Archive for the ‘Wizzard’ Category

The Move

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Night Of Fear / The Move

Listen: Night Of Fear / The Move

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.

Acid Gallery / The Outer Limits / Roy Wood

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Dance Round The Maypole / Acid Gallery

Listen: Dance Round The Maypole / Acid Gallery

It was December 2000, and I was stranded in England for a few days of Sony meetings. Actually, I was jamming to get home on the Friday, when early that morning I got a call from Will Botwin, then president at Columbia, asking very nicely if I could stay through Monday night for an Emiliana Torrini showcase. Will was always the greatest guy, awesome boss. How do you say no? I mean, he could have just told me I needed to do it. Period. But it was never his way.

So I suddenly found myself with three full days/nights on my hands. Reading the latest MOJO on the flight over, I was annoyed to be missing The Roy Wood Christmas Extravaganza Tour. I should have juggled the trip to take it in but by then it was too late. Now that I was there for a few days extra, I rechecked his schedule.

Sure enough, that evening Roy Wood was a couple hours away, in Wolverhampton. Jackie Hyde in the touring/artist relations department at Sony got me tickets and passes God love her. And I was on the 6 pm train heading north I think, alone. No one was interested in joining me. Grass is always greener.

I get there around 8, and decided to try speaking with Roy Wood. The band/crew etc are all around and tell me Roy has gone down the road to the pub. Ok. I wander off down the wet, deserted streets and find said establishment. Walk in, there propped up against the bar is a lone Roy Wood, nursing a pint. I proceed over, and no problem, he’s as friendly as I’d hoped. All talk about the past welcomed. Really fun guy.

I was always curious about the Acid Gallery single. He wrote and produced it, but it sure did sound like The Move to me. Was it? He confirmed his participation but no, it wasn’t The Move. Instead it was “some guys who were on Deram back then, name escapes me”.

Well was it The Syn, or The Eyes Of Blue, um, Tintern Abbey?

“No, these guys had a hit a few years later with ‘Yellow River’ “.

Bingo: The Outer Limits.

“That’s them” he confirms.

Just One More Chance / The Outer Limits

Listen: Just One More Chance / The Outer Limits

Actually The Outer Limits changed their name to Christie and had that smash with ‘Yellow River’. Main writer in both bands was Jeff Christie and he’d originally written ‘Yellow River’ for The Tremeloes but decided to record it himself after they dragged their feet. The rest is history, I guess. I loved that Outer Limits single, ‘Just One More Chance’ at the time, summer ’67.

Great Train Robbery / The Outer Limits

Listen: Great Train Robbery / The Outer Limits

But the follow up, ‘Great Train Robbery’, holy whatever, talk about British sounding. And on Immediate’s subsidiary imprint, Instant. Even better. Now why Immediate needed another in house label is pretty funny actually. Still very nice label and stock sleeve from Andrew Loog Oldham.

The Roy Wood Christmas Extravaganza was a total treat that night. Twelve piece, all female band. Sounding full scale, Phil Spector live. Reproducing all those Wizzard hits flawlessly. Roy dressed in black teddy boy jacket, purple lapels, purple streaks in the infamous hair and a lavender Strat. Once a star, always a star.

The finales, ‘Blackberry Way’ and ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ being sung along loudly by a full theater audience with fake snow falling on the stage, well it doesn’t get much better.

One last closing bit to the Roy Wood pub conversation:

Will you fill out my juke box tab?

“Sure. No problem”.

The Move Blackberry Way Jukebox Tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Roy Wood

Roy Wood’s Helicopters

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Listen: Green Glass Windows / Roy Wood’s Helicopters

Okay, I’d agree, there were some patches there when Roy Wood lost his way fashion-wise. Maybe this was one (’81). Unlike his early days with The Move and their pastel colored suits or his inventing multi colored hair decades before the rest of the world caught up (’73) in Wizzard, the short lived Roy Wood’s Helicopters were visually very out of step. And most likely, musically as well.

But to the Roy Wood addict, he could, can, nor ever will, do any wrong. All is forgiven, especially when he kept and keeps churning out dependable singles like ‘Green Glass Windows’.

I don’t recall any love or hate, even indifference to this one when issued. Well, that’s not true. Roy Wood was beginning to ascend the legend curve around this time. Regardless of current trend, he was respected and if you didn’t love his output, seemed most people just kept it to themselves.

