Archive for the ‘Ascot’ Category

The Graham Bond Organization

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Listen: St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization
St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization

Around ’65/’66, The Graham Bond Organization were a most evil sounding jazz/blues mixture, not only as a band, but compared to any other group during the period. Their two albums, including the Jack Bruce / Ginger Baker / Dick Heckstall-Smith lineup, were released by Columbia UK but remained unissued in the US. In fact the only American release ever from this line-up and The Graham Bond Organization in general was this lone 7″ on Ascot, both sides from that Columbia UK period. The much covered ‘St. James Infirmary’, a single only A side in the UK from early ’66, likewise took on the A side position in the US.

This American folk song of anonymous origin dates back to early 1900 and has taken on many interpretations, one of which claims the song to be written about St. James Hospital in London, which was used to treat leprosy.

Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday, Bobby Hackett, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, Bobby Blue Bland, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Doc Watson, Janis Joplin and The White Stripes are amongst those who have recorded the track. Yet it’s this one that competes neck in neck with the Cops ‘N Robbers version as my personal favorite.

The soon-to-be direction John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Dick Heckstall-Smith would assume on BAREWIRES can be heard here.

Listen: Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization
Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization

‘Wade In The Water’, the band’s first A side single for Columbia UK was also included on their debut album, THE SOUND OF ’65. Here in the US, it was coupled, to complete this lone US single, as B side. I’m guessing Ascot Records had released it, with an option for an album, should they get any traction.

At the time, the label was having great success via Manfred Mann, during their initial RnB influenced period with Paul Jones as lead vocalist. They were also a Columbia UK act, and Ascot was releasing other singles from that label’s catalog, including those by Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, The Force Five and Madeline Bell.

The smooth mod rendition of ‘Wade In The Water’ from The Ramsey Lewis Trio stole all the airplay that same year, but this jazz leaning, late night version clearly counter balanced a then ubiquitous song that seemed insatiable to just about everyone in some form or another.

Manfred Mann

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

If You Gotta Go, Go Now / Manfred Mann

Listen: If You Gotta Go, Go Now / Manfred Mann

Manfred Mann may have been the first rock band to successfully lose a lead singer, yet bounce back as popular as ever. Not once but twice. Therefore, there are several Manfred Mann lineups to write about. This was the first. Lead vocalist, Paul Jones, was from the blues blueprint prevalent at the time. His authenticity rings true to this day, as he still hosts one of the most popular and longest running BBC Radio 2 shows……about the blues.

This lineup released many greats. Despite ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ and ‘Sha La La’ being huge in ’64 – ’65, dependably wretched American radio just stopped playing their followups. It wasn’t possible to these ears that ‘If You Gotta Go, Go Now’ didn’t get traction in the States. Luckily, there were pockets of radio loyalty, and my hometown was one.

She Needs Company / Manfred Mann

Listen: She Needs Company / Manfred Mann

Wolf All American Survey 5-7-66

The very, very underplayed ‘She Needs Company’ was Top 5 on WOLF, see chart above. I foolishly passed up buying the only stock copy I’d ever seen at W.T. Grants on Salina Street for The Swinging Blue Jeans ‘Don’t Make Me Over’. Well, foolish is an unfair word given that record is life support necessary as well, it’s just a bit easier to find than a stock ‘She Needs Company’, which is plain and simple pretty impossible.

Thank God I had a few promo copies, as it took me until 2011 to find an elusive Manfred Mann stock.

Pretty Flamingo / Manfred Mann

Listen: Pretty Flamingo / Manfred Mann

Some airplay reprieve was granted Manfred Mann as ‘Pretty Flamingo’ did well during the summer of ’66. I always thought it sounded better than just about any other record current at the time, so its BILLBOARD peak of #29 was rather unsatisfying. To Manfred Mann, on behalf of all the deaf programmers during the period, I apologize.

On a side note, check out the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. It’s a website that has attempted to gather and document charts positions from many local stations in the 60′s. It’s easy to use and unfortunately horribly addicting.

