March 12th, 2017

Swamp Dogg

SwampDoggCreeping, Swamp Dogg, Jerry Williams, Elektra

Listen: Creeping Away / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggCreepingAway.mp3

SwampDoggBelieve, Swamp Dogg, Elektra, Island, Jerry Williams

Listen: Do You Believe / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggDoYouBelieve.mp3

I vividly recall my first look at the RAT ON! sleeve, his only album for Elektra from which both these single sides come. I thought, this is gonna be terrible.

There was nothing more I loved doing than checking every last record that came into our college station. I would sit for hours, well into the night, and instead of studying my class work, I studied records. Cataloging, suggesting cuts for airplay, deciding what to call into the labels for extra copies of, basically to fatten my collection. It was great being both MD and PD of a college station.

First listen, it went into a certain space, meaning very musical in a more grown up way, not unlike the occasional jazz or blues album that struck me, or The Crusaders, The Meters, The Blackbyrds and Dr. John.

I got slightly more interested when a 7″ showed up shortly thereafter. I loved this guys voice, and his name, terrific. Both sides segued nicely with ‘Wash Mama Wash’, a Dr. John single I liked playing on the occasional late, late shift I’d sit in for once in a while.

Gotta admit though, despite my liking of Swamp Dogg, I didn’t exactly follow up accruing the next few releases, which I recall being on the Brut label. I just wasn’t interested in certain record companies as a kid. Very stuck up, a know it all, basically an early version of a Pitchfork contributor. Well, a word to the wise, wrong attitude, a lesson learned later in life having to backtrack, filling in gaps of the vinyl collection. The Swamp Dogg gap being one in particular.

SwampDoggUKA, Swamp Dogg

SwampDoggHomeTooSoon, Swamp Dogg, Elektra, Island, Jerry Williams

Listen: Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long) / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggHomeTooSoon.mp3

SwampDoggJukeboxTab, Swamp Dogg, Jerry Williams, Inez & Charlie Foxx

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Jerry Williams

Come ’74, Swamp Dogg is suddenly on Island, with a seriously happening album HAVE YOU HEARD THIS STORY?. I worshipped every last track, could sing any one of them for you on a dime. And the sleeve, in one way, a mess. An out of focus shot of a very unkept Swamp Dogg in a very unkept room, surrounded by records and books, perched atop a bean bag chair. Yet in another way, completely inviting and totally descriptive of the music inside. His talent for some twisted lyrics, actually clever slants on slightly sleazy subjects drew me in further.

“Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long)’ Have a listen. Can’t be said any better, kind of funny yet very true. Always take care of your partner. And again, that signature voice.

SwampDoggMind, Swamp Dogg, Elektra, Island, Jerry Williams

Listen: The Mind Does The Dancing / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggMind.mp3

A second UK single from the album, and pressed promo only. This was a hard one to track down, plus it’s an edit, making finding a copy even more necessary. The full 7:20 album version gets cut to 5:30, not that much of a radio friendly timing, but seems this was more aimed at clubs, given the disco leaning beat and a vocal that doesn’t begin until 2:22.

Besides, Island UK only did five singles with this label design and the USA catalog number prefix, all aimed seemingly at clubs. Given the time period, Swamp Dogg wasn’t far from Ike Turner’s musical path, wah-wahs and revue horns still in place.

For fun, a press release below that was inside the album’s radio station shipping envelope, which the hoarder in me saved. I had a habit of sticking all these type things inside the sleeves, making for sometimes fascinating reading nowadays.

SwampDoggLetter, Swamp Dogg, Danny Holloway, Island

Swamp Dogg indeed has many releases, starting in 1970. Prior, he recorded under his real name, Jerry Williams, beginning with Little Jerry Williams until, I’m assuming, he grew up.

A closing trainspotter bit here. Jerry Williams co-wrote and had studio involvement with, to me, Inez & Charlie Foxx’s greatest ever single and those are big words as they had many: ‘(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days’.

Well in fact, one of the greatest soul singles of all times, posted elsewhere on this blog if you care to have a listen.

