Wednesday, May 16, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Spooky Tooth's Debut

SPOOKY TOOTH-Sunshine Help Me/Weird US Mala 587 1967

In 1967, UK psychedelic band Art (formerly mod/r&b connoisseurs The V.I.P's ) were going nowhere.  Their debut 45 a cover of the Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" sank without a trace as did their Guy Steven's produced LP "Supernatural Fairy Tales" (both were released on Island records). Island's boss Chris Blackwell met a New Jersey born keyboardist named Gary Wright (later to find fame in the US in 1975 with the hit "Dreamweaver") who was in London and hooked him up with Art.  The result was a name change and Spooky Tooth was born.

Their debut 45, the Gary Wright penned "Sunshine Help Me" was produced by Jimmy Miller and released in the UK on Island ( WI-6022) in December 1967 and simultaneously launched in the USA on the Bell records subsidiary Mala (curiously the band's debut US LP would be on Bell).

"Sunshine Help Me" is driven by some great harmonies, tabla and organ/ harpsichord and Mike Harrison and Gary Wright's vocals (though Wright's screeching can be a bit much, somehow sounding suspiciously like Mick Jagger's histrionics on "Sympathy For The Devil" though predating it obviously).  I always dug Harrison's strong voice on the V.I.P's and Art stuff so it's definitely an asset.  There's an almost chunky, Hendrix style groove to the guitars and something about it also reminds me of late era Small Faces Immediate era stuff.

The B-side "Weird" was previously cut by Art as "I Think I'm Going Weird" on their LP. Re-recorded by Spooky Tooth its slowed down a bit and the organ is heavier in the mix and Gary Wright's vocals have a Steve Windwood-like quality to them, but I have always preferred Mike Harrison's soulful vocals so the Art version wins out for me.

Both cuts are available on a Spooky Tooth CD collection "Lost In My Dream:An Anthology 1968-1974". Mike Harrison sadly passed away on March 25th.

Hear "Sunshine Help Me":

Hear "Weird":

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