Archive for the ‘Smash’ Category

The Sir Douglas Quintet

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

The Tracker / Sir Douglas Quintet - US

Listen: The Tracker / The Sir Douglas Quintet
The Tracker / The Sir Douglas Quintet

Like so many bands popping up around the country circa ’64 – ’65, all imitating Britain’s Invasion, The Sir Douglas Quintet appeared. Unlike those others, they had a recognizable sound (perfectly part Bo Diddley, part Pretty Things) and could both write and find great songs, and had the production advantage of Huey P. Meaux guiding them. The band never released a bad single on London Records’ imprint Tribe. They eventually moved to Smash/Philips where their greatness, and the occasional hit single, continued.

‘The Tracker’, followup to their debut smash ‘She’s About A Mover’, was a real favorite despite it’s national stall at #105 in July ’65 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart.

I recall seeing them on SHINDIG, Doug Sahm (Sir Douglas) doing a mean Phil May imitation vocal on ‘The Tracker’ while holding an oversized magnifying glass, kind of roaming around the stage as though following footsteps visible when enlarged, Sherlock Holmes style. Not only did they have the sound down, but the look as well.

Blue Norther / Sir Douglas Quintet - US

Listen: Blue Norther / The Sir Douglas Quintet
Blue Norther / The Sir Douglas Quintet

‘Blue Norther’, the B side, with it’s rather haunting patent Sir Douglas Quintet formula (not to be taken as a bad thing), I like to think is about the train line and totally conjured up nighttime images of a freight winding it’s way through some dark mountain woods or the Texas desert, assuming there is one there.

Listen: In Time / The Sir Douglas Quintet
In Time / The Sir Douglas Quintet

Quickly released that September, no doubt in hopes of refuelling interest after their huge debut, ‘In Time’ stiffed completely. Shame, just listen to it’s perfection. No other US band quite captured their flawless mixture of Texas and England, a recipe that should’ve easily worked. To my knowledge, only KNAC in Salt Lake City charted it for a week in October at #63. Otherwise, klunk

Listen: The Story Of John Hardy / The Sir Douglas Quintet
The Story Of John Hardy / The Sir Douglas Quintet

For the flipside of ‘In Time’, as with Manfred Mann’s rendition of the Lomax/Lomax written ‘John Hardy’ (it too a B side of ‘Sha La La’), the ever present influence of The Pretty Things, marraccas particularly, prevailed. The band’s more folk blues ‘version’, retitled ‘The Story Of John Hardy’, songwriting mischievously credited to Doug Sahm, succeeded in establishing yet again that sound so unique to this band.

Many years later, Doug Sahm formed The Texas Tornadoes and signed to Warner Brothers. I saw him in the office one day (my company, The Medicine Label, was a WB label) and he graciously filled out a jukebox tab for me. It was a chance meeting, so I wasn’t prepared with B side info. I couldn’t remember it, neither could he.

Sir Douglas Quintet - Juke Box Tab

Above: Jukebox Tab filled out by Doug Sahm.

Hank Jacobs

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Listen: So Far Away / Hank Jacobs
So

Those orange, black and white Sue labels still have an addictive visual to them. Not only the color, but the font too. As do their red and yellow UK counterparts. I can’t pass one up, not ever. Well, when they’re at a reasonable price that is, which is becoming less frequent these days.

Best place to find some at affordably would have to be current vinyl stores catering to indie rock. They always have $1 boxes and never seem to have a clue about 60′s soul. I always seem to find at least one. It’s very handy.

As with labelmate Jimmy McGriff, these guys specialized in the Hammond organ instrumentals Mods latched onto in the UK, welcoming those releases into their collections along side not only American contemporaries Jimmy Smith and Billy Preston, but also home based copyists, in the most complimentary way, like The Graham Bond Organtization or Brian Auger & The Trintiy.

