Friday, July 31, 2020

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Tony Rivers & The Castaways

TONY RIVERS AND THE CASTAWAYS-I Love The Way You Walk/I Love You US Constellation C-128 1964

East London beat quintet (and later a sextet) Tony Rivers and the Castaways are best known for being Britain's biggest Beach Boys aficionados and having an incredible knack for perfect harmonies. But before the West Coast sounds bug bit them they were a run of the mill beat group. Their second British single was February '64's "I Love the Way You Walk" b/w "I Love You" issued on Columbia as DB 7224. Curiously it got a U.S. release on the predominantly soul/r&b Constellation in June, where it would be the band's only U.S. release.

"I Love The Way You Walk" is an unremarkable beat group rip off of John Lee Hooker's "Dimples".  It's a mid tempo beat number with some high Jan & Dean style falsettos and and tight harmonies, but it's fairly pedestrian stuff, a perfect instance of a great group cutting a mediocre track.

The real gem on this seven inch is the B-side (hence my picturing it here instead of the A-side) "I Love You". It's a powerful beat ballad with an angst ridden feel, superb harmonies, a mid tempo punch and some excellent chord/key changes.

Both sides were collected on RPM's "Tony Rivers Collection Volume 1 Castaways: The Complete Studio Recordings 1963-1967".

Hear "I Love You":

Hear "I Love The Way You Walk":

Friday, July 24, 2020

Only In America! 10 U.S. Only Pressings Of U.K. 60's 45's

When The Beatles hit the United States airwaves the floodgates were opened and anything British was fair game for the U.S. record buying public. What followed was a deluge of off the wall artists who suddenly had records being released in America. In many cases some of these were never issued in the British Isles. As part one of a four part series here are ten of those releases.

1. THE MOMENTS-"You Really Got Me" World Artists 1031 1964
Steve Marriott's pre-Small Faces band the Moments recorded a few tracks in 1964, two of which were oddly only issued as a 45 in the US. Their cover of "You Really Got Me" was released literally within days of The Kink's versions American debut. Back in 1985 in my zine "Smashed Blocked", I compared it to Phil Daniel's bath house acapella version in "Quadrophenia", which though a bit unfair isn't that far off the mark either. For Small Faces completists only! Of note the flip "Money Money" has a musical backing track that was used in the U.K. release of the tune by Hamilton King (His Masters Voice POP 1356) that was issued three months later.

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2. PINK FLOYD-"Flaming" Tower 3786 1967
Here's a weird US only 45 issue of two tracks ("The Gnome' was on the flip) from their British "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" LP that was released in conjunction with their brief and ill fated November 1967 US tour. "Flaming" had been trimmed from their US pressing of their debut LP (which also lost "Bike" and "Astronomy Domine" but added "See Emily Play"). Despite frequent being touted as a different mix the differences are very slight, with the 45 utilizing the U.K. mono mix, which although slightly different from the later US stereo mix is hardly an alternate take as many have suggested.

3. THE IDLE RACE-"Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree" Liberty 55997 1967
The Idle Race's debut release (after morphing from Brum beat group The Nightriders) was this September 1967 U.S. 45 written by Roy Wood of The Move. The latter's version was included on the B-side of their August 1967 U.K. smash "Flowers In The Rain" (and issued here both sides intact in October as A&M 884). Curiously The Idle Race version was not issued in the U.K. owing to the believe that it would not chart owing to it's previous release by The Move. It differs considerably from their recording eschewing the string quartet backing of the original and considerably more upbeat and "rocked out" and of course features Jeff Lynne's unmistakable voice.

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4. THE UNDERTAKERS-"I Fell In Love (For The Very First Time)" Black Watch BW 5545 1965
This US only release by the Liverpool Jackie Lomax led quintet The Undertakers ranks as one of the rarest British Invasion 45's in the United States with copies going for nearly $1,000 in E-bay bidding wars. "I Fell In Love (For The Very First Time)" is a primordial freakbeat number with some catchy sax/fuzz guitar interplay and a powerful recurring riff, easily the best and toughest tune by the band. It was recorded at Talentmaster's Studio in NYC after the band were brought over by producer Bob Gallo and they broke up shortly after recording it (The Pete Best Combo were also brought over by Gallo and recorded there as well).

