Archive for the ‘The Cream’ Category

The Eyes

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

THE ARRIVAL OF THE EYES / The Eyes:

Side 1:

Listen: The Immediate Pleasure / The Eyes
The

Listen: I’m Rowed Out / The Eyes
EyesRowed.mp3

Side 2:

Listen: When The Night Falls / The Eyes
When

Listen: My Degeneration / The Eyes
My

Originally a West London instrumental band, The Renegades added a vocalist and became Gerry Hart & The Hartbeats, before changing their name to The Eyes and recording a four song demo at Rayrik Sound Studios in Chalk Farm. Literally one block away from The Roundhouse, the apartment turned studio was used often by The Graham Bond Organization, and as well to record ‘Wrapping Paper’, the first single by The Cream. Trojan Records cut dozens of singles there as well, including Bob & Marcia’s hit ‘Young, Gifted And Black’.

Clearly influenced by The Creation and especially The Who, The Eyes didn’t appear to be the most original band around. A MELODY MAKER review of their stage show included sound effect tapes and colored visuals and despite rather lame soccer shirt uniforms that featured eyeball images, they managed to fit into the London Mod movement for a bit. By early 1965, The Eyes signed to Mercury, releasing ‘When The Night Falls’ and ‘I’m Rowed Out’ from those sessions as their debut single.

Like the follow up ‘The Immediate Pleasure’ and ‘My Degeneration’, both singles got decent airplay in the UK and so Mercury decided to couple them together as an EP in early 1966, when the EP market was still fairly healthy.

Apparently very few copies shifted out the door, making for one of the most valued EP’s from the era.

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 Rats

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Listen: Spoonful / The Rats
Spoonful

Ever been curious about a seminal guitarist’s humble beginnings? Well, most folks look towards The Rats version of ‘Spoonful’ as being the one to expose Mick Ronson’s rudimentary start.

Wrong. He joined the band post, but no doubt played this live. Instead, Frank Ince held down the lead guitar fort back in Fall ’64 when this was recorded, and surprisingly released in the US via Laurie Records.

Why surprisingly? Because for such a local, initially independent pressing of a mere 200 copies, the master found it’s way onto a US label’s release schedule prior to an expected English one. This was new territory. Possible explanation being at the height of British Invasion, every label’s marching orders were to acquire whatever they could find, anything, doesn’t matter, as long as it’s English. Being a small independent, Laurie clearly waited in line for the majors to pass, just as Vee Jay had patiently done when US Capitol turned their nose at UK sister company’s signing: The Beatles.

So for fun, here you go. The Rats first single, ‘Spoonful’. In no way a contender against The Cream’s version from ’68, but still a primitive attempt to compete with Hull hometown superstars, The Hullaballoss. For that, anyone gets an out of jail free card.

Ella Fitzgerald

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Listen: Sunshine Of Your Love / Ella Fitzgerald
Sunshine Of Your Love / Ella Fitzgerald

Always found a weak spot for 60′s jazzy covers of then popular Top 40 hits. A lost art nowadays I suppose.

Right through to the mid 70′s, there seemed an abundance of them tailor made for cocktail lounge jukeboxes. No idea how many versions of ‘Misty’ I own, and certainly have even more pressings of an all time favorite, both as an original and a cover, Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny’.

My guilty pleasure Ella Fitzgerald track has to be ‘Black Coffee’, which was never issued on 7″. Not that I know her work extensively, but I do recall hearing it, just one time, on the radio, in a friend’s parent’s car, with both of them smoking upfront. Nasty but a time period snapshot still vivid in my brain.

Her rendition of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ comes pretty close. Hey, it’s flip is ‘Hey Jude’, imagine that. But hands down, this A side documents an, at times, raspy vocal that I find most uncharacteristic of Ella Fitzgerald. And then there’s the song choice, The Cream! Come on, that’s pretty funny.

Wouldn’t be surprised if it was “Alright, give me the lyrics, I’ll sing it already. Let’s just get this over with.”