‘So Far Away’ is admittedly interchangeable with many early singles by those mentioned or Booker T & The MG’s, Willie Mitchell, even James Brown’s Smash label instrumentals. Yet it’s one that I think of first, and seems to have graduated toward the top of an essentials list in general.

Jay & The Techniques

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Listen: Keep The Ball Rollin’ / Jay & The Techniques
Keep

A few years back, I sent a close friend a copy of this single. I figured he’d love it’s cross between pop and Northern. His reaction was so intensely negative, that I wondered, was I crazy?

Hadn’t played ‘Keep The Ball Rollin” for ages, but always recall liking Jay & The Technigues’ singles. Filing away a newly acquired Vicki Wickham UK pressing of their first and only Top 10, ‘Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie’, from ’67′ I pulled out a few for a whirl.

Despite being a #14 hit, this one still sounds pretty Northern to me.

Beware of the reissue CD, THE BEST OF JAY & THE TECHNIQUES. With admittedly good packaging and liner notes, and being well intentioned, like most repackages, the label dug out stereo mixes, remastered them and shined away any of the frequencies and ambience that would transport you back to the heyday. Search out the original pressings instead.

The Angels

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Listen: Wow Wow Wee (He’s The Boy For Me) (Mono) / The Angels
Wow Wow Wee (He's The Boy For Me) (Mono) / The Angels

Some things are meant to happen. Two weeks ago, maybe more, I grabbed a random cd for the car, had some errands to run. The iTouch is a wonderful thing, light, thin, easy to transport. Easy to misplace too. Haven’t seen mine in weeks. Hence the cd, and out of alphabetized storage as well, therefore an artist beginning with A. The Angels.

Not to repeat myself from yesterdays re-post, but I was a fan, and let me tell you, ‘Wow Wow Wee (He’s The Boy For Me)’ sounds mighty great in the summer. I swear I’ve played it fifty times, between the car and having pulled out a copy for the upstairs RCA changer.

Like all things 60′s, it sounds best in mono. Why the majors dig out and polish up the stereo versions for their anthologies, I don’t get. Maybe the rest of humanity prefers to remember the music the way it didn’t sound. Not me. With the windows down, blaring, the stereo version was admittedly more than passable. But first rule is, once in the house, back to mono.

Days ago, Eric Mache emails a link for the girl group review doubling as a tribute to Ellie Greenwich at Lincoln Center, and who’s included but The Angels. The event was a non-stop cavalcade of impeccable voices, very RnB leaning. Five hours that flew by in a flash. Other than dashes to the signing tent for jukebox tab stalking, I never left my seat.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Jiggs Allbut

The Angels

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Jamaica Joe / The Angels

Listen: Jamaica Joe / The Angels
Jamaica Joe / The Angels

The girl groups from the sixties were the first to catch my attention. It all started really early with The McGuire Sisters’ and their hit, ‘Sugartime’, which had pretty high kid appeal. Then I noticed The Ronettes, The Shangri-Las…….and The Angels.

Their #1, ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ seems to have survived decades of airplay, still spun a lot on the oldies formats. I know because it’s one of the few I can bare if forced to listen on a long trip or something.

The local Syracuse stations played a lot of Angels singles including the national non-hit ‘Jamaica Joe’. Seems they chose this one despite it being relegated to the B side as the sleeve suggests.

The actual promo copy doesn’t indicate an A side which could explain. Well I’m glad they did, I loved it for months at the time and still do. It was my first taste of ska on re-examination. And it went down a storm when I’d spin it out.

The James Brown Productions: Bill Pinkney / James Crawford / Anna King

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

I Do the Jerk / Bill Pinkney

Listen: I Do The Jerk / Bill Pinkney
I Do The Jerk / Bill Pinkney

There was actually a period in the 60′s when an artist could get away with signing to more than one label at a time, sometimes under different names, sometimes not. Usually, these were all singles deals anyways, I’m guessing, whose shelf life may have been months instead of years. Give someone a few releases and if nothing clicked, keep it all moving and on to the scrap heap they’d go. Not everybody got away with it, specifically James Brown.

