Monday, December 11, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Force Five and Jim Economides

THE FORCE FIVE-Gee Too Tiger/I Want You Babe US Ascot 2206 1966

The sole US 45 by Britain's The Force Five ("the" being dropped on their U.K. releases) was a curious March 1966 coupling of their fourth and next to last U.K. single (United Artists UP 1118 December 1965) with sides reversed. Hailing from the Dr. Feelgood turf of Canvey Island the Force Five were a U.K. beat 5 piece.

"Gee Too Tiger", though credited to Jim Economides and Perry Ford sounds suspiciously like this May 1965 track "Geeto Tiger" cut in the U.S. on the Colpix label by The Tigers!!  Blatant plagiarism aside it's always interesting to hear British bands sing about the imminently American domain of fast cars. "Gee Too Tiger" works not just because it's a punchy beat number but because The Force Five have the vocal harmony part down to a fine art and the over the top guitar solo worthy of any Joe Meek record is far too crazy for anything a U.S. surf/hot rod band would attempt!

Pic courtesy of

 "I Want You Babe" is moved along by a catchy bass line, it's a mid tempo beat number somewhat reminiscent of The Applejacks or The Sons Of Fred.  Again there's a freaky little guitar solo towards the end where the band go into a full on mod/freakbeat "rave up" that sadly fades out before it really gets going (the track clocks at just under 2 minutes).

Both sides were produced by the US producer Jim Economides who took a page from Shel Talmy's book and launched his own UK based production company in 1965 producing Marc Bolan's debut 45, Ray Singer, The Fenmen (on their final two "West Coast" influenced 45's ), The Fadin' Colors, Simone Jackson, The Clockwork Oranges mod/surf classic "Ready Steady" and The Majority's surf/hot rod number "Shut 'Em Down In London Town" etc. One wonders if Economides heard "Geeto Tiger" whilst producing in the States and took the liberty of "rewriting" it in the the UK (he had previously produced "surf" records for Dick Dale and Mr. Gasser and The Weirdos back in the US of A) .

"Gee Too Tiger" has yet to be comped but "I Want You Babe" recently surfaced on the CD compilation series "Beatfreak!" on their "Beatfreak 2!" volume.

Hear "Gee Too Tiger":

Hear "I Want You Babe":

Monday, December 4, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Status Quo

STATUS QUO-Ice In The Sun/When My Mind Is Not Live US Cadet Concept 7006 1968

Status Quo will forever be one hit wonders in the United States on the strength of their March 1968 #12 hit "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" issued on the Chess records "alternative" outlet Cadet Concept.  Cadet Concept skipped their second 45 "Black Veils Of Melancholy" (which was curiously issued in 1969 as their 4th of 5 Cadet Concept 45's!)  and jumped to their third U.K. 45 "Ice In The Sun" which was released here in August 1968 (issued in the U.K. as Pye 7N.17581 the previous month). Unfortunately it stalled at #70 and was the last time Status Quo ever graced the U.S. Hot 100.

Written by pre-Beatles U.K. teen idol Marty Wilde (father of 80's new wave sensation Kim) and Ronnie Scott (NOT the famous U.K. jazz man), "Ice In The Sun" relies on the similar guitar effects of "Pictures Of.." , it's sort of bubble gum psych pop. Not an awful track per se but not their best either.  The real gem in the flip side "When My Mind Is Not Life" penned by the band's lead guitarist Rick Parfitt.  Starting with some wah-wah'ed combo organ and  bass playing scales with their trademark distorted guitar wailing away it's a perfect hard pop-psych tune.  Musically it reminds me of The Bee Gee's if they'd been allowed to get "heavier".

Both tracks were included on their debut US LP "Messages From The Status Quo" and are available on a host of Pye era Status Quo CD compilations.

Hear "Ice In The Sun":

Hear "When My Mind Is Not Life":

Cool Belgian 1968 TV promo for both tracks:


Thursday, November 30, 2017

November's Picks

Not since Jonesy banged out his psychedelic samba on a Mellotron on The Stones "We Love You" has there been such a magnificent use of that quirky little keyboard. This Prettie's 1999 single, in my estimation, rates as the best thing they've done since "S.F. Sorrow" with great lyrics, ballsy delivery and of course some nifty Mellotron c/o keyboard player John Povey.

2. KENNY WELLS-"Isn't It Just A Shame"
Hidden away on the flip of 1966's "I Can't Stop" on Bob Crewe's New Voice label here's another classic mid tempo soul tune up the in the high $$$$ range.  The harmonies and groove are timelessly infectious. Repeat as necessary.

3. LEE MORGAN-"Midnight Cowboy"
One of my fave Lee Morgan tunes has always been this somber reading of John Barry's film theme cut as a Blue Note 45 in 1969.  It's bleak and melancholy delivery seems to evoke the gritty/sleazy yet interesting landscape of NYC in the late 60's and sounded even better when I wore a younger man's clothes at 4 AM when the clubs are all closed and the night was ending. On that note be sure to check out Netflix for the Lee Morgan documentary "I Called Him Morgan".

