Posts Tagged ‘London Records’

The Moody Blues / St. Louis Union

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Stop / Moody Blues

Listen: Stop! / The Moody Blues
Stop! / The Moody Blues

When it comes to vinyl or artifacts, oddly, The Moody Blues are not a collectible band. I guess the mainstream success of Moody Blues lineup two unfairly squashed that.

But still, lineup one, well that was a very different sounding group and should be a very different story. It’s where the collectible piece is baffling. Not surprisingly, the band were recycling US blues and RnB, not unlike most other collectible UK acts during the mid 60′s. But singer Denny Laine was special, and had an authentic, recognizable voice. The hits disappeared quickly after their second 7″, ‘Go Now’, although the quality of singles did not. All of them should command more worth, being pressed in very limited quantities.

‘Stop!’, a US only 7″, was taken from the Denny Cordell produced debut UK LP and their only full length with lineup one. The US album version was similar but didn’t included ‘Stop!’, presumably because American label London spotted the track as a potential hit.

‘Stop’ received confident airplay throughout the northeast upon release. I heard it often at both my local Top 40′s in Syracuse. The single charted for one week on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at #98 and was a decent snapshot of Winter ’66, basically dreary and cold, just as I vividly remember it and personally preferred.

Listen: Girl / St. Louis Union
Girl / St. Louis Union

Dreary and cold, or dark and downbeat were indeed the sounds de jour. Enter the St. Louis Union’s cover of ‘Girl’. Despite being a nice time piece, the record was part of an already risky strategy: covering Beatles’ songs to achieve hits. The process initially worked for Peter & Gordon, The Silkie and a handful of others, yet the idea had primarily dried by the time post ’65 late comers released theirs.

London tip ad

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

I saw The Rolling Stones for the first time on October 30, 1965 at the Syracuse War Memorial. I had forged a press pass, a typed note actually, on letterhead from a weekly paper in my little hometown. My Dad had set me up with the pompous owner of it, as I wanted to interview the band for a feature.

Looking back it was quite a good idea on my part, but this self celebrating fellow was nasty and dismissive. Even though I ended up meeting the band, I still loathe him for his attitude, not towards me, but towards my Father. He was so busy being busy, running in and out of his pathetic office, that I just reached over and grabbed a few pages of letterhead when he wasn’t looking. I shook with fear at what I’d done. I was still a good Catholic boy, but too late, I’d done it. So he tells me, “We don’t need a piece on this dirty English combo”, and that was that, or so he thought. Indeed, they didn’t need a a kid in his late single digits writing a review.

To be exact, this was the Canastota Bee Journal, as close as you can get to Mayberry. He and the paper, I’m guessing, are long gone. Still, I composed this laughable letter, claiming to be a writer on assignment and needing to interview them for a feature.

In those days, arenas were filled with hysterical, screaming kids, so how I managed to slide backstage so easily still baffles. An usher fell for that forged letter, and brought me back, where Bill Wyman was wrapping up his cords. Bill reads it, stares me straight in the eye and says in hindsight with a knowing smirk, “Come on and we’ll meet the rest”.

Holy shit. Is this really happening? It was the first time I nearly blacked out. I seriously remember that vividly. We are suddenly walking up the steps to the dressing room, knees weak, where in years to follow, I would meet, more like pester, (here goes, I know this is all a bit name droppy, but it really, really happened. I met all these bands and I’m proud of it): The Mindbenders, Them, The Moody Blues, The Nashville Teens, The Ikettes, The Who, The Pretty Things, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Humble Pie, Heads Hands & Feet, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Steppenwolf, Canned Heat, Caravan, Toe Fat, Derek & The Dominoes, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad, Frampton’s Camel, Traffic, Wild Turkey, The Faces, Badfinger, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Mother Earth, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Chambers Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone, Savoy Brown, Iron Butterfly, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, even Vivian Green, who I worked with decades later, was in that very room when on tour with Maxwell. Talk about coming full circle.

The management knew me and my friends well early on, they must’ve gotten a kick out of these crazy little kids, who’s Mom’s & Dad’s would wait patiently for until the shows ended. Our parents befriended the office staff, and in turn, those nice ladies always let us backstage.