5. THE FORTUNES-"Fire Brigade" United Artists UA 50211 1968
This is yet another U.S. pressing of a Move cover and a non-U.K. release, though this time The Move's versions of the track in question were issued in both the US and UK. The Move's US pressing of "Fire Brigade" was released in February, the same month as this cover, yet another instance of US record companies attempting to out do an original pressing with a rival version. Though not remotely a patch on the original, this recording is of interest purely for it's kitsch value as it's far too lightweight for my liking. It was also issued in Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.

6. THE FRUIT MACHINE-"The Wall" American Music Makers AMM-0021 1969
Late 60's U.K. act The Fruit Machine cut two singles for the British label Spark, neither of which were released here but this January 1969 release (also issued as a double sided promo) was only to be found in America. "The Wall" was first unearthed by Greg Shaw on his "Electric Sugar Cube Flashback" series and is a pop psych dirge of sorts featuring muted trumpets, woodwinds and glockenspiel amid a psychedelic wash known as "phasing". Incidentally one of our readers pointed out that "The Wall" is a cover of a track recorded and released the previous year by The Naked Truth (Jubille 45-5662).

7. JAMIE POWER-"She Don't Know" Jamie 1299 1965
British r&b singer Duffy Power had two releases on the U.S. label Jamie credited to "Jamie Power" for some bizarre reason. "She Don't Know" was the first of the two and not released anywhere else in the world. It's a mid tempo r&b track with strong vocals and a musical backing that falls somewhere between The Soul Agents and The Pretty Things. It's flip-side "Loves Gonna Go", was utilized again on his next Jamie single "There's No Living Without Your Loving".

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8. THE ANDREW OLDHAM ORCHESTRA-"I Get Around" Parrot 45-9745 1965
Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham vacillated between wanting to be Phil Spector or George Martin, and like the latter he cut a slew of fairly innocuous  instrumental versions of his charge's tracks along with contemporary pop covers. Often these would contain voices just singing the song title or chorus but heavy on the instrumentation, sometimes with interesting results and always using the cream of British session players. This Beach Boys cover is no different from that formula but its amazing thanks to some vicious fuzz guitar, silly backing vocals and seriously murky bass. An entire U.S. only LP (containing both sides of this single) was also released called "East Meets West" of Beach Boys and Four Seasons covers.

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9. CARL WAYNE & THE VIKINGS-"My Girl" ABC-Paramount 45-10752 1965
With two U.K. single releases on the Pye label future Move lead vocalist Carl Wayne and his backing group The Vikings final release (issued after the Move had actually formed) was this U.S. only Motown track. As Motor City covers go it's fairly competent reading of The Temp's "My Girl" with a musical backing not unlike the Searchers and decent vocal harmony (no surprise as his band mates Chris "Ace" Kefford-bass and Bev Bevan-drums would later apply the same talents in The Move).

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10. DAVE CURTISS & THE TREMORS-"Que Sera Sera" Karate 45-514 1965
Beat merchants Dave Curtiss and The Tremors released three singles in the UK on Phillips in '63-'64 and released this odd ball U.S. only 45 twice in the U.S. (with sides reversed) in 1965. Their reading of "Que Sera Sera" massacres all others with some fuzz guitar and a trashy sound that would do The Milkshakes proud.

Friday, July 17, 2020

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Freddie & The Dreamers Fifteen Minutes In America

FREDDIE AND THE DREAMERS-A Little You/Things I'd Like To Say US Mercury 72462 1965

We already pilloried former milkman Freddie and his backing band The Dreamers in an earlier post so let's suffice to say that almost a year or two after his fifteen minutes were up in the UK new life was breathed into the corpse of this long dead group when the British Invasion was still going great guns here in the USA in '65. So much so that their recording career continued onward with this July 1965 release (that like it's predecessor "Do The Freddie" was not even issued in the UK).  "A Little You" was penned by Gordon Mills, a music mogul best known for introducing Tom Jones to the world (Jone's version of the cut appeared the following year on his "Atomic Jones" LP). It stands as one of the band's best tracks in my estimation as Freddie sings in a strong assured way not relying on that dippy few warble or idiotic giggling (and fattened up by double tracking). The musical backing is solid throughout with some strings sweetening it up.

Freddie rings the dairy to ask for his old job back.

The flip side "Things I'd Like To Say" musically is not bad but it's a god awful beat track that's not helped by Freddie's sappy voice. Next....