4. THE SCEPTRES-"Something's Coming Along"
Previously cut by The Swingin' Blue Jeans in 1967 this version was cut a year later by a Montreal, Canada group and issued at home on the Allied label and in the U.K. on Spark.  The harmonies and musical backing is tighter than the Blue Jeans version and far punchier coming across like The Association and The Four Seasons (especially on the chorus!)  meets The Episode Six: MAGIC!

5. JAMES COIT-"Black Power"
This monster rare soul civil rights anthem from '68 holds little of the funk you'd expect from that year and sounds like it was cut much earlier.  Moved by strong horns and incredible lyrics it is of course a big "Northern soul" fave so good luck finding a copy.

6. SHAWN ELLIOTT-"Shame And Scandal In The Family"
1,000 times better than the Peter Tosh and The Wailers version (credited to "Peter Touch") in my estimation, this 45 was cut in the US by one Shawn Elliott, a quiffed Puerto Rican Fabian/Frankie Avalon looking cat and issued in the U.K. on the ska label Rio. The musical backing is tighter and his vocals are far stronger than the "authentic" ska version mentioned earlier.

7. JON HENDRICKS-"Watermelon Man"
Jon Hendricks departure from this mortal coil last week at the age of 96 came as quite a bit of bad news here at Anorak Thing. Jon had created a wealth of music, both as a member of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross and on his own.  This rousing version of "Watermelon Man" comes from his 1963 single (he had previously recorded it with Lambert and Bavan).

An obscure '68 slice of British mod/r&b with horns straight off of a Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers/Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band record with vocals and lyrics reminiscent of pop sike era Alan Bown ("my little blue dog has gone away....the dinosaur I have he made my dog real mad, my purple frog too...")

9. RICK NELSON-"I Wonder If Louise Is Home"
From Rick's 1967 album "Another Side Of Rick" cut with the cream of the crop LA session players, this track is my fave on the LP.  It's simplistic, orchestrated pop reminds me of Billy Nicholls or Del Shannon's UK recorded album "At Home And Away".

10. JACK HAMMER-"Down In The Subway"
Louisiana born soul/r&b belter Jack Hammer cut this track in 1965 with a gritty Hammond n' horns backing that leads me to believe it was recorded in the U.K. but it was only issued in Sweden the following year. Monster stuff!!

Monday, November 27, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Paul Jones

PAUL JONES-It's Getting Better/Not Before Time US Bell B-805 1969

Former Manfred Mann lead singer Paul Jones ditched jazzy r&b for M.O.R. pop and became somewhat of a crooner in the U.K. Most of his U.K. 45's were issued in the States on the Capitol label but for his 5th US 45 he switched to the Bell label.

Issued in June 1969 (previously released in April in the UK as Columbia DB 8567) this Mann/Weil composition failed to chart (as did his previous US releases). Interestingly it was produced by Paul Jones and arranged and conducted by Tony Visconti! "It's Getting Better" is one of the biggest pieces of tripe I've heard despite it's dollybird backing vocals, regal harpsichord and flutes and strings.

The flip side "Not Before Time" (written and produced by Jones) is 100 times better. It's a funky little instrumental led by his wailing harp and some wiggy Gregorian chant vocals on top of  tribal sounding percussion.  Think of it as an updated version of the old Manfred's instro "Why Should We Not" meets Syd Barrett's "Rhamadan".

Both sides were collected on the RPM CD collection "Come Into My Music Box Vol 3".

Hear "It's Getting Better":

Hear "Not Before Time":

Monday, November 13, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels:Jon Gunn

I Just Made Up My Mind/Now Its My Turn US Deram 45-DEM-85013 1967

British vocalist Jon Gunn's brief career consisted of just two 45's on the Deram label. Both were issued in the United States as well as his home country.  "I Just Made Up My Mind" was his debut. First issued in the UK as Deram DM 133 in June 1967, the track was composed by Alan Hawkshaw and had previously been issued in March 1967 by The Dodo's as "Made Up My Mind" (Polydor 56153). Today's U.S. subject was released in August 1967.

"I Just Made Up My Mind" is a perfect slice on archetype '67 Deram pop/soul from it's phlanged piano intro to sharp horns, sweeping soulful strings and it's uptempo danceability (all courtesy of Ivor Raymonde) and Jon Gunn's strong vocals that fall somewhere between Frankie Valli and Chris Farlowe. The number gained some brief popularity on the Northern soul scene no doubt thanks to it's uptempo beat and strings.

Photo c/o

The flip side "Now It's My Turn" is slightly less frantic.  It's strings and brass and touches of vibraphone add a distinctly "Northern" feel to it but this is off set by some congas and a chorus that would not sound at all out of place on an Amen Corner Deram 45. Gunn's follow up "If You Wish It/"I Don't Want To Get Hung Up On You Babe" was issued in Britain in December 1967 (DM 166). In the US an altered release was issued in January 1968 with a reading of the Macauly/Macleod ballad "Let The Heartaches Begin" gracing the A- side with "If You Wish It" bringing up the flip (45-85024).