The Rolling Stones were great, so nice. No one was in their dressing room except the band, and one other guy, I’m guess Ian Stewart, the tour manager. No food, nothing but bottles of Coca Cola. They signed my copy of 12 X 5, it probably lasted all of a minute but I still can relive it to this day. Here I was, with this exotic band from England that changed my life, which prior I could only see on TV every three to four months tops. I thought at that very moment, “This is the life for me”. I’m completely convinced it led to my career in music. No question.

Their current album at the time, THE ROLLING STONES NOW, was not a real album at all. In those days, the English labels released singles and EPs, in addition to albums. Not only were the EP tracks not on the LPs, but the singles weren’t either. So the US companies were always dropping off intended LP tracks to make room for the singles and sometimes strong ones from those EPs. For this particular release, London Records basically cobbled together some singles and EP songs, as well as unused UK LP tracks. Remember, the UK LPs were 14 songs compared to our 10-12, thereby creating even more choices.

Probably by coincidence more than design, THE ROLLING STONES NOW actually works as a proper LP. It was certainly a big success, slowly but very solidly scaling the US LP charts and staying Top 10 for ages, as it deserved to. The record’s filled with dark, minor key classics like ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Pain In My Heart’ which they played on that night, Brian sitting at a huge B3 organ, wailing away.

It’s ok if you’re getting tingles. Take your time. You’ll need it. They were back, nine months later, during the AFTERMATH tour, and that’s whole ‘nother post waiting to be written.

This all leads us to ‘Down Home Girl’, a song on THE ROLLING STONES NOW. Little did I know then that it was a cover. I don’t even think I knew what that meant. They were all Rolling Stones songs to us. Years and years later I wised up, seeked out the original, and became a dangerous Alvin Robinson fanatic.

Here’s his version. Get any of his other releases. all of them actually.

Doris Willingham

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Listen: You Can’t Do That / Doris Willingham
You Can't Do That / Doris Willingham

The future Doris Duke, best known for many Swamp Dogg associations, started her recording career as Doris Willingham. Signing to the newly formed Jay Boy, ‘You Can’t Do That’ became her second single in two years, released early ’68. It’s a cherished record for both London, who distributed this first Jay Boy release, and Northern collectors, like myself for starters.

Produced by Richard Tee in his early days. Despite finding his professional footing in jazz by the mid 70′s, back in ’68, he was running with the likes Shirley Scott, Esther Phillips, King Curtis and drummer Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie, whose production company this single was made for.

The Sir Douglas Quintet

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

The Tracker / Sir Douglas Quintet - US

Listen: The Tracker / The Sir Douglas Quintet
The Tracker / The Sir Douglas Quintet

Like so many bands popping up around the country circa ’64 – ’65, all imitating Britain’s Invasion, The Sir Douglas Quintet appeared. Unlike those others, they had a recognizable sound (perfectly part Bo Diddley, part Pretty Things) and could both write and find great songs, and had the production advantage of Huey P. Meaux guiding them. The band never released a bad single on London Records’ imprint Tribe. They eventually moved to Smash/Philips where their greatness, and the occasional hit single, continued.

‘The Tracker’, followup to their debut smash ‘She’s About A Mover’, was a real favorite despite it’s national stall at #105 in July ’65 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart.

I recall seeing them on SHINDIG, Doug Sahm (Sir Douglas) doing a mean Phil May imitation vocal on ‘The Tracker’ while holding an oversized magnifying glass, kind of roaming around the stage as though following footsteps visible when enlarged, Sherlock Holmes style. Not only did they have the sound down, but the look as well.

Blue Norther / Sir Douglas Quintet - US

Listen: Blue Norther / The Sir Douglas Quintet
Blue Norther / The Sir Douglas Quintet

‘Blue Norther’, the B side, with it’s rather haunting patent Sir Douglas Quintet formula (not to be taken as a bad thing), I like to think is about the train line and totally conjured up nighttime images of a freight winding it’s way through some dark mountain woods or the Texas desert, assuming there is one there.

Listen: In Time / The Sir Douglas Quintet
In Time / The Sir Douglas Quintet

Quickly released that September, no doubt in hopes of refuelling interest after their huge debut, ‘In Time’ stiffed completely. Shame, just listen to it’s perfection. No other US band quite captured their flawless mixture of Texas and England, a recipe that should’ve easily worked. To my knowledge, only KNAC in Salt Lake City charted it for a week in October at #63. Otherwise, klunk

Listen: The Story Of John Hardy / The Sir Douglas Quintet
The Story Of John Hardy / The Sir Douglas Quintet

For the flipside of ‘In Time’, as with Manfred Mann’s rendition of the Lomax/Lomax written ‘John Hardy’ (it too a B side of ‘Sha La La’), the ever present influence of The Pretty Things, marraccas particularly, prevailed. The band’s more folk blues ‘version’, retitled ‘The Story Of John Hardy’, songwriting mischievously credited to Doug Sahm, succeeded in establishing yet again that sound so unique to this band.