As the story goes, while still under obligation to King Records, he upped and signed to Smash, a subsidiary of the Mercury/Philips group. Pretty quickly it was squashed, but as he still owed Smash many sides, James was forced to record as an instrumentalist for the label, specifically playing organ. A big old Hammond at that, thereby helping create amongst other genres, mod jazz, well sort of, as his stuff was mostly a combination of soul & schlock. Kinda black muzak versions you could say. All great listens though, the perfect party soundtrack in it’s day or even now in trendy trust fund pads or retro club nights. Part of his deal with Smash included a production imprint, whereby he did just that, produced other artists for Smash, Mercury and Fontana (another sister label), many bearing the recognizable ‘James Brown Production’ logo. Most famous was Bobby Byrd, his loyal sideman for decades.

Not so famous, but musts nonetheless, found their way, despite little or no marketing/push, onto the Mercury Group’s release schedules.

Like Bill Pinkney’s cash-in, almost Young Rascals rocker, ‘I Do The Jerk’ on Fontana. This was when the Jerk was a dance de jour. Everyone did it, or claimed to know how. Never ever heard ‘I Do The Jerk’ at the time, but mind you, was way to young even if it was played. Most likely, the pop stations went nowhere close, although from tooling the annals of radio playlist history, God bless Google but be prepared to work, some very, very secondary Southern delta markets spun it occasionally.

Strung Out / James Crawford

Listen: Strung Out / James Crawford
Strung Out / James Crawford

The super great, and oddly James Brown similar, James Crawford, released the spectacular ballad ‘Strung Out’ on Mercury. Don’t bother closing your eyes and imagining, you won’t need to. This could easily be the man himself. Quite possibly, buried somewhere in the Universal master tape storage library, which sadly was partially destroyed by fire not that long ago, may exist a James Brown version. Or maybe a vocal guide demo version laid down by producer for artist. Meaning James Brown for James Crawford.

If Somebody Told You / Anna King

Back to Soul / Anna King

Listen: If Somebody Told You / Anna King
If Somebody Told You / Anna King

Which brings this post to the one time featured female vocalist from the touring version of The James Brown Revue. She being Anna King. Good voice, perfect look: processed hair, bullet proofed into place, body tight, sparkle floor length ensembles and no doubt, an onstage sizzling swagger.

She made a few singles, produced by James Brown for Smash. And even an album. As well, she did one 7″ with Bobby Byrd ‘Baby Baby Baby’, which was included on the UK only EP BACK TO SOUL.

Dee Jay & The Runaways

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Listen: Peter Rabbit / Dee Jay & The Runaways
Peter Rabbit / Dee Jay & The Runaways

Recorded in their homemade Milford, Iowa studio, ‘Peter Rabbit’, originally released on the band’s own ILG label (ILG 103), eventually got the attention of Smash Records out of Chicago who reissued it during the winter of ’66. Having supposedly sold 5,000 copies locally in three weeks, it logically ended up attracting the interest of majors. The first of two singles for Smash, ‘Peter Rabbit’ eventually reached #45 nationally during that summer.

But by June 6, it was already #3 on my hometown Top 40 WOLF, the far superior station to rival, safer playlisted WNDR (see chart below). Garage band records populated the airwaves a lot during those 60′s summers. Who knew then they were garage band recordings at all. Or that their sound would find a place in pop history. They were just great singles.

Dee Jay & The Runaways’ Iowa Great Lakes Studio reportedly turned out to be a decent place, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, and became referred to as the house that ‘Peter Rabbit’ built. For aspiring local Iowa rockers, word is the boys offered a three hour recording session and one thousand 45rpm singles on either the IGL or the sister Sonic label, all in for $345. Probably most have appreciated much like Apple stock over the years.