"I Just Made Up My Mind" was included on the highly recommended Deram/Decca collection CD compilation "The Northern Soul Scene", the flip side has sadly not seen a reissue anywhere as of yet.

Hear " I've Just Made Up My Mind":

Hear "Now It's My Turn":

Monday, October 30, 2017

October's Picks

1. BO DIDDLEY-"I Can Tell"
Tucked away on the flip of "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover" is this stone cold template for every British 60's beat and rhythm n' blues combo.

2. THE JAYBIRDS-"Somebody Help Me"
Here's one I'm going to own up and admit to knowing nothing about.  It was issued on the U.K. Sue label and it's essentially the backing track to the Jackie Edwards version but with some female vocalists who only sing the chorus.  Were they British?!  And who were they?! I swear I hear P.P. Arnold in there.

3. TRUDY PITTS-"It Was A Very Good Year"
My intro to Trudy Pitts came in the mid 90's via Rhino and one of their lounge CD compilations doing a version of "Take Five" which piqued my interest enough to delve into her more. This is my fave from her 2nd LP, 1967's Prestige LP "Introducing The Fabulous...".


4. THE LEN PRICE 3-"Man In The Woods"
Like old Billy Childish who inspired them The Len Price 3 have sadly become victims of their own musical anachronisms. Their new LP "Kentish Longtails" treads the same well worn path of their previous LP's I'm afraid to report. But I like this one, though I later figured out that its because incredibly similar to The TVP's "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives". :(

5. THE RUDIES-"Engine 59"
Another favorite on the highly collectible U.K. reggae label Nu-Beat comes this smooth groover that rolls along with some bluesy bar room piano tinkling away behind it's funky rocksteady beat.

6. THE LAUGHING SOUP DISH-"Teenage Lima Bean"
Straight out of suburban central New Jersey came this amazing psych 45 in 1985 that was one half The Pink Floyd and one half The 13th Floor Elevators. Sadly I missed these folks in real life (this line up anyway...) as when this 45 came out I was underage as they say....

7. ANNIE BRIGHT-"Concerning Love"
The beauty of YouTube is that you can stumble across great 45's like this 1969 U.K. cut written by Alan Hawkshaw and John Cameron.  Vocally it reminds me of a more powerful Dusty Springfield (lyrically and musically I think it's heavily influenced by "Dusty In Memphis"), but with some blistering late 60's guitar.  Powerful, with musical backing by "The Alan Hawkshaw Orchestra".

8. PETER WRIGHT-"House Of Bamboo"
Not to be confused with the Andy Williams/Earl Grant number, this 1967 tune is by an Australian cat. Musically it reminds of a mid 60's US garage 45 with its combo organ and fuzz guitar and a vocal style somewhere near Del Shannon's.

9. HELENE SMITH-"You Got To Be A Man"
Here's a tough one to find, from 1968 on the Phil-La-O-Soul label. I think what grabs me the most is the combination of Helene's voice and the sharp, punchy horns. Too pricey for my blood, hopefully someday I'll find one on a crate dig.

10. GRAHAM BONNEY-"Happy Together"
Pre-Joe Meek era Riot Squad lead singer Graham Bonney went solo in 1965 and had a semi lucrative career in the Germany whilst simultaneously cutting records at home in the U.K.  This Turtles cover is pretty much note for note and doesn't come close to the original but still manages to be interesting especially the backing and production (care of Tony Palmer).

Friday, October 20, 2017

Jackie Shane

Just who is Jackie Shane?  That would make a great title for an even greater documentary. Jackie Shane, for those who've been held in a cave in Pakistan by the Taliban for the past few years is a trans-gender soul performer from the 60's who cut a handful of collectible 45's and an even rarer live Canadian LP.  I'm not here to give you a full bio, so for a better run down on who Jackie was (and still is) I will direct you to this excellent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio Jackie Shane documentary from a few years back produced before Jackie's whereabouts were known (Jackie is alive and well in Nashville I'm happy to report, check out this NY times feature here). You can keep your Esquerita and Little Richard, they both might have been Kings or Queen's of camp and skirted the edge's of then forbidden sexuality but Jackie Shane was firmly "out" when "out" was risky, career stifling  and downright dangerous to one's health and freedom.  Dressing like a woman, in full on make-up in colorful clothes and affecting feminine mannerisms to the hilt Jackie Shane wasn't just a pioneer, she was a legend and still is. And though she often referred to herself as "a man" on several studio recordings she apparently left no confusion on the matter in real life and especially live onstage. On a live version of Barrett Strong's "Money" on her only LP ("Jackie Shane Live" 1967 Caravan records, Canada recorded live onstage in Toronto, Canada where she made her living) Jackie does a hip spoken word bit which clearly spells out where she was at:

"You know when I'm walking down Young Street you won't believe this but some of them funny people have the nerve to point their finger at me and grin and smile and whisper, but you know that don't worry Jackie because I know I look good. And every Monday morning I laugh and grin on my way to the bank. Cos I got mine. I look good, I got money and everything else that I need. You know what my slogan is? Baby do what you want just know what you're doin' , as long as you don't force your way or your will on anybody else you can live your live cos ain't nobody sanctified and holy....."

