Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Stax Soulsville U.S.A. Reviewed


When it was announced that HBO (ahem "Max") would be launching a four part docu series on my favorite 60's soul label I was tickled pink. I always approach musical documentaries with trepidation, I think it's because all too often they employ too many talking heads and spoil the soup (I think we can finally breath easy in the hope that documentary makers have stopped using Bono). Hopes were high!

"Soulsville U.S.A" is loosely based on the INCREDIBLE 1997 book by Rob Bowman and fortunately features no one outside of the Stax organization with the only exception being Bowman himself. The label's story is told through archival footage and photos along with interviews and narration by Stax stalwarts Booker T. Jones, label founders Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton (the latter through old footage), Carla Thomas, David Porter, Issac Hayes, Dave Moore (of Sam & Dave), Steve Cropper, label exec Deanie Parker and last but not least Al Bell who eventually took control of the label and sadly was instrumental in it's meteoric rise and eventual demise. 

Estelle Axton in front of 926 East McLemore Avenue

It is with the inclusion of Al Bell (a DJ who was brought onboard in 1965 originally as a promotions man to raise the label's profile) that the documentary veers off into less about the label and more about Al Bell. It is he who is the most prominent voice in the series leading my old friend Larry Grogan to aptly describe it as "The Al Bell Show, starring Al Bell, as told to Al Bell by Al Bell". Episode 1 "Cause I Love You" deals with the history of the label from it's founding by Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton to the names that made the label big: Booker T and The M.G's (though the later are rarely mentioned outside of "Green Onions" and their work as a backing band), Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave and of course, Otis Redding. Sadly there's nary a trace of anyone else, no William Bell, no Eddie Floyd, no Mar-Keys, no Rufus Thomas or countless others who appeared on the label. Musically this is a "Stax 101" for beginners. The tragic distribution deal with Jerry Wexler and Atlantic records (which unbeknownst to Jim Stewart, for not reading the fine print, gave Wexler and Atlantic the rights to Stax's entire released catalog) is the first of many traumatic incidents in the label's history. There is an extensive and informative section chronicling the famous 1967 Stax U.K. tour with Otis, Booker T and Co. and Sam and Dave as well as Otis Redding's successful appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Sadly the follow up was Otis and The Mar-Key's  tragic death and the later assassination of Martin Luther King (and the strife both preceding and following his death in Memphis) which are covered in Episode 2 "Soul Man".   It's here that crucial facts begin to be conveniently not mentioned. The label's re-invigoration by Bell in the late 60's and early 70's with Johnnie Taylor "Who's Makin' Love (the label's strongest selling single at that point in 1968) and the mega stardom of Stax writer and producer Isaac Hayes as a performer are covered in Episode 3 "Respect Yourself" and also briefly covers the disillusionment and eventual departure of crucial musicians like Booker T. and Steve Cropper with Bell's inane scheme of releasing a staggering 28 albums simultaneously while treating the backing musicians like assembly line workers (and no mention of his use of thugs and threats to bring the understandably unhappy musicians to heel) . 

"The company became corporate. A mass production assembly line feeling. That whole concept was so foreign to me I just never accepted it. It was pain added to the other pain for me. I didn't want to leave, I had to leave" 
                                 -Booker T. Jones

Despite the fact that Rob Bowman is frequently featured in the series the producers neglected to use his book as a template and as a result decided to downplay the fact that racial tensions within the label were brewing and a backlash of bias that was coming on hard and fast in the wake of Dr. King's assassination. This claimed founder Estelle Axton as it's first victim (Axton's departure is chalked up to "creative differences" in the series). Her beloved Satellite records shop is closed with her departure and turned into studio space.  Bowman's telling quote of the series after Bell's sweeping reorg speaks volumes:

"Al Bell's decision to expand has great consequences as to record sales but terrible consequences in terms of morale"
                          -Rob Bowman

Crucially no mention is made of Al Bell's employment of two unsavory characters of criminal background in the form of Dino Woodward and Johnny Baylor (Baylor was later stopped in an airport in 1972 shortly after the epic Wattstax concert with an enormous sum of cash and a check from Stax for $500,000 in his possession which put Stax on the both the I.R.S. and F.B.I's radar ), nor is there any mention of the physical violence the musicians were threatened with by these unsavory elements. Bell is frequently portrayed in the series as a hapless victim of institutional racism, a well meaning soul caught in a web of unscrupulous contracts and business dealings with the horribly run Farmer's And Mechanics Bank and a disastrous deal with CBS that made the equally horrific deal with Atlantic in the 60's (covered in Episode 2) look minuscule. In truth Bell may have been an unfortunate victim in the case of the Farmer's And Mechanics Bank scandal and the CBS dilemma but his allowing the foxes to guard the hen house backfired, disastrously (also conveniently not mentioned was the paying of Baylor a cool $2.9 million dollars for one year's work in 1972). 

