Monday, July 24, 2017

Euro 60's Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Tages

THE TAGES-I Read You Like An Open Book/Halcyon Days US Verve VK 10626 1968

One questions the decision by Verve to issue the debut U. S. release by a Swedish group already at the end of their career. By the time of this single's U.S. December 1968 release The Tages were no more. They had already released a staggering 22 singles, 2 E.P.'s and 5 LP's in their home country in just under 4 years. The Swedish issue of today's specimen was their 23rd and incidentally final 7 "(released in September 1968 as Parlophone SD 6054 back home). Original lead singer and resident band heart throb Tommy Blom had went off as a solo performer and launched an acting career prior to the recording of this 45. After it's release the band splintered . Bassist and second vocalist Goran Lagerberg formed Blond (who not only released a U.S. single but an LP too) along with fellow Tages Danne Larsson (rhythm guitar) and Anders Topol (lead guitar), but that's another story for another entry.

"I Read You Like An Open Book" owes less to 1968 and more to the previous year with it's kinetic mix of Beach Boy's style harmonies of "Smiley Smile" and the studio whimsy of  "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". It's a mid tempo tune punctuated by some intricate layered, harmonies and interesting tempo changes.

The flip side "Halcyon Days" is actually a Herd track titled "Our Fairy Tale" (issued in the States on their 1968 LP "Lookin' Thru You" Fontana SRF-67579 and as the flip side of their June 1968 U.S. single "I Don't Want Our Loving To Die", Fontana F-1618). I've yet to discover where it was re-titled by The Tages! Their version is slightly different with some fluid bass lines by Goran and strings accompanying the horns. Not their best 45 but certainly not their worst either. Both sides were recorded in the U.K. at Olympic Studios with producer Mike Hurst and featured session man extraordinaire Nicky Hopkins on organ.

Swedish pressing

Both tracks were included as bonus cuts on RPM's CD reissue of their incredible 1967 LP "Studio".

Hear "I Read You Like An Open Book":

Hear "Halcyon Days":

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: David Bowie's US Deram Debut

DAVID BOWIE-Rubber Band/There Is A Happy Land US Deram 45-DEM-85009 1967

"Rubber Band" was David Bowie's second ever U.S. 45 ( the previous honor went to Warner Brothers 5815 "Can't Help Thinking About Me"/ "And I Say To Myself" in May 1966). The June 1967 U.S. release of "Rubber Band" is interesting because rather than use the first version of it which was issued in the U.K. as his first Deram 45 in December 1966 (as Deram DM 107) London records (Deram's U.S. distributor) chose to utilize the re-recorded version found on his debut untitled long player . The LP was previously issued in the United Starts on April 20, 1967 as Deram DES 180 003 (or so I have been led to believe). I am curious as the U.K. LP was launched on June 1st, the same day as "Sgt. Pepper..", which would be odd that his debut came out months earlier in the U.S. The staff at London  were antsy about his U.K. "Rubber Band" flip side "The London Boys" owing to it's drug references and chose another track from the debut LP, "There Is A Happy Land" as the B-side. "The London Boys" would not surface in the United States until 1972's London double album "Images 1966-1967" (London BP 628/9) which collected all of his Deram era material.

David Bowie 1967 photo by Gerald Fearnley

"Rubber Band" is something of an odd duck.  With it's Victorian era brass band backing it's like the red headed stepchild of "Penny Lane" and "Dead End Street". Bowie half sings/half speaks in an upper crust intonation about his love leaving him while he's off in the "14-18 war" for the leader a brass band that plays in the park on Sunday afternoons. There's predictable parts of his phrasing that resemble Anthony Newley, which for better or worse is often attatched to his first album's material.

"There Is A Happy Land" is one of the most brilliant moments from his debut LP.  With delicate childlike piano and acoustic strumming by Pentangle's John Redbourn there's subtle brass weaving a wonderful melody as Bowie sings of childhood nostalgia with touches of innocence and cruelty:  "sissy Steven plays with girls, someone made him cry, Tony climbed a tree and fell trying hard to touch the sky. Tommy lit a fire one day, nearly burned the field away, Tommy's mom found out but he put the blame on me and Ray".

Both tracks are found on his debut LP, which was issued in both Stereo and Mono mixes a few years back.

