Archive for the ‘RCA’ Category

Wilbert Harrison One Man Band / Prince La La / Derek Martin

Monday, December 30th, 2013

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS / Various Artists:


Listen: Let’s Work Together (Parts 1 & 2) / Wilbert Harrison One Man Band

Side 2:

Listen: She Put The Hurt On Me / Prince La La

Listen: Daddy Rollin’ Stone / Derek Martin

Just check my previous two posts. Not hard to guess, I’ve been picking through the various artists section of my wall shelf.

Weirdly enough, this is usually a head scratching process. I don’t do it often, but every time seems to unearth a multi-artist record, usually an EP, that I’d never really noticed before, suddenly falling into the ‘where on earth did I get this from’ category. And honestly, it happens every single time. One source, the UK weeklies, who for a few years there during the late 80′s/early 90′s were including free EP’s, whether it be NME, Music Week or Melody Maker, with each issue. I religiously grabbed every one and stuck them in that VA section for a rainy day. The entire chunk now being a treasure trove of both obscure and focus tracks.

When the Ensign label got all hot and bothered about the Sue Records catalog, which I’m guessing they could suddenly access via their 1983 Island distribution deal, they issued a series of four song EP’s religiously honoring the labels iconic history. Some were single artist compilation EP’s by Ike & Tina Turner or Inez & Charlie Foxx. Others were theme centric: SUE INSTRUMENTALS, THE SUE SOUL SISTERS and this, the latter’s partner, THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS. I played all three in the past few hours and basically did a blindfold drill to choose today’s 31 Days Of December – All EP’s post.

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS, most likely by design, builds around much covered songs from Sue’s UK catalog. And there were many songs to choose from here, not forgetting, the Sue UK label issued the American Sue releases along with various blues and RnB singles from small and indie US labels. Initially, Juggy Murray, who owned Sue in the US was reportedly furious with Chris Blackwell and Guy Stevens, the day to day guy at Island/Sue in London. Apparently, neither had cleared the idea of picking up product from other US companies and slapping a Sue label on it for the UK.

As a result, other than the bothersome bad blood, Sue’s British catalog and discography rivaled the majors like Decca’s, who bolstered their output and image by repping Atlantic, Monument, Tribe, RCA, Coral and others in Britain. Island became the little indie that could, even harder in the 60′s, when swimming against the tide of Decca, CBS, EMI and Pye was near impossible.

And so, the team at Ensign picked some solid originals here that went on to become widely popular as covers. Loads of bands, including The Who and John’s Children released Derek Martin’s ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ during the Mod era.

Canned Heat, blues experts themselves, took Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ Top 40 in 1970, delaying their version to give the original a chance to sell and reach #32 on BILLBOARD. In a loose full circle chain of events, John Mayall chose to record Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ for his fantastic, and I do mean fantastic, Island album, A SENSE OF PLACE from 1990.

Henry Mancini & His Orchestra

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Listen: The Party / Henry Mancini & His Orchestra

From the fairly obscure Peter Sellers film, THE PARTY. Henry Mancini & His Orchestra must have been the film industry’s go to during this period of the 60′s. It’s pretty hard to top his Pink Panther theme, but this one comes close. I had no idea there was even a soundtrack, but should have figured as much. An unexpected 50¢ discovery last week at Academy’s moving clearnace sale in Williamsburg.

Not sure if I laughed harder at any movie scene more than the bathroom episode below.

Zager & Evans

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Listen: In The Year 2525 / Zager & Evans

Lucky me, I still hear ‘In The Year 2525′ every so often, probably because I have Sirius Satellite radio in the car, and pretty much fly exclusively on JetBlue, simply because they offer the radio network as part of their in-flight service. Not that I wouldn’t fly them regardless. Despite accruing over two million frequent flyer miles on American Airlines, they’ve turned into a ghetto in the sky. A flight attendant recently charged me $5.00 cash to go up front and get me the vegetarian meal I’d ordered but had been given to another customer. It was a New York to London flight, and I was famished. Still, I reported him as soon as we arrived.

Are there any songs more spot on about the future than this one? Talk about a crystal ball. Have mercy.

The record might even be scary in the right setting or state of mind. Seriously, it’s just impossible to tire of ‘In The Year 2525′. It still gives me the creeps.

