Friday, November 30, 2018

November's Picks

1. DION & THE BELMONTS-"Berimbau"
A few issues back "Shindig" had a massive Action article in which band associate and music journalist Nick Jones mentioned this 45 as an inspiration to the band's first original A-side "Never Ever". I tracked it down and to my delight he was spot on!

2. FARON'S FLAMINGOS-"Let's Stomp"
Few songs describe "Merseybeat" to me in two minutes like this Liverpudlian tear down of Bobby Comstock's "Let's Stomp". To my ears not only does it surpass the original but it also shows the template for The Milkshakes twenty years later and Edinburgh's The Kaisers another decade after that.

3. THE THOUGHT-"Every Single Day"
Despite it's decidedly 80's production (and those awful drums!) this 1984 track by Holland's The Thought still has it's charm in a corner of my nostalgia, especially the ethereal backing vocals mid section.

First brought to my attention via a cover by UK 60's r&b'ers The Paramounts over three decades ago, this sedate '61 smoker from the King label  jumped out at me a few weeks back on a Johnny "Guitar" Watson LP comp on the legendary Charly R&B label, now to find the single!

5.  JOHNNY & LILY-"Suffering City"
This Huey P. Meaux produced cut from 1970 easily sounds like something from three or four years earlier, almost like an Ike & Tina number to my ears, regardless of what it sounds like it grew on me.

6. THE SPECIALS-"Rat Race"
Though the Jam and XTC seemed to rule the roost for social commentary on the British music scene in the late 70's/early 80's The Specials proved they were just as capable and it's best exemplified by this seething/scathing dig at the social pecking order.

7. THE ASSOCIATION-"You Hear Me Call Your Name"
100 mph drumming (probably Hal Blaine!?), buzzing twangy guitars and above all the celestial, soaring harmonies make this track from The Association's second album "Renaissance" one of the long player's strongest in my humble opinion and probably their grittiest before record company demands softened their sound.

8. THE WHO-"It's Not True"
For eons I always viewed this track from "My Generation" as filler of sorts, but the older I've grown I have come to accept it as proof positive that Pete Townshend was one of the most idiosyncratic composers of the beat boom. From it's offbeat lyrics to it's pop art Rickenbacker power chordings neatly nailed down by Nicky Hopkin's piano and Keith Moon's slapdash drumming it's become one of my favorites from the LP.

9. LAUREL AITKEN & UNITONE_"Rudi Got Married"
Imagine this, it's 1980 and Laurel Aitken, the godfather of ska cuts a 45 with The Ruts backing him (as The Unitone) on Secret Affair's label I-Spy! True story (though I can't be 100% about the Ruts/Unitone thing..), this 45 could easily have been an obscure 2-Tone 45 and it totally fits in the '79/'80 U.K. ska genre.

This 1964 Booker T cover owes a great deal to Georgie Fame and The Blue Flame's interpretation. Despite Byron Lee cutting a host of ska and calypso tunes this track owes nothing to either genre and is nothing short of moody, moddy funky r&b.

Monday, November 26, 2018


The Hollies songwriting team of Allan Clarke, Graham Nash and Tony Hicks (also known as "L. Ransford" on early release credits) began in earnest writing the odd LP and E.P. track and even an A-side once or twice  early in the career but it was not until 1966 that other artists began covering their material more frequently.  With a wealth of covers of their material it was difficult to pick just 10 so here goes..... Enjoy!

1. THE EVERLY BROTHERS-"Hard Hard Year" US LP track "Two Yanks In England" Warner Brothers WS 1646 1966
The Everly's reached out to the Hollies in 1966 for assistance in recording an LP that ultimately would feature 8 Hollies compositions among it's 12 tracks. All of them are stellar interpretations but this version is my fave of the lot with Phil and Don's beautiful vocals pierced by a screaming guitar solo.

2. WHAT FOR?-"So Lonely" US Rampage RR-1701 1966
Hollies covers in the US in the 60's are pretty far and few between so this one is definitely a curiosity. This December '66 version of "So Lonely" turns the somber, down trodden mood of the original into an upbeat/uptempo beat number that's actually enjoyable.

Scan c/o

3. THE LEE KINGS-"Coming From The Ground" Sweden RCA FAS 796 1967
Sweden's Lee Kings had a host of decent 45's (and an LP) behind them before going to England (like The Tages would later do) to cut a record.  "Coming From The Ground" was written and produced by Clarke and Nash (and their distinct backing vocals are clearly audible on the chorus).  It's an incredible track with a gritty solo, brilliant harmonies and above all was never recorded by the Hollies themselves.