Many years later, Doug Sahm formed The Texas Tornadoes and signed to Warner Brothers. I saw him in the office one day (my company, The Medicine Label, was a WB label) and he graciously filled out a jukebox tab for me. It was a chance meeting, so I wasn’t prepared with B side info. I couldn’t remember it, neither could he.

Sir Douglas Quintet - Juke Box Tab

Above: Jukebox Tab filled out by Doug Sahm.

Seleno Clarke / The Rolling Stones

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

SelenoSoulfulUSA,  Seleno Clarke, Hi, M.O.C.

Listen: Soulful Drop / Seleno Clarke SelenoSoulful.mp3

SelenoMemphisUSB, Seleno Clarke, Hi, M.O.C.

Listen: Memphis Boogaloo / Seleno Clarke SelenoMemphis.mp3

I almost didn’t go to an annual rummage sale this afternoon, one that I haven’t missed in about ten years. It was probably in ’04, during a nasty and freak blizzard, that the empty synagogue basement was bursting with hundreds of unplayed promo singles from the 60′s, all in their original sleeves. I went into sweat and panic mode, worried someone would come along to challenge part of my find. Record junkies get very perverted very quickly. I can’t begin to tell you about the scores on that beautiful winter day, besides it would be cruel.

Today’s piece count was nowhere near as vast, but the scores were eye poppers. Top of my list: Seleno Clarke ‘Soulful Drop’ / ‘Memphis Boogaloo’ on Hi Records’ subsidiary M.O.C., pick up anything on either label as you can’t go wrong. I’d always wanted this single, and bowed out of bidding at around $30 a year or two back. Worth the wait given today’s $.50 price tag. Turns out Seleno Clarke plays every Sunday in Harlem, with genuine ‘home cooking’ as part of admission. I can give him the money rather than some dealer. Tomorrow is now planned.

RollingStonesHeartPS, The Rolling Stones, London, Andrew Loog Oldham

If I didn’t already have a copy, this would have barreled in as today’s top find and in many ways, it probably was, given it’s habit of clocking in between $400 – $800 on ebay. What a sleeve.

Marianne Faithfull

Friday, December 27th, 2013

GO AWAY FROM MY WORLD / Marianne Faithfull:

Side 1:

Listen: Go Away From My World / Marianne Faithfull
Go

Listen: Yesterday / Marianne Faithfull
Yesterday

Listen: Sally Free And Easy / Marianne Faithfull
Sally

Side 2:

Listen: Summer Nights / Marianne Faithfull
Summer

Listen: Last Thing On My Mind / Marianne Faithfull
Last

Listen: Mary Ann / Marianne Faithfull
Mary

Another in the short series of London Records / Seeburg jukebox EP’s from the mid 1960′s.

As with The Rolling Stones post on 12/18, all these 33 1/3 true stereo EP’s, made with the endorsement of Seeburg and basically designed for their machines, had blank, white back covers. The Seeburg 45/33 1/3 compatible boxes had four framed glass windows into which these covers were meant to slip, thereby providing maximum real estate for the featured mini albums. As a result, there was no need for a back sleeve, thereby saving on print costs.

Besides, jukebox tabs, like the one below, were provided with the EP’s, from which all the song selections could be had.

Marianne Faithfull was just beginning her descent as a successful US Top 40 singles act around the time of this EP, GO AWAY FROM MY WORLD, and her second US album of the same name. The previous single, ‘Summer Nights’ included here, was the last to receive blanket pop airplay, peaking at #24 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100. The followup, ‘Go Away From My World’, despite it’s beautiful full color picture sleeve, got minimal exposure and only struggled to #89.

I love that description, struggled. Real chart nuts, ones that make me appear normal and perfectly acceptable for mainstream society, use it all the time. It so nicely sets a sombre tone. But I do recall how dark and gloomy ‘Go Away From My World’ sounded on the air. It was the whole point, and the whole appeal as well. Material ladened with misery always suited her the best.

