Archive for the ‘Ready Steady Go’ Category

Vicki Wickham / Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Listen: The Flick (Part I) / Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers

Listen: The Flick (Part II) / Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers

Of Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers’ six Soul/Motown single releases, ‘The Flick’ is one of the lesser known.

Sounding very much like the casual late night jam at 2648 West Grand Boulevard that it probably was, Motown’s house band, as they were, or The Funk Brothers, as they became known, got to record some instrumentals under the name Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers. These guys really didn’t like the commercial records they were required to make by day, preferring jazz instead. So not surprisingly, these dabbles sound not unlike the Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff soul jazz releases from the period, and make for great jukebox ambience.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a late Sunday afternoon spent digging through a few hundred Motown promos. Happened yesterday, so I can attest.

This all started at the Brooklyn Bowl 60′s Music & Memorabilia Show. One dealer displayed a Motown white label, and it set me off. To be honest, I’d been waiting a few years to start filing these, Vicki Wickham’s Motown singles, into my wall shelves. It suddenly felt like that moment had arrived.

Yes, Saint Vicki. This woman has performed many miracles in my world. As if giving me her record collection several years back wasn’t miracle enough, she out of the blue rang a few days before Thanksgiving 2010, announcing another multi-box discovery in storage. About a thousand singles from her READY STEADY GO days, completely forgotten about for decades.

“Might you want them?”

I nearly had to make the trip over to hers in an ambulance.

There they were, several white boxes, all stacked, labelled and waiting for me to collect. Plus perfectly separated out, a Vicki VIP section: two boxes of Oriole/Stateside/Tamla/Motown. All organized chronologically by label, then catalog number.

Now I have tripped out on these many times, even let a few friends have a look through, well Phil and Eric, and that’s about it. Duane wasn’t interested.

Yesterday began the process of folding these into the master collection. Playing many and nearly blacking out a few times.

No drug has ever gotten me this high. Not ever. Not any.

The Beatles

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Listen: I Want To Hold Your Hand / The Beatles
I Want To Hold Your Hand / The Beatles

A few weeks from now will mark yet another anniversary of The Beatles’ ED SULLIVAN SHOW debut in ’64 on February 9. Yes, forty eight years have passed since. Forty eight years! Scary, especially if you recall it, like I do. I wasn’t alone, but will readily admit it changed my life, like practically everything about it, despite being a little boy in his single digits. I never thought the same way about what I wanted to do when I grew up after that night, despite endless lectures from school guidance counselors to become a Math teacher, and not peruse a career in the record business. I think some of them may still be employed giving out such insightful advice.

Apparently, that first appearance is now considered a milestone in American pop culture and the official beginning of the British Invasion in music. The broadcast drew an estimated 73 million viewers, at the time a record for US television.

The Beatles performed five songs that evening including their then, newly achieved, first US #1: ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. I might be accurate in saying I hadn’t heard this in a good five, maybe ten years. But leave it Little Steven on Sirius, suddenly there it was throbbing out of my dashboard. And it sounded fantastic. I got home and pulled the single right out, still practically untouched in it’s original picture sleeve above from so many years ago.

Not a hardcore Beatles admirer would be understating my self description for sure, but scanning over a singles discography as I did earlier, anyone would be an ignorant fool not to acknowledge their incredible run of endless stellar 45′s. Take a look sometime.

Prior to that US explosion, England was avalanched by Beatlemania during pretty much all of 1963. Having made their first appearance on Britain’s READY STEADY GO! that fall, logically, Vicki Wickham, the program’s talent manager and booker, who became the show’s producer, was serviced all the latest releases from the labels.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend, 2010. Vicki, a dear friend nowadays, rang to say she’s found several thousand 45′s in her Manhattan storage unit, having completely forgotten they existed, and was I interested. Just try to guess how fast I tore over there and I’ll guarantee you it was twice that. Praise be, these were, and still are, the holy grail. I can’t even begin to describe it’s contents and revel in them constantly, filing these gems away ever so slowly. I never want it to end.

