THIS BLOG IS ABOUT 7" RECORDS ONLY. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY. EVERY SONG IS CONVERTED TO MP3 FROM MY PERSONAL 45 COLLECTION, AND THERE'S NOT ONE THAT I WOULDN'T RECOMMEND YOU SEEKING OUT. ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDERS WHO DON'T WANT THEIR MUSIC HEARD HERE JUST LET ME KNOW, AND DOWN IT WILL COME. CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE.
Linda Lewis had a mid-chart UK hit with ‘Rock A Doodle Doo’ during the summer of ’73 (#15). If you were there you’d know, it was played relentlessly for weeks and weeks, almost like Radio 1 wanted to make it sell. Or maybe just because it sounded so good over the air, like in my case, coming out of a 4″ x 6″ green transistor radio (that era’s version of a hand held device), permanently borrowed off my cousin.
She looked super hot on TOP OF THE POPS, like an English Kim Weston or Tammi Terrell, but with a voice much closer to Minnie Riperton. I was well pleased to get a US promo later that fall, but had no hopes I’d ever hear it on American radio, despite Reprise releasing it twice. Unfortunately, I was right.
By 1975, she’d left Raft and Reprise for Arista. For once, Clive Davis seemed to be in step with what I’d have done if I were running the label, make Linda Lewis a star in The US. Her first album for him was great, and the lead single ‘It’s In His Kiss’, even greater and a real chance for her to flex the higher range potential of that voice. It should have been a smash here (it peaked at #6 in The UK) and sounded spectacular on the air. I know. I ran my college station and forced even the most die-hard southern rock DJ’s to spin it. They already hated my tastes, so why not flex. It’s fun being the boss sometimes.
Their very first single was released as far back as ’68, but not until they were taken on by the songwriting/production team of Chapman/Chinn in the early 70′s, did they succeed. Their infamous Glam rock hit streak began in ’71 and lasted thru ’75. At that point, they sadly curbed the stacked heels and glitter outfits to become a straight ahead AOR rock band.
Somewhere in there, ’73 actually, The Sweet released ‘Blockbuster’. This was at the height of Glam in the UK. Along with Slade, Wizzard, Sparks, T. Rex and David Bowie, they basically slipped into and out of the top chart slots regularly.
I lived in London at the time, and must have played ‘Blockbuster’ a thousand times on my suitcase record player, yet never ever did I tire of it. The single got new life in the 90′s, when the video series GLAM ROCK was released. One of their many Top Of The Pops performances was included. I watched it over and over and over and over and over again.
Last night, I was awoken by a pretty fierce thunderstorm. I was weired out, but got up, got dressed and went out to watch. Having visited Collinwood, Maine earlier in the day, specifically to check out the town where the DARK SHADOWS TV series was based in. Some say vampire Barnabas Collins really existed and I, like many, was addicted to the program in a serious way and so it truly felt the spirits were messing with me. Being alone in our house, other than Corinne out dead cold, I was very creeped out. Truly scared to be honest. Never saw lightning hit the ocean like that in my life. I felt like the DARK SHADOWS spirits were warning me to stay put in my own pathetic world, and not to mess with them.
Dear spirits. I will behave and never return.
Once the storm and the ocean calmed, I was back to normal. Went to YouTube and before long, I was in a Glam rock loop I couldn’t shake until about 5:30 am. I found a TOTP Sweet clip, obviously from a different broadcast than the aforementioned one used for the comp. It’s even better:
Somehow, thank you God, The Sweet visited upsate New York, opening for, I think Eric Carmen. Some hairdo there Eric, a frosted bouffant, or hair don’t in hindsight.
Typically when any of the coined Glam bands (Sparks, Wizzard, Slade) braved their music and outfits into the smaller towns of the US, there were few, if any, comforting ports in the anti-androgyny storm as far as people went. So when a bunch of us showed up early, it was well easy to befriend the band, thereby ultimately being invited to share in the after show mayhem bigtime. Not that surprising….we had the party favors.
But we did genuinely love The Sweet. Everyone in the band were super warm. Great guys.
Many years later, I picked up the soundtrack to DAZED AND CONFUSED for my label, only because The Sweet (‘Fox On The Run’) were included. I wasn’t particularly fond of the other songs, in fact, I’ve never listened to the cd ever. On a whim, I figured it would be kind of great having The Sweet in the catalog, thereby negotiating a criminally low advance in my favor, given the film company’s planned and verbally agreed original soundtrack release partner, MCA, had bailed. Hence the desperate film division took the offer. The soundtrack has now sold 2 million copies to date and it’s all basically due to my loyalty toward The Sweet.
What a great idea. Take the band’s leader, put ‘The’ in front of his name – and an exclamation point at the end. Need for band name: solved.
Previously monikered The Alan Bown Set, and then leaning more toward a sometimes noisy soul sound, the band covered Little Anthony & The Imperials’ ‘Gonna Fix You Good (Every Time You’re Bad)’ and proceeded to get Northern Soul love years later. At the time though, ’65 – ’66, they struggled.
