Archive for the ‘Parrot’ Category

The Moody Blues / St. Louis Union

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Stop / Moody Blues

Listen: Stop! / The Moody Blues
Stop! / The Moody Blues

When it comes to vinyl or artifacts, oddly, The Moody Blues are not a collectible band. I guess the mainstream success of Moody Blues lineup two unfairly squashed that.

But still, lineup one, well that was a very different sounding group and should be a very different story. It’s where the collectible piece is baffling. Not surprisingly, the band were recycling US blues and RnB, not unlike most other collectible UK acts during the mid 60′s. But singer Denny Laine was special, and had an authentic, recognizable voice. The hits disappeared quickly after their second 7″, ‘Go Now’, although the quality of singles did not. All of them should command more worth, being pressed in very limited quantities.

‘Stop!’, a US only 7″, was taken from the Denny Cordell produced debut UK LP and their only full length with lineup one. The US album version was similar but didn’t included ‘Stop!’, presumably because American label London spotted the track as a potential hit.

‘Stop’ received confident airplay throughout the northeast upon release. I heard it often at both my local Top 40′s in Syracuse. The single charted for one week on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at #98 and was a decent snapshot of Winter ’66, basically dreary and cold, just as I vividly remember it and personally preferred.

Listen: Girl / St. Louis Union
Girl / St. Louis Union

Dreary and cold, or dark and downbeat were indeed the sounds de jour. Enter the St. Louis Union’s cover of ‘Girl’. Despite being a nice time piece, the record was part of an already risky strategy: covering Beatles’ songs to achieve hits. The process initially worked for Peter & Gordon, The Silkie and a handful of others, yet the idea had primarily dried by the time post ’65 late comers released theirs.

London tip ad

Them

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Listen: I Can Only Give You Everything / Them
I

This came on Little Steven’s Sirius station yesterday. I was in the car, literally flying down the FDR. It was a bizarre Saturday, as though New York had been deserted. There was no traffic. None.

Not only did the mere sound of Them completely lift my mood, it also reminded me I’d never heard ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ on the radio in my entire life. Released during summer ’66 makes it a good four, going on five decades later that the record is finally getting some airplay. A mitzvah indeed.

Like ‘Gloria’ before it, I recall ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ being covered by seemingly every American punk band during the 60′s. In so doing, Them were immortalized and, I guess to Van Morrison’s annoyance, tarred with those horrible garage band shackles.

Make no bones about it mind you, ’66 was a great year for Them when it comes to US singles. Four in all, and every one locking their place in music history as being perfect: ‘Mystic Eyes’, ‘Call My Name’, ‘Richard Corey’ and this.

So when the very first notes came through the dash, my involuntary reaction cranked the volume, and in a way too, purposely forced me to miss the 23rd Street exit, Bobbie Graham‘s drumming so driving I needed to keep speeding along to catch the song’s priceless dynamic moment at :47, when that Farfisa organ drops right as the second verse begins.

Seriously, the combination made me feel a little high. New York’s skyline almost overpowering the senses on a warm yet chilly spring day, hearing this long forgotten piece of musical perfection loudly and basically having the FDR entirely to myself at 70 mph.

The Zombies

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Listen: I Love You / The Zombies
I

‘Whenever You’re Ready’, one of three non-hit followups to ‘Tell Her No’ in ’65, helped fuel a three year downward spiral for The Zombies, reaching only #110 on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart. I wonder what might have happened if it’s flip, the Valentine’s Day staple, ‘I Love You’, had been issued as the A side instead. Considering the song’s strength, and ultimate success when covered by People, providing the one hit wonders with a massive Top 40 placement, #14 during an eighteen week chart run in ’68, must bug the hell out of The Zombies to this day. Who wouldn’t have preferred they had taken home that prize instead?

Nothing has ever challenged Colin Blunstone’s voice. By ’69, The Zombies ODESSEY AND ORACLE, now rightfully regarded as one of the most important albums of all time, was the ultimate spotlight for his vocal power and thankfully gave them the multi platinum achievement they deserved. Justice for a change.

Savoy Brown / The Nice / Family

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Savoy Brown The Nice Family Poster

The Weaver's Answer / Strange Band

Listen: The Weaver’s Answer / Family
The Weaver's Answer / Family

One of the great triple bills from ’70, still trading on the English Invasion angle that was becoming a distant marketing ploy.