The Small Faces

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Listen: All Or Nothing / The Small Faces

The lack of airplay ‘All Or Nothing’ was afforded upon release in the US goes down as one of the great crimes in our country’s history. It was shocking at the time.

BILLBOARD’s 9/17/66 issue featured the full page RCA industry ad above, not only promoting the single, but also the label’s signing of The Small Faces. Their previous releases had been issued by London Records’ imprint, Press. Of the three, only ‘Sha La La La Lee’ managed a smattering of play, primarily Sacramento (KXOA), San Bernardino (KFXM) and Miami (WFUN) of all, seemingly unsuspecting, places.

A big indicator of RCA’s commitment was reflected in the custom picture sleeve which accompanied ‘All Or Nothing’, also profiled in the aforementioned print ad. I can still feel the jolt my body took upon opening to that page during a Friday evening at Smith’s Records in Oneida, NY, a weekly stop to pour over the store’s current issue.

Unbeknown to us all, Mrs. Smith contributed incredibly toward my formative years of becoming an avid music fan and record collector. Not only did she allow me to monopolize the magazine at the counter, she gave me her expired copies and most patiently wrote down my weekly special order choices as I’d scour the Singles Review page of the magazine.

BILLBOARD broke down most newly issued records into their editorially predicted sections: Top 20, Top 60 or the kiss of death Chart categories. Not surprisingly, many of music history’s classic releases began their painful cult status wallowing in that lonely Chart section, records tipped to scrape into the Hot 100′s lower reaches at best.

In the very same issue, and despite the lucrative ad buy, BILLBOARD drove a nail through the record’s heart with a Chart verdict, surprising given the label’s full page print buy. Mind you, this section was highly influential at the time.

More importantly, did the person or persons responsible for this damnation even listen to it? How on earth do you toss aside Steve Marriott’s unsurpassable vocal? Not only acknowledged as possibly the 60′s greatest white soul singer, his collaborative first division songwriting with Ronnie Lane stamped ‘All Or Nothing’ as one of the undeniably legendary singles from the period. How could a BILLBOARD employee, or more frighteningly their staff, not spot this?

Mrs. Smith never did get my special order for the record fulfilled, and as a result, I innocently passed up the only copy I ever saw when current at my other haunt, Walt’s Records in Syracuse. For true, it was a hard and painful moment that. With only one dollar in my pocket, the default purchase choice became ‘I’m A Boy’ by The Who, fingers crossed firmly my special order for ‘All Or Nothing’ was on it’s way. Wrong.

But all things happen for a reason. During the 70′s, the search for records pre-Ebay was via GOLDMINE’s classifieds. Religiously I would scour the magazine upon arrival. Literally, all things would stop. The process took hot line style priority status. So finally, a copy of ‘All Or Nothing’ in the sleeve was listed by a Texas dealer. I called him immediately, usurped the auction and closed the sale early. To my extreme luck, and possibly as karmic blessing, a sheet of the below factory jukebox tabs was inside the sleeve:

“Oh great joy”, to quote a line from OGDEN’S NUT GONE FLAKE.

Spike Jones

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Listen: That Old Black Magic / Spike Jones

By age 11, Spike Jones was playing pots and pans, substituting forks, knives and spoons for sticks. Years later he became known as the best drummer in Hollywood. This popular rendition of the much covered ‘That Old Black Magic, which never charted, is rumored to have sold over one million copies in the US alone.

When current, he considered himself a maker of sounds, not music and eventually, his zany style clearly became a direct influence on The Bonzo Dog Band, like The Goons before them.

Dean Courtney

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

DeanCourtneyNeedYou, Dean Courtney, RCA, Northern Soul

Listen: I’ll Always Need You / Dean Courtney

‘I’ll Always Need You’ could almost pass for the mold used to make Northern Soul. I had a few odd Dean Courtney records, a later album on some Columbia distributed label, and a few singles but none of them can touch this. It’s been floating around the house for a while, got it with Tony King’s collection a couple of years back.

I always knew a few of his RCA’s were sought after, but didn’t expect this to be one somehow, figured that was too good to be true. Instead, indeed it happens to be his most valuable single, according to The Northern Soul Price Guide. Even if it weren’t in monetary terms, it has to be in musical ones. I gave it a spin last night, and my eyes bugged out. Whoa. This is fantastic, made just a little bit better by being able to watch that ‘A’ label go round the turntable.

