Archive for the ‘The Herd’ Category

The Herd

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Listen: The Game / The Herd
The

Public opinion always focuses on Peter Frampton when it comes to The Herd. But let me tell you, as with pre and post Frampton, The Herd were all about Andy Bown. A shockingly unsung hero, it was Andy Bown who rejoined his Herd defector in the early 70′s for a few Frampton’s Camel US tours. Thank the Lord, Jah, The Dahli Lama and whoever else needs praising. Had it not been for that fateful reprieve, I may never have met the man.

The first and last Fontana single by The Herd, post Peter Frampton’s departure, was this, ‘The Game’. It was met with zero welcoming from the press and the public. Don’t forget, hipsters turned their noses toward The Herd during the band’s heyday, assuming them to be manufactured by songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blakley. History proved otherwise.

As if overnight, while still trying to find a seemingly current US copy of ‘The Game’, several were discovered gracing the 10 for 59¢ shrink wrapped deletion boxes sold at Woolworth’s during the late 60′s. Praise be. Those miracle pre packs were always like discovering a desert island while clinging a life preserver at sea or some such analogy. Come to think of it, I acquired my domestic copy of The Herd’s first US single, ‘I Can Fly’ tucked inside one of those extraordinary boxes as well. Stumbling on a warehouse full with unsold skids of those boxes nowadays would have us on a stretcher.

Andy Bown’s intentionally needle pinning production jammed trombones, saxophones, probably other brass too, and loads of “La la la la” background vocals into a typically Herd organ led track. The record reeked of English Pop. I loved it. Always have, always will.

Ian & The Zodiacs

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Listen: So Much In Love With You / Ian & The Zodiacs
So

Usually not one for the Liverpool sound, even I found the occasional exception. Top of the list would indeed be The Cryin’ Shames, and included somewhere, Ian & The Zodiacs. Yes, despite their twee delivery, I suppose it’s the nostalgia in me that finds this soft spot toward them. Plus I liked their name, and was always a big fan of their label group, Philips/Mercury/Fontana/Smash.

I recall seeing their album in a local shop, it may have even been my introduction to the band. Back in 1965, to be afforded an album, with only a single or two to spark it’s sale, especially when they were stiffs, was rare. But it gave us all a chance to see a color photo of them, itself a treat.

As was the case with Ian & The Zodiacs, their label Philips jumped on the US youth market’s insatiable taste for anything British Invasion related. Hence it seems the whole marketing plan for this band was to simply announce themselves as such, right there on the front cover of their debut, and as it turned out only, album:

“We’re new. We’re from England. We have a new sound”.

The last bit wasn’t really true at all, this debut single being a Mick Jagger / Keith Richards cover, made somewhat famous as the only UK chart hit by The Mighty Avengers, who like The Rolling Stones were also managed by Andrew Loog Oldham.

Also covered by The Herd, ‘So Much In Love’ or ‘So Much In Love With You’, as it’s titled here, possibly to avoid crediting the correct songwriters (Mick and Keith – see label above), is a rather perfect British Invasion, not my term btw, song. At least that’s my opinion.

And so, on July 31, 1965, ‘So Much In Love With You’ sat at #131 on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart, whatever on earth that meant. Airplay in some small town? A few boxes sold by mistake when the warehouse were meant to ship a much bigger current hit? A nice dinner for the chart compiler at BILLBOARD’s main office? I do recall when working at Elektra during a weekly Wednesday marketing meeting, our company trade publications rep mentioning ‘begging for bullets during her BILLBOARD lunch’. Hmm.

Regardless, hopefully Ian & The Zodiacs basked in their seven days of US fame during that fateful hot July week, as they were never to chart again.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich / The Herd / Scott Walker / Dusty Springfield

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

SWEETIE BRA EP / Various Artists:

Side 1:

Listen: Introduction – Zabadak! / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Introduction

Listen: I Don’t Want Our Loving To Die / The Herd
I

Side 2:


Listen: Come Next Spring / Scott Walker
Come

Listen: My Colouring Book / Dusty Springfield
My

No, it’s not an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS artifact, it’s the real deal SWEETIE BRA EP from the British Exquisite Form Brassiere Company in 1968.

If you’re like me, you didn’t know the record existed. I stumbled on a copy years ago, digging through boxes rather early at the Portobello Road Saturday flea market. And by rather early, I mean it was still dark. Getting there at the crack of dawn was, and still is, the only way to find the cardiac arresting level items at low prices or more probably at any price.