No problem here. My friends and I ate it up. Couldn’t leave early enough that morning to make a day of hanging out on the campus, pretending to be college kids. The serious Anglofiles, crowded onto the entrance steps of The Palestra Auditorium for a solid few hours prior to doors opening, provided the ultimate social scene. Everyone opinioning and bragging about one record after the other. It was almost as much fun as the show.

I think it was well attended, up front there was no looking back.

We were very seriously not prepared for the power of Family live. No one in the room was. And I do mean no one. I’d only seen their three albums in the store, never heard them and as much as I wanted ownership of at least one record, some other title always took their purchase slot. Turns out, this was my favorite lineup, having become obsessed as a result of the show and then seeing them many times. Poli Palmer on xylophone most of the night, a stunning player. And John Weider on guitars and violin. It was the first band I saw playing any of these instruments (except Brian Jones on vibes during ‘Under My Thumb’), not to mention changing them up for each song.

The ace in the deck for Family was always Roger Chapman. Definitely an acquired taste vocally, you still seldom see a madman like him, totally possessed. Once you experienced Family in person, their recordings made perfect sense, vividly bringing back his on stage intensity.

They couldn’t catch a break in The States. Bill Graham banned them from The Fillmores. Don’t know why. This particular night the audience was into it, but a few years later, opening for Elton John, things didn’t work out the same. I remember many of the crowd booing. I couldn’t believe such a sophisticated group of great musicians were being booed. I was embarrassed. But the band tore threw it unflinched. This was ’72. Sadly it was to be the last time they toured the US. Props to Elton John for having them.

The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice

Listen: The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice
The

The Nice were on Immediate. This was a big deal.

Immediate was a serious label to this bunch. A lot of conversation was had earlier on the steps about the greatness of the roster. Everyone was clued into the supposed stage antics of Keith Emerson, still I don’t think we were really ready. When he mauled his organ during ‘America’, it was shocking. Everyone took a step back as the knives came out. All these skinny English people with crazy energy. The flower power stuff from their albums interested me a lot. I think they stopped playing that stuff pretty quickly as the prog symphonic material took center stage, plus I assume Emerson, Lake & Palmer were right around the corner. I remember hearing this tour was simply honoring contractual commitments. Didn’t seem like it being a wide eyed kid upfront.

Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

Listen: Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown
Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

Savoy Brown were theatrics-free, but never mind, they tore it up. In keeping with the evening looks wise, the underfed, velvet and stacked heeled Englishness prevailed. Can still remember these fair haired frail guys playing wicked blues. Probably very white, but this was prior to seeing any of the originals, so all new, all impressive. RAW SIENNA had just been released, and their set covered a lot of it plus some prior singles (‘Made Up My Mind’, ‘Train To Nowhere’) and their theme at the time, Muddy Waters’ ‘Louisiana Blues’. Like Family, this was a classic Savoy Brown lineup, with Chris Youlden on vocals and Tone Stevens on bass.

I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

Listen: I’m Tired / Savoy Brown
I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

My vivid memory of Kim Simmonds starting off ‘I’m Tired’ is as plain as day. It was my first time up super close, literally with elbows on the stage, and thinking ‘he makes it look so easy’, the true sign of a great guitarist.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Kim Simmonds

On the way out of town after the show, we stopped at a late night record/head shop near the campus, figuring out who would buy what, strategizing so that collectively we arrived home with records by all three bands. Picked these handout charts up at the counter, with some pretty interesting playlist titles. Yes, the days of underground radio…..and the ‘Super Heavy Sound’ of Janis Joplin. See them below:

WHFM 3-5-70

WHFM 11-5-70

WHFM 12-4-69

Tom Jones

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Listen: It’s Not Unusual / Tom Jones
Listen: It's Not Unusual / Tom Jones

Everyone knows Tom Jones. Most don’t know that he began his professional life as the powerful front guy in Tommy Scott & The Senators, from home turf Wales. And during that period, the first person who tried bringing him to the public’s attention was Joe Meek. A few of those early recordings they made together, and I believe there were four, surfaced on Tower Records in the US not long after his initial success on Decca UK and their American outlet, Parrot. Someday soon I’ll post one.

