Monday, October 25, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Zombies "Indication"


THE ZOMBIES-Indication/How We Were Before US Parrot 45 PAR 3004 1966

Despite the fact that they were far bigger in the US than at home in the U.K. beat quintet The Zombies had fallen on hard times, commercially, by the time Parrot issued their eighth and final American single for the label, "Indication" in July of '66 (it was issued in the U.K. at the same time as Decca F 12426). Unfortunately the American single version of "Indication" is edited (more on that in a bit). Both countries featured "How We Were Before" on the flip side and the single failed to chart in both places. It does however, remain one of their most sought after releases. 

"Indication" is probably one of the most progressive Parrot/Decca era songs with it's raga feel to the guitar from Paul Atkinson sounding almost ratty and it's interplay with Rod Argent's jazzy arpeggios on his electric piano. It's frantic, different and extremely enjoyable. As the number winds down Argent begins ad libbing all over the place as the vocals follow the melody through an array of changes. The vocal improvisations and Atkinson's repetitive guitar licks make it sound "way out" (almost possibly "raga") and at odds with anything they ever did, but not too way out. BUT unfortunately the US version here hacks most of that ending off, clocking it at 2:07, the original UK mix is 3:00!! According to the liner notes of the "Zombie Heaven" box set Atkinson despised it and was not happy with it!

"How We Were Before" is a decent track but it sounds incredibly dated by 1966, like a wayward step cousin of "Leave Me Be" or "I Must Move" with it's gentle acoustic guitar and multi layers of harmonies (the bongos are a nice touch too). It's not unlistenable, but it's not something I find myself going back to repeatedly. It's "old" sound is because it was cut back in July of 1965 and was no doubt dug up because a B-side was needed to facilitate the single's release.

Both tracks are on a host of compilations put out by Big Beat over the past two decades. 

Hear Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent discuss "Indication" here.

"Hear Indication (unedited version)":

Hear "How We Were Before":

Monday, October 18, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Paul & Barry Ryan


PAUL AND BARRY RYAN-Have Pity On The Boy/There You Go U.S. MGM K13472 1966

British twins Paul and Barry Ryan were all but nobodies in the U.S. but that didn't stop MGM from issuing eight of their ten U.K. singles here (sadly to no avail).

"Have Pity On The Boy" b/w "There You Go" was their second U.K. single (Decca F 12319 January 1966). It was issued here a month later. I have always preferred the B-side so I decided to picture it here. Both sides were penned by Les Reed and Barry Mason, who composed the bulk of their material. 

"Have Pity On The Boy" is fairly indicative of most of their stuff: light weight, nondescript, over produced and heavy on the fluff. It's not unlistenable to nothing I want to play repeatedly.

1967 portrait by Gered Mankowitz

For my money (and why I own this 45) the strongest track of the two is "There You Go". It was my introduction to the band back in the mid 80's on one of See For Mile's "Sixties Lost And Found" compilation LP's. It's powered by some heavy brass and layers of session men, though instead of sounding schmaltzy to me it sounds really rocking. There's something about it that makes me think it would be from a Swingin' London Pathe newsreel, with the horns and frantic energy showing dollybirds and hip cats strolling around.

Both sides are available on a Paul & Barry CD collection "Have Pity On The Boys". "There you Go" was also on Decca/Deram's amazing CD compilation "The Mod Scene". 

Hear "Have Pity On The Boy":

Hear "There You Go":

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Them- "Half As Much"

THEM-Half As Much/Gonna Dress In Black U.S. Parrot 45-9784 1965

Such was the faith in Belfast, Nortrhern Ireland's Them that their U.S. label Parrot issued eight of their nine U.K. Decca 45's here and like fellow Parrot/Decca label mates The Zombies the imprint continued to plug on long after their hits dried up.

"Half As Much" (issued in the U.K. as "It Won't Hurt Half As Much") was the band's fifth U.K. single (Decca F 12215 August 1965), it was simultaneously released here where it was their fourth 45. It failed to chart in either country unfortunately. Penned by Bang records supremo Bert Berns (who also produced it in addition to the same for their previous number "Here Comes the Night", a #2 hit in the U.K. and #24 in the U.S. respectively).

"Half As Much" is fairly mundane, I've always been amused by Van Morrison's British accent on "little" in the track, it's certainly not the band's worst track, but not among their best either. It was later recorded by Garnet Mimms (as a B-side in 1966). 

For me the gold is on the flip, "I'm Gonna Dress In Black". Led by an organ it's gritty and almost sleazy. I always get a kick out of hearing Van Morrison sing about "way up in the hills in Georgia" with conviction that makes you believe he really has been there! The organ reminds me of The Animals and adds to the perfect, bluesy/dirge feel to it all!

Both sides appeared on the hodge podge final Them LP "Them Again" (1966) and are also available on the amazing comprehensive three CD set "The Story Of Them Featuring Van Morrison".  

Hear "Half As Much":

Hear "I'm Gonna Dress In Black":

Monday, October 4, 2021

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


THE MONTANAS-Round About/Heaven Help You US Independence IND-93 1969

U.K. beat group The Montanas had a string of records released in the U.K. all under the steady guiding hand of producer Tony Hatch (eight including today's subject) who more times than often foist his compositions on them. "Round About" (titled "Roundabout" back home in England where it was issued as Pye 7N 17697 in February of 1969) was the band's eighth U.S. single where it was issued simultaneously with it's U.K. cousin but in typical American fashion some things are odd. "Roundabout" is relegated to the B-side while a track not released in the U.K. called "Heaven Help You" is given the honors on Side A.  The U.K. issue of "Round About" featured a track called "Mystery" on the flip. 

"Heaven Help You" is a dreadful track with lyrics about a guy marrying a loose woman and being warned off on her by the vicar with lots of harmonies that sound like a band destined to be trapped in the cabaret circuit (truth is possibly stranger than fiction in this case).

The real gold is in "Round About". Buried in a heavy groove and the band's multitude of harmonies it's a chunky powerful number with an infectious arrangement that drops into mild paced and sparse arrangements during the verse and gets heavy on the chorus with some Ace Kefford style bass lines, frantic drumming, organ and a powerful array of voices. Amazing! The lyrics concern a woman who loves, uses and then leaves men "new love everyday, but each one has to pay, she's sorry but that's just the only way..".

Both sides are available on The Montana's CD anthology "You've Got To Be Loved". 

Hear "Heaven Help You":

Hear "Round About":