Archive for the ‘The Nice’ Category

Terry Tucker’s Orange Clockwork

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Listen: Overture To The Sun (Part 1) / Terry Tucker’s Orange Clockwork
Overture

Sick and twisted futuristic London. Sounded like a great idea for a summer holiday to me. So along came a film about just that, and I was in.

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE played at the local university’s campus auditorium when current. Not really sure why, but it did, and was curiously well attended by U of R students and the like. Seems everyone left a bit uncomfortable, I know we did. Besides, everyone kind of expected there’d be rock music in this, not classical. Despite that, the film included some non-classical, neo-classical excerpts, sounding not unlike The Nice or String Driven Thing. So patiently I waited on those end credits to roll.

Hold on, Terry Tucker. I was pretty sure I recognized that guy’s name from one of the many prog titles that were beginning to overwhelm our roommate heavy apartment. The bunch of us either worked for the college station, a local vinyl store, the city’s record distributing One Stop, or in Corinne’s case, a combination of them. Makeshift wood plank and brick shelves crammed all the rooms. Yes, it was paradise. We got home, and I dove in.

Sure enough, there he was, that fellow Terry Tucker, a member of Sunforest, and on Deram no less. This was a major discovery. Their lone album, SOUND OF SUNFOREST is an overpriced collector’s must-have these days. Back then, I recall the other copy that arrived simultaneously with mine sat in the import bin for months, getting tatty.

Turns out “Overture To The Sun’ was re-recorded for A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, then doctored up and released on a UK 7″ under the pseudonym of Terry Tucker’s Orange Clockwork. There’s a certain something about the rather bland fidelity of most late 60′s and early 70′s prog records generally. In hindsight, those dreadful drum sounds and their wimpy mix placement have a quaint appeal, and really do the time period perfect justice.

Deram never did get around to releasing this, nor any Storyteller song on a single, and the origins of ‘Overture To The Sun (Part 1)’ became a well kept secret for years, thereby making copies very scarce. Nobody valued, not to mention saved them at the time.

Mine came courtesy of Rick Conrad. He dropped this and a box full of others off when in London a few weeks back. Out of the blue, just prior to my departure, Rick sends an introductory email, having discovered the blog. Turns out he’s planning to be blocks away from where we’re staying while over, only a few days later. Almost scary the way record people end up finding each other. Thank you Rick.

Renaissance

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Listen: Northern Lights (Edit) / Renaissance
Northern

I went through a prog rock stage like every kid, but secretly never had the patience for all those long songs in private. I was playing The Kinks and The Marmalade to be honest. Even the bands exclusively part of that genre won me with their attempts at more traditional songs or singles, as they are ultimately best described.

Camel, Caravan, Curved Air, they all had great 7′s, and that’s just a few of the C’s. The likes of Yes, The Nice, Genesis, King Crimson or even Van Der Graaf Generator, when their full album sided epics got edited down for a single, probably discovered they’d essentially written a pop song. I’m guessing a few, like possibly Robert Fripp, are still shivering from the prospect.

I stumbled on a most fascinating Facebook post yesterday from a friend Bruce Garfield. He’s now managing Renaissance, a band who I would classify as prog, and remember from college. In fact, I booked them at my school and a few members came back to our apartment after the show, to buy drugs from my then girlfriend. His post centered around their new album, and how they’re raising money to record it via Kickstarter. Really impressive plan and I truly wish them well.

During the presentation, when snippets of their various songs were used, I caught a passage from ‘Northern Lights’. Blimey, I hadn’t heard it for the longest time, and so headed downstairs for a listen. A bit overlooked here at home when current in ’78, lost time is being made up for presently. If this got played once, it easily got twenty spins. Really good song, and am now planning on seeing their show in June as a result.

The band deserve a lot of respect, and they deserve a break. Turns out their label partners from those lucrative years all shut their doors and draw the blinds when they come knocking, tossing a mere dribble of royalties their way. Having worked for the majors a solid two plus decades, I know how true their claims must be.

