Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February's Picks

1. SQUIRE-"Walking Down The Kings Road"
Its 1979 and mod trio Squire are signed to Secret Affair's indie label I-Spy but what they release is not your usual punky, Jam aping youth anthem but a perfect poppy '66-'67 British influenced single with a catchy chorus, phased drums, harpsichord, backwards psychedelic bits and subtle Hammond with a sound that was more lysergic than amphetamine.


2. THE CLERKS-"No Good For Me"
Who were the Clerks?  Were they a mod band? Were they a punk band? Who cares.  This track was one of the highlights of R.O.K's 1979 compilation LP "Odds, Bods, Mods & Sods". It's a total British late 70's bit of punky aggro with it's D.I.Y bass/drums, distinctly English vocals and 100 mph guitars sounding like a tower block Ramones without the moronic vocals.


3. THE SOUL AGENTS-"Gospel Train"
Somewhere between style of The Animals and The Graham Bond Organization falls this over the top organ led instrumental found on the flip of their 3rd U.K. Pye single, the equally frantic "Don't Break It Up".


4. TEDDY RANDAZZO-"The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. "
One of the many gems on the Karminsky Experience compiled CD "Espresso Espresso" was this theme tune to the short lived U.S. TV series starring Stephanie Powers. It's a surprisingly slick little piece of samba flavored jazz with some kitschy female vocals .


5. XTC-"Smokeless Zone"
It took me a better part part three decades to get into this track that was first released on the 1980 "Generals And Majors" singles pack (2 45's) and now I've come to love it for it's chaos and droning dance beat and Melodica.


6. THE JAM-"Standards"
"And we don't like people who stand in our way, awareness is gonna be redundant and ignorance is strength we have god on our side and you know what happened to Winston" 40 years on and it's probably more lyrically sound than it was when it was first written.


7. THE KINKS-"Animal Farm"
Recently while having my iPod on shuffle this track popped on after a Ronnie Laine and Slim Chance tune and it flowed nicely. I'd always viewed it as sort of a throwaway track and then I paid special attention to the strings sawing away in the background and realized how brilliant it was.


8. THE MOODY BLUES-"Love And Beauty"
Beneath a fluid bass line and orchestral sounding Mellotron The Moodie's Mk. II second 45 sung and composed by Mike Pinder paints a somber and bleak musical landscape but it's magical! And despite owning this single for ages I only today learned it was the A-side!


9. HOUND DOG TAYLOR-"Gimme Back My Wig"
Gritty, amped up, choppy and funky electric eccentric blues. 'Nuff said.


Band Of Joy

10. BAND OF JOY-"For What It's Worth"
I stumbled on this 1968 Buffalo Springfield  cover by the Band Of Joy (featuring pre-dinosaur rock Robert Plant and John Bonham) on YouTube and I've no idea where it originates from as they did not release any records. I really dig the whole groove of it from the guitar/organ playing and the whole Spooky Tooth meets Spencer Davis Group Mk.II feel of it and Plant's vocals are actually pretty darn amazing.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

10 Cool U.K. 60's Instrumentals You Need To Hear

1. THE JOHN BARRY SEVEN-"Seven Faces" U.K. Columbia DB 7417 1964
The John Barry Seven's final single was oddly not the usual twangy/kitschy guitar instrumental that you would come to expect from them but a vocal number called "Twenty Four Hours Ago". But on the flip side we have an r&b instrumental dirge not at all unlike The Graham Bond Organization with powerful horns and subtle organ (in fact it reminds me of The G.B.O. under their "The Who Orchestra" guise on "Waltz For A Pig")!


2. THE FEDERALS-"Boot Hill" U.K. Parlophone R 5013 1963
Propelled by a Clavioline (the same sort of compact keyboard made famous by The Tornados "Telstar") this 1963 single also incorporates some spooky backing vocals at the intro and an equally eerie chorus of male vocals that also resembles something Joe Meek would have done, with of course a twangy/spacey guitar solo (possibly through a Binson Echorec).


3. BIG JIM SULLIVAN-"Trans Love Airways (Fat Angel)" US Mercury 72849 1968
Culled from session player extraordinaire Big Jim Sullivan's US LP "Sitar Beat" (issued as "Sitar A Go-Go" in England). There's so much going on in this track besides sitar with strings, zany woodwinds, fuzz bass, searing fuzz guitar etc creating a total trance trip out groove.


4. CHRIS BARBER'S BAND-"Cat Call" U.K. Marmalade 598005 1967
Starting life as an early 60's pre-EMI Beatles McCartney penned instrumental called "Catswalk", U.K. jazz legend Chris Barber cut it in 1967 with Paul McCartney in attendance (he can be heard shouting "please play it slower" as well as adding crowd noise with then main squeeze Jane Asher). Much like some strip tease number its not without it's charm.


