Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan King’

Chris Farlowe

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Listen: Air Travel / Chris Farlowe
Air

A perfectly beautiful late Sunday afternoon in London during November, for me means cold, damp and drizzly, with plenty of grey. It was one such day in ’07 that Roger Armstrong and I made our way to the long standing Agra Indian Restaurant on Whitfield Street just near the Warren Street tube station after a long day at his big wooden kitchen table, rigged up with a turntable, his 45 library room at arm’s reach, post that morning’s Record Fair on Great Portland Street.

Agra has been around for decades. By many standards, the place needs a proper remolding. Not by my standards though. A half step down off the sidewalk onto the tatty, sticky carpet, the main room complete with that old England smell would convince anyone the place has serious history. It’s too close to hundreds of historic music landmarks not to. Capitol Radio was just the other side of the tube, Jonathan King’s UK Records office on Warren at Whitfield, University College where David Bowie & The Lower Third, The Riot Squad and Timebox amongst so many others played, not to mention the square adjacent, the precise spot where The Syn did their photo shoot on the tarmac of Whitfield Place.

In addition, the food is great. Not all fusion fussy and overly decorated. Not decorated at all really, just old fashioned home style Indian. Despite being about two blocks from where I lived that summer ’73, it wasn’t until decades later that Roger introduced me to the place.

Upon our exit on that particular day, what better than to find Chris Farlowe at that very first table, right near the doorway, sitting in front of a spread fit for three people. Apparently, he lived with his Mom just down the block for years.

More history in the making, not unlike this miserably rare UK EP, released in ’66 off the back of his new found chart success on Immediate that summer. Assembled from the A and B sides of his only solo single for Decca plus two unreleased songs from the same time. That time by the way, was ’64. Seemingly lifetimes prior to said summer and sounding it too. Pretty interesting to hear how unblemished his voice was just those few years earlier.

Hedgehoppers Anonymous

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Listen: Stop Press / Hedgehoppers Anonymous
Stop

Quite possibly the very first copy of BILLBOARD I ever laid my eyes on had Hedgehoppers Anonymous’ ‘It’s Good News Week’ at #48 in the Hot 100. I know because still have that edition.

Mind you, those early copies of the magazine were life changing. For a youngster desperately obsessed with English music during the 60′s, this publication was a tsunami of joyous information and statistics. BILLBOARD enabled me to actually see Britain’s Top 50 singles chart on a weekly basis. And believe you me, I gunned my way to Smith’s Records after school every Friday to pour over the current week’s edition, and to pick up last week’s now worthless copy from Mrs. Smith herself. I was her chosen charity. I suppose it was me or the rubbish bin, all pre-recycling of course. I cringe to think how many copies were tossed. Regardless, a week old BILLBOARD was useless to even Mrs. Smith in Oneida, NY. The world moved fast back then as well.

Now I’d already seen mention of this band, as with many others, probably in TEEN SCREEN or 16 MAGAZINE. Those publications would all dedicate a page or two toward reprinted miniatures of the record companies’ new band 8×10′s. And Hedgehoppers Anonymous were one such. Their name was hard to forget, especially for this youngster’s unblemished hippocampus.

And so with great excitement, and desperate catch-up, ‘It’s Good News Week’ at #48 made me desperate for an airing. Fate and luck were on my side. Local Top 40 WNDR ran a weekly Tuesday night program, ‘Echoes Of England’, whereby they’d spin all the singles they didn’t, wouldn’t and/or couldn’t play in regular rotation. It’s how I first heard Them, Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville, The Applejacks, The Pretty Things and on this particular occasion, Hedgehoppers Anonymous.

Years, although not that many, later I discovered they were produced and guided by Jonathan King, a big favorite of mine then and now. I honestly don’t recall when I acquired ‘Stop Press’. I’m guessing ’74-ish. Back then I would buy records, via snail mail, from UK dealers out of the set sale pages of, I think, TROUSER PRESS. Whatever, it turned up in the post, most likely all of two weeks and $3.00 (including post) later and I truly loved it. A total package complete with Mick Tinsley’s black and white drizzly English minor key vocal melody and all the noisy drum/tambourine stuff. Properly tagged as percussion, the sound felt like a first to me. Why on earth had no one thought of using that racket prior?

‘Stop Press’ is by far the band’s best and most English record, at least by my not so humble standards.

