Archive for the ‘Decca’ Category

Caravan

Friday, July 18th, 2014

CaravanLoveToLove, Caravan, London, Decca, Deram

Listen: Love To Love You / Caravan
Love

Talk about being smitten after one play. I had seen a few Caravan albums in the stores, but never managed to own one, not until IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK that is. I’d already decided to spring for a UK copy via mail order that coming April, based entirely on it’s title. Without warning, this US single, coupling ‘Love To Love You’ and ‘Golf Girl’, landed in my weekly stack from WMCR, the local adult radio station that miraculously gave me their ‘unplayable’ rock singles all through my high school years. My eyes bugged out seemingly an inch. I couldn’t get home fast enough, tearing through the traffic and risking my life on a bike one very slippery, slushy, cold Friday in February ’71.

Once home, I must have played ‘Love To Love You’ a dozen times, completely anxious for it to end so I could play it all over again. Why had I kept myself in the dark about this band, sounding more British than the British themselves might tolerate. Nothing like that excited high from realizing there’s a whole new back catalog to acquire, something I began plotting on the spot.

In the days before THE RECORD COLLECTOR PRICE GUIDE and Wikipedia, research needed to be done by hand. Consequently, homework was put aside and out came the back issues of MELODY MAKER and DISC & MUSIC ECHO. I needed every Caravan record. Now.

CaravanGolf, Caravan, London, Decca, Deram

Listen: Golf Girl / Caravan
Golf

Seriously, this next bit is still vivid, like waking up in the middle of the night remembering you forgot to do something and jumping straight out of bed. I’m digging through the magazines looking for Caravan titles and catalog numbers, with the single on repeat. My Dual 1229 turntable came complete with a 45 stacking spindle and was repeat-play capable. A beauty.

Suddenly, boing, it hits me. In all my glee, I haven’t even noticed. Was the single a double A promo, or one with a B side. So midway through, off comes the tonearm and…yes! There’s a B side!

‘Golf Girl’ was just as fantastic, beginning with the “selling cups of tea” lyric. It was almost too good to be true. Another song to check off the Caravan catalog completion list.

LandOfGrayAndPink, Caravan

Saturday morning, straight to the post office, buy the international money order and airmail my advance payment for the full album that day. Come early April, I owned a first pressing of IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK. Everything about that album was magical: the laminated cover, beautiful artwork, pristine deep groove vinyl, inner sleeve, lyrics, production. It even smelled good.

Adding to the magic, Decca moved the band to it’s progressive subsidiary, Deram, and deemed the album an initial release in a new deluxe series, assigning the catalog number SDL – R1 as a reward.

Instantly official, Caravan was now my new favorite band. Next, I had to see them live…but that would be a few years off. 1975 to be exact, when their first US commenced in support of CUNNING STUNTS. Luckily it swung through upstate New York and luckily, they were more British than ever.

CaravanJukebox, Caravan, Pye Hastings

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Pye Hastings

The Birds

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Listen: No Good Without You Baby / The Birds
No

The Birds, like their leader Ronnie Wood, seemed forever destined to second tier, always in supporting roles. Yet years later, their lack of first division ideas wonderfully tarnished them with a rather perfect time period sound, ideally suited for the musical backdrop of some British beat boom documentary. But after all, they were on Decca, which in hindsight is regarded as one of the holy grail UK labels for the genre.

To many, Decca has forever been saddled as the company that passed on The Beatles. I however say that’s only one of their greatest achievements. Signing The Rolling Stones being the other. Whether by design or accident, it certainly led them down a path that attracted Them, The Moody Blues, The Graham Bond Organization, The Zombies, The Beazers, The Artwoods, The Small Faces, The Nashville Teens, Zoot Money, The Move and other such hard up heroes, of which The Birds were included.

Several years back, while in London for work, I had conveniently scheduled my trip around The Olympia Record Fair. Getting there somewhat early, but not when doors opened, the first dealer I encountered, off to the left most side of the venue, was not surprisingly unbothered by any customers. His make shift boxes of 7′s unattractively assembled across his table, with as many sloppy boxes below, about two dozen in all. No wall hangings highlighting high end items, no colorful signs, no sizzle of any kind. Everything was either £1, £3 or £5.

Having decided to systematically cover the entire event, I began with this fellow, technically the first dealer far left, with every intention of moving right across the entire lot to the other side. Despite his unkept presentation, I reminded myself there was a plan and not to abandon it by skipping his table, before even starting.

Barely through the first box, I realized it’s entire contents were Decca or Decca distributed A Labels. Temporarily skipping to the second and discovering it to be the same, I asked him about his wares, inquiring was it coincidence they were all Decca’s. Turns out he didn’t regularly sell at the fairs, pretty obvious from the shabby boxes alone, but had stumbled on a retired Decca employee with an attic full of records from his 60′s heyday, and here they all were.

