Saturday, January 25, 2020

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Riot Squad

THE RIOT SQUAD-Cry Cry Cry/How Is It Done US Reprise 0457 1966

We've previously chronicled prior US single releases by Britain's 60's act The Riot Squad in other entries. Their first US single (their second in England) "I Wanna Talk About My Baby" was discussed here while we wrote about their third and final US single (their fifth in England) here.

Today's entry "Cry Cry Cry", was their second US release issued in April 1966 (it's British counterpart, the band's fourth there, was released in January 1966 as Pye 7N 17041). It holds the distinction of being their first release with the legendary producer Joe Meek at the controls.

Though certainly not the band's strongest release, "Cry Cry Cry" is not so much unlistenable as it is mediocre, especially with The Four Season's like "ieye yei yei's" chorus that's positively grating and the even higher backing vocals. Next!

The flip "How Is It Done"  (titled "How It Is Done" in the UK) kicks off with a heavy Motown influenced bass line and some freaky sax bits that sound Middle Eastern (and much like something Graham Bond was doing at the time).  The key changes and breaks are incredibly soulful but there's something truly freaky in it's delivery that I can't put my finger on.

1966 line up c/o

Both sides are available on the 2003 Sequel records Riot Squad anthology "Jump" as well as Edsel's earlier collection "Anytime".

Hear "Cry Cry Cry":

Hear "How It Is Done":

Saturday, January 18, 2020

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Knack...Erm....The Lobsters

THE LOBSTERS-(The Man From The)Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau/Dolly Catcher Man US Mercury 72696 1967

Every now and then a U.K. 60's 45 was issued in the U.S. with the band name being altered for some bizarre reason.  I first heard of this when Wild Silk's Shel Talmy produced "(Visions In A) Plaster Sky"/"Toymaker" came out over here credited to "Basil" and recently Larry over at Funky 16 Corners told me about a Cocktail Cabinet 45 issued here as "We Believe". Recently I stumbled upon another one, The Knack's (the U.K. 60's sorts) final single "(The Man From) The Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau" (Piccadilly 7N 35367 February 1967) which was released here on Mercury and credited to "The Lobsters" (possibly to avoid confusion with a US 60's band of the same name).

The Knack were a UK 60's quartet featuring the famous Paul Gurvitz (lead vocals/guitar), Brian Morris (vocals/guitar), Gery Kenworthy (bass) and Topper Clay (drums). Gurvitz of course would join brother Adrian to find fame as Gun, bit that's another story for another day.

After their first two singles on the Decca label went nowhere John Schroeder signed the band to Pye's Piccadilly offshoot in 1966 resulting in three more singles, none of which did anything.  The band would cut just one more single with the label before splitting. Issued as Piccadilly 7N 35367 in February 1967 "(The Man From) The Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau" backed with "Dolly Catcher Man", as mentioned above was issued here where it was their only US release, like it's predecessors it did nothing on either side of the Atlantic. I was first introduced to the A-side back in 1990 when it graced a Sequel CD compilation called "Quick Before They Catch Us". It's a somber acoustic guitar led track that falls somewhere between early Al Stewart and Duncan Browne with some great harmonies with some tongue and cheek lyrics that perfectly fits in with its quirky release date.

The B-side, the curiously titled "Dolly Catcher Man" starts out sounding like a folk rock/Dylan pastiche but then the 12 string kicks in and the high harmonies join in it becomes a half way decent quirky pop tune.

Both sides were compiled on a Knack CD collection put out by Rev-Ola in 2007 titled "Time Time Time".

Hear "(The Man From) The Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau":

Hear "Dolly Catcher Man":

Saturday, January 11, 2020

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: I Scream You Scream, Who The Hell Screamed For Freddie?

