Archive for the ‘Unit 4 + 2’ Category

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

DDDBMTZabadakUSA, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Imperial

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

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

In honor of yet another year owning ‘Zabadak’, one of my all time favorite singles by an all time favorite band, I’m continuing my annual tradition of reposting that original entry about the single’s history from December 28, 2008 at SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME.

Footnote: In the original post linked above, I mention the single’s strong airplay at the time. Click here after reading the post to check out some of the US Top 40 stations that played and charted the record. This link organizes the airplay by date, and note there are 6 pages of station listings viewable. See upper right corner to scroll though all 6.

Jon Gunn

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

I Just Made Up My Mind / Jon Gunn

Listen: I Just Made Up My Mind / Jon Gunn
I

No idea how this didn’t become a hit when issued in ’67, or even later given it’s popularity in Northern Soul clubs during the 70′s. As with Ann Mason, I never did find out much about him, except he’s from Lancashire, that’s literally all I know.

Quite frankly, I just figured it was Andy Fairweather-Low under an assumed name at the time. The Decca/Deram label was pulling that on occasion, remember Whistling Jack Smith, actually a roadie for Decca’s Unit 4 + 2.

The Move

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Night Of Fear / The Move

Listen: Night Of Fear / The Move
Night

I think I first noticed The Move in the UK charts section of BILLBOARD. In the 60′s, they used to print Hits Of The World over one page, Top 10′s from all the countries, but always a Top 30 or 50 from the UK. This was of course, during the tail end of the British Invasion, December ’66 to be exact. My local shop, Smith’s Records, in Oneida NY, would save their week old BILLBOARD for me, and on Fridays, when my Mom & Dad would do their shopping, they’d drop me at Smith’s. I’d get to play the new releases in their listening booth and read BILLBOARD at the counter. Basically studying it, especially the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 section. That was always a goldmine for me, ever changing, probably bought mentions by the labels of their new records, all hoping to help them jump into the proper Hot 100 chart. Missing a week meant you might not be aware something was out. Then later, back home with last week’s issue, I’d really comb it over for details.

I still remember seeing ‘Night Of Fear’ by The Move progressing #17 to #2 up that British chart. At this point I had watched it since debuting at #42 the previous week. The Move was simply the best name for a band ever. I needed to hear this group, and see photos, which luckily, I quickly did. Both their sound and look represented the black and white, rainy England that we heard about as kids, an exotic place with the greatest bands, a new perfect one emerging almost weekly.

My loyalty to The Move was blind, only lately can I admit by ’69, they went downhill slowly but steadily, eventually bringing Jeff Lynne in to grind them to a Beatles influenced halt. But their beginning was never to be repeated for me. A week or so later, Dick Clark played the single on his weekly AMERICAN BANDSTAND Rate A Record, two song competition. I have no recollection of the other single played, or which came out on top, but I still have my reel to reel recording of ‘Night Of Fear’ off the TV. I dove for the red record button, mike and recorder permanently positioned by my bedroom TV set. Technically I was a criminal then, that era’s version of file sharing I suppose. I listened to that tape hundreds of times.

You couldn’t buy ‘Night Of Fear’ anywhere. London, Deram’s parent company, clearly wasn’t promoting or payola-ing it at radio and hence the one stops weren’t inclined to stock it. In small town America, the stores all bought from one-stops, so they primarily sold the hits.

It always pissed me off when I’d read in the Melody Maker back then that The Move weren’t big in The States. They weren’t played. Kids here didn’t get to decide.

So my record company letter writing continued. Someone at London in NY had a deal with me, I’d send him $1.50 per record, which was extortion in those days but he’d send whatever I needed. He was basically selling promos through the mail, genius. Worked for both of us. The stuff I bought off this fellow: The Cryin’ Shames, The Attack, The Syn, World Of Oz, The Honeybus, non-hits by Them, The Small Faces, Unit 4 + 2, The Zombies. Even then I knew I should get extras, but I didn’t have the cash. On this particular occasion he sent me the stock copy above of ‘Night Of Fear’, not easily found then or now.

Over the years, I’ve acquired many copies, US and UK. The Dutch picture sleeve above, Roy Wood signed when I got to meet him during Wizzard’s first and only US tour. Then there was the time ten or so years ago, somewhere on Long Island where Duane and I were garage sale-ing very early one Saturday morning. Walking up the driveway I see a pile of singles on a table. The top one is on Deram. Probably White Plains or Procol Harum I think to myself, but it was ‘Night Of Fear’. I froze. I said, “Duane you need to buy this”. I just couldn’t handle the high.