Dino Woodward (left), unknown and Johnny Baylor (right)
at the Stax Xmas party, 12/20/68.

Stax bounds back in Episode Three "Respect Yourself" with Issac Haye's career taking off and his "Shaft" score winning a Grammy in 1972 for Best Motion Picture Soundtrack and the label promoting the highly successful Wattstax gig in August of '72 with a huge roster of artists performing (clips of The Bar-kays, Issac Hayes and Carla Thomas and Rufus Thomas from the event are aired). However it's all downhill from there (as chronicled in Episode 4 "Nothing Takes The Place Of You") with mounting problems from CBS when Clive Davis (who forged the distribution deal with Stax) is unceremoniously canned and Stax's products are nowhere to be found in stores as CBS sits on them. Again it's Al Bell blaming his woes on everyone but himself. Al Bell may have talked the talk of "black power" but the end of the day it was green that really mattered. 

Al Bell pointing the finger at everyone but himself.

Stax (and Bell's) wild ride comes to a resounding halt when the bailiff's turn up to shut down a slimmed down Stax (having done a too little too late housecleaning/mass lay-off in the wake of the CBS debacle) after the Union Planter's Bank loan to save the label is foreclosed. Bell chalks it up to the white Memphis establishment declaring war on a successful black run enterprise (curiously NOT at the height of their success), never once mentioning about any of the shady dealings and fast and loose bookkeeping going on at the label. But if there's a loser in this story it's Jim Stewart, who, when the label is about to be swallowed up by its creditors sweeps in with his life savings an a valiant attempt to keep the wolves at bay despite being pushed out of the label by this time. It didn't work and Stewart wound up destitute and lost his house as a result but somehow remains proud and dignified of what he was able to accomplish. Depressing footage of a decaying Stax marquee and building being gutted in 1989 are it's epilogue and there's no mention of the label's subsequent takeover by Fantasy records in the late 70's OR the reconstruction and replication of the original building in it's original location. I guess there wasn't time for that during "the Al Bell show". 

******The Author is gratefully indebted to Rob Bowman's incredible book "Soulsville" which was instrumental in completing this post******

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Deram Records Top 10

1. THE MOVE-"Night Of Fear" Deram DM 109 1966

The Move got a reputation of being a slick 5 piece soul music floor show with syncopated dance moves and the band's four vocalists standing across the stage in a line doing obscure gems like Gladys Knight's "Stop Get A Hold Of Myself" or Joe Tex's "You Better Believe It". But when brought in as one of Deram's earliest signings their musical style shifted to originals penned by lead guitarist Roy Wood and the soul covers were left at the door of the recording studio (though they were still on the soul train both on air for BBC sessions and their live repertoire). Roy wrote their debut, "Night Of Fear" with it's distinct "War Of 1812" intro lick, something he said came from his parents love of classical music. It was coincidentally used the previous year by Ike and Tina Turner on their Loma 45 "Tell Her I'm Not Home", something a band with deep appreciation of soul music might well have been familiar with. Regardless it's an amazing track about nightmares (though of course everyone thought it was about a bad acid trip), punctuated by some amazing harmonies and resident mod fashion plate on bass Ace Kefford who adds the possibility of "trippier" elements at play when he soulfully croons "Just about to flip your mind, just about to trip your mind" in a Steve Winwood-esque style the bridge. The band's tight four part harmonies are the proverbial cherry bomb on top.