I was on a mission that morning, having anticipated it all for a few days leading up. We were staying at the then hopping, now closed, Pembridge Court Hotel, with a back door entrance that literally spilled out onto the starting tip of Portobello Road.

What a place that hotel was. The manager Valerie had two gentle orange cats that happily visited the room and would occasionally stay the night if allowed. Her staff delivered sandwiches with tea and cakes at any hour. It was like staying at a great aunt’s house in old time Ennland. Corinne and I were loyal guests for years, we loved it there.

So on that particular morning, I schlepped out on my own before dawn, flashlight in pocket, to mingle with the aggressive dealers in search of their next slice of income and the collectors, in search of their next fix. No idea why I even pulled the record out of this sleeve to have a look, I guess it was an exercise in being thorough. To my surprise and pleasure, four of my favorite acts were featured. This was clearly a promotional item via some sort of relationship between the bra company and Philips/Fontana Records, given that all the artists were from the company’s roster and the actual label was the Philips signature deep shade of blue.

An amusing introduction starts Side 1, then leads into ‘Zabadak!’, a December 28th landmark in my measly little existence of a life.

Spanky & Our Gang

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Listen: Like To Get To Know You / Spanky & Our Gang
Like

God, I hated Spanky & Our Gang when they were current. As a kid, they just sounded like safe sonic sludge, a cross between The Mamas & The Papas and The Letterman. Being impatiently addicted to the English group image, this bunch were simply hideous visually, out of shape and way too American.

Add to that, they were signed to the US Mercury/Philips/Fontana labels. As far as I was concerned, any money and manpower directed toward them took away from The Herd, The Troggs, Manfred Mann, The New Vaudeville Band, The Pretty Things and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Trust me, this did not sit well.

Truth be told, I was kind of wrong. Indeed, they probably did rob those other acts of company resources, but musically, they were pristine. To be fair, as the years passed, I found Spanky & Our Gang to be a nagging guilty pleasure, and one that eventually carried no guilt. Their collection of hits and non-hits sound even better with age. In fact, very psychedelic, aided in no small way by some of the earliest stereo 7′ pressings I can recall.

Check out both the production and arrangement of any Spanky & Our Gang single, start with ‘Like To Get To Know You’. This was on the radio constantly in ’68 and rivals Richard Harris’s Jimmy Webb written/produced ‘MacArthur Park’ for the flowery mini symphony slot of the era.

The Status Quo

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Listen: Technicolor Dreams / The Status Quo
Technicolor

It’s still there, my favorite hotel in the whole wide world. Amsterdam, Holland’s American Hotel. Don’t let the name trick you into thinking it’s some home away from home for US citizens. Instead, the place has weathered nearly a century at Leidsekade 97. Just gander at the wall photos in the Bar American and try not letting your heart freeze. Good luck.

A cocktail lounge in the true European sense of the word, Bar American overlooks one of the city’s main squares, the center of Amsterdam as I know it. When time has permitted, I’ve sat for hours from mid afternoon sipping champagne, preferably as drizzle turns to sleet, watching the world go by. Seldom have I been been happier. Dare I say, some of my best times ever have been had in that hotel, other than when Corinne convinced me to eat one too many hash cakes in The Bulldog a few blocks away. Even the walls of our room, when throbbing with dripping colors, become a warm and fuzzy memory of The American Hotel, where, by the way, they serve free champagne at the breakfast buffet.

Somewhere in that bar, right next to a signed, framed shot of The Status Quo, hangs a similar photo of The Herd. I know, I know. Have mercy.

But I can see them both, clear as day, and it does remind me of Andy Bown’s haircut. Undoubtably the best haircut in 60′s pop. Seriously, who had a better haircut than Andy Bown? Go ahead, I dare you to challenge that one.

Bless those Status Quo guys. By the mid 70′s, they’d made him a member of their band, where he still remains today.

The Status Quo’s third US single, ‘Technicolor Dreams’, has been forever overlooked, given it’s one of the five greatest psychedelic pop records from that sparkling era. Other equally worthy tracks are consistently spotlighted, but never this. Although, THE RECORD COLLECTOR PRICE GUIDE could convince you otherwise. Withdrawn just after release in the UK, ‘Technicolor Dreams’ booked for £1000 a few years back.

Having gotten my original in the day, let’s fast forward to ’94, while on a Dallas business trip with Duane, I picked up another for $9, then rather pricey. Constantly needing safety copies helped in making an incredibly valuable investment. Don’t ask me exactly where it is though, but definitely somewhere in the black hole of unfiled 7′s, lining up for wall shelf seniority.

