Posts Tagged ‘Joe Meek’

John Leyton

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Listen: Johnny Remember Me / John Leyton
Johnny

Nothing quite like a Geoff Goddard written, Joe Meek produced early 60′s all black and white and damp and drizzly track on a cold November night.

The Cryin’ Shames

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Listen: I Don’t Believe It / The Cryin’ Shames
I

Never knew until recently that The Cryin’ Shames released anything other than their three Joe Meek produced UK Decca / US London singles during ’66 and ’67. “I Don’t Believe It’, from ’73, was a few generations later not only back then but even by today’s standards. My guess is the band’s singer, Charlie Crane, who produced this and is clearly the recording’s lead voice, used his group’s original name to attract even the slightest factor of recognition toward their comeback.

‘I Don’t Believe It’ is actually the record’s flip, and basically somewhat better than it’s topside. The mix could have taken this quite close to Northern Soul territory, but was just too off the mark for that possibility. It kind of approaches sonic disaster if truth be told. No one could miss the cheesy ‘Shaft’ wah-wah’s piercing out too loudly at :58. Simultaneously though, the messy mess has become a main attraction for me. I do love these early 70′s UK assembly line shlock 7′s, the kind issued regularly by British Decca especially. If someone had told me Junior Campbell produced this one in a blindfold test, I wouldn’t have blinked.

But out of jail free cards get issued when Charlie Crane’s involved, whose incredible vocal take immortalized his band’s ’66 version of The Drifters’ RnB hit, ‘Please Stay’ from ’61. Admittedly not achieving anywhere near the shimmer that Joe Meek got in his Holloway Road studio for both The Cryin’ Shames and Charlie Crane, it’s still impossible not to appreciate this guy’s voice.

Kim Wilde

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Listen: Cambodia / Kim Wilde
Cambodia

More Mickie Most productions. Boy, am I late on him. Stupidly never pursued meeting up during all those UK visits, searching for producers and what not. Now looking back, he’s risen to one of my all time favorites in the field.

Predating 21st century programmed/dance/electronic/whatever it’s called Pop, ‘Cambodia’ could have easily been a hit for Abba, or written by them even. No shame here in lifting their successful sound, a normal procedure in the days of Mickie Most’s earlier career timeframe.

Of all Kim Wilde’s hits, both with Mickie Most, ‘Cambodia’ captures the Joe Meek haunt, although probably without any intention. But I hear it loud and clear.

The Buzz

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Listen: You’re Holding Me Down / The Buzz
Buzz.mp3

Basically the remnants of Edinburgh’s mini cult legends The Boston Dexters, once they morphed into The Buzz, ‘You’re Holding Me Down’ became their sole release from ’66, produced by Joe Meek and pre-dating summer of love psychedelia by a year or so. Still, it gets regarded as a most collectable classic from the genre, having recently commanded £305 on eBay. Everything Joe Meek touched became an unforeseen crystal ball gaze into the future, still to this day.

Digging through reviews of the record at the time, some called it frantic, others messy.

Many argue these guys were the same group David Bowie used as his back-up band for a while, billing themselves as, surprise, David Bowie & The Buzz. Not true.

Although, that Buzz did include a guitarist with possibly the best stage name ever, T-cup Taylor.

Justin Hines & The Dominoes

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

JustinHinesCarryUKA, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

JustinHinesCarryUK, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

JustinHinesCarryUS, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

Listen: Carry Go, Bring Come / Justin Hines & The Dominoes
Carry

Back in ’76, when Howard Thompson was still a junior A&R scout at Island UK, we struck up a quick friendship. Well it happened quick but it’s still going today and as strong a friendship as one can have. The first package he sent over, and a big one at that, included the compilation THIS IS REGGAE MUSIC (Volume 3). His accompanying note implored me to listen, citing the ‘almost psychedelic’ nature of the songs and their production. More accurate words have never been written. That sampler changed my life.

I couldn’t get down the phone fast enough to him. The call was quickly followed by a box, a fucking box, jammed with full length LP’s from just about every act on that comp: Aswad, Jah Lion, Burning Spear, Junior Murvin, Max Romeo & The Upsetters and Justin Hines & The Dominoes’ JEZEBEL – plus a slew of 7 and 12″ singles from all the above and more (Lee Perry, Fay Bennett, The Skatalites, Leroy Smart, Rico, Lord Creator, Millie, Dillinger, Augustus Pablo) each with that vital dub B side. A treasure trove if ever, ever, ever there was one. I’ll never forget ripping that one open. Can you imagine how it blew my mind and my friend’s minds too? Well it did.

