Monday, January 31, 2022

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Barclay James Harvest

 

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST-Early Morning/Mr. Sunshine US Sire 45-4105 1969





















Seymour Stein's Sire label brought us Yanks a host of non American band's in the late 70's and early 80's, among them my personal faves like Secret Affair, The Undertones, Madness and The (English) Beat to name a few. But Sire had been around since the 60's and in their embryonic stages gave us loads of obscure releases from around the globe, like the untitled debut LP by Britain's psychedelic mavericks Tomorrow, and a host of odd ball singles like Sweden's Jackpots. It's debut release of a British artist however came in the form of being the American issue of Barclay James Harvest's first single "Early Morning" b/w "Mr. Sunshine" (originally issued in the U.K. as Parlophone R 5693). Stein managed a coup of sorts getting the single released in the U.S. a month BEFORE it's British release. This made little difference because no one noticed and indeed the band is not a household name in the United States. 

"Early Morning" starts with some beautiful Mellotron that evokes The Stones "Santanic Majesties..." ot The Zombies "Odyssey And Oracle". It starts a bit uninspiring when the vocals come in but eventually it settles into a groove not unlike a Moody Blues '67-'68 album track. Not at all unlistenable!


























The flip, "Mr. Sunshine" is far more mellow and sounds like a different band with sparse tabla and acoustic guitars with vocal harmonies on the top. A flash of cymbals and and a recorder solo and it reminds me of something U.K. folk psych on Island. At a first listen it's not that remarkable but eventually I found it's melody creeping into my brain!

Hear "Early Morning":


Hear "Mr. Sunshine":

Monday, January 24, 2022

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













1. GATE WESLEY AND THE BAND-"(Zap! Pow!) Do The Batman" Atlantic 45-2319 1966

I first heard this number back in the 90's when it was the crown jewel of the indispensable CD comp "Pow City! FABulous Shakers Soul Party". For the uninitiated it's a funky soul instrumental punctuated by some hysterical impromptu lines like "Come on Robin get the Batmobile rollin'" and my favorite "Hey baby is cape on right?". Zap! Pow!

https://youtu.be/wsZ0YVpHEXs













2. KENNY DINO-"Show Me" Columbia 4-43062 1964

A big shout out to long time reader and pal Joe Hedio for hipping me to this one. It's a raving  stormer with a musical backing that sounds like it could be the Dave Clark Five (dig that beat and the sax!) with a frantic/frenetic groove that's 100 mph pure dance octane. 

https://youtu.be/0FFrhzqpRAk













3. THE FIVE SPLENDORS-"Your Dog Hate Me" Stroll 106 1960

This tongue and cheek early 60's r&b groover reminds me of the Coasters but with hints of doo-wop but a gritty sax solo and faster paced tempo keep it from straying into that genre. And dig the groovy looking label it's on!

https://youtu.be/64OyFsdEMQk













4. THE BLAZERS FEATURING DAVE "BABY" CORTEZ ON ORGAN-"Skins And Sounds" Winley 262 1962

This funky little obscure instrumental is an interesting number with the interspersing of Dave "Baby" Cortez's Hammond and some conga drums which makes for a different bag, but one that totally works! Incidentally it was released after Cortez's brief sojourn into the upper reaches of the charts with 1960's "The Happy Organ" and I suspect it was possibly recorded earlier?

https://youtu.be/6x4p7jKVzzc














5. CLARK TERRY AND CHICO O'FARRILL-"Spanish Rice" Impulse! 45-252 1966

Cuban born Latin band leader Chico O'Farrill and jazz horn legend Clark Terry cut this smoldering jazz instrumental with a talk over discussing the recipe for Spanish rice on top of an infectious Latin jazz groove! Smokin'! Anybody got a copy?

https://youtu.be/Yd4Y6ajvIKM













6. JO ANN SMITH-"Give A Man A Tree" Columbia 4-43330 1965

On top of a smooth groove laid down by organ, horns and chorus the breathy/husky Jo Ann Smith sings with some biting lyrics "Give a man a tree, he wants a forest, give a man a stream, he wants a river, give a man a hill, he wants a mountain, he cannot be denied, a man is never satisfied". Brilliant!

https://youtu.be/GTVmUj6rrLE













7. JOE DUKES-"Moohah The DJ" PRESTIGE 45-322 1964

This Jack McDuff penned instrumental number is credited to drummer Joe Dukes who played on this along McDuff on organ, Red Holloway on sax and Geo Benson on drums. Musically it reminds of something that The Graham Bond Organzation would have gotten up to across the pond, though far heavier on the accent on the horns than the Hammond.

https://youtu.be/PfwpWg76X4o













8. THORNTON SISTERS-"I Keep Forgettin'" Cuppy C-102 1965

This obscure cover of the Chuck Jackson number from '62 is worth checking out. It's far more upbeat than the original and the soulful female voices come across as gritty and intriguing. Some jack ass has a copy for sale on Discogs for $3,767.12. I kid you not. It's amazing but....














