Archive for the ‘The Pretty Things’ Category

Jack Dupree

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Tongue Tied Blues / Jack Dupree

Listen: Tongue Tied Blues / Jack Dupree
Tongue

This was a bizarre discovery from that very first pile of singles I blagged off WMCR, claiming to be from the local Children’s Hospital and needing donations. There were many greats in that stack of about fifty (The Others, The Pretty Things, Inez & Charlie Foxx, The Mickey Finn, The Hullaballoos, Ike & Tina Turner, Jimmy Reed), but this earned an immediate spot.

I played it for everyone, all as baffled as myself on first listen. We were feeling confidently hip to this blues music The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Kinks claimed as their influences, even though we simply were not. A true and pure example had yet to be served our way until that very first spin of ‘Tongue Tied Blues’. Just listen and you’ll understand.

Dr. Feelgood

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Listen: Another Man / Dr. Feelgood DrFeelgoodAnotherMan.mp3

There’s a load of theories about where punk started. I suppose you can slice and dice it back to anywhere you want, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or The Pretty Things, or endless garage bands from the mid 60′s. Most self appointed, gatekeeping journalists will flatter each other with either The Stooges or The New York Dolls. My vote goes to Suicide in the US and the Canvey Island bands in the UK, of which Dr. Feelgood were the first superstars.

Their live show stoked Eddie & The Hot Rods and together they lit up London fast and raw. It was indeed the speed of sound and the sound of speed all at once. New bands that clutched to the past and stood in their way were mowed down flat. Hustler and Nutz for example. It was a fun time for house cleaning. Labels like Chrysalis had their rosters fossilized overnight. Seemed like the world turned from black and white to color. Every single released was a new high.

Dr. Feelgood: Lee Brilleaux had a vocal style and stage presense not unlike Roger Chapman, and Wilko Johnson religiously perfected Mick Green’s jagged guitar style into his own. Their second album, MALPRACTICE, is a clean, articulate blueprint of the band’s attack and technique. But when Dr. Feelggod unleashed live, it was unstoppable.

Seeing them between late ’75 through mid ’77 really was life changing. If you did, you’ll know how hearing their records now will still sound different to us, as opposed to those who weren’t as lucky. Over three decades later, that hasn’t changed.

Not one for European pressings, I tell you honestly, my collection has less than a hundred. I make exception for singles like this, when not one but two 7″ worthy songs are issued on a 45. Both ‘Going Back Home’ and ‘Another Man’ (like ‘I Can Tell’, all from MALPRACTICE) were never released as singles in the UK or US. This Dutch pressing being the only exception to my knowledge. In fact, ‘I Can Tell’ has never come out on 7″ anywhere. How did the otherwise faultless Andrew Lauder mess this one up?

Wait. Come to think of it, there were a few numbers from Brinsley Schwarz NERVOUS ON THE ROAD that deserved single status. Andrew Lauder you have some answering to do.

Being an archivist and collector can also mean you’re a pack-rat, depending upon whom you listen to. Ask Corinne for instance and she’ll pick door number three.

Fine, I’m all of them and glad of it, having saved pretty much everything I’ve ever owned, starting with a rock that flew into my hand off my tricycle’s front wheel at about five years old. That’s how extreme, and far back, I can claim the obsession. Good thing, because the records began at age seven. Damn, if only I started at birth.

In the case of this flyer, saving every last item allowed me to pinpoint the exact date and hour when a whole new musical world was revealed behind that invisible curtain. There had been a few jolting revelations before and several after, but that moment when rock as it had been known and loved immediately became the past occured on February 29, 1976. Dr. Feelgood were a blistering no holds barred introduction to pub and punk. Gone was the polish and self indulgence, the bloat and tired outfits. What the music world changed into we all know.

It was a fantastic time to be young and insatiable. And here’s the flyer to stake that very date in my life. Corinne and I, with our dearest friend Karen Kasiner, braved a winter storm to see Dr. Feelgood. I wouldn’t trade that night for anything.

The Pretty Things

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Listen: Come See Me / The Pretty Things PrettyThingsComeSeeMe.mp3

Written about way more times than it ever got played on US radio embarrassingly. ‘Come See Me’ is without question, one of the all time greats. I can’t think of a single that’s cut louder. Seriously, can you? Always on the border of over distorted, but just, I guess it was too good to be a hit. Too good for the average shlump to hear.