Denny Cordell produced this perfect record. The mp3 post is from my overplayed original $1.50/extortion copy.

The Move 1966

The original lineup of The Move, who played on ‘Night Of Fear’, are pictured above. If there’s a better shot of a band anywhere on earth, go right ahead and send it to me.

The above is a repost, originally from June 8, 2008.

Unit 4 + 2

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Listen: Concrete And Clay / Unit 4 + 2
Concrete

Always loved this band’s name. It pre-dated tags given to electronic music acts by about thirty years or so. As it turned out, their acoustic guitar style had a Flamenco thing about it, I guess. It was a thread pretty common to the majority of Unit 4 + 2′s records, even though as a kid, the wilder, trashier, bluesy guitar stuff appealed the most, especially when maracas were involved.

Anything from Decca UK, and released via their London Records Group in America was moved to the top of my pile though. Even the MOR productions of Tom Jones and The Fortunes were fine by me.

‘Concrete And Clay’ would’ve gone Top 10 here, no doubt, if another competing copy cat version by Eddie Rambeau hadn’t been grabbing airplay and sales simultaneously. So instead of reaching a placing near it’s UK #1 slot, the record topped out at #28 on BILLBOARD, victim to a wank American singer who hadn’t moved on fashion wise since Fabian from about five years earlier.

Nice intro as well, ironically similar to but predating label mates, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Honky Tonk Women’ by about three years.

Listen: (You’ve) Never Been In Love Like This Before / Unit 4 + 2
Unit4+2NeverBeen.mp3

Even more appealing was the followup. ‘(You’ve) Never Been In Love Like This Before’, complete with my favorite, an unnecessary bracket within the title, continued their pattern of re-writing the previous single, as ‘Concrete And Clay’ had done with it’s predecessor, ‘Sorrow And Pain’. This can double as either developing a sound, or becoming a perfect target for hater journalists. Both outcomes are common.

Basically, a stiff, it hovered around the lower reaches of the Top 100 for several weeks, eventually topping out at #93. I can still see that unsold chunk in a W.T. Grants record rack, back when vast areas of department store walls were lined with rows and rows of the latest 45′s. There they sat for weeks, until one day, gone. Well, all but the copy pictured above.

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.

Whistling Jack Smith

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

WhistlingKaiser, Whistling Jack Smith, Billy Moeller, Noel Walker, Ivor Raymonde, Deram

WhistlingKaiserUSA, Unit 4 + 2, Whistling Jack Smith, Billy Moeller, Noel Walker, Ivor Raymonde, Deram

Listen: I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman / Whistling Jack Smith WJSKaiser.mp3

I know exactly what you’re thinking. Why in the hell is he writing about Whistling Jack Smith? Do I really need to bother visiting this blog again?

Well Billy Moeller aka Whistling Jack Smith (brother of Tommy Moeller who’s band, Unit 4 +2, Billy sometimes roadied for) was on Deram. All things cool in ’67 were on Deram, even The Les Reed Orchestra and Chim Kothari were hip by association – not to mention of course The Syn, The Move, Timebox, The Eyes Of Blue, The Crocheted Doughnut Ring, Tintern Abbey, Warm Sounds, The 23rd Turnoff…you get the point. And I was only too pleased that it had become a hit (#20 Billboard) in the States. I wanted Deram to stay in business, so to me this was good. Plus it was downright fun to hear it on the radio. Harmless, laugh along, don’t be so fucking serious music – nothing like droning funeral parlour label mates Procol Harum.

So yes, I liked Whistling Jack Smith.

And they released an album as well. This was crazy fun now.

WhistlingLittleMiss, Unit 4 + 2, Whistling Jack Smith, Billy Moeller, Noel Walker, Ivor Raymonde, Deram

Listen: Hey There Little Miss Mary / Whistling Jack Smith WJSMary.mp3

Next, the followup. Well a growth in sound was clearly in line if the career was to build the way Decca chairman, and apparently iron clad ruler, Sir Edward Lewis must have decided it should, given an LP was approved in short order, when hitmakers The Move or hipsters The Syn were not so fortunate. Within months of the ‘I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman’s spring/summer UK/US run, seems the public was inexplicably not following WJS’s musical moves and ‘Hey There Little Miss Mary’ was ignored by radio, press as well as said consumers – this despite regrouping the original hit making team, writers Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway with arranger Ivor Raymonde and producer extraordinaire (and he seriously did a LOT of great records) Noel Walker (not to be confused with Scott Walker of course).

Uh oh.

