Archive for the ‘Cat Stevens’ Category

The Bachelors

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Listen: 3 O’Clock Flamingo Street / The Bachelors

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.

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.

Double Feature

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

doublefeatureusa, double feature, deram, mike hurst, alan tew

Listen: Baby, Get Your Head Screwed On / Double Feature DoubleFeature.mp3

This was the best of both worlds: period psychedelic and a perfect template of that bombastic UK Decca production sound. Either as employees or via production deals, a lot of the same names appeared on many of the label’s releases, in this case musical director Alan Tew and producer Mike Hurst. An all time personal favorite, Mike Hurst also produced several early Cat Stevens singles. As was quite common at time, bands didn’t always write their own material. This Cat Stevens cover, no doubt a suggestion from Hurst, is both on fuzz overload and claustrophobically orchestrated, all somehow making for a perfect sonic marriage.