Archive for the ‘United Artists’ Category

Ike & Tina Turner

Saturday, December 21st, 2013


Side 1:

Listen: I’ve Been Loving You Too Long / Ike & Tina Turner

Side 2:

Listen: A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knockin’ Everyday) / Ike & Tina Turner

Listen: Respect / Ike & Tina Turner

In 1971, United Artists released Ike & Tina Turner’s tenth live album WHAT YOU HEAR IS WHAT YOU GET – LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL in the US. Despite being a double record and rather too padded with current soul covers, it still peaked at #25 on BILLBOARD’s Top 200, their highest ever chart entry along with WORKIN’ TOGETHER from the previous year.

They were hot off their biggest (#4) and only US Top 10 single, ‘Proud Mary’, of which a live version was included.

But seriously, how lopsided are those details? Ike & Tina Turner had one Top 10 single and only managed to reach #25 in the album chart, despite being amongst of the biggest live attractions in America and around the world during the 60′s / early 70′s?

Well, their records didn’t get much mainstream exposure on Top 40 radio, a permanently damaging mark on Phil Spector’s career and psyche, although rumor has it his ‘River Deep – Mountain High’ production was blackballed by the then venomous payola demanding radio community.

Or possibly, Ike & Tina Turner’s act was just too raw, too suggestive and too hard hitting. Reality wasn’t always a friend of the mainstream.

Some of their previous, should have been hit singles were included on the double set. Two being ‘Ive Been Loving You Too Long’ and ‘A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knockin’ Everyday)’, both part of the three song jukebox only EP above.

Marva Josie

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Listen: Don’t / Marva Josie
Marva Josie.mp3

How this clocks at £200 in THE ESSENTIAL NORTHERN SOUL PRICE GUIDE is beyond me. Not being a dancer of any worth myself, I’m probably in no position to judge. Still, this doesn’t sound easy to hully gully to, even on repeated listens. And I thought that was the whole point of Northern Soul, hence all nighters and such. Oh well, learn something everyday.

I do love a voice, rich in gospel timbre, one that could’ve easily fleshed out as a rotating member of Phil Spector’s background vocalists or Ike Turner’s Ikettes even. Marva Josie possessed just that. In fact, this has a number of passages that had me slipping into The Crystals’ ‘Little Boy’ while humming it in my head earlier today, walking from the subway along 6th Avenue to my office. I must have played ‘Don’t’ twenty times last night when ending the weekend with a healthy unboxing/filing marathon and couldn’t get it out of my brain.


Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Listen: So Long / Fischer-Z

One of many records proving my lack of instinct when it came to picking songs that could blow up mainstream. ‘So Long’ was a no brainer, I’d thought. A few listens, and the world was going to find their new anthem. Seriously, I didn’t have a doubt.

‘So Long’ came into my head on Monday, overhearing the slogan during Duane’s birthday dinner at Benny’s Burritos. As NEW YORK MAGAZINE describes it, the restaurant serves grub not food, emerging one into a world of pink walls, lava lamps, and 60s artifacts. Who can resist and consequently, been eating here since the 80′s, dependable and maybe even better than ever. An additional bonus, the corner location with it’s large open windows doubles perfectly as a panoramic, non stop visual of every nut in New York, while they strut their eccentricities proudly along Avenue A.

So when overhearing the old school exchange of “so long”, the Fischer-Z track popped instantly into my head. And to be perfectly honest, had me immediately sitting straight up, slightly concerned I’d not seen the record in ages. No worries, there it was on the shelf back home a few hours later.

Roger and I played this religiously back in 1980, and all things stopped from it’s very first note, consistently anticipating the subtle production dub splash on the snare at 4:45. That was the song’s payoff to us, and we’d laugh with joy every single time we played it. Nice memory that.

The M.G.M. Studio Orchestra

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Listen: Bird Bath / The M.G.M. Studio Orchestra

The Mercury/Philips/Fontana labels were, in my opinion, secretly the best when it came to 60′s soundtracks. The industry elite likely considered United Artists or MGM to be the cream, but I just don’t think so. Those labels were outlets for their sister film divisions, so for quantity, they far outdid the Mercury group, but not quality.

Like Fontana’s BLACK ORPHEUS, the Mercury soundtrack to the Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton clunker THE SANDPIPER is slammed full of period piece background music, almost generically perfect for any B movie all nighter. In fact, despite the film being an MGM release, my guess is the loud thud of the movie’s flop meant their record division hot potatoed the soundtrack. What a God-send for Mercury.