There were a couple of singles in there from Justin Hines & The Dominoes. A then current reggae remake of his very own decade old Jamaican ska hit (then listed as Justin Hinds & The Dominoes) ‘Carry Go, Bring Come’. This newer version being my preferred choice.

JustinHinesJezebelUKB, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

JustinHinesJezebelUK, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

JustinHinesJezebelUS, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

Listen: Jezebel / Justin Hines & The Dominoes
Jezebel

It’s flip, ‘Jezebel,’ a confusingly titled non-LP track from the JEZEBEL album, stay with me here, is actually a very nice dub of the A side ‘Carry Go, Bring Come’. Give it a listen and see for yourself.

To my knowledge, it’s never appeared on a reissue of any sort.

JustinHinesFireUKA, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

Listen: Fire / Justin Hines & The Dominoes
Fire

‘Fire’ still reminds me vividly of that summer ’76 when Corinne worked the night shift and I had the place to myself, with not a responsibility in the world between semesters but doing a bunch of play whatever you want radio shows. So I’d spend all night spinning records and drinking tea, then sleeping the morning away once she got back home. Ah the joys of being young.

‘Fire’ in particular was the well worn 7″, a perfect song to overlay onto the backdrop of an alarmingly silent city, all asleep, not even a mouse was creeping on the deserted streets – quite eerie. Jack Ruby, the record’s producer, was indeed known for just such a haunting production quality. I still prefer to think of him as Reggae’s Joe Meek. We’d listen to it at least a few times, religiously, every morning before passing out.

JustinHinesNatty, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

Listen: Natty Take Over / Justin Hines & The Dominoes
Natty

There’s not a bad track on that JEZEBEL album, yet there is a favorite: ‘Natty Take Over’. A most obvious A side to me, yet relegated as a B, I was just happy it was on a 7″ at all.

It fit in perfectly with the Island promo shirts announcing these reggae releases. The shirts came in many colors. I preferred the purple one with sky blue lettering that said quite simply, REGGAE on the front, with that palm tree Island logo on it’s sleeve. What better thing to wear almost daily during a nice hot summer. I still have that shirt.

Gus Jenkins

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Listen: Chittlins / Gus Jenkins
Chittlins

Damn, I wish I knew more about Gus Jenkins. I know he recorded as early as ’56, under the name Gus Jinkins, and he’s up there as one of the most mysterious raw blues obscurities around.

Someone at Capitol decided to release ‘Chittlins’ via their newly formed subsidiary, Tower, in late ’64.

The Tower label went on until ’68, amassing a small, but fairly collectable bunch of releases, the most famous of course being all the very early US singles by The Pink Floyd. But there were more, Joe Meek masters by Heinz and Tom Jones, Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville, The Chocolate Watch Band, The Standells…pull up a Tower discography sometime. Nice stuff.

Even on first listen, you’ll agree, a wonderfully noticeable amount of Gus Jenkins’ swagger may have influenced The Cramps just a bit, and even more, The Rolling Stones, sounding not unlike any number of tracks from their first few albums.

According to BILLBOARD’s November 14, 1964 RnB DJ Roundup below, along with Jimmy Reed’s ‘I’m Going Upside Your Head’, Ed Wright at WABO Cleveland was spinning it, Ed Hardy over at KDIA in San Francisco chose ‘Chittlins’ as well as Little Jerry Williams’ ‘I’m The Lover Man’, a filthy sleaze fest of a single, a no fucking around must for every collection. And let’s not forget WYLD’s Ed ‘Screaming’ Teamer in New Orleans, who was not only jamming Gus Jenkins and Little Jerry Williams, but was playing the mad great ‘My Country Sugar Mama’ by Howlin’ Wolf.

Marie Knight

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Listen: Cry Me A River / Marie Knight
Cry Me A River / Marie Knight

Hey thanks Vicki Wickham, for keeping this one since the 60′s. Yes, it was part of her 45 collection that I was gifted by Saint Vicki herself last fall.

You know, I love you Vicki Wickham.

Let’s talk about Vicki Wickham. We first met in ’89, when she managed Phranc during her Island days. I remember exactly where we first shook hands: backstage at the Beacon Theater, in the the very stairway where Ahmet Ertegan took his last spill. Phranc had just hired her, and was at that time on tour with The Pogues.