And in their 60′s heyday, if they were this good live, it’s no wonder their friends The Rolling Stones never asked them out on tour, even though Brian Jones was their roommate (not that he had much juice apparently). Makes perfect sense.

The Cramps always had the same problem getting support slots. Who in their right mind wanted to go onstage after they played? Nobody.

Although, hold on, to be fair, White Zombie gave them a few slots, like the San Diego Sports Arena. Yep, I saw The Cramps at the San Diego Sports Arena. The front 25% were going bonkers, the remaining 75%, basically silent – not booing, not speaking, just completely baffled. Genius.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Dick Taylor

The Bo Street Runners

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Listen: Bo Street Runner / The Bo Street Runners BoStreetBoStreet.mp3

If you recall the period (’64 – ’65), literally every week there were more English and US garage, blues based bands releasing singles, and some of us were twitching increasingly by the day. It was impossible to keep up, and the really obscure singles (like The Bo Street Runners), were probably hard enough to find around the UK, forget about in America and definitely in upstate New York. I’d seen a photo of this band in 16 Magazine – the publication always had one page toward the back with about 8 new band photos per issue, accompanied by a sentence or two (most likely press photos that arrived at the office with a record/bio).

The Bo Street Runners’ blurb mentioned winning a READY STEADY GO competition and releasing ‘Bo Street Runner’ via UK Decca as a result. Little did I know that years later RSG producer Vicki Wickham would become a close friend and gift me her entire record collection. True story. Good thing, I’d have been one of the first kids, in his single digits, to keel over from a heart attack.

Up there with some of the better tracks from The Yardbirds, Them, The Downliners Sect or The Pretty Things. ‘Bo Street Runner’, surprisingly an original song, is pure blue eyed RnB, right down to the maracas and obligatory tambourine keeping time with the beat.

Listen: Baby Never Say Goodbye / The Bo Street Runners BoStreetBabyNever.mp3

In hindsight, some signature names passed thought the ranks of their lineup, including a few guys from both Timebox and Patto, as well as Mick Fleetwood. His timeline is right up there with Ron Wood’s, having been with not only The Bo Street Runners, but also The Peter B’s, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and the original Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.

Although a rather long standing BSR member, he only ever played on ‘Baby Never Say Goodbye’, the competitive cover of the Unit 4 + 2′s original and charting composition.

The Hullaballoos

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

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hullimgonnaps

Listen: I’m Gonna Love You Too / The Hullaballoos
HullaballoosGonna.mp3

Do not mistake this British band as the resident pop group on the US HULLABALOO show from ’65 – ’66. They did appear, six times to be exact, but were only coincidentally sharing a similar name. Admittedly their second album, THE HULLABALLOOS ON HULLABALOO would confuse even the most attentive. Alas, the band’s name was indeed spelled differently than the program’s. So no – they were not the house band.

As with just about every group in those days, we saw their pictures way before getting to hear the music. I was too young to be aware of all the Buddy Holly similarities they shared, so to me, they were completely original. I vividly remember seeing the sleeve to ‘I’m Gonna Love You Too’ in a local shop and being instantly smitten. Bleach blond, all four – this was even more radical than The Pretty Things, who had the longest hair yet. Hullaballoos’ drummer Harry rivaled any member of The Pretty Things to date, not only in hair length but color too, hence out doing them in my book. My parents were aghast to find I planned to bleach my hair as well. It never happened – not yet that is.

Despite endless stories of infamous thievery directed toward Roulette Records, they did get their singles distributed and heard. ‘I’m Gonna Love You Too’ got played a bunch initially.

hulldidusa
hulldidps

Listen: Did You Ever / The Hullaballoos
HullaballooosDidYouEver.mp3

The followup, ‘Did You Ever’ was played slightly less, but performed more than any other song on US television.

hulllearningusa
hulllearningps

Listen: Learning The Game / The Hullaballoos
HullaballoosLearning.mp3

Unfortunately, ‘Learning The Game’, my favorite of the four, was not played at all in my hometown. The single made it to the Bubbling Under Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #121 during a short two week run, so some play obviously was achieved. Once I got my copy, I cherished it all the more.

hullwontusa
hullwontps

Listen: I Won’t Turn Away Now / The Hullaballoos
HullaballoosWontTurn.mp3

The very hard to get fourth single and sleeve, ‘I Won’t Turn Away Now’ is classic British beat. Little Steven played The Hullaballoos recently. I was in the car and thought, justice after all these years. God bless Sirius.