Roger and I played this on our Import/Export show for a few months straight. I bet we were the only DJ’s on any major commercial US rock station to do so. We may have been the only guys in all of America to play ‘Green Glass Windows’ ever, bar possibly Rodney Bingenheimer.

Largely forgotten and under appreciated, this is one of Roy Wood’s greats. Fact.

Steeleye Span

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Listen: Hard Times Of Old England / Steeleye Span

I can completely understand why some folks found Maddy Prior’s voice grating. Never really noticed until now, all these years later. Sometimes I’m clearly asleep at the wheel. For instance, during the commercial heyday of southern rock, I couldn’t for the life of me get why the US was not into Roy Wood’s Wizzard or Sparks. So there you go.

Folk rock, as with jazz, seems allowed to deal themselves the occasional out of jail free card. In the case of a voice, there are plenty of folkies who get appreciated, where in any other genre, that same person would be considered unacceptable. The Incredible String Band or The Pentangle’s Jacqui McShee come to mind.

Whatever. ‘Hard Times Of Old England’ was a big favorite when current. I played the hell out of it on my college station, not exactly a fit in upsate New York.

Although the single was not a UK chart success, unlike some of Steeleye Span’s other releases, one would have thought it might turn into an anthem, ever present on pub jukeboxes across the land. A bit like The Strawbs‘ ‘Part Of The Union’.

The record certainly got embraced by the BBC heavily, the public just didn’t buy it.

Ike Turner

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Listen: Right On / Ike Turner

Lux and Ivy once pulled me aside in Toronto’s Kop’s Collectibles while we were shopping for 45′s just after doing a MUCH MUSIC interview. In deadpan seriousness, Ivy handed me an Ike Turner single proclaiming if I did not own it, I needed it. “He’s incredible, like seriously incredible.”

“Forget all that whoee about his domestic life, the records, just get ‘em all”, Lux in an almost scolding tone.

I have obeyed, and as an email I recently got specific to my several posts on this blog conveyed, you can never have enough Ike & Tina Turner.

‘Right On’ came out as a 7″ back when I was a college rep for United Artists, desperately interested in The Move, Wizzard, The Bonzo Dog Band and Family from their current roster, but also into the occasional Blue Note (who they distributed) funk-jazz release and any Monk Higgins or Bobby Womack single.

How I missed, misplaced or failed to pay attention to ‘Right On’ is a scary blank in my memory. It’s so good, so racey, so unforgettable. What the fuck happened? Did I black out for three months or something? Well, I’ll never know. But as I lie here in bed, with it on repeat and type this post, I can tell you one thing. At this very moment, it’s my favorite record in the whole wide world.

These lyrics are hysterical. Listen to every one. It may take a few plays, and I suggest headphones, but you’ll pick them up. Ike’s delivery will get in your face, maybe even scare you a bit, his voice is that alive. Wow.

Last week, while out on the Matt & Kim / blink-182 tour, we had a day off in Pittsburgh. Typically, they hit the Warhol museum, I think the crew went to a sporting event of some stadium sort, and I hit today’s version of the yellow pages, Google, looking for used 45′s. First thing that comes up: Jerry’s Records.

I rang to ask, did they have 45′s from the 50′s and 60′s. It was Jerry who answered.

Affirmative. “About 700,000.”

Hmm, ok, sounds like a bit of a stretch, but certainly more than a few boxes, and it was close, four miles. What the heck.

Lord have mercy. This was the most jaw dropping, overwhelming record store I can recall being in, maybe ever. If you visit, and you seriously must, be ready. What you see pictured above is one row from the $3 section of 45′s, then a few of those rows representing around one third of that total $3 section. Plus there’s the $7 section, the new arrivals and the $100+ locked room, none of those even pictured here. In total, they all take up maybe one quarter, tops, of the entire shop. The rest is albums. The walls are lined with memorabilia and every space is crammed with old displays and trade ads and, and, and……

I stood there frozen, body and brain. Couldn’t think of one single I needed for like five minutes. It was that powerful. But once I got going….forget it.

Promise yourself you will visit, and don’t plan on doing it in just one day. Maybe bring a stretcher. You might need to leave on it.

Like ‘Right On’, which I purchased at Jerry’s, I’d somehow never heard of either.

Aren’t records the greatest! There are so many, you never run out of the need to keep looking.


Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Listen: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday / Wizzard

Pay attention. This might get complicated.

A famous writer once told me Roy Wood’s songs were never about topics that the critics and public assumed. For example, at the height of LSD psychedelia, we’re talking summer ’67, ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’, recorded by his band The Move, was indeed based on a children’s fantasy story, not drugs. This particular detail, in fact, from Roy Wood himself. Apparently, he never did drugs.