9. CASH MCCALL-"You Ain't Too Cool" Thomas 307 1966

The flip of Cash's Motown inspired ballad "When You Wake Up" is this nifty instrumental track led by a sax with organ/guitar interplay that comes off like an upbeat Booker T. type groove with King Curtis style funky horns.

https://youtu.be/B8npsVWhff4













10. ARTHUR PRYSOCK-"I Must Be Doing Something Right" Verve VK 10620 1968

There's always a running gag about every type of performer having their "Northern Soul" number and allegedly  this is Arthur Prysock's. I'm not sure how you get down to this baritone voiced track with loads of tempo changes but there's a cool groove punctuated by horns and atmospheric flute.

https://youtu.be/LpHD_C-frh8


Monday, January 17, 2022

U.K Hit, U.S. Miss: Chris Andrews

 

CHRIS ANDREWS-Yesterday Man/Too Bad You Don't Want Me US Atco 45-6385 1965




















Chris Andrews, a virtual unknown in the U.S. was best known in the U.K. as a song writer behind several hits, especially for Sandie Shaw who made the Top Ten in Britain with his tunes "Girl Don't Come", "I'll Stop At Nothing", "Message Understood" and "Long Live Love". 

"Yesterday Man" was his solo debut (of sorts, he previously cut a 45 for Decca in '63 as "Chris Ravel and The Ravers" and received double billing with Adam Faith (another artist who recorded his material) with backing by our heroes The Roulettes. It was issued in the U.K. as Decca F 12236 in September of '65 where it went to # 3, released here two months later it did absolutely nothing.

"Yesterday Man", written by Andrews,  is a mid tempo number backed by some brass that has an almost cod ska feel to it and musically reminds me of a Sandie Shaw record (I swear I can hear her caterwauling on the backing vocals). It's infectious and quite an ear worm, for me anyway, and in a good way.

Speaking of Sandie...on the flip we have "Too Bad You Don't Want Me", which she recorded for her second long player "Me" in 1965. Like the A-side it's another Andrews composition and like Sandie's version it's almost beyond the singer's range creating quite a vocal strain that makes for an almost unlistenable feel. Mores the pity because the musical backing is catchy as hell!





















Hear "Yesterday Man":


Hear "Too Bad You Don't Want Me":

Monday, January 10, 2022

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Fearn's Foundry

 

FEARNS FOUNDRY-Now I Taste the Tears/Love Sink And Drown US Parrot 45-40033 1968




















Fearns Foundry (or Fearn's Brass Foundry as they were called back home in the U.K. on their two singles they released on Decca) were a seven piece blue eyed soul band from Leicestershire. This release was their second and final U.K. single issued as Decca F 12835 in September 1968. It was released here in November.

"Now I Taste the Tears" (originally cut by a U.S. group called The Smiths) is a somber tale of heartbreak and woe that's completely dark, but compels you to listen. The strings sound straight off a Scott Walker record adding to the bleak feel of the track and lead singer is totally soulful. The lyrics are completely black:

"Try to watch the TV reception ain't so clear, walk into the kitchen, I guess I'll have a beer, then I find the letter, now I taste the tears....lady says she's sorry for the wrong she's done, lady said forgive her but what is done is done, walk into the bedroom then I find my gun....". 

The strings (with subtle horn work) carries the number out after that disturbing verse. Wow, that is some HEAVY shit, but what a track! 




















The flip, "Love, Sink And Drown" is equally depressing lyrically, but no on dies in this one...I think? It's backed by some heavy brass and is a slow ballad akin to "Temptation Bout To Get Me" by The Knight Brothers. The shimmering strings and brilliant horns make it sound musically like a U.S. 60's r&b ballad! 

"Now I Taste The Tears" was comped on Psychic Circle's "New Directions 4: Hide And Seek" CD and both tracks are available on Spotify. 

Hear "Now I Taste The Tears":


Hear "Love, Sink And Drown":

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Warm Sounds

WARM SOUNDS-Birds And Bees/Doo Dah US Deram 45-DEM-85007 1967

Warm Sounds were one of many duos in the pop psych genre in the mid/late 60's U.K. that included Twice As Much, The Young Idea and The Truth. Warm Sounds were two English gents named Barry Younghusband and Denver Gerrard. Signed to Deram records in early 1967 the label launched their debut in the U.K. in April as Deram DM 120, our subject here was issued in the United States the following month. 

"Birds And Bees" is a cheeky pop psych bit of choral pop that sounds like Spanky & Our Gang meets The New Vaudeville Band (the later because of the camp "English" lead vocal delivery). It's wrapped in vibes, strings and lushly orchestrated/produced with great harmonies, a quintessential slice of Deram pop-sike and was  produced by Mike Hurst.





















The flip side, "Doo Dah" is a slow, mundane track with precise harmonies but offers absolutely nothing redeeming to this man's ears! The band went on to cut one more 45 for Deram, the total freakout "Nite Is A Comin" (issued in the US and the UK and probably the first song to ever name check The Grateful Dead!!) which was released after a brief foray on Immediate records with "Sticks And Stones".

"Doo Dah" appeared on the excellent late 80's Decal records compilation "Deram Daze", and "Birds And Bees" was issued on the CD compilation "Pop In Volume One". 

Hear "Birds And Bees":


Hear "Doo Dah":