Archive for the ‘Joe Cocker & The Grease Band’ Category

The Move / Jimmy Miller

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Listen: Blackberry Way / The Move
Blackberry

Certainly one of my favorite singles ever, I dare say one of the greatest records ever released. Fact not opinion.

The recent BBC documentary, THE JOY OF THE SINGLE spotlighted ‘Blackberry Way’ as just that for a teenage Holly Johnson, who relived a long walk to and from a nearby record shop, whereby The Monkees’ ‘(Theme From) The Monkees’ wasn’t available. In fact, that track was never issued on a 7″ when current, luckily. The shop clerk talked him into the latest release by The Move instead, a sale amongst many that would have contributed toward the record reaching #1 on the UK charts.

The program was another in a long list of reminders that pulling out a copy of ‘Blackberry Way’ and letting it play on repeat was yet again, a solid hour well spent in my house.

Along with high school pals Denny and Mark, I sent off to England for copies of this pre-release. We wanted it shipped day one. God knows how we’d hear about these records sentenced to teen life in upstate New York, but we did. In fact, our crowd were so into The Move that there was no messing about by this, the release of their sixth single. And one titled ‘Blackberry Way’, heaven help us, we knew it’d be stunning. I can vividly remember opening that cardboard mailer and playing it for the first time. Stunning doesn’t do the song justice.

Years later, employed in Elektra’s A&R department meant a constant search for new signings and a resulting schedule of meetings with everyone from managers, agents, lawyers and occasionally, name UK record producers with their newest projects. Through the years Gus Dudgeon, Don Arden, Jonathan King, Stuart Colman, Malcolm McLaren, Wayne Bickerton, Hugh Padgham or Shel Talmy might book in while passing through New York. On one occasion, I got a call requesting some time for Jimmy Miller.

His visit was not going to be wasted on me. I was only too keen, as was usually the case, to talk about the less travelled topics covered by most fellow A&R reps, in this instance his more obscure British productions, of which The Move was one. Turns out, he was always happy to recount his histories, including a well repeated run down of that period with The Rolling Stones. But my curiosity in The Move brought out a unexpected tale, all presented with the enthusiasm of a kid.

For starters, ‘Blackberry Way’ was the only song he ever recorded with them, and then just sitting in for the band’s usual producer, Denny Cordell. The details were rather simple and verify the often documented flying by the seat of their pants 60′s music industry. Denny and he were co-workers at Straight Ahead Productions, to whom The Move were signed. Denny was double booked on a session with Joe Cocker & The Grease Band and asked Jimmy to cover for him with The Move. These details, to be clear, were laughingly verified by Denny years later.

As a result, the band’s only UK #1 was produced, not by the guy who worked with them on every other track prior, but by his pal in the next office. A jovial recollection actually.

So as Jimmy Miller sat across from me recounting these details for the first time in my office on the 20th floor of the Warner Brothers building, I pulled out the above copy for an autograph, which seriously pleased him to no end.

Patto

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Listen: Mummy / Patto
Mummy

It’s not my ordinary form to write up a B side ahead of the A side, but in this case….

‘Mummy’ is clearly meant as a tasteless joke, and not really representative of Patto’s diverse musicality but it is a riot. It’s so sick, so twisted, I couldn’t help but love the record from first play. I would spin it on my college station constantly and always got nasty calls from mommy’s boys, pining for a home cooked meal and a hug.

When it comes to ‘Mummy’, I felt the same then as I do now. If you don’t completely love this, fine. But indeed if that’s the case, please do leave this blog now and never return. You are not wanted here.

Listen: Singing The Blues On Reds / Patto
Singing

Still reading? Good. Hopefully all the riff raff are gone.

‘Singing The Blues On Reds’ is much closer to the typical Patto groove, although a bit more straight blues rock than usual. I would guess it to be intentional on the band’s part, given the subject matter: tongue in cheek overview of white, drugged up rock band singing blues numbers on tour. Edited down from the 4+ minute album version, someone at Island smartly chopped out the last chorus’s lyric “screwing in hotel beds”. (All the other choruses: “sleeping in hotel beds”).

Didn’t matter, US radio wouldn’t play it anyways. I know you are not surprised. Me neither.

Nonetheless, Patto were brilliant, amazing, whatever the word is, on the American tour with Joe Cocker & The Grease Band / Mark – Almond, to promote ROLL ‘EM, SMOKE ‘EM, PUT ANOTHER LINE OUT, from which both sides of this hideously obscure, US only single came.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Listen: Debora / Tyrannosaurus Rex
Debora

Never will I forget the sight of this first US single by Tyrannosaurus Rex. Their name was so foreign at the time, completely intimidating to all, particularly US programers. Yes, they were full of reasons back then to keep adventurous music off the airwaves too. Add to that the band’s warlock folk, as one reviewer called it. He couldn’t have conjured up a more tempting challenge.

A&M never did release either their first nor second album in the US when current, just this lone 7″, ‘Debora’.

The Los Angeles label had a deal with Regal Zonophone out of the UK, or maybe it was directly with Denny Cordell’s and Tony Secunda’s production company, Tarantula. Basically, the arrangement covered US representation for their UK artists: Procol Harum, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, The Move and Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The latter two benefiting only from singles being issued in the US, and in the case of Tyrannosaurus Rex, just this one. WOUR were only too glad to have me cart their copy out of the building. That bunch literally had no clue. Bless their studipity.