The Handclappers / D. D. T. & The Repellents

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Listen: Three Gassed Rats / The Handclappers

I’m just loving estate sales these past few weeks. Schlepped my tired bones to another one in 5 Towns Saturday morning. I really thought twice about it. Listing his phone number in the post, I called the guy the night before. This fellow was kind of short, probably having gotten so many calls already. I wanted to know, did he have any records, given none where listed in the ad. Seeing as the number was listed, why not ring?

He proceeded to say there were a few, but that his Dad worked for WABC in the 60′s, so most of the good stuff was long gone, plus he ‘knew his stuff’. Oh boy, a little knowledge can be more dangerous than a lot, but I got up, showered, and braved a NYC snow storm. That, by the way, means an inch or so, but the city cripples and these moments make for perfect opportunities to buy records at just this kind of event.

Waiting in line at 7am with a bunch of desperate, unwashed dealers, hoping to make their rent for yet another week is pretty fucking ugly and depressing. Why am I here?

Well guess what, these records are two of about fifty examples of why. Yes, his Dad worked sales for WABC in the early 60′s, and was more fun to talk to than the records he sold me, well almost.

I shudder to imagine the stuff that he unloaded prior, but the remnants were just fantastic. All $1 or less, and in unplayed, untouched, almost unbelievable condition.

‘Three Gassed Rats’ is from ’61, on the London Records distributed Collier, most likely the imprint’s sole release, a surf wannabe. Gassing any animal is not my idea of an ethical procedure, but clearly from title alone, worth a 50¢ gamble. Plus, I love anything to do with London Records. Thinking back, that parent company picked up many a local release, giving each it’s own label identity. Smart move on London’s part. The examples are becoming endless.

What do I know about The Hanclappers’ origins? Nothing. What I do know is this one is a rad Link Wray attempt, and hopefully they were from Kansas or somewhere equally unlikely.

Listen: The Fly Swatter / D. D. T. & The Repellents

Oh yes, D. D. T. & The Repellents. no doubt, another regional release scooped up by a major. This literally crosses The Ran-dells ‘Martian Hop’ with The Chipmunks, throwing in a little, very little, Dick Dale. This one pre-dates The Cramps’ ‘Human Fly’ by about fifteen years. I guess you could call it Surf. Don’t know, nor do I know squat about the band.

Generally, I despise when anyone writes on the record label, or even the company sleeve. In this case though, I appreciate the identification. Top of the pile, this former WABC employee’s decided to announce that particular stack, about thirty in total, by price and decade.

I bought them all. And finally, I can say that indeed, DDT did a job on me too.

Sam Cooke

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Listen: Little Red Rooster / Sam Cooke

Even if Sam Cooke hadn’t name checked “Billy” at the onset of the organ solo, he, being Billy Preston, would have been on my shortlist of guesses. Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Smith, Brian Auger, Hank Jacobs to also name a few too, they played in the same Hammond jazz/funk/soul, or whatever it’s called, pocket during the mid to late 60′s.

I was not initially attracted to this record, nor Sam Cooke for that matter, when current. Given the single came out in ’64, and peaked at #11, I’d never heard it. Not until decades later, when rummaging through a Salvation Army pile of discards did this remake of the Willie Dixon tune, a year later (’65) made popular by The Rolling Stones, seem a worthwhile 25¢ gamble.

For the longest time, the song’s swing shuffle approach sounded too dated, too safe and too like something my parents would listen to. Just recently did I give it a play and only because this UK promo pressing beauty entered my collection, thank you Vicki Wickham.

Boing. How did I not notice the organ playing ever before? Even as part of the song’s MOR slush style, it stands out.

Then that “Billy” namechack had me curious. So my world wide web digging began. Now I’m completely intrigued by the events of December 10, 1964. It was fun Google mapping all of Sam Cooke’s stops that night from his Los Angeles home on Ames Street to dinner and clubs on Sunset to a no tell motel on South Figueroa Street in South Central to the Los Angeles County morgue. Fun stuff.

