Thursday, June 24, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Herd's U.S. Debut


THE HERD-I Can Fly/Understand Me U.S. Fontana F-1588 1967

Upon joining The Herd, Peter Frampton recorded five singles with them during his short tenure with the band. His debut single with them, "I Can Fly",  was issued in the U.K. in April 1967 as Fontana TF 819. It was released in the U.S. three months later but substituted a tune called "Understand Me" in place of "Diary Of A Narcissist" (which was also the flip side in Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands). The single surprisingly flopped in the U.K., as it did in the U.S., fortunately for them their next three singles all made the U.K. Top 20. 

"I Can Fly", like many of the band's singles tracks was written by Howard Blaikley. It's a quirky little number that starts off with a jarring burst of a feed back drenched power chord and a chorus of angelic vocals. With a catchy chorus it sticks in one's brain quite easily. Frampton's vocals sound plaintive and the band's harmonies and the addition of flute in addition to their usual guitar/bass/keyboards/drums formula adds something interesting to the tune. It all reaches a crescendo with the mantra like chorus of  "I can fly" repeated over and over like a mantra as Frampton bashes away distorted power chords until the song fades out with spooky ivory tinkling and restrained guitar feedback. Brilliant!

"Understand Me" is a unique track as it was not issued anywhere else in the world on a 45 outside of the U.S. (it also appeared on the band's U.S. LP "Lookin' Thru You" (Fontana SRF-67579 1968). What strikes me as odd is to my ears it's one of the best tracks they ever did. Powered by some rumbling bass, Hammond/piano and a punchy chorus it has a soulful feel to it and deserves repeated playing and would have clearly made a suitable A-side! The high demand for this 45 is no doubt a validation of that!

The U.S. outlet of Fontana issued four of the next five U.K. Herd singles, but without an ounce of chart success

Both sides are available on the comprehensive Herd CD collection put out by Repertoire "Complete Herd" as well as their 1968 U.S. LP "Lookin' Thru You". 

Hear "I Can Fly":


Hear "Understand Me":

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Del Shannon In England 1967

DEL SHANNON-Mind Over Matter/Led Along U.K. Liberty LIB 10277 1967

Stone's manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham was never a man to shun lofty ambitions, and when he founded his independent label Immediate in 1965 with partner Tony Calder he always had an eye on using the label to help further the careers of not just up and coming British artists but his American heroes too, witness his licensing of the McCoy's "Hang On Sloopy" as the label's debut release (IM 001 August 1965 or Mark Murphy's U.K. only LP "Who Can I Turn To" ( IMLP  004 1966). With that in mind he made overtures to bring American singer Del Shannon over to record an entire LP. The project was to be titled "Home And Away" and no expense was spared with in house songwriters Andrew Rose and David Skinner (also known collectively, as the Immediate records duo Twice as Much) and Billy Nicholls supplying tunes to augment some of Shannon's own compositions. The sessions were held at London's Olympic studios in February 1967 with the cream of the crop participating including Steve Marriott, Kenny Jones, P.P. Arnold, Billy Nicholls, John Paul Jones, Twice As Much, Andy White and Nicky Hopkins among them adding musical backing and vocals. Production was handled by Oldham with arranging done by Art Greenslade. Then it all fell apart with financial mismanagement that left the LP, largely, unreleased until 1978 (in the U.K. as "And The Music Plays On" Sunset Records SLS 50412).

Some of the tracks from the sessions did squeak out as singles. Today's subject issued in the U.K. on Liberty (credited as "An Immediate Records production") in June of 1967 was among them. "Mind Over Matter" is to my ears, the best track of the entire LP so it was a perfect logical choice for a single. It's lushly orchestrated with strings, woodwinds and trumpet (thanks to the deft hand or Art Greenslade, best known for orchestrating Chris Farlowe's #1 smash of The Stone's "Out Of Time") that musically remind me of an upbeat Walker Brothers type thing.

Del In London at the time of the recording of "Home And Away". 