I was actually meeting thee Vicki Wickham. The one that booked READY! STEADY! GO!, managed Dusty Springfield, co-wrote ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ with Simon Napier-Bell, produced Labelle. The one who not only booked the infamous Saville Theatre series, brought the Motown Review to England, worked at Track Records with The Who, Thunderclap Newman, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Marsha Hunt, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, John’s Children, and yes, The Cherry Smash; but also knew Scott Walker…and Brian Jones. I was nervous and in awe. Vicki Wickham was a higher form of life.

Fast forward. Nowadays, we meet often for lunch, on 9th Ave and 44th Street at Marseilles, possibly her favorite restaurant. She always orders the asparagus omelette and eats about half. I grill her for details: RSG, The BBC during the 60′s, Rediffusion Television, Top Of The Pops not to mention every band and everybody she ever encountered. Did she visit the Immediate Records office, Deram, Philips, Fontana. What was the Ready Steady Go canteen like, did she know Tony Hall, Steve Marriott, Inez Foxx, Joe Meek, Dozy. When did she last speak with Andrew Loog Oldham, P.P. Arnold or Madeline Bell…..we cover, discuss, judge and trash tons of people. Yes, we are guilty. Needless to say, there’s never a loss for topics.

On one such occasion last year, she mentions having just found boxes of 45′s in storage, and the only one she can remember seeing in the whole bunch was the Bessie Banks ‘Go Now’ UK A label pressing. Was I interested in the lot? That’s like asking Alago, Duane, Joe and I if we’d like a free bump in the VIP bathroom at The Ritz in the 80′s. Ahh, yeah.

Vicki, you ARE a saint, and a beloved friend.

And you turned me on to Marie Knight. Praise be.

Tom Jones

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Listen: It’s Not Unusual / Tom Jones
Listen: It's Not Unusual / Tom Jones

Everyone knows Tom Jones. Most don’t know that he began his professional life as the powerful front guy in Tommy Scott & The Senators, from home turf Wales. And during that period, the first person who tried bringing him to the public’s attention was Joe Meek. A few of those early recordings they made together, and I believe there were four, surfaced on Tower Records in the US not long after his initial success on Decca UK and their American outlet, Parrot. Someday soon I’ll post one.

Meanwhile, his first release for Decca, ‘Hide And Seek’, got no traction or attention. Second single ‘It’s Not Unusual’ skyrocketed despite the BBC’s lack of belief and airplay for the record. Massive at the time, and well played on the US oldies stations for decades, it wasn’t until a week back, while waiting for Kim to show up for dinner in the bar of The Lodge, did it suddenly come onto their house system. I figured it was an ipod playlist, but upon inquiring, learned it to be a stream from the Frank Sinatra station on Pandora radio. Wow – this whole Pandora thing is clearly becoming a major factor in the rapid listenership decline of foul US commercial radio, satellite’s Sirius/XM excluded. I’m no doubt one of the last to discover this good Pandora news. But with the onset of the Ford’s Focus’ groundbreaking internet ready technology, the hour glass on snail paced commercial FM programming instincts and decision makers has officially been turned over.

After ‘It’s Not Unusual,’ Decca/Parrot released a handful of singles that dwindled chart wise, all in Tom Jones’ forceful, RnB powerhouse vocal style. When Top 5 results evaded his followup 45′s like ‘With These Hands’, ‘Stop Breaking My Heart’ and ‘Sixteen Tons’, the label heads guided him toward daytime radio ballads. Given his undeniable voice, many of these are essentials in my collection too. ‘Detroit City’ and ‘I’m Coming Home’ of particular note.

What I did realize though, ‘It’s Not Unusual’ seems to have passed beyond that cut off date in the oldies radio world, and now, if played, would be a bit of an oasis, as is, say ‘Lola’, these days. That is, of course, if one is forced to endure your short playlist, local oldies station, religiously puking up the same researched standards. At least that’s the case with the very, very tired WCBS-FM here in New York City. Okay, some greats do get spun, but they’re basically overplayed beyond enjoyment (‘California Girls’, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’, ‘I Got You’, ‘Respect’) and so a nice reminder last week of Tom Jones’ greatness via the Pandora death knell to stations like the aforementioned.

