Archive for the ‘Epic’ Category

Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band

Monday, April 11th, 2016

ZootWillie, Zoot Money, Decca

Listen: The Uncle Willie / Zoot Money ZootWillie.mp3

If you ever see the double LP, HARD UP HEROES, do yourself a favor, buy immediately. Released on UK Decca in ’74, the compilation is a proper collection of their deep 60′s catalog, mostly gritty blues leaning acts, and packaged beautifully. It was here that I first heard ‘The Uncle Willie’.

As with other tracks by The Graham Bond Organization, Alexis Korner, Them, The Birds and John Mayall, it epitomized what I imagined the seedy clubs of London’s Soho to sound like. I’ll never know, but bet I’m right.

Zoot Money already had his Big Roll Band rolling by then. For whatever reason, their moniker was left off the label copy, but their signature sound was sure there to be heard. Man, did I want to own this single from that first listen. Took me a few years, but I got it. Just as expected, the audio on the 7″ was even more authentic than the LP pressing, which in original mono, sounded pretty great already.

Years later, like thirty or so, a live cd from The Flamingo was issued. This band was clearly full and exciting live, as their rendition of ‘The Uncle Willie’ proved.

ZootBigTime, Zoot Money, Epic

Listen: Big Time Operator / Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band ZootBigTime.mp3

Pretty sure it was 2003, the Maximum Rhythm & Blues Tour, a yearly-ish event, played The Royal Albert Hall, and by sheer luck, I was there for work. Jackie Hyde arranged not only tickets, but passes to the after show. As if having just watched Manfred Mann, with both Paul Jones and Mike D’Abo doing their respective hits, Chris Farlowe, The Alan Price Set and Colin Blunstone wasn’t enough, the post show bit was a corucopia of their musician friends from the 60′s. I’m sure there were guys milling about, by now unrecognizable, that would’ve been great jukebox tab scores, but who could tell.

Not the case with Zoot Money. You couldn’t miss him. Jovial and very approachable, he laid a bunch of Marquee stories my way and had no idea ‘Big Time Operator’ came graced with a picture sleeve in the US.

ZootJukebox, Zoot Money, Jukebox Tab

What a great guy to talk with, and pretty good memory too. Wanting a jukebox tab, I didn’t know the B side to ‘The Uncle Willie’, but he did.

Spirit

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Mechanical World / Spirit

Listen: Mechanical World / Spirit
Mechanical World / Spirit

Luckily, despite the revolution in stereophonic sound that was going hand in hand with the album format of 1968, most singles were still issued in mono. Such was the case for Spirit’s first release, on both the promo (listen above) and stock copies. ‘Mechanical World’ epitomized the dark side of the LSD generation, and defined late night radio. I always had fantasies of this and many tracks by The Doors being the soundtrack to driving through a pitch dark desert in the early hours. God knows why, I’d never even been to a desert. There wasn’t one near Syracuse although I certainly felt like I was growing up somewhere equally deserted, hence the possible connection in my brain.

I loved Spirit from the get go. They didn’t sound English which was a strict requirement, but thankfully they didn’t sound Americana either. Plus they looked good. LA bands tended to.

Spirit / I Got A Line On You

Listen: I Got A Line On You / Spirit
I Got A Line On You / Spirit

Somehow rather quickly, Spirit had a hit with their second 45, ‘I Got A Line On You’. It was welcomed. Their albums were great and hearing them on Top 40 radio made us all feel liberated. Things were pretty good on the airwaves. The Who and The Cream were getting some play, as were Big Brother & The Holding Company, Iron Butterfly and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. I was rather content.

Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit

Listen: Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit
Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit

‘Dark Eyed Woman’ was the lead track and first single from the difficult 3rd album CLEAR. Difficult (as a second album is known to be these days) because they’d had a hit despite the ‘album band’ and ‘live band’ habitat from which they came. Top 40 was developing it’s evil lack of loyalty way back then, and ‘Dark Eyed Woman’ didn’t get much play. But FM radio, much like today’s Sirius satellite stations, made up for it. Touring in support of it’s release, I finally got to see the band live. Despite how fantastic they were, and believe me, fantastic is putting it mildly, I was reeling from the support act that night (October 19, 1969): The Kinks.

