Archive for the ‘Polydor’ Category

Ella Fitzgerald

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Listen: Sunshine Of Your Love / Ella Fitzgerald
Sunshine Of Your Love / Ella Fitzgerald

Always found a weak spot for 60′s jazzy covers of then popular Top 40 hits. A lost art nowadays I suppose.

Right through to the mid 70′s, there seemed an abundance of them tailor made for cocktail lounge jukeboxes. No idea how many versions of ‘Misty’ I own, and certainly have even more pressings of an all time favorite, both as an original and a cover, Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny’.

My guilty pleasure Ella Fitzgerald track has to be ‘Black Coffee’, which was never issued on 7″. Not that I know her work extensively, but I do recall hearing it, just one time, on the radio, in a friend’s parent’s car, with both of them smoking upfront. Nasty but a time period snapshot still vivid in my brain.

Her rendition of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ comes pretty close. Hey, it’s flip is ‘Hey Jude’, imagine that. But hands down, this A side documents an, at times, raspy vocal that I find most uncharacteristic of Ella Fitzgerald. And then there’s the song choice, The Cream! Come on, that’s pretty funny.

Wouldn’t be surprised if it was “Alright, give me the lyrics, I’ll sing it already. Let’s just get this over with.”

A Handful Of Cheek

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Listen: I’ll Slap Your Face / A Handful Of Cheek

King Of The Hooks, as Jonathan King was known, kept a non-stop flow of pop novelty singles coming from his UK Records imprint during the early 70′s. Initially distributed by Decca and later Polydor, some deservedly became the occasional hit.

Clearly, all these one-off releases were from his own musical pen, when not picking up the occasional left field Reggae (Carl Malcolm), Northern (The Devonnes) or American Soul (Hoagy Lands) master that is.

JK always came up with hysterical synonyms for himself and his hired musicians. In this case, A Handful Of Cheek.

When visiting London in March ’77 with Corinne, we made the rounds of all the labels, blagging records. Howard set us up with Andrew Lauder at United Artists, and folks at Chrysalis, Charisma, etc. No one was about to bother with UK, deemed quite unhip despite 10CC and The Kursaal Flyers. Maybe others looked down their nose at UK, but certainly not me.

Maintaing a small office just near the entrance to Warren Street tube, the very nice receptionist gladly opened the cupboards and pulled out a good fifty singles for me to take back home for my US college station. Bless her. A Handful Of Cheek was among them.

Starting with a glam drum sound, ‘I’ll Slap Your Face’ soon turns into one of my favorite Jonathan King novelties. Dropping in the orchestral backing at the key change is an unexpected and undeniable example of why King Of The Hooks, even if self appointed, is undeniably justified.

Sham 69

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Listen: Hurry Up Harry / Sham 69
Hurry Up Harry / Sham 69

October ’78 was a great month. Corinne and I went to London for my birthday and Howard was typically the world’s best host. Never a dull moment would be an understatement. Another two weeks of trolling the record shops along Oxford Street, sifting through cheap punk clothes from a damp Shepherd’s Bush Market, eating traditional English breakfasts covered in Daddy’s sauce with endless cups of sugary tea several times daily in cafes, wolfing Battenburg cakes in between and drinking….warm pints. Sounds nasty but in fact, it was heaven on earth.

‘Hurry Up Harry’ had just been released. It was everywhere. On the radio all day, and in the pubs at night. The single became our vacation theme. A better working class drinking anthem comes along seldom, especially with all those personal memory attachments above.

When we landed at JFK, and eventually made it to the luggage carousel, I could see loads of records tumbling down the chute towards the conveyer belt. One of my checked boxes had come undone. No doubt, the panic was a most amusing moment for every last passenger except one. Seriously, I nearly blacked out.

It’s true. All’s well that ends well, as the entire twenty five eventually found their way to me, ‘Hurry Up Harry’ fully intact.