5. PETER JAY & THE JAYWALKERS-"Red Cabbage" UK Piccadilly 7N 35212 1964
File under "British records inspired by Green Onions".  Tucked beneath a mediocre Shirelles cover is this funky little instrumental that's pretty much "Green Onions" with different keyboard parts . Despite its blatant plagiarism it's pretty darn cool as far as mid tempo guitar/organ instrumentals go.


6. TONY MEEHAN-"Hooker Street" U.K. Marmalade 598016 1969
Often credited to Keith Meehan this tune is actually by his brother, ex-Shadow Tony and appears on the flip of the pedestrian ballad "Darkness Of My Life".  Sounding like something off of the "Vampyros Lesbos" soundtrack meets David Axelrod  this track is a total mind blast with vibes, fuzz guitar, groovy organ, spooky Gregorian chant backing vocals...witchy!


7. SOUNDS INCORPORATED-"On The Brink" U.K. Columbia DB 7737 1965
Sounds Incorporated took the recently departed from Manfred Mann's Mike Vickers May 1965 instrumental "on The Brink" and added a considerable number of horns to it making it less frantic than the original but still infectious.


8. THE DAVE DAVANI FOUR-"Workin' Out" U.K. Parlophone R 5329 1965
Not unlike something by The Brian Auger Trinity '65-'66 meets The Shotgun Express this organ fueled jazzy little instrumental is one of my favorite Dave Davani cuts right down the nifty little Wes Montgomery inspired guitar solo.


9. THE TORNADOS-"Stingray" U.K. Columbia DB 7687 1965
Following the Shadows May 1965 Barry Gray instrumental by four months, I've always found The Tornados version far superior thanks to all of producer Joe Meek's bubbling water/sound effects, tinny production and requisite male chorus all doused in echo and then compressed for good measure!


10. THE ROULETTES-"Jackpot" U.K. Parlophone R 5419 1966
On the flip of their competent  reading of The Miracles "The Tracks Of My Tears" The Roulettes pull off this amazing group composition that marries intricate electric piano reminiscent of the Zombies meets Ray Charles and some buzzing guitar that sounds like Steve Cropper jamming with Hank Marvin.  Excellent!!!

Friday, February 17, 2017

What's up.....

Posts are slacking off here as I've not had a lot of time to sit down and clack away so here's the Kinks in the meantime playing live on Auntie Beeb with a little help from the horns of the Mike Cotton Sound

Friday, February 10, 2017

Great Obscure U.K. 60's R&B Sides: The Habits

THE HABITS-Need You/ Elbow Baby France Decca 72.075S 1966

The Habits would have been just another obscure London r&b trio had there not been some "star" involvement in the form of Spencer Davis Group members Steve Windwood and Spencer Davis producing both sides (and both are audibly heard on backing vocals on both sides). Needless to say their Midas touch failed to register a hit and the 45 (released in the U.K, Germany and France) sank without a trace.

"Need You" is a frantic little mod '66 r&b stormer, with some catchy guitar/bass and a cool groove to it.  Sadly the vocals are not terribly strong and this tends to detract from the frenetic musical backing.

"Elbow Baby" is far superior.  From it's "live" party atmosphere with hand claps and shouts accented to some soulful backing vocals by Windwood and Davis the lackluster lead vocals aren't as noticeable making it far more enjoyable. It was first reissued way back in the 80's on the See For Miles LP comp "Sixties Lost And Found Volume III"

"Need You" was recently unearthed by Particles for their CD compilation "Beatfreak!" while "Elbow Baby" appears on Deram/Decca's "The Mod Scene".

Hear "Need You":


Hear "Elbow Baby":


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

From The Brothers Gibb

The Bee Gees (Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb) wrote a host of tracks in the 1960's. Some were never recorded by their band, others cut by them were never released outside Australia. Here's ten 60's Gibb brothers compositions from all around the world.

Scan c/o 45cat.com

1. SANDS-"Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator" U.K. Reaction 591017 1967
Predictably Robert Stigwood's Reaction label saw quite a few compositions recorded by other artists written by his charges The Bee Gees. The curiously titled "Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator" is unique in that the author's never issued their own version and as far as I can ascertain neither did anyone else. The Sands (who were previously the r&b group The Others) do make use of some Gibb brothers style harmonies, lacing the track with some searing guitars and pop hooks and turning it into one of the genre's most sought after 45's.


2. THE MONTANAS-"Top Hat" U.K. Pye 7N 17338 1967
Previously released downunder by Ronnie Burns (Spin EK-1578 January 1967), The Montanas used this Barry Gibb composition as the flip side to "Take My Hand" in June of the Summer of Love. Eschewing the raga feel of the Bee Gee's original, The Montanas turn it into a full on cheeky chappie pop psych meets freakbeat number with loads of "la la la's" and a heap of distorted guitars.


3. UNIT 4 PLUS 2-"Butterfly" U.K. Fontana TF 840 1967
Two years prior to The Marmalade's version Unit 4 Plus 2 issued this far superior reading infusing their usual folky/acoustic guitar styling with precision harmonies. To my ears it stands shoulders above their usual mundane boho "Kumbaya" material and is a perfect indication of how their post '66 material was far superior to anything they did previously.