The Move / Jimmy Miller

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Listen: Blackberry Way / The Move
Blackberry

Certainly one of my favorite singles ever, I dare say one of the greatest records ever released. Fact not opinion.

The recent BBC documentary, THE JOY OF THE SINGLE spotlighted ‘Blackberry Way’ as just that for a teenage Holly Johnson, who relived a long walk to and from a nearby record shop, whereby The Monkees’ ‘(Theme From) The Monkees’ wasn’t available. In fact, that track was never issued on a 7″ when current, luckily. The shop clerk talked him into the latest release by The Move instead, a sale amongst many that would have contributed toward the record reaching #1 on the UK charts.

The program was another in a long list of reminders that pulling out a copy of ‘Blackberry Way’ and letting it play on repeat was yet again, a solid hour well spent in my house.

Along with high school pals Denny and Mark, I sent off to England for copies of this pre-release. We wanted it shipped day one. God knows how we’d hear about these records sentenced to teen life in upstate New York, but we did. In fact, our crowd were so into The Move that there was no messing about by this, the release of their sixth single. And one titled ‘Blackberry Way’, heaven help us, we knew it’d be stunning. I can vividly remember opening that cardboard mailer and playing it for the first time. Stunning doesn’t do the song justice.

Years later, employed in Elektra’s A&R department meant a constant search for new signings and a resulting schedule of meetings with everyone from managers, agents, lawyers and occasionally, name UK record producers with their newest projects. Through the years Gus Dudgeon, Don Arden, Jonathan King, Stuart Colman, Malcolm McLaren, Wayne Bickerton, Hugh Padgham or Shel Talmy might book in while passing through New York. On one occasion, I got a call requesting some time for Jimmy Miller.

His visit was not going to be wasted on me. I was only too keen, as was usually the case, to talk about the less travelled topics covered by most fellow A&R reps, in this instance his more obscure British productions, of which The Move was one. Turns out, he was always happy to recount his histories, including a well repeated run down of that period with The Rolling Stones. But my curiosity in The Move brought out a unexpected tale, all presented with the enthusiasm of a kid.

For starters, ‘Blackberry Way’ was the only song he ever recorded with them, and then just sitting in for the band’s usual producer, Denny Cordell. The details were rather simple and verify the often documented flying by the seat of their pants 60′s music industry. Denny and he were co-workers at Straight Ahead Productions, to whom The Move were signed. Denny was double booked on a session with Joe Cocker & The Grease Band and asked Jimmy to cover for him with The Move. These details, to be clear, were laughingly verified by Denny years later.

As a result, the band’s only UK #1 was produced, not by the guy who worked with them on every other track prior, but by his pal in the next office. A jovial recollection actually.

So as Jimmy Miller sat across from me recounting these details for the first time in my office on the 20th floor of the Warner Brothers building, I pulled out the above copy for an autograph, which seriously pleased him to no end.

A Handful Of Cheek

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Listen: I’ll Slap Your Face / A Handful Of Cheek
HandfulCheekSlapFace.mp3

King Of The Hooks, as Jonathan King was known, kept a non-stop flow of pop novelty singles coming from his UK Records imprint during the early 70′s. Initially distributed by Decca and later Polydor, some deservedly became the occasional hit.

Clearly, all these one-off releases were from his own musical pen, when not picking up the occasional left field Reggae (Carl Malcolm), Northern (The Devonnes) or American Soul (Hoagy Lands) master that is.

JK always came up with hysterical synonyms for himself and his hired musicians. In this case, A Handful Of Cheek.

When visiting London in March ’77 with Corinne, we made the rounds of all the labels, blagging records. Howard set us up with Andrew Lauder at United Artists, and folks at Chrysalis, Charisma, etc. No one was about to bother with UK, deemed quite unhip despite 10CC and The Kursaal Flyers. Maybe others looked down their nose at UK, but certainly not me.

Maintaing a small office just near the entrance to Warren Street tube, the very nice receptionist gladly opened the cupboards and pulled out a good fifty singles for me to take back home for my US college station. Bless her. A Handful Of Cheek was among them.

Starting with a glam drum sound, ‘I’ll Slap Your Face’ soon turns into one of my favorite Jonathan King novelties. Dropping in the orchestral backing at the key change is an unexpected and undeniable example of why King Of The Hooks, even if self appointed, is undeniably justified.

Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Listen: Sea Side Shuffle / Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs
Sea Side Shuffle / Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs

John Lewis wrote and recorded ‘Sea Side Shuffle’ with Brett Marvin & The Thunderbolts, having recently joined as lead singer, and around that very time, changed his professional name to Jona Lewie. Their 1971 version, in the Mungo Jerry vein, who were having great initial success with a similar busking skiffle sound, flopped.

Partnering with Jonathan King for what was meant to be a one off re-release on UK Records, the boys used the pseudonym, Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs, and had a surprise UK, possible pain in the ass, #2 in July ’72. Now what?

Listen: She Left I Died / Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs
She Left I Died / Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs

A few follow ups. Not hard to figure that one out.

‘She Left I Died’ was the second such shot at another career surprise and also a sweet find, both acetate and UK demo pressing, at the UK Records mitzvah (see previous post) last Thursday.

Not having found real footing just yet, the record easily predicts pub rock and Jona Lewie’s ulitmate late 70′s anthem. A few listens in and ‘She Left I Died’ is hard not to love.

Jonathan King does it again.

UK Records

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Listen: Excerpts From ‘What’s So Great About UK Records’
Excerpts From 'What's So Great About UK Records'

Thursday May 12, 2011. Mike Goldsmith is driving toward his parking garage on W 57th Street, and spots the daily church sidewalk sale’s tables, just between 9th and 10th Ave, are filled with boxes of records. First rule: abort all other plans and check out records at just this type of miracle, which he does. What does he find? Hundreds of UK Records and UK Records related items, including master tapes, acetates and more. So my phone rings around 9:30am, with a quick order to get over there fast. Fifteen minutes later I’m double timing out of the Columbus Circle subway stop and hoofing it towards the sale.

Turns out this stash represented what was left behind by Jonathan King, who kept a NY apartment just one doorway down from the church’s location. His relatives cleaned out much of what they thought he might want, and the rest was going to charity. Luckily, I had a connection to the great man, and he emailed to confirm and explain. So there you go.

Even these left overs included an array of jaw droppers. The first of which I’ve posted above. Good thing I had no idea this teaser 7″ sampler existed prior, or I’d have been searching hard for years.

I must say, for a guy with such an ear for pop, I admit baffle when it comes to JK’s faith in Ricky Wilde’s vocal capabilities. Maybe he was angling toward sister Kim. That would make sense. Poor Tina Harvey, well she’s not far behind. Offset that with 10cc and Roy C, and all is forgiven, easily forgotten to be exact.

Another UK Records find in tomorrow’s post.

Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Listen: Dawn / Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds
Dawn / Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds

A perfectly beautiful late Sunday afternoon in London during November to me is cold, damp and drizzly, with plenty of grey. It was one such day in ’07 that Roger and I made our way to the long standing Agra Indian Restaurant on Whitfield Street just near the Warren Street tube station after a long day at his big wooden kitchen table, rigged up with a turntable, his 45 library room at arm’s reach, post that morning’s Record Fair on Great Portland Street.

Agra has been around for decades, and by many standards, needs a proper remolding. Not mine though. A half step down off the sidewalk onto the tatty, sticky carpet, the main room complete with that old England smell, convinces me the place has serious history. It’s too close to hundreds of historic music landmarks not to. Capitol Radio was just the other side of the tube, Jonathan King’s UK Records office on Warren at Whitfield, University College where David Bowie & The Lower Third, The Riot Squad, and Timebox amongst so many others played, not to mention the square adjacent, the precise spot where The Syn did their photo shoot on the tarmac of Whitfield Place.

Yikes.

Oh yeah, the food is great too. Not all fusion fussy and overly decorated. Not decorated at all really, just old fashioned home style Indian. Despite being about two blocks from where I lived that summer ’73, it wasn’t until decades later that Roger introduced me to the place. We took our time, covered a lot, as we do.

Upon our exit, what better than to find Chris Farlowe at that very first table, right near the doorway, sitting in front of a spread fit for three people. Apparently, he lives with his Mom just down the block. More history in the making.

Jonathan King

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Listen: Round Round / Jonathan King JonathanKingRoundRound.mp3

With this blog nudging towards it’s third birthday, the one guy constantly crossing my mind that’s overdue for a post is Jonathan King. Forget the many acts he produced, and forget the many more he signed to his label, UK Records. The single releases as a solo artist on his own are daunting. Therein lies the reason a Jonathan King post has yet to appear. Didn’t know where to start.

