Wednesday, January 30, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Fourmost Do Lennon/McCartney

THE FOURMOST-Here, There And Everywhere/You've Changed US Capitol 5738 1966 

The most covered track from The Fab's "Revolver" album without a doubt was "Here There And Everywhere" which saw half a dozen versions released, many within days of the appearance of "Revolver". Among them were versions by U.K. acts The Mustang, Episode Six, Petula Clark and a host of others but Liverpool's  Fourmost pulled the hat trick of releasing a cover of it five days before The Beatle's version was released! A US pressing was simultaneously issued on the same date.

The Fourmost version bears little difference from the original save the fact that their harmonies are actually stronger and more plentiful than the Beatles. Ex-Manfred Mann genius Mike Vickers provided the orchestration which gives the track a fuller sound than the original, but I'll be honest there's nothing about it that makes me want to play it repeatedly. It featured guitarist Brian O'Hara on lead vocals as the band's previous lead singer Mike Millward died of leukemia in March (O'Hara tragically would take his own life in 1999).

The flip, "You've Changed" is the stronger tune for my money. It's incredibly Beatle-esque from it's Chet Atkin's via George Harrison country guitar licks and an intro that sounds incredibly like the Fab's version of Buck Owen's "Act Naturally" it moves along nicely as a decent slice of country influenced beat music. It was written by the band's vocalist/guitarist Brian O'Hara.

Both sides appeared on EMI CD collection "The Best Of The Fourmost".

Hear "Here There And Everywhere":

Hear "You've Changed":

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Euro 60's Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Ola & The Janglers

OLA & THE JANGLERS-I Can Wait/Eeny Meeny Miney Moe US London 45-LON-20034 1967

Sweden's Ola & The Janglers had a staggering 14 singles released in their home country before someone in the United States decided to finally put one of their records out here.  London records issued "I Can Wait" b/w" Eeny Meeny Miney Moe" in November 1967, just two months after it was issued in Sweden by Gazell (C-204).

"I Can Wait" follows the slicker (ie "over produced") sound that the band were heading into in 1967, leaving behind the more quirky, off the wall sounds they had exhibited on their classic 1966 singles like "Alex Is The Man" or "Birds Eye View Of You". It was produced by Ivor Raymonde which leads me to believe it was recorded in the UK, possibly with session musicians. It has a full sound with brass, vibes and orchestration on top of their Beach Boys harmonies, fuzz guitar and thundering drums, it's a decent slick pop tune not unlike Los Bravos UK recordings at the same time.

"Eeny Meeny Miney Moe" is a dreadful disposable pop song that sounds like a throwaway Bickerton/Waddington pop psych B-side, it's also a sample of the direction the band would soon by sliding towards in the following months, but that's a story for another post.

Both tracks were collected on a Swedish two CD reissue of an 80's Ola & The Janglers LP collection titled "1964-1971!".

Hear "I Can Wait":

Hear "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe":

Thursday, January 17, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Duffy Power

DUFFY POWER-Hellhound/Hummingbird US Epic 5-1650 1970

Veteran British blues/r&b singer Duffy Power's last US single was 1966's "There's No Living Without Your Loving" issued as "Jamie Power" in 1966. It would be a full four years until his name resurfaced on an American record. Curiously today's subject beat the British release by a full month coming out in August 1970 (the UK pressing released in September was CBS 5176 and titled "Hell Hound" and was curiously reissued again in the UK as Epic 7139 in 1971 with the sides reversed).

Arranged and produced by former Zombies Chris White and Rod Argent "Hellhound" is sadly miles away from any of Duffy's brilliant blues/r&b sides as it reeks of watered down commercialized blues. Even his vocals are unrecognizable from previous efforts.  The musical backing featured Rod Argent on piano, ex-Roulette Bob Henrit on drums, Rod Argent's cousin and ex-Mike Cotton Sound member Jim Rodford on bass and former Timebox member Ollie Halsall on guitar.

"Hellhound" bears little resemblance to anything Power ever cut before. In fact his voice is barely recognizable and the whole number collapses under the weight of it's own heavy mediocrity. Even the all star stellar musical backing can't save this ponderous exercise in pointless blues rock!

Leon Russell's "Hummingbird" on the flip is the real gem here. It starts out a bit heavy by settles into a nice groove with Argent's bluesy piano and  the lead vocals finally sound like Power and though there's some cheezy soprano saxophone on it but the soulful female backing vocals and Hammond make it sound like Hardin & York. Sadly I can't find it on YouTube.

