Archive for the ‘Deram’ Category

The Flirtations

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Listen: Nothing But A Heartache / The Flirtations
Nothing

This is simply the greatest Motown single that was never on Motown. Even though the UK Deram label really didn’t specialize in releases for the soul or RnB market, ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ suddenly appeared in mid ’68. Re-released a few months later, with a different B side, the record started to get play in the US, eventually peaking on the Billboard charts at #34. It was overseen by Wayne Bickerton, who had produced the lavish, for it’s day, album by UK band, World Of Oz. Their single, ‘The Muffin Man’, was almost a hit, garnering pretty solid airplay in a lot of US markets during summer ’68, for about two weeks. Literally, every local chart I’ve ever seen it on was for a two week run. I guess the checks didn’t clear and onto the payola victim scrap heap that fantastic single went.

Years later, this Flirtations track became a Northern Soul success. Northern Soul records, in simple terms, are non hit, copy versions of the Tamla/Motown sound. Many were still being recorded into the early ’70′s, after that original era had long past. The clubs in the North of England were insatiable for anything resembling it and hence the tag Northern Soul.

Proof of the song’s validity comes in the fact that, despite being a UK act and UK made record, like most of the Motown singles from the 60′s, ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ was only a hit in America.

Georgie Fame

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Daylight / Georgie Fame

Listen: Daylight / Georgie Fame
Daylight

I think this song may qualify as a bit of a guilty pleasure, as it is a touch schmaltzy, although my pal Phil, who has super taste in music, loves it. Then again, it was written by Bobby Womack and now a sought after hit on the Northern Soul circuit. Plus Georgie has such a great voice, and the whole idea that he perfected his sound doing all-nighters at the Flamingo Club on Wardour Street in London during the swinging 60′s alongside Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, is, well, all I really need. Basically he always emulated Mose Allison and conventiently helped invent mod-jazz in the process.

As with some of his early hits like ‘Get Away’, this was produced by the great Denny Cordell. When I worked at Island in the early 90′s, Chris Blackwell brought Denny in to oversee A&R. Most everybody got their noses out of joint by his arrival but not me. I mean this was the guy who had produced The Move. He did the whistle sound, fingers to mouth, on ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’, helped start Deram and Regal Zonophone, and then Shelter. So we hit it off immediately, and I often think of the many great times and meals we had together. He was a serious cook. Plus he introduced me to so many people from the UK, all of whom would stop by to see him when passing through town. I remember when he brought Tony Colton into my office. He was the vocalist for Heads Hands & Feet who I became an instant fan of when seeing them open for Humble Pie. Tony had also produced a then obscure, now kind of appreciated gem: ON THE BOARDS by Taste. So this was a big deal to me.

Yeah, Denny was a great great pal….he produced this track as part of the 2nd album Georgie made for Island that the company then proceeded not to issue, still. Seriously, what hasn’t been released at this point? Island was a great place in many ways, but they had a very bad habit of making albums and not releasing them. I know of a few still in the vaults from Marianne Faithfull, and unfortunately countless others from The Smoke to Don Covay.

So this track, ‘Daylight’, and it’s B side, ‘Three Legged Mule’ came out in ’77 as 7″ & 12″ singles, and has finally been reissued as part of the ISLAND YEARS ’74 – ’76 anthology.

Jon Gunn

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

I Just Made Up My Mind / Jon Gunn

Listen: I Just Made Up My Mind / Jon Gunn
I

No idea how this didn’t become a hit when issued in ’67, or even later given it’s popularity in Northern Soul clubs during the 70′s. As with Ann Mason, I never did find out much about him, except he’s from Lancashire, that’s literally all I know.

Quite frankly, I just figured it was Andy Fairweather-Low under an assumed name at the time. The Decca/Deram label was pulling that on occasion, remember Whistling Jack Smith, actually a roadie for Decca’s Unit 4 + 2.

Caravan

Friday, July 18th, 2014

CaravanLoveToLove, Caravan, London, Decca, Deram

Listen: Love To Love You / Caravan
Love

Talk about being smitten after one play. I had seen a few Caravan albums in the stores, but never managed to own one, not until IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK that is. I’d already decided to spring for a UK copy via mail order that coming April, based entirely on it’s title. Without warning, this US single, coupling ‘Love To Love You’ and ‘Golf Girl’, landed in my weekly stack from WMCR, the local adult radio station that miraculously gave me their ‘unplayable’ rock singles all through my high school years. My eyes bugged out seemingly an inch. I couldn’t get home fast enough, tearing through the traffic and risking my life on a bike one very slippery, slushy, cold Friday in February ’71.

