Archive for the ‘Columbia UK’ Category

The Graham Bond Organization

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Listen: St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization
St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization

Around ’65/’66, The Graham Bond Organization were a most evil sounding jazz/blues mixture, not only as a band, but compared to any other group during the period. Their two albums, including the Jack Bruce / Ginger Baker / Dick Heckstall-Smith lineup, were released by Columbia UK but remained unissued in the US. In fact the only American release ever from this line-up and The Graham Bond Organization in general was this lone 7″ on Ascot, both sides from that Columbia UK period. The much covered ‘St. James Infirmary’, a single only A side in the UK from early ’66, likewise took on the A side position in the US.

This American folk song of anonymous origin dates back to early 1900 and has taken on many interpretations, one of which claims the song to be written about St. James Hospital in London, which was used to treat leprosy.

Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday, Bobby Hackett, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, Bobby Blue Bland, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Doc Watson, Janis Joplin and The White Stripes are amongst those who have recorded the track. Yet it’s this one that competes neck in neck with the Cops ‘N Robbers version as my personal favorite.

The soon-to-be direction John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Dick Heckstall-Smith would assume on BAREWIRES can be heard here.

Listen: Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization
Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization

‘Wade In The Water’, the band’s first A side single for Columbia UK was also included on their debut album, THE SOUND OF ’65. Here in the US, it was coupled, to complete this lone US single, as B side. I’m guessing Ascot Records had released it, with an option for an album, should they get any traction.

At the time, the label was having great success via Manfred Mann, during their initial RnB influenced period with Paul Jones as lead vocalist. They were also a Columbia UK act, and Ascot was releasing other singles from that label’s catalog, including those by Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, The Force Five and Madeline Bell.

The smooth mod rendition of ‘Wade In The Water’ from The Ramsey Lewis Trio stole all the airplay that same year, but this jazz leaning, late night version clearly counter balanced a then ubiquitous song that seemed insatiable to just about everyone in some form or another.

The Buzz

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Listen: You’re Holding Me Down / The Buzz
Buzz.mp3

Basically the remnants of Edinburgh’s mini cult legends The Boston Dexters, once they morphed into The Buzz, ‘You’re Holding Me Down’ became their sole release from ’66, produced by Joe Meek and pre-dating summer of love psychedelia by a year or so. Still, it gets regarded as a most collectable classic from the genre, having recently commanded £305 on eBay. Everything Joe Meek touched became an unforeseen crystal ball gaze into the future, still to this day.

Digging through reviews of the record at the time, some called it frantic, others messy.

Many argue these guys were the same group David Bowie used as his back-up band for a while, billing themselves as, surprise, David Bowie & The Buzz. Not true.

Although, that Buzz did include a guitarist with possibly the best stage name ever, T-cup Taylor.

Herman’s Hermits

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Listen: You Won’t Be Leaving / Herman’s Hermits
You

Somehow I found myself pulling out a bunch of Herman’s Hermits singles the other night. I guess I really liked quite a few, but moved along through the years never much remembering them or revisiting either. They are in one of those pockets on the wall shelf that seems to get minimal browsing.

Whatever. There I was. Oh right, why was ‘You Won’t Be Leaving’ ever released as a 7″ in the US? Never could quite figure that one out. If you look closely, their string of hits were pretty intense for a few years, with often two or more records in the Top 100 simultaneously, some being released a mere four weeks after the previous one.

As with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, my local Top 40′s would premier a new song as quickly as a copy could be airmailed over from England. ‘You Won’t Be Leaving’ was no exception. As with a few others (‘No Milk Today’, ‘There’s a Kind Of Hush’, ‘Silhouttes’), this was a one listen for me.

Funny enough, it never did get released, but instead found it’s way onto a then current US album that I somehow ended up with, so I was content.

Years later in the late 80′s, an easy find at the Record & Tape Exchange, Notting Hill, for pennies. Not so sure this one time bargain A label would be so cheap nowadays though.

Jeff Beck

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck

Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck

Listen: Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck
Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck

From all reports, Jeff Beck hates these records. Shame. But I do wish I’d seen him perform them, as he must’ve done for a brief time just prior to recording and touring TRUTH.

Saw him a few years back at Roseland. His playing superb, and from where I was, he looked almost the same as when with The Yardbirds. Slim, no change in haircut, frozen in time. That show was way better than I remember The Jeff Beck Group being years prior. I was so disappointed that he didn’t play these two singles that night in 1969. We’d hitch hiked all the way to The Fillmore for the show, a bluesy metal jam instead of the clean English group sound we’d expected, based mainly on these two solo singles.

