Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another British 60's pop-Sike Bach Magnum Opus: Ruperts People

RUPERT'S PEOPLE-Reflections of Charles Brown/Hold On U.S. Bell BELL 684 1967

Did you ever hear the one about the freakbeat band who pretended to be another band on record and it became a hit and they refused to be part of the charade?  This my friends was the story of famous British freakbeat act The Fleur De Ly's who cut both sides of this 45 under the moniker of Rupert's People for a cat named Howard Conder.  When the record began creeping up the charts he had to hastily assemble a troupe of musicians to put on the road and telly to promote after the Fleur De Ly's told him to stuff it.  Interestingly enough the band backed Sharon Tandy on a version of "Hold On" which was released the same month (July 1967) as this (see ).

"Reflections of Charles Brown" follows in that grand British 60's pop-sike tradition set into motion by Procol Harum of nicking Bach for pop purposes. After it's Bach inspired organ intro the number is rather slow and moody with some soulful vocals and easily the kind of track you can collapse into a heap to hear on the sofa at the end of an exhausting day's work/parenting.  I didn't like it for ages upon ages and only really grew to appreciate it years ago laying on my couch out of my head and hearing it, needless to say I'm a changed man now. The flipside, "Hold On" as mentioned above is a rocking affair.  Whereas the Sharon Tandy version is exclusively propelled by a blistering guitar, this version is as well but is also accompanied by a distinctive groovy mid 60's mod organ, imagine "Bert's Apple Crumble" by the Quik if it had some distorted guitar on it trading licks with the B-3!

There was another U.S. issue bearing the same matrix number but had a dark blue label embossed into the vinyl with silver lettering as well as double sided promo copies of "Charles Brown".  Promo copies also appeared in white with light blue lettering (as above) or pink.  I guess Bell had big plans for this record here!  Needless to say it never charted and was, at least back in the mid/late 90's to be had everywhere, much like The Bat's "Listen To My Heart" and Los Bravos "Going Nowhere" which every U.S. mod/DJ I knew had at least 1 or more copies of !

Both tracks, especially the "A" side have seen a multitude of compilation reissue action but you can find both tracks on the Fleur De Ly's CD compilation "Reflections".

Hear "Reflections...":

Hear "Hold On":

Monday, March 28, 2011

From South Africa: The Bats

THE BATS-Listen To My Heart/You Look Good Together U.S. Parrott 45-40013 1967

Here's an interesting little record by a South African band who came to the U.K. in '66 and cut three singles for Decca there in '66-'67.  This U.S. release on Parrot combines two different tracks from two of their U.K. releases : Decca F 22534 "Listen To My Heart" b/w "Stop Don't Do It" and Decca F 22586 ""You Look Good Together" b/w "You Will Now, Won't You?".

For some odd reason "Listen To My Heart" reputedly garnered some interest on the Northern soul scene, whether this was in the 70's or the 90's when Decca slapped it on their "Northern Soul Scene" CD I'm not sure, but it couldn't be too in demand because back in the 90's there were copies of this Parrot issue everywhere in the States and I think every mod I knew and every DJ I knew owned a copy!! 

"Listen To My Heart" is cheeky/cheery friendly late 60's sort of pop, not really a specific type of track like psych or purely "pop" but has that "good timey" genre defying feel to it that most of those late 60's U.K. "studio" bands had.  Not bad, no clue how this has any "soul" appeal.  "You Look Good Together" is my fave of the two, for many reasons if only the ridiculous backing chorus that sings "shing-a-ding-di-ee-i-ooo", try and sing that fast!  It has a great melody and some nice heavy bass and precise harmonies that wrap it all up, I'm surprised it hasn't been comped anywhere yet!

"Listen To My Heart" has been reissued on Decca/Deram's "The Northern Soul Scene" CD and Psychic Circle's "Fairytales Can Come True Volume Two: Fairy Cakes For Tea". 

