Tuesday, December 20, 2022

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Searchers "Popcorn Double Feature"


The Searchers-Popcorn Double Feature/Lovers U.S. Kapp K-811 1967

The Searchers had a fairly modest impact on the United States charts starting in February 1964 when "Needles And Pins" reached #11 and introduced them to the American hit parade . After that they managed six more hits in the American Top 40 with a staggering 17 singles released from '64-'66 mostly on the Kapp label (their earlier releases were on Liberty and a few on Mercury). By 1967 the band's American career was past life support and were another British Invasion band in the morgue with a toe tag, "killed by flower power and psychedelia" (or just plain overkill). 

The band always had a knack for covering interesting American tracks, so for their final U.S. release in February 1967 on Kapp they chose a tune called "Popcorn Double Feature" (issued in the previous month in the U.K. as Pye 7N 17225). It was later released by American artist Tim Wilde on Tower in July. Unfortunately as was the case with their previous singles , it saw no chart action in the States. 

To the uninitiated "Popcorn Double Feature" is an impressive track both musically and lyrically. It sings about changing times and social ambivalence ("People are flyin' and babies are cryin' don't nobody care at all, there's love and there's laughter and good things come after just follow the bouncing ball..."). The Searchers rock it out with jangling guitars meshing with the band's typical smooth harmonies. The number is backed by some interesting strings that put the track firmly in the "pop psych" domain and ranks as one of their strongest releases in my mind.

The flip side "Lovers", is a McNally/Pender original (the band frequently had originals on the B-sides of many of their singles). It's a tepid  beat ballad of sorts, total cabaret fodder with it's clacking claves and inoffensive volume. Next...

Both sides are available everywhere because the band's Pye catalog has been issued to hell by Castle Communications. 

Hear "Popcorn Double Feature":

Hear "Lovers":

Friday, November 4, 2022

U.S. Soul/R&B/Jazz/Blues 45's For November

1. CANDY MAN AND THE CANDY BARS-"Voodoo Man" U.S. Roulette R-4707 1966

Starting with a maniacal laugh worthy of Screamin' Jay Hawkin's this number is an uptempo go-go groover with call and response backing vocals and bluesy guitar licks behind a funky beat.


2. SHIRLEY MATTHEWS-"Big Town Boy" U.S. Atlantic 45-2210 1963

This number owes more to girl group sounds than r&b but it's uptempo enough with it's soulful hand claps that lend a quasi Motown feel to it (accented by an interesting muted trumpet solo).


3. DUKE BROWNER-"Crying Over You" U.S. Impact 1008 1966

This in demand dance floor smash on Detroit's underdog label Impact has subtle strings (no doubt attracting shuffling speak freaks in Northern dance halls) and strong vocals. The number sounds lost like it wants to be more soulful but can't because the production and backing reeks of blue eyed soul. An original copy will set you back a grand....



4. PATTI'S GROOVE-"It Won't Last Long" U.S. Columbia 4-43484 1965

Starting out with some raunchy guitar this number teeters between plaintiff girl ground sounds and hip swaying soul with lead vocals that remind me of a husky Debbie Harry, but the delivery is rapid fire and therefore quite danceable. In retrospect it sounds, musically,  like something The Outsiders (American sort) would have released.


5. CHARLES PERRY-"I've Got A Feeling Called The Blues" U.S. Melic 4138 1963

Starting with some jazzy female vocals like a haunting siren the number quickly turns into a catchy little r&b belter that's like the illegitimate love child between Mel Torme and Roscoe Gordon with a Dave "Baby" Cortez style organ solo spicing things up. 


6. THE VIRGINIA WOLVES-"Stay" U.S. Amy 966 1966

This pounding re-do of the Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs hit is one third Four Seasons, one third brassy soul and one third frat rock (dig those punctuated shouts of "Stay!" that sound like a football sideline). Somehow it all works, splendidly. Perfect for the dance floor.