And I found this too, confirming Billy Preston.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Friday, December 9th, 2011

I Put A Spell On You ('66) / Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Listen: I Put A Spell On You (’66 Version) / Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

“Let me tell you one thing, a leopard don’t change it’s spots.”

That’s what Screamin’ Jay Hawkins had to say about Little Richard’s then recent denouncement of drugs and sex. This was ’85, and he’d just done his first New York show in a long, long time at some short lived venue near Chinatown. He was at a career low. After the performance, he and his wife came out to the front bar for a drink with Eric and Mel, and Corinne and I. The four of us were about the only folks who showed up. We’d looked forward to it for weeks. How could this public indifference be possible?

Didn’t matter to him, his show was full on. Came out of the coffin, the whole ten yards. We sat for a good hour, Eric and I just pouring questions on him, learning that he kept all his stage props at his son’s place in New Jersey when not in use and that included the coffin. I was enthralled with Little Richard since seeing him on The Dick Cavett Show in the late 60′s at which time he was making a bit of a comeback, having just signed to Reprise and was more flamboyant than ever. Just hysterical, really camp and out of control, most likely cocaine fueled. By ’85, Little Richard’s whole drill was about finding God and denouncing his old ways. So I asked Screamin Jay if he knew him, and had he really given up all those fun things. And that was his response.

Having been ripped off royally for publishing and record royalties when ‘I Put A Spell On You’ was originally released in ’58 (it’s rumored to have sold 1M copies for which Screamin’ Jay Hawkins saw zilch), he decided to re-record it for US Decca in ’66, giving it an Otis Redding/Bar Kays soul review rave-up. Not a widely known version, it’s here for a listen.

Voodoo / Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Listen: Voodoo / Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Around ’74, he did a one-off for RCA, ‘Voodoo’. No info on this or if any other tracks were recorded. Who at RCA would have signed him, and why? But thanks still to that brave, unknown A&R executive.

Heart Attack And Vine / Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Listen: Heart Attack And Vine / Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

In ’93, his version of ‘Heart Attack And Vine’, from a UK album BLACK MUSIC FOR WHITE PEOPLE, was used in a Levi’s campaign and charted at #42 in the UK. It was his only ever chart entry there or anywhere. At least he got to experience some justice prior to getting into that coffin one last time.

Ducks Deluxe

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Listen: Love’s Melody / Ducks Deluxe

is it just me, or are the bands like Ducks Deluxe always overlooked when time lining the evolution of UK punk? Although initially lumped in and credited, seems all the mainstream publications have now written them out, as well, Eddie & The Hot Rods and Dr. Feelgood. And never a mention of Canvey Island, while I’m having a moan.

‘Love’s Melody’ was from small handful of import singles that had some kids reeling with excitement at college radio and in the specialist record shops back during ’74 and 75. Other musically similar titles by Dave Edmunds, Brinsley Schwarz and Chris Spedding were no brainer companions to the newer singles by Scaffold, The Kinks, Sharks and Sparks. It was a good time to be alive.

Maybe proof of Ducks Deluxe as an important band lies in where it’s various members ended up: The Motors, The Tyla Gang plus Graham Parker & The Rumour.

The Youngbloods

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Listen: Merry-Go-Round / The Youngbloods

As with my post from a few years back, ‘Merry-Go-Round’, the followup to the equally poppy ‘Grizzly Bear’ single, was a first listen record. Despite Gail Collins and Felix Pappalardi’s psychedelic revolutionary lyrics, I’d go as far as to say this is the band’s most pointed attempt at a throwaway Top 40 hit. Throwaway, only because I’ll bet you anything the band hated it.

Let’s be fair, The Youngbloods were very musical. They mastered a perfect electric piano/clean guitar sound off the bat. Anyone who got a chance to see them live will instantly verify their greatness.

‘Merry-Go-Round’ was a hit upstate. All their singles got played, and in hindsight, that’s quite unusual. Most weren’t getting national attention from radio. ‘Get Together’ flopped on release. Not until a few years later, when reissued, did proper airplay result.

‘Merry-Go-Round’ worked perfectly coming out of the car dashboard, trust me. It sounded just fine next between The Ohio Express and The 1910 Fruitgum Company to be honest.

Sorry guys.