The Love Affair

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

LoveAffairSheSmilesSweetlyUKA, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

Listen: She Smiled Sweetly / The Love Affair
She

It’s happened hundreds of times through the years. Label takes chance on an act, issues a single or two with no results, then moves on. Same act gets another deal, sometimes only months later and blows up. Around this period, David Bowie bounced from label to label, Marc Bolan too, The Herd, a bunch of them. On the quick path were The Love Affair. Probably signed by Decca in-house blues expert Mike Vernon or assigned to him for production, a good cover choice (Jagger/Richards ‘She Smiled Sweetly’) was released almost simultaneously with The Rolling Stones’ own rendition from BETWEEN THE BUTTONS on February 10, 1967. By the end of the year, the band had moved on to CBS and that label’s debut ‘Everlasting Love’ entered the UK charts in the first few days of January ’68, ending up at #1. Someone had egg on their face, including me.

I was so excited to see a copy in a local department store, and without a penny in my pocket, I decided to shoplift it. Got caught, almost arrested. Threatened to call my folks, which they didn’t, but it did cure me of that one.

LoveAffairRainbowUKPSFront, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, CBS, Date

LoveAffairRainbowPS, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, CBS, Date

Listen: Rainbow Valley / The Love Affair
Rainbow

‘Everlasting Love’, like all their singles, was a cover, this one originally released by Robert Knight. Even U2 have taken a stab at it, but no one has one upped that version by The Love Affair.

The followup, ‘Rainbow Valley’, was just as powerful. In particular, it continued to make obvious the strength of lead vocalist Steve Ellis. I’m sure I’ve read many times that this patch of singles, all Top 10 in the UK, were indeed Steve Ellis with studio musicians, a persistant trend in the 60′s. Probably to great frustration, the calculated pop made the band member cringe but who can say.

LoveAffairDayWithoutUKA, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

LoveAffairDayWithoutUS, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

Listen: A Day Without Love / The Love Affair
A

New producer Mike Smith had a simple formula down, which with ‘A Day Without Love’, now included recording the songs of non-member, singer/writer Philip Goodhand-Tait.

LoveAffairBringingUSA, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

Listen: Bringing On Back The Good Times / The Love Affair
Bringing

What seemed to rub the more hip, progressive rock fan of the day wrong is exactly what attracted me to The Love Affair. Big, over the top productions, with loud brass and orchestration, almost Motown-esque, and a perfect showcase for that great Steve Ellis voice.

Silver

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Listen: Make-Up / Silver
Make-Up

It was on one of the many New York trips Paul Cox from Too Pure had made, whereby he’d stay at Hotel Corinne & Kevin, that I was first introduced to Silver.

You see, Corinne would have it no other way, and like Lindsay Hutton, he’s still one of the few folks who has a virtual life long key to the house, as issued by the boss herself. In true sharing form, Paul, as with Lindsay, always brings loads of very English presents for us both: Battenberg Cakes, Twiglets, pink Smarties, PG Tips in those British boxes, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bars wrapped in that purple foil. Unbeknownst to him, the Silver demo cassette more than sufficed on that particular visit.

There was a period shortly after when it felt like Silver might actually jump on board the then steaming forward bullet train known as Britpop, a term all those involved with seem to cringe at now.

Around the time of ‘Make-Up’, they were supporting Gene on a UK tour, and it seemed the red suited singer/songwriter Ian DeZilwa was about to become a very English pop star. By all rights, he should have.

Smart as a button, Ian and his band had one wispy Ray Davies-like song after the other, each with some very Herd or Honeybus moment that we true English group stalkers spotted a mile away. I guess we were indeed a dying breed by then, 1994.

Listen: Kings And Queens / Silver
Kings

‘Kings And Queens’ on every third listen, had me convinced it should’ve been the lead track. Nice thing about Ian DeZilwa’s songs were not only the hooks but lyrics. Don’t worry, I’m really not a lyric guy, except on occasion, so no plans to start quoting them. To be clear, his were nicely British.

Phil Vinal produced both sides here. Like Britpop itself, all but three or four bands and their producers alike seemed to weather the backlash storm, all disclaiming the press invented genre as an early career catalyst.

In the case of the remaining others, like Phil Vinal, Britpop involvement became the mark of the devil for their futures. No idea what evolved for him after his fifteen minutes, of which the Silver single was probably minute twelve or thirteen.

Judas Jump

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Listen: This Feelin’ We Feel / Judas Jump
This

No new info here: I’m an Andy Bown freak.