March 11th, 2017

The Move / Jimmy Miller

Listen: Blackberry Way / The Move
Blackberry

Certainly one of my favorite singles ever, I dare say one of the greatest records ever released. Fact not opinion.

The recent BBC documentary, THE JOY OF THE SINGLE spotlighted ‘Blackberry Way’ as just that for a teenage Holly Johnson, who relived a long walk to and from a nearby record shop, whereby The Monkees’ ‘(Theme From) The Monkees’ wasn’t available. In fact, that track was never issued on a 7″ when current. The shop clerk talked him into the latest release by The Move instead, a sale amongst many that would have contributed toward the record reaching #1 on the UK charts.

The program was another in a long list of reminders that pulling out a copy of ‘Blackberry Way’ and letting it play on repeat was yet again, a solid hour well spent in my house.

Along with high school pals Denny and Mark, I sent off to England for copies of this pre-release. We wanted it shipped day one. God knows how we’d hear about these records sentenced to teen life in upstate New York, but we did. In fact, our crowd were so into The Move that there was no messing about by this, the release of their sixth single. And one titled ‘Blackberry Way’, heaven help us, we knew it’d be stunning. I can vividly remember opening that cardboard mailer and playing it for the first time. Stunning doesn’t do the song justice.

Years later, employed in Elektra’s A&R department meant a constant search for new signings and a resulting schedule of meetings with everyone from managers, agents, lawyers and occasionally, name UK record producers with their newest projects. Through the years Gus Dudgeon, Don Arden, Jonathan King, Stuart Colman, Malcolm McLaren, Wayne Bickerton, Hugh Padgham or Shel Talmy might book in while passing through New York. On one occasion, I got a call requesting some time for Jimmy Miller.

His visit was not going to be wasted on me. I was only too keen, as was usually the case, to talk about the less travelled topics covered by most fellow A&R reps, in this instance his more obscure British productions, of which The Move was one. Turns out, he was always happy to recount his histories, including a well repeated run down of that period with The Rolling Stones. But my curiosity in The Move brought out a unexpected tale, all presented with the enthusiasm of a kid.

For starters, ‘Blackberry Way’ was the only song he ever recorded with them, and then just sitting in for the band’s usual producer, Denny Cordell. The details were rather simple and verify the often documented flying by the seat of their pants 60′s music industry. Denny and he were co-workers at Straight Ahead Productions, to whom The Move were signed. Denny was double booked on a session with Joe Cocker & The Grease Band and asked Jimmy to cover for him with The Move. These details, to be clear, were laughingly verified by Denny years later.

As a result, the band’s only UK #1 was produced, not by the guy who worked with them on every other track prior, but by his pal in the next office. A jovial recollection actually.

So as Jimmy Miller sat across from me recounting these details for the first time in my office on the 20th floor of the Warner Brothers building, I pulled out the above copy for an autograph, which seriously pleased him to no end.

March 2nd, 2017

Lonnie Youngblood

Listen: Soul Food / Lonnie Youngblood
Soul Food / Lonnie Youngblood

I’m a sucker for food songs. It probably explains my fascination with the Food Network, which my pal Maridi coined so well as ‘comfy’. Anyways, sonically, this track just captures a time period that, if you’re hooked on, you can’t get enough of. Specifically, 1965 RnB or Soul, and sometimes referred to as a chitlin’ circuit sound which I find a little offensive.

It was during Lonnie Youngblood’s period with Fairmount that his band included Jimi Hendrix, who in theory is on this track. Never mind, it’s more importantly a food record favorite, along with ‘Breakin’ Bread‘ by Fred & The New JB’s and The Soul Runners ‘Grits & Corn Bread’.

Not that I would eat most of the items he sings about, but he does make me feel like I want to join in.

February 10th, 2017

The Moody Blues / St. Louis Union

Stop / Moody Blues

Listen: Stop! / The Moody Blues
Stop! / The Moody Blues

When it comes to vinyl or artifacts, oddly, The Moody Blues are not a collectible band. I guess the mainstream success of Moody Blues lineup two unfairly squashed that.