Once home, I must have played ‘Love To Love You’ a dozen times, completely anxious for it to end so I could play it all over again. Why had I kept myself in the dark about this band, sounding more British than the British themselves might tolerate. Nothing like that excited high from realizing there’s a whole new back catalog to acquire, something I began plotting on the spot.

In the days before THE RECORD COLLECTOR PRICE GUIDE and Wikipedia, research needed to be done by hand. Consequently, homework was put aside and out came the back issues of MELODY MAKER and DISC & MUSIC ECHO. I needed every Caravan record. Now.

CaravanGolf, Caravan, London, Decca, Deram

Listen: Golf Girl / Caravan
Golf

Seriously, this next bit is still vivid, like waking up in the middle of the night remembering you forgot to do something and jumping straight out of bed. I’m digging through the magazines looking for Caravan titles and catalog numbers, with the single on repeat. My Dual 1229 turntable came complete with a 45 stacking spindle and was repeat-play capable. A beauty.

Suddenly, boing, it hits me. In all my glee, I haven’t even noticed. Was the single a double A promo, or one with a B side. So midway through, off comes the tonearm and…yes! There’s a B side!

‘Golf Girl’ was just as fantastic, beginning with the “selling cups of tea” lyric. It was almost too good to be true. Another song to check off the Caravan catalog completion list.

LandOfGrayAndPink, Caravan

Saturday morning, straight to the post office, buy the international money order and airmail my advance payment for the full album that day. Come early April, I owned a first pressing of IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK. Everything about that album was magical: the laminated cover, beautiful artwork, pristine deep groove vinyl, inner sleeve, lyrics, production. It even smelled good.

Adding to the magic, Decca moved the band to it’s progressive subsidiary, Deram, and deemed the album an initial release in a new deluxe series, assigning the catalog number SDL – R1 as a reward.

Instantly official, Caravan was now my new favorite band. Next, I had to see them live…but that would be a few years off. 1975 to be exact, when their first US commenced in support of CUNNING STUNTS. Luckily it swung through upstate New York and luckily, they were more British than ever.

CaravanJukebox, Caravan, Pye Hastings

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Pye Hastings

Sweet Reason

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Listen: Hundred Thousand Dollar (Twenty Carburettor Driving Machine)/ Sweet Reason
Hundred

Not a clue who Sweet Reason were, or how they came to make records.

Being a life long Deram completist, I’ll happily pick up any remaining 7′ title not presently part of my collection.

Ah yes, my collection. There’s a obsessive beast. In the case of labels like Deram, it probably doubles as some medical condition, me needing promo and stock copies of both UK as well as US releases. I’ve been known to pace about the house in the early hours worrying about these things. I guess it keeps me out of other trouble, that endless quest.

‘Hundred Thousand Dollar (Twenty Carburettor Driving Machine)’ by Sweet Reason, which never gained a US issue, always evaded me, having passed up a copy at Camden Town’s Record & Tape Exchange in the early 90′s during a dizzy moment.

Oh yes, a home away from home. Camden’s Record & Tape Exchange. I still can’t walk past it without getting the shivers, despite reality: their 7′ bins have shrunken miserably over the years. And the records in them, shabby condition overall, especially the sleeves.

But never say never. I felt ten years younger the moment my eyes spotted this on eBay. It was absolutely going to be mine at any cost.

Complete with the original Gil Sans font, I assumed Sweet Reason would be more of the slushy pap pop the label coined, particularly given it’s 1974 release date. Surprise, it’s knock-off glitter from the litter bin. What could be better, very few labels did formula glam quite like Deram.

I guess they’d pick up the occasional offering from independent producers that walked through the front door for A&R rep meetings. In as demos, out as masters.

Sweet Reason had one more fantastic twist about them discovered first play. Not only did the band sound like The Sweet, they even borrowed their name. Love it.

Terry Tucker’s Orange Clockwork

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Listen: Overture To The Sun (Part 1) / Terry Tucker’s Orange Clockwork
Overture

Sick and twisted futuristic London. Sounded like a great idea for a summer holiday to me. So along came a film about just that, and I was in.

