November 13th, 2018

The Staple Singers

We The People / The Staple Singers

Listen: We The People / The Staple Singers
We

I constantly regret never seeing The Staple Singers when Pops was alive. I actually was obsessed with this single for the longest time, starting around me getting my first jukebox in ’87. It’s actually the B side to their ‘Oh La Di Da’ hit from ’73, peaking at #33 in Billboard’s Pop chart, primarily because of RnB airplay and sales, as I never once remember hearing that song on the radio back then.

I was pretty cautious to put only extra, well played records in the jukebox, as my original Rock-Ola would definitely do a number on them. These titles were no brainers in the good old garage sale days, when you’d pick this stuff up for 10¢ a piece, tops. Not having the strength to pass up even the most marginal single, I ended up with hundreds of doubles, that are still oozing out of my over stuffed garage. Forget about putting a car, bike or anything else in there. Last summer, I would just manage to squeeze a few more records in and rapidly have to slam the door. An episode of Horders looms. I have since organized it all a bit, but they are still stacked pretty much to the ceiling. It does make for a fun afternoon digging in. You forget all the titles you end up with, well I do at least. So there are always gems to put a smile on my face when rummaging through.

Well ‘We The People’ just sounded so hot on the jukebox that I became addicted. I particularly love the lyrics, perfect circa ’72 /’73 with the hot pants references etc. This never shows up on any of their compilations, but is on the album, BE ALTITUDE – RESPECT YOURSELF.

November 6th, 2018

Norma Tanega

Walking My Cat Named Dog / Norma Tanega

Listen: Walking My Cat Named Dog / Norma Tanega
Walking

Hats off to Herb Bernstein, the guy who produced this record. Listen to the production ideas he weaves in and out of this 2:16 perfect pop, very early stereo 7″ single. No small credit toward the writer/artist as well, Norma Tanega.

She was luckily pretty respected in the day, and managed to have a deserved US and UK hit, coincidentally reaching #22 in both charts during ’66. Various follow ups didn’t get traction as they should have, but ‘Walking My Cat Named Dog’ was pretty difficult to top.

The album, a hard one to find, is worth the search. I play it often.

October 29th, 2018

The Buzz

Listen: You’re Holding Me Down / The Buzz
Buzz.mp3

Basically the remnants of Edinburgh’s mini cult legends The Boston Dexters, once they morphed into The Buzz, ‘You’re Holding Me Down’ became their sole release from ’66, produced by Joe Meek and pre-dating summer of love psychedelia by a year or so. Still, it gets regarded as a most collectable classic from the genre, having recently commanded £305 on eBay. Everything Joe Meek touched became an unforeseen crystal ball gaze into the future, still to this day.

Digging through reviews of the record at the time, some called it frantic, others messy.

Many argue these guys were the same group David Bowie used as his back-up band for a while, billing themselves as, surprise, David Bowie & The Buzz. Not true.

Although, that Buzz did include a guitarist with possibly the best stage name ever, T-cup Taylor.

October 24th, 2018

The Coasters

Listen: Shoppin’ For Clothes / The Coasters
8-21 Shopping For Clothes.mp3

There’s just not a lot I can tell you about ‘Shopping For Clothes’ that the record itself can’t.

But my little story about it is a follows: In ’87 Dan Baird was at the Altantic Studios in New York recording and mixing the second Georgia Satellites album. Howard and I headed over from Elektra, a few blocks away, one late afternoon to hear some of the tracks in progress and we were kind of accosted the second we walked in. Dan was all smiles excited and said you have got to hear something. He sat us down at the the board and hit play. I don’t know if I loved ‘Shopping for Clothes’ or Dan’s face lighting up the room more. It’s certainly the sort of record you just know is going to floor any living soul who hasn’t heard it.

These how the fuck did I get here moments from my record company days, now long gone, seemed to come like miracles, except more often, which as we know miracles don’t. This particular one was a chilling rush, being right there where it was recorded decades before. Imagine that high. I definitely twitched.

We must have played ‘Shopping for Clothes’ half a dozen times in a row, maybe more.

October 22nd, 2018

Doris Troy

Jacob's Ladder / Doris Troy

Listen: Jacob’s Ladder / Doris Troy
DorisTroyJacob'sLadder.mp3

Although having recorded with The Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Kevin Ayers, Dusty Springfield, Nick Drake, Junior Campbell and Pink Floyd, it was The Beatles, and especially George Harrision, who seemingly had the real jones for Doris Troy. Signing to their Apple label, she was afforded a self produced long player, DORIS TROY. Apple issued two singles from it, the second being a remake of the biblical folk/gospel standard, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.

