Thursday, January 12, 2023

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

1. FRANK FOSTER-"Harlem Rumble" U.S. Tri-Ode 120 196?

This number is all over the place. It starts out like something you'd expect a Rat Pack crooner to do and then it turns into a funky little instrumental that evokes the hustle and bustle of the big city meets the theme song to an unwritten vintage 60's cop show!

2. LESTER LANIN-"West Indies Ska" U.S. Phillips 40217 1964

I could probably do an entire post of cod ska U.S. 60's releases, but like a bad fish dinner I might never be able to remove the stench. That said...this one is actually a wailing organ/sax led call and response number with a vocalist not unlike Jackie Wilson.

3. UNCLE SAM & THE WAR MACHINE-"Spy Girl" U.S. Blue Onion BO-103 1967

Don't let the title fool you this number is an uptempo soul groover (possibly of the blue eyed variety) and sounds like an amazing mix of The Blues Magoos or Standells meet Bob Brady and the Conchords.

4. GERALD WILSON ORCHESTRA-"Light My Fire" U.S. World Pacific 88148 1967

There's something intriguing for me about kitschy, campy easy listening versions of hits in the 60;s, this is no exception. Led by a flute this number is one third supper club jazz, one third elevator music and one third big band. But what a glorious combo!!

5. TOMMY & CLEVE-"I Don't Want To Share Your Love" U.S. Checker 1154 1966

This powerful soul belter comes across like a Checker/Chess answer to Sam and Dave. It's a mid tempo soul smoker done by this duo (who I can't tell you a damn thing about) with a greasy sax solo! Found on the flip of their "Boo-Ga-Loo Baby" (a great tune as well, not to be confused with the J.J. Jackson number).

6.  SHAWN ELLIOT-"The Sidewinder" U.S. Roulette R-4700 1966

Shawn gets a lot of press here for his cheezy but interesting stab at the ska release "Shame And Scandal In The Family". He cut this vocal version of Lee Morgan's classic as a B-side of the lame "Hello Heartache, Goodbye Love", it's cheezy but an interesting rendition that grew on me after a few plays.

7. LEE ROGERS-"Go-Go Girl" U.S. D-Town 1067 1966

Found on the flip of "I'm A Practical Guy", this uptown soul stormer kicks in with thundering drums and mellow horns (that perfectly accent the track) and powerful vocals.

8. SUNNY & THE SUNLINERS-"Trick Bag" U.S. Tear Drop 3081 1966

This gritty little ditty has hysterical lyrics about a guy who's woman is cheating on him on top of a sophisticated groove of horns that sound like a B grade Stax session and a tempo that sounds a but like "Treat Her Right" meets Lee Dorsey.

9. ALABAMA WATSON-"Cost Me" U.S. Bluestown 704 1965

This slow blues number comes from a cat I have never heard before. It's a slow blues shuffle that's fairly ordinary but there's something about it that catches my ear.

10. MARY LOU WILLIAMS-"Chunk-A-Lunk Jug Pt 1" US Sue 715 1959

We close out with this jazzy little number that musically reminds me of Mose Allison with just piano, bass and drums. Perfectly smooth and 100% sophisticated, just how I like my "mod jazz".


Sunday, January 8, 2023

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Cat Stevens Via Paul & Barry Ryan


PAUL & BARRY RYAN-"Keep It Out Of Sight/Missy Missy" US MGM K 13719 1967

Brit hearthrob/twins Paul & Barry Ryan, sons of Marion Ryan (the Doris Day of Britain) were splashed everywhere because of their famous mum AND their step father Harold Davidson, an agent responsible for hosts of U.K. package tours LITERALLY got them on pretty much every huge package tour in Britain (there's a great anecdote about that in Ian McLagan's autobiography where he refers to them as "Paul and Bloody Barry Ryan").  The band released a ten singles in Britain on Decca and later MGM.  Five Decca sides and one MGM release came out here in the United States on MGM. Their commercial impact here was nil. 

Today's piece was their seventh 45 in Britain (Decca F 12567 February 1967) and was their fifth here, issued approximately two months later. Joining the ranks of many performers reaping the benefits of Cat Steven's songwriting prowess (see more here), Paul and Baz got a crack at a number that unlike many of their peers attempts, had not been (and never was) issued by Cat himself. "Keep It Out Of Sight" is without a doubt their finest single. Produced by Mike Hurst (also producer of many of Cat's Deram sides) and arranged by band leader/film score conductor Alan Tew (also on board with Cat's Deram releases) "Keep It Out Of Sight" is one of those distinct mid 60's British records that incorporates very staid and "normal" backings like strings and horns but makes them freaky. From the shimmering violin strings creeping in behind cellos and castanets and the thundering drum breaks the number is NOT your typical M.O.R. orchestrated pop tune. Throw in marimbas and horns that sound straight off The Pretty Things oft maligned "Emotions" LP (one day I will get around to publishing a piece trying to vindicate that album) and you have a deliciously eerie pop psych opus! 

The flip side, "Missy Missy" was previously issued in Britain as the A-side of their sixth single (Decca F 12520, November 1966). For some reason their British flip to "Keep It Out Of Sight", "Who Told You?" was curiously lopped off! "Missy Missy" is a dreadful M.O.R pop ditty that sounds dreadfully like The New Vaudeville Band meets The Bachelors. Aughhhhh!

"Keep It Out Of Sight" most recently appeared on two CD digipak boxes in the U.K.: "Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds: The British Psychedelic Sound Of 1967" , a three CD set on Grapefruit and the more "mod" leaning "Halcyon Days: 60's Mod, R&B, Brit, Soul & Freakbeat Nuggets" three CD set via Strawberry. "Missy Missy"? Who cares....

Both sides are also available on the now out of print German CD compilation of Repertoire "The Best Of Paul & Barry Ryan".

Hear "Keep It Out Of Sight":

Hear "Missy Missy":