Archive for the ‘The Walker Brothers’ Category

The Bachelors

Friday, February 1st, 2013

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 I so 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.

Walter Jackson

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Listen: Deep In The Heart Of Harlem / Walter Jackson
Deep

Never reaching above #88 in the BILLBOARD Top 100, his mid chart RnB successes kept him very much out of the mainstream eye. With his thunderous, powerful baritone voice, it was hard not to notice the occasional bland, safe choices of singles from time to time.

Originally signed to Columbia in ’62, but being moved to their newly formed Okeh imprint by ’64 meant an out of jail free card was granted to him, given that label’s groovy personality.

In short, never pass up an Okeh single.

His version of ‘My Ship Is Comin’ In’ personally rivals The Walker Brothers’, which is saying a lot. Yet it’s his non-chart 7″, ‘Deep In The Heart Of Harlem’ a thematically updated version of Sam Cooke’s ‘Chain Gang’ in the message department, that stakes claim as my favorite of the Walter Jackson Okeh singles.

Despite a seemingly RnB track polished up in hopes of reaching the safe, white American adult stations, there’s no diguising the lyrical reality of the underlying message. It’s become a real period piece of 60′s struggle amongst the underprivileged.

The Walker Brothers

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

walkerbrosshipuk, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
walkerbrosshipusa, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
walkerbrosshipps, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

US Picture Sleeve: Front (above) / Back (below)

walkerbrosshippsb, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

Listen: My Ship Is Coming In / The Walker Brothers
My Ship Is Coming In / The Walker Brothers

I will never forget the Friday night I walked into Two Guys Department store with my parents. As usual, I headed straight to the record department while they proceeded to do some weekly shopping. The singles were displayed all along the the tops of the album bins, each in their own metal rack holding about 25 copies. I wish I had photos.

There in brilliant full color, was the above Walker Brothers picture sleeved single, ‘My Ship Is Coming In’, a solid 25 copies freshly unboxed. I could hardly breathe. They looked fantastic in bulk. The sleeve just radiated about one hundred times more intensely than anything else in sight, like a messiah. I still get tingles looking at the cover. It brings me right back. I owned it minutes later.

I could not get home fast enough, freaking out in the dark car, holding this masterpiece but only getting to glimpse at it as we passed under traffic lights and street lamps. God knows how many times I played it that night. It was not guitar based British beat, but instead sounded like music grownups listened too. Yet clearly there was something addictive in it’s air. I decided then and there, I was going to love this record. That was that. I did then and I still do.

Years later Scott Walker would reveal that while all his contemporaries in London were modeling themselves after American blues greats, his attention was focused on becoming the next Eddie Fisher. How genius was this guy?

WalkerSunUKA, The Walker Brothers

walkerbrossunuk, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
wlakerbrossunusa, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

Listen: The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore) / The Walker Brothers
The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore) / The Walker Brothers

The world was not ready for the followup to ‘My Ship Is Coming In’. Mine certainly wasn’t. How could The Walker Brothers possibly up the perfection of that record? Then along comes ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’, a flop a few years earlier for Franki Valli. He and The Four Seasons had loads of great records, and he’s no slouch in the vocal department. But Scott Walker he is not, no one is.

I swear, this record can still stop me in my tracks when it comes up on the ipod or BBC’s Radio 2. I heard it on the 60′s Sirius radio channel aboard a JetBlue flight recently. As diverse and truly exciting that the many other songs were, this just grabbed the prize unchallenged.

I saw Matt Pinfield the other day. He had Matt & Kim on his morning WRXP radio show, so I went along. Pinfield is the most kind hearted and passionate music fan, really knows his stuff, loves records. We worked together at Columbia and got connected at the hip. Somehow the subject of ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’ came up. Almost in unison, we both blurted out nearly identical sentences.

“This may be the greatest single of all time.”

Deservedly, it spent a month at #1 in the UK. See the three consecutive NME charts below, reprinted from 40 YEARS OF THE NME CHARTS. Despite not one US TV appearance or live show, it did get played here and had a decent chart run, peaking at #13 in BILLBOARD. It should have, at least, gone Top 10 but given the many singles that never ever charted, there’s some contentment in it’s placing.

nme4_66, 40 Years Of The NME Charts

The Swinging Blue Jeans

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Swinging Blue Jeans - Don't Make Me Over USA

Swinging Blue Jeans - Don't Make Me Over

Listen: Don’t Make Me Over / The Swinging Blue Jeans
Don't Make Me Over / The Swinging Blue Jeans

Who says if you get a song for free, you won’t buy a copy later anyways – for whatever the reason: loyalty to the artist, love of the song, wanting a particular configuration or maybe even just doing your part.

