Thursday, February 25, 2021

Anorak Thing

Just a reminder kids that Anorak Thing is on Instragram where we do two or three posts daily of a host of groovy records, clothes, books and occasionally, beer. 

From The Pen Of Cat Stevens: 10 60's Cat Stevens Covers

Here's ten tracks written by Cat Stevens and performed by other artists in the Sixties, many were never recorded by him, all tracks are 45's unless otherwise indicated! All images utilized courtesy of are credited where used. Enjoy:

1. MIKE VICKERS-"Matthew And Son" U.K. LP track "I Wish I Was A Group Again" Columbia SCX 6180 1967

Ex Manfred Mann multi-instrumentalist Mike Vickers cut this version of Cat's December '66 U.K. hit on his debut solo LP "I Wish I Were A Group Again". In an arrangement that would make the Mike Flowers Pop's proud it's a kitschy mix of male/female chorus vocalists, marimbas, brass, plucked piano strings etc.

2. DOUBLE FEATURE-"Baby Get Your Head Screwed On" U.S. Deram 45-85004 1967/U.K. Deram DM 115 1967

Duo the Double Feature recorded a cover of "Baby Get Your Head Screwed On" as their debut single for Deram (Cat's version would be released at the same time as a track on his debut LP "Matthew And Son", also on Deram). Theirs is far more powerful as it's cloaked in twangy guitars, brass, sawing strings, congas and the kitchen sink with arranging by Alan Tew.

Image c/o

3. DAVID GARRICK-"I've Found A Love" U.K. Piccadilly 7N 35371 1967

Pretty boy crooner David Garrick cut this number from Cat's first LP as his fifth single for Piccadilly following his U.K. hit "Dear Mrs. Applebee". It's mundane and nothing special with the full on treatment (horns, strings, thundering drums etc) that does nothing to really make this number anything remarkable.

Image c/o

4. JACKIE TRENT-"Humming Bird" U.K. Pye 7N 17286/U.S. Warner Brothers 7022 1967

Jackie Trent also plumbed Cat's debut long player, coming up with this track which she cut as her 13th single for Pye. It's total M.O.R. boredom swathed in strings produced by her main squeeze Tony Hatch with arrangement by Johnny Harris. Next.

5. PAUL & BARRY RYAN-"Keep It Out Of Sight" U.K. Decca F 12567 1967/U.S. MGM 13719 1967

Singing brothers Paul and Barry got a crack at this track that Cat himself never released and issued it as their 7th single on Decca. Orchestrated by Alan Tew it's arrangement is nothing short of amazing with freaky descending strings, horns and marimbas all wrapped up in a nice little pop psych package and to my ears is the best thing they ever did.

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6. THE KOOBAS-"The First Cut Is The Deepest" U.K. Columbia DB 8419 1968/U.S. Capitol 2416 1969

Everyone and their brother cut this track that Cat ultimately released as an LP track of his second album "New Masters".  P.P. Arnold had the first stab at it scoring a minor U.K. hit with it in '67 but it's The Koobas 1968 reading that's my favorite. Laden in searing vibrato guitar and a heaviness that would do Vanilla Fudge proud it's unexpected use of vibes along with blistering guitar licks, strings and harmonies galore make it amazing, sadly for the Koobas it was not a hit.

Image c/o

7. LYNNE RANDELL-"I Love My Dog" U.S. Capitol 2683 1969

Liverpool born but reared in Australia, singer Lynne Randell cut a host of records Downunder before popping over to New York to cut her legendary "Stranger In Your Arms". She went on to cut a slew of other singles in the U.S. (most of which, including a version of "Wasn't It You", made famous by The Action, were only issued in the States). Her stab at Cat's "I Love My Dog" was her final single recorded in America. It's lightweight, like it was tailored for some late 60's variety show and I could easily imagine Lulu cutting it in a similar fashion and barely deviates from the original making it colorless and bland.

8. THE TREMELOES-"Here Comes My Baby" U.K. CBS 202519 1967/U.S. Epic 5-10139 1967

The Tremeloes rollicking version of this track found on Cat's debut LP was a massive success placing at #4 and #13 in the U.K. and U.S. respectively. It's upbeat, cheeky and infectious and possibly one of the only pop hits to have a whistling solo (multitracked by more than one whistler) and yes, a cowbell and always seems to put me in a good mood. Check out this live performance on German TV's "Beat Beat Beat" show where they attempt to whistle in harmony. 

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9. WAYNE THOMAS-"I've Never Known A Lady" U.S. Coral 62521 1967/U.K. Coral Q-72491 1967

I've no idea where this singer hails from but it was recorded in the U.K., it's a track that Cat never cut himself was issued in both the U.S. and the U.K. It's a mellow ballad from a baritone voiced crooner with strings, flutes et al. Total MOR crooner stuff here and dreadful at that! Next!

