Thursday, January 18, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Untamed

THE UNTAMED-It's Not True/Gimme Gimme Some Shade US Planet 45-117 1966

Brighton, England's mod/r&b stalwarts The Untamed were led by lead singer/guitarist Lindsay Muir.  They had multiple personnel and label changes by the time they joined producer Shel Talmy's fledgling Planet label in late 1965. The band's debut was on Decca ("So Long/Just Wait", F 12045 December 1964), but it was not until their one off 45 for Parlophone ("Once Upon A Time/I'm Asking You", Parlophone R 5258 March 1965) that the band came into producer Shel Talmy's orbit. He moved with them for their next 45 on Stateside ("I'll Go Crazy/My Baby Is Gone", SS 431 June 1965) and stayed on for their brief recording career. With three releases on three different labels that failed to garner notice (all Lindsay Muir compositions save the James Brown cover on Stateside) Talmy brought them in on his newly formed Planet label with their next release being one of the three singles chosen to simultaneously launch the label. With Muir's material not providing the band with a hit Talmy chose "It's Not True", a track from the recently completed debut Who LP "My Generation" that he also produced to be their next single.

Released in England as Planet PLF 103 in December 1965 it was strangely not released in the United States until October 1966, by which point the Planet label was a mere two months away from folding. Untamed personnel at the time of the single's recording were Muir (lead vocals/lead guitar), Brian Breeze (rhythm guitar), Wes (bass, full name unknown!), Alan Moss (organ) and Keith Hodge (drums). The track was cut at IBC studios in November 1965 . Produced by Talmy it was engineered by Glyn Johns and aided by Talmy's favorite session man Nicky Hopkins on piano.

The Untamed line-up at the time of "It's Not True", Lindsay Muir center

"It's Not True" is slightly faster than The Who original, with Hopkin's piano far more prominent in the mix and distinct double tracking on the main chorus. It's a decent cut but one wonders why Talmy had the Untamed record an already issued Who cut when Pete Townshend no doubt had a slew on unrecorded tracks to offer. This may have been due to the fact that the Who's fractious relationship with the producer was drawing to and end.  It gets nice a rough during the bridge, in fact rawer than the original and Hopkin's piano trills adding to the pop art mayhem! The flip, "Gimme Gimme Some Shade", a Muir original,  is a far stronger track but not punchy enough to have been a A-side.

Both sides are available on RPM's Untamed CD "Gimme Gimme: Singles And Unreleased Rarities 1965-1996" and will no doubt be included in the Ace records Untamed anthology already in the works as we type (and including the band's debut Decca 45 left off of "Gimme Gimme", mastered from yours truly's copy). "It's Not True" was also comped on RPM's Planet records CD collection "The Best Of Planet Records" and on their more recent 3 CD collection "Looking Back".

Hear "It's Not True" and "Gimme Gimme Some Shade":

Monday, December 11, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Force Five and Jim Economides

THE FORCE FIVE-Gee Too Tiger/I Want You Babe US Ascot 2206 1966

The sole US 45 by Britain's The Force Five ("the" being dropped on their U.K. releases) was a curious March 1966 coupling of their fourth and next to last U.K. single (United Artists UP 1118 December 1965) with sides reversed. Hailing from the Dr. Feelgood turf of Canvey Island the Force Five were a U.K. beat 5 piece.

"Gee Too Tiger", though credited to Jim Economides and Perry Ford sounds suspiciously like this May 1965 track "Geeto Tiger" cut in the U.S. on the Colpix label by The Tigers!!  Blatant plagiarism aside it's always interesting to hear British bands sing about the imminently American domain of fast cars. "Gee Too Tiger" works not just because it's a punchy beat number but because The Force Five have the vocal harmony part down to a fine art and the over the top guitar solo worthy of any Joe Meek record is far too crazy for anything a U.S. surf/hot rod band would attempt!

Pic courtesy of

 "I Want You Babe" is moved along by a catchy bass line, it's a mid tempo beat number somewhat reminiscent of The Applejacks or The Sons Of Fred.  Again there's a freaky little guitar solo towards the end where the band go into a full on mod/freakbeat "rave up" that sadly fades out before it really gets going (the track clocks at just under 2 minutes).