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE played at the local university’s campus auditorium when current. Not really sure why, but it did, and was curiously well attended by U of R students and the like. Seems everyone left a bit uncomfortable, I know we did. Besides, everyone kind of expected there’d be rock music in this, not classical. Despite that, the film included some non-classical, neo-classical excerpts, sounding not unlike The Nice or String Driven Thing. So patiently I waited on those end credits to roll.

Hold on, Terry Tucker. I was pretty sure I recognized that guy’s name from one of the many prog titles that were beginning to overwhelm our roommate heavy apartment. The bunch of us either worked for the college station, a local vinyl store, the city’s record distributing One Stop, or in Corinne’s case, a combination of them. Makeshift wood plank and brick shelves crammed all the rooms. Yes, it was paradise. We got home, and I dove in.

Sure enough, there he was, that fellow Terry Tucker, a member of Sunforest, and on Deram no less. This was a major discovery. Their lone album, SOUND OF SUNFOREST is an overpriced collector’s must-have these days. Back then, I recall the other copy that arrived simultaneously with mine sat in the import bin for months, getting tatty.

Turns out “Overture To The Sun’ was re-recorded for A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, then doctored up and released on a UK 7″ under the pseudonym of Terry Tucker’s Orange Clockwork. There’s a certain something about the rather bland fidelity of most late 60′s and early 70′s prog records generally. In hindsight, those dreadful drum sounds and their wimpy mix placement have a quaint appeal, and really do the time period perfect justice.

Deram never did get around to releasing this, nor any Storyteller song on a single, and the origins of ‘Overture To The Sun (Part 1)’ became a well kept secret for years, thereby making copies very scarce. Nobody valued, not to mention saved them at the time.

Mine came courtesy of Rick Conrad. He dropped this and a box full of others off when in London a few weeks back. Out of the blue, just prior to my departure, Rick sends an introductory email, having discovered the blog. Turns out he’s planning to be blocks away from where we’re staying while over, only a few days later. Almost scary the way record people end up finding each other. Thank you Rick.

The Move

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Night Of Fear / The Move

Listen: Night Of Fear / The Move
Night

I think I first noticed The Move in the UK charts section of BILLBOARD. In the 60′s, they used to print Hits Of The World over one page, Top 10′s from all the countries, but always a Top 30 or 50 from the UK. This was of course, during the tail end of the British Invasion, December ’66 to be exact. My local shop, Smith’s Records, in Oneida NY, would save their week old BILLBOARD for me, and on Fridays, when my Mom & Dad would do their shopping, they’d drop me at Smith’s. I’d get to play the new releases in their listening booth and read BILLBOARD at the counter. Basically studying it, especially the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 section. That was always a goldmine for me, ever changing, probably bought mentions by the labels of their new records, all hoping to help them jump into the proper Hot 100 chart. Missing a week meant you might not be aware something was out. Then later, back home with last week’s issue, I’d really comb it over for details.

I still remember seeing ‘Night Of Fear’ by The Move progressing #17 to #2 up that British chart. At this point I had watched it since debuting at #42 the previous week. The Move was simply the best name for a band ever. I needed to hear this group, and see photos, which luckily, I quickly did. Both their sound and look represented the black and white, rainy England that we heard about as kids, an exotic place with the greatest bands, a new perfect one emerging almost weekly.

My loyalty to The Move was blind, only lately can I admit by ’69, they went downhill slowly but steadily, eventually bringing Jeff Lynne in to grind them to a Beatles influenced halt. But their beginning was never to be repeated for me. A week or so later, Dick Clark played the single on his weekly AMERICAN BANDSTAND Rate A Record, two song competition. I have no recollection of the other single played, or which came out on top, but I still have my reel to reel recording of ‘Night Of Fear’ off the TV. I dove for the red record button, mike and recorder permanently positioned by my bedroom TV set. Technically I was a criminal then, that era’s version of file sharing I suppose. I listened to that tape hundreds of times.

You couldn’t buy ‘Night Of Fear’ anywhere. London, Deram’s parent company, clearly wasn’t promoting or payola-ing it at radio and hence the one stops weren’t inclined to stock it. In small town America, the stores all bought from one-stops, so they primarily sold the hits.

It always pissed me off when I’d read in the Melody Maker back then that The Move weren’t big in The States. They weren’t played. Kids here didn’t get to decide.