WhistlingJaDa, Unit 4 + 2, Whistling Jack Smith, Billy Moeller, Noel Walker, Ivor Raymonde, Deram

Listen: Ja-Da / Whistling Jack Smith WJSJada.mp3

No worries. There is proven truth to the ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ theory- hence back to a hysterically fun, basic re-write of ‘I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman’. ‘Ja-Da’ so ridiculously similar, I’m surprised Cook/Greenaway didn’t chase the publishing. I’m glad I own it though, cause it is both fun and funny to play on occasion.

Again, not a blip, bubble or hint toward potential success. Sir Edward was not about to let this talent just wither on the branch.

WhistlingLarf, Unit 4 + 2, Whistling Jack Smith, Billy Moeller, Noel Walker, Ivor Raymonde, Deram

Listen: Only When I Larf / Whistling Jack Smith WJSLarf.mp3

Then along comes a big break, just what the label needed and was hoping for, a 60′s version of an iPod commercial: the theme to a movie. The potential box office melter ,’Only When I Larf’.

‘Goldfinger’, ‘To Sir With Love’ and ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ move aside.

Instead trip, stumble, fall. A flop.

The writing was on the wall. Poor Billy should have never left the steady work of moving Unit 4 +2′s gear around. Now not only was he finished, they were between third base and home too, so no going back.

Can you imagine how awesome it would be if Whistling Jack Smith’s career had been allowed grow as it deserved to. He would have been at Live Aid, whistled on ‘We Are The World’, been remixed by Moby, collaborated with super talent MIA, not to mention help global leaders talk through their issues, met the Pope and gotten to put on well deserved weight. Yes he could have been Bono, and I don’t mean Sonny.

Except for one other small detail, he never whistled once on his records, instead The Mike Sammes Singers were brought in for the recordings.

Freddy Cannon / Where The Action Is

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

freddycannonaction, Freddy Cannon, Where The Action Is, Dick Clark, American Bandstand

Listen: Where The Action Is / Freddy Cannon FreddyCannonAction.mp3

Let’s face it. The theme song to ABC’s syndicated daily pop show, WHERE THE ACTION IS, titled ‘Action’ by Freddy Cannon, was so good, even The Ramones could have covered it.

I lived for WHERE THE ACTION IS and saw many a great act each day after school. Our local Syracuse affiliate, WSYR-TV, was wishy-washy, and many times pre-empted it with other things. Looking over the complete, chronological list of episodes and guests, I’ve only just discovered missing Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, The Action and Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich for just that reason. Indeed, I’m a bit crushed having now discovered these atrocities. Scumbags.

But seeing an LA centric act almost daily, given they were basically down the street from the studios, must have been daily bliss. To name a few: The Guillteens, The Ikettes with and without Ike & Tina Turner, The Vejtables, The Leaves, The Seeds, Gary & The Hornets, Love, Dino Desi & Billy, The Buffalo Springfield, Jan & Dean.

Not to mention the RnB stuff: Martha & The Vandellas, Doris Troy, The Royalettes, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, The Toys, Maxine Brown, Kim Weston, Carla Thomas, Billy Stewart, Bobby Hebb, Alvin Cash & The Crawlers or Felice Taylor. I still replay The Vibrations doing ‘My Girl Sloopy’ vividly in my memory.

Then there were the black and white segments from England, a real high for we Anglophiles: The Small Faces, Gary Farr & The T-Bones, Them, The Mindbenders, The Zombies, The Moody Blues, The Kinks, Unit 4 + 2, The Who, Wayne Fontana, Marianne Faithfull, The Yardbirds and The Cryin’ Shames.

Unit 4 + 2

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Listen: Baby Never Say Goodbye / Unit 4 + 2
Baby

Talk about a name that sounded relevant 30 years later – this could easily have sat nicely in the 90′s Dance world. Having the privilege of being on the UK Decca/US London roster meant they were on my radar from the get go. Initially burdened by a safe folk, almost Kingston Trio, sound and look, but for their third single, and first hit ‘Concrete And Clay’, the image was suitably scruffed up – most likely due to earning no money and expected to slog round the UK in a damp van with at best a plate of eggs, beans and toast to sustain. They continued releasing similar sounding tracks for a few years. None with the same chart success as that hit, but all sounding pretty similar in a good way. ‘Baby Never Say Goodbye’ was my favorite. By the time of it’s UK issue (Winter ’66), US London had given up on them – as it was the first of their singles not to get a US release. In fact, never again did Unit 4 + 2 manage a record here. Even though they switched to the UK Fontana label and made some pretty impressive psych folk tracks – there was no interest from Fontana US and it was basically a no go in the States.

British Chart 4-26-66

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.