Archive for the ‘Shindig’ 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.

Marianne Faithfull

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Listen: Go Away From My World / Marianne Faithfull

If you watch early Marianne Faithfull clips on SHINDIG or HULLABALOO, there’s often a sole, seated acoustic guitarist accompanying her. That’s Jon Mark, or Jon-Mark as the name appeared on his solo single, later of The Mark – Almond Band, one of the highest calibre musicianship outfits of their day.

Despite the label misspelling, ‘Go Away From My World’ was his composition, and indeed seems tailor written for her, it’s doom ridden mood unknowingly predicating a fifteen year marketing treadmill for both her personal and musical direction. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

This US only single, in it’s seldom seen picture sleeve above, was her last to ever chart on the BILLBOARD Top 100 in late ’65 at #89.

With thankfully another birthday a few days away, I’m always reminded of my 37th, when Marianne organized an Indian dinner for Corinne and I and some friends, then while cutting the cake, sang me a bit of ‘The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’, adapting the “at the age of thirty seven….” lyrical line to the occasion. How’s that for a birthday present?

The Easybeats

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Listen: Make You Feel Alright (Women) / The Easybeats
Make You Feel Alright (Women) / The Easybeats

Having signed a then lucrative five year deal with United Artists for territories outside of homeland Australia in early ’66, part of the plan to launch The Easybeats in the US, I’m guessing, was to immediately release their biggest hit, ‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’, while new material was being recorded. As a result, in early Spring, UA’s subsidiary label, Ascot, coupled the band’s first #1 at home with another Australian A side ‘In My Book’, and housed the single in a now very scarce picture sleeve.

Some of the Boston stations, like WBZ charted it, but nationally, not much transpired. Except as luck would have it, at WOLF in Syracuse, the hometown life changing Top 40 station forever glued to my ear as a kid. Spring ’66 found this youngster, who should’ve been knee deep in coloring books, instead becoming a fan of The Easybeats, amongst many.

‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’ reminded me of The Pretty Things ‘Big City’, both depending on bar chords sliding around way up high on the guitar neck, a style and sonic I found ridiculously addictive. The Pretty Things performed ‘Big City’ that way on SHINDIG, and I forever recognized the technique introduced to me by their guitarist Dick Taylor, while sitting about 2 feet from the black and white TV screen.

Have a look at the May ’66 WOLF chart below, and you’ll begin to make sense of how great records like ‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’ took over my life.

WOLF Charts May 7, 1966

James Burton & Ralph Mooney

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Listen: Corn Pickin’ / James Burton & Ralph Mooney
Corn Pickin / James Burton & Ralph Mooney

I wonder if ‘Corn Pickin” ever got played on Country radio back when released in ’68. According to THE AIRHEADS RADIO SURVEY ARCHIVE, it got no Pop play whatsoever. By far not a complete overview of airplay, it’s a pretty good source, and really fun to troll about on if you have a few hours to kill. But be forewarned, you will need a few hours.

Recorded, most likely cheap and on the fast, his collaborative album with pedal steel player Ralph Mooney yielded this one single, which was dreadfully out of tune with the times. Being, I’m guessing, an LA music scene player/celebrity, and fresh from resident guitarist on SHINDIG (and member of house band The Shindogs), turns out ‘Corn Pickin” foresaw the whole country/rockabilly west coast fad by about fifteen years, when The Long Ryders and others would find it musically fashionable.

Much appreciated by guitar players universally, putting in his time with Ricky Nelson during the late 50′s, when you really had to be able to play if you wanted to make records, meant his tones and clarity were unmistakable.

Did you know James Burton’s an inductee of the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame? Did you even know there was a Rockabilly Hall Of Fame? I didn’t until tonight.

It’s a fun website. But until The Cramps are in (The Stray Cats and not The Cramps – huh?), it’s a little hard to take it seriously.

The Poets

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

The below post, originally from 1/15/09, is worth revisiting. Firstly, one can never hear The Poets enough, and secondly, thanks to Lindsay Hutton from Next Big Thing, he snagged me the jukebox tab below, which is well worth sharing.

Now We're Thru / The Poets

Listen: Now We're Thru / The Poets PoetsThru.mp3

Probably by fluke, The Poets first single ‘Now We’re Thru’ perfectly captured what we Americans heard as the black and white sound of drizzle drenched England in a 2:13 sonic snapshot. Black and white? We only ever saw these bands that way. Color photos of brand new groups were thin on the ground. As for the magazines: newspaper style, with color covers at best.

Then there was TV. Who had a color set in ’65? Sure by ’67 TV, like everything else, went to eleven, to technicolor. But those early UK bands the world was insatiable for, all in black and white, and usually photographed on some wet cobblestoned street. Think about shots of Them, The Pretty Things, Manfred Mann, whoever, shivering from the damp.

‘Now We’re Thru’, it’s a minor key classic, a perfect balance of over echoed background vocals, cymbal free distant drums and that ever present Decca tambourine, possibly a non negotiable contractual boiler plate item. Andrew Loog Oldham produced their early releases, probably managed, obviously owned the publishing and gave them a leg up in many situations I’m guessing. A deal with Decca for starters. He even elbowed them on to America’s teen weekly SHINDIG:

“You want The Rolling Stones, take The Poets too”, just an educated guess mind you.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by George Gallacher

He had a few others signed up at the time: Marianne Faithfull, Adrienne Posta, The Mighty Avengers, Vashti and clearly got a taste for his own label.