2. FRIENDS-"Mythological Sunday" Deram DM 198 1968

Friends were a studio only concoction featuring former Ivy League member John Carter and probably a who's who of session musicians. "Mythological Sunday" was the flip side of the insipidly dreadful "Piccolo Man", probably the label's worst offering after the dreadful "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman". Led by an eerie Mellotron that weaves together a gentle pop psych harmony number that sounds like a '68 Moody Blues outtake, it's a slow build.  The bridge sweeps in with a pop psych opus comprised by everything under the studio sink with harpsichord, majestic/soaring harmonies, piano etc. The number fades out and returns with an ominous solitary organ chord drone and war sound affects as a somber regimental march comes closer and closer with the military chorus singing: "If a million men went off to fight a war in foreign lands and fifty thousand came back home with blood upon their hands, would any soldier that was left come back to fight once more if he could know before he died what he was fighting for" before drifting back off an ending with the Mellotron notes that begin the track.

3. DAVID BOWIE-"The London Boys" Deram DM 107 1966

Forget "My Generation", "The London Boys" was THE archetype 60's mod anthem. It was, and still is......and much more. Originally recorded when Bowie was signed to Pye, the powers that were rejected the track because of it's lyrics about taking pills. His new label Deram, actually signed him after hearing the track and it was utilized as the flip of his debut Deram release "Rubber Band". From it's somber, glum beginning warble to the lifting full throttle cabaret ending (which David Robert Jones delivers like the Frank Sinatra of modernism) the number is a masterpiece. Restrained by a simple bass/organ backing with strains of brass (muted trumpet and woodwinds) the song builds as the pitch of Bowie's plight reaches it's full descent. Lyrically poignant and proud despite the "against all odds" scenario of hopelessness and failure faced by the song's young protagonist, "The London Boys" ages well. Bowie thought so too and re-recorded it for his aborted (and later posthumously released) LP "Toy" and performed it live several times in the early 2000's (usually sticking to the original arrangement) .

4. TINTERN ABBEY-"Beeside" Deram DM 164 1967

This two sider is for me, the DEFINITIVE British 60's psychedelic 45. "Beeside" begins with a faint piano that descends in volume until banished by a burst of slowed down cymbal flashes and a tapestry of Mellotron. Then there's some Macca '66-'67 style bass and backwards guitars before the ethereal lead vocals begin. The whole track is a mindblast, there's so much going on it it musically while the lead singer sings about pollination in a piece that at times musically reminds me of the majesty of the classic piece "Carnival Of Animals". And in the timely British pop psych tradition there's some muted  regal trumpet during the chorus that meshes really nicely with the Mellotron. This is British 60's psychedelia encapsulated accept no substitutes or imitations.

5. DENNY LAINE-"Say You Don't Mind" Deram DM 122 1967

"Say You Don't Mind" is one of those classic Deram releases that broke new grounds (The Move, Cat Stevens, Bowie, Tintern Abbey etc).  From it's renaissance evoking woodwinds, strings and rocking backing track it should've been a number one.  No doubt it was probably kept away by some tripe like Engelbert or The New Seekers.  But you can say this, there weren't many people doing this "string section" bit this early on in Deram's roster, which is sad because Denny Laine never really reaped the rewards he should have from this concept.  "Groundbreaking" I think one of the "Disc & Music Echo" clips I have somewhere said upon it's release.  Denny's voice is strong and hits some notes few could get away with, though Colin Blunstone did a wonderful reworking as a single in 1972. Rumor has it that he recorded an entire LP worth of material at the time, but the only thing that was forthcoming was one more single by him for the label eight months later. 

6. VIRGIN SLEEP-"Secret" Deram DM 173 1968 

We profiled Virgin Sleep's lush debut "Love" in one of our earliest posts (see here). Five months later in January 1968 they returned with this, their second and unfortunately final Deram single, this time with legendary producer/arranger Keith Mansfield providing some stunning orchestral backing. With it's extremely heavy orchestral intro, thundering drums and this high pitched note that is either a flute or some angelic vocals (or both) it's a Brit psych pop magnum opus. Eventually there is a discernible flute as well and in the ultimate "toy town psych" tradition there is a host of mentions of numerous nursery rhyme friendly animals making it a veritable barnyard of psychedelia all concerning the animals and the ability or inability to keep the "secret" ("butterflies sailing in the breeze, go tell it to the queen of the bees now she knows...spider spinning it's web of silk watching the ducks down by the mill, he'll keep the secret until he's ready.."). 