Get Back / Doris Troy

Listen: Get Back / Doris Troy
Get

Both Apple 7′s luckily had non-LP B sides from the album sessions. For the flip of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, her version of the then-still-current ‘Get Back’ was used. In general, the overall recording approach for the project was very 1970, it’s a total Mad Dogs & Englishmen shamble/jam, with that ‘let’s try to sound like Delaney & Bonnie’ intent. Depending on my mood, I either appreciate it or just feel it sounds like a bad bar band from upstate New York.

No musician credits are listed on the album sleeve although it’s widely accounted that Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Leon Russell, Bill Wyman and Peter Frampton all joined George Harrison in it’s recording.

October 20th, 2018

The Bachelors

Listen: 3 O’Clock Flamingo Street / The Bachelors
3

My Mom always loved these guys, they were Irish and so was she. But then most Moms did. You see, the very square looking Bachelors co-existed effortlessly with beat groups in ’64 and ’65. There were a few others, like The Vogues and The Four Seasons, sporting dreadful hair cuts, who dressed decidedly old yet were accepted by the youngsters and their parents as well. The Bachelors fell into that space. I guess it was the quality of their songs and music that worked. It was good stuff.

Think about it, The Walker Brothers pretty much did the same thing, but they had it down in the image and looks department, hence becoming deservedly seminal in rock history.

’3 O’Clock Flamingo Street’ was The Bachelors first non-charting UK single after a solid three or four year run. Although I remembered it being a bit psychedelic, having heard the single a few times on the radio in summer ’67, it’s acutally not musically psychedelic at all.

Lyrically though, very twisted. There’s a definite implication something sinister was going on at 3AM. That drew me in. This was indeed the summer I was sneaking out and visiting our local cemetery late at night, alone, in an effort to see if spirits would attempt contact. The reasons for that morbid and thankfully temporary attraction are rather unexplainable still. I will say it was fairly terrifying. Anyways, my radar was up for just this type of record.

Alan Tew contributed that UK Decca orchestration and arrangement that I love, sounding not unlike the Cat Stevens ‘Kitty’ and ‘A Bad Night’ singles from that period.

And it was produced by Dick Rowe, now world famous for turning down The Beatles at Decca UK and subsequently signing The Rolling Stones as penance. In my opinion, therefore, he made two perfect and unbeatable career moves.

October 19th, 2018

The Kinks

Day's / The Kinks

Day's / The Kinks

Day's / The Kinks jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Ray Davies

Day's / The Kinks press-release

Listen: Days / The Kinks
Days / The Kinks

How do you pick a Kinks single to write about, yet avoid the guilt of the dozens you’re not mentioning? Not possible. But listening back to this week’s PICK OF THE POPS program, on BBC’s Radio 2, where Dale Winton counts down selected Top 20′s from years gone by, spanning the 60′s forward with much accuracy and old style chart excitement, I heard ‘Days’. It was in the 1968 chart that he was featuring.

‘Days’ has always been one of my most cherished records, and I have listened to it undoubtably thousands of times. I had a memorable life moment last November in London, walking from my hotel in Primrose Hill in the cold drizzling rain on a very grey Sunday to have late afternoon tea at my friend’s, when I heard it in the headphones, following Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Something In The Air’, played back to back on Radio 2. Being able to listen to the radio is a fascinating privilege not well known here in the States. This, my friends, was heaven.

As much as I loved it when released in summer ’68, and buying it at King Karol’s in NY on a summer excursion to see some bands, Jethro Tull with The Jeff Beck Group at the Fillmore East, I could never 100% enjoy it. I always felt so bitter that ‘Days’ got no airplay anywhere in the US and what a criminal shame it was that America was again being cheated out of such great musical culture by radio, a cancer that worsened year after year. No wonder we have what we have in our charts.

But some justice has been served, Ray Davies still performs and his great songs, like ‘Days’, get used in films etc. and covered. What would have happened if singles like this, and bands like The Small Faces or The Pretty Things had been given a chance back then. No question, things would have been very different here.