The Kinks

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Listen: Sitting In The Midday Sun / The Kinks
Sitting In The Midday Sun / The Kinks

June 26, 1973. The first day these two feet ever touched British soil or more accurately, the carpeting at Heathrow. Just dug through my sock drawer to verify. It’s where all the old passports are kept.

Three days later, ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ was officially released in the UK, according to the label copy on the demo pictured above. And that’s probably very accurate, given it was one of the first records heard when I finally, like finally, finally, finally got to hear BBC Radio 1. Believe it, in those days, the great radio of the UK was not a click away.

Now there are many priceless summertime songs, and one could opinion differently, but ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ is amongst the very best. Always overlooked, often for The Kinks’ own ‘Sunny Afternoon’, but don’t be fooled. This is the one. The tingle of hearing The Kinks new single on the radio that day in June ’73 was a grand privilege. Despite ‘Lola’ being a massive US hit just three years earlier, by ’73 The Kinks were relegated to finished, has beens, completely washed up by American programmers. But in homeland England, they were still being played on the radio, a kind of musical precursor to open source.

I know exactly the spot where this monumental moment occurred. It was about two hundred yards into Regents Park, sitting up against the first tree to the very left of the park entrance directly opposite the Great Portland Street tube station. This became my good luck spot for making a fake pillow (music was not allowed in the Queen’s Park, as a bobby once gently scolded) out of cousin Dinah’s large transistor radio and spending hours listening almost daily.

Dinah still has that wireless in her kitchen, and lives in the same flat a few blocks away on Cleveland Street, W1. I visit her and the radio every time I’m there.

That spot and that radio introduced Roy Wood ‘Dear Elaine’, Junior Campbell ‘Sweet Illusion’, Linda Lewis ‘Rock A Doodle Doo’, Dave Edmunds ‘Born To Be With You’, Kevin Ayers ‘Caribbean Moonshine’ and The Honeybus ‘For You’, amongst many, to this insatiable teenager.

All great singles but nothing near the direct hit ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ delivered. I was still in a swirl from up and moving to England without a plan in the world, and only $200 in my pocket. The beautiful insanity of youth, you have to love it. It was as though Ray Davies was speaking right at me, every last word. A little frightening in one way, given almost all of them applied. Thankfully the song’s calming conclusion helped keep the two pints I’d chugged en route at the Tower Tarvern on Clipstone Street down.

A little over two weeks later, The Kinks played a one day, outdoor festival at the White City Stadium in London. I didn’t want to go, it was expensive and other than Lindisfarne, the few UK bands playing were regulars at The Marquee. Besides, I recall a load of US groups as well, like Edgar Winter, by then quite polished and nothing like the soul review of Edgar Winter’s White Trash from a few years prior. I came to England to escape American bands. But how could I miss The Kinks, especially as I was now possessed by ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’.

It was a cold day for July. Never will I forget exiting the tube at White City and thinking, “I don’t want to do this”. Literally did an about face and decided to go back, then stopped. What an idiot, coming all this way and already having bought the ticket. Still, something felt not right.

Turned out this was the day Ray Davies quit on stage, just like that. Said he was “Fucking sick of it all’ straight after playing ‘Waterloo Sunset’, and left to the horror of the crowd. Everyone literally looked at each other in fear, was this really happening? Days later, all the music press covers announced the bad news to the world. ‘Ray Davies Quits Kinks’, as the MELODY MAKER headline read. I still have my copy.

Radio 1 stopped playing ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’.

Listen: Sweet Lady Genevieve / The Kinks
Sweet Lady Genevieve / The Kinks

It was not a good week. Family also announced their breakup. Two of my all time favorites, gone. Still, with glam in full swing, the mind did wander and life did go on.

Miracles can happen. What seemed like an eternity in reality lasted about three weeks. Ray Davies was now out of the hospital, where he’d gone directly following his stage exit that day for a stomach pumping. False alarm, The Kinks were in tact, with a new single in the wings even.

Was it the joy of having The Kinks back that made ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’ sound even better? I don’t think so. We were all crazy about this record. Well, Corinne and I that is.

By Fall, both of those UK A sides were coupled as a US 7″ on RCA, and an American tour announced. We ventured to New York for the triumphant return of The Kinks at The Felt Forum, and somehow figured out the band’s hotel, The Warwick on 54th Street. So we booked a room there as well.