But still, lineup one, well that was a very different sounding group and should be a very different story. It’s where the collectible piece is baffling. Not surprisingly, the band were recycling US blues and RnB, not unlike most other collectible UK acts during the mid 60′s. But singer Denny Laine was special, and had an authentic, recognizable voice. The hits disappeared quickly after their second 7″, ‘Go Now’, although the quality of singles did not. All of them should command more worth, being pressed in very limited quantities.

‘Stop!’, a US only 7″, was taken from the Denny Cordell produced debut UK LP and their only full length with lineup one. The US album version was similar but didn’t included ‘Stop!’, presumably because American label London spotted the track as a potential hit.

‘Stop’ received confident airplay throughout the northeast upon release. I heard it often at both my local Top 40′s in Syracuse. The single charted for one week on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at #98 and was a decent snapshot of Winter ’66, basically dreary and cold, just as I vividly remember it and personally preferred.

Listen: Girl / St. Louis Union
Girl / St. Louis Union

Dreary and cold, or dark and downbeat were indeed the sounds de jour. Enter the St. Louis Union’s cover of ‘Girl’. Despite being a nice time piece, the record was part of an already risky strategy: covering Beatles’ songs to achieve hits. The process initially worked for Peter & Gordon, The Silkie and a handful of others, yet the idea had primarily dried by the time post ’65 late comers released theirs.

London tip ad

December 28th, 2016

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

DDDBMTZabadakUSA, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Imperial

Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Listen: Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Zabadak

In honor of yet another year owning ‘Zabadak’, one of my all time favorite singles by an all time favorite band, I’m continuing my annual tradition of reposting that original entry about the single’s history from December 28, 2008 at SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME.

Footnote: In the original post linked above, I mention the single’s strong airplay at the time. Click here after reading the post to check out some of the US Top 40 stations that played and charted the record. This link organizes the airplay by date, and note there are 6 pages of station listings viewable. See upper right corner to scroll though all 6.

December 11th, 2016

The Vibrations

Misty / The Vibrations

Listen: Misty / The Vibrations
Misty

There are many, many covers of this classic. Some people will complain it’s a schmaltzy adult bore, or that it’s too camp. But be informed, the greats have done it in varying styles: Aretha Franklin, Donald Byrd, Johnny Mathis, Sarah Vaughan, Richard Groove Holmes, Donny Hathaway, Julie London, Stan Getz even Timebox. I like them all. Interestingly, it can withstand many very different interpretations.

The Vibrations, like The Contours, were in that poor man’s Temptations or Four Tops category. Consequently, both often tipped into Northern Soul. Their version of ‘Misty’ though brings me right back to the Syracuse War Memorial October 30, 1965. The Vibrations, along with Pattie La Belle & The Blue Belles, were opening for The Rolling Stones. Bravely, they performed this clad in shiny purple chino suits; and the power of the vocal had ten thousand restless kids in silent awe. Check out the final high notes here, you’ll see what I mean.

October 6th, 2016

Bob & Earl

Harlem Shuffle / Bob & Earl

Harlem Shuffle / Bob & Earl

Listen: Harlem Shuffle / Bob & Earl
Harlem Shuffle / Bob & Earl

Talk about a period piece. ‘Harlem Shuffle’ makes me feel like I’m listening to late, well, very late night 60′s radio, when music this raw and blues based was kept off the air during the day…or more like, kept off the air almost entirely.

Released in ’63, then still considered race music, this record never got heard by white America. Wasn’t just the obscure English groups that had to sneak through via the late night airwaves ghetto, RnB had to as well. Growing up near Syracuse, we picked up AM stations from Boston and Ft. Wayne on our transistors, for rock that is. But we also managed a black station from Philadelphia and another from Baltimore. Not exactly Alabama or Mississippi, yet still very risky business for white bred upstate New York.

Got to hear a lot of seminal stuff that way, transistor under the pillow. In particular, Bob & Earl’s ‘Harlem Shuffle’, which still feels like a night time record with every time it gets a play. This single created a fantasy world, whereby living on the wrong side of the tracks seemed way far away and rather dangerous to venture too near.