October 15th, 2018

SMASH / FONTANA CATALOG 1968

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

I know exactly where where I got this from, being the record collector I was at eight years old. Still have a few Fontana 7″ mailers from that time period as well. I would write to my hero, Claranelle Morris, at Fontana’s main office in Chicago back then, pestering her about The Herd and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. She was a sweetheart and would send photos, bios, sometimes even a single. I guess she figured you probably couldn’t hear or buy them in the sticks of the Syracuse suburbs, so give the kid the record already. We’re going to toss them anyways. Thank you Claranelle for all that and for sending this catalog. I think of you fondly until this day. Ahh, to go back and police the Fontana dumpsters nightly. If only.

Dumpsters explanation: It was years later, when I finally got a break and Howard Thompson gave me my first A&R job at Elektra, that I discovered as soon as a record isn’t current, being worked at radio or believed in, off to the dumpster went the unused product, and many times off to the scrapheap went the act’s career. I learned to police the Elektra, then Island, WB and Columbia dumpsters with full commitment and precision, deeming myself the savior of such vinyl which till this day, fills my storage units.

But let’s not lose focus. So I found this catalog in one of the many memorabilia trunks I’ve filled to the brim over the years. It’s just like new.

Man, I wouldn’t mind a box lot of just about every title here, a box of mono and of stereo versions that is.

Of course, I loved the English groups back then, but also had a jones for Gloria Lynne. It wasn’t only because she was on Fontana. Gloria Lynne had a bunch of records on Everest prior. I had a copy of ‘Indian Love Call’ from that period, given to me in one of the Saturday morning piles of singles my uncle, a jukebox operator, would drop off instead of trashing. I loved that single. I paid attention to Gloria Lynne singles. I often heard them on the radio playing in the local barber shop where I’d get my haircut as a little boy. Must have been an AC station of the day, way before it’s then output turned into bachelor pad, lounge, hipster stuff decades later. I certainly recall hearing them play her version of ‘Watermelon Man’ at the time. All this, when I was very young, about five or six. It’s probably the reason the record collecting gene was dangerously awakened in my DNA.

Oh, and check out some of the soundtracks here too.

October 14th, 2018

Mitty Collier

Listen: I Had A Talk With My Man / Mitty Collier
I Had A Talk With My Man / Mitty Collier

The oddest things can happen, and will.

Mitty Collier got pop play on my local Top 40 when I was a kid. Now, her records were strictly considered RnB hits, even though ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ did cross to some pop outlets in major cities. I did not, however, grow up in a major city. But WOLF, as I’ve raved on about before, was indeed an educational source in it’s day. Right there next to The Rolling Stones and Them we could hear The Vibrations, Irma Thomas and yes, Mitty Collier, thanks to their programming excellence.

Basically, the single was a secularised version of James Cleveland’s gospel song ‘I Had A Talk With God Last Night’ and reached #41 on Billboard’s Top 100.

Gloria Lynne, who had jazzier material and therefore more grown up appeal, grabbed some airplay on the easy listening formats, as it was referred to then. So my parents’ stations played her, and I regularly heard ‘Watermelon Man’ at our local barbers. There’s a definite resemblance between their voices, both full and heavy.

I actually bought ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ at Walt’s Records instead of a new Searchers single one particular week. If you’re listening, this is it, rough around the edges but still intact.

Listen: Free Girl (In The Morning) / Mitty Collier
Free Girl (In The Morning) / Mitty Collier

Despite being a freezing November Saturday, ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ brings back warm, vivid winter memories of rushing from the bus into Walt’s, desperate to find this record. Once back home, I played it over and over. But in the weeks that followed, B side ‘Free Girl (In The Morning)’ ended up grabbing my attention and by Christmas break, I probably made everybody nuts with it.

These RnB records really did go over the heads of my friends. Motown was way okay, but the hardcore stuff, not so easily tolerated. A twisted little kid, yes, happy to have been one.

Listen: Together / Mitty Collier
Together / Mitty Collier

Keeping up with the B side infatuations, ‘Together’, the flip to her next single ‘No Faith, No Love’, was really a gem. A most obvious similarity between ‘Together’ and ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ is undeniable. I wonder which of the two was written first.

Not long after releasing her final records for Chess, Mitty Collier was stricken with throat problems, polyps, which ultimately threatened to end her career. Never to sing again, she became completely devoted to her Christian beliefs. By ’72, there was an unexpected turn of events, Mitty’s voice regained strength and her ability to sing restored.

One of the first recordings as a result: ‘I Had A Talk With God Last Night’. Gospel albums followed. She established a Bible Study Telephone Prayer Line and a community outreach program, “Feed-A-Neighbor” (FAN), for which she received the key to the city of Birmingham in 1987.