7. TEN YEARS AFTER-"The Sounds" Deram DM 176 1968
"The Sounds" should have been the A-side. Forget any blues pretensions or 20 minute Slim Harpo covers, "The Sounds" is a full on freakbeat gas from start to finish. Curiously it reminds me a bit of Dennis Couldry's "I Am Nearly There" (UK Decca F 12734 issued the same month) with it's downtrodden, morose vocals with lyrics of mental confusion brought on by "the sounds". Is it about paranoia? A bad trip? A man who has just about had enough of life?  You decide. There's occasional bluesy but blistering guitar licks that burst out while the main verses feature a subtle organ and almost Gregorian chant backing vocals that gloomily plod along like a freakout dirge and it just builds and builds. The organ gets funkier and sound affects slowly start to pile on creating a brilliant cacophony of paranoia and confusion. It stops abruptly and slowly creeps back in for a few seconds. Positively trippy, man.

8. THE 23RD TURNOFF-"Michael Angelo" Deram DM 150 1967
Out of the ashes from Liverpool beat latecomers The Kirkbys (pronounced "Kirby's", thanks Amanda!) lead singer Jimmy Campbell rebranded and relaunched them as The 23rd Turnoff (named after a Liverpool exit on the Motorway, if liner notes to a See For Miles comp LP are to be believed), though apparently Campbell is the only member actually participating in the recording. The lush orchestration and incredibly generous use of phasing are perfectly in keeping with the times as are the regal trumpet trills (is that a piccolo trumpet perhaps?) and an organ going through a Leslie speaker. The lyrics are equally profound ("why should it be that a man such as me who cares not for money and fame, shouldn't be rich with God's natural gifts to have something to show at the end of life's game"). And as was the case with Tintern Abbey, we got but one brilliant single out of them and then nothing.

9. THE EYES OF BLUE-"Supermarket Full Of Cans" Deram DM 114 1967

"Gettin' kind of hung up baby, wondering what you're gonna do...." intones the beat group styled lead singer of The Eyes Of Blue. From their rep back home in Swansea as blue eyed soul purveyors you would expect a lead singer aping Otis Redding. Nope. But that's where the charm of these fellas comes in. Their musical backing is full on high class and probably would have (or maybe might have?) moved the floors at Wigan Casino with with it's precision piano and vibes. But it's the fact that the lead singer is not singing in a soulful way that mimics a black American that makes it work! The number's strength is also due in no small part thanks to in house producer Noel Walker (also responsible for work with fellow label mates and soul loving Welshman Amen Corner). It's 101 mph delivery and the catchy vibes and enthusiastic punctual shouts of "Hey!" before the chorus are positively infectious as are the Action styled falsetto backing vocals. This was their second and  last single on Deram before jumping to Mercury and going prog the following year. Yuck.

10. THE PYRAMID-"The Summer Of Last Year" Deram DM 11 1967

"I just passed through the place where the sea was warm and clear, and the sun, and the sun was always hot in the summer of last year...", or so went the pastoral harmony pop and sole release by The Pyramid, who were discussed in one of our earliest posts (here). The band's harmonies are pure Californian/West Coast that would do the Association proud but they also bring to mind The Who's backing vocals on say "In The City" or "Glow Girl". There's subtle organ and some heavy fuzz bass (care of one John Paul Jones) and incredible knob twiddling by Denny Cordell (responsible for other Deram acts Beverely and Denny Laine) but it's those layers of vocals and harmonies that keep bringing me back again and again. Pop over to the link above for the original post to read memories of the single's recording by original member Mike Lease.

All label scans c/o of

Sunday, May 5, 2024

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Merseybeats "Last Night"


THE MERSEYBEATS-Last Night/See Me Back U.S. Fontana S-1950 1964

Liverpool's Merseybeats released five singles in the U.S. on Fontana, this was their third issued here in November of 1964 (it was previously issued in the U.K. the month before where it was their fifth single).

"Last Night" is the epitome of the "beat ballad" with an incredible duet between bassist Johnny "Gus" Gustafson and singer/guitarist John Banks. Delivered with muted acoustic guitars and a jazzy guitar lick and a very spirited hand clap percussion it's melodic, moody and magnificent. 

"See Me Back" was written by Crane and Gustafson and employs their double edged vocal attack on top of a hard rocking delivery that really makes it work thanks to the edginess they bring to it. 