Never a shy one, she calls the front desk and asks to be connected with Ray Davies, and sure enough, he picks up the phone. Without hesitation, Corinne explained we had traveled hundreds of miles from upstate New York to see the show, and would he be so kind as to play ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’. My jaw was on the floor.

Did you just talk to Ray Davies? “Yep.”

The Kinks didn’t play ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’ that night, but between songs, during either one of his Rudy Vallee style renditions or some old dancehall classic, Ray Davies did a quick a cappella verse/chorus from ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’, and we know to this day, it was just for us.

Nina Simone

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Listen: Save Me / Nina Simone
Save Me / Nina Simone

Coincidental but true. Just about every song named ‘Save Me’ ends up a favorite. Despite the fact that most of them share only the title in common.

Not the case with this version. Originally written and recorded by Aretha Franklin and included on her Atlantic album debut, it was Nina Simone’s 7″ version that seemed to fall out of the sky and into my possession within weeks of release. No recollection how or from where, but absolutely sure of the timing. Maybe WMCR included it in one of my weekly allocations, having been serviced a stock copy instead of the almost 100% promo copy only mailings they would usually receive. Regardless, ‘Save Me’ was by far the most swinging Nina Simone single I had yet to hear from her, and I’d heard several by then.

What a surprise when it came up on a Sirius channel during a recent JetBlue flight. If I lived in a car culture city, I’d absolutely be a subscriber.

David Bowie

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Listen: Sound And Vision / David Bowie BowieSoundVision.mp3

I was on a day trip to Hamburg, Germany last week when this came over the radio in a newspaper/candy shop. Front and back sold by the disc jockey in German, the record was a perfect soundtrack for my seven hour visit to that beautiful, cold, grey city.


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.

Jefferson Airplane

Friday, January 21st, 2011

My Best Friend / Jefferson Airplane

Listen: My Best Friend / Jefferson Airplane
My Best Friend / Jefferson Airplane

Wintertime record. I recall it being played, late at night, on those AM stations that would switch transmission direction around 9 pm (it was some FCC rule back then), and we’d all get to hear distant programming from cities far away. I’d pick up Boston (WBZ) and Fort Wayne, Indiana (WOWO). Boston radio, in particular, was playing some adventurous west coast stuff back then like Love, The Seeds and The Leaves.

But yeah, definitely hardcore winter, which in upstate New York was most unpleasant. The freezing wind howling outside, me needing to be up for school but nonetheless listening to the transistor radio under the pillow deep into the night. (The Ramones ‘Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio’ captures it perfectly). ‘My Best Friend’ was part of that soundtrack.

I was so excited about seeing Jefferson Airplane not long after SURREALISTIC PILLOW got released. Besides ‘My Best Friend’, ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody To Love’ were sure to be show stoppers. But oh dear, their live performance was terrible. Grace Slick could not pull off these songs whatsoever. None of them could. I still wonder if they even played on this record.

Given the turnout was very small, the band seemed arrogantly comfortable with being mad at those of us who did show up.

“Where are all your friends tonight”, Grace Slick dismissively spat as she glared at a guy quite close to the stage. I would think she should have been pissed at the ones who didn’t bother to buy a ticket, instead of that poor chap.

Yes, a most disrespectful bunch. I was miserably deflated and never returned to see them again.

Still, Jefferson Airplane had a few great singles through the years, yet never quite topped this one in my book.

Prince & Princess Buster

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

PrincessBuster, Prince & Princess Buster, RCA, Prince Buster

Listen: Ten Commandments From Woman To Man / Prince & Princess Buster

The Sonny & Cher of Ska, or is it the other way around. Novelty call and response records were in grand abundance back in 60′s Jamaica. And the mere thought of a street tough wise ass boyfriend cowering when his lady, the true boss in the house, starts whomping on him was too great to resist, on record and most definitely in real life.

Judy Freeman & Blackrock

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Listen: All We Need Is A Miracle / Judy Freeman & Blackrock JudyFreemanUSA.mp3

I spent most of Labor Day in my garage, which is not unlike an episode of Hoarders, because when it comes to records, that’s what I am.

