Posts Tagged ‘Manfred Mann’

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

DDDBMTZabadakUSA, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Imperial

Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Listen: Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Zabadak

In honor of yet another year owning ‘Zabadak’, one of my all time favorite singles by an all time favorite band, I’m continuing my annual tradition of reposting that original entry about the single’s history from December 28, 2008 at SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME.

Footnote: In the original post linked above, I mention the single’s strong airplay at the time. Click here after reading the post to check out some of the US Top 40 stations that played and charted the record. This link organizes the airplay by date, and note there are 6 pages of station listings viewable. See upper right corner to scroll though all 6.

Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band

Monday, April 11th, 2016

ZootWillie, Zoot Money, Decca

Listen: The Uncle Willie / Zoot Money ZootWillie.mp3

If you ever see the double LP, HARD UP HEROES, do yourself a favor, buy immediately. Released on UK Decca in ’74, the compilation is a proper collection of their deep 60′s catalog, mostly gritty blues leaning acts, and packaged beautifully. It was here that I first heard ‘The Uncle Willie’.

As with other tracks by The Graham Bond Organization, Alexis Korner, Them, The Birds and John Mayall, it epitomized what I imagined the seedy clubs of London’s Soho to sound like. I’ll never know, but bet I’m right.

Zoot Money already had his Big Roll Band rolling by then. For whatever reason, their moniker was left off the label copy, but their signature sound was sure there to be heard. Man, did I want to own this single from that first listen. Took me a few years, but I got it. Just as expected, the audio on the 7″ was even more authentic than the LP pressing, which in original mono, sounded pretty great already.

Years later, like thirty or so, a live cd from The Flamingo was issued. This band was clearly full and exciting live, as their rendition of ‘The Uncle Willie’ proved.

ZootBigTime, Zoot Money, Epic

Listen: Big Time Operator / Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band ZootBigTime.mp3

Pretty sure it was 2003, the Maximum Rhythm & Blues Tour, a yearly-ish event, played The Royal Albert Hall, and by sheer luck, I was there for work. Jackie Hyde arranged not only tickets, but passes to the after show. As if having just watched Manfred Mann, with both Paul Jones and Mike D’Abo doing their respective hits, Chris Farlowe, The Alan Price Set and Colin Blunstone wasn’t enough, the post show bit was a corucopia of their musician friends from the 60′s. I’m sure there were guys milling about, by now unrecognizable, that would’ve been great jukebox tab scores, but who could tell.

Not the case with Zoot Money. You couldn’t miss him. Jovial and very approachable, he laid a bunch of Marquee stories my way and had no idea ‘Big Time Operator’ came graced with a picture sleeve in the US.

ZootJukebox, Zoot Money, Jukebox Tab

What a great guy to talk with, and pretty good memory too. Wanting a jukebox tab, I didn’t know the B side to ‘The Uncle Willie’, but he did.

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.

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.

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

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Listen: Ragamuffin Man / Manfred Mann
Ragamuffin

Manfred Mann may hold the record for having massive success with not two, but three different lead vocalists. It’s usually big trouble when that original lead singer is suddenly gone. A few exceptions like AC/DC, Van Halen, The Move and maybe The Small Faces come to mind. But three different ones. Let’s see, that’s a pretty short list. I can only think of The Temptations and Manfred Mann.

Their Mercury/Fontana patch with Mike D’Abo, loosely referred to as Manfred Mann Chapter II, is my favorite, but just. To be fair, I love singles from all the lineups, so it’s probably my involuntary addiction toward anything released on the Philips/Mercury/Fontana labels that swings it. Honestly, I get the shakes around their pressings, especially the promos.

The last 7″ from the Mike D’Abo era, ‘Ragamuffin Man’ has forever been tarnished with fulfilling the final contractual commitment, by then Manfred Mann himself having decided on a jazz direction and new lineup, etc, etc. But seriously, it’s just as strong as the singles preceding it: ‘Semi Detached Suburban Mr. Jones’, ‘Ha Ha Said The Clown’, ‘My Name Is Jack’ and ‘The Mighty Quinn’. The record is great. I still play it a ton.

