Archive for the ‘Smith’s Records’ Category

Wayne Fontana / Jackie Edwards

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Come On Home / Wayne Fontana

Listen: Come On Home / Wayne Fontana
Come

Wayne Fontana’s version of ‘Come On Home’ came on the radio during the summer of 1966 and it was an instant favorite.

Sixteen months earlier, he was the apparent leader of the first live band I’d ever seen, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. They opened for Freddie & The Dreamers. And so from my initial baptism into the live music world, I had a tendency to favor the support acts, especially if they were English.

By early ’66, they had split into two. It seemed like an eternity at the time. Both had several hits in the UK, with only The Mindbenders getting any real airplay here with ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ and ‘Ashes To Ashes’.

By that summer though, I was over anxious to finally hear a solo record from Wayne Fontana, having scoured the UK singles chart in BILLBOARD as part of my weekly ritual at Smith’s Records each Friday after school and seen one too many by him that had not entered my life.

Alas, ‘Come On Home’ got a few weeks worth of spins locally upon release, but then on the more mainstream leaning Top 40, WNDR, as opposed to the looser and much better WOLF. And yeah, I loved it immediately.

I recall mustering up the guts to shout it out at the London Palladium in April ’01. Along with Dave Berry, he was supporting Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Seriously, he was hysterically funny between songs and pretty great vocally as well. He ignored me when it came to my audience request although.

Listen: Come On Home / Jackie Edwards
Come

Little did I know at the time, ‘Come On Home’ was written by Jackie Edwards, the same guy who’d composed my early favorites by The Spencer Davis Group: ‘Keep On Running’, ‘Somebody Help Me’ and ‘When I Come Home’.

Years later, I discovered his history in ska, duets with Millie amongst others and several pop singles, many of which I’ve managed to obtain over time.

It was while digging through one of the seemingly endless storage cupboards at Island’s St. Peter’s Square office in London that I unearthed an unplayed promotional pressing of his ‘Come On Home’. I still experience a deja vu hot flash to that moment every time I hold this copy.

The Small Faces

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Listen: All Or Nothing / The Small Faces
All

The lack of airplay ‘All Or Nothing’ was afforded upon release in the US goes down as one of the great crimes in our country’s history. It was shocking at the time.

BILLBOARD’s 9/17/66 issue featured the full page RCA industry ad above, not only promoting the single, but also the label’s signing of The Small Faces. Their previous releases had been issued by London Records’ imprint, Press. Of the three, only ‘Sha La La La Lee’ managed a smattering of play, primarily Sacramento (KXOA), San Bernardino (KFXM) and Miami (WFUN) of all, seemingly unsuspecting, places.

A big indicator of RCA’s commitment was reflected in the custom picture sleeve which accompanied ‘All Or Nothing’, also profiled in the aforementioned print ad. I can still feel the jolt my body took upon opening to that page during a Friday evening at Smith’s Records in Oneida, NY, a weekly stop to pour over the store’s current issue.

Unbeknown to us all, Mrs. Smith contributed incredibly toward my formative years of becoming an avid music fan and record collector. Not only did she allow me to monopolize the magazine at the counter, she gave me her expired copies and most patiently wrote down my weekly special order choices as I’d scour the Singles Review page of the magazine.

BILLBOARD broke down most newly issued records into their editorially predicted sections: Top 20, Top 60 or the kiss of death Chart categories. Not surprisingly, many of music history’s classic releases began their painful cult status wallowing in that lonely Chart section, records tipped to scrape into the Hot 100′s lower reaches at best.

In the very same issue, and despite the lucrative ad buy, BILLBOARD drove a nail through the record’s heart with a Chart verdict, surprising given the label’s full page print buy. Mind you, this section was highly influential at the time.

More importantly, did the person or persons responsible for this damnation even listen to it? How on earth do you toss aside Steve Marriott’s unsurpassable vocal? Not only acknowledged as possibly the 60′s greatest white soul singer, his collaborative first division songwriting with Ronnie Lane stamped ‘All Or Nothing’ as one of the undeniably legendary singles from the period. How could a BILLBOARD employee, or more frighteningly their staff, not spot this?