The rap goes on with repeated references to "chicken" (slang for young gay men apparently) and a hysterical "if you got it flaunt it" style of witty banter.  Check it out here.

I first became acquainted with Jackie Shane after seeing a few photos on a very hip and wise friend's Facebook page. I wasn't sure of her gender or even her race as the color of her skin and heavily applied make up in the old black and white and sepia photos gave her almost Asiatic features.  So decided to do some sleuthing and stumbled upon Jackie's 1963 Sue (U.S.) single "In My Tenement" . Being knee deep in a fascination with all things mid/early 60's on Sue I was immediately bowled over and wanted to hear more. A search of Discogs showed that securing an original pressing was never going to happen (3 for sale from $196.41 at last glance) so I popped over to YouTube and iTunes and checked out a gamut of Jackie's material which I immediately dug. I duly purchased everything on iTunes including the raucous 1967 live Canadian only LP (which I eventually went out a bought an original copy of).  All of the singles are worth seeking out as is the live LP.  For those afraid of the hefty price of original pressings the Numero Group label has just launched a two CD/2 LP retrospective titled "Any Other Way", fully licensed and containing every track ever released by Jackie (no mean feat considering her discography was spread over half a dozen different labels from both the US and Canada where she was based in the 60's and most popular).

Here's a few of my fave Jackie picks for your perusal:

"Any Other Way" US single A side Cookin' 602 1962 / Sue 776 1963
Delivered in a slow tempo , Jackie's cover of William Bell's 1962 Stax single takes the original's bounce down a few notches fattening up the sound with some crisp horns and cracking drums and adding a poignant, down trodden delivery.

"In My Tenement" US single A side Sue 788 1963
Jackie's most sought after 45 musically sounds like it could be ideally suited for Ben E King and lyrically calls to mind Garnet Mimm's "A Quiet Place" but far more uptown and sophisticated produced by "Juggy" Murray Jones.

"Stand Up Straight And Tall" US single B-side Modern 45xM 1031 1967
Gracing the flip of Jackie's reading of "You Are My Sunshine" is this organ driven, mid tempo groover that allows her to flex her vocal chops on top of some solid, funky musical backing.

"Don't Play That Song" LP track Canada "Jackie Shane Live" Caravan FP 100 1967
Ben E. King's "Don't Play That Song" gets a royal treatment with solid brass and churchy Hammond underneath Jackie's wailing, outtasite vocals.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Nashville Teens 2

THE NASHVILLE TEENS-The Hard Way/Upside Down US MGM K13483 1966

The Nashville Teens sole U.S. 45 of 1966 was an Ashford/Simpson/Armstead composition called "The Hard Way" issued here in March (previously released in the U.K. in January as Decca F 12316). I've yet to find any other versions of "The Hard Way" so I am left to assume he band heard it from a publishers demo.

"The Hard Way" is hard to define genre wise. Driven by the twin vocal attack of Art Sharp and Ray Phillips it's got appeal but is interestingly offset by some harpsichord and hard drumming.

"Upside Down" is a rarity in that it's a band original written by singer Art Sharp. It's not the strongest tune and sounds more at place two years prior during the beat boom with some barroom ivory tinkling by keyboardist John  Hawken and a nasty/gritty little guitar solo (by Mick Dunford).

Both sides, though uncredited on this U.S. release were produced by Mike Leander and can be found on two out of print Nashville Teens CD comps "Tobacco Road " and "The Best Of 1964-1969".

Hear "The Hard Way":

Hear "Upside Down":

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels:The Societe

THE SOCIETE-Bird Has Flown/Breaking Down US Deram 45-DEM-7517 1968

One of the many tracks introduced to me via Decal records brilliant 1987 Deram records compilation LP "Deram Days" was this excellent two sider by a Glasgow quartet called The Societe. Released in the U.K. in November 1967 as Deram DM 162 London records in the States waited to issue it under the Deram umbrella a full two months later in January 1968.

The band were: Dave Dougall (lead vocals/organ), Robbie Burns (vocals/lead guitar), Dave "Suzie" Struthers (bass) and Smiler Frame (drums). The band were recommended to the Hollies who were in the process of setting up a production company at the time and upon seeing the Societe live it was decided that Allan Clarke would produce them with the band coming down to London to record what would be today's specimen. Interestingly the so called Hollies Production company "Hollies Recording Company Limited" seems to have come to naught because outside of this single I can't find evidence of any further releases (though The Zombies have an interesting story about meeting The Hollies for lunch hoping to produce them and the Hollies, it transpires, wanted to do the same for The Zombies!).  Both sides of this single were group originals.

The Societe courtesy of

There has long been controversy over the A-side "Bird Has Flown" as there are rumors of Hollies involvement in the recording outside Allan Clarke's production.  His voice is clearly audible in the backing vocals, but I can't discern either Graham Nash or Tony Hicks in the mix.  That out of the way its a fantastic down trodden sounding pop record that would not at all be out of place on The Hollie's "For Certain Because" album. With its backwards cymbals, piano and precise harmonies all under some interesting key changes it's a pretty decent single.

