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 though 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.

June 27th, 2015

Alvin Robinson

Listen: Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson
Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson

I saw The Rolling Stones for the first time on October 30, 1965 at the Syracuse War Memorial. I had forged a press pass, a typed note actually, on letterhead from a weekly paper in my little hometown. My Dad had set me up with the pompous owner of it, as I wanted to interview the band for a feature.

Looking back it was quite a good idea on my part, but this self celebrating fellow was nasty and dismissive. Even though I ended up meeting the band, I still loathe him for his attitude, not towards me, but towards my Father. He was so busy being busy, running in and out of his pathetic office, that I just reached over and grabbed a few pages of letterhead when he wasn’t looking. I shook with fear at what I’d done. I was still a good Catholic boy, but too late, I’d done it. So he tells me, “We don’t need a piece on this dirty English combo”, and that was that, or so he thought. Indeed, they didn’t need a a kid in his late single digits writing a review.

To be exact, this was the Canastota Bee Journal, as close as you can get to Mayberry. He and the paper, I’m guessing, are long gone. Still, I composed this laughable letter, claiming to be a writer on assignment and needing to interview them for a feature.

In those days, arenas were filled with hysterical, screaming kids, so how I managed to slide backstage so easily still baffles. An usher fell for that forged letter, and brought me back, where Bill Wyman was wrapping up his cords. Bill reads it, stares me straight in the eye and says in hindsight with a knowing smirk, “Come on and we’ll meet the rest”.

Holy shit. Is this really happening? It was the first time I nearly blacked out. I seriously remember that vividly. We are suddenly walking up the steps to the dressing room, knees weak, where in years to follow, I would meet, more like pester, (here goes, I know this is all a bit name droppy, but it really, really happened. I met all these bands and I’m proud of it): The Mindbenders, Them, The Moody Blues, The Nashville Teens, The Ikettes, The Who, The Pretty Things, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Humble Pie, Heads Hands & Feet, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Steppenwolf, Canned Heat, Caravan, Toe Fat, Derek & The Dominoes, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad, Frampton’s Camel, Traffic, Wild Turkey, The Faces, Badfinger, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Mother Earth, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Chambers Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone, Savoy Brown, Iron Butterfly, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, even Vivian Green, who I worked with decades later, was in that very room when on tour with Maxwell. Talk about coming full circle.

The management knew me and my friends well early on, they must’ve gotten a kick out of these crazy little kids, who’s Mom’s & Dad’s would wait patiently for until the shows ended. Our parents befriended the office staff, and in turn, those nice ladies always let us backstage.

The Rolling Stones were great, so nice. No one was in their dressing room except the band, and one other guy, I’m guess Ian Stewart, the tour manager. No food, nothing but bottles of Coca Cola. They signed my copy of 12 X 5, it probably lasted all of a minute but I still can relive it to this day. Here I was, with this exotic band from England that changed my life, which prior I could only see on TV every three to four months tops. I thought at that very moment, “This is the life for me”. I’m completely convinced it led to my career in music. No question.

Their current album at the time, THE ROLLING STONES NOW, was not a real album at all. In those days, the English labels released singles and EPs, in addition to albums. Not only were the EP tracks not on the LPs, but the singles weren’t either. So the US companies were always dropping off intended LP tracks to make room for the singles and sometimes strong ones from those EPs. For this particular release, London Records basically cobbled together some singles and EP songs, as well as unused UK LP tracks. Remember, the UK LPs were 14 songs compared to our 10-12, thereby creating even more choices.

Probably by coincidence more than design, THE ROLLING STONES NOW actually works as a proper LP. It was certainly a big success, slowly but very solidly scaling the US LP charts and staying Top 10 for ages, as it deserved to. The record’s filled with dark, minor key classics like ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Pain In My Heart’ which they played on that night, Brian sitting at a huge B3 organ, wailing away.