Got to hand it to him, Manfred Mann could not only pick songs but had a real gift of stamping his keyboard dazzle to every single they ever made. He might even be the earliest guy to successfully bring synths and Moog to mainstream radio.

And for the record, THE MIGHTY QUINN album, assembled for the US only just a few months prior to ‘Ragamuffin Man’ being released, is exceptional. They always used the long-play format to showcase a virtuosity and range of influences away from the world of pop singles. Despite not being an album recorded intentionally as such by the band, it plays like one, and combines all their assets nicely. It’s getting scarce these days, especially in a mint sleeve. I recommend everyone own a copy.

Manfred Mann

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

If You Gotta Go, Go Now / Manfred Mann

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

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
She

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
Pretty

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.

Spanky & Our Gang

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Listen: Like To Get To Know You / Spanky & Our Gang
Like

God, I hated Spanky & Our Gang when they were current. As a kid, they just sounded like safe sonic sludge, a cross between The Mamas & The Papas and The Letterman. Being impatiently addicted to the English group image, this bunch were simply hideous visually, out of shape and way too American.

Add to that, they were signed to the US Mercury/Philips/Fontana labels. As far as I was concerned, any money and manpower directed toward them took away from The Herd, The Troggs, Manfred Mann, The New Vaudeville Band, The Pretty Things and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Trust me, this did not sit well.

Truth be told, I was kind of wrong. Indeed, they probably did rob those other acts of company resources, but musically, they were pristine. To be fair, as the years passed, I found Spanky & Our Gang to be a nagging guilty pleasure, and one that eventually carried no guilt. Their collection of hits and non-hits sound even better with age. In fact, very psychedelic, aided in no small way by some of the earliest stereo 7′ pressings I can recall.

Check out both the production and arrangement of any Spanky & Our Gang single, start with ‘Like To Get To Know You’. This was on the radio constantly in ’68 and rivals Richard Harris’s Jimmy Webb written/produced ‘MacArthur Park’ for the flowery mini symphony slot of the era.

A Band Of Angels

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Listen: Invitation / A Band Of Angels
Invitation

A Band Of Angels are possibly the most unique of any British Beat group. You see, they actually managed a national US television spot, yet never achieved a domestic release. Not even one single in America. True.

In early ’65, they were on Brian Epstein’s black and white UK segment of HULLABALOO, a weekly installment positioned as a live feed direct from England. It didn’t last long, but I recall a barefooted Marianne Faithfull, also interviewed post song and a bunch of suit/tied Merseybeat acts getting similar looks. Parallel with his management roster, he was very safe, dare I say, white. So forget about seeing anything with a blues or RnB influence in said segment. Never happened. Still, A Band Of Angels were a real treat to this little kid.

I’d seen their photo in 16 MAGAZINE, and was itching for a listen. They performed ‘Not True As Yet’, even crazier given the track was a B side of ‘Me’, a colossal UK flop on United Artists. One listen on that program, and I sang it for years to follow, almost ten, until I landed a copy for myself. That’s both how much I wanted to retain it and how strong the song’s hook was.

Jump forward to summer ’66, and the band’s recorded peak, ‘Invitation’, gets a UK release. The single has become more appreciated through the years, slowly revered in the Northern Soul clubs and deemed as one of Mike D’Abo’s best lead vocals ever. Now that’s saying something, given his later hits with Manfred Mann, like ‘The Mighty Quinn’ and ‘Semi Detached Suburban Mister James’ particularly.

Long John Baldry

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Listen: When The Sun Comes Shining Thru’ / Long John Baldry
When

Long John Baldry, as with Georgie Fame and Alan Price, was another guy from the early 60′s London blues and soul club circuit. Then known as Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, he and his band can be found on numerous schedules from The Flamingo and The Marquee clubs, double billing with several similar up and coming American RnB music enthusiasts, all hell bent on reinterpreting their worshiped heroes.