I’d been humming ‘Peter Rabbit’ for weeks, and decided to do some digging, thereby discovering The Smash Records Story, part of bigger and great site, Both Sides Now. If you are looking for several hours of enjoyment, then click through.

The Walker Brothers

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

walkerbrosshipuk, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
walkerbrosshipusa, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
walkerbrosshipps, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

US Picture Sleeve: Front (above) / Back (below)

walkerbrosshippsb, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

Listen: My Ship Is Coming In / The Walker Brothers
My Ship Is Coming In / The Walker Brothers

I will never forget the Friday night I walked into Two Guys Department store with my parents. As usual, I headed straight to the record department while they proceeded to do some weekly shopping. The singles were displayed all along the the tops of the album bins, each in their own metal rack holding about 25 copies. I wish I had photos.

There in brilliant full color, was the above Walker Brothers picture sleeved single, ‘My Ship Is Coming In’, a solid 25 copies freshly unboxed. I could hardly breathe. They looked fantastic in bulk. The sleeve just radiated about one hundred times more intensely than anything else in sight, like a messiah. I still get tingles looking at the cover. It brings me right back. I owned it minutes later.

I could not get home fast enough, freaking out in the dark car, holding this masterpiece but only getting to glimpse at it as we passed under traffic lights and street lamps. God knows how many times I played it that night. It was not guitar based British beat, but instead sounded like music grownups listened too. Yet clearly there was something addictive in it’s air. I decided then and there, I was going to love this record. That was that. I did then and I still do.

Years later Scott Walker would reveal that while all his contemporaries in London were modeling themselves after American blues greats, his attention was focused on becoming the next Eddie Fisher. How genius was this guy?

WalkerSunUKA, The Walker Brothers

walkerbrossunuk, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
wlakerbrossunusa, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

Listen: The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore) / The Walker Brothers
The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore) / The Walker Brothers

The world was not ready for the followup to ‘My Ship Is Coming In’. Mine certainly wasn’t. How could The Walker Brothers possibly up the perfection of that record? Then along comes ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’, a flop a few years earlier for Franki Valli. He and The Four Seasons had loads of great records, and he’s no slouch in the vocal department. But Scott Walker he is not, no one is.

I swear, this record can still stop me in my tracks when it comes up on the ipod or BBC’s Radio 2. I heard it on the 60′s Sirius radio channel aboard a JetBlue flight recently. As diverse and truly exciting that the many other songs were, this just grabbed the prize unchallenged.

I saw Matt Pinfield the other day. He had Matt & Kim on his morning WRXP radio show, so I went along. Pinfield is the most kind hearted and passionate music fan, really knows his stuff, loves records. We worked together at Columbia and got connected at the hip. Somehow the subject of ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’ came up. Almost in unison, we both blurted out nearly identical sentences.

“This may be the greatest single of all time.”

Deservedly, it spent a month at #1 in the UK. See the three consecutive NME charts below, reprinted from 40 YEARS OF THE NME CHARTS. Despite not one US TV appearance or live show, it did get played here and had a decent chart run, peaking at #13 in BILLBOARD. It should have, at least, gone Top 10 but given the many singles that never ever charted, there’s some contentment in it’s placing.

nme4_66, 40 Years Of The NME Charts

The Persuaders / Junior Tucker

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Listen: Some Guys Have All The Luck / The Persuaders PersuadersLuck.mp3

Only in hindsight did I hear The Persuaders version of ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’. God only knows how that happened. I worked at a one-stop in Fall ’73, delivering records to accounts, and to my apartment….bad karma. I thought there wasn’t a 7″ I had left out of those personal allocations, but obviously I was wrong.

Add to that, how did I miss it on the radio? There was nothing else to listen to while doing those said deliveries and this one went pop, peaking at #39 in Billboard that very November.

