Sunday, April 26, 2020

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Cat Stevens "Matthew And Son"

CAT STEVENS-Matthew And Son/Granny US Deram 45 DEM 7505 1967

We discussed Cat's debut 45 in an earlier post, "Matthew And Son", was his second single. It was issued in the U.K. as Deram DM 110 in December 1966. It's US release was delayed until January. It was a huge hit in the U.K. reaching #2, sadly it did nothing in the U.S.A.

"Matthew And Son" works on so many levels, from it's brilliant orchestration by Alan Tew to the lyrics perfectly chronicling the daily woes of the everyman delivered rapid fire on the upbeat.  Despite it's slightly sweet pop psych backing its an amazing track, especially the lines:
"he's got people who've been working for fifty years, no one asks for more money cause nobody dares even though they're pretty low and their rents in arrears".

Plugging "Matthew And Son" on Dutch TV's "Fan Club" 1966

The flip is equally amazing. "Granny" is one of my favorite Cat Stevens tracks. Once again its the musical backing that really makes the track.  There's a brilliant bit in the middle where the horns get powerful and this jazzy little guitar solo comes in after some cool chords.

Both sides are available on the deluxe edition of Cat's debut LP "Matthew And Son".

Hear "Matthew And Son":

Hear "Granny":

Saturday, April 18, 2020

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

THE CREATION-Painter Man/Biff Bang Pow US Planet 45-119 1966

British based American producer Shel Talmy launched his short lived Planet label in December 1965. By the time of the label's final release exactly a year label he'd released 22 singles in the UK, 7 of which were issued in the US.  The most famous act on Planet was of course the quartet known as The Creation. Talmy issued their debut single "Making Time" b/w "Try And Stop Me" in the States in in July of 1966 (where it was covered by an Abilene. Texas group called The Livin' End!) as Planet 45-116. Curiously it was issued with the same catalog number as it's U.K release which was a practice Talmy would use on all his releases. The band's second single, "Painter Man" b/w "Biff Bang Pow" was released here in November, a month after it's British counterpart.

For those not in the know The Creation were a British four piece that grew out of a quartet called The Mark Four. Their debut single "Making Time" was issued in both the UK and the US on Planet.

"Painter Man" is characterized by guitarist Eddie Phillip's use of a violin bow on his guitar (a technique later adopted by Jimmy Page in The Yardbirds the following year) amid a perfect mid tempo mod pop art beat with ringing guitars and high Who style backing vocals.

Guitarist Eddie Phillips flanked by lead singer Kenny Pickett.

The flip-side, "Biff Bang Pow" is the stuff of legends. My four year old son asked "Is this My Generation" when he heard it coming from my lap top and I think that's probably a pretty good assessment. The Nicky Hopkin's ivory tinkling and the high "oooo's" can't help but make you think of The Who but it stands in a league of it's own thanks to the sheer power and brilliance, Who comparisons not withstanding.

Both sides are available on a multitude of Creation compilations floating around out there.

Hear "Painter Man":

Hear "Biff Bang Pow":

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Tages

Sweden's Sixties quartet The Tages (or simply "Tages" as they are known) are my favorite European band from. Though their career was brief (1964-1968) they ran a gamut of musical styles and genres that spanned just under thirty singles/E.P.'s and five albums in their home country. They began by embracing Beatle-esque beat music, then merging that with Pretty Things/Downliners Sect style r&b, then quickly onto Who inspired mod/power pop while simultaneously attempting soul music and balancing by embracing sunshine harmony pop and then, finally, slickly produced psychedelic pop. With all that in just four short years I thought it would be interesting to select some of their best sides from their varying and interesting career. All original 60's pressings/releases listed are Swedish.

1. "I Should Be Glad" Single A-Side Plantina PA 103 1965
The band's second single "I Should Be Glad" owes as much to the Everly Brothers as it does to British beat music. With it's acoustic guitar driven "Beatles For Sale" sound and layered harmonies it could be easily mistaken for an obscure mid tempo mid 60's British beat single. Subsequent singles would be more rocking.

Hear it on: "Go! The Complete Singles" RPM double CD 2015

2. "The One For You" Single A-Side Platina PA 105 1965/ LP track "Tages" Platina PALP 3001 1965
The Who were massive in Scandinavia in the mid 60's and the band's fourth single sees a marriage on convenience of their Beatles/Hollies inspiration and London mod four piece. With its noisy guitar intro and a complete mod/r&b rave up during the guitar solo The Who influence is easily felt, and all without losing the band's trademark harmonies and high backing vocals.