The flip side "Breaking Down" is far more upbeat. Driven by an uptempo melody of guitar and piano in tandem and held together by some tight harmonies and "call and response" vocals it's a nifty little tune as well.

Sadly there would not be another 45 by the Society but members Dave Dougall and Dave Struthers joined Andwella's Dream in time for their name change to Andwella in 1970.

As mentioned earlier both cuts were compiled on the LP "Deram Dayze" but sadly only the A-side has seen further reissues on the fantastic 1998 Deram/Decca CD collection "The Psychedelic Scene" and on a 2005 double CD "The Decca Originals".

Hear "Bird Has Flown":

Hear "Breaking Down":

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September's Picks

We're back with more Anorak Thing picks after our Summer hiatus!

1. ART-"Rome Take Away Three"
From the ashes of mod/r&b aficionado's The V.I.P's came Art who cut just one 45 and an LP for Island before changing their name and adding New Jerseyite Gary Wright to become Spooky Tooth. This was the flip of their sole 7", a cover of The Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", it's powerful like The Creation's "Tom Tom" but with soulful vocals and WAY heavier than anything The V.I.P.'s would have done.

2. THE DRAMATICS-"It's All Because Of You"
Anyone who's read "Detroit 67" or saw this past summer's film "Detroit" will be familiar with the tragedy that befell the Dramatics after the release of this powerful track (which figures prominently in the previously mentioned flick). Their last before eventual stardom on Stax it remains their most powerful and most sought after 7 inch.

3. FROG-"Witch Hunt"
From the soundtrack to the trippy 1973 classic film "Psychomania" comes this wah-wah driven classic by the great John Cameron, totally witchy and spooky with ethereal female backing vocals blending in with the strings.  Pure magic!

4. SOUND DIMENSION-"Soulful Strut"
Sound Dimension were basically the Funk Brothers of Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label and played on more ska/reggae than we'd have room to list. This 1969 interpretation of the Young Holt Unlimited instrumental is one of my favorites by them.

5. THE BARRACUDAS-"Summer Fun"
Some songs are meant to be blasted loud in joyous celebration whether you're a teenager in the back of a pick up truck on your way to the beach in 1982 with this on a boom box on the last day of school or on an iPod by 50 year old dad who's savoring Japanese beer after getting the kids to sleep.

6. SAKER-"Hey Joe"
Cheers to the excellent "Piccadilly Sunshine" CD compilation series for constantly unearthing U.K. 60's pop/psych 45's like this interesting reading of "Hey Joe" from 1969 by one Bob Saker. You would think a pop psych treatment of "Hey Joe" wouldn't work with the requisite strings, brass, woodwinds et al but it does and the lyrics are altered slightly to turn it into an anti-war protest which is a nice touch!

7. PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS-"Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)"
I remember lots of songs from my childhood but the first one that I really liked was this 1971 #1 (their only #1!) by Paul Revere and Co. (their last top ten hit as well). I was 5 or 6 and I was fascinated with Native Americans at the time and my dad explained the lyrics to me and I had my first experience of anger at injustice and social consciousness. The trippy fading strings and the Hammond at the fade still make the hairs on my neck stand on end 46 years later.

8. BO DIDDLEY-"I Can Tell"
It's hard to pick a fave Bo Diddley tune, but for me the $ has always been on this cooking little tune from 1962 found on the flip of the equally powerful "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover". I think my favorite part of the tune is the powerful bass line that set the template for so many great British r'n'b tracks.

9. DEL SHANNON-"Mind Over Matter"
There are many sad stories involving Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate records label but none sadder than him flying Del Shannon out to the U.K. in '67 and presenting him with the cream of the crop to back and him and a bevvy of amazing songs to record for an album that never was. This number is my fave of the bunch and was actually released as a 45 in the UK in '67.

From the 1967 U.K. Decca E.P. that saw Mayall and Co. collaborate with American Paul Butterfield "Ridin' On The L And N" is my fave track on the disc. It's hard driving, bluesy and superb, what you'd expect from Mayall.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Nashville Teens

THE NASHVILLE TEENS-Words/That's My Woman US MGM  K13678 1967

The Nashville Teens had one sole hit in the US, August 1964's "Tobacco Road" which reached # 14. By 1967 their ship had sailed both in the U.K. and the U.S. Their 8th U.K. 45 (Decca F 12542) "That's My Woman"/"Words"  was issued in Britain in January 1967.  Issued in the U.S. one month later MGM decided to flip the 45 putting the stronger "Words" on the A-side. It made little difference as it failed to chart.

"Words" is the stronger of the two in my book. Led by some slick horns and muted fuzz guitars and almost disembodied backing vocals that shriek out "Words!" it's probably one of the freakiest things they ever cut and certainly their most soulful.  The horns and fuzz guitars make it a strong contender for the "freakbeat" moniker.