She got a ton of radio play in upstate New York. In fact, even I thought her singles peaked higher nationally recollecting now on how concentrated the exposure was.

The Rolling Stones

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

THE ROLLING STONES, NOW! / The Rolling Stones:

Side 1:

Listen: Side 1 (see label above for song titles) / The Rolling Stones
Side

Side 2:

Listen: Side 2 (see label above for song titles) / The Rolling Stones
Side

Another variation of the EP, in the US that is, was the two or three song per side jukebox pressing.

London Records issued four by The Rolling Stones, essentially compiling about half of a then current album configured as a 7″ replica of the full length 12″ version. The front covers literally lifted the album artwork, catalog number and all, while the back was left blank. These presumably were popular with the various Rock-Ola and Seeburg models that could switch speeds from 45 to 33. When a small holed EP hit the turntable, the disc would flatten down the large hole 45 center adaptor and flip the speed down to an accommodating 33rpm.

I don’t recall seeing the selections by The Rolling Stones in any of the local soda fountains we’d frequent after school, instead seeing Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra options, both very underplayed if at all by the assembled teenagers we fantasized being like one day.

I do however remember getting up the nerve to visit a downtown Syracuse one stop, whereby we marched bravely to the front counter that separated customer from all records behind it. The jukebox operators and mom ‘n’ pop retailers would turn up weekly, maybe even daily, knowing what they wanted or needed and exactly who to ask for. My best friend Denny and I showed up as though we belonged there, not knowing what to expect or how to behave. We didn’t stay long, and got informed that the outlet was not open to the public but only for dealers. Good try.

The magnitude of seeing quantities, box lots and bulk copies of records on endless shelves left a lasting impression on me as a kid. I knew that someday, I wanted to have the chance to be on that side of the counter and literally dreamt about it for years.

What I do vividly remember during the minute or less we actually stood amongst the beehive of activity of this busy barter type scene were all four London Records Rolling Stones jukebox EP’s, sitting in a cardboard counter rack designed specifically for their display. It was when inquiring could we please buy one of each that we were denied and asked to leave. In addition to a job at a one stop, I left also wanting all four records badly.

Through the years, every one of those goals were luckily achieved. And like with the actual albums from which the EP’s originated (12X5, THE ROLLING STONES NOW!, OUT OF OUR HEADS and THEIR SATANIC MAJESTY’S REQUEST), it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. But if forced to before a firing squad, I’m pretty sure I’d choose THE ROLLING STONES, NOW!

Willie Mitchell

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell

That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell

Listen: That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell
That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell

Seems Willie Mitchell had that soulful teen dance thing down, not too ghetto but just right. ‘That Driving Beat’ is one of the few he’s ever released with vocals, to my knowledge, and I’ve got about thirty of his 7′s. Admittedly not sure if it’s the man himself or one of his Hi rhythm section doing the singing, but it’s way hot. Check out the ‘Satisfaction’ riff in there too.

The single’s featured on many UK comps, being a well liked Mod track back in ’65 too. ‘That Driving Beat’ was exactly that, a purple hearts eye opening bumper. You can see why it became a favourite.

Listen: Bad Eye / Willie Mitchell
Bad Eye / Willie Mitchell

WOLF Chart 5-14-66

I actually got to hear Willie Mitchell regularly on my local Top 40 station in the 60′s. Yeah, for some reason WOLF always played his singles. Mind you only for a few weeks, just enough to chart in the 30′s then off (click on the WOLF survey above to enlarge and have a look). Maybe they did it for flavor or favor, the station did play a lot from London Records and their imprints. Lucky me.

Prayer meetin' / Willie Mitchell

Listen: Prayer Meetin’ / Willie Mitchell
Prayer Meetin' / Willie Mitchell

I took interest in the Hi Label as well, being part of London Records, one of my favorites. This led me to check out their other acts, thereby discovering Ann Pebbles, O. V. Wright, Otis Clay and Al Green, all of whom Willie Mitchell produced. His singles never ever disappoint. If you see them, buy them. And then buy a jukebox to put them in. Best money you’ll ever spend.

Willie Mitchell’s releases always had great titles, like ‘Prayer Meetin’ from ’68. This heavy Hammond Jimmy Smith written instrumental being his more typical vein, all bluesy with a bit of slither.