Both sides were produced by the US producer Jim Economides who took a page from Shel Talmy's book and launched his own UK based production company in 1965 producing Marc Bolan's debut 45, Ray Singer, The Fenmen (on their final two "West Coast" influenced 45's ), The Fadin' Colors, Simone Jackson, The Clockwork Oranges mod/surf classic "Ready Steady" and The Majority's surf/hot rod number "Shut 'Em Down In London Town" etc. One wonders if Economides heard "Geeto Tiger" whilst producing in the States and took the liberty of "rewriting" it in the the UK (he had previously produced "surf" records for Dick Dale and Mr. Gasser and The Weirdos back in the US of A) .

"Gee Too Tiger" has yet to be comped but "I Want You Babe" recently surfaced on the CD compilation series "Beatfreak!" on their "Beatfreak 2!" volume.

Hear "Gee Too Tiger":

Hear "I Want You Babe":

Monday, December 4, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Status Quo

STATUS QUO-Ice In The Sun/When My Mind Is Not Live US Cadet Concept 7006 1968

Status Quo will forever be one hit wonders in the United States on the strength of their March 1968 #12 hit "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" issued on the Chess records "alternative" outlet Cadet Concept.  Cadet Concept skipped their second 45 "Black Veils Of Melancholy" (which was curiously issued in 1969 as their 4th of 5 Cadet Concept 45's!)  and jumped to their third U.K. 45 "Ice In The Sun" which was released here in August 1968 (issued in the U.K. as Pye 7N.17581 the previous month). Unfortunately it stalled at #70 and was the last time Status Quo ever graced the U.S. Hot 100.

Written by pre-Beatles U.K. teen idol Marty Wilde (father of 80's new wave sensation Kim) and Ronnie Scott (NOT the famous U.K. jazz man), "Ice In The Sun" relies on the similar guitar effects of "Pictures Of.." , it's sort of bubble gum psych pop. Not an awful track per se but not their best either.  The real gem in the flip side "When My Mind Is Not Life" penned by the band's lead guitarist Rick Parfitt.  Starting with some wah-wah'ed combo organ and  bass playing scales with their trademark distorted guitar wailing away it's a perfect hard pop-psych tune.  Musically it reminds me of The Bee Gee's if they'd been allowed to get "heavier".

Both tracks were included on their debut US LP "Messages From The Status Quo" and are available on a host of Pye era Status Quo CD compilations.

Hear "Ice In The Sun":

Hear "When My Mind Is Not Life":

Cool Belgian 1968 TV promo for both tracks:


Thursday, November 30, 2017

November's Picks

Not since Jonesy banged out his psychedelic samba on a Mellotron on The Stones "We Love You" has there been such a magnificent use of that quirky little keyboard. This Prettie's 1999 single, in my estimation, rates as the best thing they've done since "S.F. Sorrow" with great lyrics, ballsy delivery and of course some nifty Mellotron c/o keyboard player John Povey.

2. KENNY WELLS-"Isn't It Just A Shame"
Hidden away on the flip of 1966's "I Can't Stop" on Bob Crewe's New Voice label here's another classic mid tempo soul tune up the in the high $$$$ range.  The harmonies and groove are timelessly infectious. Repeat as necessary.

3. LEE MORGAN-"Midnight Cowboy"
One of my fave Lee Morgan tunes has always been this somber reading of John Barry's film theme cut as a Blue Note 45 in 1969.  It's bleak and melancholy delivery seems to evoke the gritty/sleazy yet interesting landscape of NYC in the late 60's and sounded even better when I wore a younger man's clothes at 4 AM when the clubs are all closed and the night was ending. On that note be sure to check out Netflix for the Lee Morgan documentary "I Called Him Morgan".

4. THE SCEPTRES-"Something's Coming Along"
Previously cut by The Swingin' Blue Jeans in 1967 this version was cut a year later by a Montreal, Canada group and issued at home on the Allied label and in the U.K. on Spark.  The harmonies and musical backing is tighter than the Blue Jeans version and far punchier coming across like The Association and The Four Seasons (especially on the chorus!)  meets The Episode Six: MAGIC!