"That's My Woman" had previously been tackled by The V.I.P.'s (curiously as a US only release as "The Vipps" on Mercury the previous year). Both versions share the same formula but the Teens version starts with the blistering fuzzed out "Love Is Strange" lick as an intro and though not as strong as the V.I.P's take it's still a decent version. Though uncredited on the US release Shel Talmy produced by sides

Both tracks can be found on two out of print Nashville Teens CD comps "Tobacco Road " and "The Best Of 1964-1969".

Hear "Words":

Hear "That's My Woman":

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

10 Jumpin' Jack Flashes

1. THE ROLLING STONES U.K. 45 Decca F12782 1968
Nothing could prepare the world for the power that was "Jumping Jack Flash", the Stones first post psychedelia single and their first with producer Jimmy Miller.  From Keith Richard's zooming bass lines and his famous "open D tuning" guitar power chords the number kicks off any remnants of the flowery Summer of Love pretensions and puts the Stones back on top where they belonged. My favorite part is Bill Wyman's neo-classical organ trills towards the fade out.

2. LEON RUSSELL U.S. LP track "Concert For Bangla Desh" Apple SCTX 3385 1971
Part of a medley for the legendary "Concert For Bangla Desh (sic)" live gig/album Leon Russell and friends kick out the jams with a halfway decent version (considering the band had such a short time to prepare) that eventually slides into another song.

3. JOHNNY WINTER U.S. 45 Columbia 45 4-45368 1971
I know you're almost as surprised as I am....this live reading by Johnny Winter was issued as a single in 1971 from a live LP .  Starting off with a hysterical bellow of "rock n roll!" it doesn't really deviate from the Stones version but it's nastier, heavier and though the vocal histrionics are a bit O.T.T at times it's worth a listen.

4. GENO WASHINGTON & THE RAM JAM BAND U.K. 7" E.P.  track Acid Jazz AJX285S 2013
Recorded in 1968 but unissued until 2013 by Acid Jazz, this is probably the most interesting interpretation here because it eschews the Stones punky, sped up aggression by slowing it down. Starting off with some spooky/churchy Hammond and a bashing guitar chord almost reminiscent of Deep Purple's "Hush" it stays heavy AND funky and though it's not Geno's best vocal performance the Ram Jam Band delivers as always and the organ literally carries it.

5. ANANDA SHANKAR France 45 Reprise RV.20246 1970
First released on Ananda's untitled U.S. 1970 LP for Reprise records the number was nonetheless issued as a single in France (and as a result is pretty scarce to come by). Fed by his intricate sitar riffing it's wrapped in hand claps, funky proto synth/Moog, easy listening Dolly Bird backing vocals and comes together in this funky mix that's half porn film loop music and half post Swinging London incidental discotheque film music.

6. ALEX CHILTON U.S. LP track "1970" Ardent 7-1515-2 1970
In between the dissolution of The Box Tops and the forming of the legendary Big Star, Alex Chilton cut several sides in 1970 that would remain unreleased for several decades.  Among them was this raggy, aggro filled punky cover that seethes both power and sheer venom.  It's pretty hard to "out swagger" The Rolling Stones with one of their own cuts but Chilton pulled it off magnificently!

7. WYNDER K. FROG U.K. 45 Island WIP-6044 1968
Interestingly U.K. Hammond n' horns masters Wynder K Frog had previously worked with the producer of the Stones original, Jimmy Miller.  By the time they cut the track Jimmy had ceased working with them and it was over seen by Gus Dudgeon. Wrapped up in a frantic mix of intricate Hammond noodling, razor sharp brass and funky congas it's a solid groove from start to finish.

8. NORMAN T. WASHINGTON U.K. 45 Pama PM 749 1969
Predominantly a reggae/rocksteady artist, Norman T. Washington's reading musically is soulful, even though the horns sound slick (and possibly cheezy in a soul-less but nevertheless cool sort of way) enough to be John Schroeder or Alan Hawkshaw .  Since Hawkshaw was behind the label's Mohawks instrumental combo it's not too far fetched to assume he might be involved. Watson's West Indian accent contrasts the distinctly British backing music and in some strange way it works.

9. KING HARVEST Australia 45 RCA Victor 101922 1973
Not the King Harvest of "Dancing In The Moonlight " fame but rather a heavy Aussie band who cut just two singles for RCA down under. Their final 45 was a double sided extended take (labeled "Part's One" and "Two") that reminds me of the ham fisted simplicity of Alex Chilton's reading but with some cool harmony backing vocals and a very gritty delivery.

10. THELMA HOUSTON U.S. 45 Dunhill D-4212 1969
Easily my favorite cover is this powerful version from October of '69 led by Thelma's powerful pipes and the gospel style backing vocals.  Delivered at a pace not too dissimilar from the original the real gas besides the stellar vocals is the groovy strings that sweep in!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Georgie Fame's US Epic Debut

GEORGIE FAME-Bidin' My Time (Cos I Love You)/Because I Love You US Epic 5-10166 1967

Georgie Fame switched from Columbia to CBS in the U.K. in 1967 which as a result saw him move from Imperial to Epic in the US. His March 1967 U.K. CBS debut was "Because I Love You"/"Bidin' My Time (Cos' I Love You)" (CBS 202587). It was curiously reversed for his US release in May. It needn't have mattered because the record did nothing chart wise here.

