Archive for the ‘Record & Tape Exchange’ Category

Sweet Reason

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Listen: Hundred Thousand Dollar (Twenty Carburettor Driving Machine)/ Sweet Reason
Hundred

Not a clue who Sweet Reason were, or how they came to make records.

Being a life long Deram completist, I’ll happily pick up any remaining 7′ title not presently part of my collection.

Ah yes, my collection. There’s a obsessive beast. In the case of labels like Deram, it probably doubles as some medical condition, me needing promo and stock copies of both UK as well as US releases. I’ve been known to pace about the house in the early hours worrying about these things. I guess it keeps me out of other trouble, that endless quest.

‘Hundred Thousand Dollar (Twenty Carburettor Driving Machine)’ by Sweet Reason, which never gained a US issue, always evaded me, having passed up a copy at Camden Town’s Record & Tape Exchange in the early 90′s during a dizzy moment.

Oh yes, a home away from home. Camden’s Record & Tape Exchange. I still can’t walk past it without getting the shivers, despite reality: their 7′ bins have shrunken miserably over the years. And the records in them, shabby condition overall, especially the sleeves.

But never say never. I felt ten years younger the moment my eyes spotted this on eBay. It was absolutely going to be mine at any cost.

Complete with the original Gil Sans font, I assumed Sweet Reason would be more of the slushy pap pop the label coined, particularly given it’s 1974 release date. Surprise, it’s knock-off glitter from the litter bin. What could be better, very few labels did formula glam quite like Deram.

I guess they’d pick up the occasional offering from independent producers that walked through the front door for A&R rep meetings. In as demos, out as masters.

Sweet Reason had one more fantastic twist about them discovered first play. Not only did the band sound like The Sweet, they even borrowed their name. Love it.

Herman’s Hermits

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Listen: You Won’t Be Leaving / Herman’s Hermits
You

Somehow I found myself pulling out a bunch of Herman’s Hermits singles the other night. I guess I really liked quite a few, but moved along through the years never much remembering them or revisiting either. They are in one of those pockets on the wall shelf that seems to get minimal browsing.

Whatever. There I was. Oh right, why was ‘You Won’t Be Leaving’ ever released as a 7″ in the US? Never could quite figure that one out. If you look closely, their string of hits were pretty intense for a few years, with often two or more records in the Top 100 simultaneously, some being released a mere four weeks after the previous one.

As with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, my local Top 40′s would premier a new song as quickly as a copy could be airmailed over from England. ‘You Won’t Be Leaving’ was no exception. As with a few others (‘No Milk Today’, ‘There’s a Kind Of Hush’, ‘Silhouttes’), this was a one listen for me.

Funny enough, it never did get released, but instead found it’s way onto a then current US album that I somehow ended up with, so I was content.

Years later in the late 80′s, an easy find at the Record & Tape Exchange, Notting Hill, for pennies. Not so sure this one time bargain A label would be so cheap nowadays though.

Moby

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Listen: Go / Moby MobyGo.mp3

Moby is a good soul. I’ve met him a few times. He lives his life to help and save animals. For that alone, I love the guy.

Once you get too popular, like via his massive PLAY album, there’s the inevitable backlash. Eight hit singles. Ten million albums. A lot of folks get jealous. But if the exact same album didn’t sell, they’d be moaning about it being ignored. You can’t win.

Way before PLAY, Moby’s first big hit, well underground hit, was ‘Go’. I remember seeing him with The Prodigy as support at The Hollywood Palladium in LA, must have been around ’92 – ’93. Their EXPERIENCE album was current, and like the recording, The Prodigy were fantastic. So was Moby.

I will never forget the chills running up my spine when he started the first notes of ‘Go’. Everyone felt them.

Finding the promo-only 7″ at The Record & Tape Exchange in Notting Hill a few months later for 50p was almost as good.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Moby

The Koobas

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

koobastakemeuk, koobas, columbia, capitol, kapp, keith ellis
koobastakemeps, koobas, columbia, capitol, kapp, keith ellis

Listen: Take Me For A Little While / The Koobas KoobasLittleWhile.mp3

I originally passed up the US ‘Take Me For A Little While’ sleeve upon release, and never ever saw another. Desperate for it as the years past, Mike Goldsmith came to the rescue while at a record fair a few years back. What a relief. Sometime during the 90′s, I stumbled on a UK pressing at London’s Record & Tape Exchange in Notting Hill. This copy appeared to be autographed. How does one ever verify that?

koobasfirstcutuk, koobas, capitol, columbia, kapp
koobasfirstcutusa, koobas, columbia, capitol, kapp, keith ellis

Listen: The First Cut Is The Deepest / The Koobas KoobasFirstCut.mp3

The record itself was most pleasant British Beat at the time, but in no way hinted toward the psychedelic greatness that their ‘First Cut Is The Deepest’ would be. Despite being dwarfed chart-wise by P.P. Arnold’s version, historically it’s equally vital.