Medicine Head

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

medicineheadrisingusa, Medicine Head, Box Of Frogs, Polydor

Listen: Rising Sun / Medicine Head MedicineHead.mp3

Despite being comprised of three former Yardbirds, Box Of Frogs, formed around ’83/’84, were basically a formula US sounding AOR band that held no appeal to these ears. Fronted by Medicine Head vocalist John Fiddler, it was through shear luck that, when looking for a deal (having achieved some success with Epic prior but clearly not enough) he rang the A&R department at Warner Brothers. The front desk put him through to my office (I was running The Medicine Label at the time). I quickly tried dodging the conversation about Box Of Frogs by informing this fellow named John that I wasn’t really part of the Warner Brothers A&R department, but instead ran my own imprint. So he asks, “What’s it called?”.

Upon answering, he says “What a coincidence, I used t be in a band named Medicine Head”.

“Is this John Fiddler?”

“Yes, how did you know my last name?”

And so the conversation immediately plowed into fifth gear. Holy fuck – I was talking to John Fiddler.

He was as shocked that I knew his history with Medicine Head almost as much as I was to hear him down the other end of the line. I didn’t hesitate to inform him how much I loved ‘Rising Sun’, and that it was indeed one of my singles during summer of ’73, which I miraculously spent in London. Although not a UK chart #1 like their previous release ‘One And One Is One’, no amount of arm twisting will convince me that ‘Rising Sun’ is not, by far, the better 7″. I seem to recall him agreeing.

Peaches & Herb

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Listen: Two Little Kids / Peaches & Herb Peaches2Little.mp3

When I pulled out a handful of their singles to play over the weekend, my kids asked who was singing.

“Peaches & Herb.”

“Sounds like a new tea choice from Celestial Seasonings.” Man, they can so be quick sometimes.

But most of us know otherwise. Me, I considered them my RnB Sonny & Cher.

Through the years, there was one Herb and several Peaches. Six to be exact. Initially signed to Date Records from ’66 – ’70, it’s former vocalist with The Sweet Things, Francine Day, who took the lead on all the recordings and is admittedly my favorite. Even after her retirement from touring two years in (Marlene Mack from The Jaynetts replaced her live), she remained Peaches in the studio. Every last Peaches & Herb single on the label is a must for any proper collection.

Listen: Shake Your Groove Thing / Peaches & Herb PeachesGroove.mp3

Despite my penchant for Northern Soul, and for Date Records, it’s this later single that is the riot worth posting. Everyone knows it. And once I got the riff into my head this morning, it was unshakeable, for the entire day.

Linda Greene, the third Peaches, indeed does a great vocal on this one.

‘Shake Your Groove Thing’ – think about it. In some ways, the mainstream was much looser twenty or so years ago (Culture Club for example) than now. No matter. The record was massive (#5 US). Did every programmer just turn an blind eye to the lyrics? I guess so.

So what exactly is a groove thing?

Gwen Guthrie

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent / Gwen Guthrie

Listen: Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent / Gwen Guthrie GwenGuthrieAintNothing.mp3

Anyone who says they don’t love this record is really missing out, maybe even lying.

Having previously made a handful good singles for Island, especially ‘Peanut Butter’, it was this Polydor 7″ that became her crowning moment. She did it all too. Produced, whereby Gwen Guthrie out Roger Troutman’d Roger Troutman. Not easy. And the lyrics – talk about coining every nuance in existence. They’ve never dated, never will.


Shirley & Lee / Slade

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Listen: Let The Good Times Roll / Shirley & Lee ShirleyLeeGoodTimes.mp3

There’s nothing like an original pressing and company sleeve when it sounds like this. There are probably a heap of accurate adjectives that apply here, like juke joint, chitlin circuit or barrelhouse RnR. I hope so, cause that’s how I hear it.

This being Shirley & Lee’s biggest hit (#1 RnB / #20 Pop: 1956), it was a drastic change from their earlier sweetheart, call and response sound and releases. Indeed, they were for a while coined as ‘Sweethearts Of The Blues’.

Years later, Sylvia Robinson, who went on to start Sugarhill Records, signed Shirley Mae Goodman and together they had a massive hit with ‘Shame Shame Shame’ as Shirley & Company on her All Platinum imprint.

Listen: Let The Good Times Roll / Slade SladeGoodTimesRoll.mp3

Covered by many: The Righteous Brothers, Barbra Streisand, The Searchers, Joe Strummer, Harry Nilsson, The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, Freddy Fender, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Animals, Fishbone and George Clinton, my favorite version clocks in via a working class glam rendition by the almighty Slade.