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

Hear "A Little You":

Hear "Things I'd Like To Say":

Friday, July 10, 2020

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Kitsch Sound Of Keith Mansfield

KEITH MANSFIELD & HIS ORCHESTRA-Soul Confusion/Boogaloo US Epic 5-10504 1969

The whole rediscovery of the "kitsch/easy"scene hit me like a ton of bricks in the mid 90's, thoroughly bored with what Brit Pop had become and always looking back I found myself grabbing every CD compilation of British 60's/70's easy/lounge/kitsch/music library sounds that I could lay my hands on. One name that seemed to pop up frequently on them was that of Keith Mansfield. In addition to being a man behind the scenes for loads of incidental "music library" tracks that were gracing lots of these CD comps he was also an arranger (best known for his work on Love Affair's "Everlasting Love" and Marmalade's "Reflections Of My Love" to name a few). Fast forward to many years later and lo and behold I discovered that one of my favorite tracks by him from the genre ("Boogaloo") was released as a single in the U.S. (and oddly nowhere else!). It took even more years for me to track down a copy as apparently there were only promo copies pressed.

With "Soul Confusion" on the A-side this single was issued in August 1969. "Soul Confusion" is a groovy instrumental brass and Hammond track.  It's funky organ has a feel of The Mohawks which leads me to suspect it's Alan Hawkshaw on organ. What sets this track apart from the Mohawks is the blistering fuzz guitar and the almost porn flick musical backing feel to it, sleazy and greasy, with the organ delightfully carrying most of the weight with brass parts that are more than reminiscent of Mansfield's "Powerhouse Pop".

But for me the real kick is on the flip, "Boogaloo". Starting off with a laid back groove of bass/guitar/drums and females voices softly crooning the title over and over until one by one the more prominent instruments begin falling in: flute, brass and eventually some more of that funky organ from the A-side shredding it before some groovy flute carries it to the fade out.  Magic!!

"Boogaloo" has cropped up on a host of bootleg compilations but to my knowledge neither side of this 45 has seen an appearance on any legit compilations!

Hear "Soul Confusion":

Hear "Boogaloo":

Friday, July 3, 2020

More Obscure U.K. 45's On U.S. Labels: The Graham Bond Organization

THE GRAHAM BOND ORGANIZATION-St. James Infirmary/Wade In The Water Ascot 2211 1966

Today's specimen is the first U.S. pressing of a Graham Bond single (and I believe the sole example of a U.S. Graham Bond Organization single).  "St. James Infirmary" was the A-side for the February 1966 release of Columbia DB 7838 back in the U.K. (where it was backed by "Soul Tango"). The band's line up at this juncture was Graham Bond (organ/vocals), Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax), Mike Falana (trumpet) and Ginger Baker (drums). The line up debuted on vinyl in February with the previously mentioned U.K. issue of "St. James Infirmary" and later recorded an instrumental under the moniker of The Who Orchestra called "Waltz For A Pig" in March of 1966 that was utilized by the Who as a B-side for "Substitute" . The results of this this entry's single were recorded in January 1966 and released here in the States in April.

"St. James Infirmary" is amazing and the G.B.O.'s version is probably my favorite interpretation of it. Bond wails like a bluesman possessed and sounds like he means every word he's singing as if he's in mourning.  Heckstall-Smith's sax and Mike Falana's trumpet are positively haunting turning the number into a mournful dirge and of course Ginger Baker's pounding drives it all along.

Graham Bond 1966

The version of "Wade In The Water"on this release is a completely different recording than it's U.K. cousin, January 1965's flip to the dreadful "Tammy" (Columbia DB 7471) that was also the version that was used on their debut LP "The Sound of '65". This new version was cut in January of 1966 minus Jack Bruce who was forced out by Ginger Baker (who had taken over the band's operations as Bond slipped further into heroin drenched ineptitude) in late 1965. Regardless of Bruce's absence it's still classic G.B.O. at their finest. Bond's "Phantom of the Opera" style intro on the B-3 kicks off one of their best instrumental tracks ever.  Every member of the band sweats blood on this, Bond is a wild man on the organ as Ginger Baker pounds the shit out of his kit doing his best Elvin Jones breaks while Dick Heckstall-Smith squeezes some bending notes out of his double sax parts and new member Mike Falana's trumpet adds to the revelry!

Both tracks would be the final G.B.O. single with Ginger Baker  as he would leave to form Cream in April/May of 1966. The G.B.O. would cut one more single one year later on the U.K. Page One label "You Gotta Have Love Babe" b/w "I Love You" (POP 014 February 1967).

Both tracks are featured as bonus tracks on the Repertoire CD reissue of the G.B.O's "There's A Bond Between Us" and on the essential "Wade In The Water" box set.

Hear "Wade In The Water":

Hear "St. James Infirmary":