Eventually, around the Christmas season, I got moved inside, pulling orders and restocking. At this I was a whizz. Could do it in my sleep – and loved it. I was in the LP department – all organized by label, then chronologically by catalog number within each. Can you imagine sections for King, Okeh, Fontana, Sue, Deram, Philips, Parrot, Stax, Smash…….ok enough torture.

The front half of the warehouse was dedicated to the 45′s. Maude did my version of the job up there, and she had a Kevin pile – one of everything. Well, sometimes 5 or 10, depending on varying factors. Once a one hundred count box was full, off to the tape dispenser, then on to the cart, bound for the delivery truck, it went. Oh to go back in time.

Still, I didn’t end up with a copy of this one for years.

Listen: Some Guys Have All The Luck / Junior Tucker JuniorTuckerSomeGuys.mp3

Fast forward. 1980.

Oldest trick in the book: cover classic soul songs in a reggae style. Pretty much works every time. In this case, beyond great.

I fell in love with Junior Tucker’s ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’ upon release. I dare say it got played hundreds and hundreds of times in my record room that year, and on my radio shows.

Corinne and I were both reggae lovers, having been weened on the hard corp Lee Perry and Jack Ruby releases Howard was sending our way starting in ’76. An all time favorite series, THIS IS REGGAE MUSIC, especially Volume 3, became our crowd’s anthem anthology. And I dare say all my best friends from that period can be transported back to some of the greatest times of our lives when we spin it nowadays.

Had I known then, that about ten years after Volume 3′s release, I would one afternoon walk into Chris Blackwell’s office, and suggest reviving the series with a Volume 4 and 5 (Volume 5 exclusive to reggae style RnB covers – this was included), and that he would say “Yes”, my heart would have frozen.

Gary & The Hornets

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Listen: Kind Of Hush / Gary & The Hornets GaryHornetsHush.mp3

Lou Reizner is a name you will notice often if you scour various mid 60′s singles in the Mercury/Philips/Smash/Fontana family. He either produced, A&R’d or both for the company. I’m guessing one of his pet projects, or maybe assignments, were brothers Gary & The Hornets.

Every week several bands suddenly appeared out of nowhere, clad perfectly in wide colorful cords and uncomfortably fitting polka dot or paisley shirts, complimented by the obligatory bowl cut. These kids were no exception.

A hipper looking, but not better sounding, version of contemporaries The Cowsills (sans the Mom), they covered a few well know (Herman’s Hermits ‘Kind Of Hush’) or semi well known (‘The Troggs ‘Hi Hi Hazel’) singles. None with any success.

Listen: Baby It’s You / Gary & The Hornets GaryHornetsBaby.mp3

One such well known track, ‘Baby It’s You’ was recorded by many, including The Shirelles and The Beatles, but the hit went to a female led, more soul/blues white act, Smith. For Gary & The Hornets, it was yet another unsuccessful stab at some Top 40 success.

If I had to guess, the hope was their voices would improve with age – but that wasn’t meant to be. Turns out I have five of their 7′s, and the more recent ones don’t indicate much of an upward trajectory.

Never mind. They were fun at the time, and encouraged many an aspiring youngster to give a go at cutting a single or two, and for that we should give Gary & The Hornets a nod.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

jerryleelewissmashep, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Sirius

Listen: High School Confidential / Jerry Lee Lewis JerryLeeLewisHigh.mp3

“Sounding as good as the day it was recorded”. Bob Dylan thinks so. Me too.

Have you ever listened to Bob Dylan’s THEME TIME RADIO program on Sirius? It is the best radio I have ever heard. Honestly, right up there with a lot of the BBC’s output through the years. Mind you, he has an army of researchers helping out, and credit is due there as well. For true, THEME TIME RADIO is simply worth the price of a Sirius subscription.

So yeah, he played this one the other day – well I heard it the other day – it could’ve been a repeat. I always hoped The Cramps would cover ‘High School Confidential’. They would have shredded it.