Well, I nearly blacked out. Luckily, a friend had come along with me, and immediately had the defensive sense to inform any other customers wandering up that the entire table was being sold. This gave me time to plow through and grab pretty much all of them. In hindsight, I still stress about leaving Les Reed or Ted Heath type singles behind, and wonder constantly if there was something I’d missed.

The unexpected discovery was one of life’s greatest moments, and a reminder to never judge a book by it’s cover. Amongst the many, many, many incredible purchases that day at that table: ‘No Good Without You Baby’ as well the other two Decca singles from The Birds.

The London Olympia Record Fair, which happens regularly, is in fact this weekend. Never ever pass it up.

Wilbert Harrison One Man Band / Prince La La / Derek Martin

Monday, December 30th, 2013

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS / Various Artists:

SIDE 1:

Listen: Let’s Work Together (Parts 1 & 2) / Wilbert Harrison One Man Band
WilbertWorkTogether.mp3

Side 2:

Listen: She Put The Hurt On Me / Prince La La
She

Listen: Daddy Rollin’ Stone / Derek Martin
Daddy

Just check my previous two posts. Not hard to guess, I’ve been picking through the various artists section of my wall shelf.

Weirdly enough, this is usually a head scratching process. I don’t do it often, but every time seems to unearth a multi-artist record, usually an EP, that I’d never really noticed before, suddenly falling into the ‘where on earth did I get this from’ category. And honestly, it happens every single time. One source, the UK weeklies, who for a few years there during the late 80′s/early 90′s were including free EP’s, whether it be NME, Music Week or Melody Maker, with each issue. I religiously grabbed every one and stuck them in that VA section for a rainy day. The entire chunk now being a treasure trove of both obscure and focus tracks.

When the Ensign label got all hot and bothered about the Sue Records catalog, which I’m guessing they could suddenly access via their 1983 Island distribution deal, they issued a series of four song EP’s religiously honoring the labels iconic history. Some were single artist compilation EP’s by Ike & Tina Turner or Inez & Charlie Foxx. Others were theme centric: SUE INSTRUMENTALS, THE SUE SOUL SISTERS and this, the latter’s partner, THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS. I played all three in the past few hours and basically did a blindfold drill to choose today’s 31 Days Of December – All EP’s post.

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS, most likely by design, builds around much covered songs from Sue’s UK catalog. And there were many songs to choose from here, not forgetting, the Sue UK label issued the American Sue releases along with various blues and RnB singles from small and indie US labels. Initially, Juggy Murray, who owned Sue in the US was reportedly furious with Chris Blackwell and Guy Stevens, the day to day guy at Island/Sue in London. Apparently, neither had cleared the idea of picking up product from other US companies and slapping a Sue label on it for the UK.

As a result, other than the bothersome bad blood, Sue’s British catalog and discography rivaled the majors like Decca’s, who bolstered their output and image by repping Atlantic, Monument, Tribe, RCA, Coral and others in Britain. Island became the little indie that could, even harder in the 60′s, when swimming against the tide of Decca, CBS, EMI and Pye was near impossible.

And so, the team at Ensign picked some solid originals here that went on to become widely popular as covers. Loads of bands, including The Who and John’s Children released Derek Martin’s ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ during the Mod era.

Canned Heat, blues experts themselves, took Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ Top 40 in 1970, delaying their version to give the original a chance to sell and reach #32 on BILLBOARD. In a loose full circle chain of events, John Mayall chose to record Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ for his fantastic, and I do mean fantastic, Island album, A SENSE OF PLACE from 1990.

Them

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

THEM / Them:

Side 1:

Listen: Don’t Start Crying Now / Them
ThemDontStart.mp3

Listen: Philosophy / Them
Philosophy

Side 2:

Listen: Baby Please Don’t Go / Them
Baby

Listen: One Two Brown Eyes / Them
One

I can see now, very clearly, why Van Morrison grimaces at some of the material recorded with his original band. I read once that he disliked his vocal early on, and from the very first notes of this EP’s lead off track, ‘Don’t Start Crying Now’, I suddenly understand why.

Fast forward to November 30, 1989, Denny Cordell, by then an Island co-worker and a true friend, arranged for us to meet after Van’s Beacon Theater show in order to get my blank jukebox tab signed. Looking back, I’m still amazed. As promised, I was led into one of the small second floor dressing rooms by his tour manager where he was waiting. He’d been previously coached by Denny on my request, to fill in the A and B side songs, as well the artist name, in this case Them, on a blank jukebox tab for my collection and had agreed.

By quick explanation, my entire Seeburg 222 is filled with records whereby the corresponding jukebox tab is filled in, i.e autographed, by the artist or a member of that specific band. I always carry blanks just in case.

Knowing he had a distaste for all things Them, I timidly made my request very clear: I preferred this tab be for one of their singles, so as not to have any issue or weirdness once face to face. I was assured this was not going to be a problem. Disbelief grew but there we were, together in that small room. Van pleasantly asked me which single I wanted it for, I said one by Them please, in essence asking yet again, was that ok. He responded. “Sure, which song?”