It was The Kinks first US tour after the three year musician’s union ban. They had just released ARTHUR, much of which they played along with tracks from THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Death Of A Clown’ and ‘Til The End Of The Day’, their opening song. Jawdropping. I walked out of the venue never to be the same again.

I digressed, sorry.

1984 / Spirit

Listen: 1984 / Spirit
1984 / Spirit

Spirit released ’1984′, a non LP single, next. This was not a common move in the day. Still, it’s forever attached to Spirit’s CLEAR era, being of same time period. Actually, ’1984′ only ever appeared on LP once BEST OF SPIRIT was issued years later. The year 1984 seemed an eternity away on release and the record contributed to a political and ecological slant the band had taken from inception. Remember ‘Fresh Garbage’ from that first album?

Animal Zoo / Spirit

Listen: Animal Zoo / Spirit
Animal Zoo / Spirit

Many rightfully consider the original lineup’s fourth and final album, THE TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS, to be their art rock pinnacle. At least I read something to that effect recently. The two singles released from it are seminal. In fact the first, ‘Animal Zoo’, came out seemingly months prior to the album. I swiped it from a local album rock station whose late night dj occasionally let me visit. I honestly don’t remember their call letters, and he was a rather unpleasant know-it-all. I once recall him adamantly arguing with me about Humble Pie, claiming all their members, instead of just one, were from The Small Faces (wrong) and that none were from The Herd or Spooky Tooth (wrong), which I desperately tried to point out as incorrect for his benefit. He wasn’t having it, his loss. Nonetheless, I would tolerate him to get the records.

Mr. Skin / Spirit USA

Listen: Mr. Skin / Spirit
Mr. Skin / Spirit

This became mine one summer night’s visit a month or so later, along with the Juicy Lucy, Sea Train and Vivian Stanshall singles.

The Hollies

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Listen: Jennifer Eccles / The Hollies
Jennifer

What on earth was Graham Nash thinking? Leaving this band?

Seems every once in a while, some visiting UK group lost a member to the lure of the Los Angeles folk contingent. None of that soft rock ever appealed to me, not to mention their unkept and drab dress sense. But probably in the 60′s, the modern living, mid-century designs that still prevail to this day were so magnetic, who could resist champagne bubble wall dividers, sparkle ceilings and aqua kitchens.

I can’t quite recall when he actually made the move, seems around ’68. Still somehow, The Hollies vocal sound didn’t really change. Not to my ears.

US radio were always very fickle when it came to their records. The wise man’s “be happy with life’s small pleasures” slogan applied here, and at least The Hollies got some airtime. I even recall, shortly after their switch to Epic, with ‘Carrie Anne’ going Top 10, former label Imperial re-released ‘Pay You Back With Interest’ as a 7″. It too got on the air, eventually charting in BILLBOARD (#28).

Luckily, all of the band’s records were played regularly on the upstate New York stations. Even WNDR, the most commercial Top 40 in Syracuse stayed loyal. ‘I’m Alive’ sounded massive over my little orange transistor, and ‘Jennifer Eccles’ was everywhere airwaves-wise during the Spring of ’68. Right there next to my other successful radio request line missions: The Small Faces ‘Lazy Sunday’, Grapefruit ‘Elevator’ and The Scaffold ‘Thank You Very Much’. Oh, and Madeline Bell too.

Johnny Paycheck

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Listen: Take This Job And Shove It / Johnny Paycheck
Take

Never predicted it might happen but nowadays am finding myself intrigued by occasional styles of older country music. Other than all the 50′s and 60′s females, and the 70′s too I guess, I never did get hooked by many of the male singers. Similar to my early interest in soul, it was the female voice that grabbed me most.

So not counting the odd contradiction to the above, I find Outlaw Country as it seemed to be coined, hugely entertaining. And in the case of Johnny Paycheck, even more so. Probably not by design, but turns out he actually lived it. All the elements a trashy made for TV documentary would require apply: alcohol, drugs, divorce, problems with the IRS, guns and jail.

I couldn’t resist this trailer trash icon and his accompanying take on David Allan Coe’s trailer trash anthem ‘Take This Job And Shove It’.