Hear "Listen To My Heart":

Ready! Steady! Go!: A Collection of Photos of Artists on "Ready Steady Go" Part One














Sunday, March 27, 2011

March's Picks

Action Now

Cutesy L.A. 80's power pop with 60's influences but VERY 80's production (esp. those awful hand claps), featuring future Pandoras founder the late Paula Pierce (that's her above proving she didn't go commando).  Good stuff and still sounds as good as it did in the 80's on one of the "Rodney On The R.O.Q" LP volumes that brought it to my attention via Paula's squeaky clean/crisp backing vocals.

2. XTC-"Towers Of London"
Back in the day at the onset of my mod-dom I mused aloud to all and sundry that "Black sea" by XTC was the perfect "mod" album as it was more English than "Setting Sons", that is all perfectly true but I was also a 14 year old talking a load of smack.  These days it's the 80's "Village Green Preservation Society" in my book and no better illustrated by this cut, and besides when's the last time you heard a song that made mention of "virgins from Stepney walking pretty ladies by"?

3. 4 SKINS-"Plastic Gangster"
My punk rock pals would be turning in their graves if they could see I'd posted a Four Skins track on my music picks list.   A friend popped it up on FaceBook a few weeks back and surprisingly this it's quite good, it sounds almost like a jaunty/cheeky Madness cut and the lyrics are hysterical.

4. SQUEEZE-"Up The Junction"
Brilliant melody, brilliant vocals and equally brilliant kitchen sink drama played out in a nicely condensed 3 minutes plus episode.

5. THE APPLE-"Buffalo Billycan"
Brilliant bit of U.K. po-psych '68 style, not at all "heavy", quite "poppy" but with enough dazzling breaks to show their razor sharp mod/freakbeat roots and enough '67 Floydian whimsy to earn the "psych" tag.  It is also, hands down one of the most lyrically indecipherable 60's tracks I've heard!

6. THE FOUR TOPS-"Walk Away Renee"
In the 60's The Four Tops could pretty much pull off anything, including The Left Banke, dig Levi Stubb's amazing vocals and the instrumentation/production are out of sight!

7. DAVID BOWIE-"Life On Mars"
Been playing the crap out of this, never gets old, never.  Possibly the Dame's most oblique and unique lyrics, ever.

8. JET HARRIS-"You Don't Live Twice"
Flipside of his 1967 cover of The Trogg's "My Lady", this ones a bit of a crooner number but the orchestration is tops and believe it or not so is Jet's delivery! R.I.P. Jet.

9. THE IGUANA-"Imagine This"
The crown jewel of Big Beat's "Peculiar Hole in The Sky:Pop Psych From Downunder" Australian 60's psych-pop comp CD is this harmony drenched gem by a bunch of Aussie's who worshipped The Association and The Action.  Harmony pop perfection!

10. LONG TALL SHORTY-"On The Streets Again"
When I hit London in Autumn 1984 there were two records everyone was on about: The Scene's "Something That You Said" and this one by a punky 4 piece "mod".  I'd be hard pressed to call this a "mod" record, it owes more to The Heartbreakers meet the Angelic Upstarts (L.T.S's leader, Tony Perfect was in the latter I'm told) but it still works for me!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Mark Leeman Five

THE MARK LEEMAN FIVE-Going To Bluesville/Forbidden Fruit U.K. Columbia DB 7812 1966

The Mark Leeman Five were one of those 60's jazzy British r&b bands who were always gigging with bigger named acts at all the London haunts like The Marquee, The Flamingo or Klook's Kleek (they actually held a regular Monday night residency at the Marquee club in 1965 which flip flopped with The Moody Blues and Manfred Mann while The Who were packing them in every Tuesday night). They cut just four singles for Columbia. Shortly after their third single leader Mark Leeman was killed in a car accident on his way home from a gig, he was replaced on their fourth and final single by Roger Peacock for the storming "Gather Up the Pieces".  They were managed by Kenneth Pitt (who would later go on to manage a fledgling David Bowie) who spotted them in 1965 whilst playing with his charges Manfred Mann (Paul Jones would blow harp on their debut 45 "Portland Town").  He offered to manage them and got them a deal with EMI's Columbia branch.

They were: Mark Leeman (lead vocals), Alan Roskams (guitar), Terry Goldberg (keyboards), David Hyde (bass) and Brian Davidson (drums).