Leroy Pullins

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Listen: I’m A Nut / Leroy Pullins
LeroyPullinsNut.mp3

Novelty country, one hit wonder. Those are about the only historical remembrances of Leroy Pullins. Orginally the leader of Kentucky garage band, The LeSabres, he relocated to Nashville in ’65 to peruse success. ‘I’m A Nut’ was the first from a short string of singles on Kapp Records, and the only one to chart, peaking at #18 in ’66 on BILLBOARD’s Country Top 50. It’s UK counterpart via Kapp’s distribution agreement with Decca, provided his only international release.

In the day, Top 40 regularly spiced up their intentionally zany, fast paced, wildcard afternoon disc jockey slots with novelty records, many based on outer space alien invasions or mental illness. I recall hearing this one on occasion between British invasion releases and early Motowns.

Joe Perkins

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Listen: Little Eefin Annie / Joe Perkins
Little

Having recorded for several small US labels during the early 60′s including King, as Joe Perkins & The Rookies, it was only his ‘Little Eefin Annie’ single for Sound Stage 7 in ’63 that charted at #76. Surprisingly, it was released later that year in the UK on London.

Eefin is basically a fast breathing and wheezing vocal technique, similar to later day beatboxing. An eefing piece called ‘Swamp Root’ was in fact one of the first singles recorded and released by Sam Phillips.

On ‘Little Eefin Annie’ though, it’s Jimmy Riddle, apparently the acknowledged master of the genre, who later brought eefing to national visibility on the television series HEE HAW, that’s doing the eefing. Joe Perkins does the rest.

Big Lucky

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Listen: Stop Arguing Over Me / Big Lucky
Stop

Levester Carter, a native of Choctaw County, Mississippi, became Big Lucky in ’68 when local Memphis disc jockey A.C.’Moonah’ Williams put Big Lucky Carter, his then stage moniker, in touch with Hi Records boss Willie Mitchell, who demo’d him at the Hi studios.

Liking the result, he coupled ‘Miss Betty Green’ and ‘Stop Arguin’ Over Me’ as the first of two singles for the label’s subsidiary M.O.C. (MOC 670), released April 7, 1969, according to an old production schedule from Hi/M.O.C.’s parent label, London Records, that I have poured over for many hours through the years

His ‘I’ve Been Hurt’ (MOC 673) followed as an A Side on Dec 8, 1969. Local airplay limited both records’ reach, resulting in very few pressings, sales and available copies nowadays.

Therefore a rewarding find last week at Academy’s moving sale. Love that place.

The Bachelors

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Listen: 3 O’Clock Flamingo Street / The Bachelors
3

My Mom always loved these guys, they were Irish and so was she. But then most Moms did. You see, the very square looking Bachelors co-existed effortlessly with beat groups in ’64 and ’65. There were a few others, like The Vogues and The Four Seasons, sporting dreadful hair cuts, who dressed decidedly old yet were accepted by the youngsters and their parents as well. The Bachelors fell into that space. I guess it was the quality of their songs and music that worked. It was good stuff.

Think about it, The Walker Brothers pretty much did the same thing, but they had it down in the image and looks department, hence becoming deservedly seminal in rock history.

’3 O’Clock Flamingo Street’ was The Bachelors first non-charting UK single after a solid three or four year run. Although I remembered it being a bit psychedelic, having heard the single a few times on the radio in summer ’67, it’s acutally not musically psychedelic at all.

Lyrically though, very twisted. There’s a definite implication something sinister was going on at 3AM. That drew me in. This was indeed the summer I was sneaking out and visiting our local cemetery late at night, alone, in an effort to see if spirits would attempt contact. The reasons for that morbid and thankfully temporary attraction are rather unexplainable still. I will say it was fairly terrifying. Anyways, my radar was up for just this type of record.

Alan Tew contributed that UK Decca orchestration and arrangement I so love, sounding not unlike the Cat Stevens ‘Kitty’ and ‘A Bad Night’ singles from that period.

And it was produced by Dick Rowe, now world famous for turning down The Beatles at Decca UK – and subsequently signing The Rolling Stones as penance. In my opinion, therefore, he made two perfect and unbeatable career moves.

Jim Sullivan

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Listen: Toad Stool / Jim Sullivan
Toad

From what I can uncover, this was a US only release, apparently before Big Jim Sullivan became big.

No doubt, he can’t recall who played on this, although you never know. I hope to ask him someday. I like to think that’s Bobbie Graham on the drums, and from the songwriting credit, my guess is Shel Talmy also produced.

