Tuesday, December 20, 2022

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


he 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 odd ones 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":

Saturday, December 10, 2022

December's Picks

1. THE GROWING CONCERN-"A Boy I Once Knew Well" U.S. Mainstream 685 1968

Back during the early days of Covid quarantine someone on Instagram hipped me to this mega  rare LP by this mid 60's band. The stand out track on their untitled 1968 untitled LP was this single. It's a lush mix of male/female harmony vocals on top of jangly folk rock guitars and harpsichord. 

2. THE POOR-"She's Got The Time (She's Got The Changes)" U.S. York 402 1967

I was first introduced to this track back in the mid 80's when a cover by a Brit band called The Affex on one of the "Rubble" volumes. Eventually someone hipped me to the original by this LA band that included a young Randy Meisner. Though not as punchy as the cover it's still an upbeat, impressively catchy pop ditty with great call and response vocals. 

3. THE RATIONALS-"Feelin' Lost" U.S. Cameo C-437 1966

Ann Arbor, Michigan's Anglophile Rationals cut this beautiful, bouncy Beatle-esque number on their flip of semi hit reading of "Respect", though it was originally released on an A-side. The number is pure Fab Four "Help"era with it's beautiful harmonies and electric/acoustic guitars.

4. THE PARADE-"Sunshine Girl" U.S. A&M 841 1967

This is yet another case of me hearing a cover version first. I was introduced to this by a Swedish girl group version (The Angeliques) before realizing I had the original lurking in my collection. It's vocally reminiscent of the Association and the slick production and sunshine pop happiness of it is an effusive mixture. 

5. THE CRYAN SHAMES-"Ben Franklin's Almanac" U.S. Destination 624 1966

Tucked away on the flip of their debut 45, a hit reading of the sappy "Sugar And Spice" is this full on Who aping mod/freakbeat opus. It's delivered at a frantic pace with double tracked harmony vocals and a slathering of fuzz guitar and a speed freak Bo Diddley beat that all lets lose in a rave up in the end.

6. THE CORDS-"Ain't That Love" U.S. Atco 45-6687 1969

Don't let the 1969 release date fool you, this blistering Norman Petty produced track from this Amarillo, Texas combo is far more mid 60's sounding than the heavy late 60's jam one would expect it to be. With great harmonies, searing fuzz guitars and a lead guitarist who worships Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds were hugely revered in Texas) it's an amazing slice of American 60's garage pop.

7. THE WHATT FOUR-"You're Wishin' I Was Someone Else" U.S. Mercury 72716 1967

With vocals calling to mind The Knickerbockers and a tough "Revolver" influenced guitar sound this B-side of the band's second and final single encapsulates the moment where American 60's music melded Beatles influenced harmonies with tough, fuzz guitars.  

8. DEL SHANNON-"Gemini" U.S. Liberty 56036 1968

After the soul crunching defeat of the failure to release his U.K. recorded and produced 1967 LP "At Home And Away" Del bounced back in '68 with the much underappreciated long player "The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover". "Gemini" was the second single released from the LP. It's a moody, introspective piece with gentle strings and a martial march beat as Del sings echo laden and detached. 

9. THE BEACH BOYS-"Till I Die" U.S. Brother/Reprise 1047 1971

A bit out of our 60's orbit here this track is yet another example of someone on Instagram saving my soul by hipping me to a track I had not known before during the dark days of quarantine. This cut from the band's "Surf's Up" album is another Brian Wilson magnum opus with ethereal lyrics, multi layered harmonies and a spooky organ that adds an almost nautical feel to it. 

10. THE REAL DON STEELE-"Tina Delgado Is Alive" U.S. Cameo C-399 1966

Thanks to Larry over at Funky 16 Corners who hipped me to this one many years ago. Cut by legendary 60's Los Angeles DJ "The Real" Don Steele it's a full on raver that's one third "Blues Theme" (dig that fuzz), one third Sunset Strip a go-go and one third "Shindig!" house band music. It's a rollicking good time punctuated by Steele shouting "Tina Delgado is alive! Alive!". 

Hear "December's Picks" plus more American 60's goodies on Spotify here

Sunday, November 6, 2022

November's Picks

A bit late getting this out there....here's November's picks!

1. KING HORROR-"Dracula Prince Of Darkness" UK Joe DU 34 1969

Starting out with a creepy organ (reminiscent to the intro of The Prisoners "Revenge Of The Cybermen") this thumping bass n' organ skinhead reggae groover is punctuated by toasting by King Horror (aka Lord Davey) who improvises over the steady groove. 