The Herd really were his band from what I can assess, having been a member before and after Peter Frampton. Not that I don’t love the Andy Bown / Peter Frampton period. PARADISE LOST is a class album, always overlooked even by the band themselves.

When it comes to an Andy Bown backing vocal, I can spot it a mile away. So after that first listen to ‘This Feeling We Feel’, I was in.

Scored the US promo above when relieving a Dewitt, NY Shopping Town Mall clothing store of a big box full with 45′s, meant for a tie-in promotion with WNDR, the local Top 40. If you bought an item, you got a 45. That box was beaming with stuff I needed, unlike their racks. A long store clerk negotiation that required me going home, on my bike, collecting a few dozen cast off singles acquired from various sources, and returning to do a one-for-one trade was well worth it.

Even though I had mail ordered for the UK pressing which arrived a week or so later, this Andrew S. Bown production hit the turntable first, and stayed, eventually switched out for Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Accident’.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed Adrian Williams

God bless Jackie Hyde at Sony in the UK. She one day thought to mention that Adrian Williams, down the other side of the building, was the singer of Judas Jump. I almost blacked out, tearing across the courtyard to do a face to face.

I don’t think anyone had ever asked him anything about Judas Jump his whole life. He was more shocked at my interest than I was with his employment at Sony. We’d spoken a lot on the phone, but never did I think he was one in the same.

What an embarrassing surprise for me, not knowing Allan Jones was a member of The Amen Corner prior to Judas Jump. I deserved the one upping that transpired. Great chap, Adrian Williams.

Frampton’s Camel

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

All Night Long / Frampton’s Camel

Above / Below: UK Promo Only sleeve (front/back)

All Night Long / Frampton’s Camel

Listen: All Night Long / Frampton’s Camel 01 All Night Long.mp3

Peter Frampton was, unfairly, a guilty pleasure to loads of folks for years. Once he hit the big time it was uncool to like him. Not me. I loved The Herd, and was loyally into Humble Pie. That was a funny one actually. Here you had a signature member of The Herd and Steve Marriott in the same band. If you’re an Anglofile, you give them rope. Their early stuff I liked even though it leaned toward the extended blues rock sludge setting in at the time. Live, they were on fire. Luckily, I saw them open for Ten Years After on that first US tour, not yet Americanized in any way, still kitted out in lime or purple velvet and silk trousers etc. Glued to the edge of the stage in the Livestock Pavilion on the Syracuse State Fair grounds, overjoyed by the fact that we were seeing members of The Small Faces and The Herd, was half the thrill.

Then Peter Frampton went solo. His second, post Humble Pie release was issued as Frampton’s Camel. He’d shed that Humble Pie heaviness. The album didn’t sell. I never heard it anywhere at the time, although the single ‘All Night Long’ got a lot of daytime BBC Radio 1 play that summer ’73 I’d spent in London. It was a perfect seasonal single and has sentimental value.

Listen: (Baby) Somethin’s Happening / Peter Frampton PeterFramptonSmethin.mp3

For the record, the follow-up album, SOMETHIN’S HAPPENING, went fairly undiscovered too. He toured that record with former band mate Andy Bown, from The Herd, on keyboards. Rich Packter, the A&M promotion guy during summer ’74 had set Corinne and I up with Peter and Andy for lunch at the then turquoise and pink circular Holiday Inn restaurant in Downtown Syracuse. Frampton’s Camel were opening for Uriah Heep that night. We both worked at Discount Records, so I’m guessing Rich could justify the meal.

As far as we were concerned, this was lunch with The Herd. It was great fun picking their brains about the past. They both laughed non stop at all my questions, in a most flattering way. And I’m sure Andy Bown was genuinely surprised at the attention. Peter didn’t seem to mind one bit that when push came to shove, these two crazies were there to meet Andy Bown.

So yeah, SOMETHIN’S HAPPENING is a gem too. Soon after, Peter Frampton’s deserved home runs began. The industry calls this process artist development. I call it finally getting a fair shot at radio.

Ten Years After

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Listen: The Sounds / Ten Years After TYASounds.mp3

Abrupt false ending followed by slight reprise, non-musical sound effects, over echoed background vocals: all quickly becoming standard psychedelic production ideas by ’67/’68. Simple to observe now, but then…it was ‘pass the headphones’ stuff.

Mike Vernon, I believe signed Ten Years After to Deram prior to starting probably the best UK blues label in terms of both quality and success, Blue Horizon. I’m guessing it was this band’s original musical style that most likely drew them together.

‘The Sounds’, although recorded as a single during that short period between album one and two, and released spring ’68 (UK B side / US A side), actually marked the beginning of a unique songwriting style that blossomed fully on STONEHENGE, their third full length and first of a flawless trilogy (SSSSH and CRICKLEWOOD GREEN).