So pictured above, from Vicki Wickham’s original collection, not only the actual copy serviced to her at Rediffusion Television’s READY STEADY GO! offices, but one that very conveniently indicates the record’s November 29, 1963 UK release date. It’s also the copy streaming here, yes, the real thing.

Quite probably the same copy that secured them yet another booking on the program. I must ask Vicki to confirm that detail.

Marie Knight

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Listen: Cry Me A River / Marie Knight
Cry Me A River / Marie Knight

Hey thanks Vicki Wickham, for keeping this one since the 60′s. Yes, it was part of her 45 collection that I was gifted by Saint Vicki herself last fall.

You know, I love you Vicki Wickham.

Let’s talk about Vicki Wickham. We first met in ’89, when she managed Phranc during her Island days. I remember exactly where we first shook hands: backstage at the Beacon Theater, in the the very stairway where Ahmet Ertegan took his last spill. Phranc had just hired her, and was at that time on tour with The Pogues.

I was actually meeting thee Vicki Wickham. The one that booked READY! STEADY! GO!, managed Dusty Springfield, co-wrote ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ with Simon Napier-Bell, produced Labelle. The one who not only booked the infamous Saville Theatre series, brought the Motown Review to England, worked at Track Records with The Who, Thunderclap Newman, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Marsha Hunt, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, John’s Children, and yes, The Cherry Smash; but also knew Scott Walker…and Brian Jones. I was nervous and in awe. Vicki Wickham was a higher form of life.

Fast forward. Nowadays, we meet often for lunch, on 9th Ave and 44th Street at Marseilles, possibly her favorite restaurant. She always orders the asparagus omelette and eats about half. I grill her for details: RSG, The BBC during the 60′s, Rediffusion Television, Top Of The Pops not to mention every band and everybody she ever encountered. Did she visit the Immediate Records office, Deram, Philips, Fontana. What was the Ready Steady Go canteen like, did she know Tony Hall, Steve Marriott, Inez Foxx, Joe Meek, Dozy. When did she last speak with Andrew Loog Oldham, P.P. Arnold or Madeline Bell…..we cover, discuss, judge and trash tons of people. Yes, we are guilty. Needless to say, there’s never a loss for topics.

On one such occasion last year, she mentions having just found boxes of 45′s in storage, and the only one she can remember seeing in the whole bunch was the Bessie Banks ‘Go Now’ UK A label pressing. Was I interested in the lot? That’s like asking Alago, Duane, Joe and I if we’d like a free bump in the VIP bathroom at The Ritz in the 80′s. Ahh, yeah.

Vicki, you ARE a saint, and a beloved friend.

And you turned me on to Marie Knight. Praise be.

Little Stevie Wonder

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Listen: Workout Stevie, Workout / Little Stevie Wonder StevieWorkout.mp3

Saturday November 27, 2010. 5:30pm. Thought I’d be braving Christmas shopping gridlock mayhem but no…it was an easy sail across town and up to the west side building where Vicki Wickham and her doorman stood by, hand cart stacked with 150 count white 7″ boxes all neatly labeled. The top one: A – Ellison. Oh boy. Was it Andy or Lorraine?

I plotzed when the phone rang several weeks back, Vicki down the other end letting me know she’s found “a lot of 45′s in my storage space”. All forgotten about, for years now. Would I come get them?

“They’re mostly RnB or Soul, and from the 60′s. Oh and the labels all have those big red A’s on them that you like so much luv.”

God bless Vicki Wickham. Really, she is a saint. Forever looking out for me – and to think from her READY STEADY GO Redifussion office to my collection. That’s how these records have travelled. I mean, here are the very copies that resulted in so many bookings on the program. The real artifacts. Thank you Vicki.