Mitty Collier became a preacher, and was ordained in 1989, later being appointed pastor of the More Like Christ (MLC) Christian Fellowship Ministries in Chicago. She has received a number of humanitarian and other awards, including the National Council Of Negro Women (NCNW) and Woman Of Wonder Award 2000.

If that doesn’t warm someone’s heart, nothing will.

The above UK demo gifted to me by Vicki Wickham, a living saint. Thank you dearest Vicki. XXX

October 13th, 2018

Judas Jump

Listen: This Feelin’ We Feel / Judas Jump
This

No new info here: I’m an Andy Bown freak.

The Herd really were his band from what I can assess, having been a member before and after Peter Frampton. Not that I don’t love the Andy Bown / Peter Frampton period. PARADISE LOST is a class album, always overlooked even by the band themselves.

When it comes to an Andy Bown backing vocal, I can spot it a mile away. So after that first listen to ‘This Feeling We Feel’, I was in.

Scored the US promo above when relieving a Dewitt, NY Shopping Town Mall clothing store of a big box full with 45′s, meant for a tie-in promotion with WNDR, the local Top 40. If you bought an item, you got a 45. That box was beaming with stuff I needed, unlike their racks. A long store clerk negotiation that required me going home, on my bike, collecting a few dozen cast off singles acquired from various sources, and returning to do a one-for-one trade was well worth it.

Even though I had mail ordered for the UK pressing which arrived a week or so later, this Andrew S. Bown production hit the turntable first, and stayed, eventually switched out for Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Accidents’.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed Adrian Williams

God bless Jackie Hyde at Sony in the UK. She one day thought to mention that Adrian Williams, down the other side of the building, was the singer of Judas Jump. I almost blacked out, tearing across the courtyard to do a face to face.

I don’t think anyone had ever asked him anything about Judas Jump his whole life. He was more shocked at my interest than I was with his employment at Sony. We’d spoken a lot on the phone, but never did I think he was one in the same.

What an embarrassing surprise for me, not knowing Allan Jones was a member of The Amen Corner prior to Judas Jump. I deserved the one upping that transpired. Great chap, Adrian Williams.

December 28th, 2017

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 that are viewable. See upper right corner to scroll though all 6.

August 20th, 2017

Savoy Brown / The Nice / Family

Savoy Brown The Nice Family Poster

The Weaver's Answer / Strange Band

Listen: The Weaver’s Answer / Family
The Weaver's Answer / Family

One of the great triple bills from ’70, still trading on the English Invasion angle that was becoming a distant marketing ploy.

No problem here. My friends and I ate it up. Couldn’t leave early enough that morning to make a day of hanging out on the campus, pretending to be college kids. The serious Anglofiles, crowded onto the entrance steps of The Palestra Auditorium for a solid few hours prior to doors opening, provided the ultimate social scene. Everyone opinioning and bragging about one record after the other. It was almost as much fun as the show.

I think it was well attended, up front there was no looking back.

We were very seriously not prepared for the power of Family live. No one in the room was. And I do mean no one. I’d only seen their three albums in the store, never heard them and as much as I wanted ownership of at least one record, some other title always took their purchase slot. Turns out, this was my favorite lineup, having become obsessed as a result of the show and then seeing them many times. Poli Palmer on xylophone most of the night, a stunning player. And John Weider on guitars and violin. It was the first band I saw playing any of these instruments (except Brian Jones on vibes during ‘Under My Thumb’), not to mention changing them up for each song.

The ace in the deck for Family was always Roger Chapman. Definitely an acquired taste vocally, you still seldom see a madman like him, totally possessed. Once you experienced Family in person, their recordings made perfect sense, vividly bringing back his on stage intensity.

They couldn’t catch a break in The States. Bill Graham banned them from The Fillmores. Don’t know why. This particular night the audience was into it, but a few years later, opening for Elton John, things didn’t work out the same. I remember many in the crowd booing. I couldn’t believe such a sophisticated group of great musicians were being booed. I was embarrassed. But the band tore threw it unflinched. This was ’72. Sadly it was to be the last time they toured the US. Props to Elton John for having them.

The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice

Listen: The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice
The

The Nice were on Immediate. This was a big deal.

