Archive for the ‘London American’ Category

Thomas Wayne

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

thomaswaynetragedyuka, Thomas Wayne, Twinkle, The Shangri-Las, American London,

Listen: Tragedy / Thomas Wayne
Tragedy / Thomas Wayne

Both sides are a childhood memory record. And I had all but forgotten this one until there it was in the collection I’d bought from Tony King. Certainly not representative of the general sound I ultimately went for until years later, unsure if it was the very first record I had someone buy me, but it was certainly one of the first.

Possibly ‘Tragedy’ is what planted that seed toward favoring violent death and horror records like those by Jimmy Cross, Twinkle, The Shangri-Las, Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages even The Gun Club. Thomas himself died in a car crash.

thomaswaynesaturday, Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley, Thomas Wayne, Fernwood Records, London American,

Listen: Saturday Date / Thomas Wayne
Saturday Date / Thomas Wayne

Like Side A, the flip, ‘Saturday Date’ was produced by Scotty Moore, one time Elvis Presley guitarist. Why it wasn’t included in the AMERICAN GRAFFITI soundtrack is beyond me. Lyrically, you can’t capture the era better. Speaking of guitarists, Thomas Wayne was indeed the brother of Luther Perkins, who played lead for Johnny Cash.

A side scan from Tony King’s collection, B side scan is my original copy from the day.

Larry Williams

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

larrywilliamsshortfat, Larry Williams, Johnny Guitar Watson, London American, Northern Soul

Listen: Short Fat Fannie / Larry Williams
Short

Larry Williams is seldom respected as an original bad boy of RnR, but he should be. Legend has his underworld activities stretching back prior to these initial recordings. He eventually bit the bullet, literally, a victim of a suicide, although street legend claims otherwise. Having served time in the early 60′s for drug dealing, he hooked up with Johnny Guitar Watson upon release to sleaze out in late night Hollywood, which admittedly may be my self fulfilling fantasy, and also make some of the most authentic Northern Soul tracks known to mankind for Okeh.

I was excited when The Mooney Suzuki, who I looked after while at Columbia, recorded in the same studio on Santa Monica Boulevard that he and Johnny had. I literally thought about it constantly while there. I was pissing in the same toilet as the dynamic duo. No one else seemed to apprciate my excitement.

Prior to all that, he wrote ‘Bonie Maronie’, ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’, ‘Slow Down’ and ‘She Said Yeah’, my favorite, as recorded and performed by The Rolling Stones on HULLABALOO:

‘Short Fat Fannie’ goes back to pre Northern, pre Johnny Guitar Watson and pre jail time. It was actually one of his hits (#31 RnB / #35 Pop) in ’57 and comes courtesy of the Tony King Collection.

Original post: August 19, 2009.

Leroy Pullins

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Listen: I’m A Nut / Leroy Pullins
LeroyPullinsNut.mp3

Novelty country, one hit wonder. Those are about the only historical remembrances of Leroy Pullins. Orginally the leader of Kentucky garage band, The LeSabres, he relocated to Nashville in ’65 to peruse success. ‘I’m A Nut’ was the first from a short string of singles on Kapp Records, and the only one to chart, peaking at #18 in ’66 on BILLBOARD’s Country Top 50. It’s UK counterpart via Kapp’s distribution agreement with Decca, provided his only international release.

In the day, Top 40 regularly spiced up their intentionally zany, fast paced, wildcard afternoon disc jockey slots with novelty records, many based on outer space alien invasions or mental illness. I recall hearing this one on occasion between British invasion releases and early Motowns.

Inez & Charlie Foxx

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Listen: Tightrope / Inez & Charlie Foxx
Tightrope

The walking bass lines throughout ‘Tightrope’ and the song’s lyric “Walk that tightrope baby” seem intentionally aligned. Is it coincidental? Is it just me?

