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!