I sure hope Shirley Mae Goodman and Leonard Lee, who also wrote their biggest hit, got the publishing.

Gary Walker & The Rain

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

GaryWalkerSpooky, Gary Walker & The Rain, Polydor, United Artisits, Scott Walker, Allan Clarke, Philips, Charlie Crane, The Cryin' Shames

Listen: Spooky / Gary Walker & The Rain GaryWalkerSpooky.mp3

Is it possible to record a bad version of ‘Spooky’ – especially when Scott Walker is producing, or even just in the studio sharing oxygen with you? Before The Walker Brothers crumbled at the seams and eventually broke up, drummer Gary Walker was making solo singles – the first two, ‘You Don’t Love Me’ and ‘Twinkie Lee’, both becoming UK hits and as importantly, both produced by Scott Walker.

Shortly after that official breakup, Gary Walker & The Rain began what was to be a very desirable and highly collectable band. Members included Joey Molland, who prior was a member of Immediate Records recording artists The Masterminds, and after the breakup of The Rain, Badfinger.

I saw Badfinger in those days, they supported The Moody Blues. Despite their Beatles connection and Beatles sounding singles, I went along anyways – after all, it was two UK bands in my dull hometown of Syracuse. I recall speaking to the band after their set, for some reason they were all wandering around the audience looking depressed. Maybe it was bad acid.

Had no idea then he’d been a member of both The Masterminds and Gary Walker’s band. Lucky for him or the poor guy would’ve ended up running for cover.

GaryWalkerPneumonia, Gary Walker & The Rain, Philips, Charlie Crane, The Cryin' Shames

Listen: Come In, You’ll Get Pneumonia / Gary Walker & The Rain GaryWalkerPneumonia.mp3

An even more interesting member of the lineup was Charlie Crane – a very unsung musical hero of mine. Lead singer with The Cryin’ Shames (UK not US band), it is indeed his voice on their Joe Meek produced anthem ‘Please Stay’, posted elsewhere on this blog. Search it out just to see how incredible this guy’s voice was and additionally, what a terrific compliment it made to that particular tune.

Most likely by accident, seems every single Gary Walker & The Rain released had a connection to another worthy band or artist. In this case, they were neck in neck with The Easybeats’ version of the song, released a bit earlier on United Artists and selling a few more copies, but just a few. Great song, deserved better result regardless of the version.

GaryWalkerFrancis, Gary Walker & The Rain, Philips, Charlie Crane, The Cryin' Shames

Listen: Francis / Gary Walker & The Rain GaryWalkerFrancis.mp3

This B side to ‘Come In, You’ll Get Pneumonia’ was always a favorite and of great interest amongst collectors. Seems the garage fuzz fanatics find it a must. I don’t see the musical connection but do love the track.

GaryWalkerHello, Gary Walker & The Rain, Polydor, United Artisits, Scott Walker, Allan Clarke, Philips, Charlie Crane, The Cryin' Shames

Listen: Hello, How Are You / Gary Walker GaryWalkerHello.mp3

From ’69 to ’75 we jump with Gary (who in the intern was a motorbike messenger delivery fellow – so the unofficial story goes). Having left his Japan-only success, The Rain, behind him now for six years, out of nowhere pops, oddly enough, another Easybeats cover, ‘Hello, How Are You’. Nice idea – I wonder in hope, can we expect ‘Friday On My Mind’ any day? Why not and what a treat that’d be.

In keeping with the aforementioned famous friends attachment, this version was produced by Allan Clarke from The Hollies. Not sure who’s playing on it. Any ideas are welcome.

Fred & The New J.B.’s

Friday, December 18th, 2009

FredJBsBreakin1, Fred Wesley & The New J.B.'s, Fred Wesley, The J.B.'s, James Brown, People, Polydor

Listen: Breakin’ Bread / Fred & The New J.B.’s FredWEsleyBreakinBread.mp3

It was hard to keep up with their constant and annoyingly slight, name changes. Does one file all Fred Wesley & The J.B’s singles together despite the little details, or by the exact artist name as it appears on the label? A dilemma for the meticulous record collector. I stuck to my rule: file exactly as the label reads. All record alphabetical by artist, then chronologically within each. Hence my Fred/J.B.’s singles are in several places on the wall shelves. I had to check a few spots before tracking this one down. Every time I file it away, I swear I’ll remember it’s exact location next play. Never happens.