Like with yesterday’s post, he too took a more commercial route as the 70′s approached, successfully achieving mainstream pop hits in England. A switch of labels in both the UK and US, as well a change in musical style and the recruitment of Tony Macaulay as producer resulted in ‘Let The Heartaches Begin’, which went to #1 in Britain during November of ’67. A year later, ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”, written by Manfred Mann’s lead vocalist Mike D’Abo, went Top 30, although neither caught much traction in America.

Around ’68, Tony Macaulay began cornering many of my favorite records, either as writer, producer and in some cases, both. Current day British pop had become his forte with Scott Walker, Pickettywitch, The Marmalade and The Foundations amongst his successes. I guess he had a sound, and quite frankly, in my world, these two were a perfect pair.

Come ’71 though, Long John Baldry had reverted back to his original boogie woogie style, as he called it. Teaming up with Elton John and Rod Stewart as producers, both struggling newcomers in the early 60′s but by then successful superstars, afforded their old friend some decent US traction. Good for John Baldry of course, but for me, the music wasn’t as much fun nor more memorable than that period anchored by Tony Macaulay and ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”.

The Swinging Blue Jeans

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Swinging Blue Jeans - Don't Make Me Over USA

Swinging Blue Jeans - Don't Make Me Over

Listen: Don’t Make Me Over / The Swinging Blue Jeans
Don't Make Me Over / The Swinging Blue Jeans

Who says if you get a song for free, you won’t buy a copy later anyways – for whatever the reason: loyalty to the artist, love of the song, wanting a particular configuration or maybe even just doing your part.

Even though I’d gotten ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ at no charge during one of my early Friday night “I’m here to collect records for the children’s hospital” scams instigated on our local MOR station, WMCR, at an alarmingly young age, I bought a copy anyways. I passed up the stock of ‘She Needs Company’ by Manfred Mann to expend that particular dollar, which in hindsight was a wrong gamble. Never seen one since, although this Swinging Blue Jeans non-charter (actually it did Bubble Under The Billboard Hot 100 at #116) is a bit more common.

It was the heat of the moment. I was overtaken with supporting the team. I really thought I could help it nudge up the chart. The naiveness of youth. I’d actually heard it on my local Top 40, WNDR in March – it was a one listen record. Although Dionne Warwick had a hit with it in ’62, to me it was an unknown track by ’66, when this arrived.

If you grew up in the Northeast, quite possibly songs are seasonal. This was a winter single, along with others at the time that left a life long impression like The Mindbenders ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ or The Walker Brothers ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’.

By May it had struggled onto the local survey (below) with several other greats. And on this particular week – it was the featured record thereby affording the lyrics be printed on the survey’s reverse side.

WNDR Chart 5-13-66

The Beazers

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Listen: Blue Beat / The Beazers BeazersBlueBeat.mp3

What it must have been like. Probably more glamorous as a fantasy than in actual reality. Like life on the chitlin circuit, or what this song has always captured for me: the Beat Group circuit, if I may. English touring combos, most with an undeservingly flop single or two out, driving up and down the UK in nasty, smelly, unheated vans, getting paid squat, existing on grease drenched, vile motorway fry-ups to compliment their dirty clothes, hair and fingernails…check the photo on the back cover of Decca’s compilation HARD UP HEROES to capture the essence. Why The Beazers’ ‘Blue Beat’, a Decca master, wasn’t included on that comp baffles me. It’s about my only criticism though, a superb, must have collection and package.

A slightly eerie and haunting soundtrack to that predominantly regretful lifestyle, ‘Blue Beat’ also marks one of Chris Farlowe’s earliest recordings, actually his third release, and second for Decca. Apparently recorded to cash in on the brief bluebeat movement, which seems to have resurfaced more times than we can all count, it’s a pretty fine record, faux ska guitar pattern and all.