One thing for sure, I can never praise Inez & Charlie Foxx enough. Helplessly in love with her I have always been. Given the obscurely obscure reach of youtube, how the fuck is it possible not one clip of the dynamic duo, as they’ve always and justifiably been tagged, exists?

Shouldn’t there be an international campaign to change that?

Ben E. King

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Listen: Groovin’ / Ben E. King
Groovin' / Ben E. King

This was an easy one. Everybody knows Ben E. King’s crooner greats, and God knows, there can’t be a living soul on earth who doesn’t cherish ‘Supernatural Thing’. But in the ultimate quest for something more formative, something that proves the hits were complimented by stuff way more raw, look and you will find ‘Groovin”, his B side from ’64.

Arthur Alexander / The Gentrys

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Listen: Go Home Girl / Arthur Alexander ArthurAlexanderGoHomeGirl.mp3

If you aren’t familiar with ‘You Better Move On’, probably his most successful song, you can pretty much hear it when listening to ‘Go Home Girl’. Not that this is a bad thing, which one might logically assume. Together with a few others he wrote like ‘Anna’ and ‘Everyday I Have To Cry’, Arthur Alexander is credited with premiering southern country soul. No idea if that’s true, but happy to jump on board.

GentrysEverday, Gentrys, MGM

Listen: Everyday I Have To Cry / The Gentrys Gentrys.mp3

Who doesn’t love The Rolling Stones version of ‘You Better Move On’. As well, The Gentrys rendition of ‘Everyday I Have To Cry’, both released in the mid-60′s.

The way history is written, you’d believe the days when original RnB records reaching white kids by anyone other than Pat Boone ended in the late 50′s. Not really true.

Ray Charles

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Listen: Tell The Truth / Ray Charles RayCharlesTellTheTruth.mp3

Ok, I’m on a roll. The sudden discovery of Little Stevie Wonder’s ‘Workout Stevie, Workout’ / ‘Monkey Talk’ (see my November 29, 2010 post) has me insatiable for late 50′s / early 60′s call and response gospel blues. Actually, any record from the period will do, so long as it’s full of ecstatic shouts and moans and blasts from horn sections. The wilder the better.

Almost possessed, and by sheer coincidence, I came across Ray Charles’ ‘Tell The Truth’ this past Thanksgiving weekend. Other than a festive day with friends at Lisa’s dinner, it was basically three days spent immersed in records: filing, playing, sorting, filing again, and honestly pulling more singles out of the shelves than the ones being put back in. Oh yeah, and picking up a holy grail 45 collection from Saint Vicki. Can you think of a better way to spend three cold, drizzly days?

Right, so Ray Charles. Let me tell you why his pre-’65 recordings are hot as fuck. From ’54 into the 60′s, Ray Charles toured for 300 days a year with his seven-piece orchestra. 300 days. That’s serious.

He employed Atlantic label mates, a vocal trio named The Cookies, thereby renaming them The Raeletts for when they backed him up on the road. In ’58 – ’59, the musical chemistry between himself and the girls resulted in well documented revival level frenzied shows that according to many a music historian, singlehandedly invented Soul.

Ultimately, during the same January ’59 session at the Atlantic Studios, ‘What’d I Say’ and ‘Tell The Truth’ were recorded live, in very few takes. Ray Charles duets on both with Raelett Margie Hendricks. ‘What’d I Say’ scaled uncountable heights for changing history, bringing true black music to white audiences in a mainstream fashion.

Yet equally hot, maybe hotter, was the underdog of that session, ‘Tell The Truth’. Released eight months or so after ‘What’d I Say’ in late winter 1960, it’s the ugly stepsister to his global smash….and sounds all the more untapped because of it. Every element is here: Margie Hendricks leading the intro, horn section spiking in, his unrefined, carnal vocals, his barrelhouse piano.

All arms raised to the heavens, I can’t stop now – tomorrow bright and early, I’m out the door to find his autobiography BROTHER RAY: RAY CHARLES’ OWN STORY. More to come.

