Archive for the ‘Junior Campbell’ Category

The Cryin’ Shames

Monday, August 6th, 2012

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

Junior Campbell

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Listen: Sweet Illusion / Junior Campbell
Sweet Illusion / Junior Campbell

Very over produced commercially intended records, often termed schlock, were in full swing by ’73, when ‘Sweet Illusion’ was a #15 UK hit. British Decca and sometimes their subsidiary label Deram, seemed to puke them out regularly. Years later, these titles were occasionally referred to as guilty pleasures. Some of us didn’t wait for the hipster’s chic nod of approval, instead finding such artifacts a genre onto themselves to collect from the start.

‘Sweet Illusion’ was an airwaves fixture that summer ’73 in London, played way more than the sales charts indicated it should have been. Clearly, this was a disc jockey favorite, a turntable hit for sure, despite a non aggressive chart climb and ultimate peak. My guess is even the #15 slot was a healthy dose of a deal being done. Like did anybody really, really buy this one?

During his time as a founding member of The Marmalade, who used Keith Mansfield as an orchestral arranger on many of their successes, including ‘Lovin’ Things’, ‘Wait For Me Mary Ann’, ‘Baby Make It Soon’ and ‘Reflections Of My Life’, Junior Campbell reportedly studied Mansfield’s scores at close range. Being impressed with the craft of arranging for orchestras, as well the expertise of orchestral musicians in general, led to him handling accompaniment arrangements on the band’s future sessions himself. Once tired of touring in ’71, he left The Marmalade to study orchestration and composition with Eric Guilder and Max Saunders at the Royal College of Music

During the 70′s he had two self-penned solo successes, ‘Hallelujah Freedom’ (#9 in ’72), with Doris Troy, and ‘Sweet Illusion’.

The Kinks

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Listen: Sitting In The Midday Sun / The Kinks
Sitting In The Midday Sun / The Kinks

June 26, 1973. The first day these two feet ever touched British soil or more accurately, the carpeting at Heathrow. Just dug through my sock drawer to verify. It’s where all the old passports are kept.

Three days later, ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ was officially released in the UK, according to the label copy on the demo pictured above. And that’s probably very accurate, given it was one of the first records heard when I finally, like finally, finally, finally got to hear BBC Radio 1. Believe it, in those days, the great radio of the UK was not a click away.

Now there are many priceless summertime songs, and one could opinion differently, but ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ is amongst the very best. Always overlooked, often for The Kinks’ own ‘Sunny Afternoon’, but don’t be fooled. This is the one. The tingle of hearing The Kinks new single on the radio that day in June ’73 was a grand privilege. Despite ‘Lola’ being a massive US hit just three years earlier, by ’73 The Kinks were relegated to finished, has beens, completely washed up by American programmers. But in homeland England, they were still being played on the radio, a kind of musical precursor to open source.

I know exactly the spot where this monumental moment occurred. It was about two hundred yards into Regents Park, sitting up against the first tree to the very left of the park entrance directly opposite the Great Portland Street tube station. This became my good luck spot for making a fake pillow (music was not allowed in the Queen’s Park, as a bobby once gently scolded) out of cousin Dinah’s large transistor radio and spending hours listening almost daily.

Dinah still has that wireless in her kitchen, and lives in the same flat a few blocks away on Cleveland Street, W1. I visit her and the radio every time I’m there.

That spot and that radio introduced Roy Wood ‘Dear Elaine’, Junior Campbell ‘Sweet Illusion’, Linda Lewis ‘Rock A Doodle Doo’, Dave Edmunds ‘Born To Be With You’, Kevin Ayers ‘Caribbean Moonshine’ and The Honeybus ‘For You’, amongst many, to this insatiable teenager.

All great singles but nothing near the direct hit ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ delivered. I was still in a swirl from up and moving to England without a plan in the world, and only $200 in my pocket. The beautiful insanity of youth, you have to love it. It was as though Ray Davies was speaking right at me, every last word. A little frightening in one way, given almost all of them applied. Thankfully the song’s calming conclusion helped keep the two pints I’d chugged en route at the Tower Tarvern on Clipstone Street down.

A little over two weeks later, The Kinks played a one day, outdoor festival at the White City Stadium in London. I didn’t want to go, it was expensive and other than Lindisfarne, the few UK bands playing were regulars at The Marquee. Besides, I recall a load of US groups as well, like Edgar Winter, by then quite polished and nothing like the soul review of Edgar Winter’s White Trash from a few years prior. I came to England to escape American bands. But how could I miss The Kinks, especially as I was now possessed by ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’.

It was a cold day for July. Never will I forget exiting the tube at White City and thinking, “I don’t want to do this”. Literally did an about face and decided to go back, then stopped. What an idiot, coming all this way and already having bought the ticket. Still, something felt not right.

Turned out this was the day Ray Davies quit on stage, just like that. Said he was “Fucking sick of it all’ straight after playing ‘Waterloo Sunset’, and left to the horror of the crowd. Everyone literally looked at each other in fear, was this really happening? Days later, all the music press covers announced the bad news to the world. ‘Ray Davies Quits Kinks’, as the MELODY MAKER headline read. I still have my copy.