It’s ok if you’re getting tingles. Take your time. You’ll need it. They were back, nine months later, during the AFTERMATH tour, and that’s whole ‘nother post waiting to be written.

This all leads us to ‘Down Home Girl’, a song on THE ROLLING STONES NOW. Little did I know then that it was a cover. I don’t even think I knew what that meant. They were all Rolling Stones songs to us. Years and years later I wised up, seeked out the original, and became a dangerous Alvin Robinson fanatic.

Here’s his version. Get any of his other releases. all of them actually.

May 14th, 2015

Doris Willingham

Listen: You Can’t Do That / Doris Willingham
You Can't Do That / Doris Willingham

The future Doris Duke, best known for many Swamp Dogg associations, started her recording career as Doris Willingham. Signing to the newly formed Jay Boy, ‘You Can’t Do That’ became her second single in two years, released early ’68. It’s a cherished record for both London, who distributed this first Jay Boy release, and Northern collectors, like myself for starters.

Produced by Richard Tee in his early days. Despite finding his professional footing in jazz by the mid 70′s, back in ’68, he was running with the likes Shirley Scott, Esther Phillips, King Curtis and drummer Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie, whose production company this single was made for.

March 29th, 2015

Tir Na Nog

tirnanogstronguk, Tir Na Nog, Chrysalis, Matthew Fisher, John Martyn, Nick Drake

Listen: Strong In The Sun / Tir Na Nog
Strong In The Sun / Tir Na Nog

I was desperate to see Tir Na Nog when they toured the US in ’72. It never happened.

Although being the college concert chairman at the time, having pushed through Rory Gallagher, Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown, Colosseum, Atomic Rooster, The Electric Light Orchestra, The Pretty Things and The Incredible String Band against everyone’s “who the fuck are these people” stances in one school year mind you, it didn’t really allow me any more puts. By then, the budget was spent anyways. Otherwise, they’d have been there.

Tir Na Nog’s second and third albums were released in the States, and I particularly loved that third one, STRONG IN THE SUN. It was, well still is, a seminal recording, right up there with the best from Tyrannosaurus Rex, John Martyn and Nick Drake. Indeed the album includes a cover of his ‘Free Ride’, itself worthy of 7″ status. Tracks like ‘Cinema’ rivaled some of Pink Floyd’s tracks from MEDDLE for being…cinematic, funny enough. If you’d told me Norman Smith, Denny Cordell or Peter Asher had produced some of this stuff, I’d have believed you. The album is that good.

Indeed, Matthew Fisher from Procol Harum was in charge of production, and as with similar duties on Robin Trower’s BRIDGE OF SIGHS, did an A+ job.

When I up and headed for London during summer ’73, I took a night off from The Marquee to see them play a small, sit-down-cross-legged room, God knows the name of it now. But the show remains a vivid memory.

There was a time, around ’85, and Howard Thompson was looking at cover songs for 10000 Maniacs. I guess as a potential single, possibly a one-off film submission or something. I recommended ‘Strong In The Sun’. I thought Natalie Merchant would have done it some beautiful justice and Tir Na Nog could have gotten some well deserved recognition. Didn’t happen. ‘Peace Train’ was chosen instead, against the band’s wishes. Years later, turns out Natalie insisted it be removed from that album. Elektra complied..

There has to be someone out there in need of a great song to revive their sagging career: Nelly Furtado, Jewel, Anna Nalick, Five For Fighting, Vanessa Carlton, Paula Cole or wait, Natalie Merchant.

March 18th, 2015

The Sir Douglas Quintet

The Tracker / Sir Douglas Quintet - US

Listen: The Tracker / The Sir Douglas Quintet
The Tracker / The Sir Douglas Quintet

Like so many bands popping up around the country circa ’64 – ’65, all imitating Britain’s Invasion, The Sir Douglas Quintet appeared. Unlike those others, they had a recognizable sound (perfectly part Bo Diddley, part Pretty Things) and could both write and find great songs, and had the production advantage of Huey P. Meaux guiding them. The band never released a bad single on London Records’ imprint Tribe. They eventually moved to Smash/Philips where their greatness, and the occasional hit single, continued.

