THIS BLOG IS ABOUT 7" RECORDS ONLY. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY. EVERY SONG IS CONVERTED TO MP3 FROM MY PERSONAL 45 COLLECTION, AND THERE'S NOT ONE THAT I WOULDN'T RECOMMEND YOU SEEKING OUT. ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDERS WHO DON'T WANT THEIR MUSIC HEARD HERE JUST LET ME KNOW, AND DOWN IT WILL COME. CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE.
Like McGuinness Flint before them, or Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance just after, Mungo Jerry existed in the own sonic universe while current. A kind of rag tag gypsy dance folk, or even the skiffle side of glam, whatever…it was warm weather music and a fun slop.
‘Alright, Alright, Alright’ found it’s place on Radio 1 summer ’73. Like others I’ve mentioned here, the single was an ever present soundtrack of Soho’s market stalls that season.
Only The Beach Boys can rival them in the ‘forever summer’ category.
Now here’s a Christmas song you don’t hear much, or ever I suppose. Seriously, there were no premeditated plans of finding a seasonal selection, not to mention one that tests your gagging reflex for being hip or highbrow. Quite simply, trolling through the H’s looking for my Homesick James 7′s, it was impossible not to stop off in the Lightnin’ Hopkins section.
There’s something so magnetic about this single. I clearly recall it being a summertime acquisition yet the record defies seasonality. Despite what those more knowledgable than myself might insist his best releases to be, ‘Santa’ b/w ‘Black Mare Trot’ hands down, makes for my very favorite Lightnin’ Hopkins 7″, and mind you, I have several.
So subtle and so pristine, ‘Black Mare Trot’ incorporates his beautiful signature fingerstyle playing.
This double sider was the first Lightnin’ Hopkins single I ever owned, or heard, for that matter. Part of a 10 for $1 shrink rapped box that was commonly sold in discount department stores circa the late 60′s. In this particular instance, Woolworth’s Oneida, New York being the location. That shop was always a goldmine for just these type of dream come trues.
With a name like The Honeybus, you were asking to be overlooked in America. That is unless an Anglophile was in earshot. Then: instant magnet. Funny about that. What exactly is this language that we all understand? Must be in the DNA.
What a job finding ‘I Can’t Let Maggie Go’, their first US single here at home. Finally begged one out of Deram’s New York office – after a few hand written pleads. Oddly enough, the record was their third release in the UK, but first to chart (#8, March ’68), apparently mustering up enough reason to schedule ‘I Can’t Let Maggie Go’ in the States.
Despite every single being a classic, seems they were too English even for the English themselves, as is quite apparent with fifth single, ‘She Sold Blackpool Rock’, which didn’t chart, nor get a US release. Nonetheless, legendary status.
I wasn’t aware they’d even made a single for Bell in ’71. Only when trolling through the stalls at Cheapo Cheapo on Rupert Street (famous for being the place all the radio DJ’s, pluggers and journalists unloaded their promos for cash) during the summer of ’73 did I stumble upon ‘She Is The Female To My Soul’. The very hot July sun didn’t prevent me from breaking out in a cold sweat, frozen in place on initial glance. Could not get back to the apartment fast enough for a listen. Wow, this sounded fantastic. Vocalist/writer Pete Dello has an immaculate fullness to his voice, and his melodies are….more Ray Davies than the man himself.
Within days of discovering ‘She Is The Female To My Soul’, Radio 1 played a brand new Honeybus release ‘For You’. I remember vividly lying in the grass at Regents Park, ever so quietly listening to BBC 1, when boom.
At the time, radios were not allowed in the Queen’s Park, specifically an oasis of serenity for city dwellers. One needed to lie on the radio with a jacket draped over all corners, a sort of fake pillow – and play music at very low volume. I certainly was not ready for Honeybus shock number two. Despite having a meticulous fact soaking sponge brain when it came to records, and combing through Melody Maker / Disc & Music Echo / NME religiously on a weekly basis, I hadn’t noticed any mention of a new Honeybus single. In fact, there was no indication from the press that the band still existed at all.
Hearing ‘For You’ that first time was a religious experience. I jumped up, and bolted along Great Portland Street crossing Oxford, making my way down Berwick and over to Rupert, knowing a fresh review copy had to be at Cheapo Cheapo. I must have been pushing people aside en route. Honestly, I was in a state. Lo and behold my day, my week, my summer was made. There it was, literally front single in the ‘New Arrivals’ row. ‘For You’ was waiting for me, seriously, we were meant to spend our lives together.
Years later, the continually popular ‘I Can’t Let Maggie Go’ was reissued by Deram’s parent company Decca. This pressing introduced a previously unissued song on it’s B side, ‘Julie In My Heart’, a track worthy of A side status well before hundreds and hundreds of others allocated to such a position. Where is Pete Dello now – where has he been for so many years? Hey MOJO, how about honoring him at one of your yearly do’s?