Nero & The Gladiators

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Listen: Entry Of The Gladiators / Nero & The Gladiators
Entry Of The Gladiators / Nero & The Gladiators

The mystique of the early 60′s is impossible to shake. A constant return to it seems my endless circle. Instrumentals were a lot more abundant then, as A side singles that is. Electronic and dance records nowadays don’t count. No one expects them to go Top 40.

I’d always assumed Nero & The Gladiators were produced by Joe Meek. These early 60′s singles don’t even mention producers. In fact, label copy went downhill once more than the producer needed crediting. A nice, minimal information label still looks the best.

Come to find out, Joe Meek only did a non-Nero Gladiators single ‘Tovaritch’, their final release in ’63. It’s the intro on this one, ‘Entry Of The Gladiators’ that led me to assume otherwise.

There’s a lot detail involving this band’s musicians through the years: Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, The Ivy League, The Flowerpot Men. In fact, Mike O’Neill, Nero himself, was an original member of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, playing organ in their initial four piece lineup during Fall ’66.

THE RAN-DELLS

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Martian Hop / The Randells

Listen: Martian Hop / The Ran-dells 01 Martian Hop.mp3

This is a very early memory for me – it was really a kids record yet in ’63 sat nicely with the early surf hits, like ‘Surfin’ USA’, ‘Surf City’ and even ‘Wipe Out’ depsite The Ran-dells hailing from New Jersey. A #16 Billboard Pop single, not so surprising – but also peaking at #27 on the magazine’s Black Music charts more of a shocker.

All my pals loved it. Listening these days, I can’t help notice that electronica moment at 1:27, as well as in the opening bit. Extra-terrestrial sounds were finding their way onto vinyl around this time actually. Joe Meek had just gone #1 globally with The Tornadoes’ ‘Telstar’ as well as releasing the UK EP, I HEAR A NEW WORLD.

The Ramones should have covered this one.

The Cryin’ Shames

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Listen: Please Stay / The Cryin’ Shames
Please Stay / The Cryin' Shames

The Cryin’ Shames ‘Please Stay’ was also from the haul that brought the Marsha Gee record into my collection. Unlike hers, this song I knew about and had a UK copy of. But finding a US pressing was quite an event.

The Drifters had a hit with ‘Please Stay’ in ’61, and their version of this Burt Bacharach classic is indeed great. This one however, has the added ambience of Joe Meek’s production.

Much has been deservedly written about Joe Meek, one of England’s first independent producers. In those days, late 50′s / early 60′s, all the producers were on the label staff. They did their job, and got their pay check. But it all began to change around ’63 and Joe Meek was a catalyst. This of course meant that, because he had built his own studio, he would not only produce the records but own the masters too. The labels didn’t like not owning their catalog, as Joe Meek and the other independent producers would license titles to the majors for a certain time period only. So he was always given terrible treatment.

Get one of the books about him. He was fascinating. And he had a real thing about other worlds. His huge international hit, ‘Telstar’ by The Tornadoes had his signature, haunting extra-terrestrial, almost frightening sound to it. Pretty much all his other recordings did too. You can certainly hear it on ‘Please Stay’, his last ever UK chart entry. Lead vocalist, Charlie Crane, had an amazing voice. One quite perfect for his Meeksville sound as well as this track.

For some time the Dick Clark footage had been embeddable via youtube. Now disabled, but still there. Go direct.

Listen: Nobody Waved Goodbye / The Cryin’ Shames
Nobody Waved Goodbye / The Cryin' Shames

Joe Meek claimed to be possessed by the ghost of Buddy Holly, and on the anniversary of his death, February 3, 1967, he took his own life, along with his landlady’s. Horribly demonized by a lawsuit that left him penniless, his Tornadoes royalties tied up in litigation, one of the last records he made was by this same band: The Cryin’ Shames, titled ‘Nobody Waved Goodbye’. Yikes.

Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Listen: She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man / Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages ScreamingLordMonster.mp3

I finally got around to reading the Screaming Lord Sutch feature in the June issue of MOJO. Try to do the same, maybe it’s even online. A few priceless pictures and so many stunning details, I really don’t know where to start. He was everything I already knew and way more as well. Some of the live show descriptions and antics, well we now know where Alice Cooper got more than one idea. Don’t blame him for lifting a few, they’re just too good to waste. Okay, here’s a tiny bit: “cherry food dye, cold scrambled eggs with a few masticated inches of seaside rock and it’ll look like you’re spitting out teeth”.