It’s actually a fascinating storage space that I allow only a very few select friends near. I had it shelved out about twelve years ago. One day, a light went off in my head, and I just thought hold on, I can fill that whole garage with all my doubles and triples and collections I’d been buying yet never having time to file. Besides, the aforementioned were starting to envelop a lot of our home, and Corinne was getting pretty cranky.

Within days, I had industrial library shelving fitted and installed then hired some movers to put all those extras from the house into my new kingdom. Even though it’s about a 12 foot walk from the backdoor, it cost me $2000 to have the stuff packed and shifted, to give you an idea of how crazy it had all gotten. Presently, it’s hard to even move in there. Crazier indeed.

But now I was on the loose, grabbing as many records as I could find: church sales, rummages at the Jewish centers, yard sales, you name it. Even our local garbagemen started bringing me boxes that they’d find after seeing what was inside my trove one morning, still do. I always cover them with Dunkin Donuts on many a Tuesday. And Vicki Wickham started pimping around the UK for me, hitting up former music biz types eager to dump their singles from the 60′s and 70′s.

So yeah, it’s all in there under heavy lock and key. This morning Corinne says, “Why don’t you chill out in the garage today, try to dump some of that stuff.”

“Yes! Score!” It was actually my secret plan, but not sure if it would fly.

And that’s just what I did. Separated easily 500 singles that I can definitely part with, in some sensible fashion. What exactly that process will entail is yet to be decided.

More importantly, I dug deep, pulling out boxes I haven’t look into for at least ten years, and ended up adding easily 50 titles to the permanent indoor master library. This Northern gem was one of them.

Now a lot of folks prefer ‘Hold On’, but ‘All We Need Is A Miracle’ is easily my favorite of Judy Freeman’s singles.

Do you know how many times I’ve bid on this and lost? Had it the whole time. What else have I bought that’s already in one those boxes. Shudder to think.


Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Blockbuster / The Sweet

Listen: Blockbuster / The Sweet

Their very first single was released as far back as ’68, but not until they were taken on by the songwriting/production team of Chapman/Chinn in the early 70′s, did they succeed. Their infamous Glam rock hit streak began in ’71 and lasted thru ’75. At that point, they sadly curbed the stacked heels and glitter outfits to become a straight ahead AOR rock band.

Somewhere in there, ’73 actually, The Sweet released ‘Blockbuster’. This was at the height of Glam in the UK. Along with Slade, Wizzard, Sparks, T. Rex and David Bowie, they basically slipped into and out of the top chart slots regularly.

I lived in London at the time, and must have played ‘Blockbuster’ a thousand times on my suitcase record player, yet never ever did I tire of it. The single got new life in the 90′s, when the video series GLAM ROCK was released. One of their many Top Of The Pops performances was included. I watched it over and over and over and over and over again.

Last night, I was awoken by a pretty fierce thunderstorm. I was weired out, but got up, got dressed and went out to watch. Having visited Collinwood, Maine earlier in the day, specifically to check out the town where the DARK SHADOWS TV series was based in. Some say vampire Barnabas Collins really existed and I, like many, was addicted to the program in a serious way and so it truly felt the spirits were messing with me. Being alone in our house, other than Corinne out dead cold, I was very creeped out. Truly scared to be honest. Never saw lightning hit the ocean like that in my life. I felt like the DARK SHADOWS spirits were warning me to stay put in my own pathetic world, and not to mess with them.

Dear spirits. I will behave and never return.

Once the storm and the ocean calmed, I was back to normal. Went to YouTube and before long, I was in a Glam rock loop I couldn’t shake until about 5:30 am. I found a TOTP Sweet clip, obviously from a different broadcast than the aforementioned one used for the comp. It’s even better:

Listen: Fox On The Run / The Sweet

Somehow, thank you God, The Sweet visited upsate New York, opening for, I think Eric Carmen. Some hairdo there Eric, a frosted bouffant, or hair don’t in hindsight.

Typically when any of the coined Glam bands (Sparks, Wizzard, Slade) braved their music and outfits into the smaller towns of the US, there were few, if any, comforting ports in the anti-androgyny storm as far as people went. So when a bunch of us showed up early, it was well easy to befriend the band, thereby ultimately being invited to share in the after show mayhem bigtime. Not that surprising….we had the party favors.

But we did genuinely love The Sweet. Everyone in the band were super warm. Great guys.