Mrs. Smith never did get my special order for the record fulfilled, and as a result, I innocently passed up the only copy I ever saw when current at my other haunt, Walt’s Records in Syracuse. For true, it was a hard and painful moment that. With only one dollar in my pocket, the default purchase choice became ‘I’m A Boy’ by The Who, fingers crossed firmly my special order for ‘All Or Nothing’ was on it’s way. Wrong.

But all things happen for a reason. During the 70′s, the search for records pre-Ebay was via GOLDMINE’s classifieds. Religiously I would scour the magazine upon arrival. Literally, all things would stop. The process took hot line style priority status. So finally, a copy of ‘All Or Nothing’ in the sleeve was listed by a Texas dealer. I called him immediately, usurped the auction and closed the sale early. To my extreme luck, and possibly as karmic blessing, a sheet of the below factory jukebox tabs was inside the sleeve:

“Oh great joy”, to quote a line from OGDEN’S NUT GONE FLAKE.

The Move

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Night Of Fear / The Move

Listen: Night Of Fear / The Move
Night

I think I first noticed The Move in the UK charts section of BILLBOARD. In the 60′s, they used to print Hits Of The World over one page, Top 10′s from all the countries, but always a Top 30 or 50 from the UK. This was of course, during the tail end of the British Invasion, December ’66 to be exact. My local shop, Smith’s Records, in Oneida NY, would save their week old BILLBOARD for me, and on Fridays, when my Mom & Dad would do their shopping, they’d drop me at Smith’s. I’d get to play the new releases in their listening booth and read BILLBOARD at the counter. Basically studying it, especially the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 section. That was always a goldmine for me, ever changing, probably bought mentions by the labels of their new records, all hoping to help them jump into the proper Hot 100 chart. Missing a week meant you might not be aware something was out. Then later, back home with last week’s issue, I’d really comb it over for details.

I still remember seeing ‘Night Of Fear’ by The Move progressing #17 to #2 up that British chart. At this point I had watched it since debuting at #42 the previous week. The Move was simply the best name for a band ever. I needed to hear this group, and see photos, which luckily, I quickly did. Both their sound and look represented the black and white, rainy England that we heard about as kids, an exotic place with the greatest bands, a new perfect one emerging almost weekly.

My loyalty to The Move was blind, only lately can I admit by ’69, they went downhill slowly but steadily, eventually bringing Jeff Lynne in to grind them to a Beatles influenced halt. But their beginning was never to be repeated for me. A week or so later, Dick Clark played the single on his weekly AMERICAN BANDSTAND Rate A Record, two song competition. I have no recollection of the other single played, or which came out on top, but I still have my reel to reel recording of ‘Night Of Fear’ off the TV. I dove for the red record button, mike and recorder permanently positioned by my bedroom TV set. Technically I was a criminal then, that era’s version of file sharing I suppose. I listened to that tape hundreds of times.

You couldn’t buy ‘Night Of Fear’ anywhere. London, Deram’s parent company, clearly wasn’t promoting or payola-ing it at radio and hence the one stops weren’t inclined to stock it. In small town America, the stores all bought from one-stops, so they primarily sold the hits.

It always pissed me off when I’d read in the Melody Maker back then that The Move weren’t big in The States. They weren’t played. Kids here didn’t get to decide.

So my record company letter writing continued. Someone at London in NY had a deal with me, I’d send him $1.50 per record, which was extortion in those days but he’d send whatever I needed. He was basically selling promos through the mail, genius. Worked for both of us. The stuff I bought off this fellow: The Cryin’ Shames, The Attack, The Syn, World Of Oz, The Honeybus, non-hits by Them, The Small Faces, Unit 4 + 2, The Zombies. Even then I knew I should get extras, but I didn’t have the cash. On this particular occasion he sent me the stock copy above of ‘Night Of Fear’, not easily found then or now.

Over the years, I’ve acquired many copies, US and UK. The Dutch picture sleeve above, Roy Wood signed when I got to meet him during Wizzard’s first and only US tour. Then there was the time ten or so years ago, somewhere on Long Island where Duane and I were garage sale-ing very early one Saturday morning. Walking up the driveway I see a pile of singles on a table. The top one is on Deram. Probably White Plains or Procol Harum I think to myself, but it was ‘Night Of Fear’. I froze. I said, “Duane you need to buy this”. I just couldn’t handle the high.