Savoy Brown / The Nice / Family

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Savoy Brown The Nice Family Poster

The Weaver's Answer / Strange Band

Listen: The Weaver’s Answer / Family
The Weaver's Answer / Family

One of the great triple bills from ’70, still trading on the English Invasion angle that was becoming a distant marketing ploy.

No problem here. My friends and I ate it up. Couldn’t leave early enough that morning to make a day of hanging out on the campus, pretending to be college kids. The serious Anglofiles, crowded onto the entrance steps of The Palestra Auditorium for a solid few hours prior to doors opening, provided the ultimate social scene. Everyone opinioning and bragging about one record after the other. It was almost as much fun as the show.

I think it was well attended, up front there was no looking back.

We were very seriously not prepared for the power of Family live. No one in the room was. And I do mean no one. I’d only seen their three albums in the store, never heard them and as much as I wanted ownership of at least one record, some other title always took their purchase slot. Turns out, this was my favorite lineup, having become obsessed as a result of the show and then seeing them many times. Poli Palmer on xylophone most of the night, a stunning player. And John Weider on guitars and violin. It was the first band I saw playing any of these instruments (except Brian Jones on vibes during ‘Under My Thumb’), not to mention changing them up for each song.

The ace in the deck for Family was always Roger Chapman. Definitely an acquired taste vocally, you still seldom see a madman like him, totally possessed. Once you experienced Family in person, their recordings made perfect sense, vividly bringing back his on stage intensity.

They couldn’t catch a break in The States. Bill Graham banned them from The Fillmores. Don’t know why. This particular night the audience was into it, but a few years later, opening for Elton John, things didn’t work out the same. I remember many of the crowd booing. I couldn’t believe such a sophisticated group of great musicians were being booed. I was embarrassed. But the band tore threw it unflinched. This was ’72. Sadly it was to be the last time they toured the US. Props to Elton John for having them.

The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice

Listen: The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice
The

The Nice were on Immediate. This was a big deal.

Immediate was a serious label to this bunch. A lot of conversation was had earlier on the steps about the greatness of the roster. Everyone was clued into the supposed stage antics of Keith Emerson, still I don’t think we were really ready. When he mauled his organ during ‘America’, it was shocking. Everyone took a step back as the knives came out. All these skinny English people with crazy energy. The flower power stuff from their albums interested me a lot. I think they stopped playing that stuff pretty quickly as the prog symphonic material took center stage, plus I assume Emerson, Lake & Palmer were right around the corner. I remember hearing this tour was simply honoring contractual commitments. Didn’t seem like it being a wide eyed kid upfront.

Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

Listen: Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown
Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

Savoy Brown were theatrics-free, but never mind, they tore it up. In keeping with the evening looks wise, the underfed, velvet and stacked heeled Englishness prevailed. Can still remember these fair haired frail guys playing wicked blues. Probably very white, but this was prior to seeing any of the originals, so all new, all impressive. RAW SIENNA had just been released, and their set covered a lot of it plus some prior singles (‘Made Up My Mind’, ‘Train To Nowhere’) and their theme at the time, Muddy Waters’ ‘Louisiana Blues’. Like Family, this was a classic Savoy Brown lineup, with Chris Youlden on vocals and Tone Stevens on bass.

I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

Listen: I’m Tired / Savoy Brown
I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

My vivid memory of Kim Simmonds starting off ‘I’m Tired’ is as plain as day. It was my first time up super close, literally with elbows on the stage, and thinking ‘he makes it look so easy’, the true sign of a great guitarist.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Kim Simmonds

On the way out of town after the show, we stopped at a late night record/head shop near the campus, figuring out who would buy what, strategizing so that collectively we arrived home with records by all three bands. Picked these handout charts up at the counter, with some pretty interesting playlist titles. Yes, the days of underground radio…..and the ‘Super Heavy Sound’ of Janis Joplin. See them below:

WHFM 3-5-70

WHFM 11-5-70

WHFM 12-4-69

King Crimson

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Listen: Cat Food / King Crimson
Cat Food / King Crimson

They’d probably cringe, but even the most hardened album acts like King Crimson made a decent single from time to time. Or the labels, back before creative control was bestowed on the artist, may have heard a hook in the thick of an opus, thereby being able to edit/rearrange a twelve minute album piece into three and change for a 7″ single.