The single had a deserved second life around the early 80′s, when a batch of this type stuff was reissued by some UK labels and the hip college DJ’s were mixing it in with ska revival bands like Madness and The Specials. Earl Lee Nelson had a pretty big hit ‘The Duck’ a few years later (’65) as Jackie Lee.

October 5th, 2016

The Grass Roots

Listen: Where Were You When I Needed You / The Grass Roots
Where Were You When I Needed You / The Grass Roots

These guys had a string of sizable and worthy successes through the late 60′s and into the 70′s. Pretty poppy but very musical stuff, including a few covers of should-have-been hits, like The Marmalade’s English smash ‘Lovin’ Things’ and The Forum’s ‘The River Is Wide’. All their records past the first few incorporated soul, brass or percussion heavy songwriting in an English sounding setting.

The early stuff seems most non-existant, even though their second single, ‘Where Were You When I Needed You’, became a hit, perfectly marrying a British Invasion image with west coast folk rock jangle, and peaked at #28.

Listen: Only When You’re Lonely / The Grass Roots
Only When You're Lonely / The Grass Roots

It’s followup, ‘Only When You’re Lonely’, in a very similar style, had a brief moment at #96, and is largely forgotten. Too bad, it’s a good one.

The whole Grass Roots story is a bit manufactured. The act was basically an outlet for writers and Dunhill Records owners PF Sloan and Steve Barri to latch onto LA’s folk rock movement, which had an undeniable UK slant, much like The Sir Douglas Quintet purposely went British Beat to gain success. In actuality, The Grass Roots’ first three singles were by an entirely different band from the one that followed and proceeded to have hits.

Their original sound, of which ‘Only When You’re Lonely’ basically concluded, rivaled The Byrds, who clearly ran with both it and the image in their teeth, thereby claiming the prize of massive success.

I have a nagging instinct The ‘Only When You’re Lonely’ Grass Roots easily had the initial footings of a great band to be. Early clips, there are very few, show them possessing a natural body language, much closer to say, The Seeds, than the later successful lineup, more easily compared to clumsy high school football team players, true visual eye sores indeed, like The Turtles or The American Breed.

Were the original Grass Roots destined to be the real deal, we will never know.

September 17th, 2016

Thomas Wayne

thomaswaynetragedyuka, Thomas Wayne, Twinkle, The Shangri-Las, American London,

Listen: Tragedy / Thomas Wayne
Tragedy / Thomas Wayne

Both sides are a childhood memory record. And I had all but forgotten this one until there it was in the collection I’d bought from Tony King. Certainly not representative of the general sound I ultimately went for until years later, unsure if it was the very first record I had someone buy me, but it was certainly one of the first.

Possibly ‘Tragedy’ is what planted that seed toward favoring violent death and horror records like those by Jimmy Cross, Twinkle, The Shangri-Las, Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages even The Gun Club. Thomas himself died in a car crash.

thomaswaynesaturday, Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley, Thomas Wayne, Fernwood Records, London American,

Listen: Saturday Date / Thomas Wayne
Saturday Date / Thomas Wayne

Like Side A, the flip, ‘Saturday Date’ was produced by Scotty Moore, one time Elvis Presley guitarist. Why it wasn’t included in the AMERICAN GRAFFITI soundtrack is beyond me. Lyrically, you can’t capture the era better. Speaking of guitarists, Thomas Wayne was indeed the brother of Luther Perkins, who played lead for Johnny Cash.

A side scan from Tony King’s collection, B side scan is my original copy from the day.

July 14th, 2016

Suicide

Above/below: front/back of the ‘Cheree’ Red Star/Bronze UK picture sleeve.

Above/below: Red Star/Bronze UK promo 1977/Demon UK promo reissue 1986

Listen: Cheree / Suicide
Cheree

Occasionally some courageous soul challenges Suicide as pioneers, claiming Silver Apples or Beaver & Krause soldiered through the unexplored industrial wild, wild west before them. Not to take anything away from either, but seriously folks. No one has ever combined menace and grace like Alan Vega and Marty Rev. Not then, not now.

