Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

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.

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.

Los Bravos

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

losbravosblackuka, Los Bravos, Decca, Press, Ivor Raymmonde

losbravosblackusa, Los Bravos, Decca, Press, Ivor Raymmonde

Listen: Black Is Black / Los Bravos
Black Is Black / Los Bravos

Without a doubt, this was a signature song to my Summer ’66 soundtrack. This guy’s voice was almost scary. Between that and the lyrics, it especially sounded powerful late at night. I spent a week in Brooklyn that August, glued to the various New York City stations and heard this often. Along with The Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Summer In The City’, this song faithfully brings me back to that un-airconditioned summer vacation of listening to the radio by night and dragging my Aunt Nancy round the record shops by day: The House Of Oldies, King Karol and Colony basically. I spent hours in them. Thank God for her patience. Colony was really well stocked, but very expensive – list price: 98ยข! This was huge money for a kid in his single digits. Much more interesting were the shops in the East Village. Most of them sold promos for a quarter. Lots of white label Fontana’s, pink label Decca’s and the London Group’s orange swirls. You could spot those a mile away. I vividly recall getting Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours ‘Don’t Stop Loving Me, Baby’ in one such place.

Los Bravos, from Spain, big in England, well ‘Black Is Black’ was. Now big here. What a concept. Play good music on the radio, people buy it.

You still catch this one occasionally on the Oldies stations in smaller US markets and it does pop right out .

losbravosdontcareuka, Los Bravos, Decca, Press, Ivor Raymmonde

Listen: I Don’t Care / Los Bravos
I Don't Care / Los Bravos

The UK followup actually did okay, #16. It was easily a song that band and producer Ivor Raymonde worked hard on. I still would bet my last dime they all knew it wasn’t quite good enough despite the almost good enough parts, yet my guess is they needed something out quick and just went with it, hoping no one would notice.

Their US label, London Records’ offshoot Press, did notice. It never got released Stateside.

losbravosgoingusa,  Los Bravos, Decca, Press, Ivor Raymmonde

Listen: Going Nowhere / Los Bravos
Going Nowhere / Los Bravos

Instead, ‘Going Nowhere’ was the US followup to ‘Black Is Black’. Not a big showing chartwise, it peaked at #91. In a very signature Ivor Ramonde production, it sounds identical to his approach with The Fortunes. He had his sound down. I heard this a bit around Christmas of that year (see chart below). Turns out lead singer Mike Kogel was German, adding a great accent to his Gene Pitney vocal style. Spanish band and the first ever to chart in Billboard, German singer, pretty exotic for the day.

losbravosbringusa, Los Bravos, Decca, Press, Ivor Raymmonde

Listen: Bring A Little Lovin’ / Los Bravos
Bring A Little Lovin' / Los Bravos

What a surprise. Almost two years later, an eternity then, when no one expected it, Los Bravos finally really followed up ‘Black Is Black’ with a song equal in greatness. ‘Bring A Little Lovin’ sounded fantastic on the radio. I lit up every time I heard that intro. It was everywhere in Spring of ’68. Oddly, it didn’t chart in the UK, making the British pressing a very pricey item. Even US copies are hard to unearth now. Had they come with this straight after ‘Black Is Black’, the sky would’ve been the limit.

wndr_12_4_66, WNDR

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.