5. JAMES COIT-"Black Power"
This monster rare soul civil rights anthem from '68 holds little of the funk you'd expect from that year and sounds like it was cut much earlier.  Moved by strong horns and incredible lyrics it is of course a big "Northern soul" fave so good luck finding a copy.

6. SHAWN ELLIOTT-"Shame And Scandal In The Family"
1,000 times better than the Peter Tosh and The Wailers version (credited to "Peter Touch") in my estimation, this 45 was cut in the US by one Shawn Elliott, a quiffed Puerto Rican Fabian/Frankie Avalon looking cat and issued in the U.K. on the ska label Rio. The musical backing is tighter and his vocals are far stronger than the "authentic" ska version mentioned earlier.

7. JON HENDRICKS-"Watermelon Man"
Jon Hendricks departure from this mortal coil last week at the age of 96 came as quite a bit of bad news here at Anorak Thing. Jon had created a wealth of music, both as a member of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross and on his own.  This rousing version of "Watermelon Man" comes from his 1963 single (he had previously recorded it with Lambert and Bavan).

An obscure '68 slice of British mod/r&b with horns straight off of a Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers/Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band record with vocals and lyrics reminiscent of pop sike era Alan Bown ("my little blue dog has gone away....the dinosaur I have he made my dog real mad, my purple frog too...")

9. RICK NELSON-"I Wonder If Louise Is Home"
From Rick's 1967 album "Another Side Of Rick" cut with the cream of the crop LA session players, this track is my fave on the LP.  It's simplistic, orchestrated pop reminds me of Billy Nicholls or Del Shannon's UK recorded album "At Home And Away".

10. JACK HAMMER-"Down In The Subway"
Louisiana born soul/r&b belter Jack Hammer cut this track in 1965 with a gritty Hammond n' horns backing that leads me to believe it was recorded in the U.K. but it was only issued in Sweden the following year. Monster stuff!!

Monday, November 27, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Paul Jones

PAUL JONES-It's Getting Better/Not Before Time US Bell B-805 1969

Former Manfred Mann lead singer Paul Jones ditched jazzy r&b for M.O.R. pop and became somewhat of a crooner in the U.K. Most of his U.K. 45's were issued in the States on the Capitol label but for his 5th US 45 he switched to the Bell label.

Issued in June 1969 (previously released in April in the UK as Columbia DB 8567) this Mann/Weil composition failed to chart (as did his previous US releases). Interestingly it was produced by Paul Jones and arranged and conducted by Tony Visconti! "It's Getting Better" is one of the biggest pieces of tripe I've heard despite it's dollybird backing vocals, regal harpsichord and flutes and strings.

The flip side "Not Before Time" (written and produced by Jones) is 100 times better. It's a funky little instrumental led by his wailing harp and some wiggy Gregorian chant vocals on top of  tribal sounding percussion.  Think of it as an updated version of the old Manfred's instro "Why Should We Not" meets Syd Barrett's "Rhamadan".

Both sides were collected on the RPM CD collection "Come Into My Music Box Vol 3".

Hear "It's Getting Better":

Hear "Not Before Time":

Monday, November 13, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels:Jon Gunn

I Just Made Up My Mind/Now Its My Turn US Deram 45-DEM-85013 1967

British vocalist Jon Gunn's brief career consisted of just two 45's on the Deram label. Both were issued in the United States as well as his home country.  "I Just Made Up My Mind" was his debut. First issued in the UK as Deram DM 133 in June 1967, the track was composed by Alan Hawkshaw and had previously been issued in March 1967 by The Dodo's as "Made Up My Mind" (Polydor 56153). Today's U.S. subject was released in August 1967.

"I Just Made Up My Mind" is a perfect slice on archetype '67 Deram pop/soul from it's phlanged piano intro to sharp horns, sweeping soulful strings and it's uptempo danceability (all courtesy of Ivor Raymonde) and Jon Gunn's strong vocals that fall somewhere between Frankie Valli and Chris Farlowe. The number gained some brief popularity on the Northern soul scene no doubt thanks to it's uptempo beat and strings.