Upon release in ’77, two copies of Suicide’s debut album came into the record shop I worked for. Needing nothing more than one look at the sleeve while checking in that distributor’s shipment, I decided then and there neither were finding their way to the racks. Instead, both came home with me that night, and immediately the second copy went into Howard Thompson’s pile, readying it for mailing off to London as part of our ongoing record exchange pact. Eventually signing Suicide to Bronze UK, Howard also had the guts to issue ‘Cheree’ as a 7″ A side.

Turns out the band were completely accepting of the hostility which awaited them at every stop of their first British tour, supporting both Elvis Costello & The Attractions then The Clash on that initial visit. Much attention has been focused through the years on the violent reactions Suicide successfully provoked, having everything, including an axe, hurdled at them during their sets.

Howard and Bronze, as undeterred as the band, pressed up the now very rare promo only live album, loosely known as 23 MINUTES IN BRUSSELS from two of those nights, complete with the cold blooded hatred the unsuspecting audience spewed, almost as powerfully relentless as Suicide themselves. Almost, being the key word.

Simply one of the greatest live albums ever recorded, additionally, it’s a glaring artifact of how transparent and mainstream media driven many punk audiences really were in ’78 and therein lay the proof.

No surprise that, other than John Peel, BBC Radio 1 wouldn’t touch ‘Cheree’. Bless them. Probably the last thing Suicide needed then or ever, was a hit single. Instead, they’ve graduated to higher forms of life just fine without one.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Alan Vega

June 25th, 2016

The Herd

Listen: The Game / The Herd
The

Public opinion always focuses on Peter Frampton when it comes to The Herd. But let me tell you, as with pre and post Frampton, The Herd were all about Andy Bown. A shockingly unsung hero, it was Andy Bown who rejoined his Herd defector in the early 70′s for a few Frampton’s Camel US tours. Thank the Lord, Jah, The Dahli Lama and whoever else needs praising. Had it not been for that fateful reprieve, I may never have met the man.

The first and last Fontana single by The Herd, post Peter Frampton’s departure, was this, ‘The Game’. It was met with zero welcoming from the press and the public. Don’t forget, hipsters turned their noses toward The Herd during the band’s heyday, assuming them to be manufactured by songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blakley. History proved otherwise.

As if overnight, while still trying to find a seemingly current US copy of ‘The Game’, several were discovered gracing the 10 for 59¢ shrink wrapped deletion boxes sold at Woolworth’s during the late 60′s. Praise be. Those miracle pre packs were always like discovering a desert island while clinging a life preserver at sea or some such analogy. Come to think of it, I acquired my domestic copy of The Herd’s first US single, ‘I Can Fly’ tucked inside one of those extraordinary boxes as well. Stumbling on a warehouse full with unsold skids of those boxes nowadays would have us on a stretcher.

Andy Bown’s intentionally needle pinning production jammed trombones, saxophones, probably other brass too, and loads of “La la la la” background vocals into a typically Herd organ led track. The record reeked of English Pop. I loved it. Always have, always will.

June 2nd, 2016

The Ramones

Listen: Baby Sitter / The Ramones
Baby

Tom became a great pal as the years went by. Either with Monte, or often on his own, we’d meet near my place for an Indian buffet. Originally well under the trendy radar, all types of homestyle Northern and Southern Indian, Indonesian, Thai, Korean and Malaysian restaurants super served a massive but unhip clientele in my neck. Good food cheap basically.

Despite gentrification and Yelp, the choice and quality still holds. And so on the occasions when we’d do an impromptu mid-week lunch together, more often than not, all the air would be gasped out of the room as a nearby newbie or hipster table would suddenly realize Tommy Ramone was in the house. Without fail, a nervous approach would result. And Tom would be Tom: humble, shy, friendly, always accommodating to autographs and pictures alike.

One memorable exchange:

Shocked person, “Wow, what are you doing in Queens?”

Tom, “I live here.”

