Friday, May 29, 2020

Ten Simon & Garfunkel 60's Covers

1. GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS-"Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" US Laurie LR 3370 1966
With their career all but running on fumes Liverpudlian's Gerry & The Pacemakers like most band's of the beat era were trying new things which often meant covering tracks by hip new songwriters. Whereas the original has an almost cynical delivery this version is cheery and perfect for Gerry's "cheeky chappie" persona (that would no doubt aid him in his soon to be discovered cabaret circuit career), but not at all unlistenable with it's buskers style guitar/banjo and bouncy delivery. It was curiously not released in the UK.

2. ACE KEFFORD-"Save The Life Of My Child" Unreleased 1968 recording
Former Move bassist and in house glamour boy Chris "Ace" Kefford set about recording a solo LP upon his departure from the band in '68 that was not released until over two decades later. Kefford's stab at this cut from the "Boookends" album is not much different than the original presentation though more sparse but with some fuzz guitar and a lyric substitute switching the newspapers from New York to the UK ("though it never made the Daily Times in the Sheffield News the caption read...").

3. JUSTIN & KARLSSON-"Somewhere They Can't Find Me" UK Piccadilly 7N 35295 1966
This curiously Scandinavian sounding duo were actually two English gents named David Forey and John Woolsgrove. Their version of this track from the "Sounds Of Silence" album sticks fairly close to the original bar the jazzy electric piano and the vocals lack the harmony of the original but somehow it still works, even just barely.

4. OLA & THE JANGLERS-"We Got A Groovy Thing Goin'" Sweden Gazell C-186 1966
Sweden's beat quintet Ola & The Jangler's issued a rocking reading of this "Sounds of Silence" track as the flip of their eighth single (a dreadful cover of "Poetry In Motion").  Driven by some groovy organ, subtle fuzz guitar and a catchy beat it's an excellent reading taking the original's (itself loosely based on "Work Song") feel to new places before abruptly ending as if the producer signaled for them to cease playing.

5. DAVY GRAHAM-"Homeward Bound" LP track UK  "Hat" Decca LK 5011 1969
Paul Simon discovered Davy Graham during his brief UK sojourn in 1966 and covered "Anji" on him and Garfunkel's 1966 "Sounds Of Silence" LP (which was originally miscredited to Bert Jansch on early pressings and using it as the intro to "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" on the same LP). Graham returned the favor by cutting "Homeward Bound" on his fifth Decca LP "Hat". It's a no frills version, just acoustic guitar, mild percussion and vocals but somehow it works in no small part to Graham's string plucking virtuosity.

6. THE FACTOTUMS-"Cloudy" UK Pye 7N 17402 1967
U.K. Harmony vocal quartet The Factotums cut a slew of 45's for the Immediate label before switching to Pye where their fourth release was this track from S&G's "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme" LP. It's airy and mellow not unlike their former Immediate label mates Twice As Much, giving it an almost M.O.R. feel that's sadly not terribly interesting.

7. THE HOLLIES-"I Am A Rock" LP track UK "Would You Believe" Parlophone PMC 7008 1966
The Hollies were firmly interested in folky American sounds so it should have come as no surprise when this cover of one of the crown jewels of the "Homeward Bound" LP popped up on their fourth LP "Would You Believe". It's impressive owing of course to the groups built in harmony trio of Clarke, Nash and Hicks (as well as some tasty 12 string harmonics from the latter's trusty battered Harmony guitar).

8. THEM-"Richard Cory" UK Decca F 12403 1966
Van Morrison an Co. were on the way to disintegration with their eighth and final single for Decca, a cover from S&G's "Sounds of Silence" long player (itself based on a late 19th century poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson). Driven by a distorted, jarring guitar riff the number is far more rocked up than the original. It's bouncy feel and Van Morrison's almost disinterested singing however detracts from Simon's original venomous vocal delivery but somehow Them manage to make the number their own.

9. THE KYTES-"Blessed" UK Pye 7N 17136 1966
Behind a wall of almost overpowering jangly, but distinctly English electrified folk rock guitars comes this version of a tune from Paul & Artie's "Sounds Of Silence" album by U.K. harmony pop merchants The Kytes . They change things a bit by adding some organ that gives it a spooky/churchy feel that melds perfectly with it's almost dirge like delivery.