Meanwhile, his first release for Decca, ‘Hide And Seek’, got no traction or attention. Second single ‘It’s Not Unusual’ skyrocketed despite the BBC’s lack of belief and airplay for the record. Massive at the time, and well played on the US oldies stations for decades, it wasn’t until a week back, while waiting for Kim to show up for dinner in the bar of The Lodge, did it suddenly come onto their house system. I figured it was an ipod playlist, but upon inquiring, learned it to be a stream from the Frank Sinatra station on Pandora radio. Wow – this whole Pandora thing is clearly becoming a major factor in the rapid listenership decline of foul US commercial radio, satellite’s Sirius/XM excluded. I’m no doubt one of the last to discover this good Pandora news. But with the onset of the Ford’s Focus’ groundbreaking internet ready technology, the hour glass on snail paced commercial FM programming instincts and decision makers has officially been turned over.

After ‘It’s Not Unusual,’ Decca/Parrot released a handful of singles that dwindled chart wise, all in Tom Jones’ forceful, RnB powerhouse vocal style. When Top 5 results evaded his followup 45′s like ‘With These Hands’, ‘Stop Breaking My Heart’ and ‘Sixteen Tons’, the label heads guided him toward daytime radio ballads. Given his undeniable voice, many of these are essentials in my collection too. ‘Detroit City’ and ‘I’m Coming Home’ of particular note.

What I did realize though, ‘It’s Not Unusual’ seems to have passed beyond that cut off date in the oldies radio world, and now, if played, would be a bit of an oasis, as is, say ‘Lola’, these days. That is, of course, if one is forced to endure your short playlist, local oldies station, religiously puking up the same researched standards. At least that’s the case with the very, very tired WCBS-FM here in New York City. Okay, some greats do get spun, but they’re basically overplayed beyond enjoyment (‘California Girls’, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’, ‘I Got You’, ‘Respect’) and so a nice reminder last week of Tom Jones’ greatness via the Pandora death knell to stations like the aforementioned.

Ann Peebles

Friday, April 15th, 2011

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

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

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

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

Jonathan King

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Listen: Round Round / Jonathan King JonathanKingRoundRound.mp3

With this blog nudging towards it’s third birthday, the one guy constantly crossing my mind that’s overdue for a post is Jonathan King. Forget the many acts he produced, and forget the many more he signed to his label, UK Records. The single releases as a solo artist on his own are daunting. Therein lies the reason a Jonathan King post has yet to appear. Didn’t know where to start.

It dawned on me only today, I probably won’t live forever. Therefore suddenly high on the list of missions to accomplish was getting to the Jonathan King singles for some posts. This is the first. More are planned.

Pretty near the top of my JK chart, maybe even at the top, is ‘Round Round’. Given that scouring radio station surveys on eBay has become an addictive pass time, it’s hard not to notice ‘Round Round’ appearing pretty often on local stations all around the country throughout the spring and early summer of ’67. Despite the amount of airplay the record clearly got starting in April, it didn’t chart high nationally, peaking at only #122 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 during a five week stay. My guess is had the radio play been concentrated during a shorter timeframe, the record would have achieved a much higher chart number.

I recall my first time hearing ‘Round Round’, during a Sunday drive through the countryside Mom and Dad would occasionally take us on. A most perfect soundtrack to an early spring, post thaw, upstate New York, winter is finally behind us afternoon. One listen and there was no question, despite it’s message, I needed this happy and bouncy anti-drugs single.

To this day, when on occasion, there’s a copy in a store stack or at the record fairs, I grab it. You can never have too many.

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.

Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Don't Stop Loving Me, Baby / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Don't Stop Loving Me, Baby / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Listen: Don’t Stop Loving Me, Baby / Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours PinkertonsDontStop.mp3

True story. I know you will think this is a lie, but I swear on a stack of Ramones albums that it is not.

UK manager Dennis Muirhead paid me his yearly visit at Columbia Records in the late 90′s. We’d met back in ’85 when I’d first joined Elektra and he always stopped by when he came through town. One of his clients at the time was Stuart Colman. Stuart lived then in Nashville and had produced many successful country acts, but had prior UK hits with Shakin’ Stevens. Dennis gave me a package including all his producers latest discographies which I browsed while catching up. I noticed Stuart had started his career in the 60′s with The Shadows. So I said to Dennis, hey this guy goes back a bit, is he English? Affirmative. I proceeded to say I wish these fellows would list all those really early engineering jobs they would have started out doing prior to that first producer opportunity. “I mean, Dennis, he could have worked on something obscure like…..Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours or something”. I just grabbed that fun, eccentric example out of my head.