Hear "Rubber Band" (LP version):

Hear "There Is A Happy Land":

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Sound of '67 :The Rolling Stones "We Love You"

THE ROLLING STONES-We Love You/Dandelion UK Decca F 12654 1967

1967 was probably the shittiest year for the Rolling Stones. It started with the controversy over their single "Let's Spend The Night Together", then they caused a furor over refusing to appear smiling and waving at the conclusion of the British variety program "Sunday Night At The London Palladium".  Then "Between The Buttons" was released to a lukewarm critical response and a month later the "News Of The World" ran a story about Mick Jagger openly doing drugs in a London night spot, of course it wasn't Mick but Brian Jones.  Mick appeared on TV and discussed the possibility of suing for libel. What immediately followed was the infamous police raid on Keith's house, Redlands, that saw Mick and Keith both facing drug charges (on a well placed tip from "News Of the World").  Brian too felt the long arm of the law and had his collar felt as well on the very same day while Mick and Keith were in court. After Mick and Keith's sentences were squashed in the appeals court the band continued work on their 13th single, a "thank you" to fans called "We Love You", the most psychedelic thing they ever recorded.

As photographed by Michael Cooper 1967

There are legions of people, myself among them, who sort of belong to this cult of Brian Jones.  The reasons why are too lengthy to devote here and are worthy of a separate piece on their own. One of the many reasons which we can discuss here is the color he gave many of the Stones records.  "We Love You" is among them and is like nothing anyone else did, ever.  Starting with rattling chains and a clanking prison door Nicky Hopkin's melodic piano piece begins with footsteps and the vocals (featuring anonymous Beatles John and Paul) and Jones quirky Mellotron. Various Stones bootlegs contain interesting takes of it where you can hear him cooking up what later became the finished masterpiece. It's seeped in layers of it that weave in and out of Hopkin's descending piano trills.  At times it sounds as though he's pounding out a rhythm on the keys, no mean feat as the Mellotron is played using keys that lack the "play" that a piano has and the thundering African drums giving it a worldly air.  Charlie's drums have never sounded better on a Stones record either!! The British 45 closes with vocal snippets of the flip side, "Dandelion", eerily playing backwards. Filmmaker Peter Whitehead shot an incredible promo film (see below) in July of 1967 with Mick playing Oscar Wilde, Keith as a judge and Marianne Faithfull playing Wilde's lover Lord Alfred Douglas interspersed with footage of the band working in the studio and infamously, Brian Jones out of his head barely able to keep his eyes open. "Tops Of The Pops" refused to air it citing it's like of suitability for their viewing audience. Their loss.

Brian during the "We Love You" sessions at Olympic with the Mellotron

"We Love You" charted at # 8 in Britain in August 1967 and a dismal #50 in the U.S. the following month where DJ's took to playing the flip side, "Dandelion" which eventually reached #14!! Curiously "We Love You" was not available on a Stones long player in the States until 1972's "More Hot Rocks: Big Hits And Fazed Cookies" compilation double LP that collected any remaining unreleased it the States Decca era cuts. It was on the 1969 octagonal shaped U.K. compilation album "Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol Two)" but omitted from the US issue.

Special guest backing vocalist confers with Mick during the "We Love You" session

"Dandelion" was originally one of Keith's songs that first started life in 1966 as "Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Blue" and eventually evolved into "Dandelion", a pastoral play on both a child's rhyme and game of playing with dandelion flowers. Nicky Hopkin's harpsichord and Brian's oboe add a regal air to it meshing perfectly with the lush/high (in both ways) "Summer of Love" backing harmonies  care of Mick, Keith and Beatle's John and Paul. Charlie's thundering drums towards the fade out make for a brilliant conclusion when intertwined with the oboe and harpsichord and the chorus slowly fades like sunset on a sunny day. Trippy!

See Michael Whitehead's "We Love You" promo film:

Hear an early take of "We Love You" with Brian working out the Mellotron:

Hear "Dandelion":

Hear Keith's demo "Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Blue":

Monday, June 26, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Amen Corner

THE AMEN CORNER-World Of Broken Hearts/Nema US Deram 45-DEM-85201 1967

Amen Corner's second U.S. single was the October 1967 release of the Pomus/Shuman composition "The World Of Broken Hearts" (first cut by Sissie Houston in the US on the Congress label the previous year, which was arranged and conducted by Mort Shuman). The Amen Corner's first version was issued in the U.K. the previous month as Deram DM 151 where it reached #24 in the national charts.