If anybody has some preferably harsher, post Rockabilly, demented hillbilly recommendations, bring them on.

The Vibrators

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Listen: We Vibrate / The Vibrators
We

Not only did Mickie Most have probably the greatest name ever, he was unmatched as a record producer for many years. Listen to the way he weaves and mixes the instruments on Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ or how he recaptures Joe Meek’s haunting, other worldliness on Kim Wilde’s ‘Kids In America’. The story of his life and his list of production achievements is fascinating.

A consistently under mentioned work for him seems to be The Vibrators ‘We Vibrate’. Released on his RAK Records imprint, as with most of the label’s product, he produced. 100% devoid of studio polish, instead the value of how this single was recorded and approached is all about their stage sound. It’s easy to see how this early punk record was a direct descendant of The Arrows and Suzi Quatro before them, both on RAK and both his productions. The band sounded exactly like this live. I know, Corinne and I got to see them at Dingwall’s in early ’77. I want to say Chris Spedding was on stage, but honestly can’t recall.

They were about to sign with Epic and make a great debut album, apparently their RAK deal being only a one off 7″. Their followup single and first for the new label, ‘Baby Baby’ / ‘Into The Future’ came really close, but somehow didn’t quite surpass ‘We Vibrate’.

Lulu

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Listen: The Boat That I Row / Lulu
The Boat That I Row / Lulu

Mickie Most: producer. Mickie Most: never a moniker more perfect.

This guy’s name framed a 60′s pop music producer with total accuracy. Don’t know much about him, never got to meet. Yet his records from the ’66 – ’68 period really had a stamp. And the legacy continued into the 70′s, with his label RAK. But back to the 60′s….

Not sonically unlike Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ or ‘There Is A Mountain’, The Yardbirds’ ‘Goodnight Sweet Josephine and ‘Ten Little Indians’, as well Jeff Beck’s ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ and ‘Tally Man’, all of them Mickie Most productions, I’m guessing his secret was a magic wand chock full of studio compression. Not being an engineer, I can’t say for sure, but indeed there are similarities whereby certain instruments get maxed out in a most appealing way. Maybe that’s where a play on the word most, or Most, gets a little too clever. Sorry.

Seriously though, I do recall hearing ‘The Boat That I Row’ those first few times on my local Top 40. It was warm, springlike weather and wow, did this song jump right out of the sludge. I wanted Lulu to have a US hit for seemingly ages, and now, clearly, the moment had arrived.

Technically, this single reached #1 in the States, but oddly not as ‘The Boat That I Row’. Instead, the original B side, ‘To Sir With Love’ suddenly gained momentum, given the film had just successfully debuted in theaters and was on a tear. So radio stations flipped it, as it was referred to in those days, meaning they began playing the B side and shunning the A.

‘To Sir With Love’ scaled to that coveted #1 slot, but in my world, ‘The Boat That I Row’ was always the chart topper. I mean, it technically sat right there on the pointy part of the pyramid.

Super Furry Animals

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Listen: (Drawing) Rings Around The World / Super Furry Animals
(Drawing)

Do not adjust your sets. ‘(Drawing) Rings Around The World’ sounds distorted and sonically noisy. Don’t fret, it was meant to. Despite that minor issue, the song is so good, and as their show opener, so memorable, it’s pretty hard not to love it.

Back during summer 2001, Rob Stringer at Sony UK asked if I’d stay in London an extra day for Super Furry Animals’ record release party. It was a small do, a bunch of regional sales reps from across Britain were brought into London, food and drink offered up. The limited access, and a Friday dinnertime event meant most of the crowd were boringly annoyed at the interruption known as the band’s set, as opposed to excited fans thrilled at the privilege. For me, it was indeed a perfect opportunity to stand front and center, like being treated to a private rehearsal. As with the record, this live show opener haphazardly found it’s footing by transforming an initial tune up like chaos into a powerful groove and swing, dare I call it an unleashing. Yes, that’s what it was. Superb stuff.

RINGS AROUND THE WORLD was the band’s first album on Sony imprint Epic UK. The previous five years, parent company Sony had distributed Super Furry Animals’ releases through a deal with Creation Records. When Creation founder Alan McGee had had enough of running the label, most of the bands moved onto the corporation’s various imprints.

