Archive for the ‘Donovan’ Category

The Vibrators

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Listen: We Vibrate / The Vibrators

Not only did Mickie Most have probably the greatest name ever, he was unmatched as a record producer for many years. Listen to the way he weaves and mixes the instruments on Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ or how he recaptures Joe Meek’s haunting, other worldliness on Kim Wilde’s ‘Kids In America’. The story of his life and his list of production achievements is fascinating.

A consistently under mentioned work for him seems to be The Vibrators ‘We Vibrate’. Released on his RAK Records imprint, as with most of the label’s product, he produced. 100% devoid of studio polish, instead the value of how this single was recorded and approached is all about their stage sound. It’s easy to see how this early punk record was a direct descendant of The Arrows and Suzi Quatro before them, both on RAK and both his productions. The band sounded exactly like this live. I know, Corinne and I got to see them at Dingwall’s in early ’77. I want to say Chris Spedding was on stage, but honestly can’t recall.

They were about to sign with Epic and make a great debut album, apparently their RAK deal being only a one off 7″. Their followup single and first for the new label, ‘Baby Baby’ / ‘Into The Future’ came really close, but somehow didn’t quite surpass ‘We Vibrate’.


Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Listen: The Boat That I Row / Lulu
The Boat That I Row / Lulu

Mickie Most: producer. Mickie Most: never a moniker more perfect.

This guy’s name framed a 60′s pop music producer with total accuracy. Don’t know much about him, never got to meet. Yet his records from the ’66 – ’68 period really had a stamp. And the legacy continued into the 70′s, with his label RAK. But back to the 60′s….

Not sonically unlike Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ or ‘There Is A Mountain’, The Yardbirds’ ‘Goodnight Sweet Josephine and ‘Ten Little Indians’, as well Jeff Beck’s ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ and ‘Tally Man’, all of them Mickie Most productions, I’m guessing his secret was a magic wand chock full of studio compression. Not being an engineer, I can’t say for sure, but indeed there are similarities whereby certain instruments get maxed out in a most appealing way. Maybe that’s where a play on the word most, or Most, gets a little too clever. Sorry.

Seriously though, I do recall hearing ‘The Boat That I Row’ those first few times on my local Top 40. It was warm, springlike weather and wow, did this song jump right out of the sludge. I wanted Lulu to have a US hit for seemingly ages, and now, clearly, the moment had arrived.

Technically, this single reached #1 in the States, but oddly not as ‘The Boat That I Row’. Instead, the original B side, ‘To Sir With Love’ suddenly gained momentum, given the film had just successfully debuted in theaters and was on a tear. So radio stations flipped it, as it was referred to in those days, meaning they began playing the B side and shunning the A.

‘To Sir With Love’ scaled to that coveted #1 slot, but in my world, ‘The Boat That I Row’ was always the chart topper. I mean, it technically sat right there on the pointy part of the pyramid.

Frankie & Johnny

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

FrankieJohnny, Frankie & Johnny, Maggie Bell, Decca, Inferno, Hickory

Listen: I’ll Hold You / Frankie & Johnny FrankieJohnny.mp3

My bet: not much was expected when Maggie Bell (Frankie) came to London from Scotland to record ‘I’ll Hold You’ which she’d co-written with Bobby Kerr (Johnny) for UK Decca, and eventually licensed to the US Nashville based Hickory label. Hickory an odd choice admittedly, although they did pick up, with great success, the early Donovan releases as well as a few other British acts.

This was a few years before Maggie Bell joined/formed Stone The Crows and then onto solo releases via Swan Song Records. In that time (around five years) much would change about Maggie Bell, most noticeably her voice which on this recording was quite smooth. Yet by the time she began with Stone The Crows, a rough Janis Joplin quality was well in place.

Wish I had that original Decca or Hickory pressing to post and own, but meanwhile this later Inferno release is doing nicely as a temp. I will find those originals, that I can assure you.


Friday, October 17th, 2008

Catch the Wind / Donovan

Listen: Catch the Wind / Donovan 1-01 Catch The Wind (Single Version).mp3

I heard this song in a recent commercial, not sure which one. I think Bob Dylan was a touch too much for me back then (although ‘I Want You’ was a favorite). I found a bit more attraction to Donovan’s stuff. Maybe it’s because he was from the UK, a handy plus during the British Invasion years. This first single was a standout. In it’s day, being a summertime hit brought even more attention to it’s chilly gloom. Donovan went on to make many great records, and really broke ground production-wise during his association with Mickie Most which started in ’66. ‘Sunshine Superman’ still reminds me of how fresh it was every time I hear it now. Donovan’s a big animal protectionist, so I hope he got a ton of money for that commercial.