Their very first single was released as far back as ’68, but not until they were taken on by the songwriting/production team of Chapman/Chinn in the early 70′s, did they succeed. Their infamous Glam rock hit streak began in ’71 and lasted thru ’75. At that point, they sadly curbed the stacked heels and glitter outfits to become a straight ahead AOR rock band.
Somewhere in there, ’73 actually, The Sweet released ‘Blockbuster’. This was at the height of Glam in the UK. Along with Slade, Wizzard, Sparks, T. Rex and David Bowie, they basically slipped into and out of the top chart slots regularly.
I lived in London at the time, and must have played ‘Blockbuster’ a thousand times on my suitcase record player, yet never ever did I tire of it. The single got new life in the 90′s, when the video series GLAM ROCK was released. One of their many Top Of The Pops performances was included. I watched it over and over and over and over and over again.
Last night, I was awoken by a pretty fierce thunderstorm. I was weired out, but got up, got dressed and went out to watch. Having visited Collinwood, Maine earlier in the day, specifically to check out the town where the DARK SHADOWS TV series was based in. Some say vampire Barnabas Collins really existed and I, like many, was addicted to the program in a serious way and so it truly felt the spirits were messing with me. Being alone in our house, other than Corinne out dead cold, I was very creeped out. Truly scared to be honest. Never saw lightning hit the ocean like that in my life. I felt like the DARK SHADOWS spirits were warning me to stay put in my own pathetic world, and not to mess with them.
Dear spirits. I will behave and never return.
Once the storm and the ocean calmed, I was back to normal. Went to YouTube and before long, I was in a Glam rock loop I couldn’t shake until about 5:30 am. I found a TOTP Sweet clip, obviously from a different broadcast than the aforementioned one used for the comp. It’s even better:
Somehow, thank you God, The Sweet visited upsate New York, opening for, I think Eric Carmen. Some hairdo there Eric, a frosted bouffant, or hair don’t in hindsight.
Typically when any of the coined Glam bands (Sparks, Wizzard, Slade) braved their music and outfits into the smaller towns of the US, there were few, if any, comforting ports in the anti-androgyny storm as far as people went. So when a bunch of us showed up early, it was well easy to befriend the band, thereby ultimately being invited to share in the after show mayhem bigtime. Not that surprising….we had the party favors.
But we did genuinely love The Sweet. Everyone in the band were super warm. Great guys.
Many years later, I picked up the soundtrack to DAZED AND CONFUSED for my label, only because The Sweet (‘Fox On The Run’) were included. I wasn’t particularly fond of the other songs, in fact, I’ve never listened to the cd ever. On a whim, I figured it would be kind of great having The Sweet in the catalog, thereby negotiating a criminally low advance in my favor, given the film company’s planned and verbally agreed original soundtrack release partner, MCA, had bailed. Hence the desperate film division took the offer. The soundtrack has now sold 2 million copies to date and it’s all basically due to my loyalty toward The Sweet.
Just one of those moments in time – a song that basically came and went. Then one day recently, it got into my brain and I realized I hadn’t heard it for eons. It sounded pretty great. Even though the singer and general lineup may have taken them down the Blood Sweat & Tears road, fate had a different plan. Not only did the next two singles barely scrap The Hot 100 ( ‘The Teaser’ #83 and ‘Drive My Car’ #93), the singer Walter Scott was murdered by his wife’s lover. I’m sure, much to her surprise, she was next, proceeding to bury them under the cement in his back patio. Some of this is fairly well documented, but interestingly, last night, Matt & Kim played OFF BROADWAY in St . Louis. And I got into a fascinating conversation with the club’s owner. Turns out Bob Kuban & The In-Men were a local band, and he informed me of the above gory details. Some of them, although possibly local legend, are just too gory to share. But enough said.
The record, seldom heard these days (good old, very old, American programmers hard at work putting themselves out of jobs – note WBCN in Boston), was a big hit, reaching #12 in ’66 and sounded wonderful on the radio, it’s blaring mono-ness complimenting the British Invasion dominance quite tolerably. Lyrically, alarmingly, and certainly unknowingly, predicting the future.
I wonder if First Choice contributed to the early days of disco. Could be for all I know. This seems to have the feel, and given it’s from ’73, I guess it predates the genre. Mind you, this is from someone who did not enjoy the sound – and has never warmed up to it, hence has not a clue about disco’s origins. All I know is this is a great single.
‘Smarty Pants’ is a sentimental recollection of my first UK visit that summer, a soundtrack to trolling through the used record stalls on a daily basis. If you’ve been reading this blog, you are probably sick of me talking about it. But it was such a great time for singles and so many were played on English radio – flood gates were opening on my ears. This reeks of the Shepherd’s Bush Market on any given day. And I mean that in a good way.