January 1966's "Going To Bluesville" is a mid tempo number with bluesy vocals and some cool but mild organ, not an r&b stormer in any way shape or form but still quite good.  The flip(which is actually the "A" side) is a cover of Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Forbidden Fruit".  As a big fan of O.B.J. I'm always curious to hear British 60's artists tackling his song.  This one is rather weak I'm afraid, not as bad as The Nashville Teens version issued in August 1966 (Decca F 12458) but still pointless and somewhat effortless.  Both sides were produced by the legendary Denny Cordell (Georgie Fame, The Move etc).

In the late 80's or early 90's See For Miles issued a full LP of their four singles plus a host of unreleased tracks provided by Kenneth Pitt. Sadly it has, to date, not seen any CD reissue. "Going To Bluesville" did surface on the CD compilation "That Driving Beat Volume Five".

Hear "Going To Bluesville":

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Pebbles and groovy dancers.....

Cool tune, hot chicks, what's not to love?

Shel Talmy's Planet

A WILD UNCERTAINTY-A Man With Money/Broken Truth U.S. Planet 45-120 1966

I've no bloody idea who A Wild Uncertainty were, I do know their keyboardist, Phil Sawyer went on the join the Spencer Davis Group Mk. II after the Windwood brothers split.  What I can tell you is that they were a U.K. 60's four piece (I've seen some Euro picture sleeves for this single, that's how I know) and this was their sole release on Shel Talmy's short lived Planet label.  Thanks to a Google search I found a website about their lead singer and the listed line-up was: Tony Sawa (lead vocals/bass), Pete Tidemarsh (guitar), Phil Sawyer (keyboards) and Gordon Barton (drums). Like many a sharp mid 60's U.K. moddy combo they were managed by Don Arden, E.I.A.H (Evil Incarnate Ass Hole).

"Man With Money" rates in my estimation as the finest track The Everly Brothers ever wrote or recorded, released back in October 1965 on their "Beat & Soul" LP and utilized as a "B" side to their version of "Love is Strange" on both sides of the Atlantic.  If you haven't heard it you need to , it's mind blowing. Obviously a lot of folks in England thought so too because The Who cut a version of it in August 1966 (which stayed in the vault's till the mid 90's) as well as playing it live onstage and in a 1966 B.B.C. session.  The Eyes were the first to commit it to vinyl as the "A" side to their third single (Mercury MF 910) in May of 1966 and probably heard it from The Who, as The Eyes well, they made some great records but I'd hardly portray them as trendsetters.  This version dates from October of 1966 and was one of Planet's last three releases, for some reason both the U.S. and U.K. issues of this single inserted an "A" into the title. I'll have to say it's certainly not better than the original but far better than both The Who and The Eye's versions. This specimen is far more uptempo and harder with a nice freakbeat feel to the guitar work (reminiscent of The Fleur De Ly's actually) and the harpsichord bit in the middle is pretty novel.  The flipside, "Broken Truth" is  fairly decent, following pretty much the same formula as the "A" side and sounding a lot like something The Blues Magoos would've done.

pic c/o

Both sides were selected for RPM's now out of print essential "The Best of Planet Records" CD retrospective.

Hear "Man With Money":

Dedicated Followers of Fashion Part Thirteen: Jet Harris (R.I.P.) and friends

With the passing of Jet Harris last week I thought now would be a good time to dig this picture up and post it:

Jet Harris, Little Richard, Gene Vincent and Sam Cooke

For a peek back at Jet's very last major label U.K. 45 you can pop back to check out:

Dedicated Followers of Fashion Part Twelve: U.K. Heroes of The 60's

DENNY LAINE of The Moody Blues 1965

SYD BARRETT, Denmark 1967


JOHN'S CHILDREN and "friends"

THE OPEN MIND live at the Marquee Club

THE AUTHENTICS onstage at the Marquee Club



John, schoolgirl and George.
The Mike Stuart Span
The Shotgun Express
The Rolling Stones
The Zombies

THE FOX (Fontana records Fox)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Davy Jones & The Lower Third

David Bowie (aka Davy Jones)- "That's A Promise", October 1965 @ R.G. Jones Studios, Morden, Surrey, UK with The Lower Third.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cool Foreign E.P.'s 28: The Artwoods "Jazz In Jeans"

THE ARTWOODS-"Jazz In Jeans": These Boots Are Made For Walking/A Taste Of Honey/Our Man Flint/Routine E.P. U.K. Decca DFE 8654 1966

Worth about six month's rent for a small apartment in New York City.