7. CHRIS COLUMBO-"You Can't Sit Down" U.S. Battle B-45904 1962

The flip of Columbo's reading of "Stranger On The Shore is this fairly note for note cover of Phil Upchurch's rollicking instrumental "You Can't Sit Down". Whereas the original has the organ bearing the prevalent role the horns are in the focus here. It doesn't best the original but as one Garcon said "vive la difference". 


8. LONNIE SATTIN-"Watermelon Man" U.S. Scepter 1251 1963

This cover of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" is a curious mix of gritty soulful r&b backed with prerequisite Latin rhythm, jazzy flute and suave lead vocals which are sadly detracted by some mildly annoying female caterwauling in the background, like those great Georgie Fame tracks in '64 with The Breakaways screeching in the background. 


9. TOM AND JERRIO-"Boo-Ga-Loo" U.S. Jerry-O JO 110 1965

This amazing slice of boogaloo r&b is punctuated by hand claps, a driving beat and some ad libbing vocals calling out latest dance crazes and indecipherable gibberish. It was later co-opted by The Emperors and later Jerry O. as "Karate Boogaloo". 


10. PRINCE HAROLD-"Born To Please" U.S. Verve VK 10530 1967

Located on the flip of "Why'd You Go Away" this slick produced, sassy stormer is carried by some incredibly powerful horns and these heavy duty breaks and soulful female backing vocals. Incredible!

Who's got one they want to part with? Asking for a friend....


All scans courtesy of 45cat.com

Saturday, September 10, 2022

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

1. PINK FLOYD-"Remember A Day" Tower 440 1968
One of the handful of Syd Barrett tracks on the Floyd's second long player was this Rick Wright composed/sung number punctuated by eerie slide guitar and controlled feedback by Barrett, the band's doomed and soon to be sacked leader. A positively odd choice as a single, it was only released here in the States and in Japan as the flip of "Let There Be More Light" making it highly sought after. The single edit fades out after Syd's first slide solo.

2. THE SESSIONS-"Let Me In" Fontana F-1529 1965
This Miki Dallon penned track was first cut by The Sorrows on their 1965 UK LP "Take A Heart". The Session's version is almost tripled in speed  and far more rocked out, though not as vocally strong as the original it's a perfect frantic little beat number.

3. THE THUNDERBOLTS-"March Of The Spacemen" Dot 45-16496 1963
Curiously this Joe Meek penned/produced 45 was only released in the United States. It's fairly mundane and could easily be confused for one of the Tornados mediocre "space" instrumentals that Meek seemed to churn out conveyor belt style, perhaps it was released here to avoid stealing thunder from The Tornados? Next.

4. THE AZTECS-"Whatcha Gonna Do Bout It?" US GNP Crescendo GNP 346x 1965
Under the musical direction of Peter & Gordon  this cover of the Doris Troy classic has a very light/laid back feel to it, oddly not at all dissimilar to P&G's later reading (though not as tough as theirs musically) and not as spirited as The Hollie's rendition it's still worth a listen. 

5. THE PEDDLERS-"On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" Epic 5-10531 1969
It's positively criminal that this smooth/super club jazz interpretation of "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" was only released as a single in the US because it's positively the strongest track in their catalog. It's lush jazz trio with Hammond and strings bests even Georgie Fame in his "Fame In '67" CBS period. It was later used to amazing effect in a sequence in the TV show "Breaking Bad". 

6. THE RENEGADES-"Take A Heart" Karate 45-519 1965
This Finnish (and later Italian) based Brit beat quartet cut the Sorrows hit for a US only release (one of their two 60's releases here). As with The Sessions above, it's for more raw than the original and what's nice about it is it's a completely different arrangement than the original so high marks for that!

7. PETER BEST-"Don't Play With Me Little Girl" Happening 505 1965
Poor ex-Beatle Pete Best only had one single released in the U.K. but here in the States it was open season with six different 45's released on just under a year's time! "Don't Play With Me Little Girl" was the first, produced and arranged by Bob Gallo. It's incredibly soulful, though strangely there are no song writing credits and sadly it's NOT on YouTube!