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Tommy Ramone

April 11th, 2016

Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band

ZootWillie, Zoot Money, Decca

Listen: The Uncle Willie / Zoot Money ZootWillie.mp3

If you ever see the double LP, HARD UP HEROES, do yourself a favor, buy immediately. Released on UK Decca in ’74, the compilation is a proper collection of their deep 60′s catalog, mostly gritty blues leaning acts, and packaged beautifully. It was here that I first heard ‘The Uncle Willie’.

As with other tracks by The Graham Bond Organization, Alexis Korner, Them, The Birds and John Mayall, it epitomized what I imagined the seedy clubs of London’s Soho to sound like. I’ll never know, but bet I’m right.

Zoot Money already had his Big Roll Band rolling by then. For whatever reason, their moniker was left off the label copy, but their signature sound was sure there to be heard. Man, did I want to own this single from that first listen. Took me a few years, but I got it. Just as expected, the audio on the 7″ was even more authentic than the LP pressing, which in original mono, sounded pretty great already.

Years later, like thirty or so, a live cd from The Flamingo was issued. This band was clearly full and exciting live, as their rendition of ‘The Uncle Willie’ proved.

ZootBigTime, Zoot Money, Epic

Listen: Big Time Operator / Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band ZootBigTime.mp3

Pretty sure it was 2003, the Maximum Rhythm & Blues Tour, a yearly-ish event, played The Royal Albert Hall, and by sheer luck, I was there for work. Jackie Hyde arranged not only tickets, but passes to the after show. As if having just watched Manfred Mann, with both Paul Jones and Mike D’Abo doing their respective hits, Chris Farlowe, The Alan Price Set and Colin Blunstone wasn’t enough, the post show bit was a corucopia of their musician friends from the 60′s. I’m sure there were guys milling about, by now unrecognizable, that would’ve been great jukebox tab scores, but who could tell.

Not the case with Zoot Money. You couldn’t miss him. Jovial and very approachable, he laid a bunch of Marquee stories my way and had no idea ‘Big Time Operator’ came graced with a picture sleeve in the US.

ZootJukebox, Zoot Money, Jukebox Tab

What a great guy to talk with, and pretty good memory too. Wanting a jukebox tab, I didn’t know the B side to ‘The Uncle Willie’, but he did.

February 4th, 2016

Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band

Listen: Black Woman / Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band
Black Woman / Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band

I don’t believe this story is uncommon amongst vinyl collectors.

Once an artist strikes that magic nerve in the system, you kind of need all of their records, or certainly the ones specific to the time period before they morphed into something way different.

This is exactly the case with Don Covay and me. I had many of those Atlantic singles, instinctively picking them up through the years based on an initial name introduction via early albums by The Rolling Stones. At any given moment, one of them hits you, all the rest get pulled out, examined and played. Then boom. The process begins. Regardless of day, time or convenience, a plot to complete the catalog materializes.

Ebay has made this so easy. A lot of my collector friends hate ebay, all cranky that it takes away from the back aching digs through boxes in record shops and rummage sales and things. I don’t get that, those moments will never go away. Ebay is like getting take-out food delivered. No different. Doesn’t mean you’ll never cook for yourself again. What’s the problem?

In an effort to complete the Don Covay Atlantic releases, I dig up a discography and think, the one that has forever eluded me is ‘Black Woman’ from ’69. It doesn’t sound familiar at all and I would’ve certainly remembered the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band bit. From the song title alone, it sounded very in tune with the times, black power fisted slants on records from Miles Davis to Jefferson Airplane being ever present then. ‘Black Woman’ had to be a great one.

So today I go digging through some .50¢ boxes at Academy Records in Williamsburg, and what do I find? Yep, the final component to having a complete Don Covay Atlantic singles library right here in the comfort of my own home.

I love that shop. Similar to most, the 45′s are second fiddle at best. Probably they don’t sell many, and great ones aren’t exactly walking through the door often. But the staff, as nice as they are, just don’t seem to have a consistent grasp on values or importance when it comes to Soul / Rnb / Northern / Jazz 7′s.

Perfect.