4. MARY McCARTHY-"You Know He Did" UK CBS 2832 1967
A big thumbs up to Rob Bailey and N.U.T's gang for unearthing this powerful reading of one of the Hollie's earliest original compositions (which first saw light as a B-side in '65) and placing it on the first (and best in my opinion "Le Beat Bespoke" CD compilation). This version was a B-side of her debut 45 backed by a cool brass n' guitars mesh and a chirpy girl group sound with great harmonies!

5. THE TWILIGHTS-"What's Wrong With The Way I Live" Australia Columbia DO-4764 1967
Australia's Twilights included future Little River Band vocalist Glenn Shorrock and Tina Turner songwriter Terry Britten ("What's Love Got To Do With It" and "We Don't Need Another Hero").  But in the 60's they were tandem vocalists in a shit hot r&b/beat/mod group who took this note for note cover of a "For Certain Because" LP track into the Aussie charts in 1967. It's been stated that the Hollies wrote it for them but in an interview by an acquaintance with Graham Nash in the 90's Graham stated he'd never heard of The Twilights!

Scan c/o

6. NICKY JAMES-"Would You Believe" UK Philips BF 1635 1968
Nicky James was a Brummie associate of the Moody Blues who made a slew of beat and pop psych 45's in the 60's on various labels before singing to the Moodie's Threshold label in the 70's. This cut from the Hollie's LP "Butterfly" was an over the top affair with horns and strings owning more to Gene Pitney than pop psychedelia but still worth a listen.

7. THE YOUNG IDEA-"Peculiar Situation" UK Columbia DB 8132 1967
U.K. pop duo The Young Idea were akin to fellow British acts Twice As Much or Paul and Barry Ryan.  Their stab at this track from the Hollie's "For Certain Because" album did little to deviate from the original save adding strings (care of Arthur Greenslade) and female backing vocals to this ode to the joys of a platonic relationship.

8. PAUL & BARRY RYAN-"Fifi The Flea" UK LP track "Two Of A Kind" Decca LK 4878 1967
Twin brothers Paul & Barry had a go at Graham Nash's poignant ballad "Fifi The Flea" on their incredible debut album "Two Of A Kind" (that saw it sit among covers of tracks by The Yardbirds and The Pretty Things). It works thanks to the addition of somber harpsichord (that sounds both regal and baroque) in place of the original's bare bones acoustic guitar.

Scan c/o

9. DANA GILLESPIE-"Pay You Back With Interest" UK Pye 7N 17280 1967
Buxom U.K. female belter Dana Gillispie tackled this track from "For Certain Because" (and a single in the US for The Hollies!) as her third and final single for the Pye label. It works thanks to its slow burner build up and her phrasing. Compare with other U.K. versions by Paul & Barry Ryan (who did a hefty number of Hollies covers) and The Corsairs.

10. THE SEARCHERS-"Have You Ever Loved Somebody" UK Pye 7N 17170 1966
Along with Paul & Barry Ryan and The Everly's Liverpool's Searchers had a crack at this before The Hollie's version was to surface on the legendary dip into psychedelia "Evolution". Though not as raw as the Hollie's take it's still half decent, thanks in no small part to their vocals and the rough little guitar lick throughout and some kick ass drumming by Chris Curtis recent replacement, the Keith Moon influenced John Blunt.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Lynne Randell "That's A Hoe Down"

LYNNE RANDELL-That's A Hoe Down/I Need You Boy US Epic 5-10197 1967

British born, Australian raised Lynne Randell is best known for her  monster "Stranger In Your Arms", a track that was later hugely successful on the Northern soul scene. "Stranger..." was her American debut and today's subject was it's follow up issued in August 1967 (a cover by the Fleur De Ly's under the moniker of Shyster followed in the U.K. a month later on Polydor).

Written by Albert Hammond, "That's A Hoe Down" incorporates licks from several Monkees tunes  ("The Last Train To Clarksville" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" along with "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'") at each of the breaks as she had recently accompanied them on a US tour that briefly also featured The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It's a complete 100% up tempo killer with lyrics describing an all night party/rave up.

The flip, "I Need You Boy", is dreadful pop pap crap from the pen of Artie and Kris Resnick. I've only ever listened to it once straight through.

A pensive Lynne with Peter Tork, 1967

Both tracks were collected by Raven records for their 1986 Lynne Randell anthology album "Ciao Baby". "That's A Hoe Down" appeared more recently on the 2015 RPM CD ludicrously titled collection "Come See Me....Dream Babes And Rock Chicks From Downunder".