As mentioned in prior posts, I’m a sucker for records about food. None better than this ‘NEW NEW SUPER HEAVY FUNK PRODUCTION BY JAMES BROWN’ to satiate that appetite.

Will Lord Warddd play this when he dj’s The Funk Hangover Party at Brooklyn Bowl on January 1?

The Mickey Finn

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

mickeyfinnnightcomesusa, The Mickey Finn, T. Rex, Shel Talmy, World Artists, Jimmy Page

Listen: Night Comes Down / The Mickey Finn MickeyFinnNight.mp3

Often confused with the bongo player from T. Rex, this is actually a band, not that person. The Mickey Finn’s career highpoint, according to most, was a two single association with producer Shel Talmy. And if you want to have your heart freeze for kicks, check out his discography.

Out of that came ‘Night Comes Down’ / ‘This Sporting Life’, their only US release via World Artists. Seems Shel Talmy had some juice there, having produced a few big hits for Chad & Jeremy. Although not listed on the above discography, I do believe he also produced The Moments version of Ray Davies’ ‘You Really Got Me’ for the label. The Moments were Steve Marriott’s first band, predating The Small Faces. That single, as with The Mickey Finn release, are stupid rare, making them very fun items to have and hold.

I got an unsolicited call from Shel Talmy many years back, I think when I was either at Elektra or Island. He had moved to LA, and was looking for work, still in that has-been stretch, not yet having graduated to legend status. I foolishly didn’t follow up, not necessarily with getting him some work, but neither forging a friendship, something I do regret.

mickeyfinnidoloveuk, The Mickey Finn, T. Rex, Shel Talmy, World Artists, Jimmy Page

Listen: I Do Love You / The Mickey Finn MickeyFinnIDoLove.mp3

Of lesser notoriaty is the band’s ’66 single “I Do Love You’. And I’m not sure why. Even amongst those who live for all things underrated, this is very underrated. It starts out noticeably similar to ‘Heart Trouble’ by The Eyes Of Blue, and then proceeds to a perfect groove a la The Foundations. I’d give anything to know how many copies would have been pressed of a single like this.

The Ikettes

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

ikettesimblueuka, ikettes, ike & tina Turner, london, atco, modern, stateside, polydor

Listen: I’m Blue / The IkettesIkettesBlue.mp3

All the behind the scenes drama, politics, tension and sleeze associated with Ike & Tina Turner is an endless source of stimulation for this voyeur. Get hold of every last cd booklet accompanying their reissues, and especially the box sets (the Time/Life one is hugely advised) and study. The countless sessions and musical chairs will never really be figured out, but when this bunch was on – they were truly on. Whether as an after thought, or a genius parallel business model, The Ikettes were the bomb. ‘I’m Blue’ premiered them to vinyl and was probably an unexpected hit. The first of many sizzling, gutteral vocal performances – you could always depend on an Ikettes single.

ikettespeachesuka,  ikettes, ike & tina Turner, london, atco, modern, stateside, polydor

Listen: Peaches & Cream / The Ikettes IkettesPeaches.mp3

‘Peaches & Cream’ sounded fantastic on AM radio in ’65, and I was well excited to see that summer’s Dick Clark Caravan Of Stars make a Syracuse stop. The Ikettes took the stage in silk fringed orange mini dresses and gyrated though four numbers including this one. Being afforded the benefit of headliner Tom Jones’ full brass back up band transformed it into a crazy wild Soul revue. Not surprisingly, these weren’t The Ikettes at all, at least not the ones on record. Still through Ike’s revolving door it seems everyone was an Ikette for a minute, so who’s complaining. Considering they followed Them on stage after ‘Here Comes The Night’, ‘Call My Name’ and a rousing ‘Gloria’, and upped the stakes is proof of their power.

ikettesthankfuluka,  ikettes, ike & tina Turner, london, atco, modern, stateside, polydor

Listen: I’m So Thankful / The Ikettes IkettesThankful.mp3

Like The Flirtations’ ‘Nothing But A Heartache, ‘I’m So Thankful’ is one of the great Motown records that was never on Motown. You’d swear it was recorded right there on Grand Blvd.