Rob was logically looking for a US partner, and as much as I loved that album, Columbia was just a poisonous place populated by clueless leadership when it came to music with such culture and class. It would have ended in tears. So I passed, and I suppose Rob never forgave me.

Never mind, got what bordered on an audience with the Queen, and a limited 7″.

The Tremeloes

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Listen: Helule Helule / The Tremeloes
Helule

The fifth single in a multi year run of pretty flawless releases that lasted through the early 70′s. By then, The Tremeloes could always be depended on to come up with one or two undeniables: ‘Me And My Life’, ‘(Call Me) Number One‘.

Due to those high charting records, the occasional “too pop” comment got attached to this band quite unfairly. But ‘Helule Helule’ particularly proved them serious players as well as hit makers. This sounded so good on the air that springtime when released. I recall hearing it a lot for a few weeks, around the same time as The Small Faces’ ‘Lazy Sunday’ and Grapefruit’s ‘Elevator’ were out. The record seemed to be a payola casualty, lack of, basically. Still baffling how the powerhouse of Epic Records let this band dwindle off the airwaves in the US. Crime.

The Third Rail

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Listen: Run, Run, Run / The Third Rail
Run,

Never mind what the label copy indicates. This one’s less than two minutes long. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when converting the vinyl to a file for the post. Memory never recalled ‘Run, Run, Run’ as being that short. Must be the tempo change / middle bridge breakdown, a flower power 101 production trick during ’67. Every respectful, as well, confused producer used that ace card to authenticate their psychedelic masterpieces. The passage certainly gave subliminal symphony dynamics to “Run, Run, Run’, even implying a longer playing time. Plus it comes only :45 in. Nowadays, the first chorus hook sometimes doesn’t even hint at existing before the :60 mark.

As a kid, the lyrical stock exchange mock up went completely over my head, and I bet it was not mine alone. That era required a song’s message be current and political. Not many years later, those of-the-moment lyrics bit everyone on the back, turning their punch lines into quick sell by dates, and now makes for historical place marking.

To be fair, ‘Run, Run, Run’ didn’t need lengthening. It’s the perfect gem exactly as it stands. You can really hear the profound influence guys like Gary Usher and especially Brian Wilson, even more precisely ‘Good Vibrations’, had on west coast bands, songs, arrangements and productions. The clean and colorful clarity of lysergic acid was ever present.

‘Run, Run, Run’ was yet another audio sugar lump journeying confidently down the summer of love conveyor belt. As mentioned in other posts, these records were everywhere that year. And every single one a keeper.

Sailor

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Listen: Glass Of Champagne / Sailor
Glass

An almost religious combination of then current Roxy Music and as well, Sparks signature keyboard style, Sailor’s ‘Glass Of Champagne’ made it to #2 during December ’75 in the UK, most likely because it was hard to avoid instant addiction to the song’s commercial synth heroin.

Predating acid house daytime pop by easily fifteen years, the well produced, major label, manufactured sound of Sailor was not a problem in my world. Along with Chicory Tip from two years prior, and a few others, the eventual demise of guitar rock found it’s early footing in hits like this.

Producer Rupert Holmes has become a bit of an unsung hero. I just never hear him being credited when the mainstream print media are celebrating themselves and others, you know like yearly Q Awards and things. Seems they always honor groundbreaking producers, but I don’t recall Rupert Holmes ever getting a look. Hey, he produced Sparks’ BIG BEAT album, which includes some of their best material. That alone makes anyone with more.

Having just succeeded the previous year (’74) with his own solo album on Epic, I wonder did he usher Sailor on to Epic or did the label see a fit between he and the band? Regardless, it worked.

Sailor and ‘Glass Of Champagne’ have shrugged off all the dismissive poo-pooing over the years. In fact, I heard it being used last summer on a UK TV commercial for Marks & Spencer. Wow, did it grab you instantly. Don’t care if it’s thirty years old, a hit’s a hit’s a hit.

The Spin Doctors

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Listen: Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong / Spin Doctors
Little Miss Can't Be Wrong / Spin Doctors

I recall when The Spin Docotrs were drawing record crowds at Wetlands, located in what eventually became a very trendy part of New York: Tribeca.