Denny Cordell produced this perfect record. The mp3 post is from my overplayed original $1.50/extortion copy.

The Move 1966

The original lineup of The Move, who played on ‘Night Of Fear’, are pictured above. If there’s a better shot of a band anywhere on earth, go right ahead and send it to me.

The above is a repost, originally from June 8, 2008.

The Who

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Listen: I’m A Boy / The Who
WhoBoy.mp3

I was very down on The Who after they played Syracuse back in early ’68. Pete Townshend chose to refuse my friends and I autographs. My pals were a bit more upset than me. You see I wasn’t really feeling ‘I Can See For Miles’, which had been released the previous autumn, but instead was desperate to impress my first girlfriend Mary Ann with their signatures.

No escaping it, ‘I Can See For Miles’ just didn’t hit the way ‘Substitute’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’, ‘Pictures Of Lily’ or ‘Anyway Anyhow Anywhere’ had previously. The Englishness had been polished off ever so slightly, but enough for me to notice without question.

Our crowd were the only ones buying those non-hits off the little racks in the back of Walt’s Records or at Smith’s Records; both usually stocking five or so copies at the most of US non-hits from UK bands. So when Pete Townshend got into the awaiting station wagon, hung himself out the window, gave us the finger with both his hands and shouted “You got a show for your $6 pricks”, we were speechless. Calm down dog, all we wanted were autographs. I do remember the other band members, who had obliged, looked seriously perturbed.

Fast forward to the first weekend of April 2012. Out of late night boredom, mixed with insomnia from being alone for the night, I Netflix’d up AMAZING JOURNEY – THE STORY OF THE WHO. Honestly, I’d floated along all these decades in arrogant denial at how powerfully great this band was. That documentary certainly sobered me. You must watch it, all three hours. The film will speak for itself. And if you’re in a band, learn a lesson to always treat your fans with respect.

I’ve been playing their first seven or so singles non stop since then, loaded them on the iTouch too. ‘I’m A Boy’ being just one that deserved airplay in the US during it’s day. Funny how all those programmers back then were wrong to keep them off their airwaves at the time. Even funnier how they’ll rewrite history to imply they hadn’t.

The Who

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Substitute / The Who

Listen: Substitute / The Who
Substitute / The Who

I missed the junior prom because of this record. My childhood sweetheart girlfriend Marianne was an Anglophile like me, most kids were back then really. But the two of us, we were hardcore.

Basically, as soon as I’d get home from school on Fridays I would head to Smith’s Records in Oneida, either on my bike or my Dad would drive me, bless him. Mrs. Smith gave me her week old Billboard magazines like clockwork, and I’d always buy something as well. Occasionally, one of the special orders we’d put through would actually show up. And every time, she’d buy two extras for the shop. Usually either my two friends, Mark or Denny, or Marianne, would buy those copies. Some pretty great things ended up in our collections that way, like The Pink Floyd ‘The Gnome’, The Yardbirds ‘Ten Little Indians’ or The Pretty Things ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’.

On this particular day in May ’66, I was shocked to discover that ‘Substitute’ had come in, only a week after placing the special order. Most records never did turn up as Mrs. Smith was forced to buy from a one-stop, and they’d pretty much stick to the mainstream hits. You had to be set up direct with the major labels to get their obscure non-hits. Being a tiny Mom & Pop store, she could never do enough business for them to be opened up as a direct client. Hence always a surprise when an obscurity arrived at Smith’s.

I tore into her little listening booth seconds after she handed me the single saying “One of your records came in” upon entering the shop. My insides knotted up. I’d wanted this single so much, having seen it scale the UK charts those previous few weeks. The seconds it took to get it out of the sleeve and onto the thick spindle of the automatic turntable, then waiting for it to drop and the tonearm to connect felt like fucking minutes. Half way through, I was losing it. ‘Substitute’ was so good.

That wasn’t to be the last claustrophobic meltdown I’d have in that little booth let me tell you.

The Who were very left of center to programmers then, not having a US hit until the next year with ‘Happy Jack’. They got no airplay to speak of nationally but our crazy local Top 40, WOLF, played all their singles (click on chart below to enlarge). This US only version has the lyric “I look all white but my Dad was black” swapped out for “I try moving forward but my feet walk back”. ‘Substitute,’ being the only US single by The Who available on Atco (6409), was issued with a far superior mix than any other version ever – hands down.