Dennis looks me square in the eye and says “He was IN Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours”. Silence. Neither of us could believe what had just transpired. “You’re not kidding are you, well call him now”. He suggested one better, that I ring his place asking for him as a member of the band, which I did. I let Stuart know fairly fast that Dennis was there with me, and we had a very nice chat. I mailed him this jukebox tab, he autographed it and sent it straight back.

Pinkertons Jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Stuart Colman

As for the group, I was interested because of the name. When I saw their first single ‘Mirror Mirror’ entering the UK charts, I had to hear them asap. But it wasn’t to be for ages. Even though released Stateside, it was nowhere to be heard or found. WMCR, the little station that gave me all those unwanted promo singles at the time, weren’t serviced by London, parent company of Parrot Records – home to Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours. Damn. I was jonesing by the time their second single hit. ‘Don’t Stop Loving Me, Baby’ limped into the UK Top 50 at #50 for one week. I love a good followup flop usually more than the previous hit, so this was reaching fever pitch.

Finally I was successful, finding it in a 25ยข bin at The House Of Oldies on Bleeker Street in NYC when my Aunt Nancy invited me along to visit some relative for a few days. I got a ton of London titles there – The Cryin’ Shames, Lulu & The Luvvers, The Gonks, Hedgehoppers Anonymous and Jonathan King among them – all nice orange swirl promos. This is a great double sider. Not overly special but a solid British staple. Actually, just tonight I realized some similarities to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich thereby explaining a lot of it’s appeal for me.

Will Ya / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Will Ya / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Listen: Will Ya / Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours PinkertonsWillYa.mp3

The B side ‘Will Ya’ is my favorite of the two, but just. That timid but still wildish fuzz solo is the tie breaker. Mike Goldsmith picked me up the stock copy pictured, only a few months ago, at Academy Records in Brooklyn. I had never seen nor heard of one being pressed as it seemed likely this would never have made it beyond the promo stage – but here it is.

The Accent

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

AccentRed, The Accent, Parrot, Decca, Mike Vernon

Listen: Red Sky At Night / The Accent AccentRedSky.mp3

Taking the ‘p’ out of psychedelic – maybe. There has always been some debate about The Accent’s authenticity. Summer ’67 had many happenings, some were intentional imitations. Bands appeared from nowhere with songs that were almost formula, simply by adding fuzz, backwards guitars, phasing, you name it.

Fact: The Accent issued but one single, ‘Red Sky At Night’. Not much of their history survived, they were from Yorkshire and landed a residency at Billy Walker’s Upper Cut Club in 1967, which, as a side note, had a legendary opening week (see below).

The single’s wild start/stop LSD wrenched production rivals some of that day’s best: Pink Floyd, The Smoke, Tomorrow etc.
Produced by the usually blues strict Mike Vernon, he showed his competitive strength to the Norman Smiths and certainly validates the band’s credibility.

The flanged vocal effect on the lyric ‘shaking’ at 2:22 always made me laugh and wonder too, is this one of Blue Horizon’s serious blues worshipping bands, say Fleetwood Mac or Chicken Shack, just taking the piss?

No, instead they and their single are a classic piece of history.

uppercut1, Upper Cut Club London

Betty Wright

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Listen: Shoorah Shoorah / Betty Wright 11 Shoorah_ Shoorah_.mp3

I was working at Discount Records in the early 70′s when this came in. Discount was a deep catalog chain between ’65 – ’75 or so. Their stores were concentrated in the northeast, and their home office was in Scarsdale. The location on the Syracuse University campus was always a haven for the most obscure albums, all the British and west coast names you’d heard of. When I finally got a job there in ’74, it was a real win. You see, each store could buy direct from the labels. So although it was a chain, you weren’t just allocated the hits. There was serious inventory maintenance and responsibility required. This was of course huge fun.

One weekend, I really got into the old BILLBOARD magazine collection and with intense detail, compiled a many-paged list of singles to order from each of the labels. The one that really came through was London Records. Unlike pretty much all the others, somewhere deep in their fulfillment warehouse were tucked sole copies of countless singles. I opened that big shipment box about a week after placing the order resulting from said weekend, to find crazy London, Parrot and Deram singles from years prior (Them, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Honeybus, The Attack, Hedgehoppers Anonymous, The Cryin’ Shames, Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, Savoy Brown). Ah, the good old days.