So it’s an interesting theory that ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ was indeed not a seasonal song at all, but instead about one’s beloved coke dealer. Pay close attention to the lyrics: “When the snowman brings the snow…”, etc. Quite a hilarious double entendre indeed.

More interesting to myself though are the details about this single’s actual appearance into the UK marketplace.

Roy Wood and his band, Wizzard, were red hot property in ’72. And after two consecutive #1 singles, the first, ‘See My Baby Jive’ reportedly being one of the all time biggest selling UK singles, at least for a while, he could basically write his own ticket.

Possibly resulting from both bad judgement and advice, Roy Wood prematurely signed to Warner Brothers after a very successful run with the EMI group’s various labels, and planned on releasing ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ via his new label home. Warners even pressed up copies, complete with an elaborate picture cover, the front of which is pictured above. In actuality, the sleeve was a gatefold, and an absolute beauty.

Someone, somewhere put a halt, I’m guessing by pointing out that EMI’s Harvest label indeed still had the rights to his output, and so the Warner Brothers copies were withdrawn, subsequently never to be seen again. Well until now, above.

The existing sleeves, however, now housed the Harvest pressing, without the bother of even stickering over the Warner Brothers catalog number. And why not? The record still barreled to a UK #4 in ’73. A true work of genius, right down to the children’s choir, possibly signing about the joys of cocaine. How funny if indeed this were fact, but given Roy Wood’s public aversion to drug use, probably not the case.

To slightly complicate these details and unfortunately ruffle some hard core collector’s coloured feathers, Roy Wood’s US label at the time, United Artists, basically chickened out on giving ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ a proper release, so instead pressed up weird bootleg looking copies, servicing them to radio.

Huh? Is this a way to make stations feel a commitment to your act? Stupidity of the highest degree, but as a result, adding incredible value to the handful of copies in existence. Thank you Rich Fazekas for mine.

Two years ago, I was in a Bed, Bath & Beyond, scouring some last minute gifts for obligatory friends, when what came over the store sound system? ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’. Only took thirty five years.

More importantly, a classic song is forever just that, a classic. Roy Wood has been recognized as a living Beethoven, and I am front of the line in agreeing.

‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ has re-charted in the UK many times during the holidays: ’81, ’84, ’07, ’08, ’09 and ’10. I’m betting on ’11 to repeat that process.


Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Listen: Are You Ready To Rock / Wizzard
Are You Ready To Rock / Wizzard

My guess is when you can play every instrument under the sun, most get boring. Combine that with the option your competitors don’t have: the ability to pull a real musical curveball out of your hat, and you’ve unexpectedly just described Roy Wood.

Not totally mind you. Don’t forget that Roy Wood could write hooks and choruses seemingly in his sleep, and decorate the whole thing with an over the top visual to match the over the top audio.

So was the case with his band Wizzard. Not content with having masterminded The Move in ’66, then The Electric Light Orchestra in ’70, Roy Wood outglammed glam via Wizzard in ’72.

Yes, the rainbow haired frontman whipped up a rockabilly meets Beach Boys/Neil Sedaka pop stomp recipe with every Wizzard single. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why the US hadn’t come to their senses and jumped on this train back in ’73 and ’74, when ‘Are You Ready To Rock’ continued a by then, British chart Top Ten onslaught, this one peaking at #8. Really tried convincing every last person in earshot pay attention to this UK national treasure but to no avail.

In hindsight, I understand. The American consumer’s musical tastes were sterilized by lazy, laid back radio programmers, all leaning to southern boogie noodle doodle or California soft rock to fill their playlists, and the future WalMart shoppers were no brighter then than now, hence limping along behind like injured lemmings.

A true multi decade damaging setback for our country. They were not ready to rock, and certainly not to bagpipes.

Country Gazette

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Listen: Teach Your Children / Country Gazette CountryGazetteTeachYourChildren.mp3

Graham Nash seems a good egg. Having written so many great songs, his patience with Crosby, Stills & Nash must be admired. Unlike The Hollies or he as a solo artist, that band just never seemed to breathe life into any of his compositions. I didn’t pay them a lot of attention mind you, and only when it was a Graham Nash song did Crosby, Stills & Nash seem to catch my ear.

How glad was I to finally find an inspired version of ‘Teach Your Children’ in a pile of A labels, saved so generously for me by my pal Graham Stapleton in London. Check out our history elsewhere on the blog.