The Move / The Who / The Small Faces / The Cream

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

I Can Hear the Grass Grow / The Move

Listen: I Can Hear The Grass Grow / The Move
I

Pictures of Lily / The Who

Listen: Pictures Of Lily / The Who
Pictures

Patterns / Small Faces

Listen: Patterns / The Small Faces
Patterns

I Feel Free / Cream

Listen: I Feel Free / The Cream
I

Irish record shop bag 67

Ok. So these are fairly recognizable records. Certainly The Who and The Cream songs are, probably the most obscure being The Small Faces ‘Patterns’. Although on many comps, it’s their hardest Decca single to find by far, and certainly the most expensive. Plus it was never issued in the US as a 7″.

The reason I have them clumped together: they all travelled back to The States with my Mom from Ireland in June ’67. She had gone off to see my Aunt Connie for a few weeks and I loaded her down with a list and a half of records to please bring home. She came back with four, all she could probably afford but I was totally content; my Aunt Connie ordering the one I wanted most, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich ‘Okay’, and sending it on later.

Luckily I had the greatest parents in the world for a billion trillion zillion reasons, two being their patience with my record fetish and generosity toward the addiction.

I found that I had filed The Cream single with the actual shop bag all four records came back to the US in. Notice the address on the bag’s art work matches the stamp on the record’s sleeve. So when pulling ‘I Feel Free’ to play tonight, I thought it would be fun to bunch them together for this little, but true, story. After all, they literally existed as a unit for weeks upon my Mom’s return that June. I almost couldn’t let one play all the way through, I was in such a hurry to hear the next, especially once familiar with them.

Thank you Mom.

The Buffalo Springfield

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Listen: Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing / The Buffalo Springfield
Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing / The Buffalo Springfield

West coast soft rock, not a fan. It was the anti-christ to British music. Even as some of the UK bands got fascinated by it, started copying it, I still wasn’t buying in. But initially, The Buffalo Springfield looked as though they may have had promise. I wanted badly to hear their first single ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’. The title made me curious, and I wasn’t sharp enough to be put off by the band’s name. There was Lothar & The Hand People, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company, these guys seemed to fit into the nonsensical band name pocket just fine.

Digging through a massive bin of drilled, 39¢ closeout singles, I found a copy only a few months later. This was just before their third 45, ‘For What It’s Worth’, got traction and went Top 40. I got home and did not love this record later that night.

But I did like that a) it was a Bubbling Under The Hot 100 flop (#110), b) was on Atco and c) was an unlikely single.

a) There’s nothing like the endless gems that never reached the Top 100. In retrospect, countless seminal classics populated and peeked on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart, within it’s #101 – 135 range. All struggling for airplay that never came. Where was the expertise programmers supposedly had in the 60′s and 70′s, we now wonder. Proof that some things never changed.

b) Atco was cool. The younger, but prettier step sister of Atlantic. Amongst it’s early roster of bands that never made it / looked like they weren’t going to: The Vagrants, The Who, The Groupies, The Spencer Davis Group, Julie Driscoll/Brian Auger & The Trinity and The Cream. Yes, this was in the day before groups like The Pink Floyd, The Cream and The Buffalo Springfield managed to drop ‘The’ from their official professional name.

c) There are few things more inviting than a single that made no sense being a single. Like just about any jazz 7″, certainly edited versions of tracks from Miles Davis’ BITCHES BREW album. Not that ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ came close to such an extreme, but it was a real surprise on first spin.

The Buffalo Springfield have now reformed, sans ‘The’, with the remaining living original members, and I would bet the whole house of cards they are not playing this first single live. Just like the setlist for The Cream’s reunion (sans ‘The’) omitted ‘I Feel Free’.

So I won’t be attending, but all said and done, I ended up liking ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ a lot.

Update (6/11/11): John Poole emailed to say they did play ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ during their first reunion appearance at the Bridge Benefit Concert last year. How awesome is that?

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 25¢ 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.

Tim Hardin

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Listen: You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie / Tim Hardin TimHardinGrace.mp3

There was once a great revolution in US radio programming, when all the underground music in the 60′s – like album tracks and singles by album type artists – started getting aired on FM stations.

