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":

https://youtu.be/QcmhNLv---I

Hear "That's My Woman": 

https://youtu.be/V5Ch5-Nobco


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

10 Jumpin' Jack Flashes


















1. THE ROLLING STONES U.K. 45 Decca F12782 1968
Nothing could prepare the world for the power that was "Jumping Jack Flash", the Stones first post psychedelia single and their first with producer Jimmy Miller.  From Keith Richard's zooming bass lines and his famous "open D tuning" guitar power chords the number kicks off any remnants of the flowery Summer of Love pretensions and puts the Stones back on top where they belonged. My favorite part is Bill Wyman's neo-classical organ trills towards the fade out.



2. LEON RUSSELL U.S. LP track "Concert For Bangla Desh" Apple SCTX 3385 1971
Part of a medley for the legendary "Concert For Bangla Desh (sic)" live gig/album Leon Russell and friends kick out the jams with a halfway decent version (considering the band had such a short time to prepare) that eventually slides into another song.

https://youtu.be/ICr9lfWq3yY

3. JOHNNY WINTER U.S. 45 Columbia 45 4-45368 1971
I know you're almost as surprised as I am....this live reading by Johnny Winter was issued as a single in 1971 from a live LP .  Starting off with a hysterical bellow of "rock n roll!" it doesn't really deviate from the Stones version but it's nastier, heavier and though the vocal histrionics are a bit O.T.T at times it's worth a listen.

https://youtu.be/TU96kpGCku8


















4. GENO WASHINGTON & THE RAM JAM BAND U.K. 7" E.P.  track Acid Jazz AJX285S 2013
Recorded in 1968 but unissued until 2013 by Acid Jazz, this is probably the most interesting interpretation here because it eschews the Stones punky, sped up aggression by slowing it down. Starting off with some spooky/churchy Hammond and a bashing guitar chord almost reminiscent of Deep Purple's "Hush" it stays heavy AND funky and though it's not Geno's best vocal performance the Ram Jam Band delivers as always and the organ literally carries it.

https://youtu.be/GM-vUNhOQFY

5. ANANDA SHANKAR France 45 Reprise RV.20246 1970
First released on Ananda's untitled U.S. 1970 LP for Reprise records the number was nonetheless issued as a single in France (and as a result is pretty scarce to come back). Fed by his intricate sitar riffing it's wrapped in hand claps, funky proto synth/Moog, easy listening Dolly Bird backing vocals and comes together in this funky mix that's half porn film loop music and half post Swinging London incidental discotheque film music.

https://youtu.be/CbVSFVOJnLU

6. ALEX CHILTON U.S. LP track "1970" Ardent 7-1515-2 1970
In between the dissolution of The Box Tops and the forming of the legendary Big Star, Alex Chilton cut several sides in 1970 that would remain unreleased for several decades.  Among them was this raggy, aggro filled punky cover that seethes both power and sheer venom.  It's pretty hard to "out swagger" The Rolling Stones with one of their own cuts but Chilton pulled it off magnificently!

https://youtu.be/mfT7fhmXhvI


















7. WYNDER K. FROG U.K. 45 Island WIP-6044 1968
Interestingly U.K. Hammond n' horns masters Wynder K Frog had previously worked with the producer of the Stones original, Jimmy Miller.  By the time they cut the track Jimmy had ceased working with them and it was over seen by Gus Dudgeon. Wrapped up in a frantic mix of intricate Hammond noodling, razor sharp brass and funky congas it's a solid groove from start to finish.

https://youtu.be/oriorG-kPEM

8. NORMAN T. WASHINGTON U.K. 45 Pama PM 749 1969
Predominantly a reggae/rocksteady artist, Norman T. Washington's reading musically is soulful, even though the horns sound slick (and possibly cheezy in a soul-less but nevertheless cool sort of way) enough to be John Schroeder or Alan Hawkshaw .  Since Hawkshaw was behind the label's Mohawks instrumental combo it's not too far fetched to assume he might be involved. Watson's West Indian accent contrasts the distinctly British backing music and in some strange way it works.

https://youtu.be/u9KWyVSqDX0



9. KING HARVEST Australia 45 RCA Victor 101922 1973
Not the King Harvest of "Dancing In The Moonlight " fame but rather a heavy Aussie band who cut just two singles for RCA down under. Their final 45 was a double sided extended take (labeled "Part's One" and "Two") that reminds me of the ham fisted simplicity of Alex Chilton's reading but with some cool harmony backing vocals and a very gritty delivery.