But back to Betty Wright’s version of ‘Shoorah Shoorah’. I was very into The Meters around this time and hence insatiable for all things Allen Toussaint. Reading that he had written this one in the BILLBOARD singles review section that particular week, I ordered myself a copy. Smart move. It was a classic. I proceeded to get in a box, and with in store play sold them through nicely. Wish I had kept a few more.

The Zombies

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

zombiesfeelsogood, The Zombies, Parrot, Decca, The Nashville Teens, The Hullaballoos, Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent

zombiesfeelsogoodb, The Zombies, Parrot, Decca, The Nashville Teens, The Hullaballoos, Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent

Listen: You Make Me Feel So Good / The Zombies ZombiesGood.mp3

The fact that my blog is pushing the two year mark, and I’ve yet to write about The Zombies is pathetic. Thought about it often, so in case I croak, now I’ll rest easier.

Luckily much praise and appreciation, despite years of delay, has been afforded this band – to the point whereby they can tour the world consistently and get the admiration for ODESSEY AND ORACLE they deserve.

‘You Make Me Feel So Good’, the B side to ‘She’s Not There’, may indeed be the first seed planted that years later would spawn androgynous 70′s rock and 90′s Britpop, who can say. But the swish and swagger in Colin Blunstone’s delivery is not deniable. At the end of the day, it was basically his normal vocal styling and not too much needed to be read into it. There’s something about the combination of his voice and Rod Argent’s hollow electric keyboard tones that are as magical as Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek’s.

In ’65, The Zombies played The Brooklyn Fox Theater with The Nashville Teens and The Hullaballoos. Way too young to even know it was happening, my parents lucked out, because I would have tortured them into taking me.

zombiesindicationusa, The Zombies, Parrot, Decca, The Nashville Teens, The Hullaballoos, Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent

zombiesindication,  The Zombies, Parrot, Decca, The Nashville Teens, The Hullaballoos, Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent

Listen: Indication / The Zombies ZombiesIndication.mp3

Of their several overlooked later Parrot / Decca singles, ‘Indication’ was my favorite, an indeed hard call to make. Subsequent anthologies and reissues all use the longer, stereo take with an extended keyboard solo at the end. This US mono 7″ version (streamed above), I think, works best.
ZombiesJukebox, Jukebox Tab, The Zombies, Colin Blunstone

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Colin Blunstone

Dream Police

Monday, October 19th, 2009

dreampoliceuka, Dream Police, Junior Campbell, The Marmalade, Decca, London

dreampolicehomeusa, Dream Police, Junior Campbell, The Marmalade, Decca, London

Listen: I’ll Be Home (In A Day Or So) / Dream Police DreamPoliceHome.mp3

Reportedly Scotland’s Dream Police began as a psychedelic/progressive band that included future members of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Average White Band. Signed to Decca in late ’69 on a tip from Junior Campbell, himself then on the label’s roster as a member of The Marmalade, their first (of three) singles for the label coincidentally included him as the band’s producer, arranger and conductor. Conductor?

The Marmalade had a sound, not unlike The Love Affair or Cupid’s Inspiration, and a whole bunch of lesser known ‘pop’ acts, all wonderfully over produced and clawing for a slot in the charts. Despite being considered manufactured fodder by the intelligent and/or hip music community, I found this stuff fascinating. Totally formula in it’s conveyor belt style, I still can’t get enough of it. Decca UK reigned king in the field. Always with a soft spot for inhouse producers or production deals, Junior Campbell, as with Jonathan King, Wayne Bickerton, Mike Hurst and others churned out endless pap to lap for the label. I’m still finding overdone stiffs from that period. One such example: Dream Police.

‘I’ll Be Home (In A Day Or So)’ could have indeed been a hit for The Marmalade (they recorded a version) had it been issued as a single. Junior Campbell’s production of the song for the Dream Police includes his obligatory rock lead guitar over the top of multi tracked vocals and string section bits galore. And quite frankly, the version deserved to be a hit.