This collection wasted no time. It opened a door I’d forgotten all about: early Stevie Wonder, before the voice changed, when he was still known as Little Stevie Wonder. “Workout Stevie, Workout’ was his fifth single, and third non-LP. Coming off ‘Fingertips’, which went to #1 pop, this fizzled at #33. Give a listen though, a pretty high position considering how spontaneous and raw the take is. Did this actually get radio play?

As with all his early releases, ‘Workout Stevie Workout’ was a very bluesy RnB, and sounded live, or pretended to be. Theoretically, the Motown sound began here, but these early singles could just as easily have been from New York’s countless imprints, such as Sue Records, or so many labels out of the south.

Listen: Monkey Talk / Little Stevie Wonder StevieMonkeyTalk.mp3

Even better, the B side. I would absolutely vote ‘Monkey Talk’ the winner of the two tracks. Check out his intro, pretty risqué. What a jam, don’t know what else to call this. Been playing it over and over all day.

One of the many great things about collecting records, you’re always finding something new to be insatiable over. But sometimes it can be right under your nose. Yeah, this UK pressing just entered my world, but the US copy has been in my library…since the later part of the 20th century.

The Bo Street Runners

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Listen: Bo Street Runner / The Bo Street Runners BoStreetBoStreet.mp3

If you recall the period (’64 – ’65), literally every week there were more English and US garage, blues based bands releasing singles, and some of us were twitching increasingly by the day. It was impossible to keep up, and the really obscure singles (like The Bo Street Runners), were probably hard enough to find around the UK, forget about in America and definitely in upstate New York. I’d seen a photo of this band in 16 Magazine – the publication always had one page toward the back with about 8 new band photos per issue, accompanied by a sentence or two (most likely press photos that arrived at the office with a record/bio).

The Bo Street Runners’ blurb mentioned winning a READY STEADY GO competition and releasing ‘Bo Street Runner’ via UK Decca as a result. Little did I know that years later RSG producer Vicki Wickham would become a close friend and gift me her entire record collection. True story. Good thing, I’d have been one of the first kids, in his single digits, to keel over from a heart attack.

Up there with some of the better tracks from The Yardbirds, Them, The Downliners Sect or The Pretty Things. ‘Bo Street Runner’, surprisingly an original song, is pure blue eyed RnB, right down to the maracas and obligatory tambourine keeping time with the beat.

Listen: Baby Never Say Goodbye / The Bo Street Runners BoStreetBabyNever.mp3

In hindsight, some signature names passed thought the ranks of their lineup, including a few guys from both Timebox and Patto, as well as Mick Fleetwood. His timeline is right up there with Ron Wood’s, having been with not only The Bo Street Runners, but also The Peter B’s, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and the original Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.

Although a rather long standing BSR member, he only ever played on ‘Baby Never Say Goodbye’, the competitive cover of the Unit 4 + 2′s original and charting composition.


Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Viva Bobby Joe / The Equals

Listen: Listen: Viva Bobby Joe / The Equals 01 Viva Bobby Joe.mp3

Ok, so a good friend of mine, who follows this blog, has on several occasions suggested I post an Equals single. And every time I agree I should. So I guess I take requests.

Like The Foundations, they were marketed as a multi-racial rock band. Back then, it was an anomaly, maybe novelty and possibly a little dangerous. I’m sure those late night motorway stops had their fair share of comments. This was England 1968 remember. Vicki Wickham has told me a few jaw droppers about the experiences she had when bringing over the Motown acts, and James Brown, for her READY STEADY GO!!! program in that era. Check out photos and footage of them, they looked fantastic in flowered shirts and Carnaby Street trousers. It’s hard to find an Equals track that doesn’t sound big and booming. Eddy Grant’s voice certainly didn’t hurt. I saw him live a few times, years later, when ‘Electric Avenue’ was a hit – and he had lung power. Seems like he didn’t even need to get near the mike.

I’m not going to say ‘Baby Come Back’ isn’t the greatest, but ‘Viva Bobby Joe’ is an absolute runner up and a hard one to hear very often.