As with ‘Night Of Fear’ by The Move, the first time I heard ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ was via American Bandstand’s Rate A Record segment. My trusty tape recorder Tivo’ d the moment, 1967 style.

Tallyman / Jeff Beck

Listen: Tallyman / Jeff Beck
Tallyman / Jeff Beck

A ‘Tallyman’ highlight was the nice double tracked guitar solo, as well as his fills through to the end. Not to mention the vocals, which must really make him cringe. I don’t think he ever sang again actually.

The Buzz

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Listen: You’re Holding Me Down / The Buzz
Youre Holding Me Down / The Buzz

To my knowledge, Joe Meek’s most, maybe only, psychedelic production. It preceded Summer ’67 by fourteen months. How the hell did he do that?

This one goes hard from the start and by the fade, just pins the mass confusion meter. Crazy stuff.

Not The Buzz that backed David Bowie, btw.

The Bo Street Runners

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Listen: Bo Street Runner / The Bo Street Runners BoStreetBoStreet.mp3

If you recall the period (’64 – ’65), literally every week there were more English and US garage, blues based bands releasing singles, and some of us were twitching increasingly by the day. It was impossible to keep up, and the really obscure singles (like The Bo Street Runners), were probably hard enough to find around the UK, forget about in America and definitely in upstate New York. I’d seen a photo of this band in 16 Magazine – the publication always had one page toward the back with about 8 new band photos per issue, accompanied by a sentence or two (most likely press photos that arrived at the office with a record/bio).

The Bo Street Runners’ blurb mentioned winning a READY STEADY GO competition and releasing ‘Bo Street Runner’ via UK Decca as a result. Little did I know that years later RSG producer Vicki Wickham would become a close friend and gift me her entire record collection. True story. Good thing, I’d have been one of the first kids, in his single digits, to keel over from a heart attack.

Up there with some of the better tracks from The Yardbirds, Them, The Downliners Sect or The Pretty Things. ‘Bo Street Runner’, surprisingly an original song, is pure blue eyed RnB, right down to the maracas and obligatory tambourine keeping time with the beat.

Listen: Baby Never Say Goodbye / The Bo Street Runners BoStreetBabyNever.mp3

In hindsight, some signature names passed thought the ranks of their lineup, including a few guys from both Timebox and Patto, as well as Mick Fleetwood. His timeline is right up there with Ron Wood’s, having been with not only The Bo Street Runners, but also The Peter B’s, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and the original Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.

Although a rather long standing BSR member, he only ever played on ‘Baby Never Say Goodbye’, the competitive cover of the Unit 4 + 2′s original and charting composition.

Little Richard

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Listen: Get Down With It / Little Richard
Get

It has been written, by Charles White, that this is the greatest rock and roll record ever recorded in England. Who is Charles White? Good question.

The answer: he’s aka Dr Rock, is the official biographer to Little Richard and author of the books ‘The Life And Times Of Little Richard’ and ‘Killer – The Jerry Lee Lewis Biography’. All of the preceding info I lifted from the liner notes of the cd reissue GET DOWN WITH IT – THE OKEH SESSIONS. But beware.

I was well excited when I saw this one on the Sony release schedule back in 2004. The packaging turned out great. The detail being particularly good. Unfortunately, it’s all the stereo versions which have been restored, remastered, cleaned, polished, shined with every bit of dirt, grime, filth and slime removed. Little Richard without the dirt, grime, filth and slime is just not…very appealing. Try finding the vinyl singles, especially ‘Poor Dog’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Discuss It’, and the LP, THE EXPLOSIVE LITTLE RICHARD, all on the Okeh label instead. If you do buy this cd, keep the booklet but toss the disc.

Even if you accomplish all the above, you won’t be done, because during Little Richard’s tenure with Okeh, he recorded that aforementioned ‘greatest rock and roll record’ in London during December ’66. It was called ‘Get Down With It’. The cd was quite rightly titled after it and that particular single was only ever released in the UK on Columbia, Okeh’s British distributor. God knows why. So basically, to really complete your journey, you’ll need to own this UK 7″. Good luck. I do wish you it, but don’t wait up. It’s a pretty hard one to locate.