The Smoke

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

My Friend Jack (Unreleased Version) / The Smoke

Listen: My Friend Jack (Unreleased Version) / The Smoke SmokeJackUnreleased.mp3

My Friend Jack / The Smoke

Listen: My Friend Jack / The Smoke SmokeJack.mp3

High In A Room / The Smoke

Listen: High In A Room / The Smoke SmokeHigh.mp3

Have Some More Tea / The Smoke

Listen: Have Some More Tea / The Smoke SmokeTea.mp3

Dreams Of Dreams / The Smoke

Listen: Dreams Of Dreams / The Smoke SmokeDream.mp3

Ride Ride Ride (Dick Turpin)/ The Smoke

Listen: Ride Ride Ride (Dick Turpin)/ The Smoke SmokeRide.mp3

Sugar Man/ The Smoke

Listen: Sugar Man/ The Smoke SmokeSugarMan.mp3

A good band that sticks to their sound isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even when the world evolves, sometimes staying in your little place can be good, as long as you actually had something decent to begin with. Obviously, it’s how I feel about The Smoke. Now I hadn’t discovered them when they were current, I guess they didn’t quite get enough press attention, I missed out until a year or two later. And upon hearing ‘My Friend Jack’, I filed it right up there with The Creation. That guitar effect, in fact, sounded very Eddie Phillips to me. Still, it took ages to find all their singles. The 60′s releases were hard enough, being non sellers. And the 70′s singles, selling even less, were a real challenge. Thank God for the many trips I made to the UK on some label’s dime, because I’d have never found them otherwise.

Years later, I stumbled on some hardcore info – the original version of ‘My Friend Jack’ was recorded and made it’s way to acetates, but not issued due to explicitly drug obvious lyrics. The version that did come out being apparently toned down. On a trip to the UK, Howard returned with just that acetate, one of many gems he’d gotten off his uncle, a former Decca Records UK promotion guy. He just handed it over – a serious ass present. There aren’t many like Howard.

Chris Blackwell’s country house in Theale had an amazing dj equipped/record library in the loft overlooking his recreation room – with pool tables and the works down below. I always made my way straight up there at gatherings for the company. He invited Corinne and I to stay a long weekend, and drove us down from London late one Friday night. An always generous host, we had the run of the place. He said graciously, if I found any doubles in the loft, to help myself. This was a dream come true – and despite being tempted to pocket a few on a first visit – it proves honesty is the best policy, or good things come to those that wait…..whatever. He let me take whatever I wanted. Lo and behold, he had an extra of the one and only Island single by The Smoke. This was ’89, by which time I’d still never even seen a copy, not to mention in unplayed condition. Worth the wait. Thank you Chris.

Imagine my shock when finding ‘Dreams Of Dreams’ at the Notting Hill Gate Record & Tape Exchange, in it’s Revolution Records company sleeve, which until that moment, I hadn’t realized even existed. I guess the Revolution Records team expected big success for the imprint, thereby manufacturing stock sleeves. Mind you, the single was in the glass encased upstairs high end section but well worth the lofty price (around 75 GBP). Nice one.

By 1971, The Smoke had stubbornly, and wonderfully, not changed their sound much. As with all bands that began in the mid 60′s, they occasionally let their love of Motown show, as on ‘Ride Ride Ride’. Later still, despite the glam audio techniques poured all over ‘Sugar Man’, their one of a kind, signature sound could not be stifled, thankfully.

Wayne Bickerton Productions: World Of Oz / Clyde McPhatter / The Rubettes

Monday, December 29th, 2008

The Muffin Man / World Of Oz

Listen: The Muffin Man / World Of Oz
The Muffin Man / World Of Oz

Seems the labels had a stable of in-house producers back in the 60′s. And many times they’d be given the new signings to whip into shape, and record in those infamous four or six hour windows. I’m guessing these producers were either on staff, or had production deals, similar to today’s consultancies. People like Denny Cordell and Mike Hurst come to mind, as does Wayne Bickerton.