Both tracks are available on the thoroughly comprehensive 2021 Grapefruit two CD collection "I Stand Accused" which collected everything the band and it's members recorded in the 60's. 

Hear "Last Night":

Hear "See Me Back":

Thursday, May 2, 2024

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

1. REUBEN & THE CHAINS-"Answer These Questions" Peacock 1938 1965

Starting out with some bluesy guitar licks this number incorporates some strong harmonies amid a mid tempo soulful delivery with some great call and response vocals forging a bridge between doo wop and uptempo soul/r&b.

2. TEDDY AND THE FINGERPOPPERS-"Soul Groove Pt. 1 (&2)" Arctic 143 1968 

Starting with some deep bass evolving into a party atmosphere with crowd noises, a deep bass/drums lock on the groove and wailing vocals  this number is a non stop party that's so catchy they couldn't contain it on just one side!

3. SAM BUTERA-"Love Bandit" Coliseum 45-2710 1968

Louie Prima sideman Sam "The Man" Butera get's "with it" and cut this interesting take on Johnny "Guitar" Watson's love bandit and proves that at 41 you can still be funky! The kitschy female backing vocals sweeten the deal, though Sam can barely keep it together for laughing through most of it. Where Las Vegas meets Muscle Shoals....

4. BABY HUEY & THE BABY SITTERS-"Monkey Man" St. Lawrence 1002 1965

Not to be confused with The Maytall's number of the same name this number is 1/3 frat rock (dig the combo organ and Kingsmen style guitar chord progressions), 1/3 soul and 1/3 gritty rock n' roll (that guitar solo is PURE Dave Davie's '64 vamping). Wild!

5. FREDDIE SCOTT-"Run Joe" Shout S-220 1967

One of my favorite Freddie Scott 45's is this killer version of Louis Jordan's "Run Joe" (covered by Stranger Cole two years prior). It's full on "party" atmosphere with lots of "audience participation/exhortations" adds to the mood of this full tilt 100 mph stormer with hard hitting drums, horns and stride piano.

6. EDDIE HOLMAN-"You Know That I Will" Parkway P-106 1966

Eddie Holman has a slew of amazing mid 60's releases and this is probably my favorite. The incredible music backing has a heavy Motown slant with hard hitting drums and bluesy piano propelling Eddie's high falsetto notes adding to it's dance floor accessibility.

7. CHOKER CAMPBELL'S BIG BAND-"Come See About Me" Motown M-1072 1964

This stunner of an instrumental reading of the Supremes hit "Come See About Me" is interesting because it sounds like the basic track for the original but with multiple layers of extra horns that give it an almost house band orchestra meets marching band feel. Kitschy without being campy!

8. ALBERT WASHINGTON AND THE KINGS-"You Gotta Pay Your Dues" Fraternity 1967

This slow burner (with guitar care of Lonnie Mack) has a beautiful churchy Hammond with some wonderful bluesy licks and a soulful Gospel vocal delivery that brings to mind Sam & Dave meets Larry Williams and Johnny "Guitar" Watson adds to the full on "soul testimonial" delivery.

9. DEE EDWARDS-"You Say You Love Me" Tuba 1706 1963

This number reminds me a lot of Mary Well's "The One Who Really Loves You" but with some cool high falsetto backing vocals and an interesting backing with some kitschy organ, congas and a muted "lounge soul" feel.  Priceless.

10. TY HUNTER-"Bad Loser" Chess 1893 1964

This underrated mid tempo smoker b-side falls somewhere between a sophisticated Ben E. King side (dig the slick brass arrangement) meets the soulful sides of the early Radiants (especially the backing vocals when they hit the falsettos).

Monday, April 22, 2024

Alma Cogan-"Snakes And Snails"


Alma Cogan-Snakes, Snails And Puppy Dog Tails/How Many Nights Denmark Columbia DB 7622 1965

British 60's female singer Alma Cogan was long associated with the old variety show/pop guard so this completely rockin' July 1965 release (U.K. Columbia DB 7652 where it was titled simply "Snakes And Snails" on stock releases) must have come as quite the surprise to the public and her fans! Written and produced by Searchers drummer Chris Curtis in one of his first sessions behind the producers chair, he put quite a mix together for the recording as told to author Spencer Leigh in a "Record Collector" interview a few years before his death:

"I got Bobby Ore on drums, John Paul Jones on bass, Jimmy Page, Vic Flick and Joe Moretti on guitars and they played out of their skins! She didn't realise that she'd have to sing over a heavy rock backing and she loved it. The backing vocalists were Dusty Springfield, Doris Troy, Rosetta Hightower from The Orlons and me. Boy did we have fun."