Unexpectedly, ‘Get Down With It’ was produced by EMI’s Norman Smith, who also took on said chore for both The Pink Floyd’s PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN and The Pretty Things’ SF SORROW albums. This track perfectly documents that intoxicating and lost in history delta, chitlin’ circuit, sweat and liquor drenched roadhouse sound. To think, this studio version never saw the light of day in the US until the cd came out in ’04. I wonder why they didn’t issue this at the time, and why the mono version of ‘Get Down With It’ wasn’t included as a cd bonus track at least?

As for Charles White’s statement that this is the greatest rock and roll record ever recorded in England, he just might be right.

The Shotgun Express

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

ShotgunExpress, The Shotgun Express, Rod Stewart, Peter Bardens, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, Columbia

Listen: I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Around / The Shotgun Express ShotgunExpress.mp3

’65 – ’66 was a busy time for so many major stars as they did a non stop jig of musical chairs, seeming all a bit desperate in hindsight.

In this internet age, where everything is at your fingertips instantly, and anyone can record some songs with only their laptop, it’s wildly ironic that in the 60′s, bands, records and record deals moved much faster than today. Within months you could jump ship to another company, with two, four or more singles under your arm ready to release. Yet nowadays, despite all our resources, it seems to take like sometimes two years for a band to issue a followup.

Again, none of that was the case back then. And talk about musical chairs, Jimmy Page is rumored to have been on dozens, maybe hundreds of hits and flops as an in demand session player and John Paul Jones too. Rod Stewart went from solo deal to a very short stint as vocalist with The Kinks (thank God and heaven above that didn’t work out) to Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Band, on to Steampacket – a sort of super star ensemble that featured Baldry, Stewart, Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, Micky Waller and others, back to a solo contract (this time recording ‘Shake’ with The Brian Auger Trinity on backup), then onto The Shotgun Express. Often viewed as a poor man’s Steampacket supergroup, with members Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Bardens (later of Camel) and female vocal sparring partner, the unknown Beryl Marsden, they lasted only a few months, but it didn’t hinder a singles deal with Columbia UK and this lone, flop 7′ release, by official NME chart position that is. Over at pirate station Radio Caroline, it had a decent first week at # 25, unfortunately also it’s peak, by two weeks later, it was gone from their Top 50.

Always collectable mostly due to it’s various members instead of the music, on first spin, it’s a big let down – more often a “what the hell did I spend all that money on this dog of a record for?” Even I thought that too, yet on second listen, I quite liked the obvious frustration of it’s members sounding ‘forced’ into recording a track against their instincts, back in the day when you obeyed your label, their chosen producer and accompanying material. I kinda think it’s pretty great now, and not only because of that tension, I like the song too. Plus it’s a co-write by a favorite: Heads, Hands & Feet vocalist/Taste producer Tony Colton.

Heinz

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

HeinzQuestionsUKA Heinz, Tower, Columbia UK, Joe Meek, The Tornados

Listen: Questions I Can’t Answer / Heinz
Questions

I discovered Heinz a good bit after the fact, in the early 70′s. His original band, The Tornadoes were of some interest, ‘Telstar’ being a noticeably eerie hit when I was a little guy. I even remember being scared of it, considering it bad luck.

Year later, I came to connect Joe Meek, who produced ‘Telstar’, with a few other singles of very similar ambience, The Cryin’ Shames ‘Please Stay’ and The Honeycombs ‘Have I The Right’ in particular. I stumbled upon a US 7″ of ‘Just Like Eddie’ by Heinz on the old purple and white London label indicating it’s pre 1965 release, and put down the 25¢ for it in a junk shop somewhere off Salina Street in Syracuse’s not so nice part of town. What a surprise, it was great and had that name, Joe Meek, listed as producer. My curiosity grew.

Now there are endless stories of interest surrounding Joe Meek’s legend, I have a few of my own.

Enamored with his history, I recall vividly getting off an evening arrival flight into Heathrow with Corinne, dropping our stuff off at the hotel, dragging her right into a cab and heading for 304 Holloway Road, where both his infamous studio was located and his even more infamous suicide took place. It was by now very late and in the cold November drizzle, we stood for a good fifteen minutes while I awaited a sign, some communication, anything at all from Joe Meek. This guy was so into the extra terrestrial, certainly he had to know I was there and religiously serious….but disappointingly, nothing happened, so back to the hotel I got reluctantly dragged.

The exact time was the very early morning of November 23, 1988, two days before the Wembley Record Fair, sadly a thing of the past. I recall that date as much of the fair was spent scouring the dealer stalls for Joe Meek related singles, coming home with quite a few, including this ‘A’ label of ‘Questions I Can’t Answer’. As soon as this record hit the turntable, I was addicted.

