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).

Friday, October 20, 2017

Jackie Shane

Just who is Jackie Shane?  That would make a great title for an even greater documentary. Jackie Shane, for those who've been held in a cave in Pakistan by the Taliban for the past few years is a trans-gender soul performer from the 60's who cut a handful of collectible 45's and an even rarer live Canadian LP.  I'm not here to give you a full bio, so for a better run down on who Jackie was (and still is) I will direct you to this excellent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio Jackie Shane documentary from a few years back produced before Jackie's whereabouts were known (Jackie is alive and well in Nashville I'm happy to report, check out this NY times feature here). You can keep your Esquerita and Little Richard, they both might have been Kings or Queen's of camp and skirted the edge's of then forbidden sexuality but Jackie Shane was firmly "out" when "out" was risky, career stifling  and downright dangerous to one's health and freedom.  Dressing like a woman, in full on make-up in colorful clothes and affecting feminine mannerisms to the hilt Jackie Shane wasn't just a pioneer, she was a legend and still is. And though she often referred to herself as "a man" on several studio recordings she apparently left no confusion on the matter in real life and especially live onstage. On a live version of Barrett Strong's "Money" on her only LP ("Jackie Shane Live" 1967 Caravan records, Canada recorded live onstage in Toronto, Canada where she made her living) Jackie does a hip spoken word bit which clearly spells out where she was at:

"You know when I'm walking down Young Street you won't believe this but some of them funny people have the nerve to point their finger at me and grin and smile and whisper, but you know that don't worry Jackie because I know I look good. And every Monday morning I laugh and grin on my way to the bank. Cos I got mine. I look good, I got money and everything else that I need. You know what my slogan is? Baby do what you want just know what you're doin' , as long as you don't force your way or your will on anybody else you can live your live cos ain't nobody sanctified and holy....."

The rap goes on with repeated references to "chicken" (slang for young gay men apparently) and a hysterical "if you got it flaunt it" style of witty banter.  Check it out here.

I first became acquainted with Jackie Shane after seeing a few photos on a very hip and wise friend's Facebook page. I wasn't sure of her gender or even her race as the color of her skin and heavily applied make up in the old black and white and sepia photos gave her almost Asiatic features.  So decided to do some sleuthing and stumbled upon Jackie's 1963 Sue (U.S.) single "In My Tenement" . Being knee deep in a fascination with all things mid/early 60's on Sue I was immediately bowled over and wanted to hear more. A search of Discogs showed that securing an original pressing was never going to happen (3 for sale from $196.41 at last glance) so I popped over to YouTube and iTunes and checked out a gamut of Jackie's material which I immediately dug. I duly purchased everything on iTunes including the raucous 1967 live Canadian only LP (which I eventually went out a bought an original copy of).  All of the singles are worth seeking out as is the live LP.  For those afraid of the hefty price of original pressings the Numero Group label has just launched a two CD/2 LP retrospective titled "Any Other Way", fully licensed and containing every track ever released by Jackie (no mean feat considering her discography was spread over half a dozen different labels from both the US and Canada where she was based in the 60's and most popular).

Here's a few of my fave Jackie picks for your perusal:

"Any Other Way" US single A side Cookin' 602 1962 / Sue 776 1963
Delivered in a slow tempo , Jackie's cover of William Bell's 1962 Stax single takes the original's bounce down a few notches fattening up the sound with some crisp horns and cracking drums and adding a poignant, down trodden delivery.

"In My Tenement" US single A side Sue 788 1963
Jackie's most sought after 45 musically sounds like it could be ideally suited for Ben E King and lyrically calls to mind Garnet Mimm's "A Quiet Place" but far more uptown and sophisticated produced by "Juggy" Murray Jones.

"Stand Up Straight And Tall" US single B-side Modern 45xM 1031 1967
Gracing the flip of Jackie's reading of "You Are My Sunshine" is this organ driven, mid tempo groover that allows her to flex her vocal chops on top of some solid, funky musical backing.