A year or so later, they re-released ‘Substitute’ (as Atco 6509) although via a safer, not so wild mix. Well I think it’s the mix but it may indeed be a less hot, less bright mastering. Neither version has ever appeared on a compilation that I know of.

I called Marianne from the shop, told her it had come in and we ended up spending that evening listening to the single over and over and over. True. We missed the prom.

WOLF Charts May 7, 1966

The Who

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Listen: Happy Jack / The Who WhoHappyJack.mp3

Pull this out and give it a spin. You’re bound to say, “Man I have not heard this in ages”. Well, my guess is you’ll say that. I loved all the singles up through and including ‘Pictures Of Lily’. Then came ‘I Can See For Miles’. Something about that one, it was good but didn’t hit dead center. Was a first real understanding of my body’s reaction to music. ‘I Can See For Miles’ may have been the record that set the template for an A&R career years later: if I didn’t love it – chances were good it’d be a huge hit. Hey, as long as you know how to read the indicators, that’s all that really matters. ‘I Can See For Miles’ was in fact their only ever US Top 10. Hard to believe I know.

Back then, The Who weren’t much different than The Small Faces or The Move when it came to US radio. You never heard them. Yeah radio was much better in the 60′s, but still fairly narrow. These bands just didn’t get national airplay – if they were lucky, regional exposure was usually the extent of it and then maybe a crossover….leads me to an interesting memory about The Who.

I and my Anglophile friends religiously bought every single by The Who. My teenage girlfriend and I missed our junior prom the night I got ‘Substitute’ it was so good – we just played it over and over and fiddled about, as someone once coined. It was the plan anyways.

There were a few shops around town that would get two to five copies of the non hits, or hopeful to be hits – like Walt’s Records or Smith’s Records or that huge record department in WT Grant’s on Salina Street in Syracuse. So starting with ‘I Can’t Explain’, we bought ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’, every single right through and including the immaculate ‘Substitute’, ‘I’m A Boy’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and this one, the psychedelic ‘Happy Jack’, which actually did crack the Billboard chart peaking at #24 in ’67. A few years later when TOMMY was released, everyone noticed a rock opera similarity between that and it’s predecessor, The Pretty Things S.F. SORROW, still we listened to them both regularly during several weekend Parcheesi matches. The Who finally made a return visit after opening for Herman’s Hermits a few years earlier. Even though in my opinion the glow of those earlier singles had dimmed down noticeably, of course I went along. TOMMY admittedly wasn’t bad.

After the show, a few of us waited around for autographs, brought albums, singles, the works. I wasn’t quite as fussed and brought nothing, but seriously, was there something better to do in Syracuse as a teenager than possibly say hello to The Who? When my best friend Denny went up to Pete Townshend proudly with his MY GENERATION album to get signed, the guy turned his nose away, dismissiveley refusing to sign anything. He proceeded to make his way toward their station wagon with band members including Keith Moon and Roger Daltry already inside waiting. Even Keith Moon jumped out of the car to oblige, looking at Pete with a ‘you asshole’ glare, I couldn’t resist. So I spoke up.

“Pete, you know those few copies of the older singles you used to sell in towns like this prior to your hits, we were were the kids that bought them.” As the car pulled away, plain as day, I recall him hanging out the window, wearing a coat that looked like a piece of ghastly ornate drapery, middle finger on both hands projecting at me and shouting “you got a show for your $6 prick”.

Hmm. Not really, you didn’t play any of the aforementioned songs I came to hear. Not one. Still it was rude, certainly embarrassing and I never bought another record by The Who. Big deal, basically my bitterness toward he and unfairly the other guys in The Who went unnoticed and I’m sure Pete Towshend never lost a wink of sleep because of me.

About thirty years later, his keepers were doing the rounds of labels trying to hawk a new, not very good Pete Townshend album. I was at Columbia then but decided to pass on the record, or more specifically on him, his talent to write those gems long ago withered in my opinion. Still, it was a very hard call. You’d be a fool to not want to work with Pete Townshend. Honestly, he is a higher form of life but I’d experienced his temper. Once bitten, twice shy.

‘Happy Jack’ really is a terrific single.