Scott Walker: Cute In A Stupid Ass Way....

SCOTT WALKER-Jackie/The Plague U.K. Philips BF 1628 1967

When Scott Walker finally pulled the plug on The Walker Brothers I'm sure no one other than their teeny bopper/screamager audience were surprised.  Let's face it, Scott Walker WAS The Walker Brothers, John had a few tunes here and there.


But for the most part they were weak and Gary, well Gary didn't even play drums like he was supposed to due to some sort of contractual issue or sing (he did go on to form the brilliant Gary Walker & the Rain) see:

So who was carrying all the water?  Pretty freakin' obvious. It did not take long before the band's label, Phillips, launched Scott's solo career with this debut 45.

"Jackie" was Scott's first of many stabs at material by Jacques Brel.  I've never been big on Jacques Brel but I'll have to say I've dug what Scott Walker has done with his stuff.  The "*uck you" sort of attitude he sings with on "Jackie" complete with over affected pronunciations never ceases to amuse me amid Wally Stot's storming orchestral accompaniment. And of course the track was a perfect vehicle for his wildly expressive stage persona full of gestures, face pulling and over the top campiness, especially on the TV (see the poor quality clip below). Best of all how many songs do you know that entered the top 40 with the line "in a stupid ass way"? It halted at #22 in the U.K. singles charts. On the flip we have an eerily twisted Scott Walker original called "The Plague", it's probably the closest Scott ever got to psychedelia, and certainly the only thing he did close to it.  It's a musical equivalent to a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, from the haunting "la la la la la's" by a chorus of female vocalists, to the sweeping strings (that get warped, sped up and run backwards at varying intervea;s during the track) while Scott sings his bleak, trippy lyrics in an almost disembodied voice.  The vocals are mixed very high upfront while the cacophony of madness plays behind giving the impression he's walled in someplace and his voice is bouncing off the walls.  Towards the ending he sings backed only by a faint ghostly organ and some slowly disintegrating drums and it's over, as eerie as it began.

"Jackie" turned up on Scott's second solo LP "Scott 2" whilst "The Plague" is on the essential intro to his solo work (which was where my Scott Walker odyssey began), the compilation LP/CD "Boy Child".

Hear "The Plague":

See a collection of Walker Brothers/related 60's picture sleeves:

Cool German picture sleeve issue

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hollies '67

THE HOLLIES-Carrie Anne/Signs That Will Never Change U.K. Parlophone R 5602 1967

Like The Beatles, The Stones and The Kinks, my favorite period for The Hollies is late '65 to early '68.  There's something about how The Stones, Beatles and The Hollies all seemed to keep pace with each other with trends and musical styles (something our boys from Muswell Hill didn't seem to follow).

Despite the Summer of Love and all the trippy hippiness that came with it "Carrie Anne" contains none of that, its really just an archetype "boy infatuated with girl" song.  Was it not one of The Hollies who once mused "We're about as psychedelic as a pint of brown ale"?  No sitars (though there is a nice Trinidadian steel drum solo!) just the precision pop harmonies they're known for and Graham Nash and Tony Hicks each getting a verse in behind Allan Clarke's lead vocals.  Though they did make a VERY trippy promo film to go with it (see for yourself below).  "Signs That Will Never Change" had a previous airing on the Everly Brothers "Two Yanks In England" album (released in July 1966) alongside 7 other Clarke/Hicks/Nash compositions (under the moniker "L Ransford") but this was the first Hollies release of the track.  Starting with some really cool phased in harmonies and a hypnotic strong riff it builds a bridge between the "beat group" era and the dawning "psychedelic era" of Hollies music.

Both sides have appeared on numerous comps, I've got them both on the U.K. CD "A's, B's & E.P.s" that EMI put out.