Though Curtis has been known to embellish the truth a bit at times regardless of who's really on the record it's an incredible piece of music (Dusty's voice can audibly be heard on the backing vocals). The musical backing is solid and incredibly powerful as is the vocal delivery. The lyrics are completely dark and twisted (imagine a more fatal ending to "Love Potion #9"). It is alleged that Keith Richards panned it in a music newspaper as "one of the worst records I've ever heard".  Regardless of whether that's true the record went nowhere and Alma succumbed to overran cancer the following year at just 34 years of age.


The flip, "How Many Nights" is utterly disposable pop schlock, like something Brenda Lee or Lulu would have been forced to record. Next....

"Snakes And Snails" appeared ages ago on the Past & Present  "new Rubble" series CD "New Rubble Volume 5". 

Hear "Snakes, Snails And Puppydog Tails":

Monday, April 15, 2024

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Traffic "Hole In My Shoe"


TRAFFIC-Hole In My Shoe/Smiling Phases U.S. United Artists UA 50218 1967

Traffic's second American single was released in October 1967, three months after it's British release as Island WIP 6017 where it reached #2, unfortunately it failed to chart here.

Penned and sung by guitarist Dave Mason it perfectly encapsulates the child like "toy town" psychedelic pop genre with lyrics about toy soldiers, bubblegum trees et al. With sitars, flutes, organ, Mellotron etc it has all the necessary trappings of a '67 pop psych record including the spoken word bit (care of Island records supremo Chris Blackwell's stepdaughter Francine)  "I climbed on the back of a giant albatross which flew through a crack in the cloud, to a place where happiness reigned all year round where the music played ever so loudly".  

The flip side, "Smiling Phases" is sung by Steve Winwood and his soulful vocals over a harder rocking musical section than the A-side with just flute, bass, drums, guitar, organ and outside of some phasing on the vocals none of the psychedelic whimsy from the A-side.

Both sides are available for streaming on Spotify and are also on the deluxe edition of their debut LP "Mr. Fantasy" (titled "Heaven Is In Your Mind" in the U.S.).  

Their whole journey from this period has been wonderfully chronicled in the wonderful book "The Island Book Of Records 1959-1968". 

Hear "Hole In My Shoe":

Hear "Smiling Phases":

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Graham Bond 1970


GRAHAM BOND-Walking In The Park/Springtime In The City U.K. Warner Brothers WB 8004 1970

Organ maestro Graham Bond's career had sadly dovetailed by the late 1960's. Addicted to heroin and frequently being tracked down by bailiffs and the police over his bankruptcy situation he was miraculously signed up by Warner Brothers who issued a single comprised of two tracks recorded in 1966 with Dick Heckstall Smith (saxophone) and John Hiseman (drums) AND paid him a healthy sum of  £5,000! The youthful Hiseman (22 at the time) produced by tracks. 

"Walking In The Park" (penned by Bond) sounds like it was literally made up on the spot with it's simplistic word rhymes, but it's a rather rollicking track nonetheless thanks to the band's solid playing. It is NOT the version that featured on the Graham Bond Organization's debut LP "There's A Bond Between Us".  Bond's organ trills are amazing and Heckstall Smith gives 101% as always and Hiseman nails it down nicely behind the kit! 

"Springtime In The City", another Bond original, is a moody piece of business. It sounds at times like it was made up, lyrically anyway, on the spot. But there's a spooky feel to it with Bond's Hammond organ trills and Dick Heckstall Smith's sax work which meshes perfectly with the improvisational nature of the song (a trademark of any Graham Bond 60's recording). Heckstall-Smith must have had the patience of the Master because he continuously stuck with Bond as the only ever present G.B.O. member!

Rare Portuguese pressing

Both sides were collected on the Warner Brothers 1970 double album compilation "Solid Bond" issued in several countries (also available on CD) as well as being available to hear on Spotify.  