‘The Tracker’, followup to their debut smash ‘She’s About A Mover’, was a real favorite despite it’s national stall at #105 in July ’65 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart.

I recall seeing them on SHINDIG, Doug Sahm (Sir Douglas) doing a mean Phil May imitation vocal on ‘The Tracker’ while holding an oversized magnifying glass, kind of roaming around the stage as though following footsteps visible when enlarged, Sherlock Holmes style. Not only did they have the sound down, but the look as well.

Blue Norther / Sir Douglas Quintet - US

Listen: Blue Norther / The Sir Douglas Quintet
Blue Norther / The Sir Douglas Quintet

‘Blue Norther’, the B side, with it’s rather haunting patent Sir Douglas Quintet formula (not to be taken as a bad thing), I like to think is about the train line and totally conjured up nighttime images of a freight winding it’s way through some dark mountain woods or the Texas desert, assuming there is one there.

Listen: In Time / The Sir Douglas Quintet
In Time / The Sir Douglas Quintet

Quickly released that September, no doubt in hopes of refuelling interest after their huge debut, ‘In Time’ stiffed completely. Shame, just listen to it’s perfection. No other US band quite captured their flawless mixture of Texas and England, a recipe that should’ve easily worked. To my knowledge, only KNAC in Salt Lake City charted it for a week in October at #63. Otherwise, klunk

Listen: The Story Of John Hardy / The Sir Douglas Quintet
The Story Of John Hardy / The Sir Douglas Quintet

For the flipside of ‘In Time’, as with Manfred Mann’s rendition of the Lomax/Lomax written ‘John Hardy’ (it too a B side of ‘Sha La La’), the ever present influence of The Pretty Things, marraccas particularly, prevailed. The band’s more folk blues ‘version’, retitled ‘The Story Of John Hardy’, songwriting mischievously credited to Doug Sahm, succeeded in establishing yet again that sound so unique to this band.

Many years later, Doug Sahm formed The Texas Tornadoes and signed to Warner Brothers. I saw him in the office one day (my company, The Medicine Label, was a WB label) and he graciously filled out a jukebox tab for me. It was a chance meeting, so I wasn’t prepared with B side info. I couldn’t remember it, neither could he.

Sir Douglas Quintet - Juke Box Tab

Above: Jukebox Tab filled out by Doug Sahm.

February 1st, 2015

The Graham Bond Organization

Listen: St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization
St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization

Around ’65/’66, The Graham Bond Organization were a most evil sounding jazz/blues mixture, not only as a band, but compared to any other group during the period. Their two albums, including the Jack Bruce / Ginger Baker / Dick Heckstall-Smith lineup, were released by Columbia UK but remained unissued in the US. In fact the only American release ever from this line-up and The Graham Bond Organization in general was this lone 7″ on Ascot, both sides from that Columbia UK period. The much covered ‘St. James Infirmary’, a single only A side in the UK from early ’66, likewise took on the A side position in the US.

This American folk song of anonymous origin dates back to early 1900 and has taken on many interpretations, one of which claims the song to be written about St. James Hospital in London, which was used to treat leprosy.

Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday, Bobby Hackett, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, Bobby Blue Bland, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Doc Watson, Janis Joplin and The White Stripes are amongst those who have recorded the track. Yet it’s this one that competes neck in neck with the Cops ‘N Robbers version as my personal favorite.

The soon-to-be direction John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Dick Heckstall-Smith would assume on BAREWIRES can be heard here.

Listen: Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization
Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization

‘Wade In The Water’, the band’s first A side single for Columbia UK was also included on their debut album, THE SOUND OF ’65. Here in the US, it was coupled, to complete this lone US single, as B side. I’m guessing Ascot Records had released it, with an option for an album, should they get any traction.