“Richard Corey”.

“Okay, do you know what was on the B side, because I can’t remember”.

“Yes, it’s ‘Don’t You Know’, at least on my US pressing”, in an effort to make clear that was the song title as opposed to a cheeky question directed to him.

He took the pen, leaned over the table where the blank tab lay, and again asked, so where do I write the song title, to which I pointed at the top of the tab. He scribbled his name, tossed, didn’t throw nor didn’t gently set down, the pen and strolled out of the room leaving his tour manager and I somewhat baffled, to which he rolled his eyes, shrugging his shoulders with a “he’s unpredictable” or something like that.

I was rather pleased though. The stories about his mere true. How fun. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve gotten to tell people about Van Morrison’s manners.

Jukebox Tab signed by Van Morrison (above).

But they say every cloud has a silver lining. And it applies here.

Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames were Van Morrison’s backing band during this visit. They even were afforded a three song solo spot mid show whereby they performed ‘Yeh, Yeh’, ‘Get Away’ and ‘The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde’. Let me tell you, this surprise was an unexpected treat for many in the house besides me. Even before meeting up with Van, I was already plotting to find Georgie Fame later for an autographed tab request, which turned out most simple given he was in the very next dressing room. My only concern being, not having had a clue prior he was part of the lineup, I hadn’t prepared myself with B side info. Nonetheless, I proceed.

Georgie Fame was jovial and kindly, excitedly even, agreed to do the autograph on the spot, all smiles asking which song I’d like. ‘Yeh Yeh’ was honestly in my jukebox then, still is, and man does it sound terrific through those tube amps and speakers by the way. But I admitted, I wasn’t sure about the B side.

“No problem mate. It’s ‘Preach & Teach’, at least in England it was.”

Wow, Georgie Fame actually knows his releases all the way back. And he was right. ‘Preach & Teach’ is was.

A solid fifteen minute conversation began, him happily pouring out all kinds of stories about The Flamingo, The 100 Club, former manager Rik Gunnell and in full circle, his producer Denny Cordell, who by now had found us and had joined in. Once the two of them got going, well it was heaven.

Jukebox Tab signed by Georgie Fame (above).

The Alan Price Set

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

THE AMAZING ALAN PRICE / The Alan Price Set:

Side 1:

Listen: Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear / The Alan Price Set
Simon

Listen: Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo / The Alan Price Set
Hi-Lili,

Side 2:

Listen: I Put A Spell On You / The Alan Price Set
I

Listen: Iechyd-Da / The Alan Price Set
Iechyd-Da

THE AMAZING ALAN PRICE.

Speaking of amazing, it just doesn’t cease to, as they say, amaze me that on June 18, 1966, ‘I Put A Spell On You’ reached #1 at WLOF, Orlando Florida’s Top 40. Even before global warming, Orlando was one hot and sticky town that time of year.

But basically this record always reminds me of cold weather. You see my cousin Anne in London and I used to trade singles in the post. Actually, she stiffed me on a few, and I still regularly remind her of just that on the occasions when we speak. It’s a bit comical these days, but it wasn’t always. Stiffing me on a record swap creates a grudge decades long.

As a result of one of those successful fair exchanges though, I ended up with ‘I Put A Spell On You’ by the newly formed Alan Price Set. He was always my preferred member of The Animals, and so when departing to form his own more jazz influenced outfit, I became anxious for a copy. This was a few months earlier, when Winter still crippled upstate New York. Hence my connection with this record as a soundtrack to that season.

Of equal interest was the B side ‘Iechyd-Da’. Similar to The Graham Bond Organization’s ‘St. James Infirmary’ or anything from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers’ CRUSADE album, the single featured brass. That added component was then all the rage if you dug deep into the back pages of MELODY MAKER whereby reviews of live shows at Klooks Kleek and The Flamingo resided. Both were London all-nighter venues where my guess is, the air was sickly thick with smoke and the club rammed with liquor fueled servicemen getting belligerent regularly. Nonetheless they were still sharp enough to wander down Oxford Street or the specialty shops in London’s West End the next day buying just these type singles. That’s my dream anyway.

Each 7″ by The Alan Price Set from then forward was a no need to listen prior acquisition. I just wanted every last one upon release. And so when this EP recapped three recent A sides and the aforementioned signature ‘Iechyd-Da’ B side, I lost sleep until it arrived courtesy Anne, my dear sweet partially dependable UK cousin.

Tom Jones & The Squires

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

TOM JONES ON STAGE / Tom Jones & The Squires:

Side 1:

Listen: Bama Lama Bama Loo / Tom Jones & The Squires
Bama

Listen: I Can’t Stop Loving You / Tom Jones & The Squires
I

Side 2:

Listen: Lucille / Tom Jones & The Squires
Lucille

Listen: Little By Little / Tom Jones & The Squires
Little

During the 60′s, EP’s reached their commercial peak, even culminating in a UK EP Chart. In reality, most EP’s were usually twice the price of singles. Logically, they often included a couple of recent A sides. Still, given the price, the majority had small press runs and resulted in minimal sales. Some stores only stocked an EP when special ordered by customers, occasionally bringing in an extra copy or two for their inventory. Very few remained in print for more than six months often resulting in early scarcity.