Not sure if that’s the case with ‘Cat Food’. King Crimson’s albums never did hold my attention through a whole side, so I’m not positive if this is the full version. But I sure did love this song when it got some concentrated play from the local college station, WAER. What a surprise to walk into Discount Records, on the Syracuse University campus, and find a few copies of the single in their racks.

That store was a shrine in the late 60′s, when record buying was in full, and I do mean full swing. A beehive of white drugged up students with money to spend on white drugged up rock music made for the ultimate market. Box lots of all the latest releases by Ten Years After, The Nice, Spirit, Pink Floyd and whatnot seemingly evaporated into thin air.

I’d bet the stunning cover art on those King Crimson albums drew in more than one spontaneous purchase. So too did this 7″ picture sleeve, in those days unheard of, particularly from the UK. Between both it’s mini album construction, and the pink inner sleeve housing a matching pink labelled pressing, I found myself committing an exorbitant $1.98 to the cause. Excellent investment, as it turned out.

The Attack / The Syn

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Hi Ho Silver Lining / The Attack

Listen: Hi Ho Silver Lining / The Attack
Hi

If ever you wanted to hear the ultimate English group sound, you are on the right post. Two examples being The Attack and The Syn.

Originally known as The Soul System, the group signed to Decca UK in late ’66, changing their name to The Attack. Despite various line-up changes, which included David O’List and John Du Cann, then soon to be members of The Nice and Atomic Rooster respectively, as well a future founder of The Marmalade, Alan Whitehead, the band spawned four class singles. Their second in the UK, and lone US release on Decca’s US imprint, London, ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’, lost out in the British charts to Jeff Beck’s version, which reached #14 in ’67, then #17 in ’72 and yet again #62 in ’82. Embarrassingly, his version peaked here at #123 in ’67 due to very little airplay, a pathetically common tale known as the sewer of US radio. The competing version also gave The Attack controversial attention in the British press claiming Jeff Beck had stolen the song from them.

Created By Clive / The Attack

Listen: Created By Clive / The Attack
Created

Created By Clive / The Syn

Listen: Created By Clive / The Syn
Created

Amazingly, despite having been damaged by the Jeff Beck fiasco, Decca jumped into a similar fire and chose to release the terrific follow-up, ‘Created By Clive’ on the very same day as it’s in-house subsidiary label, Deram, issued The Syn’s version of exactly the same song. It unknowingly predates Clive Davis’ eventual destruction of the record business with frightening accuracy by some forty years.

Neville Thumbcatch / The Attack

Listen: Neville Thumbcatch / The Attack
Neville

The Attack’s fourth and final single, ‘Neville Thumbcatch’ seems to mix The Kinks ‘Big Sky’ with the sound of LSD.

Love

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

My Little Red Book / Love

Listen: My Little Red Book / Love
My

7 And 7 Is / Love

Listen: 7 And 7 Is / Love
7

Love Jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab filled out by Arthur Lee

Stephanie Knows Who / Love

Listen: Stephanie Knows Who / Love
Stephanie

She Comes In Colors / Love

Listen: She Comes In Colors / Love
She

Orange Skies / Love

Listen: Orange Skies / Love
Orange

Que Vida / Love

Listen: Que Vida / Love
Que

Alone Again Or / Love

Alone Again Or / Love

Alone Again Or / Love

Listen: Alone Again Or / Love
Alone

Softly To Me / Love

Listen: Softly To Me / Love
Softly

Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love

Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love

Listen: Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love
Your

LoveEverlastingUS, Love, Arthur Lee, Blue Thumb, Bob Krasnow

The Everlasting First / Love

Listen: The Everlasting First / Love
The

What do Love have in common with The High Numbers, JJ Cale, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Mose Allison and Rockpile? Well, in this case, Tom Petty. He played them all, and more, on his Sirius/XM radio show, which I heard for the first time on the red eye from Seattle to New York Saturday night.