So now the follow-up punch line to my first sentence: I get home, clean the record up, give it a few plays and once totally satisfied, decide to file it away.

And what do I find? I already own a copy.

Well, one can always use a safety.

December 28th, 2015

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

DDDBMTZabadakUSA, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Imperial

Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Listen: Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Zabadak

In honor of yet another year owning ‘Zabadak’, one of my all time favorite singles by an all time favorite band, I’m continuing my annual tradition of reposting that original entry about the single’s history from December 28, 2008 at SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME.

Footnote: In the original post linked above, I mention the single’s strong airplay at the time. Click here after reading the post to check out some of the US Top 40 stations that played and charted the record. This link organizes the airplay by date, and note there are 6 pages of station listings viewable. See upper right corner to scroll through all 6.

December 26th, 2015

Bobby Fuller Four

BobbyFullerLetHerDance, Bobby Fuller Four, Mustang, Liberty

Listen: Let Her Dance / Bobby Fuller Four
Let

Released during the summer of ’65, ‘Let Her Dance’ somehow made merely a dent (# 133) on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100, sadly getting airplay only in Southern California.

Amazingly, the single didn’t spread like wildfire. It’s not like Los Angeles airplay couldn’t break a record. I still can’t believe it wasn’t a hit.

Apparently, more than those at the original label, Mustang thought so too. They proceeded to license it to Liberty Records, clearly expecting to take the song national as Mustang did later in the year with ‘I Fought The Law’. Why it wasn’t re-released as the followup to ‘I Fought The Law’ remains a mystery, given a few trade mentions in March ’66 that indeed it was scheduled. I suppose Liberty insisted if re-released, despite passing on ‘I Fought The Law’ later that year, it be via them or some such wrangle.

To be honest, Little Steven turned me on to this about five years ago. He plays it regularly on his Sirius radio channel. Sounds fantastic on the air as it must have that summer while driving along the Pacific Palisades, surf boards popping out the back of pink or aqua woodies. Foolishly, I hadn’t paid much attention prior.

Missing this when originally issued is indeed an embarrassing admission, but one that makes for endless records to discover as life moves on.

‘Let Her Dance’ remains a haunting record with a suspicious streak, one that blossomed in an unfortunate way. I was never sure why the single appeared on both the Mustang and Liberty labels, so decided to do some research, stumbling on Aaron Poehler’s ‘The Strange Case Of Bobby Fuller’. It’s a must-read.

December 21st, 2015

Wanda Jackson & The Party Timers

Listen: A Girl Don’t Have To Drink To Have Fun / Wanda Jackson & The Party Timers
A

Fresh off a seven hour flight, my blood was sizzling to stop by the Brooklyn Record Riot at The Warsaw Theatre yesterday. Even I couldn’t believe I had the energy, but something was telling me: go, go. Sure enough, that little bell in my brain rang true. Despite being late in the day, around 4:30 and with the threat the place theoretically had been picked, as those of us possessed would tend to describe it, there were boxes of 45′s just waiting to be hoarded.

I’m speaking mainly of a fellow with hundreds of clean, still in the original company sleeves, most without a crease, early 60′s country promos, primarily Decca and Capitol 7′s. Country in the loosest sense that is. Luckily the radio station from where they came clearly kept anything remotely associated with country, like former rockabilly greats whose stars had long ago faded as in Carl Perkins. Bluesy bar room crying in your drink songs from guys influenced by the great guitar pickers, like Hoyt Axton, Leo Kottke and Albert Lee. To rock acts that dressed like farmers describing themselves as tasty even then, such as Goose Creek Symphony, Joy Of Cooking, Joe Crane & The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils and The Grease Band.

Praise be, there were loads of gems. Fantastic Merle Haggard & The Strangers various red neck hater songs, Buck Owens & The Buckaroos, Sonny Burgess & The Southern Gentlemen, Ferlin Husky & The Hushpuppies and Conway Twitty 7′s. Chunks of Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells, Tammy Wynette, Dottie West, Brenda Lee, Wilma Burgess and even Patsy Cline singles, many in picture sleeves.