Hear "That's A Hoe Down":

Hear "I Need You Boy":

Friday, November 9, 2018

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: The Robb Storme Group

THE ROBB STORME GROUP-Here Today/But Cry UK Columbia DB 7993 1966

British vocalist Rob Storme recorded a host of singles in the UK starting way back in 1960 and sadly I can't tell you much about him.  Today's subject was only released under the moniker of "The Robb Storme Group" (previous issues were either solo billing or with backing by The Whispers).  This was also apparently his last.  I've little idea who he was or what became of him.

The A-side is a Beach Boys cover released at a time when Britain was in the throes of Beach Boys mania with a host of other Beach Boys tunes being issued at an astonishing rate in 1966 Britain (especially from "Pet Sounds" where this number originally appeared).  Brit harmony act The Factotum's issued their own reading a month prior (Piccadilly 7N 35333). The Rob Storme version is a tad faster than the original and is wrapped in powerful harmonies (eschewing the orchestration of the original and relying on more harmonies and an organ brought up in the mix). I was never really a fan of the track no matter who is doing it to be honest.

For me the money has always been the B-side, "But Cry". It's a poppy tune but there's a hard edge to it that when meshed with the superb harmonies and subtle keyboards in a wonderful mix. It was written by producer/arranger Will Malone later of The Orange Bicycle (who arranged both sides of the 45 actually).

The 45 was issued in an astounding number of countries including Canada, Germany, Sweden and the USA!

Swedish 45 c/o

"But Cry" was recently unearthed for the "Beatfreak 6" CD collection and both sides were also reissued on a slightly non-legit Japanese 45 reissue in 2002 replicating a German pressing.

Hear "Here Today":

Hear "But Cry":

Thursday, November 1, 2018

October's Picks

1. ED HARDEN-"The Game Of Love"
Ed Hardin (as he was known) must have been real pissed when Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders did a note for note version of his interpretation of this Clint Ballard smash. The drum/bass intro on the original floors me every time! Unfortunately I can't find a clip on YouTube!

2. THE HOUSE OF NIMROD-"Slightly Delic"
New Zealand is not known for it's trippy 60's sounds but this 1967 single is an exception to the rule and worthy of any contemporary Anglo stuff from the genre.

Back when Billy Childish still rated and wasn't flogging his music to death he was capable of some brilliant stuff. This track from the Caesars "John Lennon's Corpse Revisited" LP sees Billy bemoaning the woman who's been screwing around behind his back to a rough and ready Troggs meet Sonics beat.

4. LEW COURTNEY-"The Man With The Cigar"
Made famous by Herman's Hermits on the flip of "A Must To Avoid", this is the original version cut by Lew Courtney (who became "Lou" on his next release) two years prior with a bombastic, orchestral backing worthy of a Walker Brothers record!

From the 1970 Skye/Buddha LP "Watch What Happens", this pairing between the grand dame of jazz and the most way out jazz guitarist surprisingly produces some stellar results. Most of the tunes on the album are Beatles covers, and this one is smoky and sultry.

6. THE CLIQUE-"Tortoise"
The Clique were a welcome breath to the mid 90's mod scene, in a world awash with Brit pop and manufactured "mod" boy bands The Clique flew their freak(beat) flag on the mast of a skillfully piloted ship careening straight for the rocks, but it was a ,lovely voyage wasn't it?!

7. GEORGE BRAITH-"Cantaloupe Woman"
This brilliant reading of "Cantaloupe Woman", originally a flip side of a 1966 Prestige 45 was unearthed on "The Further Adventures Of Mod Jazz" with an incredible mix of funky organ, wailing sax and gritty guitar licks.

8. PAUL WELLER-"Bitterness Rising"
I have a love/hate relationship with Weller.  Well hate is a wrong word, and it's not Weller I hate. What I hate is the lemming like blind adulation that seems to attach itself to him and everything he does. That said it makes it difficult to enjoy his music when everyone and their brother are claiming that the new album is the best one ever. For me I have always dug his solo debut. "Bitterness Rising" is one of it's hidden gems that falls somewhere between the music of Thunderclap Newman and the soulful voice of early 70's Marvin Gaye.

9. ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS-"Mama Told Me Not To Come"
Eons before Three Dog Night charted with this Randy Newman track Eric Burdon and the newly revamped Animals cut it in 1966 where it was originally intended as their Decca debut backing "Help Me Girl" but was inexplicably withdrawn at the 11th hour with "See See Rider" taking it's place. Pity because it really works, thanks in no small part to a horn section.

10. MEL TORME-"Games People Play"
In '69 the Velvet Fog took a crack at Joe South's social observation smash with some cool results. It's in essence one half schmaltz-supper club Vegas and one half jazz. Regardless it's amazing all down to Mel's subtle but cool vocal style.