Hear it on:"Go! The Complete Singles" RPM double CD 2015

3. Crazy Bout My Baby" A-Side single Platina PA 125 1966/LP track "Tages 2" Platina PALP 3002 1966
Released by Liverpool's Swinging Blue Jeans exactly a year before this version, the Tages rendition is slowed down a tad more but somehow harder and more rocking. The Blue Jeans version has a flute solo whereas this version has a kitschy little organ solo that works well with the tunes quasi Flamenco feel.

Hear it on: "Go! The Complete Singles" RPM double CD 2015

4. "The Man You'll Be Looking For" Flexi disc track Bildjournalen Go Go Skiva 66 1966
Issued on a free three track flexi disc with the "Bildjournalen" music magazine alongside a track each by the Strangers and Ola and The Janglers, "The Man You'll Be Looking For" is a beautiful mix of the band's Pretty Things/r&b phase colliding with mod/freakbeat. It has thundering, melodic bass lines, a double timed r&b beat and distorted as hell guitars with a harmonica solo to wrap it all. It was also issued as a single in Norway (His Masters Voice AL 6137 1966). It was my introduction to the band via the excellent "Searchin' For Shakes" 1984 compilation album of Swedish 60's sounds.

Hear it on: The Platina/Parlophone double LP/CD "Tages 1964-1968!".

5. "Jealous Girl" LP track "Tages 2" Platina PALP 3002 1966
The band rocked up this Johnny Kidd and the Pirate's June 1964 single by adding a heavy guitar riff to it and doubling the timing, chucking in some frantic drumming and choppy chord bashing that turns it from a beat ballad to a a proto freakbeat stormer.

Hear it on: The Platina/Parlophone double LP/CD "Tages 1964-1968!".

6. "Secret Room" LP track "Extra Extra" Platina PALP 3003 1966
Kicking off with some backwards bits and lots of poppy "la la la's" "Secret Room" is a creepy pop psych number about a little boy watching his parents have sex through a spy hole in his room! Cringe worthy lyrics aside its one of the highlights of the band's lackluster third LP "Extra Extra" where it sits uncomfortably among half baked soul/r&b covers and mediocre originals.

Hear it on: The CD 1994 EMI compilation "In My Dreams"

7. "Miss Mac Baren" Single A-Side Platina PA 130 1966
Hastily written in a cafe prior to a recording session after spying an advert on the wall for Mac Baren pipe tobacco, "Miss Mac Barren" would be the band's tenth single for the Platina label. Accented by their tight harmonies and some quirky keyboards and jangly, biting guitars it's one of their strongest singles.

Hear it on: "Go! The Complete Singles" RPM double CD 2015

8. "My Home Town" LP track various artists compilation "Popligan-For Och Flkting 67" Sveiriges Radio PRH 5003 1967
One of the band's most interesting tracks was this rare gem that was only available on a various artists compilation LP put out by a radio station with proceeds going to support a refugees charity. "My Home Town" is a beautiful track that reminds me of something the Kinks would have done in '66 or '67 and in grand Ray Davies style tradition the lyrics tell a story. It's about a young man heading home to the town of his birth where a delegation awaits him at the station to give him the key to the city and fete him. When he arrives there is no one there to greet him. Was it was all a delusion/fantasy or, as he sings "must have taken wrong (sic) train home to town"?

Hear it on: "Fantasy Island" 1994 EMI CD compilation and on the Platina/Parlophone double LP/CD "Tages 1964-1968!".

9. "She's Having A Baby Now" Single A-Side Parlophone SD 6009 1967
The band skirted controversy in Sweden when they released this social observation about an unwanted pregnancy. Backed by some cheery harmony backing vocals and cheeky disposition it's delivery belies the seriousness of the song's topic. Check out the band in all their Who-aping greatness miming to the track on Swedish TV in the link below.

Hear it on: "Go! The Complete Singles" RPM double CD 2015

10. "She Is A Man" LP track "Studio" Parlophone PMCS 316 1967
The Tages tackled the subject of transgender persons long before The Kink's "Lola". Whereas the protagonist in "Lola" knows what she is and the track is a love song (essentially) the "she" in "She Is A Man" is far more sinister and unwilling to disclose her secret (check out the dialogue sequence in the middle where some very campy/effeminate voices joke about the hapless love interest who "didn't know"). Chuck in some "Revolver"-esque drumming, backwards guitar and falsetto voices and you have a masterpiece!