Top 40 back then was a life saver compared to now, but was pretty quick to avoid anything considered too colorful or probably drug related. So off the Top 40 airwaves stayed Traffic, The Move, The Nice, early Jimi Hendrix Experience, early Cream, definitely early Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother & The Holding Company, etc. Still many of the major market Top 40s (I got WBZ/Boston clear as a bell) would open up in the evening and definitely after midnight. And to be fair, some acts got converted to regular play.

But it’s those late night listening memories I’m touching on here. Like Joey sang in ‘Do You Remember Rock n Roll Radio’: “Do you remember lying in bed / With the covers pulled up over your head / Radio playing so no one can see”. All of us that were addicted did this nightly – especially in the summer when you could sleep in the next day. This is how I discovered The Seeds (‘Mr Farmer’ and ‘Pushin Too Hard’ are still night time records for me), Jefferson Airplane (‘My Best Friend’ is a big favorite), Blue Cheer, Tim Rose (his version of ‘Hey Joe’ was the first I heard and clearly the template for the Jimi Hendrix version) and especially Tim Hardin. Yeah, I was bitten by this haunting single ‘You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie’. I even liked that the title was too long and the untimely fade out.

Folk was hip, I always wanted a smattering beyond Bob Dylan and I guess others did too. Did anyone really dislike Joan Baez, Richie Havens or Buffy St. Marie like they pretended? Probably not. But Tim Hardin hasn’t gotten his deserved props either. Listening with one ear attached to my transitor and the other hearing the ambience of late night, small town, upstate NY: crickets, the New York Central freight trains way off in the distance, the occasional drifting of the cars on Thruway also out there. The whole thing still comes right back to me every time, and I mean every time, I play this.

Them

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Richard Cory / Them

Listen: Richard Corey / Them
Richard

Wolf Chart 6-25-66

I religiously collected local radio station charts placed in all the record shops and record departments at the variety stores. Every town had them. They’re really fun to scour nowadays for the national non-hits as well as being a great snapshot of the music you could hear at that given moment. If you search ‘music survey’ at eBay, there are always a bunch listed for auction.

I recall WT Grants on Salina Street in Syracuse had a huge record department, and stocked everything you could want, especially as WOLF, one of the town’s two Top 40 stations was pretty adventurous, playing a lot of obscure English rock and US RnB. This was a God send for me from ’65 – ’67, until they buckled and went all Billboard on us. That said record department had a soda counter attached to it, up a few steps with typical glittery colored American Graffiti style booths looking down on the hustle/bustle of kids pawing through and buying records (today you see the same activity at an Apple store or Game Stop), and they had a great jukebox. It was jammed with all the latest up and comers. I remember investing a dime to hear ‘Bend It’, well not only hear it but watch the single spin round on the store’s lavender/purple Rock-ola, at the same time admiring a factory printed Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich jukebox tab to accompany it. I wonder where that tab ended up. Hate to think.

My only problem with WT Grants or Walt’s being there were so many choices, and not enough money to buy them all on my $1 a week allowance and some cash from mowing lawns. I still get cold sweats hearing a lawn mover. I would literally walk up and back neighbor’s yards behind their mowers deciding what record this torturous act would earn me and I distinctly remember suffering through several yards earning enough to buy The Cream FRESH CREAM. I went cheap, and sprung for the mono pressing as they were $1 less. Who knew then that monos would end up way more valuable than their stereo counterparts. Man, am I happy I bought them: The Pink Floyd PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, The Jimi Hendrix Experience AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE and Big Brother & The Holding Company CHEAP THRILLS to mention a few that reaped incredible returns. Well if I ever decide to sell them that is. I soon figured out other ways to get all these records and more for free. That saga is covered in my Jack Dupree post for the more curious of you.

Meanwhile, the one record that got played by WOLF (and I bet only by WOLF in the whole of the US as I’ve never seen it on any other local chart, ever) but not stocked, was ‘Richard Corey’ by Them. It’s actually a Paul Simon cover and Van Morrison reportedly hated it.

If you couldn’t find something at Grant’s there was also Walt’s Records, just down a block and right next to a peanut shop, freshly roasting their wares.