Neither side have been comped or reissued anywhere to my knowledge.

Hear "Hellhound":

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Applejacks Do Lennon/McCartney

THE APPLEJACKS-Like Dreamers Do/Everybody Fall Down US London 45-LON-9681 1964

The Applejacks epitomized the double edged sword that went along with covering a Lennon/McCartney track, they also fell victim to chauvinistic accusations of gimmicky for having a female bassist and it is sadly these two minor footnotes that they are known for. Their debut 45 in February 1964 ,"Tell Me When" (penned by Les Reed and Geoff Stephens) shot to number #7 in the UK charts (UK issue Decca F 11833, US issue London 45-9658). Their next 45 was June 1964's "Like Dreamers Do", written by Lennon and McCartney (but never officially released by The Beatles). Normally in 1964 releasing a Lennon/McCartney composition as an A-side in the UK pretty much guaranteed a trip to the hit parade so things looked promising in June of 1964 when Decca issued it as F 11916, it was simultaneously issued in the US by London . Sadly for The Applejacks the track stalled at #20 (despite an appearance of the band miming to it in the film "Go Go Big Beat") and spelled the end of their hit making days.

"Like Dreamers Do" is a fairly mediocre tune and it's not surprising that the Beatles passed on recording it themselves. It's not awful but it's certainly not one of their stellar compositions either, at best it's a passable, chirpy little beat number. The Applejacks would have one more crack at a Lennon/Macca composition later recording a version of "Baby's In Black" that cropped up on a Decca various artists charity compilation "14" (curiously re titled "England's Biggest Hit Makers" by London in the US, also the title of The Rolling Stones debut LP on the same label!). The real gem is the B-side "Everybody Fall Down" (Curiously titled "(Boom Boom Boom) Everybody Fall Down" in the UK) and penned by future Honeybus members Pete Dello and Ray Cane (who were the author's of "Baby Jane", the flip of the band's debut 45) it's one of the Applejacks best tracks. It's a 100 mph beat rave-up with a fast pace accented by it's infectious chorus of "And it's boom boom boom boom...", there's also a nifty little blistering guitar solo.

The band would go on to cut 4 more singles for Decca (only one of which, the next one "I'm Gonna Send My Love (Three Little Words)" would see a US release) before switching labels (and lead singers) for one final single on CBS in 1967.

Both tracks have been issued on a variety of Applejacks collections issued by Decca, the most recent being the CD compilation "Tell Me When, Like Dreamers Do And 24 More Fab Tracks!" which covers everything released by them on Decca.

Hear "Like Dreamers Do":

Hear "Everbody Fall Down":

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Only In America U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Hill

THE HILL-Sylvie/The Fourth Annual Convention Of The Battery Hen Farmers Association (Part II) US Immediate ZS7-5016 1969

One could easily fill a book of the host of US only 45 pressings by British bands, and among them would be this 1969 Immediate records single by The Hill. Composed of four former members of Chris Farlowe's backing band The Thunderbirds they were: Steve Hammond (guitar), Bruce Waddell (bass), Pete Robinson (keyboards) and Colin Davey (drums). Though not credited on the label, production was handled former Tintern Abbey member Stuart Mackay.

The results are stunning. "Sylvie" is a perfect late 60's pop psych 45 with it's brilliant harmonies, phlanged piano and orchestration (care of Paul Buckmaster, uncredited) that falls somewhere between The Left Banke and Immediate label mate Duncan Browne. Why it was never released in the UK is downright criminal as it's an incredible track!

The flip side, the curiously titled "The Fourth Annual Convention Of The Battery Hen Farmer's Association (Part II)" is an instrumental powered by some blistering bluesy guitar and Hammond organ.  It's a tad self indulgent unfortunately, like some nondescript background music from a late 60's film.

The Hill went on to make an LP with Chris Farlowe as "Chris Farlowe and The Hill" for Polydor in 1970 titled "From Here To Mama Rosa" (which was released in over half a dozen counties) and two UK singles in the same year also for Polydor ("Put Out The Light"/"Questions" and "Black Sheep Of The Family"/"Fifty Years") in the same year as the album.

"Sylvie" was unearthed for the incredible 2007 4 CD box set "Real Life Permanent Dreams: A Cornucopia of British Psychedelia 1965-1970" (albeit an alternate mix) while the flip has yet to surface anywhere, YouTube included!

Hear "Sylvie":