Lesley Gore

Monday, April 26th, 2010

LesleyGoreFrench, Lesley Gore, Mercury, Quincy Jones

Listen: Je Na Sais Plus (You Don’t Own Me) / Lesley Gore LesleyFrench.mp3

Truth be told, I try to visit most of the blogs linked on the right pretty much everyday. For one reason or the other, there’s usually something that sparks me to pull out a record or two for a listen in most of ‘em. One of my religious reads is Pop Wars. Well, my friends for um, 30 years or so write it, and they saved SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME when I was using Blogspot and overloading their system or something with mp3′s, crashing my browser and a bunch of reader’s browsers as well. Panic. Bless them, they set up this .com, and I’ve never needed to look back.

A few posts ago, Pop Wars linked a youtube clip of Lesley Gore. I’d often thought about posting some of her singles, but was always baffled, there are so many great ones – how do I pick. I pull one, then say no, this would be better. It all goes on for a few minutes and I end up too daunted and move on down the rack. Well with that clip of ‘You Don’t Own Me’ reminding me again of Lesley Gore, I suddenly had the perfect excuse to post: share the French version with everyone. For some reason, they didn’t include it on the superb IT’S MY PARTY – THE MERCURY ANTHOLOGY. The 2 cds are so full of hits that scraping the barrel was nowhere near necessary. Get a copy before cds disappear completely.

How the hell I ended up taking a chance on this as it sat side by side next to the well known English language hit version on the rack at Smith’s Records is actually coming back to me. I was still in my single digits and had but a mere dollar per week allowance – which meant one single every seven days. The week before, I’d gotten the picture sleeved version of ‘You Don’t Own Me’, that I vividly remember. Therefore I couldn’t NOT complete the set. That’s called something nowadays, obsessive compulsive or ADD or whatever – and there are pills for it. Maybe I should get some, as I seriously do plan on becoming a pill freak once I retire. Sit around medicated all day, playing singles til they carry me out on a stretcher. As for that French version, well I sure am glad now that I sprung the buck for it back in ’64.

LesleyImm, A&M, Lesley Gore, Mercury, Quincy Jones

Listen: Immortality / Lesley Gore LesleyGoreImmortality.mp3

Hard to believe, but Quincy Jones produced many, possibly all of her Mercury hits. Yeah, the same guy who did, well hundreds of amazing records like THRILLER even. I prefer his Lesley Gore stuff still.

Long after her early/mid 60′s teen stardom faded, she was, without warning in ’75, back on A&M with a new single and album. What!

This was all quite exciting for me – I realized the childhood crush on her still had a heartbeat. Proceeding to play ‘Immortality’ a lot on my college radio shows – it clearly sounded plenty weird mixed in with all the other rock stuff of the day. Made my obsession for the obscure English groups suddenly more tolerable I’m sure.

I wanted it to be a hit bad – she even reunited with Quincy Jones for the project. I guess I was about the only guy playing it, but unfortunately to a handful of pot smokers who’d actually listen to our little hobby of a radio station, hence sales were not triggered.

The Pink Floyd

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Arnold Layne / The Pink Floyd

Arnold Layne / The Pink Floyd

Arnold / The Pink Floyd

Listen: Arnold Layne / The Pink Floyd
Arnold

Tower 333. That was the label and catalog number for The Pink Floyd’s first US single, ‘Arnold Layne’. I heard it played on Dick Clark’s AMERICAN BANDSTAND Rate A Record segment, and taped it on my tiny GE reel to reel, complete with a palm sized hand held microphone and a happening aqua play button. I still have it, in fact I can see it as I type.

Oh fuck, did I want to own this single or what? It was a one listen record. Like involuntary movement, I special ordered it on the phone that very Saturday afternoon from Mrs. Smith at Smith’s Records. And I would anxiously wait week after week but it never did arrive. Took me a few years to get it at all, and then on a UK pressing. That US Tower single was so elusive. In fact, finding a stock copy took 39 long years.

In the meantime, I did drive to New Jersey in a snow storm, a proper blizzard to be exact, with Steve Yegelwel, to buy a DJ copy complete with it’s promo-only picture sleeve for $150 in ’90, a fire sale by today’s standards. I’d seen it listed in GOLDMINE the day the issue arrived, so I immediately call this guy who says he’s just sold it. I double his asking price of $75, offer to drive over the river despite the weather and pay in cash. He accepts. Steve was from Jersey and knew the way. We worked together at Island then.

