Friday, October 20, 2023

Manfred Mann-"My Little Red Book" 1968

MANFRED MANN-My Little Red Book (All I Do Is Talk About You)/I Can't Believe What You Say US Ascot AS 2241 1968

It was a common practice in the 60's for labels to squeeze everything they could out of a band, especially when they moved onto a new label. Case in point Manfred Mann. When the band switched lead singers in 1966 and switched from HMV to Fontana in the U.K. they switched from Ascot/United Artists to Mercury in the U.S. Two years and four singles into their contract with Mercury, Ascot issued two singles. The second of those was today's subject, "My Little Red Book (All I Do Is Talk About You)" is an odd duck as it was first released on Ascot back in May, 1965 as AS 2184 with the release of the film "What's New Pussycat" (which featured the tune in a scene in the film) with "What Am I Doing" as the flip. Fast forward to April 1968 and "My Little Red Book" was again issued, this time with "I Can't Believe What You Say" on the B-side. I have yet to figure out the reason Ascot would issue a three year old record (and mention it's inclusion on an equally old long player on the label), though I suspect it might be in relation to the Manfred's return to the charts with "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)" (Imperial did the same move in '68 when Georgie Fame struck gold on Epic with "The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde" they rushed out "Last Night"). 

All that out of the way "My Little Red Book (All I Do Is Talk About You)" is amazing. It's far more powerful than the version Bacharach cut with Tony Middleton on vocals. From the pounding piano and funky organ to the subtle flute, Paul Jone's vocals swing. Every time I hear it I can't help but think of Peter O'Toole's wooden dance moves to it in the discotheque scene in the film "What's New Pussycat"!

The flip is a pedestrian cover of Ike and Tina's "I Can't Believe What You Say". It's not awful by any means but I always felt that the Manfred's were better at blues and jazz than they were at soul!

Both sides were compiled on the essential 4 CD collection "Down The Road Apiece Their EMI Recordings 1963-1966". 

Hear "My Little Red Book":

Hear "I Can't Believe What You Say":

Sunday, October 8, 2023

The Merseys-"The Cat"

The Merseys-The Cat/Change of Heart U.K. Fontana TF 845 1967

The Merseys were a short lived U.K. duo comprised of former Merseybeats John Banks and Billy Kinsley. Formed upon the demise of The Merseybeats, The Merseys managed to do something the Merseybeats never did: break into the U.K. Top 10, in April 1966 their cover of The McCoy's "Sorrow" peaked at #4. Unfortunately they were destined to be a one hit wonder. 

The Merseys with The Fruit Eating Bears
photo c/o

"The Cat" was their fourth single of six in the U.K. on Fontana. It was my introduction to the band when my friend Keith Patterson put it on a legendary mix tape he made me in 1989. Penned by Tin Pin Alley duo Roger's Cook and Greenaway it's lyrically unimpressive but the band's vocals and musical backing are amazing (interestingly the band over accentuate their Liverpool accents). The backing music reminds me a lot of The Who circa 1966 (the band were briefly were managed by Lambert & Stamp). I'm especially taken by the blistering proto raga guitar solo by future Badfinger member Joey Molland, who was a member of the Mersey's  backing group The Fruit Eating Bears (not to be confused with a punk band of the same name). 

The flip "Change Of Heart" was written by Tony Crane. It has a ragtime type piano and a interesting trumpet solo and the whole thing reminds me of a throwaway Harry Nilsson track or a disposable Mike D'Abo era Manfreds tune, it's not unlistenable but nothing I would play twice.

In 2021 Grapefruit records issued a thorough two CD collection of all of The Merseybeats/Merseys tracks and subsequent spin off bands and includes both sides of this 45. 

Hear "The Cat":

Hear "Change Of Heart":

Monday, October 2, 2023

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

1. FRED PARRIS & THE RESTLESS HEARTS-"No Use In Crying" Checker 1108 1965

This impassioned soul ballad sounds like a cross between the vocals of Jackie Shane and the backing vocals of The Kelly Brothers. The musical structure is not dissimilar from a late 50's doo wop number (like The Flamingos maybe?).

2. THE FABULOUS PEPS-"With These Eyes" Wheelsville 109 1966

This mega obscure number is 101% high octane soul with strong horns, hip hand claps, fantastic brass and some great falsetto vocals bringing to mind The Impressions.

3. BILLY YOUNG-"Glendora" Original Sound OS-29 1963

I had long assumed that Brit r&b mavens The Downliners Sect had covered "Glendora" from the Pewrry Como original, that was until I recently heard this! It's moody, soulful and almost doom laden and clearly is where Don Craine and the boys took their version!

4. BIG MAYBELLE-"Oh Lord What Are You Doing To Me" Scepter 1279 1964

Big Maybelle is one of my favorite female soul vocalists and nothing tops her delivery on this ballad that reminds me of a husky Baby Washington. The powerful orchestration and lush backing vocals just adds to the heavy weight of this powerhouse belter!

5. MITCH RYDER AND THE DETROIT WHEELS-"Come See About Me" New Voice 828 1967

I've always been sort of ambivalent about Mitch Ryder as I sometimes feel like a lot of his stuff is kind of "samey"? I don't know why but I really dig this Supremes cover. The musical backing is minimal and sounds like a frat rock band and interestingly there's no backing vocals just Mitch's gravelly voice which is where it's charm lies!

6. BRENTON WOOD-"Baby You Got It" Double Shot 121 1967

From it's quirky little combo organ and Brenton's falsetto double tracked vocals and rapid fire/catchy deliver this one always grabs me, especially the chorus. Not to be confused with the Maurice & The Radiants tune of the same name.

7. TWISTIN' KINGS-"Congo Part I" Motown M-1023 1961

This is hot!! An incredibly catchy drum heavy instrumental augmented by some neo classical ivory tinkling clashing with the heavy and hypnotic beat. Pure Afro-Cuban rhythm guaranteed to stop you dead in your tracks.

8. GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS-"Stop And Get A Hold Of Myself" Maxx 334 1964

This mega pricey 45 is a Van McCoy composition that is power packed with catchy breaks, an infectious groove and some incredible call and response vocals. It's easily one of the bands strongest pre-Motown releases in my estimation.

9. DONNIE ELBERT-"Along Came Pride" UK CBS 2807 1967

This storming number was not released in the US for some reason. It was recorded in the UK and it's powerful musical backing was care of none other than the legendary Keith Mansfield. It's uptempo groove made it mandatory on the (ahem) Northern scene.....

10. REX GARVIN AND THE MIGHTY CRAVERS-"Believe It Or Not" Like 45-302 1966

This little gem is an interesting PSA about the horrors of L.S.D. on top of a soulful groove. Curiously there seems to be a lot of references about monsters in the lyrics ("Did you hear about the girl who tried it, she thought she was outta site till she looked out her back window and saw vampires flyin' through the night" or "Did you hear hear about  the man who tired it, he wanted to leave his troubles behind, he wound up goin' crazy, you know he thought that he was Frankenstein")! Regardless of how ridiculous it sounds lyrically the number is a gas!

All scans c/o