Ten Years After were about to be on a roll, due to a wildly blistering performance at Woodstock of ‘I’m Going Home’. It’s original recording was released as a followup 7″ to ‘The Sounds’. Coupled with ‘Hear Me Calling’ meant it became a classic double sider. The Woodstock version made both the film and soundtrack album, hence Ten Years After enjoyed the perfect artist development curve making those (and other albums) deservedly successful and their live draw solid for years.

‘The Sounds’, at time of release, could be found nowhere, and surprise surprise, heard nowhere in the US – certainly not upstate. It took me years to snag a copy, around ’74 I would guess, when then MCA salesman Ed Terracino (former London Records employee) gave me a stack of singles from his basement stash. I am forever grateful Ed if you’re reading.

Never did see them play this one, and maybe they never did. It must have been around SSSSH when they made their way to Syracuse, with Humble Pie supporting. It’s was Humble Pie’s first US tour, and although nowhere near as interested in their boogie rock as the music of the member’s previous bands (The Small Faces and The Herd), I went along, being a huge Ten Years After, but also with the possibility of meeting Humble Pie as a bonus.

I’ll admit, Humble Pie were surprisingly great live, still bean pole skinny, clad in lime, purple and pink velvet pants/suits and little girl blouses, America hadn’t influenced their wardrobe or haircuts yet, so it was well enjoyable.

Ten Years After, on the other hand, appeared bored and sullen. No biggie – it happens. Playing Syracuse understandably nothing to look forward to I guess.

Afterwards, I made my way backstage, really in search of Humble Pie to stalk them for Small Faces and Herd details, when I came across Chick Churchill moping dismissively against a wall. Probably an unpleasant day for the fellow, and I suppose me excitedly getting to the real point of our conversation: where are Humble Pie, didn’t help. Although I loved those Ten Years After albums mentioned above, he did throw a temporary wet blanket on my mission to covert any and all to his band.

Solomon Burke

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Listen: You Can Make It If You Try / Solomon Burke01 You Can Make It If You Try.mp3

A Philadelphia native, and trained in gospel, Solomon Burke had his biggest success during the ’60′s in the south, where they coined his sound ‘river deep country fried buttercream soul’. Who on earth would not want to hear this guy after a description like that?

I found out about Solomon Burke like every other white kid in the day, through the English groups covering all the classic blues and RnB hits. Yes, the originals were right here in my own back yard. Occasionally one of these would slip into the pop stations’ playlists, but not near enough. At the time, I would have probably dismissed the original anyways, preferring all the hepped up excitement of the British Invasion version and how that movement was changing my culture, my haircut and my clothes.

But on further investigation in the early 70′s, it was fantastic to find a whole world of great records yet to own and cherish. The Rolling Stones were clearly Solomon Burke fans, covering a bunch of the songs he had RnB success with. Those covers were spread out over the first 5 US albums including this one ‘You Can Make It If You Try’ (on their debut, ENGLAND’S NEWEST HIT MAKERS). So really, it’s through The Rolling Stones that I discovered him. The flip side of this single is equally great: ‘If You Need Me’, also recorded by them and included on 12 X 5 (as is his ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’). OUT OF OUR HEADS included ‘Cry To Me’, although The Pretty Things’ version is true to Solomon’s exactly.

Listen: The Price / Solomon Burke 01 The Price.mp3

The covers of Solomon Burke’s catalog are many, from Dr. Feelgood’s ‘Stupidity’ to The Herd’s ‘Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)’. So fierce was his vocal bite, that certain songs were just not even tried by others. One such favorite of mine, ‘The Price’, arranged by Northern Soul great Teacho Wilshire and produced by Bert Berns, could certainly have been served well at that time by Janis Joplin or maybe Chris Farlowe, but no other white voices that I know of. Great news: Solomon Burke is still alive. Go see him sing and get ready to lose it.

Julian Cope

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

JulianCharlotte, Julian Cope, Island

Listen: Charlotte Anne / Julian Cope JulianCharlotteAnne.mp3

This came out not long after I joined Island in ’88. Ron Fair was part of the A&R team, and produced the single (plus the album from which it came, MY NATION UNDERGROUND).

I hadn’t seen Ron for years, he went on to big success with The Black Eyed Peas and Keyshia Cole – good for him. But we did finally have a chance to reunite at a recent party in New York – and despite my praise of his work with Julian, he was pretty humble.