8. THE PROS AND CONS-"Whirlybird" Decca 31767 1965
This Shel Talmy produced raver is a frantic little beat number with sax and a driving beat complete with a funky lead bass solo and a wailin' organ solo that's short on lyrics (just a guy improvising around "Doing the whirlybird"). Any ideas on who they were?  And because the party won't stop it's spread out of two sides!

9. JAMIE POWER-"There's No Living Without Your Loving" Jamie 1037 1966
This was the third of Duffy's four American 60's singles, curiously this and it's predecessor "She Don't Know" were issued as "Jamie Power". "There's No Living Without Your Loving" was previously tackled the year before by Manfred Mann. Duffy's version has a folk rock feel to it, with it's "Needles And Pins" style jangly guitars but his vocals are still soulful on top of the heavily orchestrated production.


10  THE APPLE-"Thank U Very Much" Smash S-2143 1968
Released hot on the heels of the U.S. pressing of the original version of "Thank You Very Much" by The Scaffold (Bell 701 January 1968), Page One records pop psych darlings The Apple cut this disposable literally note for note/unimaginative cover version for the U.S. market. Neither version was noticed by the U.S. buying public though it additionally saw a release in the Netherlands. 

All scans courtesy of 45cat.com

Saturday, June 4, 2022

More U.S. Soul/R&B/Jazz/Blues 45's.....

1.  JOE JEFFREY-"The Train" US Wand WND 11207 1969

Best known for his solitary hit (and debut), March 1969's "My Pledge Of Love", this track was the flip of it's follow up "Dreamin' Till Then". It's an uptempo number that brings to mind Archie Bell and the Drells with a frantic pace heavily centered on the rhythmic guitar strokes and driving beat.


2.  THE FOUR PROS-"Everybody's Got Some Soul" US Carla 45-2532 1967

This amphetamine stormer is a dancefloor smash with punchy brass and an infectious groove with obligatory vibes and a muted catchy guitar lick behind the beat. It's high octane soul of course guarantees that it's much sought after.


3. SIR STAN AND THE COUNTS-"The Nitty Gritty's In Town" US Magnum 45-717 1964

This one is a beautiful, moody piece that starts out with some incredible jazzy chops and is essentially an instrumental with a improvisational "vocal" scatting over the top further accentuating it's understated coolness. 


4. SILAS HOGAN-"I'm Gonna Quit You Pretty Baby" US Excello 45-2231 1963

This one is an uptempo Louisiana blues belter with just a touch of grittiness (as one would expect from the Excello label), it's charm is Hogan's almost ambivalent vocal growl on top of the usual tried and true blues groove.


5. SONNY ACE & THE TWISTERS-"Wooleh Booleh" US Cobra CO-224 1965

This interesting cover of Sam The Sham and Co.'s  smash "Woolie Bully" is delivered in Spanish and has just enough charm to keep it from being pedestrian. Repetitive but worth investigating nonetheless!


6. NORMAN WEST-"What Kind Of Spell (Is This I'm Under)" US Smash S-2123 1967

I love this number but it's incredibly marred by a woman's blood curdling wail that's more annoying then dubbed in screams on a John's Children LP track! If you can push the caterwauling out of your brain West's vocals and the funky groove laid down on this is absolutely mind blowing!


7. PANCHO VILLA & THE BANDITS-"Ain't That Bad" US Pee Vee 100 1964

Wow! Here's another funky instrumental with some improvisational vocals over the top cutting a catchy groove that's trashy, gritty and utterly soulful. Feel the sweat drip from the walls and smell the stale odor of smoke and drink...


8. BIG MAMA THORNTON-"Wade In The Water" US Arhoolie 45-520 1969

Legendary blues howler Big Mama Thornton has an extensive CV of hip, but none stronger to my ears than this 100 mph soul work out of "Wade In The Water" that leaves Marlena Shaw's version at the finish line as far as I'm concerned.  Another one calling high $$$$$.