About ten years back, armed with a page of blank jukebox tabs, I approached Alan Price for a signature at an after party for the 60′s Extravaganza show featuring his band, The Alan Price Set, plus The Zombies, Manfred Mann and Chris Farlowe at The Royal Albert Hall. Having done his jukebox tab duty with ‘Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear’, he was only too happy to volunteer Chris Farlowe sign one as well. Shouting across the room for him to come quick, our man B lined my way.

Upon arrival, Alan Price proclaims, “Chris, you have to do this, it’s a top idea”.

Baffled, Chris Farlowe obliged. Pretty handy that these guys were from a generation that would, sometimes catastrophically, sign anything, hence here was my chance:

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Chris Farlowe

Lothar & The Hand People

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Listen: Machines / Lothar & The Hand People LotharMachines.mp3

When, of all people, Mort Shuman wrote ‘Machines’, I wonder did he intend it to sound like this. Given that this and Manfred Mann’s versions are all drums and bongos and such leans towards a “yes”.

Lothar & The Hand People first and foremost had a killer name. Immediately uncomfortable sounding. On first look, you could’ve mistaken them as one of the San Francisco bands, which indeed I did for a while. Being on Capitol Records blindly reinforced the possibility, as the label seemed to lean west coast when it came to domestic signings. Indeed, the band were New York based, and who knows, may have stumbled on ‘Machines’ at The Brill Building. It’s possible.

Supposedly one of the first electronic rock bands to use Moog in the lineup, as with Silver Apples, seems they set the stage for Suicide a few years down the line. Lothar in fact refers to the band’s theramin as opposed to a member.

‘Machines’ got a lot of late night AM radio play summer ’68. All things were leaning underground, as the genre was called, and many of the major market Top 40′s were programming the sound of youth culture at night. Nowadays, US pop radio just swims as hard against that tide as possible.

It’s how I heard it – and only ever heard it via the transistor radio under my pillow until snatching a copy in a shoe store running some kind of tie-in with one of the local Top 40′s. Buy a pair, get a free single. I was having none of that. Sweet talked about fifteen 7′s out of a peer working the register.

Maxine Brown

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

maxineohnouk, Maxine Brown, Ace Records, Wand, Manfred Mann, Carole King, Goffin, Fontella Bass, Dusty Springfield, Dee Dee Warwick

Listen: Oh No Not My Baby / Maxine Brown MaxineBrownOhNo.mp3

Infamous Carole King (did you know she married one of The Myddle Class) / Gerry Goffin classic. Like many of their compositions, ‘Oh No Not My Baby’ was recorded by a whole bunch of folks. Cher, Manfred Mann, Fontella Bass, Dusty Springfield and Dee Dee Warwick amongst my favorites.

The US hit version went to Maxine Brown (#24, 1964). Unfortunately, most of her singles for Wand (Pye International in the UK for this one), as well her duets with Chuck Jackson, achieved undeserved low Billboard pop chart peaks, Bubbling Under The Hot 100 entries or non hits whatsoever. Hence, their place in every last Northern Soul price guide.

As with most of her work for the label, Cissy Houston and The Sweet Inspirations provided backups. It had to have been a magical time around the New York studios that catered to the RnB sessions in those days. Seems a day didn’t pass without a classic being recorded, just think of all the unreleased, forgotten songs.

Worth getting: BEST OF THE WAND YEARS, a flawless cd comp from Ace UK with the usual amazing booklet. The details will have you drooling.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Maxine Brown

Big Mama Thornton

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

BigMamaStonedUSA, Big Mama Thornton

Listen: Let’s Go Get Stoned / Big Mama Thornton BigMamaStoned.mp3

Covered by everyone from Manfred Mann to Ray Charles via his infamous version, ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ is as ubiquitous as “Strangers In The Night’ or ‘Satisfaction’.