‘Charlotte Anne’ is such a classic British pop single. I remember sitting in the little parking lot behind Island’s St. Peter’s Square office in London back then, listening to it in Ron’s car. I loved the track that first time and still do.

JulianBeautiful, Julian Cope, Island

Listen: Beautiful Love / Julian Cope JulianBeautifulLove.mp3

Luckily I had the privilege of getting to know Julian and his then sidekick/producer Donald Skinner. They were making one of his masterpieces, PEGGY SUICIDE. What a fucking fantastic work from start to finish that baby is. Soon after release, I ventured to Norwich and caught an early show on the UK tour in support of the album. No lie – it was the place to be in the solar system that night.

‘Beautiful Love’ is probably my all time favorite Julie single – reminds me so much of The Herd’s ‘I Don’t Want Our Loving To Die’. So what’s not to like.

Visiting New York for a few days press prior to the album’s US release, he stayed, as always, with his in-laws out on Long Island. It was a blistering hot July day, and into the office comes Julian wearing flip flops, a wide brimmed sun hat, shades and swim trunks just a touch bigger than your average sized thong. That’s it. He plopped onto the sofa in my office and proceeded to have a totally casual conversation with Phranc and Marianne Faithfull, neither of whom seemed to blink twice.

Island was one hell of a fun place to work at times.

Kenny Burrell

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

KennyBurrell1, Kenny Burrell, Blue Note, Stanley Turrentine, Ray Barretto

Listen: Wavy Gravy (Part 1) / Kenny Burrell KennyBurrellWavy1.mp3

KennyBurrellWavy2, Kenny Burrell, Blue Note, Stanley Turrentine, Ray Barretto

Listen: Wavy Gravy (Part 2) / Kenny Burrell KennyBurrellWavy2.mp3

When I was a kid, we went to see Chet Atkins play the State Fair. I couldn’t believe I was being dragged to this horribly unhip show, why weren’t some British Invasion bands booked instead?

April ’69, Humble Pie played that very stage on their first US tour: Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton. Seemed like an eternity, but it was only three or four years later that those former members of The Small Faces and The Herd stood where I had suffered through Chet Atkins.

Now in hindsight, I wish I’d have paid more attention. And to be honest, it did leave a lasting impression. I can still hear his clean, electric hollow body technique. It’s what connected me to jazz guitarists.

I never bought the albums, not ever. But I sure did look at them in the shops. The Blue Note sleeves in particular were pretty stunning. Once the 70′s and my college radio years began, suddenly all those jazz albums became accessible: Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell.

Give me a clean, fast jazz player any day of the week. The horns and brass, I can’t take it, but guitarists, never get tired of them.

SMASH / FONTANA CATALOG 1968

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

God knows where I got this – probably wrote away for it being the record collector I was at eight years old. Still have a few Fontana 7″ mailers from that time period as well. I would write to this person, Claranelle Morris, at Fontana’s main office in Chicago back then, pestering her about The Herd and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. She’d send photos, bios, sometimes even a single. I guess she figured you couldn’t hear or buy them in the sticks of the Syracuse suburbs, so give the kid the record already. We’re going to toss them anyways. Thank you Claranelle. To go back and police the Fontana dumpsters. If only.

It was years later, when I finally got a break to get into the business when Howard Thompson gave me my first A&R job at Elektra. Without him, I’d still be struggling. That’s when I first discovered that as soon as a record isn’t current, being worked at radio or believed in (at Columbia, my last label job, this often happened within a few weeks: Charlie Walk in particular convinced many he was quite good at A&R, he’s now unemployed), off to the dumpster went the product, and many times off to the scrapheap went the act’s career.

But let’s not lose focus. So I found this catalog in one of the many trunks of stuff I’ve saved over the years. It’s just like new, man, I wouldn’t mind a box lot of many of the titles here. Of course, I loved the English groups back then, but also had a jones for Gloria Lynne. It wasn’t only because she was on Fontana (which was always a favorite label, Suzanne King made me a great Fontana T Shirt for my birthday one year. She lives in Chicago now. Visit the Fontana building Suzanne. It was at 35 E. Wacker Drive).

Gloria Lynne had a bunch of records on Everest prior. I had a copy of ‘Indian Love Call’ from that period, given to me in one of the Saturday morning piles of singles my uncle, a jukebox operator, would drop off instead of trashing when I was very young, about five or six. It’s probably the reason the record collecting gene was dangerously awakened in my DNA.

I paid attention to Gloria Lynne singles. I often heard them on the radio playing in the local barber shop where I’d get my haircut as a little boy. Must have been an AC station of the day, way before it’s then output turned into bachelor pad, lounge, hipster stuff decades later.