Ricky Nelson

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Listen: Lonesome Town / Ricky Nelson RickyNelsonLonesomeTown.mp3

Somewhere during their DATE WITH ELVIS / STAY SICK period, The Cramps were doing ‘Lonesome Town’ live. It was around then that I’d joined Island Records and rang Lux and Ivy to update them with my new contact info.

Ivy and I got into a long conversation about all kinds of trivia, which was not uncommon. She and Lux were always the most interesting and intriguing people. We would sometimes stay on the phone for hours.

As we were winding it down, I asked would she like any records from the label.

“What do you have?”

“There’s Robert Palmer, U2, Anthrax, Grace Jones, Julian Cope……”

“Hmmm. I’ve never heard of any of those people. Do you have any Ricky Nelson records?”

Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Listen: Big River /Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two JohnnyCashBigRiver.mp3

Originally released during March ’58 by Sun Records in the US, it’s UK London American counterpart was issued two months later on May 12. Recorded with guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant, aka The Tennessee Two, ‘Big River’ was the earliest Johnny Cash record I recall hearing.

Others would disagree, but as the singles lost more and more of his rockabilly side, I became less and less of a fan.

My cousins were in the jukebox business. I’d go to their warehouse on a Saturday with my Dad, and just wander around in the maze of these fantastically designed machines, dozens waiting to be rented, tuned up or repaired. I had free reign to play any of them, their coin boxes conveniently disabled, hence no charge. What a treat. Seems they all had either The McGuire Sisters’ ‘Sugartime’ and/or this Johnny Cash single in them. I played both over and over and over.

Without doubt, a roomful of Seeburg and Rock-Ola jukeboxes as a constant Saturday morning replacement to cartoons will mold a little kid’s tastes and priorities. Walking proof, that’s me, thankfully.

The models which played the 45′s upright were my favorites. I glued myself to them and watched record after record spin. The turntable carousel moving left and right along it’s rails, pulling out singles at every stop and playing them vertically. How was this possible?

In an effort to repeat the process at home, I used masking tape to lock records onto my turntable, then balance it upright with one hand, as the other held down the tonearm. Mind you, this failed over and over. I only wish I had half the hours back invested in attempting to make it all happen.

SEEBURG 222a_small.JPG, Seeburg 22, Seeburg, Jukebox

Many years later, in ’86, I finally found the mint Seeburg 222 above, with it’s pink upright turnable carousel, for sale outside of Athens, Georgia. Murray Attaway knew of this antique dealer who specialized in renovating jukeboxes. His retail set up was in the family’s barn, beautifully converted to accommodate not only jukeboxes but thousands of trinkets, dishes, furniture pieces, appliances, clothes, records, books. A museum of sorts.

Got it professionally carted and shipped home to New York, where it’s one of my prized possessions and all these year later, again, eats up hours while I sit watching my 45′s play vertically. Which is precisely how I spent this cold November Sunday afternoon, said Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two’s 7″ thrown on, creating the perfect time travel moment.

Neil Diamond

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Listen: Solitary Man / Neil Diamond NeilSolitaryMan.mp3

According to Wikipedia, Neil Diamond’s first single for Bang was released May 21, 1966. If so, then I love WOLF even that much more – they tipped it as Hit Bound on May 7 (see below). No joke, this was one hell of a radio station. I know several mid sized cities had them – the ‘other’ Top 40 that played many of the non hit RnB, British Beat and Garage records. Not only a God send, but I have a feeling, these were the stations that created the crazies like myself.

‘Solitary Man’ was a bit dark, or sad – something I still can’t quite put my finger on. It wasn’t his last to have that quality. ‘Shilo’ had it, ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ did too. I hadn’t realized it fizzled out at #55 in Billboard that year, maybe because in ’70, when re-released by Bang after he’d left the label for a, by then, very successful run on UNI, ‘Solitary Man’ re-charted and peaked at #21. Bizarre, all those radio programmers that wouldn’t touch it originally now proving their stupidity by playing it a few years later. Justice.