Radio 1 stopped playing ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’.

Listen: Sweet Lady Genevieve / The Kinks
Sweet Lady Genevieve / The Kinks

It was not a good week. Family also announced their breakup. Two of my all time favorites, gone. Still, with glam in full swing, the mind did wander and life did go on.

Miracles can happen. What seemed like an eternity in reality lasted about three weeks. Ray Davies was now out of the hospital, where he’d gone directly following his stage exit that day for a stomach pumping. False alarm, The Kinks were in tact, with a new single in the wings even.

Was it the joy of having The Kinks back that made ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’ sound even better? I don’t think so. We were all crazy about this record. Well, Corinne and I that is.

By Fall, both of those UK A sides were coupled as a US 7″ on RCA, and an American tour announced. We ventured to New York for the triumphant return of The Kinks at The Felt Forum, and somehow figured out the band’s hotel, The Warwick on 54th Street. So we booked a room there as well.

Never a shy one, she calls the front desk and asks to be connected with Ray Davies, and sure enough, he picks up the phone. Without hesitation, Corinne explained we had traveled hundreds of miles from upstate New York to see the show, and would he be so kind as to play ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’. My jaw was on the floor.

Did you just talk to Ray Davies? “Yep.”

The Kinks didn’t play ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’ that night, but between songs, during either one of his Rudy Vallee style renditions or some old dancehall classic, Ray Davies did a quick a cappella verse/chorus from ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’, and we know to this day, it was just for us.

Albert Hammond

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Listen: The Free Electric Band / Albert Hammond AlbertHammondFreeElectric.mp3

Ok, so Albert Hammond made his real mark as a songwriter, credits including The Hollies, Aswad, Blue Mink, The Fortunes, Tina Turner at best. Many of his biggest earners were of the more gack inducing mainstream nuisance types. Songs you could neither stand nor avoid during their reign.

That’s ok, there’s room for everybody I suppose. And given his one international hit, ‘The Free Electric Band’, all is pretty much forgiven.

I think I may actually recall every song I heard on UK radio in ’73. I was that focused on it. Couldn’t get enough. Radio 1 was my non stop soundtrack. Back then, pop music would end at midnight on the BBC or it would have been 24/7.

There were a handful of singles that peaked in the mid teens, like Junior Campbell’s ‘Sweet Illusion’, and this was one (#19) as well. Even better. A nice slow grinder of a climb insured a load of airplay.

Early moog sounds always caught the UK’s ear. Maybe that’s why this worked over there instead of his US smash ‘It Never Rains in Southern California’.

Doris Troy

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Jacob's Ladder / Doris Troy

Listen: Jacob’s Ladder / Doris Troy
DorisTroyJacob'sLadder.mp3

Although having recorded with The Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Kevin Ayers, Dusty Springfield, Nick Drake, Junior Campbell and Pink Floyd, it was The Beatles, and especially George Harrision, who seemingly had the real jones for Doris Troy. Signing to their Apple label, she was afforded a self produced long player, DORIS TROY. Apple issued two singles from it, the second being a remake of the biblical folk/gospel standard, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.

Get Back / Doris Troy

Listen: Get Back / Doris Troy
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Both Apple 7′s luckily had non-LP B sides from the album sessions. For the flip of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, the basically still current ‘Get Back’ was used. In general, the overall recording approach for the project was very 1970, it’s a total Mad Dogs & Englishmen shamble/jam. No musician credits are listed on the album sleeve although it’s widely accounted that Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Leon Russell, Bill Wyman and Peter Frampton all joined George Harrison in it’s recording.

Dream Police

Monday, October 19th, 2009

dreampoliceuka, Dream Police, Junior Campbell, The Marmalade, Decca, London

dreampolicehomeusa, Dream Police, Junior Campbell, The Marmalade, Decca, London

Listen: I’ll Be Home (In A Day Or So) / Dream Police DreamPoliceHome.mp3

Reportedly Scotland’s Dream Police began as a psychedelic/progressive band that included future members of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Average White Band. Signed to Decca in late ’69 on a tip from Junior Campbell, himself then on the label’s roster as a member of The Marmalade, their first (of three) singles for the label coincidentally included him as the band’s producer, arranger and conductor. Conductor?

The Marmalade had a sound, not unlike The Love Affair or Cupid’s Inspiration, and a whole bunch of lesser known ‘pop’ acts, all wonderfully over produced and clawing for a slot in the charts. Despite being considered manufactured fodder by the intelligent and/or hip music community, I found this stuff fascinating. Totally formula in it’s conveyor belt style, I still can’t get enough of it. Decca UK reigned king in the field. Always with a soft spot for inhouse producers or production deals, Junior Campbell, as with Jonathan King, Wayne Bickerton, Mike Hurst and others churned out endless pap to lap for the label. I’m still finding overdone stiffs from that period. One such example: Dream Police.

‘I’ll Be Home (In A Day Or So)’ could have indeed been a hit for The Marmalade (they recorded a version) had it been issued as a single. Junior Campbell’s production of the song for the Dream Police includes his obligatory rock lead guitar over the top of multi tracked vocals and string section bits galore. And quite frankly, the version deserved to be a hit.