And seriously, this Quincy Jones produced album is all over the map. In fact, via liner notes from the hand of composer Johnny Mandel himself, he intentionally attempted to accomplish something different in soundtrack music, wherein the “wildest possible variety of sounds and tempo….the surf, the grandeur of the mountains, the beauty of the land” were rolled into one whopping must of a vinyl album, not omitting the ultimate schlock standard ‘Shadow Of Your Smile’ along the way.

But it’s the closing track, and miraculously the 7″ single choice, ‘Bird Bath’ that takes the cake and really makes no sense in the context of all the other songs. Bordering on teen beat, late 50′s style, this was beautifully out of step by it’s release in ’65.

Why on earth did anyone at Mercury think this would get airplay and be a hit? Well, whoever made that decision, I sure would like to thank them. ‘Bird Bath’ is magic.

Amon Duul II

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Listen: Pigman / Amon Duul II

Back when Rich Fazekas oversaw the college promotion department at United Artists Records with Marty Cerf, the label was pretty much my favorite. I was nuts about Family and anything Roy Wood had involvement with. That meant The Move, The Electric Light Orchestra and Roy Wood’s Wizzard, all on the roster. Then there was Hawkwind, Brinsley Schwarz and their distributed labels too, especially Blue Note, with Bobbi Humphrey and Marlena Shaw. He and I were on the phone daily, literally daily. Rich at the label’s Sunset Blvd office in Los Angeles, me at my college radio station’s pathetic office in Rochester New York, fairly desperate for a way to trade up, out and to a label job located in a real city.

Rich meanwhile, always tried to convince me about some of the German acts they had too. Occasionally he’d slip one of the UK pressings he’d been serviced with by bands like Neu or Can, and often pounded me on the US released albums from Amon Duul II. I was clearly more in pocket with the pop singles by Roy Wood’s projects or even Family 7′s, as opposed to six or eight minute meandering album tracks.

Then one afternoon, Rich called to say he’d just overnighted me a new Amon Duul II release, but this time it was a 7″. Well alright, a single by any prog rock act, usually sliced into three minutes from something much longer, had always been a form of collectibility. I never needed much justification to horde a 7″, and still don’t.

When ‘Pigman’ arrived the next day, the title alone had me interested. After all, it put everyone else at the station off immediately, a good initial sign. Although not what I was expecting, having aligned them more with Kraftwerk or Faust, I still wanted to like this, the label copy looked great. The band’s name being one I’d never seen on a 7″. These things excited me.

Those ahead of the curve college radio programmers never gave their albums much of a break with airtime, and ‘Pigman’, the band’s first and only US single, didn’t change the shut out. And I don’t understand it any more clearly now than then, given the record had tongue in cheek country verses with hard rock chorus riffs. Seems it should’ve been eaten up.

Oh well, a nice 7″ pressing to have. I never see it around much these days either.

Floyd Robinson

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Listen: Motorcycle Man / Floyd Robinson

Mike Goldsmith called one Friday jonesing for a vinyl trawl, and so we headed toward Long Island early the next day to sniff out a comic book/toy store tipped to have a bunch of weird records in their back room. Sure enough, the tip was accurate. And by weird, what our friend meant was he hadn’t recognized any of the artists. Basically, what we uncovered were the remnants of an old radio station library previously picked clean of any and all known acts. This initially gave us both the shakes, but on closer examination, realized we’d stumbled on an incredibly sick collection of rare and remarkable obscurities. About four or five hundred singles later, we headed home ecstatic.

‘Motorcycle Man’ was one such gem, and upon hitting the turntable, it became totally apparent that ‘Motorcycle Man’ was a cocktail of surf, country vocals and garage trash. Not successfully uncovering a stitch of info on this Floyd Robinson has made me nuts for ages. By all counts, not the same Floyd Robinson who had RnB success in ’59 with ‘Makin’ Love’ on RCA. When I picked this up, I just figured they were one in the same, and the single would add to my small collection of his 7′s. Not so.

Any insight on this Floyd Robinson is welcome.

Ike & Tina Turner

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Listen: Baby – Get It On / Ike & Tina Turner

Seemingly undaunted by failure, Ike & Tina Turner churned out singles at a hectic, continuous pace for more than a decade.

Come ’75, the number declined, as opposed to say their ’64 – ’68 run. By this point, the tradeoff was certainly more album releases than just about any other act. No doubt encouraged by the United Artists funded, but Ike & Tina Turner owned Bolic Sound in the Inglewood section of Los Angeles, they flooded the market with an endless stream of jam based, second rate songs. Or so it seemed at the time.

