Sunday, December 19, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Zombies 1969 A.D.

THE ZOMBIES-If It Don't Work Out/Don't Cry For Me US Date 2-1648 1969

 Such was the cynicism devoted to the quest for revenue at Date records following their March 1969 #1 U.S. smash with The Zombie's  "Time Of The Season" that they trawled the band's archives and came up with these two chestnuts for a June 1969 release that coupled "If It Don't Work Out" backed with "Don't Cry For Me" (both originally recorded in July 1965). Both tracks were also slated for their slapdash 1969 Date LP "R.I.P", which was cancelled and did not see the light of day until 2015 when it was released as it was intended in it's original running order. Of course like all other Date U.S. Zombies 45 releases besides "Time Of The Season" this failed to chart and as a result is much sought after.

"If It Don't Work Out" was first aired not by the Zombies but by Dusty Springfield who recorded it as an track on her October 1965 U.K. LP "Ev'rything's Coming Up Dusty". It was issued as a single in March 1966 by The West Five (U.K. HMV POP 1513) who titled it "But If It Don't Work Out" (and it has often been erroneously reported that the Zombies are playing on it). 

"If It Don't Work Out" is driven by Argent's piano (he wrote it as well) and would have made an amazing single in it's own right with a particularly strong vocal performance by Colin Blunstone and some cheery backing vocals. In December '68 Gus Dudgeon added strings/flute/etc and additional vocals to the existing '65 recording fattening it up for a single release.

Rod Argent

"Don't Cry For Me" is by far, in my opinion, the stronger of the two tracks. Why this languished in the vaults and wasn't issued as a single when it was first recorded is perplexing. It has a bite and sounds almost venomous with a vengeance, something of a polar opposite to most of the band's '65 fey "little boy lost/wounded" beat ballads that they were best known for. I will say that for me the '68 mix with added backing vocals by Argent/White is far superior to the sparse original recording.

Chris White

Versions of both the '65 and '68 mixes can be found on the essential "Zombie Heaven" box set and the '68 mixes are available on the LP/CD issue of "R.I.P".

Hear "If It Don't Work Out (1968 version with overdubs)":

Hear the undubbed original 1965 version of "If It Don't Work Out":

Hear "Don't Cry For Me (1968 version with overdubs)":

Hear the undubbed original 1965 version of "Don't Cry For Me":

Sunday, December 12, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Rockin' Berries


THE ROCKIN' BERRIES-The Water Is Over My Head/Time Doesn't Fly US Reprise 0442 1966

British harmony/beat specialists The Rockin' Berries issued five singles in the U.S. (all on the Reprise label). Their first, "He's In Town" (Reprise 0329 November 1964) scored minor airplay here, but hits were elusive for them. 

In February 1966 Reprise issued their final U.S. single, an Al Kooper/Joey Levine composition called "The Water Is Over My Head" (previously issued by the band back home in November 1965 as Piccadilly 7N 35270). The track was originally cut by American singer Eddie Hodges (also known for cutting a version of "Shadows And Reflections")  on the flip of his cover of Dylan's "Love Minus Zero" (Aurora 156 October 1965) and it is this arrangement that the Berries base their version on. The Rockin' Berries version , in my estimation, is much stronger and although their recording is essentially a carbon copy of Hodge's arrangement theirs is meaty thanks to the band's razor sharp harmonies which give the track much more bite and the lead vocalist has a far stronger voice.

Clearly not the last band to pose in front of Big Ben!

The flip "Time Doesn't Fly" is possibly one of the shortest 45's I've ever heard clocking in at just 1:26 long! It's almost rockabilly with it's slap back feel and Chet Atkin's licks. The production has an almost Joe Meek quality to it (especially the blistering guitar).  Next!

Both sides have been issued in a host of places because like most artists on Pye/Piccadilly their material has been licensed to death!

Hear "The Water Is Over My Head":

Hear "Time Doesn't Fly":

Monday, December 6, 2021

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Pretty Things "Don't Bring Me Down"


THE PRETTY THINGS-Don't Bring Me Down/We'll Be Together US Fontana S-1941 1964

Britain's r&b miscreant quintet The Pretty Things released their second single, "Don't Bring Me Down" back in the U.K. as Fontana TF 503 in October 1964 with it simultaneously being issued here on Fontana as well. In Britain the band scored their highest chart rating with it where it rose to #10, sadly they had no such luck in the United States.

"Don't Bring Me Down" was written by the band's acquaintance Johnnie Dee (he would also write "Get Yourself Home", released by fellow r&b ravers The Fairies, and recorded by the Pretties but not issued until the 90's) and was later featured on David Bowie's LP tribute to the 60's "Pin Ups" (alongside the Prettie's previous single "Rosalyn").  It's tap-tap-tap rhythm is infectious from the get go and the music has a call and response about it, sprinkled with the miniature rave up's with lead guitarist Dick Taylor's pyrotechnic licks. It's famed for the risque line "I met this chick the other day...and then I laid her down, my head is spinning round" which apparently raised some hackles back home at the time.

Viv Prince serves up some cappuccino's for his band mates. 

The flip side, "We'll Be Together" was penned by vocalist Phil May, guitarist Dick Taylor and bassist John Stax (the first time a band original graced vinyl). It's a bluesy down tempo number showcasing Taylor's licks and May's harp blowing, not unlike an early Rolling Stones original on their debut long player. Not one of my favorite Prettie's tunes but not remotely unlistenable either.

Both sides have been issued on a host of Prettie's compilations, the most recent being the comprehensive Prettie's 2017 CD collection  "Bouquets From A Cloudy Sky" and the 2011 double CD deluxe edition of the first two long players with bonus cuts. 

Hear "Don't Bring Bring Me Down":

Hear "We'll Be Together":