The flip, "Led Along" was penned by Immediate records wunderkid Billy Nicholls and was not recorded by him on his criminally rare Immediate LP "Would You Believe".  It's not as strong as anything on Nicholl's LP (Shannon also recorded Nicholl's "Come Again" as "Cut And Come Again" and another tune Nicholls did not release "Friendly With You" for "Home And Away"). "Led Along" has distinct "Pet Sounds" influences in it's use of high backing vocals and the chord charges. Del's vocals are in two part harmony with an interesting backing of strings, banjo and ivory tinkling. It's not the best song on the LP but worth a spin for the over the top arrangements once again courtesy of Art Greenslade. 

Both sides are available on various CD re-issues of "Home And Away". 

Hear "Mind Over Matter":

Hear "Led Along":

Thursday, June 10, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Transatlantics Cover The Fab Four


THE TRANSATLANTICS-Run For Your Life/Run For Your Life US Jubilee 45-5529 1966

Britain's Transatlantics cut two singles in the U.K. on Fontana before switching over to King to release this Fab Four "Help" LP track as a single in March 1966 (as King KG 1033). Both previous singles were issued here on the Jubilee label as was this release a month later than it's U.K. cousin, though oddly only as a double sided promo (ditching the British flip side ""It's All Over"). 

Their version of "Run For Your Life" is a fairly carbon copy of the original though the opening intro has slight differences. As far as Beatles covers go in my estimation there's only three ways you can do it, badly, note for note or better by adding your own touches. This falls firmly in the middle safe ground of note for note. For Fab Four cover version completists only!

Dutch 45 sleeve, c/o

To my knowledge it has not been comped or reissued anywhere,

Hear "Run For Your Life":

Hear a 1966 BBC session of The Transatlantics featuring "Run For Your Life":

Thursday, June 3, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Kippington Lodge And The Roots Of Brinsley Schwarz


KIPPINGTON LODGE-Rumors/And She Cried US Capitol 2236 1968

Kippington Lodge are best known in the annals of rock n' roll history as the musical starting place of British musician's Brinsley Schwarz, Bob Andrews and  Nick Lowe! The band released five singles in the U.K. on Parlophone through their brief career 1967-1969. Today's specimen was their second U.K. single (Parlophone R 5677 March 1968) and their sole U.S. release, being issued here in July of '68 and the first to feature Nick Lowe (tthough not technically, more on that later). Discovered by British based German producer Mark Wirtz (best known for his work with Tomorrow) the band released a host of orchestrated pop-psych ditties but despite Wirtz's magic touch they were destined to remain in obscurity for their existence.

Sadly the band did not play on either side of this release as Wirtz utilized session musicians (among them were bassist Herbie Flowers, guitarist Big Jim Sullivan and vocalists The Ivy League)  with Brinsley Schwarz singing lead on both sides. "Rumors" was penned by Wirtz using a pseudonym but the flip, "And She Cried" (the band's original choice for the A-side) was penned by Brinsley Schwarz. 

"Rumors", is a cheeky/cheery pop song led by Schwarz's pop friendly vocals that sounds not unlike the band's previous single, a cover of Tomorrow's "Shy Boy" with harmonies, poppy/regal trumpet tooting away and a bouncy feel to it at!

"And She Cried" should have been the A-side. With lushly orchestrated strings, vibes and again some regal brass it's a perfect three minute pop-psych masterpiece. Like the A-side it benefits from Wirtz's stellar production (Tomorrow's lead singer Keith West once described him as "the German Tony Hatch") and despite the fact that it's just Schwarz and session musicians it's nothing short of a masterpiece. 

With Schwarz, Andrews and Lowe gaining fame as Brinsley Schwarz EMI put out a 7" E.P. in November 1978 containing both the band's debut singles (alongside similar EP's containing early material by David Bowie, The Paramounts and Simon Dupree and the Big Sound).  In 2011 RPM put out a CD collection "Kippington Lodge-Shy Boy: The Complete Recordings 1967-1969" which contains all five singles, unreleased tracks and BBC session material. 

Hear "Rumors":

Hear "And She Cried":