Their live draw was at a peak, and in concert, much of what sounded pedestrian on vinyl surely exploded on the stage. Playing so many of those releases, as I often do, their once current but generic, assembly line weakness quite honestly has gotten more and more appealing as both time and distance increase. As do the once unappealing covers.

What some might still consider a careless, bland or demo-like snare sound now stamp a period date smack onto each record. A true hidden charm being the clarity and precision of Ike’s studio technique.

‘Baby – Get It On’ easily exemplifies the above claim, and was to be their last BILLBOARD Top 100 entry, peaking at #88 in ’75.

Don’t care, sounds better than ever to me. Combining Ike’s cliched lyrics, Tina’s ever inspired, dutiful call/response delivery, that drum sound and a clear stereo mix easily allows the sum to become greater than the parts.

What I, and most likely, we all used to pass up at garage and house sales have become eyebrow raisers nowadays. Yes, trust me, Ike & Tina Turner’s mid 70′s United Artists singles are worth grabbing.

Lee ‘Shot’ Williams

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Listen: I Found A Love / Lee ‘Shot’ Williams

In ’72, United Artists picked up Lee ‘Shot’ Williams’ ‘It Ain’t Me No More’ / ‘I Found A Love’ off PM Records out of Mississippi, re-releasing it as ‘It Ain’t Me’.

Having already issued a string of blues and soul singles from ’64 to ’70 on very small, local imprints like Foxy, Tchula, Gamma, Palo and Shama, with the occasional larger label like Federal and Sussex in the mix, the chitlin circuit airplay for ‘It Ain’t Me No More’ suddenly looked like it just might blossom into that much anticipated moment every musician awaits, and United Artists’ excitement felt like the stars had finally lined up for Lee Williams.

I recall the label’s RnB department acting super confident about the single, due in part to his dependable live performances.

B side ‘I Found A Love’, for what it’s worth, felt way more like the hit to me. It combined the the pure down at heal pleading of every great Solomon Burke single with a more dirty but polished radio ready production, not unlike say, Wilson Pickett. Wrong again Kevin. In fact, the record literally disappeared into thin air. Other than the posse at UA, for which I was a college rep, seems no one paid a wink of attention.

Fast forward a few decades and just try even holding a copy for under $50.

A Handful Of Cheek

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Listen: I’ll Slap Your Face / A Handful Of Cheek

King Of The Hooks, as Jonathan King was known, kept a non-stop flow of pop novelty singles coming from his UK Records imprint during the early 70′s. Initially distributed by Decca and later Polydor, some deservedly became the occasional hit.

Clearly, all these one-off releases were from his own musical pen, when not picking up the occasional left field Reggae (Carl Malcolm), Northern (The Devonnes) or American Soul (Hoagy Lands) master that is.

JK always came up with hysterical synonyms for himself and his hired musicians. In this case, A Handful Of Cheek.

When visiting London in March ’77 with Corinne, we made the rounds of all the labels, blagging records. Howard set us up with Andrew Lauder at United Artists, and folks at Chrysalis, Charisma, etc. No one was about to bother with UK, deemed quite unhip despite 10CC and The Kursaal Flyers. Maybe others looked down their nose at UK, but certainly not me.

Maintaing a small office just near the entrance to Warren Street tube, the very nice receptionist gladly opened the cupboards and pulled out a good fifty singles for me to take back home for my US college station. Bless her. A Handful Of Cheek was among them.

Starting with a glam drum sound, ‘I’ll Slap Your Face’ soon turns into one of my favorite Jonathan King novelties. Dropping in the orchestral backing at the key change is an unexpected and undeniable example of why King Of The Hooks, even if self appointed, is undeniably justified.

Ike Turner

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Listen: Right On / Ike Turner

Lux and Ivy once pulled me aside in Toronto’s Kop’s Collectibles while we were shopping for 45′s just after doing a MUCH MUSIC interview. In deadpan seriousness, Ivy handed me an Ike Turner single proclaiming if I did not own it, I needed it. “He’s incredible, like seriously incredible.”

“Forget all that whoee about his domestic life, the records, just get ‘em all”, Lux in an almost scolding tone.

I have obeyed, and as an email I recently got specific to my several posts on this blog conveyed, you can never have enough Ike & Tina Turner.