"The World Of Broken Hearts" works for Amen Corner in no small part due to their excellent production by Noel Walker. Starting with some subtle organ and and bass and Andy Fairweather Low's vocal the brass slides in subtly in conjunction with strings  before exploding and then fading out again for the verses and bursting back for the chorus. The churchy Hammond and and powerful horn section are always an asset for the band on their Deram sides and this cut exemplifies that.

Photo by David Wedgbury

The Fairweather-Low original "Nema" ("Amen" spelled backwards geddit?) starts with a catchy little piano/Hammond lick and bursts into a frantic Hammond n' horns orgy . Like the A-side it has quiet parts that are jarred by the power of their brass section (later to form Judas Jump after the band's 1970 dissolution) and the swirling Hammond. There's an almost "psychedelic" feel to it all. The best part is near the ending at 2:43 that utilizes the same chord changes later to crop up as "Baba O'Reilly" by The Who. Here the horns and Hammond pound out a tough riff before Fairweather-Low chants "N is the first, E is the second, M is the third, A is the fourth glad you bought our record" and it all ends.

Both sides can be found on the CD issue of their debut Deram LP "Around".

Hear "World Of Broken Hearts":

Hear "Nema":

Monday, June 19, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Neil MacArthur aka Colin Blunstone

NEIL MaCARTHUR-She's Not There/World Of Glass US Deram 45-7524 1969

For those not in the know Neil MacArthur was none other than Colin Blunstone, formerly lead singer with The Zombies who had spent the last year out of the music business working in an insurance office following the 1968 break up of The Zombies.

Conceived by producer Mike Hurst the "Neil MacArthur" venture lasted just shy of a year and resulted in three singles for Deram, all of which were released in the U.S. as well as the U.K. "She's Not There" was the first, issued in January 1969 on both sides of the Atlantic.  It was a curious choice given that it was the debut track by The Zombies. It reached #34 in the U.K. charts, but did not chart in the U.S.

Banish any thoughts of the jazzy electric piano led British beat group sound of the Zombies original 1964 single and clear your mind. Starting with an ominous symphonic beginning reminiscent of David Axelrod , Blunstone's vocals sound similar to the way he sings in the original version.  But over the top of quirky little guitar licks and sweeping, easy listening (as in the freaky soundtrack sort) orchestration,vibes and the jazzy flute solo make it sound "way out". Ditto for the way the number abruptly stops with the strings spiraling down like the tape was stopped.  It's really the phlanging strings that make it sound over the top (in a good way!).

"World Of Glass" is a different bad entirely.  With it's tabla, harmonium and steel guitar it's like a trippy version of Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance (musically) or Donovan or Nick Drake on a good day. Sadly it's vocally not my thing as it sort of reeks of the early 70's "singer sing writer" feel and Blunstone's muezzin style chanting does nothing to endear it to me.

Oddly neither tracks have seemed to see any sort of reissue outside of "She's Not There" being on a the 1987 LP compilation "Deram Days"!

Hear "She's Not There":

Hear "World Of Glass" :

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Class Of '67: 10 Great U.K. Long Players From 1967

1. THE ROLLING STONES-"Between The Buttons" UK Decca SKL 4852 / US London PS 499
Often slammed by critics, and in some cases The Stones themselves, "Between The Buttons" has been unfairly maligned as a collection of throwaways and B grade tracks (which it did contain like "Please Go Home" and the mundane "Miss Amanda Jones"). I beg to differ on the rest and to me if "Aftermath" was the band's "Rubber Soul" then this was surely their "Revolver".  As a fan of the so called "Brian Jones mystique" it's dotted with examples of his musical diversity and flavor . There's vibes on "Yesterday's Papers" and "Backstreet Girl" (both augmented by Jack Nitzsche on harpsichord), recorder on "All Sold Out" (and on his masterpiece only found on the U.S. issue: "Ruby Tuesday") saxophone on "Something Happened To Me Yesterday" and a host of minor bits and bobs on nearly every track.  Like "Aftermath" it was entirely comprised of Jagger-Richards originals and contained the prerequisite amount of chauvinistic put downs ("Yesterday's Papers", "Complicated" and the lushly orchestrated but utterly crass "Back Street Girl"). It's also interesting also because the band are sort of unsure of where they're going direction wise be it the Dylanesque "Who's Been Sleeping Here" or the '67 Kinks meet New Vaudeville Band acid trip documentation of "Something Happened To Me Yesterday". As mentioned previously there's "Please Go Home", a mundane Bo Diddley rhythm swamped in weird effects (left off the US issue with "Back Street Girl" in favor of "Ruby Tuesday" and "Let's Spend The Night Together") and "Miss Amanda Jones" which sounds like it was quite literally made up on the spot.  Fortunately these tracks are the exceptions to the rule and obliterated by the likes of Keith Richard's catchy and rollicking "Connection" (with great lines explaining the current life of The Stones like "My bags they get a very close inspection, I wonder why it is that they suspect.." ) and the somber but wonderful "She Smiled Sweetly" that contains only keyboards, bass and drums.