This 45 marked the second time two Georgie Fame originals graced the same 45 (credited to his real name Clive Powell). It was produced by Denny Cordell (who interestingly produced his 1966 work for his previous label in the UK Columbia, some of which were issued in the States by Imperial).

"Bidin' My Time (Cos' I Love You)" is an uptempo track that benefits from some funky congas and razor sharp horns with some interesting licks. There's an nifty break with a jazzy bass solo and congas reminiscent of a '67 Small Faces track (not too far off as both featured on some of the mighty mod foursome's '67 Immediate LP). The whole thing is pulled off in no small part by Cordell's production. Curiously there is no Hammond on the tune just piano, surely a precursor of thing's to come for "Fame In '67 On CBS" (as his U.K. label CBS promoted him with a distinct logo appearing on all his U.K. releases).

Fame with bassist Rik Brown

"Because I Love You" is a brilliant mid tempo ballad with layers of exquisite horns that weave in and out and propel it's infectious Motown inspired melody. Like the previous track it is also devoid of Fame's familiar Hammond.

Sadly Fame's next U.K. CBS release "Try My World" b/w "No Thanks" (CBS 2945 August 1967) would be passed over for a U.S. release and Americans would have to wait for the next Georgie Fame 7", the abominable "The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde", his last solo hit (#1 in the U.K. and #7 in the U.S.) in 1968.

Both cuts are on a variety of places including the CBS years UK CD compilation "Somebody Stole My Thunder" and the more recent (and essential) double CD reissue of his "Two Faces Of Fame: The Complete 1967 Recordings" (the 1967 LP in mono and stereo with 45, E.P. and unreleased cuts.

Hear "Bidin' My Time (Cos' I Love You)":

Hear "Because I Love You":

Watch "Because I Love You" live in 1967 on German TV's "Beat Beat Beat":

Monday, July 24, 2017

Euro 60's Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Tages

THE TAGES-I Read You Like An Open Book/Halcyon Days US Verve VK 10626 1968

One questions the decision by Verve to issue the debut U. S. release by a Swedish group already at the end of their career. By the time of this single's U.S. December 1968 release The Tages were no more. They had already released a staggering 22 singles, 2 E.P.'s and 5 LP's in their home country in just under 4 years. The Swedish issue of today's specimen was their 23rd and incidentally final 7 "(released in September 1968 as Parlophone SD 6054 back home). Original lead singer and resident band heart throb Tommy Blom had went off as a solo performer and launched an acting career prior to the recording of this 45. After it's release the band splintered . Bassist and second vocalist Goran Lagerberg formed Blond (who not only released a U.S. single but an LP too) along with fellow Tages Danne Larsson (rhythm guitar) and Anders Topol (lead guitar), but that's another story for another entry.

"I Read You Like An Open Book" owes less to 1968 and more to the previous year with it's kinetic mix of Beach Boy's style harmonies of "Smiley Smile" and the studio whimsy of  "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". It's a mid tempo tune punctuated by some intricate layered, harmonies and interesting tempo changes.

The flip side "Halcyon Days" is actually a Herd track titled "Our Fairy Tale" (issued in the States on their 1968 LP "Lookin' Thru You" Fontana SRF-67579 and as the flip side of their June 1968 U.S. single "I Don't Want Our Loving To Die", Fontana F-1618). I've yet to discover why it was re-titled by The Tages! Their version is slightly different with some fluid bass lines by Goran and strings accompanying the horns. Not their best 45 but certainly not their worst either. Both sides were recorded in the U.K. at Olympic Studios with producer Mike Hurst and featured session man extraordinaire Nicky Hopkins on organ.

Swedish pressing

Both tracks were included as bonus cuts on RPM's CD reissue of their incredible 1967 LP "Studio".

Hear "I Read You Like An Open Book":

Hear "Halcyon Days":

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: David Bowie's US Deram Debut

DAVID BOWIE-Rubber Band/There Is A Happy Land US Deram 45-DEM-85009 1967

"Rubber Band" was David Bowie's second ever U.S. 45 ( the previous honor went to Warner Brothers 5815 "Can't Help Thinking About Me"/ "And I Say To Myself" in May 1966). The June 1967 U.S. release of "Rubber Band" is interesting because rather than use the first version of it which was issued in the U.K. as his first Deram 45 in December 1966 (as Deram DM 107) London records (Deram's U.S. distributor) chose to utilize the re-recorded version found on his debut untitled long player . The LP was previously issued in the United Starts on April 20, 1967 as Deram DES 180 003 (or so I have been led to believe). I am curious as the U.K. LP was launched on June 1st, the same day as "Sgt. Pepper..", which would be odd that his debut came out months earlier in the U.S. The staff at London  were antsy about his U.K. "Rubber Band" flip side "The London Boys" owing to it's drug references and chose another track from the debut LP, "There Is A Happy Land" as the B-side. "The London Boys" would not surface in the United States until 1972's London double album "Images 1966-1967" (London BP 628/9) which collected all of his Deram era material.