So my record company letter writing continued. Someone at London in NY had a deal with me, I’d send him $1.50 per record, which was extortion in those days but he’d send whatever I needed. He was basically selling promos through the mail, genius. Worked for both of us. The stuff I bought off this fellow: The Cryin’ Shames, The Attack, The Syn, World Of Oz, The Honeybus, non-hits by Them, The Small Faces, Unit 4 + 2, The Zombies. Even then I knew I should get extras, but I didn’t have the cash. On this particular occasion he sent me the stock copy above of ‘Night Of Fear’, not easily found then or now.

Over the years, I’ve acquired many copies, US and UK. The Dutch picture sleeve above, Roy Wood signed when I got to meet him during Wizzard’s first and only US tour. Then there was the time ten or so years ago, somewhere on Long Island where Duane and I were garage sale-ing very early one Saturday morning. Walking up the driveway I see a pile of singles on a table. The top one is on Deram. Probably White Plains or Procol Harum I think to myself, but it was ‘Night Of Fear’. I froze. I said, “Duane you need to buy this”. I just couldn’t handle the high.

Denny Cordell produced this perfect record. The mp3 post is from my overplayed original $1.50/extortion copy.

The Move 1966

The original lineup of The Move, who played on ‘Night Of Fear’, are pictured above. If there’s a better shot of a band anywhere on earth, go right ahead and send it to me.

The above is a repost, originally from June 8, 2008.

Acid Gallery / The Outer Limits / Roy Wood

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Dance Round The Maypole / Acid Gallery

Listen: Dance Round The Maypole / Acid Gallery
Dance

It was December 2000, and I was stranded in England for a few days of Sony meetings. Actually, I was jamming to get home on the Friday, when early that morning I got a call from Will Botwin, then president at Columbia, asking very nicely if I could stay through Monday night for an Emiliana Torrini showcase. Will was always the greatest guy, awesome boss. How do you say no? I mean, he could have just told me I needed to do it. Period. But it was never his way.

So I suddenly found myself with three full days/nights on my hands. Reading the latest MOJO on the flight over, I was annoyed to be missing The Roy Wood Christmas Extravaganza Tour. I should have juggled the trip to take it in but by then it was too late. Now that I was there for a few days extra, I rechecked his schedule.

Sure enough, that evening Roy Wood was a couple hours away, in Wolverhampton. Jackie Hyde in the touring/artist relations department at Sony got me tickets and passes God love her. And I was on the 6 pm train heading north I think, alone. No one was interested in joining me. Grass is always greener.

I get there around 8, and decided to try speaking with Roy Wood. The band/crew etc are all around and tell me Roy has gone down the road to the pub. Ok. I wander off down the wet, deserted streets and find said establishment. Walk in, there propped up against the bar is a lone Roy Wood, nursing a pint. I proceed over, and no problem, he’s as friendly as I’d hoped. All talk about the past welcomed. Really fun guy.

I was always curious about the Acid Gallery single. He wrote and produced it, but it sure did sound like The Move to me. Was it? He confirmed his participation but no, it wasn’t The Move. Instead it was “some guys who were on Deram back then, name escapes me”.

Well was it The Syn, or The Eyes Of Blue, um, Tintern Abbey?

“No, these guys had a hit a few years later with ‘Yellow River’ “.

Bingo: The Outer Limits.

“That’s them” he confirms.

Just One More Chance / The Outer Limits

Listen: Just One More Chance / The Outer Limits
Just

Actually The Outer Limits changed their name to Christie and had that smash with ‘Yellow River’. Main writer in both bands was Jeff Christie and he’d originally written ‘Yellow River’ for The Tremeloes but decided to record it himself after they dragged their feet. The rest is history, I guess. I loved that Outer Limits single, ‘Just One More Chance’ at the time, summer ’67.

Great Train Robbery / The Outer Limits

Listen: Great Train Robbery / The Outer Limits
Great

But the follow up, ‘Great Train Robbery’, holy whatever, talk about British sounding. And on Immediate’s subsidiary imprint, Instant. Even better. Now why Immediate needed another in house label is pretty funny actually. Still very nice label and stock sleeve from Andrew Loog Oldham.

The Roy Wood Christmas Extravaganza was a total treat that night. Twelve piece, all female band. Sounding full scale, Phil Spector live. Reproducing all those Wizzard hits flawlessly. Roy dressed in black teddy boy jacket, purple lapels, purple streaks in the infamous hair and a lavender Strat. Once a star, always a star.

