swatches of other "contemporary" hits ("Walk Right In", "Loop De Loop" etc). I have yet to determine if they were the same Pleasures who cut two 45's in the States for the RSVP label in 1964 and 1965.

4. THE MANHATTANS-"I Wanna Be (Your Everything)" WI 384 1965 
My home state soul gang The Manhattans got a unique release on Sue that combined my two favorite tracks by them "I Wanna Be (Your Everything)" and "Searchin' For My Baby" that were both previously released as separate A-sides in the U.S. (on Carnival 507, November 1964 and Carnival 509, March 1965 respectively). "I Wanna Be (Your Everything)" is a nice uptempo soul ballad with razor sharp call and response vocals and some nice twangy Charlie Foxx style guitar work.

5. BOBBY PARKER-"Watch Your Step" WI 340 1964
Bobby Parker's double sided killer (with "Steal Your Heart Away" on the flip) was first aired in the U.S. on the V-Tone label (223) in July 1961. Both sides were covered by a host of British r&b and beat groups leading one to wonder if it's popularity led to its release in the U.K. or if the large number of artists committing their versions to vinyl led U.K. Sue to capitalize on it by releasing it. "Watch Your Step" is a gritty, raunchy, fast paced r&b cooker that supplied many a U.K. Merseybeat and r&b act a platform. Have a listen and tell me that this had something to do with Steve's Marriott and Winwood's vocal stylings.

6. MR. DYNAMITE-"Sh'mon (Part One)" WI 4027 1967
Long rumored to be James Brown in disguise (something that the folks behind this record did not bother to try to refute allegedly) this record is NOT the Godfather of Soul, though the 100 mph workout and heavy brass certainly have the feel of a J.B. and The Famous Flames disk! My pal Larry Grogan over at Funky 16 Corners tells me that Mr. Dynamite was a gent named Bobbie Howard who was in the U.S. garage band The British Walkers. "Sh'mon" was released on the Soultime label (001) in 1966 back in the States. Both pressings are worth a small fortune.

7. THE DAYLIGHTERS-"Oh Mom (Teach Me How To Uncle Willie") WI 343 1964
Without a doubt my favorite U.K. Sue side to DJ is the imminently danceable "Oh Mom (Teach Me How To Uncle Willie)". From it's false start beginning to it's driving drum beat and funky guitar/piano interplay it's a non stop mover.  It was released in the States on Chicago's Tip Top label (2008) in 1964 and was first brought to my attention 30 years ago via Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band.

8. LYDIA MARCELLE-"Another Kind Of Fellow" WI 4025 1966
One of my favorite later soul sides on U.K. Sue was this mid tempo number that I can find no previous U.S. release of (though it's flip "I've Never Been Hurt Like This before" was issued in the States as the flip to her "Everybody Dance" 45 as Atco 45-6366 1966). It's one of the rarer U.K. Sue sides and of course demands a high $$, but regardless it's an infectious tune.

Scan c/o

Here's a doozy of a title re-arrange/change! Originally issued in the U.S. as "Flea Pot" by The Lala Wilson Band (Aura 4509 1965) for some reason the artist and the track title got a make over for this U.K. release. Regardless it's probably one of the most rocking instrumentals issued by the label all down to it's sophisticated horns and twangy Steve Cropper styled licks that burst through. Another dance floor sensation that will cost you if you find it.

10. JERRY BUTLER-"Just For You" WI 4009 1966
Tucked away on the flip of the US 45 "Believe In Me" (Vee Jay VJ-707 October 1965) the folks at U.K. Sue made the right choice by flipping the sides and putting this uptempo stormer on the top side. "Just For You" has the perfect ingredients : a great beat, high falsetto backing vocals, subtle horns and some powerful vocals by the Iceman (especially when he starts scatting).

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Sound of '66: Petula Clark Scores A Hit In The US While The UK Stays Mum

PETULA CLARK-Colour My World/I'm Begging You UK Pye 7N.17218 1966

As a little boy I spent a great deal of time with my aunt and uncle in their house.  They were older and weren't really "rock n roll" types, though my aunt had a few "rock n' roll" 45's.  "Color My World" by Petula Clark (on the US Warner Brothers label) was one of them.  I was pretty much allowed free run (reign?) of the turntable there and this was my "go to record".  As a result it's always been one of my favorite Petula Clark 45's. When I began seeking a British pressing I actually had a bit of difficulty and was quite perplexed why it's wasn't so easy to procure.  Eventually I saw a comment on YouTube that stated it wasn't a massive hit in the UK and did some research and low and behold it was true.  "Colour My World" did not chart in the U.K. and managed a modest #16 here in the States, interestingly I discovered a host of tracks that scored higher here in the U.S. than Britain ("You're The One", "Round Every Corner", "I Know A Place" etc).

Nostalgic musings aside "Colour My World" sort of always reminds me of David Bowie's last two Pye singles. Not that they bear any musical resemblance but under the production of Tony Hatch they both offer a perfect encapsulation of 1966 in that they were spared no expense in their production and recording.  Released on both sides of the Atlantic in December, "Colour My World" is the cusp of 1966 with it's sitar and balalaika (or guitars mimicking both, I'm not quite sure), Middle Eastern sounding woodwinds and what almost sounds like a drone.  Then of course there's lush, sweeping strings and Petula's powerful delivery of a cheeky, cheery , eminently happy track that's not easily forgotten.  For the past 40+ years I have found myself unconsciously singing it frequently!  It was of course penned by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent who were behind a great many of Petula's smashes.

The flip side "I'm Begging You" holds the distinction of being one of the handful of Petula Clark compositions issued in the 60's (always on the B-side). It's utterly unremarkable I'm afraid and there is absolutely nothing remotely interesting about it as it meanders into the realm of big ballad mediocrity. In fact at times I swear it's mimicking "Anyone Who Had A Heart".

Hear "Colour My World":