2. DAVID BOWIE-"David Bowie" UK Deram SML 1007 /US Deram DES 18003
Often it's started that the Dame's debut LP was released the very same day as "Sgt. Pepper". It wasn't, "Sgt Pepper" was issued on May 26th (in the UK anyway), "David Bowie" was launched on June 1st (the day after "Pepper.." was released in America) on Decca's new Deram offshoot (it's US release was not until August).  It has often been dogged by comparisons to Anthony Newley, though not entirely off the mark in some spots its unfounded for the bulk of its material. It opens with the woodwind backed paean to an aging momma's boy ("Uncle Arthur") and moves into a variety of delightful orchestrated tunes, many of which are brilliant social observations with lush musical backing (put together by Bowie and bassist Dek Fearnley, whose brother Gerald took the iconic cover shot). "There Is A Happy Land" plumbs the youthful nostalgia of childhood (also explored on "Come And Buy My Toys") , both with subtle acoustic guitar from Pentangle guitarist John Renbourn while "We Are Hungry Men" portrays a post apocalyptic society where cannibalism prevails (it was left off the US release for precisely that reason). Bowie's songs on this album are almost like little one act plays or short stories. There's a troubled war veteran with a soft spot for children whose kindness is mistaken for being pedophile and run out of town in "The Little Bombardier" and "Join The Gang" pokes fun at Swinging London and its "in" crowd (complete with sitar plonking and strains of "Gimme Some Lovin") while "Maid Of Bond Street" snappily chronicles the woes of a dolly bird model with jazzy guitar and accordion and the classic line "gleaming teeth sip aperitifs".  "She's Got Medals" is a rapid fire rewrite of "Hey Joe" (musically anyway) about a war hero who's really a woman who enlisted as a man and now a cause celebre at the local pub. The original version of "Love You Till Tuesday" (later re-cut as his 2nd Deram 45) gets it first airing whilst his Deram debut single "Rubber Band" is rerecorded with subtle differences (telling the story of a man who goes off to war and his girl falls for the leader of the band they would watch in the park on Sundays). The album ends on a macabre note with  "Please Mr Gravedigger", a spoken word soliloquy by a child murder who makes a graveside confession to a grave digger whom he then kills, beneath stormy sound effects.

3. THE PRETTY THINGS-"Emotions" UK Fontana TL 5425
Much like "Between The Buttons", The Pretties third long player "Emotions" is sometimes met with a howl of derision when mentioned from the band and fans alike. The augmentation of brass and strings with the band on several tracks is usually disowned by hardcore Pretty Things fans as "commercial" or "unnecessary" but without them most of the tracks seem utterly bare bones and lacking to my ears. There are a few duff cuts, the kazoo driven "Children", the Bee Gees pastiche of "Growing In My Mind" or the protagonist from the Kinks "Shangri-La" or Rupert's People's "Reflections Of Charles Brown" cast here on "House Of Ten". That said they are overshadowed by the utter brilliance of  the catchy/brassy "Photographer" (documenting a day in the life of David Bailey or David Hemmings in "Blow Up" perhaps?), more catchy social observation about the death of Guinness heir Tara Browne in "Death Of A Socialite" (one of many here that's hard to imagine sans the brass) and hypnotic 12 string guitar led "My Time" where The Hollies meet sharp brass backing of say...The Les Reed Orchestra. "One Long Glance" benefits from some subtle fuzz guitar and brilliant harmonies (thanks to new members John Povey and Wally Allen , late of The Fenmen). "Bright Lights Of The City" merge the uptown brass of a Tom Jones record with some tough soulful bass lines and "Out In The Night" would probably sound at home on a final Johnny Kidd '66 session with it's precise horns and strings. "Tripping" is an interesting track with some bluesy steel guitar and no orchestra or brass and of course the subject matter...well the Pretties never shied away from controversy right? By the time of it's release lead singer Phil May and lead guitarist Dick Taylor were the only original members left standing and the band defected to EMI where they began work on singles and later an LP that would give The Pink Floyd pause for concern.