David Bowie 1967 photo by Gerald Fearnley

"Rubber Band" is something of an odd duck.  With it's Victorian era brass band backing it's like the red headed stepchild of "Penny Lane" and "Dead End Street". Bowie half sings/half speaks in an upper crust intonation about his love leaving him while he's off in the "14-18 war" for the leader a brass band that plays in the park on Sunday afternoons. There's predictable parts of his phrasing that resemble Anthony Newley, which for better or worse is often attatched to his first album's material.

"There Is A Happy Land" is one of the most brilliant moments from his debut LP.  With delicate childlike piano and acoustic strumming by Pentangle's John Redbourn there's subtle brass weaving a wonderful melody as Bowie sings of childhood nostalgia with touches of innocence and cruelty:  "sissy Steven plays with girls, someone made him cry, Tony climbed a tree and fell trying hard to touch the sky. Tommy lit a fire one day, nearly burned the field away, Tommy's mom found out but he put the blame on me and Ray".

Both tracks are found on his debut LP, which was issued in both Stereo and Mono mixes a few years back.

Hear "Rubber Band" (LP version):

Hear "There Is A Happy Land":

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Sound of '67 :The Rolling Stones "We Love You"

THE ROLLING STONES-We Love You/Dandelion UK Decca F 12654 1967

1967 was probably the shittiest year for the Rolling Stones. It started with the controversy over their single "Let's Spend The Night Together", then they caused a furor over refusing to appear smiling and waving at the conclusion of the British variety program "Sunday Night At The London Palladium".  Then "Between The Buttons" was released to a lukewarm critical response and a month later the "News Of The World" ran a story about Mick Jagger openly doing drugs in a London night spot, of course it wasn't Mick but Brian Jones.  Mick appeared on TV and discussed the possibility of suing for libel. What immediately followed was the infamous police raid on Keith's house, Redlands, that saw Mick and Keith both facing drug charges (on a well placed tip from "News Of the World").  Brian too felt the long arm of the law and had his collar felt as well on the very same day while Mick and Keith were in court. After Mick and Keith's sentences were squashed in the appeals court the band continued work on their 13th single, a "thank you" to fans called "We Love You", the most psychedelic thing they ever recorded.

As photographed by Michael Cooper 1967

There are legions of people, myself among them, who sort of belong to this cult of Brian Jones.  The reasons why are too lengthy to devote here and are worthy of a separate piece on their own. One of the many reasons which we can discuss here is the color he gave many of the Stones records.  "We Love You" is among them and is like nothing anyone else did, ever.  Starting with rattling chains and a clanking prison door Nicky Hopkin's melodic piano piece begins with footsteps and the vocals (featuring anonymous Beatles John and Paul) and Jones quirky Mellotron. Various Stones bootlegs contain interesting takes of it where you can hear him cooking up what later became the finished masterpiece. It's seeped in layers of it that weave in and out of Hopkin's descending piano trills.  At times it sounds as though he's pounding out a rhythm on the keys, no mean feat as the Mellotron is played using keys that lack the "play" that a piano has and the thundering African drums giving it a worldly air.  Charlie's drums have never sounded better on a Stones record either!! The British 45 closes with vocal snippets of the flip side, "Dandelion", eerily playing backwards. Filmmaker Peter Whitehead shot an incredible promo film (see below) in July of 1967 with Mick playing Oscar Wilde, Keith as a judge and Marianne Faithfull playing Wilde's lover Lord Alfred Douglas interspersed with footage of the band working in the studio and infamously, Brian Jones out of his head barely able to keep his eyes open. "Tops Of The Pops" refused to air it citing it's like of suitability for their viewing audience. Their loss.

Brian during the "We Love You" sessions at Olympic with the Mellotron

"We Love You" charted at # 8 in Britain in August 1967 and a dismal #50 in the U.S. the following month where DJ's took to playing the flip side, "Dandelion" which eventually reached #14!! Curiously "We Love You" was not available on a Stones long player in the States until 1972's "More Hot Rocks: Big Hits And Fazed Cookies" compilation double LP that collected any remaining unreleased it the States Decca era cuts. It was on the 1969 octagonal shaped U.K. compilation album "Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol Two)" but omitted from the US issue.

Special guest backing vocalist confers with Mick during the "We Love You" session

"Dandelion" was originally one of Keith's songs that first started life in 1966 as "Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Blue" and eventually evolved into "Dandelion", a pastoral play on both a child's rhyme and game of playing with dandelion flowers. Nicky Hopkin's harpsichord and Brian's oboe add a regal air to it meshing perfectly with the lush/high (in both ways) "Summer of Love" backing harmonies  care of Mick, Keith and Beatle's John and Paul. Charlie's thundering drums towards the fade out make for a brilliant conclusion when intertwined with the oboe and harpsichord and the chorus slowly fades like sunset on a sunny day. Trippy!

See Michael Whitehead's "We Love You" promo film:

Hear an early take of "We Love You" with Brian working out the Mellotron:

Hear "Dandelion":

Hear Keith's demo "Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Blue":