For most 7″ fanatics like myself, these UK EP’s are pretty desirable. They have full color covers, often laminated, many with spine details and are generally replicas of larger 12″ LP counterparts, but in the much more manageable 7″ size.

Today begins a month long SO MANY RECORDS, SO LITTLE TIME EP spotlight, the 31 days of December, or something like like.

Decca were known to have some of their acts re-record hits and/or their more popular stage numbers in the studio, and coat them with canned audience cheers, thereby turning the sessions into live recordings. Technically, they were live versions, and quite frankly, these would have been equally exciting without the fake room sounds as an addition.

A perfect example being Tom Jones with his touring band The Squires. At heart, he was and is an incredible soul singer. Even then, a white vocalist who had the power, timbre and phrasing of a black voice got the British public wild. My bet is Tom Jones & The Squires would have been a damn good night out especially when his first successful single ‘It’s Not Unusual’ was rising his star, TOM JONES ON STAGE being the proof.

Chris Farlowe

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Listen: Air Travel / Chris Farlowe
Air

A perfectly beautiful late Sunday afternoon in London during November, for me means cold, damp and drizzly, with plenty of grey. It was one such day in ’07 that Roger Armstrong and I made our way to the long standing Agra Indian Restaurant on Whitfield Street just near the Warren Street tube station after a long day at his big wooden kitchen table, rigged up with a turntable, his 45 library room at arm’s reach, post that morning’s Record Fair on Great Portland Street.

Agra has been around for decades. By many standards, the place needs a proper remolding. Not by my standards though. A half step down off the sidewalk onto the tatty, sticky carpet, the main room complete with that old England smell would convince anyone the place has serious history. It’s too close to hundreds of historic music landmarks not to. Capitol Radio was just the other side of the tube, Jonathan King’s UK Records office on Warren at Whitfield, University College where David Bowie & The Lower Third, The Riot Squad and Timebox amongst so many others played, not to mention the square adjacent, the precise spot where The Syn did their photo shoot on the tarmac of Whitfield Place.

In addition, the food is great. Not all fusion fussy and overly decorated. Not decorated at all really, just old fashioned home style Indian. Despite being about two blocks from where I lived that summer ’73, it wasn’t until decades later that Roger introduced me to the place.

Upon our exit on that particular day, what better than to find Chris Farlowe at that very first table, right near the doorway, sitting in front of a spread fit for three people. Apparently, he lived with his Mom just down the block for years.

More history in the making, not unlike this miserably rare UK EP, released in ’66 off the back of his new found chart success on Immediate that summer. Assembled from the A and B sides of his only solo single for Decca plus two unreleased songs from the same time. That time by the way, was ’64. Seemingly lifetimes prior to said summer and sounding it too. Pretty interesting to hear how unblemished his voice was just those few years earlier.

Hedgehoppers Anonymous

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Listen: Stop Press / Hedgehoppers Anonymous
Stop

Quite possibly the very first copy of BILLBOARD I ever laid my eyes on had Hedgehoppers Anonymous’ ‘It’s Good News Week’ at #48 in the Hot 100. I know because still have that edition.

Mind you, those early copies of the magazine were life changing. For a youngster desperately obsessed with English music during the 60′s, this publication was a tsunami of joyous information and statistics. BILLBOARD enabled me to actually see Britain’s Top 50 singles chart on a weekly basis. And believe you me, I gunned my way to Smith’s Records after school every Friday to pour over the current week’s edition, and to pick up last week’s now worthless copy from Mrs. Smith herself. I was her chosen charity. I suppose it was me or the rubbish bin, all pre-recycling of course. I cringe to think how many copies were tossed. Regardless, a week old BILLBOARD was useless to even Mrs. Smith in Oneida, NY. The world moved fast back then as well.

Now I’d already seen mention of this band, as with many others, probably in TEEN SCREEN or 16 MAGAZINE. Those publications would all dedicate a page or two toward reprinted miniatures of the record companies’ new band 8×10′s. And Hedgehoppers Anonymous were one such. Their name was hard to forget, especially for this youngster’s unblemished hippocampus.

And so with great excitement, and desperate catch-up, ‘It’s Good News Week’ at #48 made me desperate for an airing. Fate and luck were on my side. Local Top 40 WNDR ran a weekly Tuesday night program, ‘Echoes Of England’, whereby they’d spin all the singles they didn’t, wouldn’t and/or couldn’t play in regular rotation. It’s how I first heard Them, Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville, The Applejacks, The Pretty Things and on this particular occasion, Hedgehoppers Anonymous.