Sylvia

Monday, December 14th, 2009

SylviaPillowUS, Sylvia Robinson, Sylvia, All Platinum, Vibration, American London, Sugarhill, James Gilstrap, Al Green, Donna Summer

SylviaPillowUKA, Sylvia Robinson, Sylvia, All Platinum, Vibration, American London, Sugarhill, James Gilstrap, Al Green, Donna Summer

SylviaPillowUK, Sylvia Robinson, Sylvia, All Platinum, Vibration, American London, Sugarhill, James Gilstrap, Al Green, Donna Summer

Listen: Pillow Talk / Sylvia SylviaPillow.mp3

Sylvia Robinson, owner and creative force behind Sugarhill Records, where rap began according to many. Makes sense she’d be the Lil Kim of her day. Every track was sexually provaocative. ‘You Sure Love To Ball’ (now there’s a long lost term: ball), ‘Had Any Lately’, ‘He Don’t Ever Lose His Groove’ and not forgetting this one, ‘Pillow Talk’, the hit (#3 Pop / #1 RnB). Word is she’d originally written ‘Pillow Talk’ for Al Green, who apparently turned it down for being too risqué, and against his religion.

I wish I could scan the PILLOW TALK album sleeve, it’s almost as good as James Gilstrap’s LOVE TALK for bad photography and complete lack of visual appeal – making both essential art. Google them.

An early example of prototypical disco, the vocals are replete with moaning and heavy breathing, predating Donna Summer’s orgasmic inflections on ‘Love To Love You Baby’. Although the album version of ‘Pillow Talk’ runs about a minute longer, fear not – the simulated climax is included on the 7′ ending as well. Even so, this was all over pop radio in spring ’73 – believe it. I was insatiable for it. By summer it had reached the UK, so I got to hear it constantly all over again.

The Vogues

Friday, December 4th, 2009

VoguesUK, The Vogues,  American London, Len Berry

Listen: You’re The One / The Vogues VoguesYoure.mp3

One of the member’s vocal style bordered on yodeling and these guys looked not unlike The Four Seasons or The Righteous Brothers aka dreadful. But the early singles: hands down greatness. It’s hard to pick a favorite, as both ‘Five O’ Clock World’ and ‘In The Land Of Milk And Honey’ are close runners up, but I’m going with ‘You’re The One’.

The Vogues eventually moved to Reprise where the schmaltz sound and image got….worse. Suddenly they were more like The Letterman than ever before, although I can admit it, ‘Turn Around, Look At Me’ is an occasional guilty pleasure.

Duane Eddy

Monday, November 30th, 2009

DuaneEddyRebelUKA, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Jamie, American London, Reprise, RCA

Listen: Rebel-Rouser / Duane Eddy & His Twangy Guitar DuaneEddyRebel.mp3

Did you know that Duane Eddy combined single-note melodies by bending the low strings and adding echo, a vibrato bar (Bigsby), and tremolo – thereby producing a signature sound unlike anything that had been heard prior – the sound that would be featured on an unprecedented string of thirty four chart singles, fifteen of which made the Top 40 and sales of over 100 million worldwide? Me neither. I read it on Wikipedia.

He was not alone in the creation. Then disc jockey Lee Hazelwood became his partner in 1954, taking on role of producer and co-writer. ‘Rebel-Rouser’ is one of those songs that probably every last human being has heard, but didn’t know it. Well I hope so at least. Peaking at #6, it was also his biggest chart success.

DuaneEddyStalkin, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Jamie, American London, Reprise, RCA

Listen: Stalkin’ / Duane Eddy & His Twangy Guitar DuaneEddyStalkin.mp3

It’s B side, ‘Stalkin” is a whole other story. Now this is more the dark side sound that helped invent one of the most potent threads in music, a line followed by The Gun Club, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, The White Stripes and most importantly, The Cramps. And of those bands alone, there were endless unsuccessful imitators.