Photo c/o

The flip side "Now It's My Turn" is slightly less frantic.  It's strings and brass and touches of vibraphone add a distinctly "Northern" feel to it but this is off set by some congas and a chorus that would not sound at all out of place on an Amen Corner Deram 45. Gunn's follow up "If You Wish It/"I Don't Want To Get Hung Up On You Babe" was issued in Britain in December 1967 (DM 166). In the US an altered release was issued in January 1968 with a reading of the Macauly/Macleod ballad "Let The Heartaches Begin" gracing the A- side with "If You Wish It" bringing up the flip (45-85024).

"I Just Made Up My Mind" was included on the highly recommended Deram/Decca collection CD compilation "The Northern Soul Scene", the flip side has sadly not seen a reissue anywhere as of yet.

Hear " I've Just Made Up My Mind":

Hear "Now It's My Turn":

Monday, October 30, 2017

October's Picks

1. BO DIDDLEY-"I Can Tell"
Tucked away on the flip of "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover" is this stone cold template for every British 60's beat and rhythm n' blues combo.

2. THE JAYBIRDS-"Somebody Help Me"
Here's one I'm going to own up and admit to knowing nothing about.  It was issued on the U.K. Sue label and it's essentially the backing track to the Jackie Edwards version but with some female vocalists who only sing the chorus.  Were they British?!  And who were they?! I swear I hear P.P. Arnold in there.

3. TRUDY PITTS-"It Was A Very Good Year"
My intro to Trudy Pitts came in the mid 90's via Rhino and one of their lounge CD compilations doing a version of "Take Five" which piqued my interest enough to delve into her more. This is my fave from her 2nd LP, 1967's Prestige LP "Introducing The Fabulous...".


4. THE LEN PRICE 3-"Man In The Woods"
Like old Billy Childish who inspired them The Len Price 3 have sadly become victims of their own musical anachronisms. Their new LP "Kentish Longtails" treads the same well worn path of their previous LP's I'm afraid to report. But I like this one, though I later figured out that its because incredibly similar to The TVP's "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives". :(

5. THE RUDIES-"Engine 59"
Another favorite on the highly collectible U.K. reggae label Nu-Beat comes this smooth groover that rolls along with some bluesy bar room piano tinkling away behind it's funky rocksteady beat.

6. THE LAUGHING SOUP DISH-"Teenage Lima Bean"
Straight out of suburban central New Jersey came this amazing psych 45 in 1985 that was one half The Pink Floyd and one half The 13th Floor Elevators. Sadly I missed these folks in real life (this line up anyway...) as when this 45 came out I was underage as they say....

7. ANNIE BRIGHT-"Concerning Love"
The beauty of YouTube is that you can stumble across great 45's like this 1969 U.K. cut written by Alan Hawkshaw and John Cameron.  Vocally it reminds me of a more powerful Dusty Springfield (lyrically and musically I think it's heavily influenced by "Dusty In Memphis"), but with some blistering late 60's guitar.  Powerful, with musical backing by "The Alan Hawkshaw Orchestra".

8. PETER WRIGHT-"House Of Bamboo"
Not to be confused with the Andy Williams/Earl Grant number, this 1967 tune is by an Australian cat. Musically it reminds of a mid 60's US garage 45 with its combo organ and fuzz guitar and a vocal style somewhere near Del Shannon's.

9. HELENE SMITH-"You Got To Be A Man"
Here's a tough one to find, from 1968 on the Phil-La-O-Soul label. I think what grabs me the most is the combination of Helene's voice and the sharp, punchy horns. Too pricey for my blood, hopefully someday I'll find one on a crate dig.

10. GRAHAM BONNEY-"Happy Together"
Pre-Joe Meek era Riot Squad lead singer Graham Bonney went solo in 1965 and had a semi lucrative career in the Germany whilst simultaneously cutting records at home in the U.K.  This Turtles cover is pretty much note for note and doesn't come close to the original but still manages to be interesting especially the backing and production (care of Tony Palmer).