Years, although not that many, later I discovered they were produced and guided by Jonathan King, a big favorite of mine then and now. I honestly don’t recall when I acquired ‘Stop Press’. I’m guessing ’74-ish. Back then I would buy records, via snail mail, from UK dealers out of the set sale pages of, I think, TROUSER PRESS. Whatever, it turned up in the post, most likely all of two weeks and $3.00 (including post) later and I truly loved it. A total package complete with Mick Tinsley’s black and white drizzly English minor key vocal melody and all the noisy drum/tambourine stuff. Properly tagged as percussion, the sound felt like a first to me. Why on earth had no one thought of using that racket prior?

‘Stop Press’ is by far the band’s best and most English record, at least by my not so humble standards.

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.

Eddie Holland / The Birds

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Listen: Leaving Here / Eddie Holland
Leaving

Bizarre thing this. ‘Leaving Here’ has to be the only song from the entire Motown machine’s output with literally a chorus so weak, you might even declare it has no chorus at all.

Despite seeming like a poor man’s ‘Fingertips’, I always loved the momentum and, I guess you could say, groove of this version, but was never ever able to sing it around the house.

Listen: Leaving Here / The Birds
Leaving

Along come The Birds, and as part of the British beat boom’s stampede to cover American Motown and soul records, wisely chose to tackle ‘Leaving Here’.

In the process, the band actually write a strong chorus, something that was never needed before, certainly not at Motown, and has probably never happened since. And they don’t even try claiming part of the publishing, which they would have deserved. Chalk it up to the innocence of youth, a weak manager or both I suppose.

Wilma Burgess

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Listen: When You’re Not Around / Wilma Burgess
When

I walked into the house after seeing Bassnectar earlier tonight at Terminal 5, and as much as I was wired beyond nuts from the relentless low, low, low end of the show’s live mix, my mood went unexpectedly gentle. Usually I’ll sleep a great show off, but tonight I just felt like a peaceful nightcap, and switched on the Seeburg, selecting one single blindly. The result couldn’t have been more perfect.

Enter Wilma Burgess. Producer Owen Bradley signed her as the potential successor to Patsy Cline back in ’64. As a result, we got some great singles from the two all through the decade.

Preceding k.d. Lang by a solid twenty years in battling her sexual preferences with a not so tolerant Country music business meant most of her records got very little airplay.

‘When You’re Not Around’ kept in character with her neutral genre lyrical song choices and was not a chart hit. In fact, it was the third of three flops, and almost ended her time with Decca until the fourth single, ‘Baby’ reached #7 in September ’65.

Wanda Jackson & The Party Timers

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Listen: A Girl Don’t Have To Drink To Have Fun / Wanda Jackson & The Party Timers
A

Fresh off a seven hour flight, my blood was sizzling to stop by the Brooklyn Record Riot at The Warsaw Theatre yesterday. Even I couldn’t believe I had the energy, but something was telling me: go, go. Sure enough, that little bell in my brain rang true. Despite being late in the day, around 4:30 and with the threat the place theoretically had been picked, as those of us possessed describe it, there were boxes of 45′s just waiting to be hoarded.

I’m speaking mainly of a fellow with hundreds of clean, still in the original company sleeves, most without a crease, early 60′s country promos, mostly Decca and Capitol. Country in the loosest sense that is, meaning the radio station from where they came clearly kept anything remotely associated with country, like former rockabilly greats whose stars had long ago faded as in Carl Perkins, bluesy bar room crying in your drink songs, guys influenced by the great guitar pickers, like Hoyt Axton, Leo Kottke and Albert Lee, to rock acts that dressed like farmers and called themselves tasty even then, such as Goose Creek Symphony, Joy Of Cooking, Joe Crane & The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils and The Grease Band.

Praise be, there were loads of gems. Fantastic Merle Haggard & The Strangers various red neck hater songs, Buck Owens & The Buckaroos, Sonny Burgess & The Southern Gentlemen, Ferlin Husky & The Hushpuppies and Conway Twitty 7′s. Chunks of Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells, Tammy Wynette, Dottie West, Brenda Lee, Wilma Burgess and even Patsy Cline singles, many in picture sleeves.

Amongst my favorite scores were a sizable stack of Wanda Jackson releases. Who can pass up anything by her, especially one titled ‘A Girl Don’t Have To Drink To Have Fun’, a #22 Country chart hit in ’67, from her flawless CREAM OF THE CROP album. I My feet barely touched the ground leaving despite being armloads of records heavier, yet a wallet only $25 lighter, the whole experience and especially this single, made my day.

The Cryin’ Shames

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Listen: I Don’t Believe It / The Cryin’ Shames
I

Never knew until recently that The Cryin’ Shames released anything other than their three Joe Meek produced UK Decca / US London singles during ’66 and ’67. “I Don’t Believe It’, from ’73, was a few generations later not only back then but even by today’s standards. My guess is the band’s singer, Charlie Crane, who produced this and is clearly the recording’s lead voice, used his group’s original name to attract even the slightest factor of recognition toward their comeback.