Hear "Walking In The Park":

Hear "Springtime In The City":

Monday, April 1, 2024

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


1. DESTINATION SOUL-"Ease My Mind" Tower 753 1967

With a 1967 release date you'd expect this to sound funkier but it's a weird track. The vocals remind me like an even more "white" Righteous Brothers but I love the driving beat and though some would argue it's not remotely "soul" I beg to differ. And I love the cheezy little Farfisa solo too.  Listen...

2. DON COVAY-"The Popeye Waddle" Cameo C-239 1965

Don Covay recorded for at least half a dozen imprints in the U.S. in the 60's. This one from '62 is incredibly tacky and but I dig the "Do You Love Me" rewrite that's going on in it. Strangely enough Covay is barely on the record as most of the vocals are by female session singers with him periodically injecting his improvisational vocal bursts after each chorus!


This slow burner has been #1 on my soul wants list for almost two decades now and seeing as the last copy went for $350 on Discogs last year the chances my owning it are slim. All griping aside this number is a killer from start to finish. Starting with some moody organ, it's down trodden vocals are a tour de force in full blown soulful misery!

4. BIG MAYBELLE-"Quittin' Time" Rojak ROJ-118 1967

I love pretty much everything Big Maybelle did on Rojac and this one is probably my favorite alongside her renderings of "I Can't Control Myself" and "96 Tears". It's uptempo vibe and frantic beat is a perfect vehicle for her husky voice punctuated by some nifty blasts of horns. It reminds me a bit of "I Don't Need No Doctor", and dig the "Get Ready" lick injected mid song during the break.

5. TONY CLARKE-"The Fugitive Kind" Chess 1935 1965

I'm a sucker for anything Tony Clarke released on Chess so.... This number reminds me a bit of The Manhattan's "Searchin' For My Baby" with it's slow delivery and call and response vocals and like all of Tony's releases on the label it has an air of sophistication and top notch production/backing.

6. EARL KING-"Come On Part One" Imperial X5713 1960

I love this variation of "Let The Good Times" (copied part and parcel five years later by Alvin Robinson), it's got these greasy horns, funky/bluesy guitar and this suave/cool laid back vocal style that's just right and conjures images of a smoke filled, low lit dive bar with this band wailing over in the corner with their shades on while the whiskey flows.

7. THE SOUL SISTERS-"Flashback" Sue 140 1965

I just realized that a in lot of my posts today I have espoused lots of material by quite a few artists and I'm not going to deviate from that pattern on the subject of the duo The Soul Sisters and their Sue records output. This was their seventh of eight singles released on the label and this one is far more uptempo than any of their other releases for the label, like Betty Everett's "Can't Hear You No More" on a handful of speed (dig the exultation's of "Oooo oooo Pow!" periodically throughout the song)

8. JEANETTE WILLIAMS-"All Of A Sudden" Back Beat 568 1966

Delivered with a melody not dissimilar to an uptempo "Take Me For A Little While" this in demand 100mph stormer was penned by Don Robey (under his moniker of Deadric Malone) and doesn't quit. The subtle brass, vibes and frenetic pace of course has rendered this unobtainable thanks to it's popularity on the pensioners soul scene.

9. BILL BUSH-"I'm Waiting" Ronn 17 1968

I really dig this one. It's a mid tempo tune with some jazzy sax and the tempo/beat that anticipates Terry Callier's "Ordinary Joe". The vocalist sounds a bit like Len Barry and I have no idea who was/is. Best of all there's these incessant organ that plays throughout the number that gives it an interesting feel.

10. THE CHARMAINES-"Rockin' Pneumonia" Fraternity F-931 1964

This Lonnie Mack produced number is in such demand there's not even a scan of it on 45cat so I had to nick it from Discogs! It's easily my favorite reading of "Rockin' Pneumonia", with some great vocals that remind me of a cross between The Shirelles and The Soul Sisters, but it's the greasy musical backing that really sweetens the deal here!

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Manfred Mann Channels Bob Dylan


MANFRED MANN-Mighty Quinn/By Request-Edwin Garvey U.K. Fontana TF 897 1968

Manfred Mann's biggest American hit was their January 1968 version of Bob Dylan's "Mighty Quinn" which rose to #10 (and in the U.K. it gave the band their third and final #10. It was forever a staple of the Oldies radio station I was reared on (NYC's WCBS FM 101.1!) and therefore firmly embedded in my psyche. I liked it and when I became British Invasion mad at some point in 1975/1976 it was the first record I ever owned by the band. All too often you get bludgeoned by songs like this but fortunately living in a bubble where all of my television watching is streaming and I don't listen to anything but vinyl and Spotify I have been able to appreciate such staples of my past now in doses I prefer!