This is from a precious, four song, promo only 7′, sent round to radio and press when Smash signed him, and licensed some of his original Sun sides for a GOLDEN HITS package. It’s a beauty, right?

But can you imagine seeing Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime? I saw him play New York about fifteen years ago, he’d signed to Sire at the time. I always say either you’re the real deal or you’re not, therefore age doesn’t really matter. Think, Little Richard vs Candlebox. And Jerry Lee Lewis is clearly the real deal. Obviously the stage show was not as physically chaotic as in the aforementioned heyday, but still he radiated a kind of ‘higher form of life’ glare.

Next day he turned up in the office to see Seymour Stein, who was just down the hall. The glare is even more intense up close, strange odor (not bad, but strange) and his skin was a grey-ish, lavender color. It was all just fantastic.

Clefs Of Lavender Hill / Dee Jay & The Runaways

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

ClefsLavender, Clefs Of Lavender Hill, Date, WOLF

Listen: Stop – Get A Ticket / Clefs Of Lavender HillClefsStop.mp3

I’m sure this happens to us all – occasionally there are a couple of records that basically get connected at the hip in one’s memory. For whatever reason, with me it’s usually a time period that links them.

On first airing, I was sure ‘Stop – Get A Ticket’ was the new Byrds single. Must’ve been that electric twelve string sound in the solo. Still feels like a Roger McGuinn moment.

No. it was a local garage band, one of hundreds that sprung up as a result of the British Invasion. The Clefs Of Lavender Hill were from Florida, and their followup singles were just, well not very good. This, in fact, was originally a B side, eventually getting national release and reaching a Billboard #80 as a result of play and instant reaction in Miami.

When Corinne, the kids and I ventured down for a long weekend last winter, there was an arts and crafts street fair just off the main drag of Collins Ave, with it’s endless blocks of beautifully restored art deco hotels and such. One local oldies station, their van set up, complete with free bumper stickers and ghastly t-shirts, was blaring a live feed, audible a couple blocks away. I was pleasantly surprised when The Small Faces ‘Itchycoo Park’ came on – man did it sound great and definitely out of place, but when The Clefs Of Lavender Hill got played about half an hour later, I was genuinely floored. Huh? What’s up? I had no idea then it was in fact a massive local smash.

Trust me, when both these songs were mixed in amongst a pretty common array of the usual overplayed hit staples, they were hands down standouts.

DeeJayPeterRabbit, Dee Jay & The Runaways, Smash, WOLF

Listen: Peter Rabbit / Dee Jay & The Runaways DeeJayPeterRabbit.mp3

You’ve all heard of Spirit Lake, Iowa I’m sure. If not, let me tell you ‘Peter Rabbit’ probably still gets played down / over there. This band put the town on the map and from all accounts, the place is still pretty proud of the fellows.

Why not, great single. Heard it constantly at the time. It and ‘Stop – Get A Ticket’ always getting back to back spins on WOLF. These singles played a big part in my soundtrack of that summer. Proof below:

WOLF6_4_66, WOLF, Dee Jay & The Runaways, Clefs Of Lavender Hill

The Left Banke

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

LeftBankeSheMay, The Left Banke, Smash,

Listen: She May Call You Up Tonight / The Left Banke LeftBankeSheMayCall.mp3

What a nice initial saga. Both ‘Walk Away Renee’ and ‘Pretty Ballerina’, The Left Banke’s first two singles became deservedly sizeable US hits. Although from New York, both their sound and image were very English, and so they caught my ear.

The 3rd single, ‘Ivy, Ivy’ however, didn’t happen, neither at radio nor with the public, (or as if it mattered with me). They seemed to have completely lost the plot. Turns out, there was a bit of a line up shuffle, most of the original band suddenly weren’t invited to participate – both label A&R and manager clearly being pussies, caved, thereby allowing the inferior track to not only be recorded, but worse yet, released, resulting in a ‘game over’ career killer.