10. THE HARRY SOUTH STEREO BRASS-"Scarborough Fair" UK Phillips BF 1770 1969
Their were a host of S&D covers by lots of "easy listening" artists throughout the Sixties (even though they didn't write this their version brought it into a wider focus).  But none is better in my humble opinion than this over the top instrumental reading of "Scarborough Fair" loaded with brass, woodwinds, thundering drums, congas and funky drumming. Unearthed during the mid 90's easy listening phase it's highly sought after and rightfully so.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Episode Six

EPISODE SIX-Love-Hate-Revenge/Baby, Baby, Baby US Elektra EK-45617 1967

Britain's harmony pop quintet the Episode Six have often been relegated to a mere footnote in rock n' roll history thanks to their lead singer Ian Gillian and bassist Roger Glover leaving the band to replace Rod Evans and Nicky Simper in Deep Purple.  But the band was much more than a footnote.  With the sunshine harmony pop sound they cut an astounding ten singles in the UK between 1966 and 1969. Just four of them were released in America on four different labels no less! Today's specimen was their third US release being issued here in July 1967, it was previously issued in February in the UK as Pye 7N 17244.

"Love-Hate-Revenge" is a nifty little track with it's pseudo raga guitar riff, pulsating bass and kitschy descending harmony scales that evoke a Middle Eastern feel during it's middle eight. The lyrics concern a guy who acquires a doll that he can use for voodoo against a lover who jilted him with a chorus that goes "If I want you to cry bet your life you're gonna cry when I put two drops of water in this little doll's eyes, so if I wanna get even for what you did to me all I gotta do is break it's heart and you'll feel misery". The US pressing is interesting because during the middle eight after the previously mentioned descending harmonies instead of the punctuating Cossack sounding cries of "Hey!" there's weird electronic feed backing bleeps and blips. It was originally cut by the Del Satin's whose original release preceded the UK Episode Six cover by a month.

The flip, "Baby Baby" is a cover of the soul/r&b Anna King and Bobby Byrd James Brown produced track originally released here on Smash in 1964. It's a duet between keyboardist Shelia Carter and presumably Ian Gillian that's actually surprisingly halfway decent thanks to their top notch vocal skills and funky instrumental backing as the band had a dual career of a Brian Auger/Julie Driscoll type act in addition to being purveyors of sunshine harmony pop.

Both tracks were issued on a host of Episode Six CD compilations over the years, all of which are now out of print and extremely expensive!

Hear the US version of "Love Hate Revenge":

Hear "Baby Baby Baby":

Friday, May 15, 2020

More Obscure U.K. 45's On U.S. Labels: Duffy Power As Jamie Power Pt. II

JAMIE POWER-She Don't Know/Love's Gonna Go US Jamie 1299 1965

The late great British blues legend Duffy Power had two singles released in the US as "Jamie Power", we previously explored his second release under this strange moniker a few years back, today we will be profiling his first U.S. release.

Duffy Power has always intrigued me. He gained his moniker from Larry Parnes, the Svengali/impresario who personally named all of his charges (Like Georgie Fame, Billy Fury etc). and began life as a crooner of sorts before getting switched on to the blues and revamping his repertoire with a solo r&b tune and then cutting a Beatles cover whilst being backed by the legendary Graham Bond Organization among other sides. Enter the British Invasion and American labels were hungry for everything the U.K. had to offer.  The Veep label had already issued a Duffy Power 45 of "Where Am I/I Don't Care"  in November 1964 and his next was issued on June of '65 on the Jamie label where his name had curiously been altered to "Jamie Power" on the label. Even more curious is the fact that neither side of this 45 saw a U.K. release!

The A-side "She Don't Know" is a hard edged mid tempo r&b tune with some strong belting from Power and a musical backing that falls somewhere between The Soul Agents and The Pretty Things.

The B-side "Love's Gonna Go" is a bluesy ballad that would not sound at all out of place on a Paul Jone's era Manfred Mann LP with some mean harp blowing alongside Duffy's powerful pipes.  His follow up on the label (also using the Jamie Power name) is chronicled here.

Duffy with a jazz cigarette.

Both sides have been collected on the amazing double CD on RPM chronicling Duffy's 60's r&b output "Leapers And Sleepers", a must for any fans of mod/jazzy British 60's r&b.

Hear "She Don't Know":

Hear "Love's Gonna Go":

Friday, May 8, 2020

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers

CLIFF BENNETT AND THE REBEL ROUSERS-Three Rooms With Running Water/If Only You'd Reply US Amy 930 1965

British r&b belter Cliff Bennett with his backing band The Rebel Rousers cut a host of records in the U.K., but strangely only four of his singles were released in the U.S. (on foir different labels no less!). Today's subject, a cover of H.B. Barnum's soul stormer from 1964, was his 9th British single, It was issued in the U.K. in April 1965 (Parlophone R 5259) and released here in July. It was his third U.S. release.

Bennett's version of "Three Rooms With Running Water" actually surpasses the original in my book.  His voice is far more powerful and the musical backing is far more hard hitting, especially the over the top horn solo (the original has a string section during the solo part) and Bennett's insane scream on top of it! His incredibly soulful tones (and a powerful brass section) make it an amazing track.