9. GARNELL COOPER AND THE KINFOLKS-"Green Monkey" US Jubilee 45-5445 1963

Owing just a nod to "Green Onions" this instrumental relies on some honky tonk sax to carry it along with a twangy, greasy guitar solo to keep it from backsliding into a pedestrian r&b instrumental. 


10. LEN JOHNSON-"One Day" US Ray-Co R-503 1963

This bluesy ballad has just enough atmosphere to once again save it from being a rather pedestrian blues/r&b crooner but it's charm is in it's moody delivery that's just above yet another blues shuffle. 


All scans c/o 45cat.com

Thursday, April 28, 2022

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The V.I.P's


THE VIPPS-Mercy Mercy/That's My Woman US Phillips 40387 1966

The V.I.P's were a five piece British r&b band who by the release of this single in July 1966 comprised of Mike Harrison (lead vocals), Jimmy Henshaw (guitar), Luther Grosvenor (guitar), Greg Ridley (bass), and Mike Kellie (drums). The band's first release was 1964's "Don't Keep Shouting at Me" (UK RCA Victor 1427) but they curiously had far more releases outside of the U.K. in France with 4 E.P's and a single. There were also solitary 45 releases in Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S.

Today's specimen was only released in the U.S. and was credited to "The Vipps" (a name used on their January '66 British single "Wintertime", CBS 202031). The A-side was a cover of Don Covay's 1964 single (best known by the Rolling Stones who covered it on their 1965 LP "Out Of Our Heads"). The flip, "That's My Woman" was later covered by The Nashville Teens in early '67.

"Mercy Mercy" is a fairly tame note for note cover and not remotely as rocking as the Stone's version and it's held up purely on the soulful voice of lead singer Mike Harrison. It's a decent version but just doesn't offer much to my ears outside of the vocals.

The flip side "That's My Woman" is where it's at for me. Kicked off my some ultra raw fuzz guitar it's a gritty little groover again showcasing the stellar piper of Mike Harrison and has a raving 1966 mod/r&b sound to it. The later Nashville Teens version pretty much follows this as a template, though it's not remotely as rocking.

Both sides were collected for Repertoire's comprehensive double CD "The Complete V.I.P's". 

The band mutated into Art who in 1967 released a 45 featuring a cover of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" and an "Supernatural Fairytales" before adding Gary Wright and becoming Spooky Tooth. 

Hear "Mercy, Mercy":

Hear "That's My Woman":

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Nirvana (U.K. Sort)


NIRVANA-Girl In The Park/You Are Just The One US Bell 730 1968

U.K. pop psych due Nirvana (not to be confused with those filthy hippie grunge bastards from the 90's) comprised of Patrick Campbell Lyons and Alex Spyropoluos, were behind a slew of baroque pop psych classics back home on Chris Blackwell's Island label. "Girl In The Park" was the band's fourth U.K. single (Island WIP 6038 August 1968). It was simultaneously released here in the U.S. where it was their second single (their first being "Pentecost Hotel").

"Girl In The Park" benefits from the deft hand of arranger Syd Dale who slathered it all the prerequisite trappings of a U.K. 60's pop psych single: harpsichord, regal trumpets, somber strings etc that make it sound akin to one of it's contemporary cousins on Decca or Deram. On top of this the band shine through with harmonies that make them sound like Britain's answer to The Turtles and the sunshine pop kicks in during the fade out with the band singing infectious "ba ba ba ba's" providing the listener with an ear worm they are not likely to forget! Production was handled by Steve Winwood's older brother Muff.

The U.S. pressing has a different B-side than it's U.K. counterpart. The British pressing features a tune called "C Side In Ocho Rios" credited to "The Nirvana Orchestra" (it's a funky organ based easy listening piece). Here in the States we got "You Are Just The One" (previously issued on their debut LP "The Story Of Simon Simopath).  "You Are Just The One" is fairly pedestrian, reminding me of a less than stellar Cat Stevens Deram LP track, it's not horrible just a mundane exercise in sunshine pop grooves filler. Unlike the A-side Chris Blackwell twiddled the knobs on this one.