Lulu & The Luvers

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

luluforgetme, Lulu, Lulu & The Luvvers, Lulu & The Luvers, Decca, Parrot

Listen: Forget Me Baby / Lulu & The Luvers LuluForget.mp3

lulusatisfied, Lulu, Lulu & The Luvvers, Lulu & The Luvers, Decca, Parrot

Listen: Satisfied / Lulu & The Luvers LuluSatisfied.mp3

lulusurpriseuka,Lulu, Lulu & The Luvvers, Lulu & The Luvers, Decca, Parrot

Listen: Surprise Surprise / Lulu & The Luvers LuluSurprise.mp3

With a moniker like Lulu, it’s not too surprising if your powerful voice is overlooked. Shame. Lulu could, well still can, really sing. Does anyone honestly not love ‘The Boat That I Row’ or ‘Me, The Peaceful Heart’?

But even in ’65 the ruthless star making machinery was in aggressive full swing, preceding Clive Davis’ criminal dismantling of Big Brother & The Holding Company for a solo Janis Joplin by several years. Decca’s victims, although not as cleanly disassembled: Lulu & The Luvers or as sometimes listed, Lulu & The Luvvers. Initially known as The Gleneagles with Lulu as one of the vocalists, they played their brand of R&B regularly around Glasgow’s clubs. At 14, Lulu and band had their first hit with The Isley Brothers’ ‘Shout’, making theirs the definitive version in the UK. Pretty quickly peeling her away from a band setting began. But not before one more single as Lulu & The Luvers was released (after a few solo Lulu singles confused the process): ‘Satisfied’ / ‘Surprise Surprise’. They sounded like a hot band, even if they were part studio guys, and I wish Decca had afforded them an album before her solo career commenced. Plus the way their name alliterates off the tongue is just perfect.

Seems even Lulu forgot about the Luvvers, based on her jukebox tab below:

LuLuJukebox, Jukebox Tab, Lulu

The Fortunes

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Here It Comes Again / The Fortunes

Here It Comes Again / The Fortunes

Listen: Here It Comes Again / The Fortunes FortunesComes.mp3

Back in the 70′s, many record stores bought direct from each label. Only the really small shops were forced to buy via a one stop, which were distributors that represented all the labels, a kind of middle man. I worked for Discount Records in ’74-75. Although a chain owned by CBS, they were deep catalog stores and centered around college towns and campuses, hence their two Syracuse locations. And each of these shops would buy direct from the various labels. Every Tuesday all the reps would stop by, bring the staff hot drinks and donuts, plus stacks of promos, T shirts and posters. It was heaven. One summer day, I went to the Syracuse University library, having been alerted to their complete bound collection of BILLBOARD magazines from the 60′s, to sit for hours and pour through them. I took a new marble notebook and dated each page to the corresponding issue then listed any facts of interest. Chart entries, new releases with catalog numbers, etc. Years later, I managed to find a magazine dealer selling a complete run of issues from ’64 – ’68. Perfect, I bought them all.

A few days later, I got this ‘why not’ idea. I ordered about one hundred long out of print 7″ titles on the London family labels from our rep, one copy each, using the newly acquired catalog numbers from my day of research.

I’d actually blanked and didn’t even think more about the order, being sure they’d never turn up. I mean how could they? This was ’75 and some of them had come and gone, most were flops, some ten years prior. But lo and behold, about a week later, the London order arrived, and one of the boxes was chock full of many, many of those very titles. Oh man, I was flying. Amongst them were all the Press singles from The Fortunes, not to mention The Small Faces, Los Bravos, The Pudding, The Gibsons and loads more. And those was just the ones on Press. I won’t even get into the Deram, London, Tribe, Hi and Parrot selections on this post. My immediate reaction was to order five copies of many that had turned up, which I did, but no more ever came. Obviously, these had been sitting on the shelves for literally a decade.

I think most kids considered The Fortunes sound to be manufactured, over orchestrated, adult leaning, the music your parents would like too. All true I guess, but I did love those big, ballad-y Greenaway/Cook and/or Les Reed boomers. ‘Here It Comes Again’ was a decent hit here, #27 in Nov ’65.

This Golden Ring / The Fortunes

This Golden Ring / The Fortunes

Listen: This Golden Ring / The Fortunes FortunesGolden.mp3

But the followup, ‘This Golden Ring’ struggled slowly, and perfectly, to a problem #82 in February ’66. The Fortunes were burned into my psyche as a wintertime sound. Most of their records remind me of the freezing cold walks to and from school with my little red transistor radio clamped to my ear, pre ear buds by decades.