At the time, the label was having great success via Manfred Mann, during their initial RnB influenced period with Paul Jones as lead vocalist. They were also a Columbia UK act, and Ascot was releasing other singles from that label’s catalog, including those by Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, The Force Five and Madeline Bell.

The smooth mod rendition of ‘Wade In The Water’ from The Ramsey Lewis Trio stole all the airplay that same year, but this jazz leaning, late night version clearly counter balanced a then ubiquitous song that seemed insatiable to just about everyone in some form or another.

January 22nd, 2015

Georgie Fame

Daylight / Georgie Fame

Listen: Daylight / Georgie Fame
Daylight

I think this song may qualify as a bit of a guilty pleasure, as it is a touch schmaltzy, although my pal Phil, who has super taste in music, loves it. Then again, it was written by Bobby Womack and now a sought after hit on the Northern Soul circuit. Plus Georgie has such a great voice, and the whole idea that he perfected his sound doing all-nighters at the Flamingo Club on Wardour Street in London during the swinging 60′s alongside Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, is, well, all I really need. Basically he always emulated Mose Allison and conventiently helped invent mod-jazz in the process.

As with some of his early hits like ‘Get Away’, this was produced by the great Denny Cordell. When I worked at Island in the early 90′s, Chris Blackwell brought Denny in to oversee A&R. Most everybody got their noses out of joint by his arrival but not me. I mean this was the guy who had produced The Move. He did the whistle sound, fingers to mouth, on ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’, helped start Deram and Regal Zonophone, and then Shelter. So we hit it off immediately, and I often think of the many great times and meals we had together. He was a serious cook. Plus he introduced me to so many people from the UK, all of whom would stop by to see him when passing through town. I remember when he brought Tony Colton into my office. He was the vocalist for Heads Hands & Feet who I became an instant fan of when seeing them open for Humble Pie. Tony had also produced a then obscure, now kind of appreciated gem: ON THE BOARDS by Taste. So this was a big deal to me.

Yeah, Denny was a great great pal….he produced this track as part of the 2nd album Georgie made for Island that the company then proceeded not to issue, still. Seriously, what hasn’t been released at this point? Island was a great place in many ways, but they had a very bad habit of making albums and not releasing them. I know of a few still in the vaults from Marianne Faithfull, and unfortunately countless others from The Smoke to Don Covay.

So this track, ‘Daylight’, and it’s B side, ‘Three Legged Mule’ came out in ’77 as 7″ & 12″ singles, and has finally been reissued as part of the ISLAND YEARS ’74 – ’76 anthology.

December 28th, 2014

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.

December 25th, 2014

Perry & The Harmonics

Listen: Do The Monkey With Mr. James / Perry & The Harmonics
Do

If you haven’t heard or heard of Perry & The Harmonics, then get to steppin’. For years, I too slept on this single and the sole album from which it came, INTRIGUE WITH SOUL.

Seemingly led by saxophonist Clarence Perry, the ’65 studio-only Perry & The Harmonics attempted to cash in on the extremely successful and then current craze of James Bond / 007. The bulk of the album being soul interpretations of the film’s various theme songs, plus a few originals like ‘James Goes To Soulville’ and then, this spectacular single ‘Do The Monkey With James’.

The album is scarce, and this single even more so. That’s Ed Townsend, possibly most known as co-writer of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’, doing the voice overs, which double as lead vocals, and I doubt a better delivery could have been conjured by anyone. His credits as a songwriter and producer are fairly deep, particularly in the Mercury catalogs, where he was a house producer working closely with Dee Dee Warwick. His label ties included Vee Jay, Capitol and Scepter. As well, as an unsung hero, his writing and producing credits covered Etta James, Big Maybelle and The Shirelles. He was particularly good with the female voice.