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!