Even though I’d gotten ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ at no charge during one of my early Friday night “I’m here to collect records for the children’s hospital” scams instigated on our local MOR station, WMCR, at an alarmingly young age, I bought a copy anyways. I passed up the stock of ‘She Needs Company’ by Manfred Mann to expend that particular dollar, which in hindsight was a wrong gamble. Never seen one since, although this Swinging Blue Jeans non-charter (actually it did Bubble Under The Billboard Hot 100 at #116) is a bit more common.

It was the heat of the moment. I was overtaken with supporting the team. I really thought I could help it nudge up the chart. The naiveness of youth. I’d actually heard it on my local Top 40, WNDR in March – it was a one listen record. Although Dionne Warwick had a hit with it in ’62, to me it was an unknown track by ’66, when this arrived.

If you grew up in the Northeast, quite possibly songs are seasonal. This was a winter single, along with others at the time that left a life long impression like The Mindbenders ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ or The Walker Brothers ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’.

By May it had struggled onto the local survey (below) with several other greats. And on this particular week – it was the featured record thereby affording the lyrics be printed on the survey’s reverse side.

WNDR Chart 5-13-66

The Righteous Brothers

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Listen: Justine / The Righteous Brothers
Dear Delilah / The Righteous Brothers

Seems in the 60′s, with singles deals being the prevalent form of partnership between record company and artist, an act could basically be on two labels at once. Not an uncommon occurrence, particularly with the RnB and Soul acts. Therefore, the usual result being one label would have success, with the other forever limping behind, trying to trade off it’s back.

In the world of The Righteous Brothers, such seemed the case with Moonglow, an Atlantic imprint, and Phil Spector’s Philles Records. But in reality, they were signed to Moonglow proper from ’63 to ’66. During that time, Moonglow would also license their services to Spector. His releases were typical Wall Of Sound productions and the much bigger hits, whereas their more homegrown, raw RnB came out through Moonglow, consistently charting low as with ‘Justine’.

That single only reached #85 during July ’65, but got played into the ground on the Syracuse Top 40′s. It’s wild, Little Richard delivery a perfect showcase for the pair’s distinctive baritone grounded vs. tenor off the chain duets.

Listen: Now I’ve Got A Witness / The Rolling Stones
Now I've Got A Witness / The Rolling Stones

It’s well documented that The Rolling Stones were indeed extremely knowledgable American blues and RnB record collectors. What’s fun is to occasionally stumble on an obscure single with some uncanny resemblance toward an original song the band recorded, all the while fantasizing they picked up that very record during one of their excursions through the Mom and Pop stores of Harlem or East LA. I like to think ‘Justine’ was one such record, at least when listening to their ‘Now I’ve Got A Witness’ from the ENGLAND’S NEWEST HIT MAKERS album.

Listen: (You’re My) Soul & Inspiration / The Righteous Brothers
(You're My) Soul & Inspiration / The Righteous Brothers

The first single with new label Verve, after leaving both Moonglow and Philles in early ’66 was classic in more than one way. Clearly, Bill Medley (one half of The Righteous Brothers), paid close attention during his time in the studio with Phil Spector, thereby lifting every last technique off the master, and applying them to his very own production of their #1, ‘(You’re My) Soul & Inspiration’.

Yes, I loved the record at the time, but so wished they had their image down like The Walker Brothers for instance, who were coincidentally doing the exact same style of music but looked about one trillion times better.

Cat Stevens

Friday, August 28th, 2009

catmatthew, Cat Stevens, Deram, Mike Hurst, Alan Tew, Joan Armatrading

Listen: Matthew & Son / Cat StevensCatStevensMatthewSon.mp3

How sharp am I? I just realized Cat Stevens was actually a singer/songwriter. Not my cup of tea usually, big exception being Joan Armatrading. During his time with Deram, he was most likely forced to use in-house producers/arrangers by parent company Decca. Mike Hurst was one. I loved his productions, and Decca A&R seemed to be most comfortable with dramatic arrangements, enter Alan Tew. ‘Matthew & Son’ was a big favorite – still is. I recall when ten or so years back, driving through Shepherd’s Bush in a cab on our way to Heathrow heading back home, Corinne saying ‘Look, Matthew & Son’. It was a small store front, a shoe maker, clearly from the font and signage, there for decades. It had to be the subject for this song.

catdoguka, Cat Stevens, Deram, Mike Hurst, Alan Tew, Joan Armatrading

Listen: I Love My Dog / Cat Stevens CatStevensDog.mp3

His previous, and initial debut single ‘I Love My Dog” hits home too. I love dogs, cats, any animal. It’s why I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years – refuse to have any part in an animal living a horrible life and then being slaughtered.

catportobello, Cat Stevens, Deram, Mike Hurst, Alan Tew, Joan Armatrading

Listen: Portobello Road / Cat Stevens CatStevensPortobelloRoad.mp3

As for it’s B side, ‘Portobello Road’, come on, it’s a London tradition. Those weekend market stalls are well known now, but on my last trip (June ’09), I got there before the sun came up, when the real crazies are picking, and found the first three Walker Brothers albums in spotless condition – £1 each.