In the early 80′s, when I started working at Elektra, the lure of free phone calls to the UK were too much to pass up. I called Hull directory information, and secured two of the four Hullaballoos’ phone numbers. Ultimately, I only spoke with Andrew Woonton. Initially our conversation proceeded as follows:

“Hi is this Andrew Woonton?”

“Yes, who’s calling?”

“My name is Kevin, from Elektra Records in New York and I was wondering, were you once a member of The Hullaballoos?”

“Uuuuuum, aaaaah, yes why?”

I launched into being a fan, but later in the conversation he revealed his initial hesitation. Turns out he was still getting calls from creditors wanting payment for hotels, vehicles and other expenses obligated some 20 years prior by Roulette on behalf of The Hullaballoos.

Did this band get what they deserved in any way. No. In fact, their youtube footage recently had the audio removed, apparently by the song publishers. Come on, cut these guys a break.

And I’m still miffed at not seeing the shows they shared with The Zombies and The Nashville Teens back in ’65 at the Brooklyn Paramount.

Below my postcard from their fan club:

hullaballoospostcard

The Marvelettes

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game / The Marvelettes

Listen: The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game / The Marvelletes MarvelettesHunter.mp3

I loved The Supremes, who didn’t? But there’s something about the underdogs that make them even more appealing to me. Happens every time.

I guess The Rolling Stones (who I always preferred) were considered second to The Beatles for a while there; and then The Pretty Things to The Stones. Or as I mentioned in an earlier post, Inez & Charlie Foxx to Ike & Tina Turner.

Like Martha & The Vandellas, The Marvelettes were certainly playing second fiddle, at best, to The Supremes over at Motown. There’s a terrific book CALLING OUT AROUND THE WORLD / A MOTOWN READER by Kingsley Abbott, detailing (and I mean detailing) those heydays of Motown. It describes the songwriting rivalries, struggles for priorities, everything. It’s a fascinating read. According to Kingsley, William Robinson, or Smokey as we know him, was always under appreciated by Berry Gordy. Even when coming off of a hit, Smokey’d be starting over. Marvin Gaye too. The girl groups were in a constant struggle to get first dibs on the strongest new songs. It’s why Mary Wells left the fold – well at least according to this book.

In the case of The Marvelettes, there were few occasions when they got those gems. Like ‘The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game’ (another Smokey composition), many of The Marvelettes releases had a slight darkness to them – not quite as glistening with all the pop flash that those Supremes singles packed, hence their cult appeal? Probably.

I'll Keep Holding On / The Marvelettes

Listen: I’ll Keep Holding On / The Marvelletes MarvelettesHoldingOn.mp3

Let’s face it – The Marvelettes were hip. Hats off to The Action for the brave and triumphant cover of ‘I’ll Keep Holding On’

My Baby Must Be A Magician / The Marvelettes

My Baby Must Be A Magician / The Marvelettes - UK

Listen: My Baby Must Be A Magician / The Marvelettes MarvelettesMagician.mp3

And thank you to Tony King for generously giving me the UK promocopy of ‘My Baby Must Be A Magician’ pictured above.

Little Richard

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Listen: Get Down With It / Little Richard
Get

It has been written, by Charles White, that this is the greatest rock and roll record ever recorded in England. Who is Charles White? Good question.

The answer: he’s aka Dr Rock, is the official biographer to Little Richard and author of the books ‘The Life And Times Of Little Richard’ and ‘Killer – The Jerry Lee Lewis Biography’. All of the preceding info I lifted from the liner notes of the cd reissue GET DOWN WITH IT – THE OKEH SESSIONS. But beware.

I was well excited when I saw this one on the Sony release schedule back in 2004. The packaging turned out great. The detail being particularly good. Unfortunately, it’s all the stereo versions which have been restored, remastered, cleaned, polished, shined with every bit of dirt, grime, filth and slime removed. Little Richard without the dirt, grime, filth and slime is just not…very appealing. Try finding the vinyl singles, especially ‘Poor Dog’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Discuss It’, and the LP, THE EXPLOSIVE LITTLE RICHARD, all on the Okeh label instead. If you do buy this cd, keep the booklet but toss the disc.