4. JON -"Upstairs Downstairs" Australia Leedon LK-1662 1967
Jon was one Jon Blanchfield who went on to have a successful singing career in his native Australia. "Upstairs Downstairs" was tucked away on the flip of his debut single, a version of the brother's Gibb's "The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker" (also cut by Billy J Kramer). It's a frantic piece of amphetamine driven pop angst (presumably cut on top of a Bee Gees backing track as their backing vocals are more than audible) and is one of my favorite 60's Australian records.


Scan c/o 45cat.com

5. NOEL ODOM & THE GROUP-"I Can't See Nobody" US Uptown 763 1968
Released on the obscure Uptown label (home of Gloria Jones, The Chocolate Watchband and even The Shotgun Express) this blue eyed soul reading of "I Can't See Nobody" was the first of two singles Noel Odom cut for the label.  Awash in Hammond organ and some heavy production the number is a curious mix of obvious Vanilla Fudge influences (without being monotonous or too long) and soulful British 60's r&b influences ala The Spencer Davis Group.


6. OSCAR-"Holiday" U.K. Reaction 591016 1967
I had wanted to profile Joe Pesci's version cut as Little Joe (US MGM 55369 1968) but I couldn't find it on YouTube.  This was Oscar's fourth and final single for Robert Stigwood's Reaction label and a dead clunker it was. It's overwrought, overblown and pointless....next.


7. STATUS QUO-"Spicks And Specks" U.S. Cadet Concepts 7010 1968
The Quo's reading of The Bee Gee's first massive Australian hit was included on both the US and UK pressings of their debut LP and was issued in the States on the B side of "Technicolor Dreams". It doesn't differ much from the original save the addition of some Farfisa but it's well suited to their sound.


8. THE CYRKLE-"Red Chair Fade Away" U.S. Columbia 4-44491 1968
American pop group The Cyrkle had previously cut a version of the Bee Gee's "Turn Of The Century" as an A-side the year before cutting this number from the Gibb's 1st US long player on their "Neon" album and also issuing it as the flip to "Where Are You Going?". It doesn't deviate much from the original but adds some cool horns on top of the lush orchestration and in fact manages to better the Bee Gees in it's pop psych whimsy.


Scan c/o 45cat.com

9. RONNIE BURNS-"Coalman" Australia E.P. track Spin E.P. EX 11,314 1967
Australian Ronnie Burns cut an entire 4 track E.P. of Bee Gee's compositions (including the track above) and a host of others.  Curiously some of the brother's Gibb tracks I have heard by him utilize the Bee Gee's version's music (and even their backing vocals) but this one was re-recorded. "Coalman" is my favorite even though the lyrics are a tab sublime and with some ludicrous rhymes ("coal man"= "soul man") it's a bizarre little tune worth investigating. Curiously it became one of Burn's biggest selling 45's.


10. TREVOR GORDON & THE BEE GEES-"Little Miss Rhythm And Blues" Australia Leedon LK-924 1965
First unearthed back in the 80's by Aussie 60's expert Glenn A. Baker for the first volume of  his 60's downunder series "Ugly Things" , this 1965 number see's U.K. transplant Trevor Gordon backed by the Bee Gee's (they wrote both sides of this 454 and the previous release as well). Despite it's 1965 release date the track sound incredibly dated, almost pre-beat music, but not at all without charm.


Friday, February 3, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Marmalade

THE MARMALADE-Lovin' Things/Hey Joe US Epic 5-10340 1968

Don't fuck with the classics, that's my maxim.  Well apparently in 1968 The Marmalade didn't worry themselves about that and not only cut a version of "Hey Joe" but gave themselves songwriting credits as well! But we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here...

The Marmalade's fifth single was April 1968's "Lovin' Things" b/w "Hey Joe" launched in the U.K. as CBS 3412. It's US issue came a month later.

"Lovin' Things" musically sounds like The Love Affair with it's big production (arranged by Keith Mansfield) and heavy orchestration/horns which leads me to suspect that like The Love Affair there probably was a lot of session player involvement. It's not an awful track it's just a tad too pedestrian when stacked up against other smashes like "It's All Leading Up To Saturday Night", "I See The Rain" or "Man In The Shop" (the band's previous 45 releases). It sort of reeks of the cabaret sound that the band were firmly ensconced in by this time.

Despite the lack of originality in cover selections their interpretation of "Hey Joe" is actually pretty good.  It sticks predominantly to the Hendrix version musically but with an extra guitar track and cool harmonies and a faint organ playing the bit sung by The Breakaways on the Hendrix version. Surprisingly the guitar treatment on the version is actually rawer than the J.H.E. version.

Both tracks are available on the Marmalade CD compilation "I See The Rain: The CBS Years".

Hear "Lovin' Things":


Hear "Hey Joe":