But it was a few months later that I really struck gold when it comes to ‘Arnold Layne’. The catalog number is without a doubt embossed in my brain. I became obsessed with getting that record at the time and just ordered it from every shop I could. No one ever did get it, but I ended up knowing Tower 333 by heart.

Fast forward to June 23, 1990, which doubles as my wedding anniversary so already in a good mood, I’m walking from the Astor Street subway stop toward the Island office on West 4th Street, which was just one flight up above Tower Records, the retail chain not the label. Conveniently, during both Tower’s and Island’s heydays, a perfect place for a vinyl addict to be located.

Meanwhile across the street from the building entrance, almost to Broadway, I see a massive, and I mean massive, pile of discarded records, both in box lots and loose. All of them 45′s. Must have been an old music publisher’s office that got gutted and curbed, I never did get to the bottom of that one. There’s a few guys sifting through them. Well I went into a whole other gear, my heart revved up, I ran and I dug in. I gouged this pile. I don’t remember for sure but I think the others just backed off as I was acting so irrationally, taking anything remotely interesting, basically being a pig.

I was in a panic and luckily Island was in a doorman building so I motioned to Spike, said doorman, to come watch my heap while I ran upstairs for boxes and help. I’m pretty sure I dragged Yegelwel down, definitely Karen Yee (she still works at Island), Kathy Kenyon, Hugo Burnham and Denny Cordell too. I needed all of them. There was so much to carry. Even Chris wandered downstairs for some amusement when he heard.

Well the tricky part of this adventure was: a big chunk of these were test pressings. Most had, at best, a white label with little to no info hand written in. Then there were acetates, with only catalog and/or stamper numbers in the run-off grooves. Plus there were a couple thousand records so I’m trying to be a touch selective, checking them for any clues, details.

Arnold Layne / The Pink Floyd acetate

One of these acetates, sparkling purple-ish black in the morning sun has ‘T 333 A’ etched in it’s run off groove. Look closely at the scan of it above. No way. Not possible. Don’t even go there. Still, I added it to my mountain just in case and kept it all moving.

Later, in my office, I’m messing with all these records, some people are stopping by, wondering about the stupid commotion. We’re playing half a song, then hurrying on to the next single, there was so much obscure soul, multiple copies, enough for everyone. I’m losing it. Sorting through, I find that T 333 acetate and put it on the turntable, seriously not expecting anything as most of the others were garbage.

Lo and behold, it’s ‘Arnold Layne’. And in stereo. I just froze.

As Russell and Ron Mael wrote on Sparks’ recent seminal single ‘Good Morning’: “Thank you God/For having thought of me/I know your time is tight/But still you thought of me”. So true.

The Applejacks

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

ApplejacksTellUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksTellMeUSA, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksTellMeUS, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: Tell Me When / The Applejacks ApplejacksTellMeWhen.mp3

Hard to believe, but once was a time when a color photo of a UK band was a big treat. Color usually wasn’t the first look you’d ever get of a new act in the mid 60′s. Coincidentally, the only exception I can think of is The Applejacks. They were pictured, in color, like all the other bands, on the cover of ENGLAND’S GREATEST HITMAKERS, a benefit compilation album issued by London Records in aid of the Lord’s Tavern Fund, which was an association that helped finance cricket fields in England. My how the causes have become rather more worthy through the years.

There was once talk that bassist Megan Davies was sister to Ray and Dave. The fact that they covered and released as their fifth single an obscure Ray Davies song fueled the rumour for years. Turns out it wasn’t true. But the potentially accurate info at the time made the agony of struggling to hear The Applejacks even more acute. Despite blagging promos from the local adult station, WMCR – and having some really good shops (Walt’s Records, Smith’s Records) that would stock three to five copies of just about any new English band, The Applejacks first few singles were very evasive. Years later, I guess in the early 70′s, I finally scored a coveted US stock copy of their first single ‘ Tell Me When’ (pictured above), which spent one short seven day run on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart at #135 (6/6/64). And that was their entire chart history in the US. Don’t feel bad, I’m embarrassed too.