‘I Don’t Believe It’ is actually the record’s flip, and basically somewhat better than it’s topside. The mix could have taken this quite close to Northern Soul territory, but was just too off the mark for that possibility. It kind of approaches sonic disaster if truth be told. No one could miss the cheesy ‘Shaft’ wah-wah’s piercing out too loudly at :58. Simultaneously though, the messy mess has become a main attraction for me. I do love these early 70′s UK assembly line shlock 7′s, the kind issued regularly by British Decca especially. If someone had told me Junior Campbell produced this one in a blindfold test, I wouldn’t have blinked.

But out of jail free cards get issued when Charlie Crane’s involved, whose incredible vocal take immortalized his band’s ’66 version of The Drifters’ RnB hit, ‘Please Stay’ from ’61. Admittedly not achieving anywhere near the shimmer that Joe Meek got in his Holloway Road studio for both The Cryin’ Shames and Charlie Crane, it’s still impossible not to appreciate this guy’s voice.

Micky Moonshine

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Listen: Name It You Got It / Micky Moonshine
Name

My all time favorite Northern Soul compilation, unfortunately available only on CD, is UK Decca’s THE NORTHERN SOUL SCENE. It includes some true hits, and a whole bunch that sonically fit in, but probably weren’t originally very sought after. And through this very disc, I discovered more than a few all time favorite singles: Frankie & Johnny ‘I’ll Hold You’, The Eyes Of Blue ‘Heart Trouble’, Fearns Brass Foundry ‘Don’t Change It’, Clyde McPhatter ‘Baby You Got It’ and The Brotherhood Of Man ‘Reach Out Your Hand’ to name some, and most of which I’ve previously posted.

No surprise, ‘Name It You Got It’ comes in as a top choice as well. According to, I believe, Phil Smee’s excellent liner notes and packaging, Micky Moonshine was indeed the pseudonym of this fellow Chris Rainbow. ‘Name It You Got It’ being his only 7″, and, although never playlisted, apparently the record received a fair share of BBC Radio 1 airplay in ’74. With no resulting sales to speak of, the single was banished to the mark down bins until someone or other resuscitated it’s worthiness on the infamous Northern circuit, a very self celebrated scene of which I personally derive both musical pleasure and great amusement.

So much so was the demand that at one point, toward the end of ’75, Decca reissued the 7″ but mistakenly mispressed it’s A side, ‘Baby Blue’, on both sides of the initial run, despite correctly affixing A and B side labels. So buyers beware. Correct copies have ‘right way up’ inscribed next to the matrix number in the run off groove on the ‘Baby You Got It’ side. Therefore all ebay customers, better verify this tid bit with your seller.

The Creation

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

How Does It Feel To Feel / The Creation

Listen: How Does It Feel To Feel / The Creation
How

The Creation, undisputed masters of British psychedelia. Eddie Phillips is as stellar a guitarist as he is a songwriter. He wrote, or at least co-wrote, most, if not all of their original material. Plus he was the first to use a violin bow on the instrument, combining his mastery of feedback with scraping, screeching chaos to ultimate effect. Jimmy Page later brought the technique mainstream on ‘Whole Lotta Love’, but fairly, has always credited Eddie Phillips for the idea. It’s also widely documented that indeed he asked him to join Led Zeppelin as second guitarist.

They recorded two versions of ‘How Does It Feel To Feel’ in summer ’67. Oddly, this one specifically for the US market, apparently deeming the violin bowed manic version more suitable to American programmer. Huh? Nonetheless, it’s a super version and top single to own and cherish, which I do.

In ’01, The Creation finally made it to America, playing The Warsaw Theater here in New York. I had injured my leg, it was a very cold November night, none of my friends wanted to attend, so I struggled along alone. The pain vanished when the musty maroon curtain lifted and there were The Creation, looking weirdly not a day older than those pictures from back when, sharp haircuts, great colored shirts and pants, but not dressed too young for their age. Sorta like if today’s Paul Weller would tone his image down a bit. Huge Union Jack backdrop. Sounding so powerful, my jaw dropped. Everyone’s did.

Bob Garner, original bassist and then sometimes singer, now permanantly on lead vocal, executing the red and purple spray paint free form psychedelic graffiti routine during the closing song ‘Painter Man’. Truly worth the 34 year wait.

Afterwards, I did my jukebox tab signing routine, Eddie and Bob both filling one out (see below). Flattered, appreciative, friendly, talkative, great, great guys.

Little Steven brought them back a few years later for his Randall’s Island Festival. Still powerful. Still one of a kind.

Above: Jukebox Tabs signed by The Creation. Eddie Phillips (left), Bob Garner (right)

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.