Both tracks are available on a 2018 double CD "Rainbow Chaser: The 60's Recordings (The Island Years)". 

Hear "Girl In The Park":

Hear "You Are Just The One":

Monday, March 14, 2022

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Life N' Soul


LIFE N' SOUL-Here Comes Yesterday Again/Dear Paul US Mainstream 705 1968

My introduction to the British band Life N' Soul came in 1987 when I purchased the Bam Caruso compilation LP "The Clouds Have Groovy Faces" (Rubble Volume 6) and it included a track of theirs called "Peacefully Asleep", which I all but ignored for decades, literally. It wasn't until my music tastes grew more wide ranging and I came to appreciate poppy late 60's British sounds that I became interested in the track. To my ears it reminded me a lot of the brand of late 60's pop-psych (heavier on the pop, lighter on the psych) that was being cut on the Decca/Deram labels (quite often with help from Tony Waddington, Wayne Bickerton or Mike Vickers). I eventually discovered that the band's second British single (their first was an ill advised cover of "Ode To Billy Joe" with "Peacefully Asleep" on the flip, Decca F 12659 September 1967) "Here Comes Yesterday Again" (U/K/ Decca F 12851 November 1968) was issued here in the U.S. on an obscure label called Mainstream in April 1969 (also home the the U.S. Amboy Dukes and Big Brother and the Holding Company). Curiously it was issued by Mainstream twice , once with a Double A side and again with a different flip (both bearing the same catalog number).

"Here Comes Yesterday" is an archetype late 60's British pop psych opus with horns and strings akin to the likes of Toby Twirl or The World Of Oz. The vocals have a hint of soulfulness to them backed by sweeping strings and heavily produced horns that mesh perfectly with the orchestra. 

"Dear Paul" has a similar formula but the impassioned style on the vocals remind me a lot of the Bee Gees (especially "I've Got To Get A Message To You" especially the phrasing on the verses). Nothing to shout about, but not unlistenable either.

Unfortunately subsequent pop psych comps over the years have chosen to ignore both sides of this record, which in the case of side a is an injustice. 

Hear "Here Comes Yesterday Again":

Hear "Dear Paul":

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

February's U.S. Soul/R&B/Jazz/Blues 45's.....

1. BOBBY JONES AND THE PARA-MONTS-"Beware A Stranger" U.S. U.S.A. 864 1967

Kicking off with some horns borrowed from "Dancing In The Street" this uptempo groover is backed by female backing vocals and a frantic music backing. As expected it's another impossible one to snag owing to it's popularity among pensioners across the ocean...


2. THE CHECK MATES-"Hey Mrs. Jones" U.S. Arvee A 5030 1961

Made famous by Jimmy Witherspoon, this tale of adulterous behavior was covered shortly after by The Check Mates. It has a Latin back beat and double tracked male/female lead vocals that give it an interesting feel considering the lyrics. The arrangement with congas, bongos and brass give it an excellent Latin meets uptown soul feel.


3. OBIE PLENTY-"Beef Stew" US Verve VK 10516 1967

This groovy little organ driven go-go groover is punctuated by the annoying high pitched voice of "Ma" (reminding me of Flip Wilson's "Geraldine") and a lead singer doing a hip speak/rap about having beef stew for breakfast, lunch and dinner 24/7. Regardless it's quite a funky little tune with a solid groove to it.


4. LEE MOSES-"Reach Out, I'll Be There" U.S. Musicor  MU 1227 1967

Speaking of instrumentals, this ragged instrumental take on the Four Tops hit is a pure gas! Gritty guitar, vibes, combo organ and a drummer intent on beating the living shit out of his kit propel this one forward and make it sound like a bargain basement/frat rock Booker T and The MG's, but don't let the lo-fi production fool you, these cats are cookin'. 


5. SYLVIA ROBBINS-"Don't Let Your Eyes Get Bigger Than Your Heart" U.S. Sue 805 1964

This brilliant Sue 45 is backed by organ and has a great "girl group" sound that's not as soulful as one would expect for Sue, but the wailing organ solo and nifty brass backing make it worth checking out even if the vocals aren't the track's strong suit!