The club had an out of character for New York City aura. Between the decor and general booking policy, it could have just as easily been in Nashville, but we all loved the place. Walter Durcaz was resident dj, and he would play the most unexpected, and therefore, wonderfully satisfying records. I’d go early, just to sip beer and listen to his choices. Things like The Keef Hartley Band’s ‘Roundabout’ into Cal Tjader ‘Soul Sauce’ then seamlessly segueing Dr. John’s ‘Jump Sturdy’ straight into Juicy Lucy ‘Who Do You Love’. Flawless journeys every time.

Due to their early origins with jam bands, The Spin Doctors were never hip, in a downtown way. I recall when Frankie LaRocca signed them to Epic. Despite all the other folks in the A&R community quietly trying to do the same, once it was decided Epic would be their home, those same folks suddenly wanted the band to fail, basically turning their hipster noses in the air towards The Spin Doctors. This, by the way, was a rather common reaction to every bidding war conclusion, another thing of the now powerless major label world was guilty of in their day.

But if you ever saw The Spin Doctors, in their original classic ’89 lineup, there’s no way you could not have become a fan. Blistering players, a non-stop happy energy and many, many great songs. Most never seeing the light of day, when it came to official releases that is.

‘Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong’ had a hint of The Georgia Satellites during those solos, but it was the Jimi Hendrix style riffs and tones throughout the body of the song that has placed this top of the list amongst The Spin Doctors’ 7′ singles section in the SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME Hall Of Fame.

Terry Reid

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Listen: Stay With Me Baby / Terry Reid
Stay With Me Baby / Terry Reid

Other than ‘Better By Far’, a preview to BANG BANG YOU’RE TERRY REID, his first album, no further UK singles were issued from that or the even better followup, TERRY REID. Mickie Most was not only producing, but managing, if you can call it that.

Never got to meet Mickie Most, but had that opportunity occurred, inquiring into the lack of Terry Reid singles would have been the first words spoken. He’d have hated me pretty quickly, because I’m still steaming about it and probably would’ve remained unsatisfied despite his reply. Very obnoxious indeed, given the many terrific records he produced, most of which I own. Truthfully, I certainly would have behaved, shown respect. After all, there’d have been a lot to talk about and who the fuck am I compared to Mickie Most?

In the States, Terry Reid was the opening act for The Cream in ’68, and then The Rolling Stones on their ’69 tour. By that time, said classic second album, TERRY REID, was out. Epic had enough sense to pull a few tracks off the record and press up 7′s, if only to focus the underground disc jockeys, as they were known, toward the more obvious airplay choices.

‘Stay With Me Baby’ could’ve taken off, so give it a 7″ kickstarting chance. Why not? A mid chart hit (#64 in ’66) for Lorraine Ellison, the Jerry Ragovoy song (although wrongly credited on the label copy here to members of Savoy Brown, they too had a then current song titled ‘Stay With Me Baby’) seemed purposely written for Terry Reid’s voice.

Live, it was so powerful, almost frightening, a career moment, a show stopper.

Listen: Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace / Terry Reid
Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace / Terry Reid

He never did play near my home in upstate New York when I was a youngster. He seldom played the States at all really. After those initial two albums came out and miraculously underperformed, it was a few years before he ventured back. By then, the crazy teenager in me decided I could wait no more, and hitchhiked to NYC summer ’73, seeing him at Central Park’s Wollman Skating Rink during their yearly Schaefer Music Festival summer concert series. My lord, what a lineup that series had. It’s hard to read quickly, you’ll need to go slow.

Yes, I hitchhiked from Syracuse, along the New York State Thruway. No money in my pocket to speak of, about $30. And nowhere to stay after the show, I hadn’t even thought about that part. Post concert, I made my way down to The Village Oldies. They were open until 2am, stocked up on 25ยข unsleeved promo 45′s, had some pizza, then it was time to head back. Almost can’t believe I did it. My folks were in a true panic. Wow, crazy stuff. I should be dead, instead I was possessed, 45′s under one arm, the other with a thumb out along the West Side Highway.