‘Tell Me When’ paralled the stereotypical Beat Group sound, leaning a little too close to Freddie & The Dreamers. Still at the time, the wait was so long (almost six months – then a lifetime), that all it’s Mersey leanings were forgiven once a copy arrived from my cousin Anne in London.

ApplejacksBabyJaneUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksBabyUSB, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksBabyJane, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: Baby Jane / The Applejacks ApplejacksBabyJane.mp3

The real surprise was ‘Baby Jane’, it’s B side. More loud and bluesy, this was closer to The Spencer Davis Group or The Downliner’s Sect than any of their eventual tracks. ‘Baby Jane’ is also one of the first released songs from writers Pete Dello and Ray Cane, who would eventually form The Honeybus, so it’s historical value is quite high. I like to think this was indicative of The Applejacks live. Can you imagine how fun that would have been to see?

ApplejacksThreeUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksThreeLittleUSA, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: Three Little Words (I Love You) / The Applejacks ApplejacksThree.mp3

Their third single was also the last to make the UK chart (#23). ‘Three Little Words (I Love You)’ also became their finalt US release, for some reason retitled ‘I’m Gonna Send My Love (Three Little Words)’. Megan was a pretty swinging bassist, you’ll notice her carrying this one along too. The single came into the radio station, I recall seeing on the counter, but not in my stack of weekly rock discards, which would clearly have been headed for the rubbish bin until God put me on earth to save them all. I learned then and there to ask and you will recieve.

ApplejacksByeByeUKA, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksByeByeUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: Bye Bye Girl / The Applejacks ApplejacksByeBye.mp3

1965′s ‘Bye Bye Girl’, like ‘Baby Jane’, has a slightly heavier, early Moody Blues slant that I much preferred to their often Liverpool sounding tracks. By now, cousin Anne was well trained in grabbing The Applejacks’ 7′s week of release. She in turn, wanted The Mamas & The Papas’ singles. No problem. They were everywhere. A more than fair trade.

ApplejacksGameUKB, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksGameUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: It’s Not A Game Any More / The Applejacks ApplejacksGame.mp3

B side, ‘It’s Not A Game Any More’, was another early Pete Dello song. Clearly still finding his footing, practising you could say, on The Applejacks, there are a few signature Pete Dello twists and turns here – if you know his work, they’re easy to spot.

ApplejacksLP, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

There are those who insist the album was never released in North America. Proof above otherwise. A cherished item.

The Move

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Listen: Night Of Fear / The Move
Night Of Fear / The Move

A reoccurring event: ‘Night Of Fear’ moving in and out of the slot known as my all time favorite single. THE BEST OF THE MOVE was the only cd in the car this past week, so when the iPod ran out of juice during a four day break out of town, in went the disc.

‘Night Of Fear’ had charted in England during December ’66. Just after Christmas day I ventured to Smith’s Records, my local, to pour over BILLBOARD. The Hits Of The World section to be exact. It was always a first stop once picking up any issue, as well, the singles review page and Bubbling Under The Hot 100. The record had jumped from #42 to #17, and with a band named The Move, I was already sold. Unlike today’s just-a-click-away reality, the long wait to hear this one began then and there.

I’m pretty sure the first time was on AMERICAN BANDSTAND in February, the Rate A Record segment to be exact. I’d always have my reel to reel poised for this bit, you could count on at least one gem to be played. Thinking about the programming and record company politics of the day, I’m guessing Rate A Record was much like today’s Specialty Show play, where radio will squeeze in some not yet proven releases that deserve an airing. Regardless, I was ready, and played that taped version, with Dick Clark talking over the intro and outro, easily hundreds of times. I still hear his delivery subliminally during each play of the actual record to this day.

I know Roy Wood hates ‘Night Of Fear’, he told me so. When I asked him to do me a jukebox tab, he was totally agreeable. But when I said ‘Night Of Fear’, a dreadful grimace crossed his face and he asked me to please pick any other song. I chose ‘Blackberry Way’ but prodded. Apparently, he never thought ‘Night Of Fear’ was very good at all, hated the recording and despised it being an A side. No amount of complimenting him otherwise changed his stance. What a shame. He should be so proud.

Well, I loved this song. All it’s twists and turns hold memories of the time, the weather, what was going on at school, what other records I was anxious to hear and own, how fun life was just being a little kid. Lots of reasons to play it over and over all these years later.