Even if you accomplish all the above, you won’t be done, because during Little Richard’s tenure with Okeh, he recorded that aforementioned ‘greatest rock and roll record’ in London during December ’66. It was called ‘Get Down With It’. The cd was quite rightly titled after it and that particular single was only ever released in the UK on Columbia, Okeh’s British distributor. God knows why. So basically, to really complete your journey, you’ll need to own this UK 7″. Good luck. I do wish you it, but don’t wait up. It’s a pretty hard one to locate.

Unexpectedly, ‘Get Down With It’ was produced by EMI’s Norman Smith, who also took on said chore for both The Pink Floyd’s PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN and The Pretty Things’ SF SORROW albums. This track perfectly documents that intoxicating and lost in history delta, chitlin’ circuit, sweat and liquor drenched roadhouse sound. To think, this studio version never saw the light of day in the US until the cd came out in ’04. I wonder why they didn’t issue this at the time, and why the mono version of ‘Get Down With It’ wasn’t included as a cd bonus track at least?

As for Charles White’s statement that this is the greatest rock and roll record ever recorded in England, he just might be right.

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.

The Who

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Listen: Happy Jack / The Who WhoHappyJack.mp3

Pull this out and give it a spin. You’re bound to say, “Man I have not heard this in ages”. Well, my guess is you’ll say that. I loved all the singles up through and including ‘Pictures Of Lily’. Then came ‘I Can See For Miles’. Something about that one, it was good but didn’t hit dead center. Was a first real understanding of my body’s reaction to music. ‘I Can See For Miles’ may have been the record that set the template for an A&R career years later: if I didn’t love it – chances were good it’d be a huge hit. Hey, as long as you know how to read the indicators, that’s all that really matters. ‘I Can See For Miles’ was in fact their only ever US Top 10. Hard to believe I know.

Back then, The Who weren’t much different than The Small Faces or The Move when it came to US radio. You never heard them. Yeah radio was much better in the 60′s, but still fairly narrow. These bands just didn’t get national airplay – if they were lucky, regional exposure was usually the extent of it and then maybe a crossover….leads me to an interesting memory about The Who.

I and my Anglophile friends religiously bought every single by The Who. My teenage girlfriend and I missed our junior prom the night I got ‘Substitute’ it was so good – we just played it over and over and fiddled about, as someone once coined. It was the plan anyways.

There were a few shops around town that would get two to five copies of the non hits, or hopeful to be hits – like Walt’s Records or Smith’s Records or that huge record department in WT Grant’s on Salina Street in Syracuse. So starting with ‘I Can’t Explain’, we bought ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’, every single right through and including the immaculate ‘Substitute’, ‘I’m A Boy’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and this one, the psychedelic ‘Happy Jack’, which actually did crack the Billboard chart peaking at #24 in ’67. A few years later when TOMMY was released, everyone noticed a rock opera similarity between that and it’s predecessor, The Pretty Things S.F. SORROW, still we listened to them both regularly during several weekend Parcheesi matches. The Who finally made a return visit after opening for Herman’s Hermits a few years earlier. Even though in my opinion the glow of those earlier singles had dimmed down noticeably, of course I went along. TOMMY admittedly wasn’t bad.

After the show, a few of us waited around for autographs, brought albums, singles, the works. I wasn’t quite as fussed and brought nothing, but seriously, was there something better to do in Syracuse as a teenager than possibly say hello to The Who? When my best friend Denny went up to Pete Townshend proudly with his MY GENERATION album to get signed, the guy turned his nose away, dismissiveley refusing to sign anything. He proceeded to make his way toward their station wagon with band members including Keith Moon and Roger Daltry already inside waiting. Even Keith Moon jumped out of the car to oblige, looking at Pete with a ‘you asshole’ glare, I couldn’t resist. So I spoke up.

“Pete, you know those few copies of the older singles you used to sell in towns like this prior to your hits, we were were the kids that bought them.” As the car pulled away, plain as day, I recall him hanging out the window, wearing a coat that looked like a piece of ghastly ornate drapery, middle finger on both hands projecting at me and shouting “you got a show for your $6 prick”.

Hmm. Not really, you didn’t play any of the aforementioned songs I came to hear. Not one. Still it was rude, certainly embarrassing and I never bought another record by The Who. Big deal, basically my bitterness toward he and unfairly the other guys in The Who went unnoticed and I’m sure Pete Towshend never lost a wink of sleep because of me.