Hear it on: a 2010 RPM CD reissue and 2017 LP reissue on Bear Family

11. "Seeing With Love" LP track "Studio" Parlophone PMCS 316 1967
The Tages were subsidized by the Swedish government for the inclusion of traditional folk Swedish instrumentation on their records and its no better illustrated on this track that starts with a burst of distorted "Revolver"/"Sgt. Pepper"style guitar before drifting into a dreamy bit with the curious cacophony of traditional wood wind instruments before bursting forth into an amazing harmony pop number with horns, choral bliss and backwards bits.

Hear it on: a 2010 RPM CD reissue and 2017 LP reissue on Bear Family

12. "Have You Seen Your Brother Lately" LP track "Studio" Parlophone PMCS 316 1967
Probably one of the strongest tracks on the the band's fourth LP "Studio" is "Have You Seen Your Brother Lately", a beautiful bit of pop psych tune with zooming bass, violins (provided by two eminent Swedish classical musicians) and a wonderful social observation that bounces along with a Beatlesque '66-'67 feel.

Hear it on: a 2010 RPM CD reissue and 2017 LP reissue on Bear Family

13. "Fantasy Island" Single A- Side Parlophone SD 6036 1968
Probably the band's heaviest and freakiest track was this May 1968 single that features ethereal Hammond, vocals through a Leslie speaker, folky fiddle bowing, raga guitar licks and of course some angelic harmonies. The lyrics are incredibly deep too, no mean feat considering they were written in English, the band's second language.

Hear it on: "Go! The Complete Singles" RPM double CD 2015 and a 2010 RPM CD reissue and 2017 LP reissue of "Studio" on Bear Family

14. "I Read You Like An Open Book"  Single A-Side Parlophone SD 6054 1968 
The band, reduced to a four piece following the departure of lead singer Tommy Blom, issued this final single recorded in the UK and produced by Mike Hurst. Sounding like every bit of Sweden's answer to the "Pet Sounds" era Beach Boys the number its almost bombastic at times but works. It was also the band's only US single. Check out the band's horrendous hairstyles and attire on the picture sleeve above!

Hear it on: "Go! The Complete Singles" RPM double CD 2015

15. "I See The Rain" Swedish Radio Session 1968
The Tages cut this searing version of Marmalade's "I See The Rain" fattened up with guitarist Danne Larsson playing an eight string Hagstrom bass instead of guitar alongside bassist Goran Lagerberg for a Swedish radio broadcast. It's chunky and ham fisted at times but excellent. The band cut a version of Moby Grape's "Hey Grandma" at the same session.

Hear it on: "Stora Popboxen (Svensk Pop1964-1969 Volume 1)" 4 CD Set

******Special thanks to Mike Stax and his Tages piece in "Ugly Things" issue # 7, Ulf Henningsson's Tages article in "Shindig!" # 18 and Keith Patterson. "Fantasy Island" sleeve scan care of and LP scans care of ***********

Friday, April 3, 2020

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Kenny Lynch

KENNY LYNCH-On My Own Two Feet/So Much To Love You For US Imperial 66088 1965

The name Kenny Lynch will not be familiar to most Americans. I became aware of him due to the fact that he co-wrote a few tracks with Mort Shuman that the Small Faces covered ("Sha La La La Lee", "You'd Better Believe It" and "Sorry She's Mine").  Prior to his involvement with them he wrote some tracks for an even younger mod band called The Game who he also produced some of their stuff. But he was also a performer in his own right. His recording career started way back in 1960, and it couldn't have been easy being a black Cockney performer in the U.K. in the early 60's! He also holds the distinction of being the first artist to cut a Lennon/McCartney composition ("Misery" released in March of 1963).

"My Own Two Feet" was his 18th UK single and his 4th US release. It was issued in the UK on HMV as POP 1367 in November 1964 (where it was plugged on "Ready Steady Go", which footage still exists of, see below) and in the States much later in February '65. It's an upbeat mid tempo number highlighted by some very British girl singer backing vocals (no doubt The Breakaways perhaps?).

Kenny on the set of "Ready Steady Go" with hostess Kathy McGowan

The flip side "So Much To Love You For" is a fairly mediocre ballad.  It's layered in strings, the above mentioned female backing vocals and well produced (care of Ivor Raymonde), just not something I would go out of my way to listen to.

At the moment it would appear that Mr. Lynch's back catalog is out of print!  As an aside Kenny was named an O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire) in 1971. He passed away last year at the age of 81 after a long battle with cancer.

Watch Kenny promote "On My Own To Feet" on "Ready Steady Go!":


 Hear "So Much To Love You For":