Archive for the ‘Cheapo Cheapo Records’ Category

The Honeybus

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

She Sold Blackpool Rock / The Honeybus

Listen: She Sold Blackpool Rock / The Honeybus HoneybusBlackpool.mp3

With a name like The Honeybus, you were asking to be overlooked in America. That is unless an Anglophile was in earshot. Then: instant magnet. Funny about that. What exactly is this language that we all understand? Must be in the DNA.

What a job finding ‘I Can’t Let Maggie Go’, their first US single here at home. Finally begged one out of Deram’s New York office – after a few hand written pleads. Oddly enough, the record was their third release in the UK, but first to chart (#8, March ’68), apparently mustering up enough reason to schedule ‘I Can’t Let Maggie Go’ in the States.

Despite every single being a classic, seems they were too English even for the English themselves, as is quite apparent with fifth single, ‘She Sold Blackpool Rock’, which didn’t chart, nor get a US release. Nonetheless, legendary status.

She Is The Female To My Soul / The Honeybus

Listen: She Is The Female To My Soul / The Honeybus HoneybusSheIsTheFemale.mp3

I wasn’t aware they’d even made a single for Bell in ’71. Only when trolling through the stalls at Cheapo Cheapo on Rupert Street (famous for being the place all the radio DJ’s, pluggers and journalists unloaded their promos for cash) during the summer of ’73 did I stumble upon ‘She Is The Female To My Soul’. The very hot July sun didn’t prevent me from breaking out in a cold sweat, frozen in place on initial glance. Could not get back to the apartment fast enough for a listen. Wow, this sounded fantastic. Vocalist/writer Pete Dello has an immaculate fullness to his voice, and his melodies are….more Ray Davies than the man himself.

For You / The Honeybus

Listen: For You / The Honeybus HoneybusForYou.mp3

Within days of discovering ‘She Is The Female To My Soul’, Radio 1 played a brand new Honeybus release ‘For You’. I remember vividly lying in the grass at Regents Park, ever so quietly listening to BBC 1, when boom.

At the time, radios were not allowed in the Queen’s Park, specifically an oasis of serenity for city dwellers. One needed to lie on the radio with a jacket draped over all corners, a sort of fake pillow – and play music at very low volume. I certainly was not ready for Honeybus shock number two. Despite having a meticulous fact soaking sponge brain when it came to records, and combing through Melody Maker / Disc & Music Echo / NME religiously on a weekly basis, I hadn’t noticed any mention of a new Honeybus single. In fact, there was no indication from the press that the band still existed at all.

Hearing ‘For You’ that first time was a religious experience. I jumped up, and bolted along Great Portland Street crossing Oxford, making my way down Berwick and over to Rupert, knowing a fresh review copy had to be at Cheapo Cheapo. I must have been pushing people aside en route. Honestly, I was in a state. Lo and behold my day, my week, my summer was made. There it was, literally front single in the ‘New Arrivals’ row. ‘For You’ was waiting for me, seriously, we were meant to spend our lives together.

Julie In My Heart / The Honeybus

Listen: Julie In My Heart / The Honeybus HoneybusJulie.mp3

Years later, the continually popular ‘I Can’t Let Maggie Go’ was reissued by Deram’s parent company Decca. This pressing introduced a previously unissued song on it’s B side, ‘Julie In My Heart’, a track worthy of A side status well before hundreds and hundreds of others allocated to such a position. Where is Pete Dello now – where has he been for so many years? Hey MOJO, how about honoring him at one of your yearly do’s?

The Crystals

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Listen: Little Boy / The Crystals CrystalsLittleBoy.mp3

How is it possible that ‘Little Boy’ was not a hit. It will always be one of the unexplained wonders of the world. No surprise Phil Spector flipped his lid. This (#92), ‘River Deep – Mountain High’ (#88), The Ramones ‘Baby I Love You (never charted at all). How appalling. What an embarrassment.

I do recall hearing the record a lot in my hometown though. All the Phillies singles seemed to get played upstate. And when ‘Little Boy’ was current, I neglected to get me a copy. It wasn’t until summer ’73 when I finally bought one for 35p at Graham Stapleton’s stall outside Cheapo Cheapo Records on Rupert Street in London’s Soho. What a bargain. As always, the label copy name checks included Larry Levine and Jack Nitzsche.

Fast forward to the late 80′s. I’m working at Island, A&Ring Marianne Faithfull. The company was searching for something a bit more current on the upcoming album. She’d done STRANGE WEATHER prior, and it’s old Europe Prague winebar angle was getting tired. I’d suggested New Order produce. Chris wasn’t feeling that. It was apparently too young a look. Somewhere in the mix, Jack Nitzsche became the possible candidate, so off to LA went Marianne to try writing with him, see if some result could develop.

He had just produced the soundtrack to THE HOT SPOT, a truly terrific album with John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis and Taj Mahal. There was even a single released, and that’s posted elsewhere on this blog.

Jack actually called me one day with an update, basically saying nothing much was getting done. Not the best news, but getting a call from Jack Nitzsche with any news at all was huge in my book.

No sooner did he ring than Marianne was on the phone.

“I need to get out of here. All he wants to do is fuck me”

“So do it”


She was back in NY days later. So much for that collaboration.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by LaLa Brooks

Mellow Candle

Friday, April 30th, 2010

MellowCandle, Mellow Candle, David Hitchcock, Deram

Listen: Dan The Wing / Mellow Candle MellowCandle.mp3

Howard, Chris and I went to see the Ian Dury movie the other day. It was pretty great – the end bit got a touch depressing but the film certainly brought me right back to how absolutely stunning he and The Blockheads were on stage during their moments in the sun. Never realized Chaz Jankel was such a vital part of the band and songwriting until the credits rolled.

