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

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Randy Newman Feted In Britain

Songwriter Randy Newman sparked quite a bit of interest in the U.K. as early as 1965 but hit pay dirt when Alan Price took his "Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear" all the way to #4 (and it is alleged resulted in Newman securing a recording contract in America with Reprise records). Here are ten British readings of some of Randy's tracks released in the Sixties. Enjoy!

1. DUFFY POWER-"Davy O'Brien (Leave That Baby Alone)" U.K. Parlophone R 5631 1967

Originally released as "Leave That Baby Alone" by Saturday's Children in the US on Dunwich in May 1967, Davy Graham issued his version of this number in October with a full own treatment thanks to the incredible brass and arrangement courtesy of Mike Vickers. Is this a tale of lecherous intent or well meaning moral upstanding? We'll never know but Davy delivers the goods making this my favorite Randy Newman reading ever!

2. THE NASHVILLE TEENS-"The Biggest Night Of Her Life" U.K. Decca F 12657 1967

The hits had long dried up for the Nashville Teens when Decca issued this as their tenth (and next to last) 45. This Newman track may have been an attempt to restart their career (Alan Price did a version on his second British album "A Price On His Head").  It's neo-rag time feel (in no small part to the barrel house Ivory tinkling) is a sign of the times but alas it was not really suited to the Teens.

3. MANFRED MANN-"So Long Dad" UK Fontana TF 862 1967

The Manfred's got the first version of this ditty out (Alan Price later recorded it as well) and it is probably my favorite reading of it. It's boozy, bluesy and incredibly intricate with a nice mix of barroom piano, harpsichord and Mellotron. Riding the crest of that whole Vaudevillian vibe Mike D'Abo and the boys easily handle this sentimental ode to father/son relations.

4. BILLY FURY-"Baby Do You Love Me?" U.K. Parlophone R 5658 1967

By 1967 Billy Fury, like all of his contemporaries was struggling against the tide. His management were trying everything to get him back in the game (his next single would be a Bee Gee number on one side and a Bowie track on the flip) and he too jumped on the Newman train. Sadly this one is incredibly tepid and reeks of chicken in the basket and stale ciggies and even a Randy Newman/Midas touch on the song writing credits could put Billy back together again.

5. CILLA BLACK-"I've Been Wrong Before" U.K. Parlophone R 5269 1965

Cilla gets kudos for being the first British artist to record a Randy Newman number. Randy himself was rather pleased with the results and took the time to frequently compliment it in interviews. I'm not a huge Cilla fan and I will admit this does absolutely nothing for me and it's inclusion here is merely for historical purposes. Next!

6. DUSTY SPRINGFIELD-"I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore" U.S. Atlantic 45-2623 1969

Dusty was late to the Newman party when she cut this one for her oft praised "Dusty In Memphis" LP in 1969. Lyrically it's probably my favorite Newman track, a wonderful social observation about apartment building gossip (previously recorded by The Walker Brothers and prior to that masterfully cut by Jerry Butler). With those two previous versions in mind this leaves me flat. Sorry.

7. ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS-"Mama Told Me Not To Come" France EP Barclay 071081


Originally slated to be the flip side Eric Burdon's first post Animals single "Help Me Girl" on Decca in the U.K. it was hastily withdrawn and issued instead with "See See Rider" on the flip. It was however released as an E.P. track in France AND on his first post Animals U.S. LP "Eric Is Here". Long before Three Dog Night took it to the top Eric interpreted it first. The music reminds me a lot of his ex-band mate's venture The Alan Price Set meets his drinking buddy Georgie Fame and it's lyrically suited to Burdon's then reputation as an all out looner. Interesting!

8. JULIE DRISCOLL-"If You Should Ever Leave Me" U.K. Parlophone R 5588 1967

Tucked away on the flip of her opus "I Know You Love Me Not", Jools ratchets up the emotions with a lush arrangement by Reg Guest. Unfortunately at the end it sounds like the number is out of her range AND it literally sounds like she's sobbing (talk about raw emotion) but the very Walker Brothers meets Dusty orchestration makes it incredible and therefore indispensable .