Amongst my favorite scores were a sizable stack of Wanda Jackson releases. Who can pass up anything by her, especially one titled ‘A Girl Don’t Have To Drink To Have Fun’, a #22 Country chart hit in ’67, from her flawless CREAM OF THE CROP album. My feet barely touched the ground leaving despite being armloads of records heavier, yet a wallet only $25 lighter. The whole 10 for a dollar experience and especially this single, made my day.

November 13th, 2015

Tommy Tucker

tommytuckerhiheeleduka, Tommy Tucker, Checker, Chess, Don Covay, Pye

Listen: Hi-Heel Sneakers / Tommy Tucker TommyTuckerHighHeeled.mp3

It was very early on that I’d learned to depend on certain labels for a consistant style or quality. Many collectors focus on their entire runs, and Chess/Checker is easily one such company. Basically, I was never disappointed by their 60′s output. Must have been an early radio station handout that turned me on to Tommy Tucker, although this did reach #11 in ’64. His Jimmy Reed style was an instant magnet, and I’m happy to this day that I plonked down $5 for his one and only Checker album at the time.

Don Covay also comes to mind, he wrote ‘Long Tall Shorty’, Tommy Tucker’s followup to ‘High Heeled Sneakers’. Covered by The Kinks and The Graham Bond Organization, it was apparently a common staple in the London clubs for a bit. Not a hit at the time, it’s deservedly risen to an equal ‘classic’ position for Tommy Tucker through the years.

October 30th, 2015

Baron Daemon & The Vampires

Listen: Ghost Guitars / Baron Daemon & The Vampires
Ghost

Here’s one I never ever hear about anywhere. Not since it came out and I was a kid, until today. Sirius radio are doing a ton of great Halloween programs this weekend, and this popped up on XMU Channel 35. See my screen shot below, apologies, it was sunny and I was driving. I couldn’t believe my eyes nor ears. Damn, I am impressed.

Even Roger Armstrong from Ace didn’t know details surrounding Baron Daemon & The Vampires. Only as a result of his THESE GHOULISH THINGS compilation did I mention them in the first place. So that’s how scarce they and their only single are.

‘Ghost Guitars’ was a very local release in the Syracuse area, I’m guessing around ’64. Lots of cities had their own AMERICAN BANDSTAND record hop programs. Given that Saturday afternoon scary movies were the rage, they were usually tied in with teen music, and in this case, a home town radio personality host done up in vampire gear.

The local guy who did all this was Mike Price. He mc’d the scary movies job, on which Baron Daemon was his alias. And he’s still living there today, having recently retired from WSYR, where he began his career in ’62. During Mike Price’s Syracuse tenure, while doubling as Baron Daemon, he released this single. It’s exactly the kind of record that resulted in The Cramps eventually festering into a top rock and roll band.

July 5th, 2015

The Flirtations

Listen: Nothing But A Heartache / The Flirtations
Nothing

This is simply the greatest Motown single that was never on Motown. Even though the UK Deram label really didn’t specialize in releases for the soul or RnB market, ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ suddenly appeared in mid ’68. Re-released a few months later, with a different B side, the record started to get play in the US, eventually peaking on the Billboard charts at #34. It was overseen by Wayne Bickerton, who had produced the lavish, for it’s day, album by UK band, World Of Oz. Their single, ‘The Muffin Man’, was almost a hit, garnering pretty solid airplay in a lot of US markets during summer ’68, for about two weeks. Literally, every local chart I’ve ever seen it on was for a two week run. I guess the checks didn’t clear and onto the payola victim scrap heap that fantastic single went.

Years later, this Flirtations track became a Northern Soul success. Northern Soul records, in simple terms, are non hit, copy versions of the Tamla/Motown sound. Many were still being recorded into the early ’70′s, after that original era had long past. The clubs in the North of England were insatiable for anything resembling it and hence the tag Northern Soul.

Proof of the song’s validity comes in the fact that, despite being a UK act and UK made record, like most of the Motown singles from the 60′s, ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ was only a hit in America.