The finales, ‘Blackberry Way’ and ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ being sung along loudly by a full theater audience with fake snow falling on the stage, well it doesn’t get much better.

One last closing bit to the Roy Wood pub conversation:

Will you fill out my juke box tab?

“Sure. No problem”.

The Move Blackberry Way Jukebox Tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Roy Wood

Jackie Lee & The Raindrops / Jacky

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Listen: There Goes The Lucky One / Jackie Lee & The Raindrops
There

Stumbled on this single early on, around ’74. I’d had plenty of radio station scores by then, with no idea there’d thankfully be many, many, many more to come in life. I don’t know of a better high to be honest. Probably similar to most other addictions, you’re always craving the next fix. Well it’s moments like finding a Jackie Lee & The Raindrops single in a healthy stack of dj 7′s that’ll keep you on the drool.

By then, I’d become completely familiar with parent label fonts and layouts, so easily spotted this release as being part of the London Records group. During the 60′s, London distributed loads of small labels, and some larger ones as well, like Deram or Hi.

Anything from London was primo by me, and often meant the act was UK based, given London was indeed the American arm of British Decca. True to form, Jackie Lee, although originally from Ireland, was by then living in England. That was close enough. ‘There Goes The Lucky One’ really sounded like a mix between girl group and late fifties doo wop, plus I wrongly believed the record was from ’65 or so. As it turns out, ’62 was it’s year of release and Jaylee appears to have been a custom imprint. Jackie Lee clearly had a friend high up in the US operation. A custom label and a picture sleeve in 1962, someone worked miracles at the yearly London/Decca confab.

Jim Palmaeri, one of my pals at Discount Records where I worked at the time, fell in love with this. He’d often borrow it for weeks on end, and I became militant about it’s return continually. Despite not having heard the record for years, the chorus suddenly popped into my head, and I was singing it aloud Friday night. Then a dreadful stomach pit formed. Where was the record? I’d been playing the American Jackie Lee’s ‘Baby, Do The Philly Dog’ and ‘The Duck’ just a few nights prior, but didn’t recall seeing it. Checking verified the worst. Jackie Lee & The Raindrops weren’t there between the other Jackie Lee and Leapy Lee. Fuck.

An even greater fear then entered my mind. Did I get the single back from Jim that crucial last time he borrowed it?

Hold on, I did get it back, remembering that during a trip to SXSW in the 90′s, I stumbled on an empty picture sleeve at the record collector’s show which, for years, was part of the annual convention. Upon returning to New York, I reunited the record with it’s sleeve, but hadn’t recalled seeing it since. So the remainder of Friday evening had me wandering about slightly agitated.

Saturday morning, returning home from some early junking with a few new scores to file, I settle in front of the shelves to start alphabetizing and what do I see halfway along the wall section containing the L’s but ‘There Goes The Lucky One’. The records had separated a bit down the line from Leapy Lee to reveal the misfiled Jackie Lee & The Raindrops single. A cold sweat of adrenaline waved over me, and then I could not play this record fast enough. All in all, a happy ending.

Listen: White Horses / Jacky
White

Now I was on a roll. I needed to know more about this single, and what do I discover but this Jackie Lee is indeed the same person who recorded ‘White Horses’ for Philips in ’68, as Jacky.

I had followed it’s chart ascension at the time, quite intrigued by both song title and artist. Plus I was a sucker for anything on Philips. When ‘White Horses’ eventually reached a UK # 10, I got nuts for a copy, a US pressing of which was miraculously scored at Walt’s Records on Salina Street, in their non-hit record rack banished to the back wall of the shop.

By now, I was mowing lawns, cleaning the hallways and foyer of a small apartment building every Thursday after school, plus working weekends at the Chittenango Thruway Restaurant, meaning my visits to Walt’s weren’t limited to one 7″ purchase any longer. ‘White Horses’ came back home in a stack that included The Hollies ‘Jennifer Eccless’, Scott Walker ‘Joanna’, The Small Faces ‘Lazy Sunday’, Grapefruit ‘Dear Delilah’ and The Love Affair ‘Rainbow Valley’.

Remembering facts for my chemistry tests: useless. Remembering details about records: piece of cake.