Wayne Bickerton Productions: World Of Oz / Clyde McPhatter / The Rubettes

Monday, December 29th, 2008

The Muffin Man / World Of Oz

Listen: The Muffin Man / World Of Oz
The Muffin Man / World Of Oz

Seems the labels had a stable of in-house producers back in the 60′s. And many times they’d be given the new signings to whip into shape, and record in those infamous four or six hour windows. I’m guessing these producers were either on staff, or had production deals, similar to today’s consultancies. People like Denny Cordell and Mike Hurst come to mind, as does Wayne Bickerton.

I first noticed his name on Decca and Deram releases. A very favorite was ‘The Muffin Man’ by World Of Oz. It got a lot of Top 40 play in the US for a few weeks during summer ’68. Years later, in the Notting Hill Record & Tape Exchange, I stumbled on a copy with this very rare UK sleeve pictured above. My heart just about stopped. I’d no idea it existed as it’s not mentioned in any of the price guides and I’d never seen another. ‘The Muffin Man’ was part of their rather lavish album, lavish for the time that is, apparently requiring a huge budget. I was lucky enough to meet Wayne about four years ago on a New York trip, and meant to ask that budget detail. I had many questions, and he was fantastic about filling in so many blanks, but that one slipped my mind. Always an admirer of his work, it was a fascinating hour or two.

Baby You've Got It / Clyde McPhatter

Listen: Baby You’ve Got It / Clyde McPhatter
Baby You've Got It / Clyde McPhatter

Although an original member of The Drifters, Clyde McPhatter oddly moved to England, and even odder, signed to Deram. Come on, The Drifters were the definition of Harlem Doo Wop and such. Why did this guy pick up and go to London? Was he a closet Anglophile? Luckily, Wayne Bickerton was put in charge and produced his Northern Soul hit ‘Baby You’ve Got It’. Applying his trademark orchestration, the song became Clyde McPhatter’s strongest single ever.

Sugar Baby Love / The Rubettes

Listen: Sugar Baby Love / The Rubettes
Sugar Baby Love / The Rubettes

Occasionally I hear The Rubettes ‘Sugar Baby Love’ and it jumps out every time. A perfect combination of glam and maybe doo wop meets Four Seasons or something. Not only did he produce it, but co-wrote the song as well.


Friday, December 26th, 2008

What's Going On / Taste

What's Going On / Taste

Listen: What’s Going On / Taste TasteWhatsGoinOn.mp3

Railway And Gun / Taste

Listen: Railway And Gun / Taste TasteRailway.mp3

The first show I booked as concert chairman at college was Rory Gallagher. I spent all the school’s money on the various English groups I wanted to see: Savoy Brown, Atomic Rooster, The Pretty Things, Chicken Shack, Renaissance, The Incredible String Band. It was a free for all. However, my loyalty to Rory predated this solo career and time period – via his original band, Taste. They made two studio albums. The first, TASTE, was blues rock of a rather irritating quality. The second, ON THE BOARDS, however, was a stunning improvement, and is still a very favorite. Despite my disinterest in pressings from countries other than the US or UK, I made an exception when stumbling on this in a Munich vinyl shop back in ’87. Two tracks from ON THE BOARDS. Nice.

Tim Rose / The Jimi Hendrix Experience / The Creation

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Hey Joe (You Shot Your Woman Down) / Tim Rose

Listen: Hey Joe (You Shot Your Woman Down) / Tim Rose 01 Hey Joe (You Shot Your Woman Down).mp3

According to some, it’s this Tim Rose arrangement and slow version of ‘Hey Joe’ that manager Chas Chandler brought to his band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as a template for their recording.

I played Tim’s version recently, and thought I’d do some research. By the way, the fast, jangled, garage band version popularized by The Leaves is not part of this discussion.