10. THELMA HOUSTON U.S. 45 Dunhill D-4212 1969
Easily my favorite cover is this powerful version from October of '69 led by Thelma's powerful pipes and the gospel style backing vocals.  Delivered at a pace not too dissimilar from the original the real gas besides the stellar vocals is the groovy strings that sweep in!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Georgie Fame's US Epic Debut

GEORGIE FAME-Bidin' My Time (Cos I Love You)/Because I Love You US Epic 5-10166 1967


















Georgie Fame switched from Columbia to CBS in the U.K. in 1967 which as a result saw him move from Imperial to Epic in the US. His March 1967 U.K. CBS debut was "Because I Love You"/"Bidin' My Time (Cos' I Love You)" (CBS 202587). It was curiously reversed for his US release in May. It needn't have mattered because the record did nothing chart wise here.

This 45 marked the second time two Georgie Fame originals graced the same 45 (credited to his real name Clive Powell). It was produced by Denny Cordell (who interestingly produced his 1966 work for his previous label in the UK Columbia, some of which were issued in the States by Imperial).

"Bidin' My Time (Cos' I Love You)" is an uptempo track that benefits from some funky congas and razor sharp horns with some interesting licks. There's an nifty break with a jazzy bass solo and congas reminiscent of a '67 Small Faces track (not too far off as both featured on some of the mighty mod foursome's '67 Immediate LP). The whole thing is pulled off in no small part by Cordell's production. Curiously there is no Hammond on the tune just piano, surely a precursor of thing's to come for "Fame In '67 On CBS" (as his U.K. label CBS promoted him with a distinct logo appearing on all his U.K. releases).

Fame with bassist Rik Brown















"Because I Love You" is a brilliant mid tempo ballad with layers of exquisite horns that weave in and out and propel it's infectious Motown inspired melody. Like the previous track it is also devoid of Fame's familiar Hammond.

Sadly Fame's next U.K. CBS release "Try My World" b/w "No Thanks" (CBS 2945 August 1967) would be passed over for a U.S. release and Americans would have to wait for the next Georgie Fame 7", the abominable "The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde", his last solo hit (#1 in the U.K. and #7 in the U.S.) in 1968.

Both cuts are on a variety of places including the CBS years UK CD compilation "Somebody Stole My Thunder" and the more recent (and essential) double CD reissue of his "Two Faces Of Fame: The Complete 1967 Recordings" (the 1967 LP in mono and stereo with 45, E.P. and unreleased cuts.




















Hear "Bidin' My Time (Cos' I Love You)":

https://youtu.be/vTCXzP2RvSY

Hear "Because I Love You":

https://youtu.be/0KhBnwai49c

Watch "Because I Love You" live in 1967 on German TV's "Beat Beat Beat":

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":

https://youtu.be/kt-hykCS1sU

Hear "Halcyon Days":

https://youtu.be/m8bD_ohRwMM

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):

https://youtu.be/-42QFmgzVo4

Hear "There Is A Happy Land":

https://youtu.be/pYTyI92Ll8o

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:

https://youtu.be/klTw94kTstg

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

https://youtu.be/ILq8kMBOUcM

Hear "Dandelion":

https://youtu.be/VcndxAyNDYw

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

https://youtu.be/ZDKET-yEDnQ

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":

https://youtu.be/_JbN-N91mjY

Hear "Nema":

https://youtu.be/5fnYcR_dJhU