Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January's Picks

1. THE KELLY BROTHERS-"Crystal Blue Persuasion"
One of my favorite Kelly Brothers tracks is this soulful 1969 interpretation of the Tommy James & The Shondells hit on the Excello label, and probably is one of their toughest to find. Their smooth vocals and the stellar backing get me every time.


2. DAVID BOWIE-"Big Brother"
Reading the excellent book "David Bowie: A Life" has set me on a path to rediscovering Bowie. The problem with owning so much music is that you tend to overlook stuff that's right in front of you while fawning over some 45 you've just scored. Somewhere in the political chaos that is the United States right now this number, more so than ever, makes perfect sense.


The new Stereo/Mono mixes of "Their Satanic Majesties Request" LP have unearthed a wealth previously unnoticed musical bits. On "Citadel" Brian's mandolin setting on the Mellotron come out crisper as does the striking anvil, Wyman's fuzz bass and Brian's saxophone bits at the fade out make them sound like Traffic or even Gong.  Mindblowing, man.


4. GIL SCOTT-HERON-"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
"You will not be able to stay home brother, you will not be able to turn on, plug in and cop out. You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip out for beer during commercials because the revolution will not be televised..."


5. THE SWINGERS-Counting The Beat"
With it's catchy beat nicked from The Pretty Things "Come See Me", this 1981 new wavey power pop ditty by New Zealand's Swingers is certain to be a foot tapper.


6. THE LPT'S-"Mo' Soul"
This one's a heavy instro driven by some groovy organ and a sharp as a stiletto, hard cracking snare beat. Released on the obscure Mary Jane label in 1966 released on the flip of the equally cool, but not as good "Long Cool Summer".


7. THE THREE O'CLOCK-"And So We Run"
"And So We Run" was an anthem of sorts for me as I was about to graduate high school and watched my small minded, small town disappear in my rear view mirror as I fled to New York City every weekend to meet like minded individuals.


8. COUNT MACHUKI & THE DESTROYERS-"Movements (The Joe Gibbs Way)"
I am a stone cold sucker for any reggae instrumentals that lean heavy on the organ so when I stumbled on this rare one I was immediately floored!


9. NILSSON-"Jump Into The Fire"
Driven by Herbie Flowers ace of bass groovy low end notes, Nilsson's coolest number ever will have you looking for helicopters. I always imagined Joe Jackson doing a decent version of it before he lost the plot and wanted to be Cab Calloway which leads us to....


10. JOE JACKSON-"Mad At You"
Driven by Graham Maby's hard driving basslines maybe Joe Jackson didn't need to cover "Jump Into The Fire" but instead re-wrote it as "Mad At You" with it's insane freaky little echoing keyboard flashes and Jackson's amphetamine shrieking.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The State Of Micky And Tommy

THE STATE OF MICKY & TOMMY-With Love From 1:00 To 5:00/Sunday's Leaving US Mercury 72712 1967

Long before he was in Spooky Tooth or Foreigner Mick Jones was one half of a British pop psych duo with Tommy Brown under the moniker of the State Of Micky And Tommy. Jones had previously served as a guitarist in French musician Ronnie Bird's backing band. The band issued a slim discography with just two singles in their home country and two in the US but two 7" E.P.'s and two 45's in France where they were clearly more popular.

"With Love From 1:00 To 5:00" was issued in the US in August 1967, the same time it was issued in the UK as Mercury MF 996. The British issue contains a different B-side, "I Know What I Would Do".

"With Love From 1:00 To 5:00" (written by Jones and Brown)  is a slice of archetype '67 British psych pop with it's driving/brash Who-like backing track and then  layers of strings infectious pop hooks (and prerequisite chiming church bells). It had all the makings of a Summer of  '67 smash but alas it was not to be. Regardless of it's commercial success or lack thereof it's an amazing track.

The flip "Sunday's Leaving", though not as good as the UK flip is not a bad track per se, just not terribly strong.  It's a mid tempo pop tune held together by some churchy Hammond and flourishes of sitar, nothing flashy or catchy like the brilliant A-side but not at all un-listenable either. It all ends abruptly like someone pulled the plug as the number grinds to a slow halt.

"With Love From 1:00 To 5:00" was unearthed by Bam Caruso for Volume 15 of their legendary Rubble series "5000 Seconds Over Toyland". "Sunday's Leaving" has yet to surface anywhere.

 Brilliant French TV clip of the band cutting "With Love From 1:00 To 5:00":


Hear the completed "With Love From 1:00 To 5:00":


Hear "Sunday's Leaving":


Thursday, January 18, 2018

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

THE UNTAMED-It's Not True/Gimme Gimme Some Shade US Planet 45-117 1966

Brighton, England's mod/r&b stalwarts The Untamed were led by lead singer/guitarist Lindsay Muir.  They had multiple personnel and label changes by the time they joined producer Shel Talmy's fledgling Planet label in late 1965. The band's debut was on Decca ("So Long/Just Wait", F 12045 December 1964), but it was not until their one off 45 for Parlophone ("Once Upon A Time/I'm Asking You", Parlophone R 5258 March 1965) that the band came into producer Shel Talmy's orbit. He moved with them for their next 45 on Stateside ("I'll Go Crazy/My Baby Is Gone", SS 431 June 1965) and stayed on for their brief recording career. With three releases on three different labels that failed to garner notice (all Lindsay Muir compositions save the James Brown cover on Stateside) Talmy brought them in on his newly formed Planet label with their next release being one of the three singles chosen to simultaneously launch the label. With Muir's material not providing the band with a hit Talmy chose "It's Not True", a track from the recently completed debut Who LP "My Generation" that he also produced to be their next single.

Released in England as Planet PLF 103 in December 1965 it was strangely not released in the United States until October 1966, by which point the Planet label was a mere two months away from folding. Untamed personnel at the time of the single's recording were Muir (lead vocals/lead guitar), Brian Breeze (rhythm guitar), Wes (bass, full name unknown!), Alan Moss (organ) and Keith Hodge (drums). The track was cut at IBC studios in November 1965 . Produced by Talmy it was engineered by Glyn Johns and aided by Talmy's favorite session man Nicky Hopkins on piano.

The Untamed line-up at the time of "It's Not True", Lindsay Muir center

"It's Not True" is slightly faster than The Who original, with Hopkin's piano far more prominent in the mix and distinct double tracking on the main chorus. It's a decent cut but one wonders why Talmy had the Untamed record an already issued Who cut when Pete Townshend no doubt had a slew on unrecorded tracks to offer. This may have been due to the fact that the Who's fractious relationship with the producer was drawing to and end.  It gets nice a rough during the bridge, in fact rawer than the original and Hopkin's piano trills adding to the pop art mayhem! The flip, "Gimme Gimme Some Shade", a Muir original,  is a far stronger track but not punchy enough to have been a A-side.

Both sides are available on RPM's Untamed CD "Gimme Gimme: Singles And Unreleased Rarities 1965-1996" and will no doubt be included in the Ace records Untamed anthology already in the works as we type (and including the band's debut Decca 45 left off of "Gimme Gimme", mastered from yours truly's copy). "It's Not True" was also comped on RPM's Planet records CD collection "The Best Of Planet Records" and on their more recent 3 CD collection "Looking Back".

Hear "It's Not True" and "Gimme Gimme Some Shade":