Probably hoping whatever lineup nonsense would calm down and all could be salvaged, Smash lifted ‘She May Call You Up Tonight’ from the first album, issuing it as single number 4. Obviously, the shine for the band had really been tarnished by the very weak ‘Ivy, Ivy’ and airplay was scarce. Luckily, not in my hometown. WNDR played it heavily. I couldn’t buy a copy fast enough.

I bet had ‘She May Call You Up Tonight’ been the followup to ‘Pretty Ballerina’, a big hit it would have become.

James Brown

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

JamesBrownBoogaloo, James Brown, Smash

Listen: James Brown’s Boo-Ga-Loo / James Brown
James Brown's Boo-Ga-Loo / James Brown

One day, around ’90, I decided to own every last James Brown single from the 60′s and 70′s. It was a most fun challenge, and surprisingly easy. Don’t forget, we were still in the heyday of folks dumping their vinyl for cd. Despite all the unsolvable problems that began with the onset of the cd configuration, it was absolutely a miracle for the vinyl collector. What could be better than the entire world wanting to unload their records?

James Brown’s temporary switch from the King label to Smash lasted a only year or two. Seems he signed one contract before the previous one expired, ultimately settling it all by agreeing to record only instrumentals for Smash. Some fans seem to downplay their interest in the period – not me. Besides, I’m a sucker for any releases from the Mercury Records Group: Philips, Fontana, Blue Rock, Limelight and of course Smash.

The best part of all this being the public tired of his assembly line, contract fulfilling output, so sales declined faithfully with each release. These last few before returning to King became the hardest to find. Good fun in my book.

‘James Brown’s Boo-Ga-Loo’ came and went completely unnoticed. Although the label copy suggested it’s from his NEW BREED album, it’s not. Well, sorta not. The track is actually an edited version of ‘New Breed’ retitled and easily doubles as incidental music for a B movie. No problem.

JamesBrownJimmyMack, James Brown, Smash

Listen: Jimmy Mack / James Brown
Jimmy Mack / James Brown

Equally enamored with muzak renditions of familiar hits meant many of his singles for the label were prime wants like ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ plus his own covers of ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ and ‘Try Me’ for instance.

The last Smash 7″, and non-LP as well, is a lazy, slightly mundane (and therefore perfect for my tastes) version of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s ‘Jimmy Mack’. As with many of the jazz organists from that period, I bet they all rattled out these one after the other in a day long session, thereby making both recording costs and sales pressure low. Everyone needed a few for party music I guess. Another hard one to find, yet most likely competition is pretty minimal.

Casey Jones & The Governors

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

CaseyJones, Casey Jones & The Govenors, Huey Piano Smith, Philips, Eric Clapton, Tom McGuiness

Listen: Don’t Ha Ha / Casey Jones & The Governors CaseyJonesHaHa.mp3

Casey (real name Duncan) Jones left Liverpool for London stumbling around with rotating-door lineups that included Eric Clapton and Tom McGuinness in his band The Engineers. Like a few before them, off to Germany they went. Why I’m not sure. I always thought England was the happening place in the 60′s. It was in Hamburg that Casey Jones & The Governors formed and had some success as a live band, basically reinventing RnR standards of the day with a Beat Goup twist.

I picked this up in one of those 39ยข bins of flop 45′s at a Two Guys Department Store near the Thruway in Syracuse back in ’74. It was a treasure trove, predominantly loads of Philips/Smash/Mercury/Fontana titles, for some reason.

Listen once and you’ll hear that it’s Huey Piano Smith’s ‘Don’t You Just Know It’. Smith is credited as writer and the title switch fooled me into thinking it was an original for years.

Scott Walker

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Lights Of Cincinnati / Scott Walker

Lights Of Cincinnati / Scott Walker

Listen: Lights Of Cincinnati / Scott Walker ScottWalkerCincinnati.mp3

Nothing needs to be said.