Walt’s was a great shrine to obscure stuff, and very RnB heavy. The place smelled fantastic, a constant mixture of vinyl and those roasted nuts. Like Grant’s, I was told they “couldn’t get” this single by Them either. “Couldn’t get”, what the hell does that mean? Turns out the lyric “He went home last night and put a bullet through his head” was a big deal….I’m guessing neither outlet dared stock it just in case. Guns were not cool once. It’s a shame that’s changed. And it took me years to find this as I’m sure not many were pressed. How WOLF got away with playing ‘Richard Corey’ heavily for several weeks without a problem is surprising, but they did.

Canned Heat

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Listen: Rollin’ And Tumblin’ / Canned Heat CannedHeatRollin.mp3

This wasn’t a huge favorite then, yet I did show off that sleeve at every turn. Lots of era bands covered ‘Rollin’ And Tumblin’, and I must admit, my favorite is by The Cream. But what’s great about this is Bob Hite on vocal. He may have been a big boy, but he was relentless on stage. Really superb. I remember them doing it the one and only time I got to see this lineup (who are on all three singles posted here).


Listen: Going Up The Country / Canned Heat CannedHeatCountry.mp3

That particular show was a real treat. Canned Heat were in the midst of this run of hit singles, can you believe it, hit Top 40 singles. Support that night were John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (during the BAREWIRES tour – fantastic) and Albert King. Now tell me you aren’t jealous and I’ll know you’re fibbing.

‘Going Up The Country’ had the unique voice of Al ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson on lead. He and Bob Hite seemed to share an equal 50/50 of those singing chores live. No star bullshit, just real blues lovers that band. In fact, Bob reportedly had one of the world’s largest and most complete blues vinyl collection at the time of his passing.

Blind Owl actually brought pop perfectly into the band via his voice. It’s just impossible to not love.

Listen: On The Road Again / Canned Heat CannedHeatRoad.mp3

So much appeal did indeed that voice have, that Canned Heat pulled off something similar in the US to what The Rolling Stones had in the UK with ‘Little Red Rooster’. Both singles, tried, true, plain and simple slow blues numbers, became smashes against every industry know-it-all warning.

Not sure about you, but I haven’t heard these for years. Really glad I pulled them out.

Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Never Ending Song Of Love - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

Listen: Never Ending Song Of Love – Delaney & Bonnie & Friends 06 Never Ending Song Of Lov.mp3

I never got too deeply into that American country sound, the occasional single by The Band or Poco once in a while, I guess. In hindsight, the more country/blues, loosely shambled records actually appeal from time to time. Seems like everybody has forgotten about Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Probably best known for letting Eric Clapton join their band after the success of The Cream, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Yardbirds was just too much to handle, they seemed to fade away as soon as he left. Don’t know about you, but I never hear them anywhere. Bonnie Bramlett got into a scrabble with Elvis Costello after he’d made a racial slur towards blacks in a hotel bar once. So I do give her props for that. Once in a while, I like the laziness of their back porch sound to be honest.

Dr. John, The Night Tripper

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Listen: I Walk On Guilded Splinters Part 1) / Dr. John, The Night Tripper
I

If ever, as a youngster, I felt intimidated by an album cover; or more precisely by the life that artist appeared to lead as a result of the album’s graphics, it was Dr. John, The Night Tripper’s GRIS GRIS. I was starting to get interested in drugs and this one sure did look druggy to me. A dark, menacing smoke filled back lit photo of this guy, super imposed over an even more alarming profile shot not only frightened, but of course, sold me on getting a copy. To be honest, I didn’t like it much for a the longest while but it was a bit of a dark secret pleasure still the same. My friends hated it. Even the mono (they were a buck cheaper) Atco label looked kinda ‘stoned’ to me, butterscotch and gray……these were hangover colors. I had a couple of other mono Atco albums, The Cream’s FRESH CREAM and the first Buffalo Springfield record. They were fittingly considered drug records. So Atco too became intriguing as well. Always more focused on singles than albums I was well pleased to get one of ‘I Walk On Guilded Splinters’, dividing the the 7:57 album version into Parts 1 & 2. How can you not be curious by a song with this title? I certainly was. I seem to remember it being the clincher for putting down the $2.98 of lawn mowing money to buy the LP.