‘Right On’ came out as a 7″ back when I was a college rep for United Artists, desperately interested in The Move, Wizzard, The Bonzo Dog Band and Family from their current roster, but also into the occasional Blue Note (who they distributed) funk-jazz release and any Monk Higgins or Bobby Womack single.

How I missed, misplaced or failed to pay attention to ‘Right On’ is a scary blank in my memory. It’s so good, so racey, so unforgettable. What the fuck happened? Did I black out for three months or something? Well, I’ll never know. But as I lie here in bed, with it on repeat and type this post, I can tell you one thing. At this very moment, it’s my favorite record in the whole wide world.

These lyrics are hysterical. Listen to every one. It may take a few plays, and I suggest headphones, but you’ll pick them up. Ike’s delivery will get in your face, maybe even scare you a bit, his voice is that alive. Wow.

Last week, while out on the Matt & Kim / blink-182 tour, we had a day off in Pittsburgh. Typically, they hit the Warhol museum, I think the crew went to a sporting event of some stadium sort, and I hit today’s version of the yellow pages, Google, looking for used 45′s. First thing that comes up: Jerry’s Records.

I rang to ask, did they have 45′s from the 50′s and 60′s. It was Jerry who answered.

Affirmative. “About 700,000.”

Hmm, ok, sounds like a bit of a stretch, but certainly more than a few boxes, and it was close, four miles. What the heck.

Lord have mercy. This was the most jaw dropping, overwhelming record store I can recall being in, maybe ever. If you visit, and you seriously must, be ready. What you see pictured above is one row from the $3 section of 45′s, then a few of those rows representing around one third of that total $3 section. Plus there’s the $7 section, the new arrivals and the $100+ locked room, none of those even pictured here. In total, they all take up maybe one quarter, tops, of the entire shop. The rest is albums. The walls are lined with memorabilia and every space is crammed with old displays and trade ads and, and, and……

I stood there frozen, body and brain. Couldn’t think of one single I needed for like five minutes. It was that powerful. But once I got going….forget it.

Promise yourself you will visit, and don’t plan on doing it in just one day. Maybe bring a stretcher. You might need to leave on it.

Like ‘Right On’, which I purchased at Jerry’s, I’d somehow never heard of either.

Aren’t records the greatest! There are so many, you never run out of the need to keep looking.


Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Listen: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday / Wizzard

Pay attention. This might get complicated.

A famous writer once told me Roy Wood’s songs were never about topics that the critics and public assumed. For example, at the height of LSD psychedelia, we’re talking summer ’67, ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’, recorded by his band The Move, was indeed based on a children’s fantasy story, not drugs. This particular detail, in fact, from Roy Wood himself. Apparently, he never did drugs.

So it’s an interesting theory that ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ was indeed not a seasonal song at all, but instead about one’s beloved coke dealer. Pay close attention to the lyrics: “When the snowman brings the snow…”, etc. Quite a hilarious double entendre indeed.

More interesting to myself though are the details about this single’s actual appearance into the UK marketplace.

Roy Wood and his band, Wizzard, were red hot property in ’72. And after two consecutive #1 singles, the first, ‘See My Baby Jive’ reportedly being one of the all time biggest selling UK singles, at least for a while, he could basically write his own ticket.

Possibly resulting from both bad judgement and advice, Roy Wood prematurely signed to Warner Brothers after a very successful run with the EMI group’s various labels, and planned on releasing ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ via his new label home. Warners even pressed up copies, complete with an elaborate picture cover, the front of which is pictured above. In actuality, the sleeve was a gatefold, and an absolute beauty.

Someone, somewhere put a halt, I’m guessing by pointing out that EMI’s Harvest label indeed still had the rights to his output, and so the Warner Brothers copies were withdrawn, subsequently never to be seen again. Well until now, above.

The existing sleeves, however, now housed the Harvest pressing, without the bother of even stickering over the Warner Brothers catalog number. And why not? The record still barreled to a UK #4 in ’73. A true work of genius, right down to the children’s choir, possibly signing about the joys of cocaine. How funny if indeed this were fact, but given Roy Wood’s public aversion to drug use, probably not the case.

To slightly complicate these details and unfortunately ruffle some hard core collector’s coloured feathers, Roy Wood’s US label at the time, United Artists, basically chickened out on giving ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ a proper release, so instead pressed up weird bootleg looking copies, servicing them to radio.

Huh? Is this a way to make stations feel a commitment to your act? Stupidity of the highest degree, but as a result, adding incredible value to the handful of copies in existence. Thank you Rich Fazekas for mine.