6. THE VIBRATIONS-"Gonna Get Along Without You Now" U.S. Okeh 47-7249 1966

The Vibrations cut a host of amazing 45's when they switched to Okeh from Checker. This was their eighth single for the label, delivered at 100 mph with brass and vibes it's an uptempo stormer, and of course huge in that genre we hate naming....


7. NINA SIMONE-"Do I Move You?" U.S. RCA Victor 47-9120 1967 

This smoking bluesy number is found on the flip of Nina's "Day And Night" 45. She smoothly belts it out over a dirty, dirgy blues beat with subtle harp blowing and boisterous male backing vocals and barroom piano, bass, drums and twangy guitar giving it an almost "live" feel. 


8. JIMMY BAILEY-"Keep On Running" U.S. Columbia 4-43530 1966

I could do an entire post of version's of this Jackie Edwards penned tune (made famous by the Spencer Davis Group) but this one is one of the handful of U.S. soul covers of the track (along with Billy Prince's which followed this a month later). This take is more uptempo than most that you'll hear but it's interesting because it's primary musical backing is a piano with added horns and the obligatory fuzz guitar. 


9. PRINCE AND PRINCESS-"Stick Together" U.S. Bell 637 1966

Any one have any clue who this duo were? Both sides of this 45 were written and produced by Larry Fallon and Jimmy Miller and it was originally released in the U.K. the previous year (on the primarily ska/reggae imprint Aladdin as WI 609) leading me to suspect that maybe they're British?! Either way it's an uptempo male/female soul duet with some hand claps and it's a 101 mph octane dance party (which explains why there's a copy on Discogs right now for $271)!1


10. JIMMY LIPSCOMB-"Pow Pow Pow (Mas Que Mada)" U.S. Monique 150 1966

Here's a funky little elevator jazz reading of "Mas Que Nada" with a vocalist giving it the full on Mel Torme meets Sinatra feel. Musically it's a cross between full on supper club and more commercial jazz. I've no idea who Jimmy Lipscomb, any takers?


All scans courtesy of the amazing website https://www.45cat.com/

Monday, February 28, 2022

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Alan Bown


THE ALAN BOWN-Story Book/Little Lesley US Music Factory MU 406 1968

The Alan Bown Set were a seven piece British soul/r&b group who cut five singles in that vein for the Pye label in the U.K. before switching labels (moving to MGM), names ("The Alan Bown") and genres (pop/psychedelia), in that order. Their debut of these three was in October of 1967 when MGM in the U.K. issued "Toyland" (MGM 1355). It's follow up, "Story Book" (MGM 1387) was issued in March 1968 and simultaneously released here in the U.S.

"Story Book" differs slightly from the version released on the band's LP "The Alan Bown" (US Music Factory MSF 12,000). The single starts with a demented laugh (with trippy affects) that is phased into the intro of horns that resembles The Graham Bond Organization meets Near Eastern sounds. There's Hammond, Mellotron, high harmony backing vocals, guitar with vibrato/echo and lead singer Jess Roden's soulful voice singing about nursery rhymes, whimsy and true "Pop psych"/"toy town psych" lyrics. The whole thing works because somehow the r&b horns and the voice of a fine blue eyed soul vocalist lend themselves quite well to the psychedelic nursery rhyme whimsy and Arabian nights put to music!

Trade advert c/o 45cat.com

The flip side, "Little Lesley" stays firmly in the "Toy town" pop psych genre with regal sounding horns and a jaunty feel to it that sounds indistinguishable from any number of less than stellar pop-psych tracks on Deram or Decca in '68. Unfortunately for me it falls flat, like an unmemorable Manfred Mann from the same era that isn't unlistenable but doesn't merit further replays either.

Both sides appear on the earlier mentioned 1968 long player "The Alan Bown" (issued as "Outward Bown" in the U.K. ).

Hear "Story Book":

Hear "Little Lesley":