It dawned on me only today, I probably won’t live forever. Therefore suddenly high on the list of missions to accomplish was getting to the Jonathan King singles for some posts. This is the first. More are planned.

Pretty near the top of my JK chart, maybe even at the top, is ‘Round Round’. Given that scouring radio station surveys on eBay has become an addictive pass time, it’s hard not to notice ‘Round Round’ appearing pretty often on local stations all around the country throughout the spring and early summer of ’67. Despite the amount of airplay the record clearly got starting in April, it didn’t chart high nationally, peaking at only #122 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 during a five week stay. My guess is had the radio play been concentrated during a shorter timeframe, the record would have achieved a much higher chart number.

I recall my first time hearing ‘Round Round’, during a Sunday drive through the countryside Mom and Dad would occasionally take us on. A most perfect soundtrack to an early spring, post thaw, upstate New York, winter is finally behind us afternoon. One listen and there was no question, despite it’s message, I needed this happy and bouncy anti-drugs single.

To this day, when on occasion, there’s a copy in a store stack or at the record fairs, I grab it. You can never have too many.

10cc

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Listen: Rubber Bullets / 10cc 10ccRubber.mp3

I was surprised to see a recent Bob Lefsetz post about 10cc. His musical taste occasionally crosses paths with mine: The Kinks, The Ramones, The Lo Fidelity Allstars and a few others here and there. But he’s usually way west coast soft rock compared to my way east across the Atlantic preferences. A better commentary on the music industry, technology and life issues you’ll have a hard time finding. Check him out.

Surprisingly, he discovered 10cc upon their arrival in ’72, as most Americans didn’t.

‘Rubber Bullets’ was the band’s first UK #1 (US #73), back when they were on Jonathan King’s UK Records (get everything you see on his imprint), and was never off the radio or pub jukeboxes during that English summer. Just about every track by these guys had some oddly appealing production twist that was just not like anything else before and a true precursor to The Buggles. On ‘Rubber Bullets’, for instance, can you hear the drum kit other than during the rolls? Not really. And who noticed. Throw in the doo wop vocals bits (not uncommon for 10cc), bizarre lyrics and you’ve got a spot in history.

Most of their stuff was both funny and socially biting, hence way too thought provoking for the US programmer, usually religating them to radio’s embarrassingly long ignore them list.

Tin Tin

Monday, May 10th, 2010

TinTinToast, Robert Stigwood, Tin Tin, Maurice Gibb, Atco, Bee Gees

Listen: Toast And Marmalade For Tea / Tin Tin TinTinMarmalade.mp3

Not to be confused with the solo artist from the early 90′s – although both acts were UK based. This is the band from late ’69, managed by Robert Stigwood, who had a belated hit in early ’71 with ‘Toast And Marmalade For Tea’, even reaching the US Top 20.

Truth be told, they were originally from Australia, but good sense ruled and they relocated to England – just as I should’ve done already. Next life.

A slight wonder of the world this single is in actuality. Like Jonathan King’s ‘Everyone’s Gone To The Moon’ and The Lightning Seeds ‘Pure’, it was SO British sounding that I was never quite sure how it became big in the US. Just goes to show, if when given airplay, people’s tastes aren’t as stubbornly narrow as programmers smother them into appearing.

I liked this one from the title alone, even before that first spin. I couldn’t believe when months later it starting popping up on US Top 40 playlists. Possibly due to the Bee Gees connection and management clout (Maurice Gibb produced). Whatever, a sweet result.
TinTinEngland,  Robert Stigwood, Tin Tin, Maurice Gibb, Atco, Bee Gees

Listen: Set Sail For England / Tin Tin TinTinEngland.mp3

A few singles later, ‘Set Sail For England’ was a nice enough song, a bit lightweight on the lyrics, but a what a message. It’s the thought that counts after all.

Roy C

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

RoyCShotgunUK, Roy C, UK, Jonathan King

RoyCShotgunUSA, Roy C, UK, Jonathan King

Listen: Shotgun Wedding / Roy C RoycShotgun.mp3

You’d think this was originally recorded down Jamaica way, given the record’s audio quality seemingly captures not only the sound associated with the lilting rhythms of early ska recordings, in that rock steady and blue beat style, but the very time period as well. Like Roy C himself, the recording is New York based.