4. THE HOLLIES-"Evolution" U.K. Parlophone PMC 7022/ US Epic BN 26315
The Hollies managed to commercially survive the transition from beat group to psychedelia, a feat managed only by themselves and The Beatles. Produced at EMI's Abbey Road under the guiding hand of Ron Richards "Evolution" (in it's psychedelic cover courtesy of Dutch art troupe The Fool) is layered in the band's trademark harmonies and pure orchestrated pop. The tracks were arranged and conducted by Mike Vickers and features the work of session drummer Clem Cattani and  Mitch Mitchell (Hollies stickman supremeo Bobby Elliott was recuperating from appendix surgery during the recording). Opening with "Then The Heartaches Begin" (which reverberates in shimmering psychedelic effects, fuzz guitars and the lot) it's clear that the days of beat ballads were dead. "Stop Right There", sung by Graham Nash has an almost gypsy feel to it with it's violin solo while the double entendre of "Water On The Brain" is probably the only pop track with a tuba solo! "Rain On The Window" is a bleak painting of a one night stand while "Have You Ever Loved Somebody" (previously covered by The Everly Brothers, The Searchers AND Paul & Barry Ryan) sounds like the '66 Hollies (albeit with heavily distorted guitar!). The album still veers away from being all out psychedelic, "Leave Me" is almost soulful with it's subtle combo organ while "The Games We Play"  and "When Your Lights Turned On" are boy lusts after girl pop tracks with heavy orchestration and great melodies. "Heading For A Fall" has echoes of 1966's "Hard Hard Year" but with tack piano and brass and "You Need Love" sounds like the jangly Hollies of '66. As expected the bands three part harmonies excel and prove a winning combination with Vickers arrangements and orchestration.

5. KALEIDOSCOPE-"Tangerine Dream" UK Fontana TL 5448
Written not with L.S.D. or pot as it's inspiration but copious amounts of cheap Spanish red wine in a suburban bedroom by two 21 year old members Peter Daltrey (guitar) and Eddie Pumer (guitar), "Tangerine Dream" is in many ways equally as trippy as anything else the more lysergically minded members of the Class of '67 could offer. The album has several psychedelic ditty's like "(Further Reflections) In The Room Of Percussion" (the dissolution of a relationship seen through psychedelic imagery) to perhaps the only song ever written about an accidental murder, the chilling "The Murder Of Lewis Tollani". There's the wistful beach scenes of "Holidaymaker" (with muted brass and seaside sound affects), lives thrown together in a plane crash on "Flight From Ashiya" and the story of the under appreciated watch repair shop keeper of "Mr. Small The Watch Repairer Man" (which would not sound out of place on the Kinks LP below and is orchestrated by Reg Tilsley, responsible scoring The Pretty Things LP listed above!) . "Dear Nellie Goodrich" is a love letter put to music with tack piano and acoustic guitar that's quite reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Paintbox" and "The most way out track is "Dive Into Yesterday" which sings of  "battalions in baby blue are bursting beige balloons" and "oh swing and say the petals say.." on top of discordant, shimmering guitars and high harmonies. The album concludes with the jangly, folk rock with sharp harmonies feel of ""The Sky Children" which though amazing goes on a bit too long at seven minutes plus.