Even before giving it a spin, hopes were high. Jim Dickson had produced. His many recordings with The Byrds, he demoed and managed their original lineup, were always powerful.

When Country Gazette were current, and releasing records on United Artists, yours truly was the label’s New York State college rep, having gained notice from Rich Fazekas. Basically UA, as we all called them, were the US outlet for a few of my top favorites from the period: Roy Wood via his various releases with The Move, Wizzard and solo; plus Family. Racing their singles and albums to the top of our college station’s playlist alerted the UA home office. Fandom expanded to business relationship. Exactly what going to college is really all about, making connections for the real world.

Once firmly in place as the UA college rep with a trunk full of promos, I blindly championed the aforementioned English acts, while unfair lack of attention was bestowed on the Blue Note catalog and various Nashville leaning artists like Townes Van Zandt and Country Gazette. Big regret. Apologies.

Luckily, the ‘unable to throw anything away’ gene meant I saved a copy of every last record I was supposed to promote, and can now repent for my sins by finally trying to spread the word about Country Gazette, even if Graham Stapleton hadn’t saved me this 7″.


Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Blockbuster / The Sweet

Listen: Blockbuster / The Sweet

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:

Listen: Fox On The Run / The Sweet

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.

Mott The Hoople

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Honaloochie Boogie / Mott The Hoople

Honaloochie Boogie / Mott The Hoople

Listen: Honaloochie Boogie / Mott The Hoople MottHonaloochieBoogie.mp3

‘Honaloochie Boogie’ was the first record I heard upon arriving in London, June ’73. My Aunt Tess collected me at Heathrow, we went back to hers, where she prepared me a traditional English fry-up, and then went to meet Uncle Mick at the pub. It was playing when we walked in. I was more excited about racing toward the jukebox than catching up with my relatives. Very wrong.

I knew of the single, it was one of many I planned to hear/acquire while there. Things were off to a great start.

Prior, I had really tried to love Mott The Hoople. Those four albums on Atlantic (Island in the UK) were a bit of a struggle for me – they just felt a little prog rock bloated. My roomates loved BRAIN CAPERS, and so did I. Well liked, not loved, that is. Suddenly the stars lined up for Mott and they were working with David Bowie. New sound and new label (CBS). They segued onto the glam bandwagon pretty seamlessly, no easy feat considering they weren’t young or thin or androgynous. Overend Watts, like Chris Squire from Yes, always looked pathetic in crotch high silver platforms and pastel colors. Plus ‘All The Young Dudes’ was, let’s face it, all about Bowie. Most importantly, they were now making singles.

The initial one from the second album, first post Bowie, was this. And it ignited a run of strong, quite fantastic records to follow: ‘Roll Away The Stone’, ‘The Golden Age Of Rock ‘n Roll’, ‘All The Way To Memphis’ to be exact. I guess ‘Honaloochie Boogie’ is the least heard and appreciated. Maybe it was the moment for me – not sure. I can tell you this, along with Wizzard ‘See My Baby Jive’, Thin Lizzy ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ and at least one Slade single, it was on every jukebox in every pub in London that summer.

I had finally arrived in my natural habitat.


Friday, December 25th, 2009

WizzardJiveUKA, Wizzard, Roy Wood, Harvest, United Artists
WizzardJiveUSA, Wizzard, Roy Wood, Harvest, United Artists, The Move

Listen: See My Baby Jive / Wizzard WizzardJive.mp3

This isn’t the first time SMRSLT has celebrated Roy Wood’s mere presence on this earth. Thankfully, he was awarded an honorary doctorate for his contribution to music by the University of Derby as recently as January 18, 2008. After all, the guy mastered guitar, bass, sitar, cello, double bass, saxophone, clarinet, trombone, tuba, recorders, oboe, French horn, banjo, mandolin, bassoon, drums, percussion, vibraphone, bagpipes and keyboards. And as a songwriter, well he’s an international treasure.

As much as The Move played a vital building block in my musical preferences, Wizzard contributed equally. For one thing, I’d finally gotten the 50′s RnR humor that had before passed me by. In the looks department, I was crazy about his multi-colored hair extravagance that, during the height of Glam in ’73, seemed commonplace. Luckily, when I landed in London that June, ‘See My Baby Jive’ was everywhere, on every pub jukebox, on every radio station.