"Don't Play That Song" LP track Canada "Jackie Shane Live" Caravan FP 100 1967
Ben E. King's "Don't Play That Song" gets a royal treatment with solid brass and churchy Hammond underneath Jackie's wailing, outtasite vocals.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Nashville Teens 2

THE NASHVILLE TEENS-The Hard Way/Upside Down US MGM K13483 1966

The Nashville Teens sole U.S. 45 of 1966 was an Ashford/Simpson/Armstead composition called "The Hard Way" issued here in March (previously released in the U.K. in January as Decca F 12316). I've yet to find any other versions of "The Hard Way" so I am left to assume he band heard it from a publishers demo.

"The Hard Way" is hard to define genre wise. Driven by the twin vocal attack of Art Sharp and Ray Phillips it's got appeal but is interestingly offset by some harpsichord and hard drumming.

"Upside Down" is a rarity in that it's a band original written by singer Art Sharp. It's not the strongest tune and sounds more at place two years prior during the beat boom with some barroom ivory tinkling by keyboardist John  Hawken and a nasty/gritty little guitar solo (by Mick Dunford).

Both sides, though uncredited on this U.S. release were produced by Mike Leander and can be found on two out of print Nashville Teens CD comps "Tobacco Road " and "The Best Of 1964-1969".

Hear "The Hard Way":

Hear "Upside Down":

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

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

THE SOCIETE-Bird Has Flown/Breaking Down US Deram 45-DEM-7517 1968

One of the many tracks introduced to me via Decal records brilliant 1987 Deram records compilation LP "Deram Days" was this excellent two sider by a Glasgow quartet called The Societe. Released in the U.K. in November 1967 as Deram DM 162 London records in the States waited to issue it under the Deram umbrella a full two months later in January 1968.

The band were: Dave Dougall (lead vocals/organ), Robbie Burns (vocals/lead guitar), Dave "Suzie" Struthers (bass) and Smiler Frame (drums). The band were recommended to the Hollies who were in the process of setting up a production company at the time and upon seeing the Societe live it was decided that Allan Clarke would produce them with the band coming down to London to record what would be today's specimen. Interestingly the so called Hollies Production company "Hollies Recording Company Limited" seems to have come to naught because outside of this single I can't find evidence of any further releases (though The Zombies have an interesting story about meeting The Hollies for lunch hoping to produce them and the Hollies, it transpires, wanted to do the same for The Zombies!).  Both sides of this single were group originals.

The Societe courtesy of

There has long been controversy over the A-side "Bird Has Flown" as there are rumors of Hollies involvement in the recording outside Allan Clarke's production.  His voice is clearly audible in the backing vocals, but I can't discern either Graham Nash or Tony Hicks in the mix.  That out of the way its a fantastic down trodden sounding pop record that would not at all be out of place on The Hollie's "For Certain Because" album. With its backwards cymbals, piano and precise harmonies all under some interesting key changes it's a pretty decent single.

The flip side "Breaking Down" is far more upbeat. Driven by an uptempo melody of guitar and piano in tandem and held together by some tight harmonies and "call and response" vocals it's a nifty little tune as well.

Sadly there would not be another 45 by the Society but members Dave Dougall and Dave Struthers joined Andwella's Dream in time for their name change to Andwella in 1970.

As mentioned earlier both cuts were compiled on the LP "Deram Dayze" but sadly only the A-side has seen further reissues on the fantastic 1998 Deram/Decca CD collection "The Psychedelic Scene" and on a 2005 double CD "The Decca Originals".

Hear "Bird Has Flown":

Hear "Breaking Down":

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September's Picks

We're back with more Anorak Thing picks after our Summer hiatus!

1. ART-"Rome Take Away Three"
From the ashes of mod/r&b aficionado's The V.I.P's came Art who cut just one 45 and an LP for Island before changing their name and adding New Jerseyite Gary Wright to become Spooky Tooth. This was the flip of their sole 7", a cover of The Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", it's powerful like The Creation's "Tom Tom" but with soulful vocals and WAY heavier than anything The V.I.P.'s would have done.