Two years ago, I was in a Bed, Bath & Beyond, scouring some last minute gifts for obligatory friends, when what came over the store sound system? ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’. Only took thirty five years.

More importantly, a classic song is forever just that, a classic. Roy Wood has been recognized as a living Beethoven, and I am front of the line in agreeing.

‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ has re-charted in the UK many times during the holidays: ’81, ’84, ’07, ’08, ’09 and ’10. I’m betting on ’11 to repeat that process.


Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Listen: Isi / Neu
Isi / Neu

Shaving off just over a minute from the full length, opening track on NEU ’75, their third album, meant 3:55 worth of hit single potential got itself pressed onto a hopeful UK 7″, anxious to follow Kraftwerk and Mike Oldfield into the charts.

From the way history implies, copies didn’t go much further than from occasional shop counter tops to Julian Cope’s and David Bowie’s houses. Not surprisingly, little to no airplay nor sales transpired, making even the promo pressings scarce.

Nowhere near as raw as expected, my initial few listens didn’t find me returning for multiple plays, not at first. But through the years, ‘Isi’ makes for a handy set breather during my Sunday afternoon record hops at the house, on rainy days, particularly in the autumn. Try it sometime.

The Easybeats

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Listen: Make You Feel Alright (Women) / The Easybeats
Make You Feel Alright (Women) / The Easybeats

Having signed a then lucrative five year deal with United Artists for territories outside of homeland Australia in early ’66, part of the plan to launch The Easybeats in the US, I’m guessing, was to immediately release their biggest hit, ‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’, while new material was being recorded. As a result, in early Spring, UA’s subsidiary label, Ascot, coupled the band’s first #1 at home with another Australian A side ‘In My Book’, and housed the single in a now very scarce picture sleeve.

Some of the Boston stations, like WBZ charted it, but nationally, not much transpired. Except as luck would have it, at WOLF in Syracuse, the hometown life changing Top 40 station forever glued to my ear as a kid. Spring ’66 found this youngster, who should’ve been knee deep in coloring books, instead becoming a fan of The Easybeats, amongst many.

‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’ reminded me of The Pretty Things ‘Big City’, both depending on bar chords sliding around way up high on the guitar neck, a style and sonic I found ridiculously addictive. The Pretty Things performed ‘Big City’ that way on SHINDIG, and I forever recognized the technique introduced to me by their guitarist Dick Taylor, while sitting about 2 feet from the black and white TV screen.

Have a look at the May ’66 WOLF chart below, and you’ll begin to make sense of how great records like ‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’ took over my life.

WOLF Charts May 7, 1966

Ike & Tina Turner

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Listen: Nutbush City Limits / Ike & Tina Turner
INutbush City Limits / Ike & Tina Turner

Given that Ike & Tina Turner’s Bolic Sound Studio from the 70′s was quite near LAX, I asked my cab driver would he please cruise past it’s address, 1310 North La Brea, on our way to the airport yesterday. And of course, he did. Every Los Angeles trip I try to visit some historic location or landmark, most of the time only historic to me, usually bringing on the creeps, which is exactly the plan. More often than not, they now provide zero clues to the past. Like after an auto accident is cleared away, the street cleaned up, like it never happened. All that history just gutted, renovated, erased. It’s disgraceful.

Such was the case here. Given the early morning hour, it meant the area stood deserted, smoggy and still asleep. The building now connected to it’s legend only in address. Equal parts sad and eerie. What went on behind those walls in the early 70′s? What about the decor? What happened to all that equipment, furniture, or those wall hangings, plaques? I recall friends from United Artists working in the label’s office at the time, saying Ike Turner’s deal, which included large advances and complete studio funding, pretty much sank their ship. When you’re spending someone else’s dime, you tend to over-decorate I’m sure.

One thing was certain, there, right in front of my eyes, just a few yards away, stood the building where Ike & Tina Turner recorded and mixed a portion of their vast output. Lucky enough, we hit a red light. I had a solid minute to just stare and zone and imagine. Surely some priceless characters spilled out into the broad daylight, splat onto that corner, in who knows what outfits or states, after many an all night session. Not to mention, the boxes of promos arriving for each release. Where did they all go?

Country Gazette

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Listen: Teach Your Children / Country Gazette CountryGazetteTeachYourChildren.mp3

Graham Nash seems a good egg. Having written so many great songs, his patience with Crosby, Stills & Nash must be admired. Unlike The Hollies or he as a solo artist, that band just never seemed to breathe life into any of his compositions. I didn’t pay them a lot of attention mind you, and only when it was a Graham Nash song did Crosby, Stills & Nash seem to catch my ear.