WizzardAngel, Wizzard, Warner Brothers, Roy Wood, Harvest, United Artists, The Move

Listen: Angel Fingers / Wizzard WizzardAngel.mp3

‘Angel Fingers’ raced to #1 that fall, and if you can believe it, I loved it even more. I could never understand why no one in the US cared about Wizzard. How could anyone seriously prefer The Marshall Tucker Band or Wet Willie (yes, ‘Keep On Smilin’ is great) to this bunch? Still baffling.

WizzardChristmasWB, Wizzard, Warner Brothers, Roy Wood, Harvest, United Artists, The Move

WizzardChristmasPS, Wizzard, Warner Brothers, Roy Wood, Harvest, United Artists, The Move

WizzardChristmasUKA, Wizzard, Warner Brothers, Roy Wood, Harvest, United Artists, The Move

Listen: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday / Wizzard WizzardChristmas.mp3

Of equal amazement at the time was the complete US musical disinterest in anything Christmas. Now, from Thanksgiving onward, we’re bombarded with seasonal music. Not so in the 70′s, bar maybe the Brenda Lee classic. Roy Wood had just signed to Warner Brothers, and in their haste, mistakenly pressed copies of what was clearly about to be a seminal record (see above – now how did they get those masters?). Harvest adamantly maintained ownership to ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’, and so (most) of the WB vinyl was scraped, but the sleeves (in possibly the label’s first attempt to be green) were saved and passed on to Harvest, who proceeded to use them for their release despite the Warner Brothers catalog number still present on the packaging.

So some 36 years later, on December 24, 2009, as the single’s yearly re-entry sat at #45 in the UK chart, what do I hear in Bed, Bath & Beyond?: ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’. Finally, and I lived to witness it. Despite my excitement, no one else flinched. Still, a joyous moment.


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

kennyjulieuk, 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
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 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’.

Writing On The Wall

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Man Of Renown / Writing On The Wall

Listen: Man Of Renown / Writing On The Wall WritingOnTheWall.mp3

Two singles in four years. Not a great work ethic. This got a lot of Radio 1 play during summer ’73, for a few weeks that is. I really loved it – sounded so good through the transistor radio in my cousin Diane’s kitchen.

It was a fun summer, trolling the record stalls and stores by day, working at The Marquee by night. I was a regular at One Stop Records on Dean Street. I’d get there by midday to await the arrival of the shipments. Terry and Jeff were Marquee regulars and I’d keep them in pints, so they’d return the favor with… Just to keep it all tidy, as they’d say, I never left the shop without record in bag. This particular one (pictured below) housed the Writing On The Wall single, not only as it traveled from Dean Street to Diane’s place on Clipstone Street with me, but all the way back to America. I just never separated them.

Writing On The Wall played a few times at the club (see both front & back of the July ’73 schedule below that coincidentally has One Stop on the map side), and were particularly nice guys. With just the right mixture of Status Quo, Audience, Blackfoot Sue, Thin Lizzy and Wizzard, they straddled blues boogie and glam well, as evident on ‘Man Of Renown’. I’m guessing not many agreed though. This was a flop, but cult status awaited. I bet they’d have preferred the money.

Marquee Schedule July 73

Marquee Schedule July 73

One Stop Records Bag


Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Christmas On Riverside Drive / Kid Creole & The Coconuts

Listen: Christmas On Riverside Drive / Kid Creole & The Coconuts KidCreoleChristmasOnRiversideDrive.mp3

Christmas in B'Dilli Bay / Kid Creole & The Coconuts

Christmas in B'Dilli Bay / Kid Creole & The Coconuts

Christmas Wrapping / The Waitresses

Listen: Christmas Wrapping / The Waitresses WaitressesChristmasWrapping.mp3

Christmas Wrapping / The Waitresses

I couldn’t resist jumping on the Christmas bandwagon, even as I swore I wouldn’t. I guess I’ve been hearing The Waitresses’ ‘Christmas Wrapping’ so much lately. You’d have thought it was given it’s deserved airings when released in ’81, but that was not the case. Seems it’s just oozed into the mainstream, which is just fine. Flawless song and delivery, and some classic lyrics (“Let’s get this winter over with” comes to mind). Like everyone, I have some real holiday favorites: Wizzard, Brenda Lee, The Ramones, The Phil Spector album and Eartha Kitt’s ‘Santa Baby’, but the one nobody mentions is ‘Christmas On Riverside Drive’. Kid Creole & The Coconuts had a perfect two year run back around ’81/’82. The UK ate them up, several singles bobbing in and out of their Top 40, with side projects selling as well (Coati Mundi/Dr. Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band). The whole living color filled tropical sand and palm trees allure was too much for England not to buy into. The live show back then must have been absolutely perfect for the moment. Their seasonal song is unfortunately way below the radar, but captures the greatness of NYC around the holiday to a T. Both singles are from the Ze release, A CHRISTMAS RECORD.