About thirty years later, his keepers were doing the rounds of labels trying to hawk a new, not very good Pete Townshend album. I was at Columbia then but decided to pass on the record, or more specifically on him, his talent to write those gems long ago withered in my opinion. Still, it was a very hard call. You’d be a fool to not want to work with Pete Townshend. Honestly, he is a higher form of life but I’d experienced his temper. Once bitten, twice shy.

‘Happy Jack’ really is a terrific single.

War

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

WarCiscoUSA, War, United Artists, Island

WarCiscoUKA, War, United Artists, Island

WarCiscoUKAIsland, War, Island, United Artists

Listen: The Cisco Kid / War WarCisco.mp3

Today is the first full day of spring, according to my neighbor who knows all these things. Actually it started yesterday at around 1:15, so that didn’t count. Whatever. When it’s about 70°, no humidity with clear blue skies, and I find myself digging through boxes of doubles stockpiled for some 15 years back out in the garage, I know it’s spring. It’s the first thing I do, having itched to get at something or other all winter – and that’s exactly how yesterday was spent. The place is actually a scene from that new TV show about hoarding, the latest condition a doctor will give you tablets for. Corinne went in to get something, and being her first time for a couple of years, and just flipped out on me. So I needed to do some shuffling around anyways.

Brought one of those portable suitcase record players out with me. I bought this one for a steep $20 sometime in the late 80′s when those two parking lots on 6th Ave and 26th St had the weekly junk sales, dealers of everything covering the two spaces. I got into a habit of getting there at dawn, and found records even I can’t believe. One time, I got it into my head I needed a wlp of The Faces debut on Warner Brothers, and found it that very day. Like I willed it to be there. True story.

The player still works, perfectly in fact. It’s one of my favorite pieces, complete with interchangeable 45 adapter spindle. So off I go to the garage to dig and spin. First box, first handful, I find a copy of ‘Cisco Kid’. I’d forgotten Island UK licensed their catalog off Jerry Goldstein around ’75, and proceeded to be his English outlet for War, although quite why United Artists there didn’t hold on to his Far Out Productions was probably a mistake in hindsight.

I freaking love ‘Cisco Kid’. It reminds me of April ’73, when I took my pal and college radio rep for United Artisits in LA, Rich Fazekas, up on his offer to come on out and visit Easter week. The Pretty Things were making their US debut at the Whisky Au Go Go. Did I need more reason? We tooled around non-stop. He turned me on to Mexican food – there was no Mexican food in my college town of Rochester. I’d never had a taco, and given Rich is Mexican, he knew the real deal places to go.

‘Cisco Kid’ was easily the soundtrack to the trip. It was being played everywhere, you remember how hits used to be unavoidable. By early summer when I went to London, it had migrated to their airwaves, and I heard it constantly all over again.

So this time of year brings that all back, and to find a copy in that first handful I grabbed does make me feel frighteningly connected to my records. I love those records.

New York Dolls

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

NYDollsMystery, New York Dolls, Mercury, Shadow Morton

Listen: Who Are The Mystery Girls? / New York Dolls NYDollsMystery.mp3

It shouldn’t have been possible – that being when The Dolls reformed a few years back, they’d be any good. Let’s face it, only two of them were left by the time the reunion gained any momentum, and the whole point in ’74 was being young and outrageous. But surprise surprise, I saw them at Randells’ Island with a slew of bands (Iggy & The Stooges, The Strokes, The Pretty Things, The Electric Prunes, Bo Diddley, The Creation) all presented in a one day festival setting by Little Steven, and they tore it up.

Seriously, David Johansen, so thin he made an Olympic runner look heavy, but with absolutely no muscle tone, a skirt type pant combination, pearls, red nails and long hair not unlike Harry Dunn out of The Hullaballoos. What more could you ask for? Now, just as in ’74, when they were sandwiched between Mott The Hoople and 3rd on the bill, Aerosmith, opening the show with ‘Who Are The Mystery Girls?’ nearly caused a riot – it was so powerful. On that day, August 14, 2004, The New York Dolls unquestionably put on one of the best live shows I’d ever seen.

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.