FREDDIE AND THE DREAMERS-Do The Freddie/Tell Me When US Mercury 72428 1965

Freddie and the Dreamers have always annoyed me, maybe it was the fact that Freddie always looked like a degenerate window cleaner or that stupid giggle he did with those ridiculous leaps or that him and his band mates looked old enough to have been in World War II (he was actually born in 1936). Well all this lunacy culminated with someone writing a song for him to leap about to called "Do The Freddie". It wasn't even released in the U.K. but it was his eleventh US 45 released in April 1965 where it reached a modest #18 in the charts (incidentally his last hit here, or anywhere actually).

If you can get past his ridiculous mad giggles peppered all over the track "Do The Freddie" is a half way decent tune.  The best part of the number is the musical backing (possibly session players?) which is heavily accented by horns and female backing vocalists (no doubt the Vernon's Girls) and I will admit it's pretty damn catchy (especially the guitar solo)! My dad remembers dancers on some US TV program back then showing viewers how to "do the Freddie", thankfully it never caught on!

Freddie and the Pensioners

The flip side is a track called "Tell Me When", previously covered by The Applejacks (and it was their debut US 45 issued a year earlier). The Dreamers make a complete mess of it because it already had potential to be a dippy song and their interpretation of it is even more icky. The phrase "disgustingly twee" aptly describes it.

Both sides were compiled on an EMI USA CD collection way back called The The Definitive Collection" that's still available.

Hear "Do The Freddie":

Hear "Tell Me When":

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Great Obscure U.K. 60's Sides: Ivan's Meads

IVAN'S MEADS-The Sins Of The Family/A Little Bit Of Sympathy UK Parlophone R 5342 1965

The impact of US folk singer P.F. Sloan on American pop music is legendary, but what about his impact on Britain? Herman's Hermits were his biggest champions scoring hits with his compositions "A Must To Avoid" and "Hold On" as well as recording "Where Were You When I Needed You" and "All The Things I Do For You Baby" among others. Lorraine Silver, Freddie and the Dreamers, Twinkle, The Paramounts and Ivan's Meads joined the list of other British artists who recorded his material. It is the latter who's reading becomes our subject for today's post.

Ivan's Meads were a moddy Manchester r&b five piece comprised of Ivan Robinson (lead vocals), Pete Dempsey (sax), Keith Lawless (bass), Alan Powell (drums) and John Mayall's half brother Rod "Stan" Mayall on organ. The debut single was this October 1965's reading of P.F. Sloan's "Sins Of The Family", which unfortunately for the band saw the release of Sloan's version on the very same day on RCA complete with an obligatory Ready! Steady! Go! appearance to ensure that the Ivan's Meads version never stood a chance. The track was chosen by the band's management for them to record in the hopes of scoring a hit.

Their version of "The Sins Of the Family" eschews the folky Dylan feel of the original by rocking it up considerably adding Hammond organ and the lead singer having a snotty delivery.  It's not terrible but it's not remarkable either outside of the tasty organ.

The real gold lies in the flip, "A Little Bit Of Sympathy". Penned by bassist Keith Lawless it's a brilliant little British r&b "Hammond n' horns" gem that sounds like somewhere between '64 John Mayall's Bluesbreakers meets The Graham Bond Organization. Both sides were produced by George Martin.

The band had one more single the following year, a crack at the Toni Wine/Carole Bayer tune "We'll Talk About It Tomorrow" which although beating The Mindbenders version to a release by a year failed to chart. As in the case of today's subject the flipside was another band original, a mod/r&b G.B.O. influenced Hammond n' horns instro groover called "Bottle".

"Sins Of the Family" kicks off Volume Four of the "Beatfreak" UK 60's CD collection while "A Little Bit Of Sympathy" can be found on their sixth volume as well as Past & Present's amazing Brit mod/r&b collection "New Directions 1: A Collection Of British Blue Eyed Soul 1964-1969".

I would like to pay special thanks to the Eight Miles Higher blog's post on Ivan's Meads. Without their assistance I would not have been able to piece together a background on the band to complete this piece.

Hear "Sins Of The Family":

Hear "A Little Bit Of Sympathy":