The B-side "If Only You'd Reply" (an original penned by Bennett) has some groovy twangy guitars and powerful brass blasts but tune wise it's fairly pedestrian and not terribly interesting. Cliff's final single in the US a cover of The Beatles "Got To Get You Into My Life" (ABC 45-10842 August 1966) . The UK version was discussed earlier here.

Both tunes are available on a multitude Cliff Bennett compilation CD's the best being "Into Our Lives: EMI Years 1961-1969".

Hear "Three Rooms With Running Water":

Hear "If Only You'd Reply":

Friday, May 1, 2020

Island Records Ska Part Two

1. JUSTIN HINDS AND THE DOMINOES-"Bother Ration" WI 171 1965
Justin Hind's second release for Island was this single, released after one on the famous Ska Beat label. "Bother Ration" aka "Botheration" (which Webster's defines as "the state of being irritated or annoyed") is a tune with call and response vocals that moves along with a nice uptempo beat thats a far cry from the ska boogie sound that was now decidedly passe.

Like bassist Byron Lee, trombonist Carlos Malcolm ran the gamut of Jamaican music styles performing mento, calypso and ultimately ska whilst simultaneously making recordings in all of these genres. His only ska recording for the Island label was this kitschy, brassy ska cover of the theme tune to the U.S. western TV show "Bonanza" which was subsequently reissued by Trojan on three separate occasions over the next four decades.

3. SHENLEY DUFFUS-"Rukumbine" WI 186 1965
"Rukumbine" like "Bother Ration" is a Jamaican slang term. It is stated that it originally referred to combining ingredients to make a stew but was also a double entendre for copulation! The track is a slower number with a slight mid tempo ska boogie shuffle. It was Shenley's 8th single for the label and was previously done by Carlos Malcolm in '64 on the Jamaican Son label .

4. DON DRUMMOND-"Man In The Street" WI 208 1965
Skatalites trombonist Don Drummond is best known sadly for his short and tragic life (read more about the circumstances here). Drummond cut singles in the U.K. for Blue Beat, R&B, Black Swan and Ska Beat in addition to Island where he released his epic "Man In The Street". From it's razor sharp trombone intro it's instantly recognizable and along with The Skatalites "Guns Of Navarone" is probably one of the most famous ska instrumentals of all time.

5. ROLAND ALPHONOSO-"El Pussycat" WI 217 1965
Skatalites sax player Roland Alphonso (also credited as Roland Al) had singles released in Britain on Rio, Ska Beat, R&B, Blue Beat and Island where he cut this ska'd version of Mongo Santamaria's latin groove "El Pussycat" powered by a selection of incredibly tight horn players with each player soloing in a perfect mash up of jazz meets ska.

6. OWEN GREY-"Shook Shimmy And Shake" WI 252 1965
Okay we're stretching this one a bit as it's technically NOT a ska number. Owen Gray, like just about everyone else in this list cut ska sides for U.K. releases for Rio, Blue Beat, Starlite, Dice etc and several on Island. And like many other Jamaican artists (Jimmy Cliff, Jackie Edwards etc) he also recorded non-ska material.  This 1965 single is distinctly r&b but the horns have a distinct ska flavor to them that makes for an excellent combination. The track was later cut in 1967 for the label by the mod/r&b instrumental combo Wynder K. Frog.

7. THE WAILERS-"Put It On" WI 268 1966
Bob Marley and Co.'s Wailers bounced between Doctor Bird, Ska Beat and Island in the U.K. in 1965-1966. This Coxsone Dodd produced 45 is an uptempo number with high falsetto vocals at the intro that melodically owes a great deal to The Drifter's "Sweets For My Sweets" . The band's brilliant three part harmonies carry the water on this one. Curiously both U.K. copies I own of this are of inferior sound quality. Was this a mastering issue???

8. THE GAYLADS-"Message To My Girl" WI 291 1966
"Message To My Girl" is a cheeky re-write of Burt Bacharach's "Message To Michael" (the band would later transform The Four Top's "It's The Same Old Song" into "Stop Making Love" on their next release). This is the B-side of the weak "You Never Leave Him", it's backed by some steady horn blowing and it chugs along nicely with a mid tempo boogie rhythm while the band croon like ska's answer to The Impressions.

The "rude boy" topic in ska could take up an entire piece in itself. This 1966 single by Desmond Baker and the Claredonians was the only release known as The Claredonians (who had previously cut the storming "Rudie Bam Bam" for the Rio label). It's a mid tempo tune that's rather primitive in it's simple recording with a social observation/message about the perils of being a rude boy, a frequent theme in the genre.

10. ROY RICHARDS-"South Vietnam" WI 3000 1966
Starting with horns blowing "Charge" before a shout of "Attention!" the number lumbers into a harmonica led instrumental track including with "Taps" over the top of your basic mid tempo ska beat. It's a curious number that's fairly rudimentary (listen for the bassist flub a note about 2:04 in) but interesting in it's use as a harmonica as the lead instrument!