During the late 60′s/early 70′s, during the heights of electric blues rock’s success, seems every last band dug up some deserving song, and in hindsight rather obvious classic from the genre, added on some whitewash and brought it successfully to the masses, tunes like ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ were everywhere. Add to that, the phenomenon of Janis Joplin – and you’ve get many a previously struggling original blues artist, particularly female ones, suddenly sharing bills with the biggest album selling underground bands of the day at The Fillmores, Avalon Ballroom, in War Memorials and college gymnasiums around the country. Big Mama Thornton was no exception.

Signed to Mercury and released around the time of Mother Earth’s almost breakthrough success, her renewed version of the surprisingly-penned-by Ashford & Simpson classic got some FM play in my neck of the woods. Never ever expecting a soul to buy it, I was well pleased to find a promo in the local used record bin for a quarter. Still sounds authenically ruff and tumble to this day.

Radio London

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

A few posts back, Manfred Mann on April 24th to be exact, I mentioned a terrific site lovingly maintained by Mary Payne and dedicated to 60′s pirate station Radio London. A day later, I get an email from this very iconic lady – thanking me for the kind words. I couldn’t have been more pleased – or so I thought.

Mary certainly did some trolling around, finding my post about the history of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich’s ‘Bend It’ in the US, and proceeded to include some of those details on her Radio London site. What an knockout – thank you Mary. If ever I’d have thought as a kid that someday, even my name alone would get a mention by Radio London, I would’ve expired.

DDDBMTTouch, Fontana, Pirate Radio, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Radio London

Listen: Touch Me, Touch Me / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich DDDBMTTouch.mp3

Well within her post, she wonders what US Fontana did about a later single ‘Touch Me, Touch Me’, by the band for the American market – given ‘Bend It’ had been cock blocked due to suggestive lyrics. My real belief is US dj’s didn’t want to bother learning the band’s name – that simple. Add to it, they only visited Stateside once for press and local TV’s, never playing live, which also didn’t make for a successful recipe.

As for ‘Touch Me, Touch Me’, US Fontana simply didn’t release it. A few months later, (June ’67), it was included on the band’s US GREATEST HITS album, a collection of all their singles that traded pretty exclusively off some regional US hits like ‘Bend It’ and ‘Hold Tight’ (although I did hear ‘Hideaway’ twice on WOLF). It faltered at #155 in Billboard’s Top 200. Even that was a surprise showing. The icing on the Fontana brainforce’s cake was to NOT include the band’s then current single ‘Okay’ (released July ’67) on the LP – despite the group getting their first National US TV that very summer (August ’67) performing…..’Okay’. It was to be their last release with Fontana.

Debuting on Imperial with ‘Zabadak’ the following November, they finally got a loads of airplay and ultimately cracked Billboard’s Top 100.

As if the mention was not enough, I find on closer examination of her posting, that the Radio Caroline site has now been updated to include their weekly charts from the 60′s as well.

Oh boy. I’ve been there for a few hours and have barely had time to do this here post. Visit it and prepare. You will need to set aside even more hours.

Thank you again Mary, you’ve made my year – and keep up the great work on your Radio London site.

Manfred Mann

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

ManfredHaHaUKPSA, Manfred Mann, Fontana, Mercury

ManfredHaUSA, Manfred Mann, Fontana, Mercury

Listen: Ha! Ha! Said The Clown / Manfred Mann ManfredHa.mp3

Doesn’t take much for me to play a Manfred Mann single, usually can’t stop at one. You know, they may be the first band I can think of who lost a lead singer (theoretically signaling the end), but instead bounced back with a replacement equally as successful, yet sounding nothing the same. And if that wasn’t enough, did it a third time as well.

‘Ha! Ha! Said The Clown’ comes from that middle bit, when Mike D’Abo replaced the bluesy Paul Jones. Everyone loved them just as much – weirdly without blinking. As with Manfred Mann line up #1 (which I’ve covered a while back), line up #2 had a flawless run of singles, every one a must. I can’t pick a favorite, they all represent some great memory or other.