The Drifters / The Walker Brothers

Monday, August 17th, 2009

drifterstheregoesuka, The Drifters, Ben E. King, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Ivor Raymonde, Philips, John Franz, London American

Listen: There Goes My Baby / The Drifters DriftersThere.mp3

Listen: There Goes My Baby / The Walker Brothers WalkerBrothersThereGoes.mp3

Speaking of The Drifters, as I did in my previous post, one of their Ben E. King written hits, ‘There Goes My Baby’, not only stands up on it’s own, but shows that a great song interpreted well can sometimes even get better. Hate to be politically incorrect, but my opinion is just that when it comes to The Walker Brothers version of ‘There Goes My Baby’.

Don’t misunderstand, I like both, maybe it’s just The Walker Brothers’ haircuts, my official diagnosis of having terminal Scott Walker disease or probably my admitted lack of Doo Wop appreciation. Why theirs wasn’t released as a 7″ in the UK remains a mystery to me. Those Ivor Raymonde ‘Night Of Fear’ leaning orchestral riffs just take the cake. John Franz, what were you thinking?

The Everly Brothers

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

everlywakeps, everly brothers, phil everly, don everly, cadence

Listen:  Wake Up Little Susie / The Everly Brothers EverlyWakeUp.mp3

 

 

everlycathy1,everly brothers, phil everly, don everly, cadence, warner brothers

Listen:  Cathy’s Clown / The Everly Brothers EverlyCathy.mp3

 

 

everlybabyoutjail, Everly brothers, phil everly, don everly, cadence, warner brothers

Listen: I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail / The Everly Brothers EverlyJail.mp3

 

 

everlydontletwhole,Everly brothers, phil everly, don everly, cadence, warner brothers

Listen:  Don’t Let The Whole World Know / The Everly Brothers EverlyDontLet.mp3

 

Talk about remembering your childhood. ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ precedes mine, but I still seem to remember this record being out. I’m guessing it was played for years after hitting #1 in ’57. I’m pretty sure my babysitting cousin Peggy would let the changer keep repeating it endlessly on my parents Living Stereo console, during which she would lock me in the bathroom, while she and her boyfriend made out (I’m guessing). 

There’s something to be said about siblings, and how their voices are magic together. The McGuire Sisters, or Ray and Dave Davies – you’d think John and Exene were family members sometimes. I wonder what Ron and Russell would sound like if they sang together?

Here’s something interesting, for what sounds like the ultimate white pop music, both ‘Wake Up Little Suzie’ and ‘Cathy’s Clown’ scaled to the #1 spot on the pop AND the RnB charts. Can you believe that!!!

After the brothers bailed  for Warner Brothers in 1960, their original label, Cadence, continued to release the odd single in the hopes of grabbing another hit. One such 7″: ‘I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’ snuck out in August ’62. Not as wild as the title suggests, it’s nonetheless grown on me over the years. The record’s humble chart run and placing (6 weeks, #76) in Billboard being part of the attraction. I love a flop.

By ’63 the hits had pretty much dried up – and not surprisingly, the British Invasion crippled them as it did so many other clean cut late 50′s/early 60′s teen stars. They released a version of ‘Love Her’ in that year, only to be usurped by The Walker Brothers rendition. In fact, ‘Don’t Let The Whole World Know’, the B side to ‘You’re My Girl’ (#110, 2/65), is a total cross between The Walker Brothers and The Cramps, two acts everyone, even The Everly Brothers, wishes they were like.

The Standells

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The Standells - Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear Black

Listen: Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White / The Standells StandellsGoodGuys.mp3

Most people were disappointed by follow up singles, I was usually the opposite. Accepting that my tastes fell off the straight and narrow, the mid chart followups pleased me more every time. Like with this one, I always had wished they were the bigger hits. A real testament to this song’s quality came when The Cramps started covering it during the Kid Congo era.

I had seen The Standells open for The Rolling Stones, along with The McCoys, on July 6, 1966. While trolling backstage to nervously reacquaint The Rolling Stones with myself (as if they cared) – having gotten into their dressing room the previous October (see my Alvin Robinson post for the full story) – I stumbled on most of The Standells. They looked old and kind of fake to this little kid. Indeed, they weren’t true beat group long hairs and were slightly advanced in years having done the early 60′s LA circuit during the surf days. Never mind. I was way more interested in seeing The Rolling Stones. Years later I did regret not knowing enough about The Standells history at the time. Like, for instance, that Gary Walker from The Walker Brothers had once been a member. Missed opportunity, I’m ashamed to say.

This followup to ‘Dirty Water’ was all over my local station that summer (see local WOLF chart below). God, it sounded fantastic on the air. Bless him, Little Steven plays it on his Sirius channel, but unfortunately, it might be the remastered, digitally polished and shined stereo version. So just in case, here my friends, is the mono single, taken right off my original 7″ purchased at WT Grants that very summer.

WOLF charts 7 23 1966