Terry Reid played all the classics that night. The addicted amongst us were foaming up front, dangerously freaking out, like the messiah had arrived. There were moments, like during ‘Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace’ when I could’ve sworn he had. Terry Reid was that incredible.

Jeff Beck

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck

Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck

Listen: Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck
Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck

From all reports, Jeff Beck hates these records. Shame. But I do wish I’d seen him perform them, as he must’ve done for a brief time just prior to recording and touring TRUTH.

Saw him a few years back at Roseland. His playing superb, and from where I was, he looked almost the same as when with The Yardbirds. Slim, no change in haircut, frozen in time. That show was way better than I remember The Jeff Beck Group being years prior. I was so disappointed that he didn’t play these two singles that night in 1969. We’d hitch hiked all the way to The Fillmore for the show, a bluesy metal jam instead of the clean English group sound we’d expected, based mainly on these two solo singles.

As with ‘Night Of Fear’ by The Move, the first time I heard ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ was via American Bandstand’s Rate A Record segment. My trusty tape recorder Tivo’ d the moment, 1967 style.

Tallyman / Jeff Beck

Listen: Tallyman / Jeff Beck
Tallyman / Jeff Beck

A ‘Tallyman’ highlight was the nice double tracked guitar solo, as well as his fills through to the end. Not to mention the vocals, which must really make him cringe. I don’t think he ever sang again actually.

Ronnie Spector & The E Street Band

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Above and below: Ronnie Spector & The E Street Band ‘Say Goodbye To Hollywood’ picture sleeve, front and back

Listen: Say Goodbye To Hollywood (Mono) / Ronnie Spector & The E Street Band
Say Goodbye To Hollywood / Ronnie Spector & The E Street Band

Matt recently told me of his experience discovering The Ronettes via Pandora Radio, just a few weeks back. It was his first exposure. I often refer to certain vocalists, like Ronnie Spector, as being from a time period when one had to really sing in order to make records. That technical ability resonated, and upon hearing ‘Be My Baby’ during Pandora’s random, computer logic song choice playlist, got up to check the LED read out. His story concluded with an exclamation of her undeniable singing abilities, and now knowing exactly what I meant.

Every once in a while, along comes a superstar to the rescue of an idol, feeling more than indebted to said legend. Such was the case in ’77 for Ronnie Spector, with Little Steven Van Zandt (using his beyond brilliant alias Sugar Miami Steve) and Bruce Springsteen getting involved.

Recording and releasing Billy Joel’s apparent Ronnie Spector tribute song, ‘Say Goodbye To Hollywood’, as the first single (posted above in promo only mono) from the forthcoming album (Epic PE 34683), a benchmark moment in 45 rpm history occurred. Lending The E Street Band’s entire line-up, signature sound (the group an obvious Phil Spector salute themselves) and services to her avail, a flop seemed clearly impossible. Not.

Leave it to US radio. No airplay was deemed worthy, despite the clout of Bruce Springsteen, Epic, Billy Joel, you name it. What a sacrilegious scar to every programmer involved.

Typically, in major label fashion, that forthcoming album (Epic PE 34683) was shelved, and back to the salt mines/oldies circuit went Ronnie Spector, frustratingly having made yet another timeless single and earning nothing. How fucked up.

The Tremeloes

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Listen: (Call Me) Number One / The Tremeloes TremeloesCallMe.mp3

Never liked Liverpool bands. No, that’s wrong. Never liked Merseybeat. I may be mixing up adjectives here though. Sorry Liverpool. Most of The Swinging Blues Jeans singles are good, particularly ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ and ‘Rumours, Gossip, Words Untrue’. They were Merseybeat, I guess. And if The Applejacks or The Cryin’ Shames fall into Merseybeat, then they shouldn’t.

A band that did get that Merseybeat tag were Brian Poole & The Tremeloes. Never followed them, yet once The Tremeloes lost Brian Poole, things got way more updated in keeping with the times. They co-existed alongside the formula pop The Love Affair and The Marmalade, which was fine by me.

It was surprising to hear their first few singles all over the US airwaves and see them in the charts. As time went by (’68 – ’70), the quality of releases stayed high, but the US airplay didn’t. Without reason or logic, The Tremeloes were forced into my ‘I’m pissed off these bands don’t get radio play’ column.