2. THE DRAMATICS-"It's All Because Of You"
Anyone who's read "Detroit 67" or saw this past summer's film "Detroit" will be familiar with the tragedy that befell the Dramatics after the release of this powerful track (which figures prominently in the previously mentioned flick). Their last before eventual stardom on Stax it remains their most powerful and most sought after 7 inch.

3. FROG-"Witch Hunt"
From the soundtrack to the trippy 1973 classic film "Psychomania" comes this wah-wah driven classic by the great John Cameron, totally witchy and spooky with ethereal female backing vocals blending in with the strings.  Pure magic!

4. SOUND DIMENSION-"Soulful Strut"
Sound Dimension were basically the Funk Brothers of Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label and played on more ska/reggae than we'd have room to list. This 1969 interpretation of the Young Holt Unlimited instrumental is one of my favorites by them.

5. THE BARRACUDAS-"Summer Fun"
Some songs are meant to be blasted loud in joyous celebration whether you're a teenager in the back of a pick up truck on your way to the beach in 1982 with this on a boom box on the last day of school or on an iPod by 50 year old dad who's savoring Japanese beer after getting the kids to sleep.

6. SAKER-"Hey Joe"
Cheers to the excellent "Piccadilly Sunshine" CD compilation series for constantly unearthing U.K. 60's pop/psych 45's like this interesting reading of "Hey Joe" from 1969 by one Bob Saker. You would think a pop psych treatment of "Hey Joe" wouldn't work with the requisite strings, brass, woodwinds et al but it does and the lyrics are altered slightly to turn it into an anti-war protest which is a nice touch!

7. PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS-"Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)"
I remember lots of songs from my childhood but the first one that I really liked was this 1971 #1 (their only #1!) by Paul Revere and Co. (their last top ten hit as well). I was 5 or 6 and I was fascinated with Native Americans at the time and my dad explained the lyrics to me and I had my first experience of anger at injustice and social consciousness. The trippy fading strings and the Hammond at the fade still make the hairs on my neck stand on end 46 years later.

8. BO DIDDLEY-"I Can Tell"
It's hard to pick a fave Bo Diddley tune, but for me the $ has always been on this cooking little tune from 1962 found on the flip of the equally powerful "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover". I think my favorite part of the tune is the powerful bass line that set the template for so many great British r'n'b tracks.

9. DEL SHANNON-"Mind Over Matter"
There are many sad stories involving Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate records label but none sadder than him flying Del Shannon out to the U.K. in '67 and presenting him with the cream of the crop to back and him and a bevvy of amazing songs to record for an album that never was. This number is my fave of the bunch and was actually released as a 45 in the UK in '67.

From the 1967 U.K. Decca E.P. that saw Mayall and Co. collaborate with American Paul Butterfield "Ridin' On The L And N" is my fave track on the disc. It's hard driving, bluesy and superb, what you'd expect from Mayall.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Nashville Teens

THE NASHVILLE TEENS-Words/That's My Woman US MGM  K13678 1967

The Nashville Teens had one sole hit in the US, August 1964's "Tobacco Road" which reached # 14. By 1967 their ship had sailed both in the U.K. and the U.S. Their 8th U.K. 45 (Decca F 12542) "That's My Woman"/"Words"  was issued in Britain in January 1967.  Issued in the U.S. one month later MGM decided to flip the 45 putting the stronger "Words" on the A-side. It made little difference as it failed to chart.

"Words" is the stronger of the two in my book. Led by some slick horns and muted fuzz guitars and almost disembodied backing vocals that shriek out "Words!" it's probably one of the freakiest things they ever cut and certainly their most soulful.  The horns and fuzz guitars make it a strong contender for the "freakbeat" moniker.

"That's My Woman" had previously been tackled by The V.I.P.'s (curiously as a US only release as "The Vipps" on Mercury the previous year). Both versions share the same formula but the Teens version starts with the blistering fuzzed out "Love Is Strange" lick as an intro and though not as strong as the V.I.P's take it's still a decent version. Though uncredited on the US release Shel Talmy produced by sides

Both tracks can be found on two out of print Nashville Teens CD comps "Tobacco Road " and "The Best Of 1964-1969".

Hear "Words":

Hear "That's My Woman":