Otis Redding

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

OtisPain, Otis Redding, Volt, Atco, Steve Cropper, Upbeat, The Rolling Stones

Listen: Pain In My Heart / Otis Redding
Pain

Leave it to The Rolling Stones, they turned all us really young white kids on to the great RnB and Soul that was right here at home. Yeah it’s the oldest story in the book, but 100% true. I for one, was completely oblivious to Otis Redding until they came along. And so I started to ask for his records at WMCR, the little adult station near my parent’s house that gave me all their unusable Rock and RnB singles. Unfortunately, most of the labels only serviced them with non-RnB stuff, logically as they were playing Eydie Gorme, Dean Martin and such. Atlantic was an example, so I had to buy the occasional one, if I’d find it that is.

The first time I saw The Rolling Stones, see my Alvin Robinson post, they played this. Can remember it like yesterday. I needed this original and within days….it was mine.

OtisDirect, Otis Redding, Volt, Atco, Steve Cropper, Upbeat, The Rolling Stones

Listen: Direct Me / Otis Redding
Direct

His last known TV performance was on Cleveland’s UPBEAT, a weekly pop show that rivaled any national counterpart, in fact preceeded both SHINDIG and HULLABALOO as well as outlasting them (’64 – ’71). Seems everyone passed through town, probably intentionally to get the coverage. I’ve mentioned the show in previous posts, and without question, even a partial list of performers is pretty impressive.

Well it’s hard to forget seeing that episode, watching Otis Redding, knowing what had just happened asit was never broadcast live) Despite being endlessly respected and always name checked, he’s seldom heard. Oldies radio overplaying ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’ is almost an injustice. Despite all his classics, ‘Direct Me’ comes in as my favorite. Co-written with Steve Cropper, it may have been a castoff, but I don’t care. Got it in one of those ten for a dollar boxes. Despite the B side status (‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ was the A), the single just holds a memorable place in time for me. Woolworth’s, summer ’69.

There wasn’t a bad record in that box, which also included The Pretty Things ‘Cry To Me’.

The Pretty Things

Monday, October 26th, 2009

prettythingsoct26, The Pretty Things, Fontana, Harvest

Listen: October 26 / The Pretty Things PrettyThingsOctober26.mp3

I’ve been unable to even write an entry these past few days due to my loss on eBay. I desperately wanted to win the US Fontana stock copy of The Pretty Things ‘Midnight To Six Man’, which finally appeared for sale last week. In fact, I’ve wanted one my whole life. I have the US wlp, the UK copy etc – but not a US store pressing. Somehow eBay is claiming my user name/password didn’t match – mind you I’ve not changed them in probably ten years since joining. Therefore my $200.00 bid went unplaced, and a lucky fellow in Europe grabbed it for $31.00. I’ve tried emailing him, offering to buy it – but no reply. Not even a sympathy condolence. So I’ve been literally shattered. Anyone know of a copy I could buy? Name your price.

I always sent off to England for their singles starting around ’68. Lucky for me, I have nice copies of every release. I was a bit disappointed in ‘October 26′ upon arrival. It was tired sounding, and by far their weakest track of the period, logically not finding a place on their PARACHUTE materpiece. I figured just to be clever, I’d post it today, due to it’s namesake.

prettythingscoldstone, The Pretty Things, Fontana, Harvest

Listen: Cold Stone / The Pretty Things PrettyThingsColdStone.mp3

However, the B side ‘Cold Stone’ was a whole other story. It made up for the A side’s wimp. Phil May’s addictive vocal in full frontal attack, it couldn’t hide their RnB baby steps. Who the fuck was picking the A sides at Harvest then is what I’d like to know. Peter Jenner….can you answer that question?

The Strawbs

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

strawbsbenedictus, Strawbs, Tony Visconti, Tom Allom, A&M

Listen: Benedictus /The Strawbs StrawbsBenedictus.mp3

I heard ‘Benedictus’ on my local Top 40 station, once, in the middle of the afternoon. It was WNDR, the tight playlisted one as well. Huh? It sounded so out of place – and indeed pretty great. In the mix of then current nastiness, like Three Dog Night and Jim Croce, it made me believe there might be hope for the radio again, for a good couple of months even. Not so. As much as I tried to catch it once more at least, I never did. And I could not find the single – no surprise. I’d seen The Strawbs’ albums in stores, and despite my then soft spot for English folk, I never did spring for one, until now. I had to have this song. Years later I found the above promo. Probably not all that rare, so if you see one, get it.