Many years later, I picked up the soundtrack to DAZED AND CONFUSED for my label, only because The Sweet (‘Fox On The Run’) were included. I wasn’t particularly fond of the other songs, in fact, I’ve never listened to the cd ever. On a whim, I figured it would be kind of great having The Sweet in the catalog, thereby negotiating a criminally low advance in my favor, given the film company’s planned and verbally agreed original soundtrack release partner, MCA, had bailed. Hence the desperate film division took the offer. The soundtrack has now sold 2 million copies to date and it’s all basically due to my loyalty toward The Sweet.

The Kinks

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Listen: Lola / The Kinks KinksLola.mp3

If you live in America, well definitely New York, hearing ‘Lola’, (nowadays restricted to the oldies or dreaded classic rock formats) is as close as I imagine one can get to an oasis during a tsunami.

I was desperate a few weeks back, having left my iTouch at home during the morning school drop-off drive, all of ten minutes. Still it was one of those rare, aching to hear something decent moments, when suddenly ‘Lola’ appears as a result of my manic dashboard button pushing.

Let me tell you, I couldn’t believe once was a time I’d heard it on the radio so much, I thought I never needed to hear ‘Lola’ again. Do you remember those days? Well they are long gone. It never sounded better. And I finally got round to loading it onto my device tonight, an act I regret not having done before last weekend’s drive to and from Boston.

Hearing ‘Lola’ took me also to YouTube, where I was reminded it indeed was the song that, unbeknownst at the time, began signaling an end to that first classic era of The Kinks. Yes, there were several to follow, but as the seminal four piece lineup expanded to five, suddenly including John Gosling on keyboards, The Kinks immaculate 60′s visual perfection began to blemish.

Mind you, despite his un-English rough look, which was initially passable, the transformation was smooth. One could safely call it a soft landing as their sound remained pretty much unchanged, having always incorporated piano into their recordings, unually played by Nicky Hopkins or Ray himself.

Listen: Apeman / The Kinks KinksApeman.mp3

Other than lyrically, ‘Apeman’ could have easily fit onto ARTHUR or even THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY for that matter. The mix always bothered me. Had it been as powerful as ‘Lola’, my bet is ‘Apeman’ would have been a bigger hit. The struggle to hear Ray’s vocal annoys to this day, particularly during the intro. Having said that, it’s impossible to ruin such a great song.

Listen: God’s Children / The Kinks KinksGodChildren.mp3

Sticking close to the original Kinks sound was also the case with ‘God’s Children’, the last official UK Pye / US Reprise 7″. Technically, in England, as opposed to being an A side, it was the lead track off a 4 song EP pulled from the PERCY film soundtrack, the full album being rejected by Reprise and apparently destroying the band/label relationship.

Whereas, in the US, ‘God’s Children’ became an official and final Reprise single. A later US Reprise 7″ ‘King Kong’ / ‘Waterloo Sunset’ notwithstanding, as it came after the band had moved to RCA, and was released solely to promote THE KINK KRONIKLES double album compilation.

Back to YouTube, ‘Lola’ from TOP OF THE POPS lead me to watch ‘Apeman’, then ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Wonderboy’ and ultimately ‘Days’:

For those of you like myself, who waited agonizingly for The Kinks to be allowed back into the US after some musician’s union ban during ’66, our wishes became reality when in ’69, the band returned to promote ARTHUR. Apparently, many of the scheduled shows between the tour’s New York start and it’s conclusion in Los Angeles were cancelled. Lucky was I to see them at the very beginning, New York.

Not only does the above clip capture the absolutely perfect Kinks during the period, it too gives the viewer ultimate Ray Davies moments at exactly :24 – :29, again at 1:02 and then 1:20. Expressions and smirks that addicted many a weak soul to the heroin known as The Kinks in the 60′s.

The clip, in fact, must have been shot within weeks of that infamous US return, as both Dave and Ray are wearing the exact same clothes they had on here at The Fillmore East (October 17 & 18, ’69) and then also in Potsdam NY, at the State college gymnasium on Sunday October 19. I will never, ever, ever forget Ray’s shirt. We were at stage edge, literally speaking out requests to the band.

See said shirt for yourself in the clip above. When uncovered with a jacket, like at the live shows, who could forget it?