That’s logical, as he used Jim Sullivan on many of his other productions during the period: The Kinks and The Who being the most familiar.

Ever a work in progress, a Jim Sullivan discography could make for a good book. You’ll need to stop down every page of so just to take it all in.

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.

The Small Faces

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Listen: All Or Nothing / The Small Faces
All

The lack of airplay ‘All Or Nothing’ was afforded upon release in the US goes down as one of the great crimes in our country’s history. It was shocking at the time.

BILLBOARD’s 9/17/66 issue featured the full page RCA industry ad above, not only promoting the single, but also the label’s signing of The Small Faces. Their previous releases had been issued by London Records’ imprint, Press. Of the three, only ‘Sha La La La Lee’ managed a smattering of play, primarily Sacramento (KXOA), San Bernardino (KFXM) and Miami (WFUN) of all, seemingly unsuspecting, places.

A big indicator of RCA’s commitment was reflected in the custom picture sleeve which accompanied ‘All Or Nothing’, also profiled in the aforementioned print ad. I can still feel the jolt my body took upon opening to that page during a Friday evening at Smith’s Records in Oneida, NY, a weekly stop to pour over the store’s current issue.

Unbeknown to us all, Mrs. Smith contributed incredibly toward my formative years of becoming an avid music fan and record collector. Not only did she allow me to monopolize the magazine at the counter, she gave me her expired copies and most patiently wrote down my weekly special order choices as I’d scour the Singles Review page of the magazine.

BILLBOARD broke down most newly issued records into their editorially predicted sections: Top 20, Top 60 or the kiss of death Chart categories. Not surprisingly, many of music history’s classic releases began their painful cult status wallowing in that lonely Chart section, records tipped to scrape into the Hot 100′s lower reaches at best.

In the very same issue, and despite the lucrative ad buy, BILLBOARD drove a nail through the record’s heart with a Chart verdict, surprising given the label’s full page print buy. Mind you, this section was highly influential at the time.

More importantly, did the person or persons responsible for this damnation even listen to it? How on earth do you toss aside Steve Marriott’s unsurpassable vocal? Not only acknowledged as possibly the 60′s greatest white soul singer, his collaborative first division songwriting with Ronnie Lane stamped ‘All Or Nothing’ as one of the undeniably legendary singles from the period. How could a BILLBOARD employee, or more frighteningly their staff, not spot this?

Mrs. Smith never did get my special order for the record fulfilled, and as a result, I innocently passed up the only copy I ever saw when current at my other haunt, Walt’s Records in Syracuse. For true, it was a hard and painful moment that. With only one dollar in my pocket, the default purchase choice became ‘I’m A Boy’ by The Who, fingers crossed firmly my special order for ‘All Or Nothing’ was on it’s way. Wrong.

But all things happen for a reason. During the 70′s, the search for records pre-Ebay was via GOLDMINE’s classifieds. Religiously I would scour the magazine upon arrival. Literally, all things would stop. The process took hot line style priority status. So finally, a copy of ‘All Or Nothing’ in the sleeve was listed by a Texas dealer. I called him immediately, usurped the auction and closed the sale early. To my extreme luck, and possibly as karmic blessing, a sheet of the below factory jukebox tabs was inside the sleeve:

“Oh great joy”, to quote a line from OGDEN’S NUT GONE FLAKE.

Jackie Lee & The Raindrops / Jacky

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Listen: There Goes The Lucky One / Jackie Lee & The Raindrops
There

Stumbled on this single early on, around ’74. I’d had plenty of radio station scores by then, with no idea there’d thankfully be many, many, many more to come in life. I don’t know of a better high to be honest. Probably similar to most other addictions, you’re always craving the next fix. Well it’s moments like finding a Jackie Lee & The Raindrops single in a healthy stack of dj 7′s that’ll keep you on the drool.

By then, I’d become completely familiar with parent label fonts and layouts, so easily spotted this release as being part of the London Records group. During the 60′s, London distributed loads of small labels, and some larger ones as well, like Deram or Hi.

Anything from London was primo by me, and often meant the act was UK based, given London was indeed the American arm of British Decca. True to form, Jackie Lee, although originally from Ireland, was by then living in England. That was close enough. ‘There Goes The Lucky One’ really sounded like a mix between girl group and late fifties doo wop, plus I wrongly believed the record was from ’65 or so. As it turns out, ’62 was it’s year of release and Jaylee appears to have been a custom imprint. Jackie Lee clearly had a friend high up in the US operation. A custom label and a picture sleeve in 1962, someone worked miracles at the yearly London/Decca confab.