Search out some Heinz photos, dyed blond hair adding to his nicely twisted look.

HeinzHeartUS, Heinz, Tower, Columbia UK, Joe Meek, The Tornados

Listen: Heart Full Of Sorrow / Heinz
Heart

I began amassing a headful of Heinz trivia and detail, all his singles becoming obsessions. I wasn’t ready for the greatness of ‘Heart Full Of Sorrow’ when I stumbled on a crazy rare US pressing in Dallas. It looked beautiful, almost like new, still shiny. When I finally got home a few days later, it was the first thing I played, recall that bit vividly.

Holy smoke. This production took all of Joe Meek’s techniques and turned them to eleven. It is amongst his very best work. Despite it’s dated sound, all the technology of today’s recording possibilities can’t touch documenting the fear, paranoia and loneliness in Joe Meek’s brain like this can. Classic Joe Meek. Classic Heinz.

John Lee Hooker / Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

I really do appreciate Van Morrison for many reasons. He toured about 10 years back, maybe more, with Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames as his band, and John Lee Hooker supporting. I figured the Georgie Fame bit would mean more cohesive song structure as opposed to some of the free form shows he’d done. True, it did. But not before giving Georgie and his band a 4 song spotlight set, whereby they played his biggest US successes (‘Get Away’, ‘Yeh Yeh’, The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde’ and remarkably ‘Daylight’). In addition Van did ‘Gloria’ much to everyone’s surprise, especially as he and Georgie kept it pretty close to the original.

JohnLeeHookerBoom, John Lee Hooker, Vee Jay, Columbia UK

Listen: Boom Boom / John Lee Hooker JLHookerBoomUKA.mp3

Up first was John Lee Hooker, during possibly his last tour. What an unexpected treat. There was none of that new material stuff to endure, instead the classics, played raw and fluidly, all the while seated. No surprise for him to play ‘Boom Boom’, ‘I Love You Honey’ and ‘Dimples’.

JLHookerBigLegs, John Lee Hooker, Vee Jay, Columbia UK

Listen: Big Legs, Tight Skirt / John Lee Hooker JLHookerBigLegs.mp3

Most surprising was when pulling out a more obscure favorite ‘Big Legs, Tight Skirt’. Not only was hearing the song a thrill, but the set up story was hysterical beyond belief. You can just imagine.

GeorgieFameYehUKA, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Imperial, Columbia UK

GeorgieFameYehUSA, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Imperial, Columbia UK

GeorgieFameYehUS, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Imperial, Columbia UK

Listen: Yeh Yeh / Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames GeorgieFameYehYeh.mp3

To be honest, I hadn’t realized Georgie Fame was even involved until a few days prior. Nor did I expect a solo set. To say it was a treat is vastly understating the moment. Voice still perfectly intact, players easily replicating the groove.

But the most unexpected bonus of the night: a jukebox tab.

It was originally set up for Van Morrison to do the honors via management. Rumored to be difficult, I was pretty shocked when a confirmation call came through with instructions to meet stage door right post show, and get escorted in to see Van, which I promptly adhered to. In a small dressing room, Van was standing waiting. This seemed rather bizarre. Why was I so lucky? He’d been briefed on my request, so when he inquired about song choice, I asked would he do one for Them as well. “Sure, just show me what to write and where”. ‘Richard Cory’ was my choice, I indicated clearly where to write what, Van took the penned signed his name (see tab below) and huffed from the room. Although disappointed at being so close to a signed jukebox tab for Them, I thought it was pretty interesting that this signature, and the accompanying story, was how he wanted to be remembered:

VanMorrisonJukeboxTab, Van Morrison

Georgie Fame, on the other hand, was just the opposite, even recalling the B side, which I hadn’t had the chance of researching prior to the show:

GeorgieFameJukeboxTab, Georgie Fame

The Koobas

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

koobastakemeuk, koobas, columbia, capitol, kapp, keith ellis
koobastakemeps, koobas, columbia, capitol, kapp, keith ellis

Listen: Take Me For A Little While / The Koobas KoobasLittleWhile.mp3

I originally passed up the US ‘Take Me For A Little While’ sleeve upon release, and never ever saw another. Desperate for it as the years past, Mike Goldsmith came to the rescue while at a record fair a few years back. What a relief. Sometime during the 90′s, I stumbled on a UK pressing at London’s Record & Tape Exchange in Notting Hill. This copy appeared to be autographed. How does one ever verify that?

koobasfirstcutuk, koobas, capitol, columbia, kapp
koobasfirstcutusa, koobas, columbia, capitol, kapp, keith ellis

Listen: The First Cut Is The Deepest / The Koobas KoobasFirstCut.mp3

The record itself was most pleasant British Beat at the time, but in no way hinted toward the psychedelic greatness that their ‘First Cut Is The Deepest’ would be. Despite being dwarfed chart-wise by P.P. Arnold’s version, historically it’s equally vital.