Switching labels, name and genre in ’67, and jumping on board the psychedelic train that seemingly overnight had a lot of passengers, they hooked up with the Mike Hurst who did their future productions.
The Alan Bown! recorded a pop-psych classic OUTWARD BOWN (simply titled THE ALAN BOWN! in the US), from which ‘Toyland’ was the second single. Until recently, I had no idea it charted on the Cashbox Top 100, peaking at #96. Usually when a single would get into the 90′s on Cashbox, Billboard or Record World, it would at least ‘bubble under’ the other two publication’s charts. Not the case with ‘Toyland’ in Billboard’s ‘Bubbling Under The Hot 100′ section – hence I missed out on the single’s activity, not having regular access to Cashbox. ‘Toyland’ really did deserve to be heard and become a hit.
In the UK, the week the band got their Top Of The Pops appearance, their current UK label, MGM, had a pressing plant strike – so with no copies in the stores, their single fell out of the NME chart (where it was #26) and that was that.
Treading water through ’68 – ’69, they signed with Deram releasing my other favourite 7″ from them, ‘Gypsy Girl’. Singer Jess Roden up and split to go solo, with Robert Palmer replacing him, and re-recording many of the vocals on the new album.
Next stop for The Alan Bown! was Island in ’70, where Robert Palmer’s vocals on the upcoming album, LISTEN were re-recorded by new vocalist Gordon Neville once he chose to leave for a solo career.
This pattern must have gotten pretty boring for Alan Bown himself. An even odder coincidence being that by then, The Alan Bown!, Robert Palmer and Jess Roden were all signed to Island and no doubt seeing each other regularly in the label’s infamous canteen. Can you imagine the unspoken competition?
If you live in America, well definitely New York, hearing ‘Lola’, (nowadays restricted to the oldies or dreaded classic rock formats) is as close as I imagine one can get to an oasis during a tsunami.
I was desperate a few weeks back, having left my iTouch at home during the morning school drop-off drive, all of ten minutes. Still it was one of those rare, aching to hear something decent moments, when suddenly ‘Lola’ appears as a result of my manic dashboard button pushing.
Let me tell you, I couldn’t believe once was a time I’d heard it on the radio so much, I thought I never needed to hear ‘Lola’ again. Do you remember those days? Well they are long gone. It never sounded better. And I finally got round to loading it onto my device tonight, an act I regret not having done before last weekend’s drive to and from Boston.
Hearing ‘Lola’ took me also to YouTube, where I was reminded it indeed was the song that, unbeknownst at the time, began signaling an end to that first classic era of The Kinks. Yes, there were several to follow, but as the seminal four piece lineup expanded to five, suddenly including John Gosling on keyboards, The Kinks immaculate 60′s visual perfection began to blemish.
Mind you, despite his un-English rough look, which was initially passable, the transformation was smooth. One could safely call it a soft landing as their sound remained pretty much unchanged, having always incorporated piano into their recordings, unually played by Nicky Hopkins or Ray himself.
Other than lyrically, ‘Apeman’ could have easily fit onto ARTHUR or even THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY for that matter. The mix always bothered me. Had it been as powerful as ‘Lola’, my bet is ‘Apeman’ would have been a bigger hit. The struggle to hear Ray’s vocal annoys to this day, particularly during the intro. Having said that, it’s impossible to ruin such a great song.
Sticking close to the original Kinks sound was also the case with ‘God’s Children’, the last official UK Pye / US Reprise 7″. Technically, in England, as opposed to being an A side, it was the lead track off a 4 song EP pulled from the PERCY film soundtrack, the full album being rejected by Reprise and apparently destroying the band/label relationship.
Whereas, in the US, ‘God’s Children’ became an official and final Reprise single. A later US Reprise 7″ ‘King Kong’ / ‘Waterloo Sunset’ notwithstanding, as it came after the band had moved to RCA, and was released solely to promote THE KINK KRONIKLES double album compilation.
Back to YouTube, ‘Lola’ from TOP OF THE POPS lead me to watch ‘Apeman’, then ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Wonderboy’ and ultimately ‘Days’:
For those of you like myself, who waited agonizingly for The Kinks to be allowed back into the US after some musician’s union ban during ’66, our wishes became reality when in ’69, the band returned to promote ARTHUR. Apparently, many of the scheduled shows between the tour’s New York start and it’s conclusion in Los Angeles were cancelled. Lucky was I to see them at the very beginning, New York.
Not only does the above clip capture the absolutely perfect Kinks during the period, it too gives the viewer ultimate Ray Davies moments at exactly :24 – :29, again at 1:02 and then 1:20. Expressions and smirks that addicted many a weak soul to the heroin known as The Kinks in the 60′s.
The clip, in fact, must have been shot within weeks of that infamous US return, as both Dave and Ray are wearing the exact same clothes they had on here at The Fillmore East (October 17 & 18, ’69) and then also in Potsdam NY, at the State college gymnasium on Sunday October 19. I will never, ever, ever forget Ray’s shirt. We were at stage edge, literally speaking out requests to the band.
See said shirt for yourself in the clip above. When uncovered with a jacket, like at the live shows, who could forget it?