strawbslaydownuka, Strawbs, Tony Visconti, Tom Allom, A&M

Listen: Lay Down / The Strawbs StrawbsLayDown.mp3

‘Lay Down’ was starting to indicate these guys just might be churning out some great 7′s consistantly. By now I was nicely ensconced at my college radio station, where everyone only wanted to play, and steal, albums, so the singles were a free for all. A&M would send out stock copies often instead of promos, and I was so happy when one arrived. Released simultaneously in the UK, where it reached #12, meant I had it before I even had to worry about getting it. I was jonesing to live in England by this point. To walk around the house or drive in the car and be able to hear this stuff on the radio – enough reason to figure out a way to get there. That was around the corner.

strawbspartuka, Strawbs, Tony Visconti, Tom Allom, A&M

Listen: Part Of The Union / The Strawbs StrawbsUnion.mp3

“Part Of The Union’ might be one of those songs that folks in the UK still cringe at, simply because it was played everywhere, forever. A #2 in early ’73, it was still a pub singalong by that summer, when I finally made my way to London. Like Jeff Beck’s ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’, I never did tire of it.

Just a few months prior, in April, I had to make a torturous decision. The Pretty Things and The Strawbs were playing the same night, at different venues. How fucked up was this? I chose The Pretty Things. Til this day, I have never seen The Strawbs.

The Crocheted Doughnut Ring / The Force Five

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

crotchedhavanauka, Crocheted Doughnut Ring, Deram, Ascot, Force Five

Listen: Havana Anna / The Crocheted Doughnut Ring CrotchedHavanaUKA.mp3

crotchedhappyukb, Crocheted Doughnut Ring, Deram, Ascot, Force Five

Listen: Happy Castle / The Crocheted Doughnut Ring CrotchedHappyCastle.mp3

Sometimes the great thing about a truly obscure band, one where none of the members went on to bigger fame and success, is just that. You get to keep them as a limited edition, private pleasure. Having changed their name and label in ’67 to fit in with the currant craze, psychedelia, I’m glad to report – or sadly for the fellows I suppose – they kept their obscurity intact despite a nice production from Peter Eden. Sounding similar to Decca’s Toby Twirl (that’s a good thing), they’re honorary members of CHOCOLATE SOUP type collections these days.

forcefiveusa, Crocheted Doughnut Ring, Deram, Ascot, Force Five

Listen: Gee Too Tiger / The Force Five ForceFiveGeeToo.mp3

Before their new found sound, label and name, most of them soldiered forward initially as The Force Five, recording five echo drenched RnB styled singles, this one actually getting a US release. A must for every decent collection, it clearly had high hopes of sitting beside singles from The Yardbirds and The Pretty Things, I’m guessing.

Betty Harris

Friday, June 19th, 2009

betty-harris-cry, betty harris, jubilee, bert berns, the pretty things, solomon burke, the rolling stones

Listen: Cry To Me / Betty Harris BettyHarrisCryToMe.mp3

betty-harris-liar, betty harris, jubilee, bert burns, the pretty things, solomon burke, the rolling stones

Listen: I’ll Be A Liar / Betty Harris BettyHarrisIllBeALiar.mp3

Bert Berns’ classic ‘Cry To Me’ had the luxury of being recorded by some truly seminal acts: Solomon Burke (who cut the classic original RnB chart entry), The Rolling Stones and The Pretty Things (see previous post). Often criminally overlooked when sighting legendary versions, Betty Harris not only belts out a rip roar performance for this A side, but actually out does herself on the flip ‘I’ll Be A Liar’. Also written by Burns, and as with it’s top side, produced by Leiber & Stoller, I’d bet this is the hotter of the two. The sparsity of the arrangement leaves plenty of space for her to shred the lead – pretty much scaring off any female competition. I don’t know of another version.

Betty went on from Jubilee to the Sansu label, recording ten singles there with Allen Toussaint. Although most of her work is collectable to both Deep Soul and Northern fans, my money’s on this essential double sider as the Betty Harris desert island choice.

The Pretty Things

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

prettythingscryuk, the pretty things, fontana, phil may, the rolling stones, freeway madness, warner brothers, mo ostin, whisky,

prettythingscryusa, the pretty things, fontana, phil may, the rolling stones, freeway madness, warner brothers, mo ostin, whisky,

prettythingscryus, the pretty things, fontana, phil may, the rolling stones, freeway madness, warner brothers, mo ostin, whisky,

Listen: Cry To Me / The Pretty Things PrettyThingsCry.mp3

I don’t need much prompting to give The Pretty Things a shout out. Phil May is one of music’s greatest vocalists. When I was running The Medicine Label at Warner Brothers in the 90′s, I asked then chairman Mo Ostin, during casual hallway conversation, if he’d let me reissue their 1973 FREEWAY MADNESS album, which was ripe for CD format. No problem.