6. GEORGIE FAME-"Two Faces Of Fame" U.K. CBS 63018
Georgie Fame began 1967 with a fresh start. Having left EMI and at his management's urging cut the Blue Flames loose he began a lucrative career with a new label, CBS.  They launched their new charge under a publicity blitz featuring a logo with his profile and the slogan "More Fame in '67" on his subsequent releases on the label. His debut album for the label came in the form of "Two Faces Of Fame", with one side live and one side in the studio. Musically it was not terribly to far removed from the jazzy side of the Blue Flames and any hint of his semi M.O.R. approach on the label is not yet discernible but r&b/soul is firmly dead and buried. The live side features a virtual who's who of British jazz and r&b. Fame's band includes Blue Flames alumni Eddie "Tan Tan" Thorton on trumpet, former Manfred Mann associate Lynn Dobson on tenor sax, future Brian Auger Trinity bassist Rick Brown and former John Mayall's Bluebreakers drummer Hughie Flint, among others. Side A (recorded live at The Royal Festival Hall on March 18, 1967) opens with "Greenback Dollar Bill" where Fame belts it out in front of a big band. His jazz cred shines through brightly on "Things Ain't What They Used To Be", "River's Invitation" and the tongue twisting "Bluesology" (the later two sees him backed by the Harry South Big Band with the cream of British jazz including Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott , Gordon Beck etc in the ranks). The live side closes with Jon Hendrick's tongue and cheek  "Keep Your Big Mouth Shut" where Fame interjects names of friends like Zoot Money, and troubled but legendary British jazz drummer Phil Seaman (where he is also backed by The Harry South Big Band). Side two's studio side is a lesser affair without so many big names and sounds sparse with a jazz quartet formula of just bass, drums, sax and piano. Highlights include a faithful reading of Mongo Santamaria's "El Pussycat" , the somber "C'est La Vie" and "Do It The Hard Way". Not his best long player of the 60's, but it certainly wasn't his worst either.

7. THE KINKS-"Something Else" U.K. Pye NSPL 18193 / US Reprise RS 6279
The Kinks fifth studio LP, "Something Else" was released in September as the Summer of Love drew to a close.  The Kinks were never one to follow trends and there is nary an ounce of psychedelia or whiff of Flower Power on it (though "Lazy Old Sun", the closest the Kinks ever came to psychedelia, is on board with it's discordant brass, Ray's stoned vocals and plenty of angelic backing vocals). "Something Else" is full of classic quintessential Ray Davies vignettes, opening with the well known "David Watts", the tale of the boy at school everyone wants to be (based on a Rutland promoter of the same name who was terribly smitten with Ray's brother Dave), meddling mother in law's ("Situation Vacant"), the everyman in the office ("Tin Soldier Man"), the married mother who resents her swinging sister (actually written by Ray Davies about he and raver brother Dave) in "Two Sisters", a posh toff lamenting Summer's passing ("End Of the Season") and closes with the beautiful "Waterloo Sunset", possibly one of the finest pieces Ray has ever written. "Something Else" is also interesting because Dave Davies sings on quite a few numbers. There's his "solo" hit "Death Of A Clown" which is included as well as  "Funny Face" (written about Dave's first child, fathered when he was merely 15!!) and his tour de force "Love Me Till The Sun Shines" with tasty organ by Nicky Hopkins.

8. THE CREATION-"We Are The Paintermen" German Hit-Ton Schallplaten HTSLP 340037
The Creation were far more popular in Der Fatherland than back home in the U.K. so when their first two German singles, "Making Time" (July 1966) and "Painter Man" (March 1967) were sizable hits over there an album was deemed necessary. By this point the band had changed members with bassist Bob Garner replacing recently departed lead singer Kenny Pickett and ex-Birds member Kim Gardener coming in on bass. The album was a compilation of sorts as it consisted of both sides of the first two singles as well as their newest German 45 "Tom Tom" /"Nightmares" and their third British A-side "If I Stay Too Long" (that was coupled there with "Tom Tom") . There was little material actually ready made for the album with the exceptions being their covers from the current stage set including a tepid version of "Hey Joe", an equally uninteresting stab at The Capitol's "Cool Jerk" and a halfway decent version of "Like A Rolling Stone" fattened up with some tasty melodic riffs from lead guitarist Eddie Phillips and some high backing vocals. Also among the non 45 cuts was the powerful "Can I Join Your Band" (that was previously cut with Kenny Pickett) and saw Phillips return to his "violin bow on guitar" technique and some tongue in cheek lyrics ("can I join your band and go off to play with my new guitar and coat of suede, can I join your band I'm a hippie guy always stoned and eight miles high.."). The LP is rounded out by the powerful "Through My Eyes", featuring a distinctly Jimi Hendrix inspired guitar solo and the band's trademark high backing vocals.