Pacific Drift

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Listen: Tomorrow Morning Brings / Pacific Drift
Tomorrow

When we were introduced, Barry Reynolds seemed genuinely surprised by my interest in him being a member of Pacific Drift, or even knowledge of it. As with a handful of UK centric 60′s labels that I collected, Deram was one. Given his band were on the roster meant I had investigated all associated history. In an era of tuneless progressive rock, which was incidentally as equally addictive as Northern Soul with book values to prove it, Pacific Drift additionally had hooks. Turns out these were Barry’s formative writing days.

So upon meeting in the late 80′s, when I inherited Marianne Faithfull’s A&R duties after joining Island, he being her life long writer, band member, mentor and heart strong companion, we finally met. Humble and shy about Pacific Drift would be an understatement. Having gone on to write so many more songs of greater strength, clearly this stuff was too early, too underdeveloped for him to care about years later. Doesn’t mean I didn’t.

Besides, some records maintain their biggest strength in the ability to turn back time. So is the case with Pacific Drift. Being the young record fanatic that I was, I’d befriended an evening jock at the local Top 40 during summer ’70, intentionally hoping all roads could lead back to getting his promo cast offs. Initially this worked fine, until realizing his intentions leaned in other directions. The arrangement ended abruptly but not before a few trunk sized vinyl scores, one of which included Pacific Drift’s FEELIN’ FREE album and the accompanying ‘Yes You Do’ / ‘Tomorrow Morning Brings’ 7″.

Pacific Drift’s pressings went top of the pile, primarily due to Deram but also producer Wayne Bickerton’s involvment. I loved his recordings with The World Of Oz and given his Decca/Deram house producer status, this stuff I needed to hear. Lyrically, I’ve never worked out if ‘Tomorrow morning brings the afternoon’ is genius or embarrassing. But it was prog, all things made profound sense via the hash pipe.

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.

Tintern Abbey

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Beeside / Tintern Abbey

Listen: Beeside / Tintern Abbey
Beeside

Many years back, in the late 80′s, a friend John Stainze had stumbled on a bunch of Deram singles. I seem to recall them being from a UK Mom & Pop record shop or something. He called asking if I wanted him to pick any up, running a bunch of titles past me. They were around $5 each so I said yes to a few including The 23rd Turnoff record.

Amongst their stock was the sole release by Tintern Abbey, ‘Beeside’, of which they had five copies. I took them all, even though they were $20 a piece back then. When the box arrived, I was bragging to Corinne that I’d gotten five copies of this, and she berated me for wasting even money on more useless records, not to mention multiple copies. One recently sold for $1135 on eBay. She remains unimpressed. Now I just need to unearth the remaining four somewhere in the black hole of extras.

The record is often sighted as classic British psych, to these ears not unlike Love in parts. It’s truly up there with The Smoke, Tomorrow and The Pretty Things ‘Defecting Grey’. But that’s just one useless opinion.

Vacuum Cleaner / Tintern Abbey

Listen: Vacuum Cleaner / Tintern Abbey
Vacuum

Both sides of the record are often compiled on psyche compilations, and it seems many have confused ‘Vacuum Cleaner’ as being the A side, given ‘Beeside’ sounding like a clever play on words I’m guessing.

Not sounding unlike a Shel Talmy production, I suppose in a pinch, it could pass for The Creation.

For the record, drummer John Dalton is not the same John Dalton who played bass with The Kinks for centuries.

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’.

Chicken Shack

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Listen: You Know Could Be Right / Chicken Shack
You Know Could Be Right / Chicken Shack

June 26, 1973. Arrive in England that morning, Chicken Shack that night at The Marquee. Also my first time stepping into the club, the one I had waited what seemed like a lifetime to visit.

Having booked them at college the previous year as part of a three band bill with Savoy Brown and Atomic Rooster, it was during this, their period on Deram, that my infatuation peaked. Had they been signed to say, RCA, most likely the interest level would have been less. Given the added bonus of in-house producer Neil Slaven, with his unmistakable cardboard packing box drum sound, Chicken Shack’s new found bent toward blues rock sludge became rather appealing.