It just oozes of girls in tight sparkly capri pants and spiked heels, slowly grooving their hips to the the record as it spun in the jukebox at a local malt shop.

DuaneEddySurfinPS, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Jamie, American London, Reprise, RCA

Listen: Your Baby’s Gone Surfiin’ / Duane Eddy DuaneEddySurfin.mp3

Everyone jumped on the surf craze in the early 60′s. For Duane Eddy, it actually was a perfect fit. He kind of invented the sound, a seamless musical transition from rockabilly to the white kid, carefree, silver spoon lifestyles of surfers. Despite ‘Your Baby’s Gone Surfin” hardly denting the Billboard Hot 100 (#93), I remember it vividly. Even bought the single, or had someone buy it for me more likely. Little did I know, his band, The Rebels, had become Phil Spector’s regular studio outfit. Makes perfect sense then that The Blossoms, also vocal backup regulars on Spector sessions, provided all the singing here. Yes, that’s Darlene Love you’re hearing, just as you might be suspecting.

DuaneEddyShuckin, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Jamie, American London, Reprise, RCA

Listen: Shuckin’ / Duane Eddy DuaneEddyShuckin.mp3

B side ‘Shuckin”, you gotta love the song titles, sounds like a routine jam with the sole purpose of churning out a flip to ‘Your Baby’s Gone Surfin”. Even so, the natural groove makes it a keeper. How many of these would they knock out in a day? I’m scared to reckon. Somewhere there are tape vaults….

DuaneEddyGuitarWasMadeUSB, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Reprise

Listen: This Guitar Was Made For Twangin’ / Duane Eddy DuaneEddyRepriseUSB.mp3

Once the Nancy Sinatra success train was powering full steam ahead, on her Dad’s Reprise label, with Lee Hazelwood ably handling all production and songwriting, my guess is he suggested Duane Eddy be added to the roster. A seemingly under thought covers album of then current day hits, THE BIGGEST TWANG OF THEM ALL, allowed for one original ‘This Guitar Was Made For Twangin”. Despite a basic instrumental re-write of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’, he retains full writer credit, well at least as far as the label copy reads. I have to believe behind the curtain, there was a handshake share with Lee Hazelwood, writer of ‘Boots’ – or maybe not. He was the producer, it didn’t sell, and who cares anyways. Luckily the track was issued as a single.

Terry Stafford

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

terrystafforduka, Terry Stafford, Twinkle, The Shangi-las, London American

Listen: Suspicion / Terry StaffordTerryStafford.mp3

Despite obvious Elvis Presley overtones, the song’s Roy Orbison chorus won me. Not that I was a fan of either during those British Invasion days, given their DA’s and older looks. Perhaps it was my attraction to the record’s Joe Meek production similarities. It’s found a permanent creepy place in my psyche. Perfectly dated, I wouldn’t suggest anyone try remaking it. Impossible.

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?

Barbara Mason

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

barbaramasonreadyuka, Barbara Mason, Arctic, London American

Listen: Yes I’m Ready / Barbara Mason BarbaraMasonReady.mp3

barbaramasonshackin, Barbara Mason, Don Davis, Buddah

Listen: Shackin’ Up / Barbara Mason BarbaraMasonShackin.mp3

Basically, a Philly girl who came up through Gospel. ‘Yes I’m Ready’ reached #5 in ’65, with an intro the had me believing it was the soundtrack to being drunk. Her delivery drew me right in with that imaginery alcohol slur. Like Barbara Lewis from around the same time, she was one of the soul voices that sat nicely between all the English Invasion songs on Top 40 radio.

You wouldn’t know she was a church girl from some of her 70′s output, like the great ‘Shackin’ Up’. Not unlike Millie Jackson, and produced by Don Davis (Eddie Floyd, Bobby Womack, Albert King, The Dramatics, Carla Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Little Milton), it just sums up liberated female voices during the mid 70′s and deserved a way higher Billboard chart placing than #91.