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