The Smoke

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

My Friend Jack (Unreleased Version) / The Smoke

Listen: My Friend Jack (Unreleased Version) / The Smoke SmokeJackUnreleased.mp3

My Friend Jack / The Smoke

Listen: My Friend Jack / The Smoke SmokeJack.mp3

High In A Room / The Smoke

Listen: High In A Room / The Smoke SmokeHigh.mp3

Have Some More Tea / The Smoke

Listen: Have Some More Tea / The Smoke SmokeTea.mp3

Dreams Of Dreams / The Smoke

Listen: Dreams Of Dreams / The Smoke SmokeDream.mp3

Ride Ride Ride (Dick Turpin)/ The Smoke

Listen: Ride Ride Ride (Dick Turpin)/ The Smoke SmokeRide.mp3

Sugar Man/ The Smoke

Listen: Sugar Man/ The Smoke SmokeSugarMan.mp3

A good band that sticks to their sound isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even when the world evolves, sometimes staying in your little place can be good, as long as you actually had something decent to begin with. Obviously, it’s how I feel about The Smoke. Now I hadn’t discovered them when they were current, I guess they didn’t quite get enough press attention, I missed out until a year or two later. And upon hearing ‘My Friend Jack’, I filed it right up there with The Creation. That guitar effect, in fact, sounded very Eddie Phillips to me. Still, it took ages to find all their singles. The 60′s releases were hard enough, being non sellers. And the 70′s singles, selling even less, were a real challenge. Thank God for the many trips I made to the UK on some label’s dime, because I’d have never found them otherwise.

Years later, I stumbled on some hardcore info – the original version of ‘My Friend Jack’ was recorded and made it’s way to acetates, but not issued due to explicitly drug obvious lyrics. The version that did come out being apparently toned down. On a trip to the UK, Howard returned with just that acetate, one of many gems he’d gotten off his uncle, a former Decca Records UK promotion guy. He just handed it over – a serious ass present. There aren’t many like Howard.

Chris Blackwell’s country house in Theale had an amazing dj equipped/record library in the loft overlooking his recreation room – with pool tables and the works down below. I always made my way straight up there at gatherings for the company. He invited Corinne and I to stay a long weekend, and drove us down from London late one Friday night. An always generous host, we had the run of the place. He said graciously, if I found any doubles in the loft, to help myself. This was a dream come true – and despite being tempted to pocket a few on a first visit – it proves honesty is the best policy, or good things come to those that wait…..whatever. He let me take whatever I wanted. Lo and behold, he had an extra of the one and only Island single by The Smoke. This was ’89, by which time I’d still never even seen a copy, not to mention in unplayed condition. Worth the wait. Thank you Chris.

Imagine my shock when finding ‘Dreams Of Dreams’ at the Notting Hill Gate Record & Tape Exchange, in it’s Revolution Records company sleeve, which until that moment, I hadn’t realized even existed. I guess the Revolution Records team expected big success for the imprint, thereby manufacturing stock sleeves. Mind you, the single was in the glass encased upstairs high end section but well worth the lofty price (around 75 GBP). Nice one.

By 1971, The Smoke had stubbornly, and wonderfully, not changed their sound much. As with all bands that began in the mid 60′s, they occasionally let their love of Motown show, as on ‘Ride Ride Ride’. Later still, despite the glam audio techniques poured all over ‘Sugar Man’, their one of a kind, signature sound could not be stifled, thankfully.

The Executives

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Strictly for the Beat / The Executives

Listen: Strictly For The Beat / The Executives 01 Strictly For The Beat.mp3

This could be the title track or endless bed music for any black and white 60′s British spy or youth film. It reeks of teens dancing to beat groups. I used it as the theme song to a radio show I did years ago – then lifted the title for a compilation CD we released on Island years later. A fellow named Roy Carr, who was quite a respected music journalist in the 70′s, was a member. It’s still a fun one to listen to.