Immediate was a serious label to this bunch. A lot of conversation was had earlier on the steps about the greatness of the roster. Everyone was clued into the supposed stage antics of Keith Emerson, still I don’t think we were really ready. When he mauled his organ during ‘America’, it was shocking. Everyone took a step back as the knives came out. All these skinny English people with crazy energy. The flower power stuff from their albums interested me a lot. I think they stopped playing that stuff pretty quickly as the prog symphonic material took center stage, plus I assume Emerson, Lake & Palmer were right around the corner. I remember hearing this tour was simply honoring contractual commitments. Didn’t seem like it being a wide eyed kid upfront.

Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

Listen: Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown
Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

Savoy Brown were theatrics-free, but never mind, they tore it up. In keeping with the evening looks wise, the underfed, velvet and stacked heeled Englishness prevailed. Can still remember these fair haired frail guys playing wicked blues. Probably very white, but this was prior to seeing any of the originals, so all new, all impressive. RAW SIENNA had just been released, and their set covered a lot of it plus some prior singles (‘Made Up My Mind’, ‘Train To Nowhere’) and their theme at the time, Muddy Waters’ ‘Louisiana Blues’. Like Family, this was a classic Savoy Brown lineup, with Chris Youlden on vocals and Tone Stevens on bass.

I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

Listen: I’m Tired / Savoy Brown
I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

My vivid memory of Kim Simmonds starting off ‘I’m Tired’ is as plain as day. It was my first time up super close, literally with elbows on the stage, and thinking ‘he makes it look so easy’, the true sign of a great guitarist.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Kim Simmonds

On the way out of town after the show, we stopped at a late night record/head shop near the campus, figuring out who would buy what, strategizing so that collectively we arrived home with records by all three bands. Picked these handout charts up at the counter, with some pretty interesting playlist titles. Yes, the days of underground radio…..and the ‘Super Heavy Sound’ of Janis Joplin. See them below:

WHFM 3-5-70

WHFM 11-5-70

WHFM 12-4-69

July 2nd, 2017

John Martyn

Over The Hill / John Martyn

Listen: Over The Hill / John Martyn
Over

Dancing / John Martyn

Listen: Dancing / John Martyn
Dancing

SOLID AIR and ONE WORLD were two of John Martyn’s most incredible accomplishments. He did have many. He was great from the get go, but I keep going back to those albums and their respective 7″ singles, both above.

I remember seeing him open for Foghat in ’75. Who would have thought a one man band, armed with only an acoustic guitar and an array of foot triggered affects peddles could captivate a beer drenched knucklehead crowd at the Syracuse War Memorial, but he sure did. The place shimmered in awe and respectful silence during the set. A warm memory.

The deluxe editions of both SOLID AIR (‘Over The Hill’) and ONE WORLD (‘Dancing’) are well worth searching out. To quote a well known UK glossy, ‘the albums are fluid, percussive masterpieces and the outtakes are essential’.

June 16th, 2017

Brian Auger & The Trinity

DEFINITELY WHAT! / Brian Auger & The Trinity:

Side 1:

Listen: Red Beans And Rice / Brian Auger & The Trinity
Red

Side 2:

Listen: George Bruno Money / Brian Auger & The Trinity
George

It was February 2001 when my assistant Steve, at Sony, buzzed me about an incoming cold call from a Brian Auger.

“He sounds English” was the helpful detail.

I just figured it was one of my pals lazily playing our game. We’d often ring each other’s office and announce ourselves as an impossibly impossible famous caller, a person from our ultimate wish list.

But shockingly it was the real Brian Auger, making the label rounds via phone, shopping his daughter Ali Auger’s then current album, as well his catalog, including all the full lengths by Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express and even earlier titles like DEFINITELY WHAT!, the first as Brian Auger & The Trinity, from which these two songs come. I still have his letter from the huge package that arrived a few days later.

Atlantic and sister label Atco issued a handful of these 7″ promotional EP’s to radio during the late 60′s and early 70′s, all in similar generic information/picture sleeves with short explanatory notes on the back cover from the head of radio promotion or press. Oddly, most had simply one song per side, thereby not in keeping with the EP’s original configuration of two per side, four total.

In this case though, both tracks from DEFINITELY WHAT!, including Booker T & The MG’s ‘Red Beans And Rice’ were quite long, essentially filling out the same time as two shorter, single length tracks would have.

You don’t see the Atlantic series EP’s much these days, and hardly ever in the rather thin plain paper stock information/picture covers mentioned above.

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.

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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 that are 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.