The Easybeats

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Listen: Make You Feel Alright (Women) / The Easybeats
Make You Feel Alright (Women) / The Easybeats

Having signed a then lucrative five year deal with United Artists for territories outside of homeland Australia in early ’66, part of the plan to launch The Easybeats in the US, I’m guessing, was to immediately release their biggest hit, ‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’, while new material was being recorded. As a result, in early Spring, UA’s subsidiary label, Ascot, coupled the band’s first #1 at home with another Australian A side ‘In My Book’, and housed the single in a now very scarce picture sleeve.

Some of the Boston stations, like WBZ charted it, but nationally, not much transpired. Except as luck would have it, at WOLF in Syracuse, the hometown life changing Top 40 station forever glued to my ear as a kid. Spring ’66 found this youngster, who should’ve been knee deep in coloring books, instead becoming a fan of The Easybeats, amongst many.

‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’ reminded me of The Pretty Things ‘Big City’, both depending on bar chords sliding around way up high on the guitar neck, a style and sonic I found ridiculously addictive. The Pretty Things performed ‘Big City’ that way on SHINDIG, and I forever recognized the technique introduced to me by their guitarist Dick Taylor, while sitting about 2 feet from the black and white TV screen.

Have a look at the May ’66 WOLF chart below, and you’ll begin to make sense of how great records like ‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’ took over my life.

WOLF Charts May 7, 1966

The Graham Bond Organization

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Listen: Long Tall Shorty / The Graham Bond Organization
Long Tall Shorty / The Graham Bond Organization

Okay, I have a thing for The Graham Bond Organization. From three thousand miles away, they seemed the underdog’s underdog. Attached to the Flamingo/Marquee/Soho nightlife sleaze fueled by American blues and black music makes only for a romantic validation. Rubbing shoulders and sharing stages with Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Peter B’s Looners and Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band has me, many times, starring into space wishing I could turn back time.

Nice thing about this bunch, they always looks dirty, miserable and most capable of genuinely playing earthy RnB.

I had wanted a demo copy, well actually any copy, of ‘Long Tall Shorty’ for decades. Four going on five to be exact. Just last week, my luck changed. I scored the first one to pop up on eBay for ages. Man, does it sound spectacular, almost worth the wait and certainly worth every penny.

Listen: Long Legged Baby / The Graham Bond Organization
Long Legged Baby / The Graham Bond Organization

Having lived life without this record until now meant deprivation of it’s B side. I have many, basically all the remaining 7′s by the band, and this, given the authenticity of ‘Long Legged Baby’, now equals their US only Ascot single ‘St. James Infirmary’, posted elsewhere on SMRSLT, as tied for being their best.

The grime of late, late night smokey smelly 60′s London, devoid of 24 hour food options, convenient public transport and particularly omissions control standards, is wonderfully captured here, at least how I fantasize it to have been.

The Crocheted Doughnut Ring / The Force Five

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

crotchedhavanauka, Crocheted Doughnut Ring, Deram, Ascot, Force Five

Listen: Havana Anna / The Crocheted Doughnut Ring CrotchedHavanaUKA.mp3

crotchedhappyukb, Crocheted Doughnut Ring, Deram, Ascot, Force Five

Listen: Happy Castle / The Crocheted Doughnut Ring CrotchedHappyCastle.mp3

Sometimes the great thing about a truly obscure band, one where none of the members went on to bigger fame and success, is just that. You get to keep them as a limited edition, private pleasure. Having changed their name and label in ’67 to fit in with the currant craze, psychedelia, I’m glad to report – or sadly for the fellows I suppose – they kept their obscurity intact despite a nice production from Peter Eden. Sounding similar to Decca’s Toby Twirl (that’s a good thing), they’re honorary members of CHOCOLATE SOUP type collections these days.

forcefiveusa, Crocheted Doughnut Ring, Deram, Ascot, Force Five

Listen: Gee Too Tiger / The Force Five ForceFiveGeeToo.mp3

Before their new found sound, label and name, most of them soldiered forward initially as The Force Five, recording five echo drenched RnB styled singles, this one actually getting a US release. A must for every decent collection, it clearly had high hopes of sitting beside singles from The Yardbirds and The Pretty Things, I’m guessing.