Listen: Ride A White Swan / Tyrannosaurus Rex
Ride

What seemed like a generation later actually was one short year. Their third and fourth albums, UNICORN (’69) and A BEARD OF STARS (’70) were near perfect, still as exhilarating today as then. By this time, Bob Krasnow had picked up the band for his Blue Thumb label. He released both albums in quick succession plus ‘Ride A White Swan’ almost immediately after A BEARD OF STARS.

Although still using the full Tyrannosaurus Rex moniker in the US, Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrin-Took had officially shortened their name to T. Rex elsewhere, coinciding with their full on electric and pop path, not unlike Bob Dylan’s gear shift with BLONDE ON BLONDE, bar a name change to B. Dylan.

Almost simultaneously, Bob, as in Krasnow, joined Warner Brothers Records’ A&R department, bringing T. Rex with him. The rest is history.

Leon Russell

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Listen: Roll Away The Stone / Leon Russell LeonRussellStone.mp3

Despite Denny Cordell cutting his teeth during the 60′s as producer of The Moody Blues, The Move, Beverley and Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, he seemed to take a nasty turn in the period that immediately followed. He set up shop in Los Angeles, forming Shelter Records. Other than issuing a few reggae singles in the States for Chris Blackwell (The Maytals, The Wailers), Denny pretty much shifted gears musically. To this Anglophile, he betrayed his own greatness, suddenly producing and/or releasing super Americana stuff like Phoebe Snow, JJ Cale, Mudcrutch…..and Leon Russell.

I despised everything about Leon Russell. I hated his country boogie blues singalongs, his clothes, his grey hair – every last thing about him. Mind you, I was hard core pro England. The Kinks were the ultimate, Glam was preferred, I was not a believer.

Isn’t it crazy how one’s tastes can change, or in my case, grow. Man, was I wrong about Denny and Shelter. Fast forward a decade, and I’m jonesing for every last act on that roster, catching up on filling in the record collection with the Shelter singles.

Leon Russell’s history ran way deeper than I originally knew, back to Phil Spector’s Philles days where he led his house band, and he performed in the TAMI show and was a regular on SHINDIG and….and….and. Check the writer’s credits on some of those Phil Spector B sides: Leon Russell. Seemingly overnight, I needed everything attached to his long, long discography of contributions.

Well there aren’t many things I like more than a UK A&M A label. All the busy conflicting fonts, the bright yellow label, the red ‘A’ and the onslaught of release date/time/publisher info (Reminder: click on any of the records pictured to enlarge). It became a quest to get all Denny Cordell / Shelter via UK A&M 7′s. Took years but now pretty much complete. One of the first to be issued back on the old 700 series: ‘Roll Away The Stone’.

Do you think Mott The Hoople ever listened to Leon Russell?

Mark – Almond / Johnny Almond Music Machine / Jon-Mark

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

markalmondwhat,Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon - Mark

Listen: What Am I Living For / Mark – Almond MarkAlmondWhatAmILiving.mp3

markalmondcityusa, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon-Mark

Listen: The City / Mark – Almond MarkAlmondTheCity.mp3

I was lucky enough to see one of the early shows John Mayall did in support of his then brand new album TURNING POINT, basically himself, Jon Mark, Johnny Almond and Steven Thompson. A fantastic drumless lineup – so different at the time. If you have the album, well the live show was exactly the same. A perfect evening.

Always on the move musically, John Mayall soon reinvented himself, possibly due to the formation of Mark – Almond. They too, were a super good act live. Several of the songs from their first two albums on Bob Krasnow’s Blue Thumb label were progressive radio staples, including ‘The City’. It was frankly shocking to hear it on a JetBlue flight recently via their Sirius radio feed. It had been years since that came out of any radio. Got to hand it to Sirius, they play a lot of great stuff.

Learn something everyday: I was completely sure ‘What Am I Living For’ had charted, even peaking in 30′s/40′s on Billboard’s Top 100. Not so. Never even entered. I heard it often as a current during the summer of ’72. It was a high point of the live show as well.

Mark – Almond double billed often with plain and simple guitar bands during their 4-5 year run. Despite the company, every audience listened and appreciated their undeniable musical superiority. Jon Mark, the consummate acoustic, 12 string player, with Johnny Almond at his side, swaying to the music, eyes closed. His seemingly euphoric state took up almost as much stage time as his playing, which by the way, was superb.

jalmonduka, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon-Mark

jalmondusa, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon-Mark

Listen: Solar Level / Johnny Almond Music Machine JohnnyAlmond.mp3

Prior to the John Mayall association and subsequent Mark – Almond period, Johnny Almond made a few albums for Deram’s jazz leaning long player roster (along with the likes of Henry Lowther, The John Cameron Quartet and The Mike Westbrook Orchestra). All highly desirable now, primarily for their sampling potentials, it’s interesting to think that the label would actually release singles from said endeavors, which even more oddly, I ended up liking a lot.

jonmarknightcomesdownukb, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon - Mark

jonmarkus, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon-Mark

Listen: Night Comes Down / Jon-Mark JonMarkNightComes.mp3

Jon Mark, in fact, started years earlier, playing guitar on various Marianne Faithfull singles, like ‘Come And Stay With Me’ and ‘Summer Nights’. It was during that period (’65) that he too recorded a version of the Shel Talmy written ‘Night Comes Down’, which I post a few days back by The Mickey Finn in a much more psychedelicized style.