Posts Tagged ‘The Beazers’

The Birds

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Listen: No Good Without You Baby / The Birds

The Birds, like their leader Ronnie Wood, seemed forever destined to second tier, always in supporting roles. Yet years later, their lack of first division ideas wonderfully tarnished them with a rather perfect time period sound, ideally suited for the musical backdrop of some British beat boom documentary. But after all, they were on Decca, which in hindsight is regarded as one of the holy grail UK labels for the genre.

To many, Decca has forever been saddled as the company that passed on The Beatles. I however say that’s only one of their greatest achievements. Signing The Rolling Stones being the other. Whether by design or accident, it certainly led them down a path that attracted Them, The Moody Blues, The Graham Bond Organization, The Zombies, The Beazers, The Artwoods, The Small Faces, The Nashville Teens, Zoot Money, The Move and other such hard up heroes, of which The Birds were included.

Several years back, while in London for work, I had conveniently scheduled my trip around The Olympia Record Fair. Getting there somewhat early, but not when doors opened, the first dealer I encountered, off to the left most side of the venue, was not surprisingly unbothered by any customers. His make shift boxes of 7′s unattractively assembled across his table, with as many sloppy boxes below, about two dozen in all. No wall hangings highlighting high end items, no colorful signs, no sizzle of any kind. Everything was either £1, £3 or £5.

Having decided to systematically cover the entire event, I began with this fellow, technically the first dealer far left, with every intention of moving right across the entire lot to the other side. Despite his unkept presentation, I reminded myself there was a plan and not to abandon it by skipping his table, before even starting.

Barely through the first box, I realized it’s entire contents were Decca or Decca distributed A Labels. Temporarily skipping to the second and discovering it to be the same, I asked him about his wares, inquiring was it coincidence they were all Decca’s. Turns out he didn’t regularly sell at the fairs, pretty obvious from the shabby boxes alone, but had stumbled on a retired Decca employee with an attic full of records from his 60′s heyday, and here they all were.

Well, I nearly blacked out. Luckily, a friend had come along with me, and immediately had the defensive sense to inform any other customers wandering up that the entire table was being sold. This gave me time to plow through and grab pretty much all of them. In hindsight, I still stress about leaving Les Reed or Ted Heath type singles behind, and wonder constantly if there was something I’d missed.

The unexpected discovery was one of life’s greatest moments, and a reminder to never judge a book by it’s cover. Amongst the many, many, many incredible purchases that day at that table: ‘No Good Without You Baby’ as well the other two Decca singles from The Birds.

The London Olympia Record Fair, which happens regularly, is in fact this weekend. Never ever pass it up.

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