2. BONGO HERMAN, LES AND BUNNY-"Chairmen Of The Board" UK Green Door GD 4049 1972

This track is from a much later time than the accepted "classic skinhead reggae" period but it takes the backing track from the skinhead classic "Liquidator" by The Harry J All Stars and improvises with a vocal/toasting over the top accented by whistles and conga and all round party vibe with the great chorus "I mash up the wrong, I love up the right". 

3. THE PYRAMIDS-"Telstar" UK Trojan TR-7755 1970

304 Holloway Road meets moonstomping as The Pyramids take their instrumental reggae sound to a catchy cover of The Tornados hit "Telstar" that borders on reggae meets easy listening, but what a marvelous mix it is! 

4. DEREK HARRIOTT-"Tang Tang Festival Song" UK Island WI 3135 1968 

This Derek Harriott track on Island is one of his priciest to obtain and takes a funky groove accented with congas and smooth brass It lyrically preempts John Holt's use of nursery rhymes in a reggae style with his smash "Ali Baba" the following year. 

5. THE OPENING-"Tea House" UK Reggae  REG 3001 1970

This MEGA rare skinhead reggae organ instrumental was later copped by Joe Mansano and issued as "Tea House For Emperor Roscoe" on Joe (JRS 3 1970) with some toasting. This basic track with piano/organ and some slide trombone care of the legend himself, Rico Rodriguez is just as interesting without toasting/vocals thanks to it's funky melody. 

6. BONGO LES & HERMAN-"Dr. Who" UK Explosion EX 2002 1969

This priceless funky reggae organ instrumental with toasting bears absolute no resemblance to the famous "Dr. Who Theme". It has this bizarre clanging nautical bell throughout as percussion and eventually some melodica that works really well with the herky-jerky organ. 

7. LLOYD TERREL-"Bang Bang Lulu" UK Pama PM 710 1968

This classic double entendre is more rocksteady than skinhead reggae, but it's priceless regardless. It tells the tale of a popular young lady named Lulu, with brass punctuation often removing the logical next rhyming/naughty word ("Lulu had two boyfriends, one was very rich, one the son of a banker the other than son of a..." or my favorite "Lulu had a boyfriend, his name was Tommy Tucker, he took her to an alley just to see if he could..."). 

8. CLANCY ECCLES-"Feel The Rocking" UK Doctor Bird DB 1156 1968

Clancy Eccles updated Theo Beckford's ska classic "Easy Snapping" but updated the back beat from ska to skinhead reggae with throbbing bass and a more uptempo groove. Often confused on CD comps with it's less than interesting A-side "Feel The Rhythm". 

9. VAL BENNETT-"Spanish Harlem" UK Trojan TR 611 1968

Val Bennett took Ben E. King's hit and reggae-fied it with organ and horns rebirthing it as a skinhead reggae shuffle instrumental produced by the legendary Lee "Scratch" Perry. Again like "Telstar" above it verges on easy listening but the rhythm is much too catchy to put anyone to sleep!

10. THE CRYSTALITES-"Bombshell" UK Explosion EX 2005 1969

This instrumental takes the backing track from Rudy Mill's explosive skinhead reggae classic "John Jones" (UK Big Shot BI 509) from 11 months earlier and replaces the vocals with some jazzy sax. It works thanks to the rhythm!

You can here all of these and more by heading over to Spotify and listening here. PLEASE disregard the incorrect artist titles on some of the tracks, a typical Spotify cock up....

All scans from my collection except #5 c/o 45cat.com

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

Sunday, October 2, 2022

October's Picks!

  Anorak Thing is re-launching an old monthly pics feature, only now it will be accompanied by a link with a Spotify playlist (with extra tracks in addition to to the ten here) enabling you, dear readers, the opportunity to listen to it in the privacy of your own home!

1. DONOVAN-"House Of Jansch" Portugal E.P. Epic 9061 1967

"House Of Jansch" was culled from Don's "Mellow Yellow" LP, his second album of his new post "acoustic folkie" phase. Backed by simple acoustic guitar it has a baroque meets jazz feel as it's woodwinds clash with a shrill flute over a rambling, but catchy acoustic blues highlighted by the line "girl ain't nothing but a willow tree swayin' in the Summer breeze..". 

2. THE UGLY'S-"The Quiet Explosion" U.S. 45 ABC Paramount 45-10748 1965

Birmingham's Ugly's released four 45's in the U.K. on Pye, three of which were issued in the U.S. "The Quiet Explosion" was the flip of their third 45 "A Good idea" (their final in the U.S.). It's a frantic number with an organ that sounds like a carnival of the insane and has lyrics preaching the dangers of the impending nuclear war, a cautionary tale amid delightful musical chaos. The nimble bass runs and repetitive combo organ trill/riff add to the musical madness.