Howard Thompson reminded me earlier today of the most awesome RADIO LONDON site, which, mistakenly I thought was already linked over there in the right hand column – but in fact was not (it’s there now).

On the air less than three years, it’s saga as ‘thee’ pirate station is fascinating. Start on the homepage and check it out sometime. I randomly clicked on the chart from this day in ’67, knowing any one of these lists would include loads of singles doubling as a suitable excuse for alerting everyone to the site’s existence. ‘Ha! Ha! Said The Clown’ sits at #14, a bit of a drastic drop from the previous week, when at #1.

Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on BACK TO THE FAB 40 INDEX to check out any week you like. Plan ahead – set aside at least an hour.

Sunny

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

sunnydoctors, Sunny, Sue & Sunny, The Brotherhood Of Man, Roger Cook, Roger Greenaway, Geoff Stephens, CBS

Listen: Doctor’s Orders / Sunny SunnyDoctors.mp3

Basically Sunny has loads of history. Solo artist, one half of Sue & Sunny (both of whom were also members of The Brotherhood Of Man) and background voice on many, many, many hit singles (Dusty Springfield, Elton John, The Love Affair, Lulu, Mott The Hoople, T. Rex, Tom Jones, and Joe Cocker to name but a few bigger ones). She’s probably on more records than even she can remember – let alone you or me.

Often associated with the Cook & Greenaway writer/producer team, it was their song ‘Doctor’s Order’ (co-written with Geoff Stephens, himself claim to a long list of song credits: The Applejacks, Manfred Mann, Scott Walker, Dave Berry, Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters) that became a favorite for literally months in ’74. As into rock and soul as I was in ’74, the occasional pop track would bite me hard. I was never comfortable that Sunny’s version didn’t become the US hit version, it was better and smoother than Carol Douglas’. Rest of world though, the crown went to the awesome Sunny. I want to meet her someday.

Piccadilly Palace

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

While I’m on the subject of TV shows – there was a great summer replacement in ’67 for HOLLYWOOD PALACE, the weekly Saturday night variety program hosted by Dean Martin on ABC-TV. You know the one The Rolling Stones made their US network debut on, whereby Dean poked fun their way during his into and outro to the performance.

Well, in summer ’67 it was replaced with PICCADILLY PALACE. The sight to the series lists air dates and guests for each episode. I generally lived each week for the moment. Well that’s not entirely true, a lot happened that summer. Still, some of the guests: The Small, Faces, The Hollies, Manfred Mann, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, The Kinks and The New Vaudeville Band. If anyone has footage, please let me know.

McGuinness Flint

Friday, July 24th, 2009

mcguinesswhen, mcguiness flint, tom mcguiness, capitol, manfred mann

Listen: When I’m Dead And Gone / McGuinness Flint McGuinnessWhen.mp3

mcguinessmalt, mcguiness flint, tom mcguiness, capitol, manfred mann

Listen: Malt And Barley Blues / McGuinness Flint McGuinessMalt.mp3

Manfred Mann, despite having several massive US hits, would always find it hard getting radio attention for the two or three followups each time. US radio never had any loyalty to many artists or it’s listeners. The audience takes a record to #1, but there’s no responsibility to let that same loyal customer hear the followup – unless of course the station was brown bagged an incentive. Manfred Mann were no exception. So it was really surprising when the McGuinness Flint (featuring Manfred Mann’s Tom McGuinness and Hughie Flint from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers) debut, a very British sounding single ‘When I’m Dead And Gone’, got immediate play – and became a bit of a hit (#47). Guess what, it didn’t last. The above pattern fell right into place. It’s followup, the equally great ‘Malt And Barley Blues’ got not an airing.

Long forgotten, I was reminded how much I valued them and as ‘When I’m Dead And Gone’ suddenly came in to my head the other night, I couldn’t get home fast enough to pull it out of the library. There next to it was ‘Malt And Barley Blues’. Been playing them both steady for a good couple of days ever since.