Patsy Cline

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Listen: Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray / Patsy Cline
Three

Usually accurate, Wikipedia’s Patsy Cline singles discography is very incomplete. US Decca had more than one number series during the 50′s and 60′s, making them an impossible tool when attempting to organize their releases chronologically. Through the years, I’ve stumbled upon so many promo copies of her singles, and squirm a bit at the thought of them being out of order in my library, therefore deciding to sort these out once and for all, hitting Wikipedia as a reference. To be fair, it did help a bit, listing a few relevant titles through the years, thereby identifying some numerical logic, but overall it was glaringly patchy.

Meanwhile, the organizing turned into an extended Patsy Cline singles session. Scary how some of the earliest titles, from say ’55, sound so dated, way more hillbilly than country. All very primitive but still recorded meticulously, generally by Owen Bradley. Shocking too how many records she released without any success on either the Pop or Country charts. Other than one title in ’57, ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’(#2 Country, #12 Pop), it would be six years of chart failures until ‘I Fall To Pieces’(#1 Country, #12 Pop) began her string of hits.

‘Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray’, time frozen by both title and lyric, has weathered the years to become a classic, covered often and always included in various compilations and anthologies. Apparently a rather haunted person in real life, one of the few items recovered from the plane crash site was her “beloved Confederate Flag cigarette lighter which played ‘Dixie’”, making the song even more cryptic.

Jackie Lee & The Raindrops / Jacky

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Listen: There Goes The Lucky One / Jackie Lee & The Raindrops
There

Stumbled on this single early on, around ’74. I’d had plenty of radio station scores by then, with no idea there’d thankfully be many, many, many more to come in life. I don’t know of a better high to be honest. Probably similar to most other addictions, you’re always craving the next fix. Well it’s moments like finding a Jackie Lee & The Raindrops single in a healthy stack of dj 7′s that’ll keep you on the drool.

By then, I’d become completely familiar with parent label fonts and layouts, so easily spotted this release as being part of the London Records group. During the 60′s, London distributed loads of small labels, and some larger ones as well, like Deram or Hi.

Anything from London was primo by me, and often meant the act was UK based, given London was indeed the American arm of British Decca. True to form, Jackie Lee, although originally from Ireland, was by then living in England. That was close enough. ‘There Goes The Lucky One’ really sounded like a mix between girl group and late fifties doo wop, plus I wrongly believed the record was from ’65 or so. As it turns out, ’62 was it’s year of release and Jaylee appears to have been a custom imprint. Jackie Lee clearly had a friend high up in the US operation. A custom label and a picture sleeve in 1962, someone worked miracles at the yearly London/Decca confab.

Jim Palmaeri, one of my pals at Discount Records where I worked at the time, fell in love with this. He’d often borrow it for weeks on end, and I became militant about it’s return continually. Despite not having heard the record for years, the chorus suddenly popped into my head, and I was singing it aloud Friday night. Then a dreadful stomach pit formed. Where was the record? I’d been playing the American Jackie Lee’s ‘Baby, Do The Philly Dog’ and ‘The Duck’ just a few nights prior, but didn’t recall seeing it. Checking verified the worst. Jackie Lee & The Raindrops weren’t there between the other Jackie Lee and Leapy Lee. Fuck.

An even greater fear then entered my mind. Did I get the single back from Jim that crucial last time he borrowed it?

Hold on, I did get it back, remembering that during a trip to SXSW in the 90′s, I stumbled on an empty picture sleeve at the record collector’s show which, for years, was part of the annual convention. Upon returning to New York, I reunited the record with it’s sleeve, but hadn’t recalled seeing it since. So the remainder of Friday evening had me wandering about slightly agitated.

Saturday morning, returning home from some early junking with a few new scores to file, I settle in front of the shelves to start alphabetizing and what do I see halfway along the wall section containing the L’s but ‘There Goes The Lucky One’. The records had separated a bit down the line from Leapy Lee to reveal the misfiled Jackie Lee & The Raindrops single. A cold sweat of adrenaline waved over me, and then I could not play this record fast enough. All in all, a happy ending.

Listen: White Horses / Jacky
White

Now I was on a roll. I needed to know more about this single, and what do I discover but this Jackie Lee is indeed the same person who recorded ‘White Horses’ for Philips in ’68, as Jacky.

I had followed it’s chart ascension at the time, quite intrigued by both song title and artist. Plus I was a sucker for anything on Philips. When ‘White Horses’ eventually reached a UK # 10, I got nuts for a copy, a US pressing of which was miraculously scored at Walt’s Records on Salina Street, in their non-hit record rack banished to the back wall of the shop.

By now, I was mowing lawns, cleaning the hallways and foyer of a small apartment building every Thursday after school, plus working weekends at the Chittenango Thruway Restaurant, meaning my visits to Walt’s weren’t limited to one 7″ purchase any longer. ‘White Horses’ came back home in a stack that included The Hollies ‘Jennifer Eccless’, Scott Walker ‘Joanna’, The Small Faces ‘Lazy Sunday’, Grapefruit ‘Dear Delilah’ and The Love Affair ‘Rainbow Valley’.