David Bowie / The Faces

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

London Boys / David Bowie

Listen: The London Boys / David Bowie
London Boys / David Bowie

What can anyone say about David Bowie ‘The London Boys’. It’s damp, cold, eery, but cryptically and wonderfully captures a lot of my London experiences as a kid in ’73: Wardour Street, pills, having no money, living on butter and bread, listen to the lyrics. If we come back in life after death, I would do it all over again, to a T. Read on.

So I decide, upon graduating high school, that instead of going to college, I’m moving to England. Can you believe this? I can’t.

My parents, ever understanding, desperately advised against it. But always supporting me in my ambitious dreams, finally said okay providing I do some college when I return.

My Mom was born in Great Britain, her sister lived in London, so I guess it didn’t seem all that risky at the time. I skipped a grade in high school and was therefore really a baby, boarding a Pan Am flight in early June ’73 with a huge $200 in my pocket. I would never let my kids do this today by the way. My aunt in London had me for a few weeks, then shipped me off to my cousin Diane, who lived, and shockingly still does, on Cleveland Street in London’s west end, Soho, This, as it turned out, was the place to be. Literally 4 blocks down from her council flat (Cleveland Street eventually turns into Wardour Street as it crosses Oxford Street), was the Marquee Club. Without shame or hesitation, I walked into the office midday and asked for a job. And they give me one, shockingly. I now was in charge of collecting the empty pint glasses left all around the club as the bands are playing, an endless cycle. I was a slave but deemed this as the opportunity of life.

I grew up outside of Syracuse, dreaming of the other worldly England, now here I am, working at The Marquee. Holy shit. Is this really happening? No one will believe me back home, or care for that matter.

I got paid one huge great big British pound a night, drank all the beer I could for free and got to see every band playing. All I need do is pick up the glasses. I’ll take it.

This was heaven. My days were spent trolling the used record stalls in Rupert Street, Cheapo Cheapo Records in particular, where Graham Stapleton, a good friend now, who I met decades later by shear crazy coincidence via Jim Lahat, sold all the promo/dj copies that the Radio 1 and Melody Maker staff would unload, for pennies, in an open air market stall. The stuff I got from him then…..forget about it. Crazy. We still exchange records and laugh about those days. Small world indeed.

Then there were the bands that played: Robin Trower, Thin Lizzy, Sparks UK debut with Queen opening (from whom Queen admittedly lifted many of their ideas – why Queen didn’t ask Russell Mael to join the reunion lineup instead of Paul Rodgers is preposterous), Andy Bown, Alex Harvey Band, Sutherland Brothers & Ouiver, Daryl Way’s Wolf, The Spencer Davis Group, Writing On The Wall, Climax Blues Band, Colin Blunstone, Chicken Shack, Bedlam, Wild Turkey, JSD Band, The Marmalade, Caravan, East Of Eden, Byzantium, String Driven Thing, Tempest, Colosseum, Keef Hartley Band – I could go on and on and on. Plus, I had the golden key, I could put people on the guest list.

With hormones raging and so many pretty girls trying to unsuccessfully get to the bands, they’d turn to the staff. I spent many a damp grass night in Soho Square on the green, juggling in hindsight, laughable relationships. And in the process, fell for a Scottish girl, Claire.

Bowie ticket Reading 73

Claire and I became an item and went to loads of shows together (Family, Wizzard, Fairport Convention, The Kinks, Slade, Curved Air) or, didn’t bother to go to some, like the biggest mistake of all times: David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars final show ever – for which I bought a ticket (see scan above) and didn’t use. I know, stupid.

Listen: Pool Hall Richard / The Faces
Pool Hall Richard / Faces

It wasn’t the only ticket I didn’t use. Claire & I went to Scotland the weekend of Reading Festival, for which I had a 3 day, all access pass. Only a few years ago I admitted to myself, I didn’t really like The Faces (who were playing – see scan) because Rod Stewart’s voice irritates me to no end, not to mention his fat bottom half in leopard pants.

Still, their ‘Pool Hall Richard’ single has a groove that’s unmatchable. A beautiful shambles.