Archive for the ‘RAK’ Category

Kim Wilde

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Listen: Cambodia / Kim Wilde
Cambodia

More Mickie Most productions. Boy, am I late on him. Stupidly never pursued meeting up during all those UK visits, searching for producers and what not. Now looking back, he’s risen to one of my all time favorites in the field.

Predating 21st century programmed/dance/electronic/whatever it’s called Pop, ‘Cambodia’ could have easily been a hit for Abba, or written by them even. No shame here in lifting their successful sound, a normal procedure in the days of Mickie Most’s earlier career timeframe.

Of all Kim Wilde’s hits, both with Mickie Most, ‘Cambodia’ captures the Joe Meek haunt, although probably without any intention. But I hear it loud and clear.

The Vibrators

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Listen: We Vibrate / The Vibrators
We

Not only did Mickie Most have probably the greatest name ever, he was unmatched as a record producer for many years. Listen to the way he weaves and mixes the instruments on Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ or how he recaptures Joe Meek’s haunting, other worldliness on Kim Wilde’s ‘Kids In America’. The story of his life and his list of production achievements is fascinating.

A consistently under mentioned work for him seems to be The Vibrators ‘We Vibrate’. Released on his RAK Records imprint, as with most of the label’s product, he produced. 100% devoid of studio polish, instead the value of how this single was recorded and approached is all about their stage sound. It’s easy to see how this early punk record was a direct descendant of The Arrows and Suzi Quatro before them, both on RAK and both his productions. The band sounded exactly like this live. I know, Corinne and I got to see them at Dingwall’s in early ’77. I want to say Chris Spedding was on stage, but honestly can’t recall.

They were about to sign with Epic and make a great debut album, apparently their RAK deal being only a one off 7″. Their followup single and first for the new label, ‘Baby Baby’ / ‘Into The Future’ came really close, but somehow didn’t quite surpass ‘We Vibrate’.

Lulu

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Listen: The Boat That I Row / Lulu
The Boat That I Row / Lulu

Mickie Most: producer. Mickie Most: never a moniker more perfect.

This guy’s name framed a 60′s pop music producer with total accuracy. Don’t know much about him, never got to meet. Yet his records from the ’66 – ’68 period really had a stamp. And the legacy continued into the 70′s, with his label RAK. But back to the 60′s….

Not sonically unlike Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ or ‘There Is A Mountain’, The Yardbirds’ ‘Goodnight Sweet Josephine and ‘Ten Little Indians’, as well Jeff Beck’s ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ and ‘Tally Man’, all of them Mickie Most productions, I’m guessing his secret was a magic wand chock full of studio compression. Not being an engineer, I can’t say for sure, but indeed there are similarities whereby certain instruments get maxed out in a most appealing way. Maybe that’s where a play on the word most, or Most, gets a little too clever. Sorry.

Seriously though, I do recall hearing ‘The Boat That I Row’ those first few times on my local Top 40. It was warm, springlike weather and wow, did this song jump right out of the sludge. I wanted Lulu to have a US hit for seemingly ages, and now, clearly, the moment had arrived.

Technically, this single reached #1 in the States, but oddly not as ‘The Boat That I Row’. Instead, the original B side, ‘To Sir With Love’ suddenly gained momentum, given the film had just successfully debuted in theaters and was on a tear. So radio stations flipped it, as it was referred to in those days, meaning they began playing the B side and shunning the A.

‘To Sir With Love’ scaled to that coveted #1 slot, but in my world, ‘The Boat That I Row’ was always the chart topper. I mean, it technically sat right there on the pointy part of the pyramid.

Kenny

Monday, July 27th, 2009

kennybumpus, Kenny, Jonathan King, UK Records, Phil Coulter, Bill Martin, RAK, Glam, Glitter From The Litter Bin, The Space Raiders

Listen: The Bump / Kenny KennyBump.mp3

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kennyjulieusa, Kenny, Jonathan King, UK Records, Phil Coulter, Bill Martin, RAK, Glam, Glitter From The Litter Bin, The Space Raiders" title="kennybumpus, Kenny, Jonathan King, UK Records, Phil Coulter, Bill Martin, RAK, Glam, Glitter From The Litter Bin, The Space Raiders

Listen: Julie Anne / Kenny KennyJulie.mp3

spaceraidersglamraid, space raiders, kenny, skint trcords

Listen: Glam Raid / The Space Raiders SpaceRaidersGlamRaid.mp3

There’s a great compilation titled GLITTER FROM THE LITTER BIN; 20 JUNK SHOP GLAM RARITIES. It’s a fun listen but it’s the message here that counts. Long snubbed as uncool, juvenile, manufactured, throwaway – you name it, I could never quite understand everyone’s problem with glam. The production was fantastic, drum and treble heavy, fun clothes and haircuts to match, and a threatening mix of androgyny (which indeed were assets to David Bowie, T, Rex or Roxy Music when convenient). No problem here. I was a proud fan and collector.

Kenny (band not person) churned out some hits, including these two masterpieces. Written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, as with all their material, ‘The Bump’ is a literal blueprint of glam. Fair enough, The Sweet, Slade, Sparks and Wizzard can equally claim such feats, but that doesn’t void out ‘The Bump’. Although released on Mickie Most’s RAK Records in the UK, Kenny flip flopped from pilar to post label-wise in the US. ‘The Bump’ was picked up by Jonathan King in the States, issuing it on his UK Records imprint through London. Sampled years later by The Space Raiders on their fantastic ‘Glam Raid’ (listen above), it verified some needed credibility to the song’s worth.