How glad was I to finally find an inspired version of ‘Teach Your Children’ in a pile of A labels, saved so generously for me by my pal Graham Stapleton in London. Check out our history elsewhere on the blog.

Even before giving it a spin, hopes were high. Jim Dickson had produced. His many recordings with The Byrds, he demoed and managed their original lineup, were always powerful.

When Country Gazette were current, and releasing records on United Artists, yours truly was the label’s New York State college rep, having gained notice from Rich Fazekas. Basically UA, as we all called them, were the US outlet for a few of my top favorites from the period: Roy Wood via his various releases with The Move, Wizzard and solo; plus Family. Racing their singles and albums to the top of our college station’s playlist alerted the UA home office. Fandom expanded to business relationship. Exactly what going to college is really all about, making connections for the real world.

Once firmly in place as the UA college rep with a trunk full of promos, I blindly championed the aforementioned English acts, while unfair lack of attention was bestowed on the Blue Note catalog and various Nashville leaning artists like Townes Van Zandt and Country Gazette. Big regret. Apologies.

Luckily, the ‘unable to throw anything away’ gene meant I saved a copy of every last record I was supposed to promote, and can now repent for my sins by finally trying to spread the word about Country Gazette, even if Graham Stapleton hadn’t saved me this 7″.

Dr. Feelgood

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Listen: Another Man / Dr. Feelgood DrFeelgoodAnotherMan.mp3

There’s a load of theories about where punk started. I suppose you can slice and dice it back to anywhere you want, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or The Pretty Things, or endless garage bands from the mid 60′s. Most self appointed, gatekeeping journalists will flatter each other with either The Stooges or The New York Dolls. My vote goes to Suicide in the US and the Canvey Island bands in the UK, of which Dr. Feelgood were the first superstars.

Their live show stoked Eddie & The Hot Rods and together they lit up London fast and raw. It was indeed the speed of sound and the sound of speed all at once. New bands that clutched to the past and stood in their way were mowed down flat. Hustler and Nutz for example. It was a fun time for house cleaning. Labels like Chrysalis had their rosters fossilized overnight. Seemed like the world turned from black and white to color. Every single released was a new high.

Dr. Feelgood: Lee Brilleaux had a vocal style and stage presense not unlike Roger Chapman, and Wilko Johnson religiously perfected Mick Green’s jagged guitar style into his own. Their second album, MALPRACTICE, is a clean, articulate blueprint of the band’s attack and technique. But when Dr. Feelggod unleashed live, it was unstoppable.

Seeing them between late ’75 through mid ’77 really was life changing. If you did, you’ll know how hearing their records now will still sound different to us, as opposed to those who weren’t as lucky. Over three decades later, that hasn’t changed.

Not one for European pressings, I tell you honestly, my collection has less than a hundred. I make exception for singles like this, when not one but two 7″ worthy songs are issued on a 45. Both ‘Going Back Home’ and ‘Another Man’ (like ‘I Can Tell’, all from MALPRACTICE) were never released as singles in the UK or US. This Dutch pressing being the only exception to my knowledge. In fact, ‘I Can Tell’ has never come out on 7″ anywhere. How did the otherwise faultless Andrew Lauder mess this one up?

Wait. Come to think of it, there were a few numbers from Brinsley Schwarz NERVOUS ON THE ROAD that deserved single status. Andrew Lauder you have some answering to do.

Being an archivist and collector can also mean you’re a pack-rat, depending upon whom you listen to. Ask Corinne for instance and she’ll pick door number three.

Fine, I’m all of them and glad of it, having saved pretty much everything I’ve ever owned, starting with a rock that flew into my hand off my tricycle’s front wheel at about five years old. That’s how extreme, and far back, I can claim the obsession. Good thing, because the records began at age seven. Damn, if only I started at birth.

In the case of this flyer, saving every last item allowed me to pinpoint the exact date and hour when a whole new musical world was revealed behind that invisible curtain. There had been a few jolting revelations before and several after, but that moment when rock as it had been known and loved immediately became the past occured on February 29, 1976. Dr. Feelgood were a blistering no holds barred introduction to pub and punk. Gone was the polish and self indulgence, the bloat and tired outfits. What the music world changed into we all know.

It was a fantastic time to be young and insatiable. And here’s the flyer to stake that very date in my life. Corinne and I, with our dearest friend Karen Kasiner, braved a winter storm to see Dr. Feelgood. I wouldn’t trade that night for anything.