Gone From My Mind / The Fortunes

Gone From My Mind / The Fortunes

Listen: Gone From My Mind / The Fortunes FortunesGone.mp3

‘Gone From My Mind’, despite it’s confident delivery, didn’t make a ripple. Never heard it on the radio in my life, and therefore really excited to find it amongst the others in that London shipment. No surprise, it’s ended up as my favorite.

The Only Ones

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Out There In The Night / The Only Ones

Listen: Out There In The Night / The Only Ones OnlyOnesOutThereInTheNight.mp3

Trouble In The World / The Only Ones

Listen: Trouble In The World / The Only Ones OnlyOnesTrouble.mp3

I’m a sucker for an atonal vocalist. So The Only Ones’ Peter Perrett is right up my alley. These two singles are by far my favorites from the boys. Never did get to see them, some arrest nonsense cut their US tour short, the one whereby they were playing my town. Hence not much to say about them, except I still love these records. Oh, hold on, the sleeve pictured for ‘Trouble In The World’ was sent along, at the time, by Howard Thompson. He A&R’d the band, by assignment as opposed to choice. He doesn’t reflect fondly on it all. Whether by coincidence or design, ‘Trouble In The World’ echoes Mott The Hoople, with it’s Sue & Sunny background female vocals. Seems like an HT influence to me.

For reasons unknown, the sleeve was scrapped allowing or forcing the record to be issued in a stock CBS bag. The label was quite good at making pitiful judgement calls when it came to picture sleeves. Unlike in the US, picture sleeves were quite uncommon in England until punk. So what did CBS do? They released a bunch of punk singles without them. Although the corporate waste exponentially accelerated by the time I was employed by Columbia in 1995, it seems seeds were planted decades before. Hey, let’s actually manufacture the sleeves then destroy them, why cancel it in the pre-production phase? Kill another tree. No problem.

But the records speak for themselves. Great stuff. And although spelled differently, you have to admit Peter Perrett was pretty hip to choose, for his surname, that of the great US label, Parrot, which included Them, The Zombies, Los Bravos, Lulu & The Luvvers and Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours amongst it’s roster.

COPS ‘N ROBBERS / THE FAIRIES

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

St. James Infirmary / Cops 'N Robbers

Listen: St. James Infirmary / Cops 'N Robbers 23 St. James Infirmary.mp3

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue / Cops 'N Robbers

Listen: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue / Cops 'N Robbers 01 Its All Over Now Baby Blue.mp3

Get Yourself Home / The Fairies

Listen: Get Yourself Home / The Fairies 21 Get Yourself Home.mp3

Cops ‘N Robbers ‘St. James Infirmary’ always felt authentic, probably because of that reverb wash. From the first listen, it captured my imagination about the damp seedy blues clubs of London’s Soho, sitting nicely beside the sound of The Downliners Sect or Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds. Plus it was a UK Decca release, hence it’s US issue through sister label, Parrot. With Brian “Smudger” Smith on lead vocals, how can you go wrong? Young “Smudger” (he insisted on the quotes) went on to sing for The Fairies thereby delivering the great Pretty Things mimic ‘Get Yourself Home’. Meanwhile, in what was clearly fair exchange, The Fairies vocalist Dane Stephens made the switch and became Cops ‘N Robbers singer, recording ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ with them for UK Pye/US Coral, nicely retaining their London nightlife aura. Meanwhile drummer Henry Harrison proceeded to form The New Vaudeville Band. Yes much aloof upward nose turning is pointed them, but listen again – they clearly had a lot in common with The Bonzo Dog Band, recording some terrific singles which will be posted soon as proof.

ALAN PRICE SET

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear / Alan Price Set

Listen: Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear / Alan Price Set
Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear / Alan Price Set

His original band, The Alan Price Combo, morphed into The Animals once Eric Burdon joined up. A few years later though, he left forming The Alan Price Set, a six piece that included a few brass players. Weened as many of the Flamingo All-Nighter keyboardists were, on Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff, he and the band’s live show was probably way more blues, rootsy and jazzy than the singles released. All but the first (‘I Put A Spell On You’) were polished up for the charts, but it worked. They had a string of hits, and like Manfred Mann during the period, chose really interesting material to cover. One example being this Randy Newman song. With a great voice like his, these singles just had magic. I remember seeing a B&W clip of this on AMERICAN BANDSTAND back then. God I wish it would turn up on youtube.