No question about it, his recordings were made very inexpensively, several produced by Joe Meek, complete with dreadful sound effects – and I mean that in a good way. As the ’70′s arrived, more than one act paid respects. The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, The Damned and The Revillos even covered and released as their A side as well, ‘She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man’. You’d think the song was written just for them listening to the original above.

Listen: Dracula’s Daughter / Screaming Lord Sutch ScreamingLordDracula'sDaughter.mp3

So many soon to be name musicians passed through the ranks of being Savages in the ’61 – ’63 period, prior to their own later successes. The list, also in the article, is long and fairly jaw dropping. Jimmy Page plays lead on ‘She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man’, and Jeff Beck on ‘Dracula’s Daughter’. Even then, in ’64, his style was recognizable and it’s easy to see how much he moulded The Yardbirds’ sound from one listen.

The usually precise MOJO does flub one detail. ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ was not his last for Decca, it was his first for Oriole after being dropped by Decca. While I’m at it, the above Cameo Parkway 7″ is the only US release from his period with The Savages.

Heinz

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

HeinzQuestionsUKA Heinz, Tower, Columbia UK, Joe Meek, The Tornados

Listen: Questions I Can’t Answer / Heinz
Questions

I discovered Heinz a good bit after the fact, in the early 70′s. His original band, The Tornadoes were of some interest, ‘Telstar’ being a noticeably eerie hit when I was a little guy. I even remember being scared of it, considering it bad luck.

Year later, I came to connect Joe Meek, who produced ‘Telstar’, with a few other singles of very similar ambience, The Cryin’ Shames ‘Please Stay’ and The Honeycombs ‘Have I The Right’ in particular. I stumbled upon a US 7″ of ‘Just Like Eddie’ by Heinz on the old purple and white London label indicating it’s pre 1965 release, and put down the 25¢ for it in a junk shop somewhere off Salina Street in Syracuse’s not so nice part of town. What a surprise, it was great and had that name, Joe Meek, listed as producer. My curiosity grew.

Now there are endless stories of interest surrounding Joe Meek’s legend, I have a few of my own.

Enamored with his history, I recall vividly getting off an evening arrival flight into Heathrow with Corinne, dropping our stuff off at the hotel, dragging her right into a cab and heading for 304 Holloway Road, where both his infamous studio was located and his even more infamous suicide took place. It was by now very late and in the cold November drizzle, we stood for a good fifteen minutes while I awaited a sign, some communication, anything at all from Joe Meek. This guy was so into the extra terrestrial, certainly he had to know I was there and religiously serious….but disappointingly, nothing happened, so back to the hotel I got reluctantly dragged.

The exact time was the very early morning of November 23, 1988, two days before the Wembley Record Fair, sadly a thing of the past. I recall that date as much of the fair was spent scouring the dealer stalls for Joe Meek related singles, coming home with quite a few, including this ‘A’ label of ‘Questions I Can’t Answer’. As soon as this record hit the turntable, I was addicted.

Search out some Heinz photos, dyed blond hair adding to his nicely twisted look.

HeinzHeartUS, Heinz, Tower, Columbia UK, Joe Meek, The Tornados

Listen: Heart Full Of Sorrow / Heinz
Heart

I began amassing a headful of Heinz trivia and detail, all his singles becoming obsessions. I wasn’t ready for the greatness of ‘Heart Full Of Sorrow’ when I stumbled on a crazy rare US pressing in Dallas. It looked beautiful, almost like new, still shiny. When I finally got home a few days later, it was the first thing I played, recall that bit vividly.

Holy smoke. This production took all of Joe Meek’s techniques and turned them to eleven. It is amongst his very best work. Despite it’s dated sound, all the technology of today’s recording possibilities can’t touch documenting the fear, paranoia and loneliness in Joe Meek’s brain like this can. Classic Joe Meek. Classic Heinz.

Terry Stafford

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

terrystafforduka, Terry Stafford, Twinkle, The Shangi-las, London American

Listen: Suspicion / Terry StaffordTerryStafford.mp3

Despite obvious Elvis Presley overtones, the song’s Roy Orbison chorus won me. Not that I was a fan of either during those British Invasion days, given their DA’s and older looks. Perhaps it was my attraction to the record’s Joe Meek production similarities. It’s found a permanent creepy place in my psyche. Perfectly dated, I wouldn’t suggest anyone try remaking it. Impossible.