I don’t own a satellite capable device having been so disinterested in American radio for decades, and very bitter that it’s dummied down music as being a big part of culture in the US. Therefore figured it was more of the same. A few friends have, to be fair, tried convincing me otherwise. The very first time I heard it, on one of the now partnered networks, was in Kimberly Boley’s office at Sony. I asked her what she was listening to and she said satellite radio and that she loved it. I said sure but do they play The Cramps, just to throw a real wrench into the moment. She dialed up their station that most likely would, and The Cramps were playing that very second. Swear to God. I guess I should’ve taken it as a sign.

The flight was meant to be a time to finally get some rest. I’d been on Matt & Kim’s tour for several days and it had been non stop, stay awake. But this flight I’d earmarked as a sleeper. That was not meant to be. Spent the whole time flipping round these channels, then started jotting down some of the things I’d heard and kinda liked (The Soft Pack, Titus Andronicus), and some records I needed to look up once in the house to be sure I had (Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown, Titus Turner, Bobby Womack). It was a noticeable change hearing so much variety: Lemon Jelly, Roxy Music (two stations playing two different songs simultaneously), Mott The Hoople, Eurythmics, LCD Soundsystem, Joan Armatrading, Nick Drake, The Nice. It was endless. You see, there is room for everyone. What a democratic concept.

There’s one thing that hasn’t changed though: the tired, lazy, hokey US DJ presenter. Does a building need to fall on these people? Unlike the BBC, and Radio 1 in particular, that presentation is lightning fast sonically and annoucer-wise. So with the luxury of access to BBC stations (Radio 1, 2, 6, Radio London) via internet streaming and my new discovery of satellite, I think things are pretty tolerable out there. I’d get subscribed up if I ever drove anywhere.

Back to Tom Petty’s program. He played Love’s ’7 And 7 Is’ on this particular episode. Interestingly named, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Love. Many times, I crave hearing the music and thoroughly enjoy it. Other times, it sounds so lame, and twee, and overrated.

Some strong opposing opinions out there about Arthur Lee too. Met him the one time, and he was cool about doing the jukebox tab, but I was with Gary Umbo, a Love hardcore who I’m pretty sure Arthur knew and was friendly with. Undeniably some great singles though, and if you’re like me, it’s hard to forget the first time hearing ‘My Little Red Book’. It was a pretty big hit everywhere rightfully. Then ’7 and 7 Is’ came out, and that was the loudest cut record I’d ever heard. You can’t turn it down. Just try.

When I worked at Elektra in ’85, our mailroom guy Mark Cohen came down to my office telling me there was a closet that was about to be part of the renovation underway to create more office space. It was full of old chairs, cabinets, typewriters AND some boxes of old 45′s. Was I interested, they’ll be tossed otherwise.

It was a treasure trove. About 200 singles in all, and a virtual history of Elektra’s early 7′s. So many amazing things, I never separated the lot, kept them as they were. Loads of Tom Rush, The Voices Of East Harlem, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Beefeaters, Tim Buckley, plus a mixture of US and UK presses.

Every Love single was there, promos and stock, and some UK copies as well. Many are pictured here. Note the withdrawn copy of ‘Stephanie Knows Who’ / ‘Orange Skies’ (EK 45608). The catalog number was re-assigned as EK 45608 (REV). I’m guessing to indicate ‘revised’, replacing the A side with ‘She Comes In Colors’. I knew of the switch but wasn’t aware original copies had been pressed until that day.

Also, for some reason unknown as it wasn’t an Elektra master, the pile included a UK pressing of ‘The Everlasting First’. It was originally released in the US on Blue Thumb, Bob Krasnow’s label. Although he was our chairman and boss at Elektra, he had no idea why the record was included there either. “Maybe I gave Holtzman a copy then, and yeah that is Jimi playing the lead”. Thankfully he didn’t reclaim it.

Not long after, the front desk somehow decided to forward through an irate Arthur Lee to my line. I pick up and he launched into a rage about unpaid royalties and how Elektra, and even I myself, were stealing from him, so much so that he had to move in with his aunt in Nashville or some such place. I was very unequipped to handle this one, so politely sent him through to Gary Casson in business affairs, where I’m sure the rampage ended abruptly.