9. SMALL FACES-"Small Faces" (Immediate) UK Immediate IMLP 008
The Small Faces 2nd LP (which like their Decca debut was untitled) will always be a sort of anachronism because according to Ian "Mac" McLagan in conversation several years ago, the tracks recorded for it were never played live and all but forgotten once it they were completed. It's a perfect illustration of the bands chrysalis from pill popping/dope smoking mod R&B band to worldly hallucinogenic psychedelic pop stars. It's also interesting because 5 of the albums 14 tracks are sung by Ronnie Lane and 1 by Mac (who also wrote the track, "Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire", a child like tale of bedtime that's actually about drifting off in a hash induced haze). Two of the tracks, "All Of Our Yesterdays" and "Eddie's Dreaming" feature the horn section of Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames, whose trumpet player, Eddie "Tan Tan" Thorton, is the subject of the later.  There's a certain whiff of neo-psychedelic whimsy in the album with the subtle Mellotron (also heard on "Become Like You") and "turned on" lyrics of the LP's storming opening track "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me" and the trippy "Green Circles" (which got an even more way out remix for their U.S. LP "There Are But For Small Faces"). Lane's earlier mentioned Vaudeville "All Of Our Yesterdays" is fattened up by some jazzy horns where a Cockney East End knees up meets jazz time swing. The band's penchant for quick organ driven instrumental throwaways is fulfilled via the snappy "Happy Boys, Happy" and Ronnie's sublime "Something I Want To Tell You" ( originally considered for a single) is equally heavy on the organ with some great melodic trills by McLagan at the Hammond. Marriott shines on "Talk To You" and "My Way Of Giving", the last of the band's blue eyed soul belter/call and response backing vocals numbers. Lane fronts the band on the sublime "Something I Want To Tell You" (driven in no small part by Mac's piano/Hammond playing) and the delightful Mellotron/harpsichord mix on "Feeling Lonely" fills things out nicely.

10. THE REMO FOUR-"Smile" German Star Club 158034 STY
Liverpool's Remo Four made a modest career basing themselves in Germany and performing U.S r&b tunes before eventually shifting towards more jazzy r&b and soul. By the time their German label Star Club called for an LP in late 1966 they were a well oiled machine (and had been the house band for the German music TV program "Beat Club" for it's live seasons before it went to an all lip sync format in 1967). Known for selecting more obscure tracks to cover (as their choices on their one and only long player would show) they were soon rendered obsolete by the changing times . Despite it's 1967 release date the only thing "1967" about "Smile" is the cover logo. It opens with an uptempo version of Gloria Jone's "Heartbeat" complete with some jazzy guitar licks and nifty organ and smoothly glides into a funky reading of Dean Parrish's "The Skate" (complete with some groovy organ/twangy guitar interplay). A campy version of Chuck Berry's "No Money Down" plods along at an almost lethargic, but interesting pace with lead singer/organist Tony Ashton hamming it up. Their organ/jazz interests are covered in readings of Mose Allison's "7th Son", Jack McDuff's "Rock Candy" and Cannonball Adderley's "Jive Samba", all of which showcase the understated guitar talents of Colin Manley (check YouTube for some of their live cuts on "Beat Club" to see him in action).  The crown jewel of the album for me is their reading of Oscar Brown Jr's "Brother Where Are You" (the band had previously performed his "But I Was Cool" live on "Beat Club" ) which totally reworks Brown's arrangement and turns it into a smoky, yet hard hitting reading. The album closes out with an uptempo, amped up cover of The Miracle's "Nothing's Too Good For My Baby" that sounds extra funky thanks to Ashton's electric piano.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Peter Sellers & The Hollies

PETER SELLERS AND THE HOLLIES-After The Fox/The Fox Trot (Instrumental) US United Artists UA 50079 1966

Possibly one of the most ludicrous pop pairings of the 60's was The Hollies and Peter Sellers on a track cut for the 1966 film "After The Fox". Written by David Bacharach and Hal David it's a pretty innocuous track with Alan Clarke singing and Peter Sellers interjecting with spoken word bits in his varying voices in response. It's also notable as it featured Graham Bond Organization bassist Jack Bruce (Hollies bassist Eric Haydock was on his way out of the band at the time) and was recorded (May 10th, 1966) during his short time with Manfred Mann.

"The Fox Trot" instrumental though credited to "Peter Sellers And The Hollies", is presumably neither and sounds more like incidental film music. It strangely sounds a lot like klezmer music to my ears!

"After The Fox" appears on EMI's comprehensive Hollies 6 CD collection "The Hollies-The Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years" .