Listen: Hey Joe / The Creation 20 Hey Joe.mp3

Tim Rose, Hendrix and The Creation all did the slow, haunting one, full of mystery. In my research travels, I read that Chas and Jimi may have, in fact, gotten their idea from The Creation, who were playing this arrangement of ‘Hey Joe’ in London clubs late ’66, exactly when Hendrix and Chandler entered the studio to record that first single. Although The Creation never released a 7″ of ‘Hey Joe’, it was an album track, which I’ve posted.

Hey Joe (Single Mono Mix) / The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Hey Joe (Single Mono Mix) / The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Listen: Hey Joe (Single Mono Mix) / The Jimi Hendrix Experience 01 Hey Joe.mp3

Also for reference, I’ve posted the original mono single mix from The Jimi Hendrix Experience above. This version is the one you know, but that mono mix is magic. Even though this original copy has been played hundreds of times, the record still sounds larger than life.

WOLF6_4_66, WOLF, Dee Jay & The Runaways, Clefs Of Lavender Hill

My introduction to ‘Hey Joe’ was indeed via the Tim Rose rendition. Interestingly, the songwriting is credited differently on all three labels above (click to enlarge). Somehow, this was a hit on my hometown station, WOLF (see chart). Check my past posts for a look at what great music this station played. I hate to say they may have been one of the last great US radio stations. Scary.

The story of ‘Hey Joe’ is full of twists and turns, and now with so many participants deceased, one of great myth.

Read about it:


Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Israel / Siouxsie & The Banshees

Israel / Siouxsie & The Banshees

Listen: Israel / Siouxsie & The Banshees 08 Israel.mp3

Watching Siouxsie & The Banshees really early on didn’t hold any indication they had it, not to mention her. Really, that early show I saw was pretty nasty. But either you’re the real deal, or you’re not. It’s pretty obvious she was. Talk about someone who just grew exponentially, it was amazing. So many incredible singles, one after the other – for years!
She’s still going strong. Seriously, if you can see her – do it. Legend, plain and simple. I get into these grooves whereby I just spin their singles one after the other. I get so excited about the next one up that sometimes I don’t even let the one playing finish out. Do you know what I mean?

This may be my all time favorite. There are many, but this is so haunting, has never dated, and remains gripping – I’m still picking up little things I never noticed. Other-worldly. You’d think Joe Meek had produced it from the grave.


Monday, July 7th, 2008

Free Me / Cast

Listen: Free Me / Cast

I hadn’t realized Cast scored eight UK Top Ten’s between ’96 – ’99, and more chart success into ’01. I always thought this to be a pretty under appreciated record, but indeed it reached #7. Very good. Well deserved.

I suppose it’s a bit too early in their curve to hear the press singing praises just yet, but then again I don’t read most of it, well any of it to be precise, so they might be. Except RECORD COLLECTOR and MOJO, but haven’t spotted a Cast mention in ages. John Power was the guitarist for The La’s, and it’s all politically correct to like them so…

I’ve been very lucky, ever since Howard gave me that Elektra job, I’ve gotten to visit the UK many, many times. Always liked hearing Cast on the radio there, it just was a natural soundtrack. But I’ll never forget when this came on one morning. You know those moments when a song is an everlasting imprint of a time and place on the brain? I remember that moment, right down to the weather, what I’d just eaten for breakfast and the hotel room I was in while listening to Radio 1′s Breakfast Show, readying myself for work. It sounded modern and perfectly ’60′s at the same time. I had to have the record that day. I immediately called my pal, Jim Lahat, at BBC London and asked if he had a copy. Bless him, he always made sure I got everything, still does. He said, don’t worry, it’s in your pile, adding ‘why do you want it anyways?’. He’s a riot like that. We were seeing each other later at our usual haunt, EAT & 2 VEG, which, by the way, a is killer vegetarian joint just down Marylebone High Street from his office. And Jim outdid himself, getting his Polydor guy to bike over one of the promo-only vinyl pressings they’d done as a surprise. Jim has a heart of gold this way, always doing generous things for friends.

So ‘Free Me’ has great memories attached to it. Despite endless plays, I still can’t put my finger on exactly who this reminds me of, let’s say The Who and The Creation for sure. Anyways, it’s a classic.