3. CAT STEVENS-"Baby Get Your Head Screwed On" Portugal E.P. Deram EPDM 1001 1967

Cat Stevens career on Deram in Portugal was quite prolific with the Portuguese outlet of the label issuing seven 7" E.P's of his in 1966-1969. "Baby Get Your Head Screwed On" was simultaneously released as a track on his debut Deram LP, his second Portuguese E.P. AND by fellow Deram label mates The Double Feature. Cat's original is orchestrated like the cover version but with less going on in the background bringing Cat's voice to the fore. Lyrically it joins to legions of Swingin' London tracks about disaffected/mentally ill Dollybirds ("you were so neat, and ever so sweet but overnight you seemed to change and since you kissed your psychiatrist baby you've never been the same"). 

4. THE V.I.P.'S-"Think I'm Going Weird" France E.P. Fontana 460.238 ME 1967

Mod/r&b aficionados The V.I.P's morphed into the psychedelic band Art  in 1967 for just one single and a highly collectable LP "Supernatural Fairytales" (both on Island in the U.K. before becoming Spooky Tooth). The V.I.P's were quite the article in France where they released three 7" E.P's and one single. Interestingly Fontana, their French label took both sides of the Art 45 and two tracks from their album and released it under the guise of The V.I.P's. "Think I'm Going Weird" is a perfect marriage of mod/r&b and psychedelia thanks to lead singer Mike Harrison's soulful vocals and the hard hitting musical backing creating a sinister groove behind it all.

5. JAY AND THE AMERICANS-"Shanghai Noodle Factory" U.S. 45 United Artists UA 50222 1967

Here's an oddity with a mystery begging for an explanation! Jay and The Americans cut and released this Traffic number a full year plus before it was released by it's authors. The link no doubt came via producer Jimmy Miller who was eventually brought over to the U.K. by Chris Blackwell. The Jay and The Americans version is far more powerful than the Traffic version because it's far more rocking but at the same time contains a host of pop psych trappings with harpsichord, percussion, strings and lush harmonies.

6. JOHNNY HALLYDAY-"Hey Joe" France E.P. Phillips 437.304 BE 1967

Johnny Hallyday got the privilege of witnessing The Jimi Hendrix Experience in their infancy after their manager Chas Chandler whisked the newly formed band off to France to be Hallyday's opening act for a few weeks in October 1966. The band recorded their debut, "Hey Joe" upon their return. Hallyday took note recorded his own version. Rather than cover it note for note Hallyday selected to make the number acoustic but retained the distinct backing vocals (sung by men instead of women) with brass coming in later in the track, packing a powerful punch with Hallyday's impassioned, almost sneering vocals. 

7. THE ELECTRIC PRUNES-"Dr. Do Good" U.S. 45 Reprise 0594 1967

The Electric Prunes will be forever consigned to the "One Hit Wonder" category on the strength of "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night", but there was plenty more lysergic musical chaos up their sleeves. The band's fifth single "Dr. Do-Good" is a slice of psychedelic pop song madness delivered rapid fire in a wall of fuzz guitar and eccentrically accented spoken word vocals that verge on sounding "British" with the feel of mad carnival music ending with some Freddie Garrity meets the Laughing Gnome chortling. 

8. PAUL & BARRY RYAN-"Keep It Out Of Sight" U.K. 45 Decca F 12567 1967

U.K. pop twins duo Paul & Barry Ryan got dibs on this track that Cat Stevens penned but never released for their seventh single on Decca (U.K.) "Keep It Out Of Sight". Wrapped in a stellar arrangement of strings, xylophone, brass etc care of Alan Tew, "Keep It Out Of Sight" is a hard driving pop psychedelic single that is a perfect slice of well produced '67 Decca/Deram pop sike. 

9. THE RED SQUARES-"Down And Out" 45 Denmark Columbia DS 2372 1967

Danish based British quartet The Red Squares had a slew of single's issued in Denmark, this was their eighth. Despite the freakbeat power of their famous track "You Can Be My Baby" (especially the Swedish/Finnish re-recording) the band were primary a harmony pop group. "Down And Out" (a band original) has a musical backing not unlike something from the Tages "Studio" LP  with it's tight horns and pristine production which when combined with lush sunshine pop harmonies creates nothing short of a pop psych master piece. 

10. NIRVANA-"Rainbow Chaser" U.K. Island WIP 6029 1968

Brit pop psych premiers Nirvana issued "Rainbow Chaser", their third single in 1968 under the guidance of ex-Spencer Davis Group member Muff Winwood (with strings/horns care of easy legend Syd Dale). Phlanged effects on the horns (and everything come to think of it!), dizzying strings and sweet vocals that weave in and out of the mix make this number a positively fascinating mix!

All ten tracks (plus many more can be heard on Spotify here for your aural enjoyment. 

NEXT MONTH: November's Picks explores skinhead reggae!

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