Ike & Tina Turner

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Listen: Sexy Ida (Part 1) / Ike & Tina Turner IkeTinaSexyIda.mp3

You are correct, this is not my first Ike & Tina Turner post, nor will it be the last. My wall shelf easily has a foot long upright section dedicated to their singles, all of them essentials.

I recently played ‘Sexy Ida (Part 1) at the Brooklyn Bowl residency, and man did it sound hot through a big PA. Parts 1 and 2 would certainly have you thinking a six or seven minute album version was lazily divided into halves so as to fit the whole song onto a 7″. Not the case here, which is a rare occasion – indeed possibly one of a kind.

Listen: Sexy Ida (Part 2) / Ike & Tina Turner IkeTinaIda2.mp3

‘Sexy Ida (Part 2) is in fact a less black, more rock-of -the day rendition. Sounds to me like their recent mainstream successes with ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘I Want To Take You Higher’ inspired Ike Turner to record a more guitar heavy rendition to the track, just in case the white underground and pop stations took a shine. In fact, it has a uncanny resemblance to The Rolling Stones, who Ike & Tina Turner had been touring with quite frequently at the time. Despite Part 2 being pressed up as a double sided DJ promo, it was Part 1 that got some traction, eventually struggling to an unjust #65 on Billboard’s Top 100 (#29 Black) in early ’74.

Choose your favorite – but it should be well easy to guess mine.

Brinsley Schwarz

Friday, May 21st, 2010

BrinsleyHappyUSA, Brinsley Schwarz, Nick Lowe

Listen: Happy Doing What We’re Doing / Brinsley Schwarz BrinsleyHappy.mp3

Never much interested in American flannel shirt country rock easily lead me to brush off similar bands from the UK. I was equally dismissive of Man, Help Yourself, Brinsley Schwarz, any of that early stuff hiding behind the pub rock shield. One listen and as soon as The Band/Woodstock detector would sound in my head – immediately off came the vinyl and back into the sleeve it went. Besides, I noticed Brinsley Schwarz were playing The Fillmore East with Van Morrison and Quicksilver Messenger Service. This just didn’t feel right for my palate.

Having preceded themselves as Kippington Lodge, a more mod, colorful pop Marmalade meets Herd lightweight singles band, they too never registered on my radar, oddly, despite Mark Wirtz as producer. So the evolution of Brinsley Schwarz basically was a rather unnoticed one for a while.

I softened a bit to some singles by The Band, and actually liked ‘Up On Cripple Creek’. Interestingly, their first few 45′s were higher, much higher chart achievers in the UK than here. I know, not an obvious guess, but true.

By ’72, I was fast friends with Rich Fazekas out at UA’s west coast office – a connection initialized by the label suddenly being the hip home to Family and The Move. He implored me to give their newly released fourth Brinsley Schwarz album, NERVOUS ON THE ROAD, a fair listen. I did and guess what, it became a favorite for a patch. There are a bunch of songs worthy of 7″ status on that one, and I was perfectly content to have ‘Happy Doing What We’re Doing’ be someone at the label’s choice. I just wanted a Brinsley Schwarz single from that LP in my collection.

Being a completist, I eventually surrounded ‘Happy Doing What We’re Doing’ with their singles prior and following. Some of them are fun, and real keepers, but nothing tops this one still, not for me at least.

Gary Walker & The Rain

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

GaryWalkerSpooky, Gary Walker & The Rain, Polydor, United Artisits, Scott Walker, Allan Clarke, Philips, Charlie Crane, The Cryin' Shames

Listen: Spooky / Gary Walker & The Rain GaryWalkerSpooky.mp3

Is it possible to record a bad version of ‘Spooky’ – especially when Scott Walker is producing, or even just in the studio sharing oxygen with you? Before The Walker Brothers crumbled at the seams and eventually broke up, drummer Gary Walker was making solo singles – the first two, ‘You Don’t Love Me’ and ‘Twinkie Lee’, both becoming UK hits and as importantly, both produced by Scott Walker.

Shortly after that official breakup, Gary Walker & The Rain began what was to be a very desirable and highly collectable band. Members included Joey Molland, who prior was a member of Immediate Records recording artists The Masterminds, and after the breakup of The Rain, Badfinger.

I saw Badfinger in those days, they supported The Moody Blues. Despite their Beatles connection and Beatles sounding singles, I went along anyways – after all, it was two UK bands in my dull hometown of Syracuse. I recall speaking to the band after their set, for some reason they were all wandering around the audience looking depressed. Maybe it was bad acid.