Remembering facts for my chemistry tests: useless. Remembering details about records: piece of cake.

The Love Affair

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

LoveAffairSheSmilesSweetlyUKA, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

Listen: She Smiled Sweetly / The Love Affair
She

It’s happened hundreds of times through the years. Label takes chance on an act, issues a single or two with no results, then moves on. Same act gets another deal, sometimes only months later and blows up. Around this period, David Bowie bounced from label to label, Marc Bolan too, The Herd, a bunch of them. On the quick path were The Love Affair. Probably signed by Decca in-house blues expert Mike Vernon or assigned to him for production, a good cover choice (Jagger/Richards ‘She Smiled Sweetly’) was released almost simultaneously with The Rolling Stones’ own rendition from BETWEEN THE BUTTONS on February 10, 1967. By the end of the year, the band had moved on to CBS and that label’s debut ‘Everlasting Love’ entered the UK charts in the first few days of January ’68, ending up at #1. Someone had egg on their face, including me.

I was so excited to see a copy in a local department store, and without a penny in my pocket, I decided to shoplift it. Got caught, almost arrested. Threatened to call my folks, which they didn’t, but it did cure me of that one.

LoveAffairRainbowUKPSFront, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, CBS, Date

LoveAffairRainbowPS, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, CBS, Date

Listen: Rainbow Valley / The Love Affair
Rainbow

‘Everlasting Love’, like all their singles, was a cover, this one originally released by Robert Knight. Even U2 have taken a stab at it, but no one has one upped that version by The Love Affair.

The followup, ‘Rainbow Valley’, was just as powerful. In particular, it continued to make obvious the strength of lead vocalist Steve Ellis. I’m sure I’ve read many times that this patch of singles, all Top 10 in the UK, were indeed Steve Ellis with studio musicians, a persistant trend in the 60′s. Probably to great frustration, the calculated pop made the band member cringe but who can say.

LoveAffairDayWithoutUKA, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

LoveAffairDayWithoutUS, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

Listen: A Day Without Love / The Love Affair
A

New producer Mike Smith had a simple formula down, which with ‘A Day Without Love’, now included recording the songs of non-member, singer/writer Philip Goodhand-Tait.

LoveAffairBringingUSA, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

Listen: Bringing On Back The Good Times / The Love Affair
Bringing

What seemed to rub the more hip, progressive rock fan of the day wrong is exactly what attracted me to The Love Affair. Big, over the top productions, with loud brass and orchestration, almost Motown-esque, and a perfect showcase for that great Steve Ellis voice.

Sandy Denny

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Listen: John The Gun / Sandy Denny
John

Never made any bones about my fussy 7″ preferences: US and UK pressings only. Preferably promo, dj or demo copies.

Admittedly the runner up: Holland. In the 60′s, that lovely country’s record labels, particularly Dutch Decca, issued all their 45′s in picture sleeves. No exception. The Decca family singles took the cake, each one released in identically laid out designs, changing only the one or two color print frame parameters, logically swapping in titles, artists and matching black and white photos of the act specific to that particular release.

Said picture sleeve tradition spilled over into the 70′s too. As a result, Sandy Denny’s scheduled, but later cancelled, UK 7″ of ‘Like An Old Fashioned Waltz’ made it’s way to market in the land of great bakeries and hash brownie coffee bars.

Fast forward to the twentieth century. I end up assisting Dutch band Kane put together an album, and as a result, make brotherly bonds with group leaders Dennis and Dinand, not to mention their superior, and prettier, better halves, Karen and Lucy. Life’s journey can be a wonderful thing.

So on a recent trip, Dennis drives me on his bike, seriously, I’m the passenger on the back seat of his fucking bicycle, whisking through the streets of Amsterdam. I can be strong about things like this, but I’m not Hercules. Hence, it was a bit like ROBOCOP or something. Well suddenly, my eye catches a record/junk shop, so I insist he stops for a quick look. I could feel the place calling my name.

Five minutes later, I emerge with the above record, just stoked beyond belief at my discovery of it’s existence and the acquisition. Hey, I was in a state, and I gladly paid like 2 million guilders or some such amount for it, which probably boils down to $5 dollars, hopefully.

Never did I think I’d have a copy of ‘John The Gun’ from her much earlier, and debut, solo album, THE NORTH STAR GRASSMAN AND THE RAVENS’ on a 7. Like all Sandy Denny fans, I drooled in anticipation at the re-recording she had done with Fotheringay for their second, but shelved, album. This was a partial, and temporary band aid.

I suppose by now, that redone version has been scrapped from the bowels of unreleased tracks to contribute towards that nineteen cd Sandy Denny box set issued recently. God knows, who can afford both the cost and time for it. Me, I have no cd’s, no player, not even a computer with a disc drive. So Universal could have just issued it on a hula hoop, would have done me about as much good as the promo copy I got in the mail.

But I do love my 7″, complete with it’s near edible, luxurious pink inner sleeve.