"Mighty Quinn" or as my American oldies reissue 45 (with Keith's "98.6" on the flip) said "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)" of course comes from the scratch pad of Bob Dylan. The band were probably the earliest British interpreters of his work and had covered "With God On Our Side" on an E.P. and had a U.K. #2 hit with "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" in their previous incarnation. "Mighty Quinn" was from Dylan's legendary "Basement Tapes" and what the Manfred's did with it was nothing short of amazing. It's such a bouncy little ditty with nonsensical, clever lyrics and the Manfred's giving it 101% with a great beat, Klaus Voorman's flute, Manfred's Hammond, precise harmonies and Mike D' Abo's rousing vocals. 

Speaking of Mr. D'Abo...on the flip we have a composition of his, "By Request-Edwin Garvey".  It's probably one of THE most unusual flip sides to a mega hit you will ever hear!  D'Abo warbles on like he's coming from a 1920's gramophone over some piano and the whole thing sounds like a spoof of the Bonzo Dog Band meets something from a Mel Brooks movie! 

Both tracks are available on a host of Fontana records collections of the band's Mike D'Abo period as well as streaming on Spotify. 

Hear (and see) "Mighty Quinn" on "Beat Club":

Hear "By Request Edwin Garvey":

Monday, March 11, 2024

The Beat Scene- Volume Two Imagined

In 1998 Decca issued a 25 track CD called "The Beat Scene", one of several "Scene" compilations issued of tracks culled from the Decca/Deram archives. Unfortunately any further official volumes were not forthcoming so I decided to create an imaginary track listing of another volume utilizing tunes from the Decca label. 

1. THE BIG THREE-"What'd I Say" E.P. Decca  DFE 8552 1963 

2. BRIAN POOLE AND THE TREMELOES-"Love Me Baby" Decca F 12197 1965

3. THE ZOMBIES-"Woman" Decca F 12004 1964

4. THE MIGHTY AVENGERS-"Hide Your Pride" Decca F 11891 1964

5. THE PETE BEST FOUR-"Why Did I Fall In Love With You" Decca F 11929 1964

6. CHICK GRAHAM AND THE COASTERS-"A Little You" Decca F 11932 1964

7. PHASE FOUR-"Think I'll Sit Down And Cry" Decca F 12327 1966

8. FREDDIE STARR AND THE MIDNIGHTERS-"Peter Gunn Locomotion" Decca F 11663 1963

9. THE CLASSMATES-"Pay Day" Decca F 12047 1966

10. THE MARAUDERS-"Always On My Mind" Decca F 11748 1963

11. THE VERNONS GIRLS-"Dat's Love" E.P. Decca DFE 8506 1962

12. BERN ELLIOT AND THE CLAN-"Good Times" Decca F 11970 1964

13. THE CHECKMATES-"Around" Decca F 12114 1965

14. THE DENNISONS-"Nobody Like My Babe" Decca F 11990 1964

15. THE APPLEJACKS-"I'm Through" Decca F 12301 1965

16. THE ORCHIDS-"I've Got That Feeling" Decca F 11861 1964

17. HEINZ-"I Get Up In The Morning" E.P. Decca DFE 8545 1963

18. GEORGE BEAN-"Why Must They Criticize" Decca F 12228 1965

19. THE BROOKS-"Poor Poor Plan" Decca F 11868 1964

20. LEE CURTIS AND THE ALL STARS-"Let's Stomp" Decca 11690 1963

21. THE PICKWICKS-"I Don't Want To Tell You Again" Decca F 11901 1964

22. THE MOJOS-"Nobody But Me" E.P. Decca DFE 8591 1964

23. KINGSIZE TAYLOR AND THE DOMINOS-"Stupidity" Decca F 11874

24. BOBBY CRISTO AND THE REBELS-"I've Got You Out Of My Mind" Decca F 11913 1964

25. THE SNOBS-"Buckle Shoe Stomp" Decca F 11867 1964

Artwork care of Charlie Starkey