I could name a few of their singles that could have been, should have been. And I’m surprised Epic didn’t use their muscle to turn the momentum from downward to upward. But they didn’t.

‘(Call Me) Number One’ should have been just that. Great Mike Smith production and when the song delivered one more hook than most other songs can muster, another freaking one swings round at you. Try counting them yourself.

Redbone

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Listen: The Witch Queen Of New Orleans / Redbone RedboneWitch.mp3

Just a hunch here, but having worked at Columbia, Epic’s sister label, I’m betting the culture at those two companies in the 90′s and early 21st century was one that had prevailed back when Redbone were signed and molded for success. Keep it commercial. Even when they didn’t think they were doing just that….they were.

The marketing angle of a Native American band, named Redbone, was probably a bit risky, but could go off. Just polish it and get it onto the radio….it can happen. Now admittedly, the band’s music incorporated R&B, cajun, jazz, tribal, and Latin. Still, it always had a safe sheen to it.

Opinions on this will be extreme, but I’ll go to my grave believing that’s how the company saw The Clash. Punk that could be polished. It sure is how I saw them.

I recall when MTV had a daily interview/music show for a while. This would have been around the late 80′s, maybe early 90′s. No, I don’t recall it’s name. But one afternoon, The Ramones were the guests so I went along with them to the taping (Marc Almond was on that day as well). Band plays song, sits for interview like on Leno or whatever, then plays another song. That was the program’s format. It was quite good fun and really loud, with the audience full of fans.

One of the questions they asked Joey: “So you brought punk to England in ’76 and met the The Clash?”, implying that something about that meeting inspired The Ramones. His response was quick and simple “No, they met us”.

Sums it up perfectly, including my outlook on The Clash: corporate punk. Perfect for the CBS Records group.

And likewise, I’m sure Redbone would have, could have been way more earthy and dirty in the recordings, packaging and imaging if left to their own devices. Pick up an early album or two and just look at those song titles. They tell it all.

I’ve never met Redbone, or had conversation about them with anyone even remotely connected to the band. But my speculation is they were produced in every sense of the word, until the band, through the years, just gave in and went along. Eventually it paid off, hitting it out of the park with ‘Come And Get Your Love’, which I do love by the way, good pop single. Nonetheless, sadly the thing that was special about them was gone, and they comfortably blended into the assembly line of mainstream formula rock, which in two short years, would start to crack and crumble.

But the early singles, ‘The Witch Queen Of New Orleans’ being one, hint at a much darker sound and cryptic lyric that was still allowed to spill through a bit in the beginning.

The Marmalade

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Listen: Baby Make It Soon / The Marmalade MarmaladeBabyMake.mp3

Apparently, The Marmalade’s ‘I See The Rain’ was one of Jimi Hendrix’s favorite records. Their most collectable release, considered a psych classic, on and on.

All good, a deserved single. Having released a few musically revered but consumer ignored 7′s, UK CBS decided they’d had enough. Onto their pop assembly line The Marmalade went.

Perfect. The more manufactured or schlock, as one friend arrogantly puts it, the singles became, the more I liked them. Indeed, pop/schlock 60′s and 70′s UK singles in general – especially non-hits by nobodies get me excited every time.

‘Baby Make It Soon’ was probably a song the band hated and most likely didn’t even play on. Who cares….it’s a period classic, and many a person’s guilty pleasure. That, I would bet my life on.

Definitely a keeper.

Clout

Friday, March 12th, 2010

CloutSubstituteUSA, Clout, Epic

Listen: Substitute / CloutCloutSubstitute.mp3

It always sounded like Abba to me, I didn’t even know it wasn’t Abba for a minute. I did radio promotion for a year or two during the late 70′s, when this was current. John Sykes was the Epic local. I worked for MCA. He oddly had a hard time getting it played. I couldn’t understand why. I used to suggest to some of my Top 40 program directors that they add this instead of whatever I had in my bag at the time. Sandy Beach at WKBW being one of them. What a great guy he was. I think he did play it to tell you the truth.

Basically a #1 everywhere else on the planet. I spun this out when I was dj’ing at Brooklyn Bowl a few weeks back. Sounded mammoth through their PA.