Mo was the ultimate executive, they literally don’t make them that way any more. Prior to getting the green light to set up Medicine, I had a memorable meeting/job interview with him. I wanted details of when he signed both The Kinks and Family, which he ever so graciously recounted. And that was only the beginning of the many fascinating stories.

FREEWAY MADNESS, one of those Mo signings, holds some serious sentimental placemarks. Plus it afforded the band their first US tour. How insane is that? Despite their legendary status almost instantly, it wasn’t until spring ’73 that The Pretty Things played their initial US show, at LA’s Whisky A Go Go. I up and flew to California in April, like the senseless Anglophile that I was. Turned into a fantastic trip. Rich Fazekas, then part of United Artists hip college radio department, put me up for the week and introduced me to old Hollywood. UA had Family, Hawkwind, Ian Whitcomb, Man, The Move, Wizzard, endless Blue Note acts. It was the place to be. We raided, with Greg Shaw, UA’s publishing office, then anxious to dispose of their 7″ library. Talk about timing. We saw Tim Buckley at The Troubadour and of course The Pretty Things at The Whisky several nights straight. One month later, I booked them back at my college. May 19, 1973 to be exact.

Fast forward to last night. At a friend’s for dinner, I became engrossed in THE ROLLING STONES ALBUM FILE & COMPLETE DISCOGRAPHY, by Alan Clayson, that was meant to be casual coffee table glancing. I intended taking a quick look, then couldn’t put it down. Learn something every day – and with this book you’ll learn many somethings. For instance, March 7, 1965. Manchester. Following a stopped Rolling Stones show at The Palace Theater, Keith and Mick taxied across town to leap onstage with The Pretty Things (Brian Jones was a room mate of The Pretty Things at the time) at The Manchester Cavern that evening. Among the songs that Mick duetted with Phil May: ‘Cry To Me’.

Ruben & The Jets

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Jelly Roll Gum Drop / Ruben & The Jets

Listen: Jelly Roll Gum Drop (Mono) / Ruben & The Jets
Jelly

Proof positive that those mono mixes back in the 60′s were approached very differently than their stereo counterparts. Word has it the importance of the 7″ single, and early indifference towards albums, many times resulted in leaving the stereo mix to one of the studio engineers, while the band and producer focused only on mono. Might explain the radical difference in mono/stereo versions of The Pink Floyd’s PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN and A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS. Not to mention The Pretty Things S. F. SORROW or The Small Faces OGDEN’S NUT GONE FLAKE. If you’re lucky enough to have both versions, a/b them sometime. You’ll hear different vocal takes and even additional instruments throughout.

No exception is this mono version of ‘Jelly Roll Gum Drop’. Like other early mono releases by The Mothers Of Invention, who were one in the same with Ruben & The Jets, this too is radically different, and therefore much desirable in it’s mono 7″ issue.

Iggy Pop

Monday, February 16th, 2009

I'm Bored / Iggy Pop

Listen: I’m Bored / Iggy Pop
IggyPopImBored.mp3

Iggy’s been on more labels than Sparks, and has had more career comebacks than Cher. And just like those two examples, he’s one of the greats. What can I tell you about Iggy Pop except for: if you’ve never seen him live, it is not too late. He’s the real deal, and still can wipe the floor with 99% of the competition. The other 1% he equals.

This single had an important moment. When Ric Ocasek hosted The Midnight Special in the early 80′s, his guests were Suicide and Iggy Pop. Both were way too much for bad rock radio controlled America, but The Cars were huge and Ric had the clout to bring real art to late night viewers. It was one of the songs he performed, and has yet to make it on to you tube.

I never much cared about The Stooges. I’m sorry, forgive me. My initial experience with Iggy Pop was at LA’s Whisky A Go Go, in May ’73. I flew out, all on my own, to see The Pretty Things first ever US show. How crazy is that? I did have a friend to stay with at least. Iggy turned up in a blue mini skirt and white fur jacket – dressed identical to his girlfriend, both sporting bleached yellow hair. It was cool.