What the hell, let’s give The Poets credit for helping create Immediate Records. They certainly were the only act he took along but no one ever seems to mention that bit.

Call Again / The Poets

Listen: Call Again / The Poets PoetsCall.mp3

‘Call Again’ was issued as Immediate 006 (theoretically the label’s 6th release). By now that destinctive vocal sound of singer George Gallacher was in place. If only they’d had a chance to work extensively in a studio, OGDEN’S NUT GONE FLAKE style….if only if only if only.

Otis Redding

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

OtisPain, Otis Redding, Volt, Atco, Steve Cropper, Upbeat, The Rolling Stones

Listen: Pain In My Heart / Otis Redding

Leave it to The Rolling Stones, they turned all us really young white kids on to the great RnB and Soul that was right here at home. Yeah it’s the oldest story in the book, but 100% true. I for one, was completely oblivious to Otis Redding until they came along. And so I started to ask for his records at WMCR, the little adult station near my parent’s house that gave me all their unusable Rock and RnB singles. Unfortunately, most of the labels only serviced them with non-RnB stuff, logically as they were playing Eydie Gorme, Dean Martin and such. Atlantic was an example, so I had to buy the occasional one, if I’d find it that is.

The first time I saw The Rolling Stones, see my Alvin Robinson post, they played this. Can remember it like yesterday. I needed this original and within days….it was mine.

OtisDirect, Otis Redding, Volt, Atco, Steve Cropper, Upbeat, The Rolling Stones

Listen: Direct Me / Otis Redding

His last known TV performance was on Cleveland’s UPBEAT, a weekly pop show that rivaled any national counterpart, in fact preceeded both SHINDIG and HULLABALOO as well as outlasting them (’64 – ’71). Seems everyone passed through town, probably intentionally to get the coverage. I’ve mentioned the show in previous posts, and without question, even a partial list of performers is pretty impressive.

Well it’s hard to forget seeing that episode, watching Otis Redding, knowing what had just happened asit was never broadcast live) Despite being endlessly respected and always name checked, he’s seldom heard. Oldies radio overplaying ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’ is almost an injustice. Despite all his classics, ‘Direct Me’ comes in as my favorite. Co-written with Steve Cropper, it may have been a castoff, but I don’t care. Got it in one of those ten for a dollar boxes. Despite the B side status (‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ was the A), the single just holds a memorable place in time for me. Woolworth’s, summer ’69.

There wasn’t a bad record in that box, which also included The Pretty Things ‘Cry To Me’.

Kim Weston

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

KimWestonHelplessUKA, Kim Weston, Tamla, Motown, Holland-Dozier-Holland

Listen: Helpless / Kim Weston KimWestonHelpless.mp3

She made two of the greatest records ever. This and ‘It Takes Two’. Like Mary Wells, Tammi Terrell and Florence Ballard, she was, from time to time, my Motown Goddess. I can replay her performance of this on SHINDIG like it was yesterday. Even though the program was black and white, I remember it in color, I guess because I wanted to.


Monday, November 10th, 2008

Battleflag / The Lo Fidelity Allstars test pressing

Battleflag / The Lo Fidelity Allstars

Love Makes The World Go Round / Deon Jackson

I hung out with Phil tonight. He stopped by to get some songs needed for a DJ job in Scotland that he’s schlepping to. He started brainstorming about his next project, The Cherry Truckers and played me a few tracks. It’s going to be pretty hot.
We met ten years ago when I picked up his band The Lo Fidelity Allstars for Columbia and became fast record collecting friends. We certainly had some fun bus rides on those US tours. Then a few months ago, by ridiculous coincidence, he and Holly bought an apartment two blocks from me. Why he left England is a constant to and fro between us but that’s another story. Deservedly, their single ‘Battleflag’ became a pretty big hit even in the States. You see the original version, which was blocked from release, had a Prince bit in it. The Lo Fi’s publisher, Warner-Chappell also published Prince, but couldn’t seem to get him to clear it – or according to some sources, had no rapport with him to even present the idea at all – so off it came. This post is that uncleared version. Some white labels were initially pressed for clubs, but the legal department freaked and in addition to ordering them destroyed – covered their asses by having them stamped ‘Uncleared Sample – Do Not Circulate’ first, just in case. That was way too tempting for me. I had a pal in the plant grab a few boxes and send them straight over to my office. They have since changed hands on eBay for crazy amounts. Worth it I must say. More importantly, this version is out there as it should be – and I bet Prince would like it too. See if you can spot the potential issue.

Listen: Battleflag / The Lo Fidelity Allstars 07 Battleflag.mp3

So Phil is flipping through stuff, putting together some songs to play at this Scottish do. Inevitably, these are the fun moments, when one good track leads you to find another. Not having heard this in ages, we gave it a play. I’d forgotten about it’s deep soul production, one only a great voice can fill. Never knew at the time if this was a guy or girl. Deon was pronounced just like Dionne, and it always baffled me until I saw him on Shindig. This record actually got it’s start on TV. It was CKLW’s Swingin’ Time, Detroit’s local American Bandstand knockoff that triggered it. He even managed an album on Carla’s parent label, Atco. According to Wikipedia, he’s a student supervisor nowadays.

Listen: Love Makes The World Go Round / Deon Jackson 11 Love Makes The World Go Round.mp3