Of all the Blue Horizon releases, ACCEPT, the last, topped my list of the band’s post Chris Perfect lineup. It was followed pretty quickly by the ’72 Deram debut, IMMAGINATION LADY. Keeping track of London band member’s musical chairs the late 60′s/early 70′s would leave your head swirling. I’d seen John Glascock play with Toe Fat just a year or so prior to his joining Chicken Shack for IMMAGINATION LADY. Meanwhile, the guys on ACCEPT, Dave Bidwell, Andy Silverster and Paul Raymond, all moved on to Savoy Brown debuting on STREET CORNER TALKING.

Must have been humbling for Stan Webb, career long Chicken Shack leader, to be 3rd on the bill that December ’72 to headliners Savoy Brown, whose lineup basically consisted of his old employees. Clearly, it doesn’t always pay to be the boss.

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.

Bernie & The Buzz Band

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Listen: Don’t Knock It / Bernie & The Buzz Band
Don't Knock It / Bernie & The Buzz Band

It’s easy to understand the addiction to Deram Records that so many collectors have, when you have it yourself that is.

The brown and white retail label design is as equally weak knee inducing as it’s turquoise and white promotional label sister. The craziest titles command the craziest money on the rare records circuit, usually without rhyme or reason beyond being on Deram. To be fair, much of the label’s obscure stuff is pretty consistent, as in, always expensive.

Take Bernie & The Buzz Band for example. Little is known about them. Noel Walker, label house producer of sorts, ended up with that chore. Based on his then current and successful releases with The Amen Corner, the pairing makes sense.

Nice quick in, quick out, four hour session at the Decca Studios I’m guessing. A very mono mix, a coincidentally similar to Andy Fairweather Low lead vocal, soul horns and soul bv’s interpret a lesser known Isaac Hayes / David Porter tune. There you have it, a £40 collectible.

Ann Peebles

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Listen: I Don’t Lend My Man / Ann Peebles
I Don't Lend My Man / Ann Peebles

Hi Records, with their Willie Mitchell led house band, not many labels had anything on them. Between Hi and Stax, the 70′s must have been a fantastic time to live and play in Memphis.

Always having a major soft spot for London Records, and the UK parent company Decca, meant I was interested in all their subsidiaries: Parrot, Deram, Tribe, Press and, despite a very different sound and roster, Hi. I have never passed up a Hi single at a garage or church sale. Can’t physically do it. And if it’s in the company sleeve, well forget it. As a result over the years, I’ve got loads of extras, so many Al Greens, for instance. Hey, they always come in handy: the jukebox, new friends, new neighbors, copies if I ever get that summer house.

Plus it’s led to amassing some crazy obscurities: Big Amos, Quiet Elegance, Bobo Mr. Soul, Erma Coffee, Gene Bowlegs Miller. It’s really how I got hooked on Ann Peebles, collecting the label. Probably owned two or three singles before properly checking her out. Then bang. Her’s is a real treasure trove of material. No denying the greatness of ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’. But when she veers toward the Millie Jackson lyrical sass, that’s when I love her most. ‘I Don’t Lend My Man’ – that title tells you everything you’re about to hear before you start.

Don Fardon

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Listen: Indian Reservation / Don Fardon
Indian Reservation / Don Fardon

Believe it. Don Fardon, age 68, has a hit single in Holland. This very minute. A song called ‘Im Alive’. I heard it with my own ears just last week blaring out of The Bulldog coffee shop, aka legalized pot cafe, near Amsterdam’s American Hotel.

Years ago, Corinne and I visited for a long weekend. It was an irrational, last minute idea we got on a Friday morning and by evening, we were on some cheap KLM ticket out of Heathrow for said adventure. I was in London for several weeks at a patch back then, as Island was still UK based.

Saturday afternoon was spent working off my first Indonesian meal (gado gado) by digging for 45′s in the shops and outdoor flea market stalls near the American Hotel, the best place to stay even to this day. My collection is strictly US and UK pressings, but the rules do get bent for Dutch 7′s from the 60′s, especially those Decca/Deram ones in the generic picture sleeves, all with the same geometric layout yet using some very obscure band photos. Love those.

This was around November ’88, and shockingly, there were still plenty of nice items to snag. Amongst them The Attack ‘Colour Of My Mind’ in the Dutch sleeve. Very nice.

As the day wound down, Corinne wanted to try out a coffee shop, sample the brownies. Reluctantly, I agreed. The heavy dub reggae blaring onto the street convincing me to live a little.

Oh boy. Big mistake. One brownie didn’t seem to touch me, so I bought a second. No sooner was that down, and boom, the first one hit. Hard. Couldn’t get back to the hotel fast enough.