Jim Palmaeri, one of my pals at Discount Records where I worked at the time, fell in love with this. He’d often borrow it for weeks on end, and I became militant about it’s return continually. Despite not having heard the record for years, the chorus suddenly popped into my head, and I was singing it aloud Friday night. Then a dreadful stomach pit formed. Where was the record? I’d been playing the American Jackie Lee’s ‘Baby, Do The Philly Dog’ and ‘The Duck’ just a few nights prior, but didn’t recall seeing it. Checking verified the worst. Jackie Lee & The Raindrops weren’t there between the other Jackie Lee and Leapy Lee. Fuck.

An even greater fear then entered my mind. Did I get the single back from Jim that crucial last time he borrowed it?

Hold on, I did get it back, remembering that during a trip to SXSW in the 90′s, I stumbled on an empty picture sleeve at the record collector’s show which, for years, was part of the annual convention. Upon returning to New York, I reunited the record with it’s sleeve, but hadn’t recalled seeing it since. So the remainder of Friday evening had me wandering about slightly agitated.

Saturday morning, returning home from some early junking with a few new scores to file, I settle in front of the shelves to start alphabetizing and what do I see halfway along the wall section containing the L’s but ‘There Goes The Lucky One’. The records had separated a bit down the line from Leapy Lee to reveal the misfiled Jackie Lee & The Raindrops single. A cold sweat of adrenaline waved over me, and then I could not play this record fast enough. All in all, a happy ending.

Listen: White Horses / Jacky
White

Now I was on a roll. I needed to know more about this single, and what do I discover but this Jackie Lee is indeed the same person who recorded ‘White Horses’ for Philips in ’68, as Jacky.

I had followed it’s chart ascension at the time, quite intrigued by both song title and artist. Plus I was a sucker for anything on Philips. When ‘White Horses’ eventually reached a UK # 10, I got nuts for a copy, a US pressing of which was miraculously scored at Walt’s Records on Salina Street, in their non-hit record rack banished to the back wall of the shop.

By now, I was mowing lawns, cleaning the hallways and foyer of a small apartment building every Thursday after school, plus working weekends at the Chittenango Thruway Restaurant, meaning my visits to Walt’s weren’t limited to one 7″ purchase any longer. ‘White Horses’ came back home in a stack that included The Hollies ‘Jennifer Eccless’, Scott Walker ‘Joanna’, The Small Faces ‘Lazy Sunday’, Grapefruit ‘Dear Delilah’ and The Love Affair ‘Rainbow Valley’.

Remembering facts for my chemistry tests: useless. Remembering details about records: piece of cake.

D. Mob

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Listen: They Call It Acieed / D. Mob
They

While sitting in my dentist’s chair earlier today, having an unexpected root canal, nitrous oxide mask clamped to my face and a local radio station being piped into the room, I suddenly released that American Top 40 radio, when under this influence, sounds exactly like UK Top 40 from the late 80′s. Without the chemical enhancement, I’m afraid the said US format is dreadfully dated and dull. Yes, the nitrous was that good.

At one point. Neil Diamond’s ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’ began to play, and for thirty or so seconds, I got hyper excited, convinced the station was playing Bassnectar. A few minutes later, the nitrous had me believing The Small Faces ‘Itchycoo Park’ was beaming over the airwaves, but instead it was Bob Seger’s ‘Night Moves’. Tricky drug that.

House producer Dancin’ Danny D, via his alter ego, D. Mob, had the #3 UK hit in ’88 ‘They Call It Acieed’, which can easily double as the soundtrack to a nitrous afternoon at the dentist, without the help of any chemical.

Power Pill

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Listen: Pac Man (Mickey Finn’s Yum Yum Edit) / Power Pill
Pac Man (Mickey Finn's Yum Yum Edit) / Power Pill

How strange was that Grammy award acceptance speech from Dave Grohl a few weeks back? Dear me, he doesn’t at all seem comfortable that his Foo Fighters rock music possibly needs a fresh breath to creatively compete with newer genres, much more reflecting the sound of technology and instincts of a younger generation. This either minutes before or after an embarrassing attempt to musically collaborate with Deadmau5.