And check out some of the soundtracks here too.

The Herd

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

From The Underworld / The Herd

From The Underworld / The Herd

From The Underworld / The Herd

Listen: From The Underworld / The Herd 03 From The Underworld.mp3

I just think this is one of the greatest singles ever made. I have loved it since the very first listen. Now considered a psychedelic classic, it wasn’t at the time, or for years. The Herd were accused of being too mainstream then. The media and public sometimes look down on you if you’re successful, usually associating it with being lower quality, simply because it’s mass appeal, I guess. I do that too I suppose. Still, I never could understand why this record wasn’t appreciated then as it is now, but at least it got it’s day.

Even the lyrics entranced me, a seldom occurrence. Stuff like “a black night’s coldness” and “into another world you will pass” gave me the creeps. I liked getting the creeps then, had a bit of a cemetery attraction. That may have been a pot smoking side effect, going there late at night, alone, stoned, to scare myself. And I really did, several times that summer. Quit the cryptic visits and smoking pot shortly thereafter.

Peter Frampton downplayed his time with The Herd for years. You couldn’t mention it to him. Now I think he realizes it was very credible, as he was super nice about doing the jukebox tab for me. I wanted to advise him while signing it, not to be too flattered. It’s just that living in the US, one never sees Andy Bown.

The above US promo-only foldout picture sleeve is nearly extinct. The only one I’ve ever seen actually. Oh and thank you Howard Thompson for the test pressing. It was a really awesome birthday present that year.

From The Underworld / The Herd jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Peter Frampton

Kaiser Chiefs

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

kaiserruby, Kaiser Chiefs, Overseer, The Herd, The Creation, Andy Bown
kaiserrubyback,       Kaiser Chiefs, Overseer, The Herd, The Creation, Andy Bown

Listen: Ruby / Kaiser Chiefs KaiserChiefsRuby.mp3

One of the best UK singles from this millennium, no lie. The background vocals are lifted, or influenced, beautifully from The Creation. Whether by design or simply by growing up hearing all but formula AOR music on the radio – it doesn’t matter. Great call.

I picture it here, even though I despise colored vinyl. I mean, seriously, I really hate it. Add to that, a sticker on the outside plastic sleeve (above top) affixed crooked. Makes my skin crawl. Records should be as God made them, black. But if it’s the only way to get a 7″ of ‘Ruby’, I will adjust. There’s always Lexapro.

Drummer Nick had the best haircut in rock, identical to Andy Bown’s of The Herd until this recent US tour. Not to worry, it should grow back fine. Turns out we know each other from years ago, when I signed Overseer to Columbia. Nick worked at the studio in Leeds where the album was made, and shared a house with Rob Overseer as well. Small world.

And I must say, nicer guys you won’t meet.

Andy Bown

Monday, August 10th, 2009

andybownsweetusa, Andy Bown, Peter Frampton, The Herd GM Records, Mercury Records

Listen: Sweet William / Andy Bown AndyBownWilliam.mp3

It’s real simple. Andy Bown was in The Herd. He has a lifetime, out of jail free card. End of story.

Add to that, a haircut rivaling only Brian Jones.

But seriously, he’s made a lot of great singles. These are two. ‘Sweet William’ was originally released as the B side of The Herd’s seminal classic ‘From The Underworld’. The above version was a re-record for Andy Bown’s second solo album, ironically titled SWEET WILLIAM. I always loved the song.

andybownsatyricon, Andy Bown, Peter Frampton, The Herd GM Records, Mercury Records

Listen: New York Satyricon Zany / Andy Bown AndyBownSatyricon.mp3

Go back and read my story of meeting he and Peter Frampton during a Frampton’s Camel show back in the 70′s. It was an exciting moment. A few years later, ‘New York Satyricon Zany’ came out as a UK single, with an obvious Peter Frampton solo during the last passage. Either way, it became an instant favorite, and it’s just one example of Andy Bown’s many songwriting and vocal superiorities.