Sly & The Family Stone

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

SlyStay, Sly & The Family Stone, Epic

Listen: If You Want Me To Stay / Sly & The Family Stone [audio:

http://www.somanyrecordssolittletime.com/records/SlyWant.mp3]

Time for some trainspotting, courtesy Duane Reade. I stopped by to pick up a prescription, and what’s playing over the sound system but ‘If You Want Me To Stay’. Used to be this one was heard everywhere, all the time. That repeated exposure eroded over the years, now it’s a big treat on the occasional occasion, like tonight. It just stood out against all the other overplayed oldies, the intentional lo-fi recording giving it alien character. It was a nice change.

As it was eventually confirmed, Sly Stone scrapped the first version of FRESH, from which this came. He decided to re-record the whole thing: sometimes the instrumental track, others the vocal takes and even others, both; making all the songs noticeably different to the astute fan, but probably not even turning a head amongst the casual listeners.

Listen: If You Want Me To Stay (Scrapped Version) / Sly & The Family Stone [audio:

http://www.somanyrecordssolittletime.com/records/SlyWantOuttakes.mp3]

Proof of the fairly secret first recording came way back, via the album’s first single, ‘If You Want Me To Stay’, as the initial 7″ stock were pressed using that wrong master. It’s visually impossible to tell it from the much more common official version, by the label that is (read on). I didn’t even realize I had a copy of anything particularly rare for years.

At the time, I was working for a one stop record distributor, the whole front half of the warehouse dedicated to 7″ singles. Both store buyers and jukebox operators populated the place constantly, it was a most fantastic hubbub of activity, every last person focused on records. Having grabbed a copy as soon as they arrived from the plant, it was clearly in hindsight that I discovered owning a first pressing. Even at the time, I just assumed it was an intentionally different version for the single. Actually, not until a month or so after getting it did I even notice the version on Top 40 radio sounding different than mine. Then I realized everyone’s copy had a different version from mine. I was baffled for ages.

The only way to tell, as every last detail of the label copy is identical on both pressings, being created for the official version – is to scour the run off groove. Official pressings read: ZZS 158443, whereas the mistake copies read: ZZS 158431.

Happy hunting.

Denny Laine / Trevor Burton

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

DennyLaineSayUK, Denny Laine, Trevor Burton, Denny Cordell, The Moody Blues, The Move, Balls, Deram, Epic
DennyLaineSayUS, Denny Laine, Trevor Burton, Denny Cordell, The Moody Blues, The Move, Balls, Deram, Epic

Listen: Say You Don’t Mind / Denny Laine
Say

In 67, when The Moody Blues ditched the blues, they ditched Denny Laine with it. Lead singer extraordinaire, his voice is the one we heard on ‘Go Now’, ‘Everyday’ and ‘Stop’, three favorites. Their version of ‘Go Now’ still holds it own against the Bessie Banks original. What were these guys thinking?

To this day, current members refuse to acknowledge that first lineup, excluding any of their tracks from Greatest Hits and anthology packages. Lighten up guys.

Still apparently signed to Decca, Denny Laine resurfaced on their newly formed subsidiary Deram, this being the first of two singles and getting a US release. Denny Cordell, The Moody Blues original producer, went in the layoffs too, so decided to stick with the other Denny. Their work together was terrific. Just listen for yourself.

TrevorBurtonFightUSA, Denny Laine, Trevor Burton, Denny Cordell, The Moody Blues, The Move, Balls, Deram, Epic
TrevorFightUS, Denny Laine, Trevor Burton, Denny Cordell, The Moody Blues, The Move, Balls, Deram, Epic

Listen: Fight For My Country / Trevor Burton
Fight

Within a year or so, Trevor Burton left The Move, teaming up with Denny to form Balls. Their lone single, ‘Fight For My Country’, was released in the US under his name, as a one-off for Epic. Unlike the UK version, which ran upwards of five minutes, the US promo and stock were edited down to under three, making for a better track which would not have been out of place on SHAZAM. It’s power deserves the attention much lesser records have achieved, packing so hard a punch, it knocked the wind out of both the band and Trevor’s solo career.