Yes, he proclaimed some rather curious mentions about singing into a microphone, learning to play your instrument, implying as long as that instrument isn’t a computer, one’s heart, imperfections and all, will prevail with better music resulting.

Huh? I guess to him, his band’s processed and polished output, to these ears at least, all apparently now recorded in his garage then tweaked to old school sonic perfection in a most high end mastering facility, is the real deal. Rock’s new soul. To each his own I suppose.

Point being, soulful music can be made on machines just as with traditional instruments if the creator has the heart he was mentioning, and the talent. His comments were not unlike Mitch Miller dismissing Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones in the early 60′s. Quite disappointing from a guy known to be supportive, friendly and a comrade.

Case in point, Power Pill. This one-off side track from Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, has more relevance today than many of the current metal posing as punk tunes being force fed down the pike by totally tuckered guitar playing 40 somethings. Check the timeline, the ‘Pac Man’ single is twenty years old.

The early 90′s, even the late 80′s, were indeed the formative periods for electronic music’s stronghold beginnings, finally surfacing in the DNA of a generation whose parents opened their ears and record shelves to Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Faust, Neu, Can, Henry Cow and many more.

Released by Roger Ames’ brilliant FFRR label, you need both the 12″ and the desperately hard to find 7″ of this one. My favorite version, Mickey Finn’s Yum Yum mix, miraculously made it to the 7′s B side in edited form.

I first heard ‘Pac Man’ on a BBC Radio 1 John Peel evening session program, driving around in Gary Crowley’s car after a rather late night at Jake’s. Never mind. I made it to the Oxford Street HMV that very next morning to scarf one of the five copies in their rack. I know, very short sighted leaving the other four behind.

Ken Nordine / The Fred Katz Group

Friday, February 10th, 2012

wordjazzps, Ken Nordine, Dot, London Records, Word Jazz

wordjazzpsb, Ken Nordine, Word Jazz

Listen: Sound Museum / Ken Nordine with The Fred Katz Group
Sound

A rather quirky one from ’59, not unlike some TWILIGHT ZONE episode. The whole EP is a fun, bachelor pad meets lounge listen. Nice sleeve too.

Ken Nordine was a well known voiceover artist of the 50′s with his deep resonance being featured in many commercials and movie trailers. One critic wrote, “You may not know Ken Nordine by name or face, but you’ll almost certainly recognize his voice.”

I guess jazz does double for anything the media can not easily categorize.

Check out the sound effect around the 2:20 mark. M.I.A., not only did you make a disrespectful fool of yourself on the Super Bowl half time show, you’ve also been punk’d. Please do something original.

John Mayall

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Listen: Walking On Sunset (Mono) / John Mayall
Walking

I recall vividly awaiting each new album from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers during their vast and frequent output of the late 60′s. There was something very British about it all. Seemingly via coincidental osmosis, to me, this band personified the damp, cold and grimy UK club circuit. Photos of their decidedly uncomfortable, barely heated van imply a situation closer to say, a jail sentence than an accommodating overnight transportation mode. And that’s just the travel bit.

So by the release of the BLUES FROM LAURAL CANYON album, summer ’68, it was well fun to hear a bright, almost happy version of blues rock. In this case, documenting what must have been like the world changing from black and white to color, for an English band usually grinding through the drizzly UK and then suddenly ending up in Southern California performing a week of shows at Los Angeles’ Whisky A Go Go.

John Mayall himself returned, or maybe stayed on for a week or two, and hence the resulting documentation of the trip. References to The Mothers Of Invention, Canned Heat and The GTO’s make for fun musical name checks. But it’s the almost pop-like songs that entertain the most.

‘Walking On Sunset’ was always a favorite, along with ’2401′, a UK 7″. Again, having the promos of these means owning the scarce mono versions, as posted above.

‘Walking On Sunset’, to this day, can still invite you along for the stroll, envisioning what it must have been like, mid century architecture overloading one’s senses from all directions, and a list of upcoming club shows in the vicinity that could rival London’s Marquee with heart stopping effect.

Years later, having morphed from fan to A&R, I signed John Mayall and he made his terrific comeback album for Island, A SENSE OF PLACE. One of the nicest, most dependable, problem free guys you’d ever want to work with quite frankly.

Only a few years back, I ran into he and his family as we both waited for outbound flights at LAX. We sat for a good hour and caught up. John, as always, sharing endless details about those days. Love the guy.