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10. SASHA CARO-"Molotov Molotov" U.K. Decca F 12744 1968

Here's another one for the obscurity file. Both sides of this (with the cleverly titled "Never Play A B Side" on the flip) were penned, arranged AND produced by Cat. On "Molotov Molotov" he does the over the top spoken monologue at the beginning in a faux Eastern European accent (he can audibly be heard singing in the chorus as well). The number is a strange pop sike ditty that can best be described as a "pop psych drinking song" (there I've gone and created a new sub genre there!). The flip is a freaky little dirge with tongue and cheek lyrics and some quirky musical backing (blistering guitars etc).

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Herd: From The Underworld


THE HERD-From The Underworld/Sweet William US Fontana F-1602 1967

Peter Frampton's four piece band The Herd released six singles in the U.K. on Fontana, four of which were issued in the US on Fontana. Today's subject was his  second 45 for the label both here and in the U.K. (as TF 856 in the UK in August 1967 and here in October). It reached # 6 in England, but like all of their releases here, failed to chart.

Penned by songwriters Alan Blaikley and Ken Howard, they wrote a number of cuts for the Herd as well as most of the output by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. They are miscredited as "H. Blaikley " on this release, a common error that frequent saw them paired as "Howard Blaikley" on several releases. 

"From The Underworld" was my introduction to the band on a cassette tape comp made by the legendary Ron Rimsite in 1985. It begins with the sound of church bells followed by a neo classical piano melody and a burst of distorted guitar and sublime choral voices giving it a regal feel. Frampton's double tracked lead vocals are accompanied by sawing strings and later multiple layers of horns giving it a completely over the top, opulent feel that's amazing and rich. One wonders how the hell the band (guitar, bass, organ, drums) managed to pull this off live!?!

The flip, "Sweet William" was penned by Frampton and keyboard player Andy Bown.  Lead by some jazzy B-3 Hammond it's mildly entertaining but something about it comes off as disposable and run of the mill to me.

Both sides are available on a host of Fontana CD collections of the band's slim discography (six singles, one LP). 

Hear "From The Underworld":

Hear "Sweet William":

Thursday, February 11, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Cops N' Robbers Two

THE COPS N' ROBBERS-It's All Over Now Baby Blue/I Found Out U.S. Coral 62473 1965

We first profiled Watford, England's Cops N' Robbers first U.S. release here. Our subject today is their third and final U.S. release on the Coral label (following the previous single, a bizarre choice of covering "I Could Have Danced All Night Long" on the label in August of 1965).

"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" b/w "I Found Out" was first released in the U.K. in August 1965 as Pye 7N 15928. It was issued here in December.

"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" was of course penned by Bob Dylan and released on his March 1965 LP "Bringing It All Back Home". Cops N' Robbers hold the distinction of being the first British band to release a cover of it and possibly the first non folk artist to cover it as well!

When stacked before Them's 1966 version (and The Chocolate Watchband version that followed it) it might pale because it's certainly not as strong as either subsequent version. Backed by a somber organ and extremely low volume bass/drums/guitar it's reminiscent of The Artwoods in one of their moodier moments (especially during the organ solo). That said it's a decent interpretation.

Photo by John Ricks c/o Sam Knee

The flip, "I Found Out", is moody little number that takes a few listens to appreciate. The lead vocalist reminds me of Dave Berry on it and again their tranquil organ really cinches the track for them. It was written by band member's Brian "Smudger" Smith and Terry Fox (responsible for "You'll Never Do It Baby", covered by The Pretty Things on their LP "Get The Picture" and by Cops N' Robbers on a rare French E.P.). 

As of yet there has yet to be a legit Cops N' Robbers compilation released.

Hear "It's All Over Now Baby Blue":

 Hear "I Found Out":

Thursday, February 4, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: John Mayall

JOHN MAYALL-Parchman Farm/Key To Love US London 45-20016 1966

John Mayall's debut U.S. single was launched in November 1966 with two cuts from his legendary "Blues Breakers" album (U.S. release London PLS-3). It was his fifth single in the U.K. where it was released in September 1966 as Decca F 12490 and credited to "John Mayall" on the A-side and "John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers" on Side B (the U.S. pressing fails to credit the Bluesbreakers on Side B).

Willie Dixon's famous "Parchman Farm" was a staple of every self respecting British 60's r&b band's set, often via Mose Allison's 1958 recording. It was covered in Britain by Duffy Power, Georgie Fame, The Nashville Teens, Peter Jay and The Jaywalkers and Manfred Mann in a live BBC session before Mayall's version was released. Mayall's version is primarily driven by his 100mph harp blowing and vocals with just minimal backing by drummer Hughie Flint keeping a steady, but unobtrusive beat. When I saw Mayall in 2014 he performed the track solo with just his voice and harp at the same breakneck speed, nothing short of a mean accomplishment for a man of 80 years old at the time!

The flip side "Key To Love", a John Mayall original is another 100 mph tour de force. It's fattened up by the horn section of Alan Skidmore on saxophone and Dennis Healy on trumpet, and then of course there's Eric Clapton's blistering solo. It's breakneck, upbeat delivery is at odds with the majority of tracks on the "Blues Breakers" album but what a track!!

Both sides of course are available on the above mentioned "Blues Breakers" LP. 

Hear "Parchman Farm":

Hear "Key To Love":