I first noticed his name on Decca and Deram releases. A very favorite was ‘The Muffin Man’ by World Of Oz. It got a lot of Top 40 play in the US for a few weeks during summer ’68. Years later, in the Notting Hill Record & Tape Exchange, I stumbled on a copy with this very rare UK sleeve pictured above. My heart just about stopped. I’d no idea it existed as it’s not mentioned in any of the price guides and I’d never seen another. ‘The Muffin Man’ was part of their rather lavish album, lavish for the time that is, apparently requiring a huge budget. I was lucky enough to meet Wayne about four years ago on a New York trip, and meant to ask that budget detail. I had many questions, and he was fantastic about filling in so many blanks, but that one slipped my mind. Always an admirer of his work, it was a fascinating hour or two.

Baby You've Got It / Clyde McPhatter

Listen: Baby You’ve Got It / Clyde McPhatter
Baby You've Got It / Clyde McPhatter

Although an original member of The Drifters, Clyde McPhatter oddly moved to England, and even odder, signed to Deram. Come on, The Drifters were the definition of Harlem Doo Wop and such. Why did this guy pick up and go to London? Was he a closet Anglophile? Luckily, Wayne Bickerton was put in charge and produced his Northern Soul hit ‘Baby You’ve Got It’. Applying his trademark orchestration, the song became Clyde McPhatter’s strongest single ever.

Sugar Baby Love / The Rubettes

Listen: Sugar Baby Love / The Rubettes
Sugar Baby Love / The Rubettes

Occasionally I hear The Rubettes ‘Sugar Baby Love’ and it jumps out every time. A perfect combination of glam and maybe doo wop meets Four Seasons or something. Not only did he produce it, but co-wrote the song as well.

Snooky

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Listen:  Sugar Lips / Snooky

Listen: Sugar Lips / Snooky 01 Sugar Lis.mp3

I spoke with Roger Armstrong today. He was one of the guys who opened London’s Rock On record shop in the 70′s, having started out with a few standups of used records just off Shaftsbury Avenue and later, founded Ace Records, the catalog/reissue company, which he still owns and operates. Like the rest of us, he’s just a plain old record junkie. Luckily, when I bought Tony King’s 45 collection back in May, Roger offered a helping hand, and as a result, they’re still all boxed up and sitting in one of Roger’s spare rooms, waiting to come home to NYC. So we had a fun hour catch up call today. He mentioned the Camden Record Fair from a Sunday or two ago, whereby he picked up 70/80 singles, about two thirds of which he’d never heard of. Even the deepest record collectors and musicologists always are finding more records to collect. That’s the beauty of it all, there are so many records, not only to play but to discover as well, and the search is never ending. Wonderful.

Tonight Phil stopped by. We played singles for a good three hours. I pulled out a stack of Contempo releases I’d faithfully bought in the late 80′s and tucked away on a bottom shelf. The Notting Hill Record & Tape Exchange was the place to be then, for me that is. I always stayed at the The Pembridge Court Hotel, a mere block away. Sometimes I’d make a few trips to and from the shop with armloads of singles, dumping them in my room and resuming the digging minutes later. One time, Corinne dropped me off around 10 AM on her way to Soho to shop, and noticed me in the ground floor 7″ section around 4 PM that afternoon when she returned. I’d been there the whole time, by now starving and needing to piss badly. True story. All the 7′s were around a pound or so a piece then. I remember loving the look of the Contempo labels, and their stock sleeves, despite being pretty unfamiliar with the company. I did know of the BLUES & SOUL magazine that the label was loosely associated with from the 70′s. A good publication, even if they over celebrated themselves a bit too often. Well all these years later, I finally got around to playing through this chuck of Contempos, finding this, ‘Sugar Lips’ by Snooky, licensed from Feelgood Records Ltd in 1975.

Phil didn’t know a thing about this record’s history, not did I. We Googled Snooky. Googled Feelgood Records. Checked the RECORD COLLECTOR PRICE GUIDE. No info, not anywhere. Who is this? Who are Feelgood Records? No idea. Very bizarre. But in keeping with one of the great consistencies of record collecting, there’s always more records to discover. It never ever ends.

Interestingly, for such a hardcore soul label, this track sounds quite like The Tremeloes. I love it.