We had Indian lunch prior, and as usual, started digging into a whole lotta obscure record trivia. I was always a fan of UK Decca’s various production deals. One such was with Gruggy Woof. The company included both Neil Slaven and David Hitchcock. Slaven’s production’s seemed to lean more towards the bluesy side (Savoy Brown, Miller Anderson, The Keef Hartley Band, Chicken Shack) whereas Hitchcock tipped more progressive (Caravan, Camel, Cured Air, Genesis). By the way, I don’t have a clue where that rather bad name originated from, but I liked most of the records these guys/their production company were involed with.

For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what single I had in my hands literally earlier that very day, with it’s unlikely David Hitchcock production credit. Given that Howard mastered a slew of these during his apprentice years at Trident, we racked our collective brains to no result.

Well tonight I suddenly remembered: Mellow Candle. Their sole album is insanely valuable, and this single is not far behind. Quite why I’m not sure. I always thought ‘Dan The Wing’ was rather watered down Steeleye Span, sonically more in line with what B & C were releasing: folky prog stuff.

Look deeply into the Decca/Deram release history and you will find many an obscure, highly collectable and hence, steeply priced prog rock array of every flavor. I picked this up for pennies in the dj copy heavy outdoor vendor racks at Cheap Cheap on Soho’s Rupert Street during that summer ’73 spent in London. In fact, this copy sat there unsold for literally months until finally having been humiliatingly relegated to the 5p row – I just couldn’t pass up the Deram A label – I mean seriously, 5p?

At first it indeed sounded lightweight and weedy, but I eventually got addicted to it’s weaknesses. They are charmingly innocent, now I play it often.

David Bowie / The Faces

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

London Boys / David Bowie

Listen: The London Boys / David Bowie
London Boys / David Bowie

What can anyone say about David Bowie ‘The London Boys’. It’s damp, cold, eery, but cryptically and wonderfully captures a lot of my London experiences as a kid in ’73: Wardour Street, pills, having no money, living on butter and bread, listen to the lyrics. If we come back in life after death, I would do it all over again, to a T. Read on.

So I decide, upon graduating high school, that instead of going to college, I’m moving to England. Can you believe this? I can’t.

My parents, ever understanding, desperately advised against it. But always supporting me in my ambitious dreams, finally said okay providing I do some college when I return.

My Mom was born in Great Britain, her sister lived in London, so I guess it didn’t seem all that risky at the time. I skipped a grade in high school and was therefore really a baby, boarding a Pan Am flight in early June ’73 with a huge $200 in my pocket. I would never let my kids do this today by the way. My aunt in London had me for a few weeks, then shipped me off to my cousin Diane, who lived, and shockingly still does, on Cleveland Street in London’s west end, Soho, This, as it turned out, was the place to be. Literally 4 blocks down from her council flat (Cleveland Street eventually turns into Wardour Street as it crosses Oxford Street), was the Marquee Club. Without shame or hesitation, I walked into the office midday and asked for a job. And they give me one, shockingly. I now was in charge of collecting the empty pint glasses left all around the club as the bands are playing, an endless cycle. I was a slave but deemed this as the opportunity of life.

I grew up outside of Syracuse, dreaming of the other worldly England, now here I am, working at The Marquee. Holy shit. Is this really happening? No one will believe me back home, or care for that matter.

I got paid one huge great big British pound a night, drank all the beer I could for free and got to see every band playing. All I need do is pick up the glasses. I’ll take it.

This was heaven. My days were spent trolling the used record stalls in Rupert Street, Cheapo Cheapo Records in particular, where Graham Stapleton, a good friend now, who I met decades later by shear crazy coincidence via Jim Lahat, sold all the promo/dj copies that the Radio 1 and Melody Maker staff would unload, for pennies, in an open air market stall. The stuff I got from him then…..forget about it. Crazy. We still exchange records and laugh about those days. Small world indeed.

Then there were the bands that played: Robin Trower, Thin Lizzy, Sparks UK debut with Queen opening (from whom Queen admittedly lifted many of their ideas – why Queen didn’t ask Russell Mael to join the reunion lineup instead of Paul Rodgers is preposterous), Andy Bown, Alex Harvey Band, Sutherland Brothers & Ouiver, Daryl Way’s Wolf, The Spencer Davis Group, Writing On The Wall, Climax Blues Band, Colin Blunstone, Chicken Shack, Bedlam, Wild Turkey, JSD Band, The Marmalade, Caravan, East Of Eden, Byzantium, String Driven Thing, Tempest, Colosseum, Keef Hartley Band – I could go on and on and on. Plus, I had the golden key, I could put people on the guest list.

With hormones raging and so many pretty girls trying to unsuccessfully get to the bands, they’d turn to the staff. I spent many a damp grass night in Soho Square on the green, juggling in hindsight, laughable relationships. And in the process, fell for a Scottish girl, Claire.

Bowie ticket Reading 73

Claire and I became an item and went to loads of shows together (Family, Wizzard, Fairport Convention, The Kinks, Slade, Curved Air) or, didn’t bother to go to some, like the biggest mistake of all times: David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars final show ever – for which I bought a ticket (see scan above) and didn’t use. I know, stupid.

Listen: Pool Hall Richard / The Faces
Pool Hall Richard / Faces

It wasn’t the only ticket I didn’t use. Claire & I went to Scotland the weekend of Reading Festival, for which I had a 3 day, all access pass. Only a few years ago I admitted to myself, I didn’t really like The Faces (who were playing – see scan) because Rod Stewart’s voice irritates me to no end, not to mention his fat bottom half in leopard pants.

Still, their ‘Pool Hall Richard’ single has a groove that’s unmatchable. A beautiful shambles.