Archive for the ‘Hedgehoppers Anonymous’ Category

Hedgehoppers Anonymous

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Listen: Stop Press / Hedgehoppers Anonymous

Quite possibly the very first copy of BILLBOARD I ever laid my eyes on had Hedgehoppers Anonymous’ ‘It’s Good News Week’ at #48 in the Hot 100. I know because still have that edition.

Mind you, those early copies of the magazine were life changing. For a youngster desperately obsessed with English music during the 60′s, this publication was a tsunami of joyous information and statistics. BILLBOARD enabled me to actually see Britain’s Top 50 singles chart on a weekly basis. And believe you me, I gunned my way to Smith’s Records after school every Friday to pour over the current week’s edition, and to pick up last week’s now worthless copy from Mrs. Smith herself. I was her chosen charity. I suppose it was me or the rubbish bin, all pre-recycling of course. I cringe to think how many copies were tossed. Regardless, a week old BILLBOARD was useless to even Mrs. Smith in Oneida, NY. The world moved fast back then as well.

Now I’d already seen mention of this band, as with many others, probably in TEEN SCREEN or 16 MAGAZINE. Those publications would all dedicate a page or two toward reprinted miniatures of the record companies’ new band 8×10′s. And Hedgehoppers Anonymous were one such. Their name was hard to forget, especially for this youngster’s unblemished hippocampus.

And so with great excitement, and desperate catch-up, ‘It’s Good News Week’ at #48 made me desperate for an airing. Fate and luck were on my side. Local Top 40 WNDR ran a weekly Tuesday night program, ‘Echoes Of England’, whereby they’d spin all the singles they didn’t, wouldn’t and/or couldn’t play in regular rotation. It’s how I first heard Them, Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville, The Applejacks, The Pretty Things and on this particular occasion, Hedgehoppers Anonymous.

Years, although not that many, later I discovered they were produced and guided by Jonathan King, a big favorite of mine then and now. I honestly don’t recall when I acquired ‘Stop Press’. I’m guessing ’74-ish. Back then I would buy records, via snail mail, from UK dealers out of the set sale pages of, I think, TROUSER PRESS. Whatever, it turned up in the post, most likely all of two weeks and $3.00 (including post) later and I truly loved it. A total package complete with Mick Tinsley’s black and white drizzly English minor key vocal melody and all the noisy drum/tambourine stuff. Properly tagged as percussion, the sound felt like a first to me. Why on earth had no one thought of using that racket prior?

‘Stop Press’ is by far the band’s best and most English record, at least by my not so humble standards.

Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Don't Stop Loving Me, Baby / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Don't Stop Loving Me, Baby / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Listen: Don’t Stop Loving Me, Baby / Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours PinkertonsDontStop.mp3

True story. I know you will think this is a lie, but I swear on a stack of Ramones albums that it is not.

UK manager Dennis Muirhead paid me his yearly visit at Columbia Records in the late 90′s. We’d met back in ’85 when I’d first joined Elektra and he always stopped by when he came through town. One of his clients at the time was Stuart Colman. Stuart lived then in Nashville and had produced many successful country acts, but had prior UK hits with Shakin’ Stevens. Dennis gave me a package including all his producers latest discographies which I browsed while catching up. I noticed Stuart had started his career in the 60′s with The Shadows. So I said to Dennis, hey this guy goes back a bit, is he English? Affirmative. I proceeded to say I wish these fellows would list all those really early engineering jobs they would have started out doing prior to that first producer opportunity. “I mean, Dennis, he could have worked on something obscure like…..Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours or something”. I just grabbed that fun, eccentric example out of my head.

Dennis looks me square in the eye and says “He was IN Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours”. Silence. Neither of us could believe what had just transpired. “You’re not kidding are you, well call him now”. He suggested one better, that I ring his place asking for him as a member of the band, which I did. I let Stuart know fairly fast that Dennis was there with me, and we had a very nice chat. I mailed him this jukebox tab, he autographed it and sent it straight back.

Pinkertons Jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Stuart Colman

As for the group, I was interested because of the name. When I saw their first single ‘Mirror Mirror’ entering the UK charts, I had to hear them asap. But it wasn’t to be for ages. Even though released Stateside, it was nowhere to be heard or found. WMCR, the little station that gave me all those unwanted promo singles at the time, weren’t serviced by London, parent company of Parrot Records – home to Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours. Damn. I was jonesing by the time their second single hit. ‘Don’t Stop Loving Me, Baby’ limped into the UK Top 50 at #50 for one week. I love a good followup flop usually more than the previous hit, so this was reaching fever pitch.

Finally I was successful, finding it in a 25ยข bin at The House Of Oldies on Bleeker Street in NYC when my Aunt Nancy invited me along to visit some relative for a few days. I got a ton of London titles there – The Cryin’ Shames, Lulu & The Luvvers, The Gonks, Hedgehoppers Anonymous and Jonathan King among them – all nice orange swirl promos. This is a great double sider. Not overly special but a solid British staple. Actually, just tonight I realized some similarities to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich thereby explaining a lot of it’s appeal for me.

Will Ya / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Will Ya / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Listen: Will Ya / Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours PinkertonsWillYa.mp3

The B side ‘Will Ya’ is my favorite of the two, but just. That timid but still wildish fuzz solo is the tie breaker. Mike Goldsmith picked me up the stock copy pictured, only a few months ago, at Academy Records in Brooklyn. I had never seen nor heard of one being pressed as it seemed likely this would never have made it beyond the promo stage – but here it is.

Betty Wright

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Listen: Shoorah Shoorah / Betty Wright 11 Shoorah_ Shoorah_.mp3

I was working at Discount Records in the early 70′s when this came in. Discount was a deep catalog chain between ’65 – ’75 or so. Their stores were concentrated in the northeast, and their home office was in Scarsdale. The location on the Syracuse University campus was always a haven for the most obscure albums, all the British and west coast names you’d heard of. When I finally got a job there in ’74, it was a real win. You see, each store could buy direct from the labels. So although it was a chain, you weren’t just allocated the hits. There was serious inventory maintenance and responsibility required. This was of course huge fun.

One weekend, I really got into the old BILLBOARD magazine collection and with intense detail, compiled a many-paged list of singles to order from each of the labels. The one that really came through was London Records. Unlike pretty much all the others, somewhere deep in their fulfillment warehouse were tucked sole copies of countless singles. I opened that big shipment box about a week after placing the order resulting from said weekend, to find crazy London, Parrot and Deram singles from years prior (Them, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Honeybus, The Attack, Hedgehoppers Anonymous, The Cryin’ Shames, Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, Savoy Brown). Ah, the good old days.

But back to Betty Wright’s version of ‘Shoorah Shoorah’. I was very into The Meters around this time and hence insatiable for all things Allen Toussaint. Reading that he had written this one in the BILLBOARD singles review section that particular week, I ordered myself a copy. Smart move. It was a classic. I proceeded to get in a box, and with in store play sold them through nicely. Wish I had kept a few more.