Had no idea then he’d been a member of both The Masterminds and Gary Walker’s band. Lucky for him or the poor guy would’ve ended up running for cover.

GaryWalkerPneumonia, Gary Walker & The Rain, Philips, Charlie Crane, The Cryin' Shames

Listen: Come In, You’ll Get Pneumonia / Gary Walker & The Rain GaryWalkerPneumonia.mp3

An even more interesting member of the lineup was Charlie Crane – a very unsung musical hero of mine. Lead singer with The Cryin’ Shames (UK not US band), it is indeed his voice on their Joe Meek produced anthem ‘Please Stay’, posted elsewhere on this blog. Search it out just to see how incredible this guy’s voice was and additionally, what a terrific compliment it made to that particular tune.

Most likely by accident, seems every single Gary Walker & The Rain released had a connection to another worthy band or artist. In this case, they were neck in neck with The Easybeats’ version of the song, released a bit earlier on United Artists and selling a few more copies, but just a few. Great song, deserved better result regardless of the version.

GaryWalkerFrancis, Gary Walker & The Rain, Philips, Charlie Crane, The Cryin' Shames

Listen: Francis / Gary Walker & The Rain GaryWalkerFrancis.mp3

This B side to ‘Come In, You’ll Get Pneumonia’ was always a favorite and of great interest amongst collectors. Seems the garage fuzz fanatics find it a must. I don’t see the musical connection but do love the track.

GaryWalkerHello, Gary Walker & The Rain, Polydor, United Artisits, Scott Walker, Allan Clarke, Philips, Charlie Crane, The Cryin' Shames

Listen: Hello, How Are You / Gary Walker GaryWalkerHello.mp3

From ’69 to ’75 we jump with Gary (who in the intern was a motorbike messenger delivery fellow – so the unofficial story goes). Having left his Japan-only success, The Rain, behind him now for six years, out of nowhere pops, oddly enough, another Easybeats cover, ‘Hello, How Are You’. Nice idea – I wonder in hope, can we expect ‘Friday On My Mind’ any day? Why not and what a treat that’d be.

In keeping with the aforementioned famous friends attachment, this version was produced by Allan Clarke from The Hollies. Not sure who’s playing on it. Any ideas are welcome.

Bobby Womack / The J. Geils Band

Friday, March 26th, 2010


Listen: Looking For A Love / The J. Geils Band JGeilsLooking.mp3

I used to pretty much ignore The J. Geils Band during this period, well always if the truth be told. They were a six piece, one too many in my imaginary rule book, and man did they look bad. Endlessly touring, always playing upstate New York, mostly with some up and coming UK band as support. So, I’d go to the show, but usually found my way backstage to talk with said English group, stalking them for obscure info and details while they boogied through their headline set. It was way more exciting to stand in a crowded dressing room talking to Steve Marriott or Phil May than listen to The J. Geils Band’s blues jams.

Now I wish I could have found a way to do both. Eddie & The Hot Rods were big fans, and I started to appreciate them in hindsight. Barrie Masters constantly pestered everyone about them. So now, I can listen and appreciate them a lot more. Please accept my apologies guys, but you did need a visual make over I’m afraid.

BobbyWomackLookinUSA, Bobby Womack, The J. Geils Band, United Artists, Atlantic

BobbyWomackLookin, Bobby Womack, The J. Geils Band, United Artists, Atlantic

Listen: Lookin’ For A Love / Bobby Womack BobbyWomackLookin.mp3

Bobby Womack, on the other hand, was always a favorite. Funny enough, the English group fan in me had a lot to do with that as well. I was very friendly with Rich Fazekas from United Artists’ LA office in the early 70′s, when they had two distinct sounds to their roster: one a bunch of UK bands like The Move, Hawkwind, Brinsley Schwarz and Family; then the other RnB via Ike & Tina Turner, Monk Higgins, Marlena Shaw, Donald Byrd and Bobby Womack.

It was Roger Chapman who cornered me at the label’s LA location on Sunset, giving a stern lecture about both Bill Withers and Bobby Womack. He took me into Marty Cerf’s office and forced several new tracks from Bobby Womack’s then current COMMUNICATION album on me, at the same time recounting he and Family’s first exposure to Bill Wither’s ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. It was on the car radio somewhere between Houston and Dallas, and they would literally pull over every time it came on, drooling as it played. Being a Family freak, I hung on his every word of advice, hence my initial Bobby Womack crash course and eventual worship.