‘Julie Anne’ probably veered a bit more mainstream teen pop than glam, but the effervescent sound of super K was well intact. A pop classic.

The Legend Of Dave Dee

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Yes – that’s my opinion about him and his band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Legendary. I have totally avoided the passing of musicians on the blog. I prefer to keep this a bit of a fantasy flashback, about all the great things music brought into our childhoods, teenage years and lives in general, timeless in a way. But an exception is the loss of Dave Dee.

Like everyone, I’ve had many favorites through the years, always feeling, at the moment, they were irreplaceable forever – then life goes on and others move in to that top spot. But still, an absolute favorite in so many ways is Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. My soundtrack to being a kid, and an aspiration to living someplace where people could dress in wild colourful clothes, as this band did while my upstate NY peers did not.

Fontana letter 1

Fontana letter 2

I began writing their US label, Fontana and started a dialog (above) with Claranelle Morris, who would send along their photos, bios, promotional oddities and occasionally records (see more scans at end of post). A year or two later when I had her trust, she would sneak the latest releases by The Mindbenders, The Troggs, The Pretty Things and The Herd in the post to me as well. I do wish I knew her whereabouts now to say thanks a million.

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

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

Listen: Okay / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich DDDBMTOkay.mp3

Okay / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich sheet music

I love all of their records, but for some reason, ‘Okay’ has a sentimental thing about it. That opinion is clearly just mine, as most of their singles are wonderfully eclectic musically, and possibly more interesting, whereas ‘Okay’ is fairly straight forward singalong pop. Still it reached #4 in the UK charts doing just as well as their others. This band, if fact, during 1966, sold more records in the UK than either The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, as well between ’66-’68 chalked up more weeks in the British charts than, believe it or not, again, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Watching them do ‘Okay’ on Piccadilly Palace made my summer that year – and that’s saying a lot given it was the infamous summer of ’67! See the below clipping from the local newspaper.

piccadillydddbmt1, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Piccadilly Palace

They only ever made two appearances on National US television: Cleveland’s Upbeat, which was shown locally in Syracuse too, (May 28, 1967) performing ‘Hold Tight’ and ‘Bend It’, and then on the above mentioned, nationally syndicated Piccadilly Palace (August 26, 1967) doing ‘Okay’ and ‘If I Were A Carpenter’.

Bend It (Original Censored Version) / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Listen: Bend It (Original Censored Version) / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich DDDBMTBendItUKVersion.mp3

Bend It (Clean US Version) / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Listen: Bend It (Clean US Version) / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich DDDBMTBendItUS.mp3

A last ditch attempt was made by US Fontana to find a way for ‘Bend It’, a worldwide smash, to be heard in America. So they had Dave go in and re-vocal it, taking out a few suggestive lyrics – which clearly were about sex, and changing some words into an implied dance routine, ‘The Bend’. The single was re-serviced with a dance instruction sheet (see scan below). Unfortunately, they couldn’t change the important line “when night’s ending, we’ll be bending” and hence a failed experiment.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich Bend Dance Letter

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich Bend Dance Instructions

To think nowadays the original would be on Disney Radio right next to Lil Kim, no problem. For the real fussy collector, you can tell the rare ‘dirty’ version from the ‘clean’: the ‘dirty’ leaves out the comma between Dozy Beaky on the label as opposed to the ‘clean’, whereby the punctuation is correct ie: Dozy, Beaky. Luckily, this was a hit in the northeast, including my hometown Syracuse, where it went #1 on the WOLF chart. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy from that particular week’s survey, but do have one from two weeks prior (see scan below). Anyone with a copy – name your price.

Wolf Chart 12-10-66

In the late 80′s, I made friends with Safta Jaffery, an English manager who looked after (still does) some prominent producers. He came to see me at Elektra, we got to talking and I discovered he knew Dave Dee. My excitement was obvious, so he graciously said “Next UK trip, give me a heads up and I’ll get you an introduction”. He went a few steps further, arranging a lunch. I trembled waiting for Dave in the lobby of the studio that housed his office. I’m pretty sure it was Mickie Most’s RAK. Although I arrived on time, to the minute, he finally came barreling down the circular staircase about half an hour late (the longest half hour of my life), all smiles and very apologetic. As we walked to the restaurant, he said he’d been tied up on the phone with a musician friend who needed some advice. I asked who, being rather casually curious. “Scott Walker” he replies. Holy shit. I almost passed out. Walking down a London street with Dave Dee as he spoke nonchalantly about a Scott Walker telephone conversation he’s just had. I wasn’t ready.

We spent a good hour together, talking non stop about the 60′s, answering all kinds of questions, just the nicest, most courteous guy. Of course he was only too happy to fill out a jukebox tab for me too:

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich Okay jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Dave Dee

Today is a sad one, that I won’t ever forget.

The Guardian Obituary:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/jan/09/dave-dee-obituary

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US Bio 1

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US Bio 2

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US Bio 3

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US Bio 4

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US Bio 5

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US Bio 6

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US Bio 7

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US Bio 8

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US Bio 9

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich US press photo

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich fan club application