A UK #6 in ’66 on Island, yet despite a dated sound even for ’72, it still re-entered and peaked at #8 in England when reissued on Jonathan King’s Decca distributed UK label. A bit of a timeless audio document, it’s addicting in the same way ‘Harlem Shuffle’ by Bob & Earl, another New York recording, still is today. The power of a great record seldom dies.

Dream Police

Monday, October 19th, 2009

dreampoliceuka, Dream Police, Junior Campbell, The Marmalade, Decca, London

dreampolicehomeusa, Dream Police, Junior Campbell, The Marmalade, Decca, London

Listen: I’ll Be Home (In A Day Or So) / Dream Police DreamPoliceHome.mp3

Reportedly Scotland’s Dream Police began as a psychedelic/progressive band that included future members of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Average White Band. Signed to Decca in late ’69 on a tip from Junior Campbell, himself then on the label’s roster as a member of The Marmalade, their first (of three) singles for the label coincidentally included him as the band’s producer, arranger and conductor. Conductor?

The Marmalade had a sound, not unlike The Love Affair or Cupid’s Inspiration, and a whole bunch of lesser known ‘pop’ acts, all wonderfully over produced and clawing for a slot in the charts. Despite being considered manufactured fodder by the intelligent and/or hip music community, I found this stuff fascinating. Totally formula in it’s conveyor belt style, I still can’t get enough of it. Decca UK reigned king in the field. Always with a soft spot for inhouse producers or production deals, Junior Campbell, as with Jonathan King, Wayne Bickerton, Mike Hurst and others churned out endless pap to lap for the label. I’m still finding overdone stiffs from that period. One such example: Dream Police.

‘I’ll Be Home (In A Day Or So)’ could have indeed been a hit for The Marmalade (they recorded a version) had it been issued as a single. Junior Campbell’s production of the song for the Dream Police includes his obligatory rock lead guitar over the top of multi tracked vocals and string section bits galore. And quite frankly, the version deserved to be a hit.

Carl Malcolm

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

carlosfattyusa, Carl Malcolm, UK Records, Jonathan KIng

Listen: Fatty Bum Bum / Carl Malcolm CarlMalcolmFatty.mp3

carlosmalcolmwire, Carl Malcolm, UK Records, Jonathan King

Listen: Miss Wire Waist / Carl Malcolm CarlMalcolmMissWireWaist.mp3

Despite the one hit wonder tag, his #8 UK singles placing from ’75 is a perfect pop-reggae classic. Produced by Clive Chin, not only famous for his work with Augustus Pablo, Black Uhuru and The Wailers, but is self credited as having made the very first dub album. Pretty nice.

This pop hit, further categorized as ‘maybe not so credible’ due mostly to becoming popular, but also because it’s release on Jonathan King’s rather fantastic UK Records imprint meant it was considered mainstream and polished. Like that’s bad – even if the song is great? Jonathan King had impeccable talents for spotting hits as well as recording them. Well I loved this song – from the first listen.

And in a perfect marketing ploy (get all the girls big and small), Carl Malcolm and UK Records released ‘Miss Wire Waist’ as the hopeful, and deserving followup single. It really should’ve been a hit and brought Carl to a higher career plateau. It wasn’t meant to be – well not as recording artist. Year later, you can find him drumming solidly for the Melodians.

Kenny

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 Lightning Seeds

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Sugar Coated Iceberg / The Lightning Seeds

Today I got an email from my pal in LA, Christian Stavros, and he wrote: ‘currently listening to a playlist of my fave bands from growing up’, proceeding to list, amongst others, The Lightning Seeds. Do you remember they had a hit in the US ages ago with a song called ‘Pure’? It was a surprising hit too, as it sounded so English. It actually reminded me of the Jonathan King classic ‘Everyone’s Gone To The Moon’. Lead singer Ian Broudie (also a top producer) has a similar voice and delivery. This was around ’89 when sounding English was becoming a problem, unlike in the ’60s & ’70′s. Years later, when I worked for Columbia and was Suede’s US A&R guy, I was always fighting to get attention for them at the label. The radio department would argue: but they sound so English. I’d always say, ‘I know – that’s the point’. But guess what, I lost the argument and Suede didn’t get the play they deserved, or any play actually. So…i proceed to ask Christian if he’s heard this single, and happily he hadn’t. I say happily, because it was really fun to turn him on to it. I pulled it out, and it just sounds great.