9. THE PERSUASIONS-"Big Brother" U.K. Columbia DB 7700 1965

Coming out in September 1965 this one joins Cilla in being one of the earliest U.K. recordings of a Randy Newman track. The Persuasions were an oft overlooked British band that had a fairly innocuous soul sound and this recording is actually fairly interesting falling somewhere between a beat ballad and jazzy and moody mod r&b.

10. ALAN PRICE SET-"Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear" U.K. Decca F 12570 1967

Originally released by Tommy Boyce in the States on A&M the previous year, Alan Price became one of the most prodigious British interpreters of Newman's material (his second LP "A Price On His Head" contained no less than 7 of his tunes on it) and that is no better exemplified than in this brilliant little jaunty track. It's bubbly, kitschy and happy and gave Price his biggest selling British single.

Friday, March 1, 2024

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

1. MARLOWE MORRIS QUINTET-"Play The Thing" Columbia 4-42218 1961

I was first drawn to this number by the interesting song title. "Play The Thing" is a funky little instrumental with soulful organ, powerful brass and some beatnik bongos moving it along nicely.

2. LeBRENDA BEN & THE BELJEANS-"The Chaperone" Gordy  7009 1962

This one was completely new to me until I was hipped to it by DJ Pete Pop on Instagram. I was completely unfamiliar with this kitschy little mondo obscure girl group track by an act who had just two singles on Motown's Gordy outlet. This one reminds me a bit of the Marvelettes early material.

3. HENRY BOATWRIGHT-"I Can Take Or Leave Your Lovin" Capitol 2131 

Most of you will be familiar with the Herman's Hermits original version of this (or The Foundations later cover) but this American version came out third and is my favorite of the bunch. It's faster, catchier and 100% more soulful.

4. HANK DIAMOND-"Soul Sauce (Wachi Wara)" World Pacific 77812 1966

I'm a sucker for any version of Cal Tjader's "Soul Sauce" and this version is interesting to my ears because musically it sounds a bit like a cross between the original and the Timebox cover but it's a vocal version, sung by some clearly very white/antiseptic dudes but the musical backing is tight and infectious.

5. THE YOUNG FOLK-"Lonely Girl" Mar-V-Lus 6017 1967

I may have posted this one before, so apologies if we have. This number is full of slick backing vocal falsettos and great call and responses. This was their only single (that strangely got a UK release on President a few months later).

6. JIMMY McCRACKLIN-"Get Tough" U.S. Checker 893 1958

This was the follow up to Jimmy's most famous single, "The Walk". Utilizing basically the exact same formula of it's predecessor, "Get Tough" sports the same beat, same tempo BUT with different lyrics and a very cool horn section and an absolutely wailing sax.

7. DENISE LaSALLE-"A Love Reputation" Chess 2005 1967

Previously issued on the small Tarpon label, this was the debut release by Denise LaSalle. It's an excellent mid tempo that boasts "I got a love reputation from New York to New Orleans" from an era before things got too "funky" for my tastes.

8. QUINCY JONES-"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" Mercury 72496 1965

Tucked away on the flip of his "What's New Pussycat" is this interesting take on the Stones hit that starts out like mellow Muzak and then shifts into a brass heavy Uptown swanky department store incidental music with everything including the kitchen sink thrown in.

9. BILLY PRINCE-"Somebody Help Me" Verve VK-10462 1966

Cheers to my old pal Ty Jesso for hipping me to this one over two decades ago. This cover of the Jackie Edwards composition made famous by The Spencer Davis Group bears investigation. The backing track is the same used on The Jaybirds U.K. Sue release from a few months earlier AND the Wynder K. Frog version on their "Sunshine Superfrog" LP making me wonder how this occured. Regardless of the backing it's Prince's vocals that take the cake in my book that turns the whole thing into a soulful smash.

10. BILL McAFFE-"I Don't Know Why" Galaxy 710 1963

This curious little uptempo groover has backing vocals that recall The Shirelles and a musical feel much like Ray Charles stuff at the same time period. The lead vocalist has an incredible range that goes from smooth Mose Allison  lazy delivery to a wailing James Brown scream.

All scans c/o