Billboard Magazines

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

I got a fantastic email today from a reader in France, Bands Michel, who alerted me to a site whereby you can read just about every BILLBOARD from the 50′s, 60′s and onwards. These are mesmerizing. Scrolling through the weekly singles reviews whereby they predict records that will achieve Top 20, Top 60 or simply a ‘Chart’ placing alone is worth the visit. Most of the greats are in that later section, although many a ‘should have been a hit’ record features in the other two as well. Not to mention stunning full page tip sheet adds for singles by The Herd, The Who, Mary Wells, Scott Walker, Ike & Tina Turner, The Small Faces, multi artist adverts for Mercury, Okeh, Motown, Fontana, Deram, Ric Tic, Bang, Sue Records plus hundreds and hundreds more. Do yourself a favor:

BILLBOARD MAGAZINE ARCHIVE

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Listen: Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Zabadak

Last year around this time, Bob Lefsetz, who publishes a fascinating subscription letter you should all Google and sign up for, wrote about hearing The Box Tops during Christmas break in Vermont, ’67. It was a nice piece, time traveling me back to that Christmas/New Year’s week, growing up outside of Syracuse, a ten year old obsessed with records. I wrote him a response with much of the following, but don’t know if he ever read it. He never responded.

Everything happens for a reason. It motivated me to start my own blog, so all good.

Basically, I still like the winter weather as it reminds of that week off school as a kid. Everyone wants to escape it here in NY nowadays but I love staying home, hanging around the deserted city, having friends over especially if they bring Christmas cookies, keeping the fireplace going and hoping for snow.

Growing up near Syracuse was pretty drab but we had one remarkable perk: a Top 40 station, WOLF, that from ’64 – ’67 seemed to flawlessly play the good bits of BILLBOARD’s chart alongside national non-hits, most of them British, and many rightfully considered classics today, including several US flops each by The Who, Them, The Move, The Zombies, The Kinks, The Moody Blues, Unit 4 + 2, The Hullaballoos, The Pretty Things and Manfred Mann.

So I’d spend that whole week glued to the radio, crawling the record shops and record departments at W.T. Grants and Woolworths, collecting chart handouts, asking for discarded Billboard magazines and stocking up on deletions.

One of the UK bands whose label, Fontana, didn’t or couldn’t put the needed payola cash behind them on a national level, actually had hits upstate: Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Some consider them too pop, or zany, but I just loved their image of paisley pants with flowered shirts and their music.

KHJ chart 1-24-68

Eventually, they switched US labels in late ’67, to Imperial, who made a big attempt at breaking them here and almost did. ‘Zabadak’ got a lot of play, charted in many markets and got great reaction. KHJ in Los Angeles took it Top 10. (See chart above). Both my local Top 40′s were spinning it, and even the adult contemporary one.

I was feeling liberated. Finally Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich were having a hit, and The Small Faces too, ‘Itchycoo Park’ was doing equally well. US radio was about to be on pulse. I didn’t need to find a way to live in England after all.

Then thud. ‘Zabadak’ stalls at #52 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 (above). Seems it’s been all down hill ever since.

December 28th: it’s been 41 years today, the receipt is still in the sleeve, that I bought ‘Zabadak’ at Walt’s Records on Salina Street, doing my part. It’s a fantastic single. All jungle drums with haunting strings and chants. Sounded stunning on the radio then, like nothing else. A lot of stations played it for a few weeks. The kind of record that zaps me right back, hence I always remember the date and I’ll always remember that great record shop.

I can easily visualize the decor and it’s unique record shop smell. I wanted everything in the place, still do. One whole wall was lined with brackets that held 25+ copies of a single, where all the biggest sellers made it. But the obscure records, many of the ones I mentioned, would reside in the back on a four sided carousel that swirled, and had slot like pockets, each able to hold ten or so copies of a single. I would go straight to that unit every visit which was usually once or twice a month, having to decide which two or three singles I could afford on my dollar per week allowance. Some of the ones I had to pass up took me years to locate: The Small Faces ‘All Or Nothing’ with the picture sleeve and The Riot Squad ‘How Is It Done’ come to mind. But there were many I did get like Them ‘Richard Corey’, The Yardbirds ‘Goodnight Sweet Josephine’ and The Herd ‘From The Underworld’.

On December 28, 1967 I tore to that rack and there it was. ‘Zabadak’. My Aunt Nancy, a grand lady, had brought me shopping and kindly paid as a Christmas treat, thereby allowing me to spend my dollar allowance on Inez & Charlie Foxx’s ‘(!-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days’. We went on to visit another relative that afternoon where I was tortured, staring at these jems, jonesing to get home and play them as they did not own a record player.

Now I’m convinced Hot Chip could do a killer remake of ‘Zabadak’.

Oh and one other tid bit about Walt’s. I ran there to buy Traffic’s ‘Hole In My Shoe’ the day after seeing them at Syracuse University’s Jabberwocky Club on their first tour. As I walked in, out came Traffic, with loads of soul and jazz albums. They patiently waited as I bought the single then signed it’s picture sleeve.