I always scurry past those coffee shops these days, even a flashback is too frightening a thought. But I was well pleased to hear Don Fardon from down the block last week.

Anything sounding remotely tribal has always caught my ear, and that’s how I kind of describe ‘Indian Reservation’. Not unlike Don Fardon’s first band, The Sorrows, and their UK hit, ‘Take A Heart’ before it. Both are heavy with original arrangements and stand out big time from most other releases during their respective time periods.

Shockingly, ‘Indian Reservation’ was a US hit (#20) as well as a British one (#3). Despite being on a small indie, I guess it picked up some airplay and broke through on quality.

Grapefruit

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Dear Delilah / Grapefruit

Listen: Dear Delilah / Grapefruit
Dear Delilah / Grapefruit

Formed from the remnants of Tony Rivers & The Castaways, and Harmony Grass by George Alexander, birth name: Alexander Young. Brother to George (founding member of The Easybeats) as well Malcolm and Angus (founders of AC/DC). For some reason, the family left him behind in England when the others moved off to Australia. Lucky guy.

Grapefruit issued their first single to much attention as The Beatles had acquired the publishing and hence posed in trade pictures with the band. As with their label, The Beatles tended to be quite good at A&R. Even Brian Jones was in those publicity shots, God knows why. Result, the press were interested.

In the US, the debut single ‘Dear Delilah’ was released via Terry Melcher’s new imprint, Equinox, and hence got a decent push. Mom Doris Day wasn’t about to let son and Beach Boys’ friend Terry flop. But despite being recorded in “new orthophonic high fidelity” and getting some decent airplay, the imaginative psychedelic taint (not my words) of ‘Dear Delilah’ only reached #98 in the Billboard Top 100, and #21 in The UK. A shame.

Listen: Elevator / Grapefruit
Elevator / Grapefruit

The album AROUND GRAPEFRUIT, from which it came, was chocked full of gems including the followup ‘Elevator’. I remember it and The Small Faces ‘Lazy Sunday’ shockingly being played on my hometown Top 40 one Saturday afternoon that spring. Getting picked up for some daytime airplay so quickly upon release via the generally tight WNDR seemed quite optimistic. I was temporarily content.

It was over before it started though, as both peaked and stalled during the same week (5/11/68) on Billboard’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart (above, click to enlarge). Nearly failed my finals as a result, the depression was so bad.

Listen: Lady Godiva (Come Home) / Grapefruit
Lady Godiva (Come Home) / Grapefruit

Things took an even sharper left turn for Grapefruit a year or so later in ’70 when the band got a touch too progressive, recording DEEP WATER for new, in US that is, label RCA. It’s one of those blues soul prog rock calamities that sells for a nice price nowadays, but grinds by at snail’s pace once you get it onto the turntable. Second single, ‘Lady Godiva (Come Home)’ wants to be hooky, but some cringing lyrics and slightly Foghat leaning vocals prove punishing. Having said that, I do like a nice clean aural snapshot of a bad single, and this is one. They’re totally fascinating artifacts.

Listen: Universal Party / Grapefruit
Universal Party / Grapefruit

An unexpected, and more than low key reprieve occurred without explanation or commitment by Deram in ’73, when the label issued ‘Universal Party’. First listen will most likely result in a shrug at best, but the faint hint of glam gets a bit more addictive with a few more spins. Given it was Grapefruit and on Deram meant extra rope.

In hindsight, I guess nothing compared to the optimistic sound of those first few releases, which I’m reminded of daily as I eat my grapefruit each and every morning.

Danny Williams

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Listen: Whose Little Girl Are You / Danny Williams
Whose Little Girl Are You / Danny Williams

Turns out Danny Williams was a successful MOR singer in the UK, late 50′s/early 60′s and even had a big US hit, ‘White On White’ in ’64. Don’t remember it in the slightest I’m afraid.

Not until Decca/Deram’s THE NORTHERN SOUL SCENE, my absolute favorite Northern comp, did Danny Williams even enter my world. ‘Whose Little Girl Are You’, well it’s hard to top. Great voice, a bit similar to Andy Fairweather-Low or Gary Pickford-Hopkins in fact. He could have easily been like Jon Gunn, a then current artist struggling for success, as opposed to a fading icon.

No matter. As long as it’s a record I own then I’m happy.