Posts Tagged ‘The Kinks’

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.

Tommy Tucker

Friday, November 13th, 2015

tommytuckerhiheeleduka, Tommy Tucker, Checker, Chess, Don Covay, Pye

Listen: Hi-Heel Sneakers / Tommy Tucker TommyTuckerHighHeeled.mp3

It was very early on that I’d learned to depend on certain labels for a consistant style or quality. Many collectors focus on their entire runs, and Chess/Checker is easily one such company. Basically, I was never disappointed by their 60′s output. Must have been an early radio station handout that turned me on to Tommy Tucker, although this did reach #11 in ’64. His Jimmy Reed style was an instant magnet, and I’m happy to this day that I plonked down $5 for his one and only Checker album at the time.

Don Covay also comes to mind, he wrote ‘Long Tall Shorty’, Tommy Tucker’s followup to ‘High Heeled Sneakers’. Covered by The Kinks and The Graham Bond Organization, it was apparently a common staple in the London clubs for a bit. Not a hit at the time, it’s deservedly risen to an equal ‘classic’ position for Tommy Tucker through the years.

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Listen: Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson
Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson

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.

Spirit

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Mechanical World / Spirit

Listen: Mechanical World / Spirit
Mechanical World / Spirit

Luckily, despite the revolution in stereophonic sound that was going hand in hand with the album format of 1968, most singles were still issued in mono. Such was the case for Spirit’s first release, on both the promo (listen above) and stock copies. ‘Mechanical World’ epitomized the dark side of the LSD generation, and defined late night radio. I always had fantasies of this and many tracks by The Doors being the soundtrack to driving through a pitch dark desert in the early hours. God knows why, I’d never even been to a desert. There wasn’t one near Syracuse although I certainly felt like I was growing up somewhere equally deserted, hence the possible connection in my brain.

I loved Spirit from the get go. They didn’t sound English which was a strict requirement, but thankfully they didn’t sound Americana either. Plus they looked good. LA bands tended to.

Spirit / I Got A Line On You

Listen: I Got A Line On You / Spirit
I Got A Line On You / Spirit

Somehow rather quickly, Spirit had a hit with their second 45, ‘I Got A Line On You’. It was welcomed. Their albums were great and hearing them on Top 40 radio made us all feel liberated. Things were pretty good on the airwaves. The Who and The Cream were getting some play, as were Big Brother & The Holding Company, Iron Butterfly and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. I was rather content.

Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit

Listen: Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit
Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit

‘Dark Eyed Woman’ was the lead track and first single from the difficult 3rd album CLEAR. Difficult (as a second album is known to be these days) because they’d had a hit despite the ‘album band’ and ‘live band’ habitat from which they came. Top 40 was developing it’s evil lack of loyalty way back then, and ‘Dark Eyed Woman’ didn’t get much play. But FM radio, much like today’s Sirius satellite stations, made up for it. Touring in support of it’s release, I finally got to see the band live. Despite how fantastic they were, and believe me, fantastic is putting it mildly, I was reeling from the support act that night (October 19, 1969): The Kinks.

It was The Kinks first US tour after the three year musician’s union ban. They had just released ARTHUR, much of which they played along with tracks from THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Death Of A Clown’ and ‘Til The End Of The Day’, their opening song. Jawdropping. I walked out of the venue never to be the same again.

I digressed, sorry.

1984 / Spirit

Listen: 1984 / Spirit
1984 / Spirit

Spirit released ’1984′, a non LP single, next. This was not a common move in the day. Still, it’s forever attached to Spirit’s CLEAR era, being of same time period. Actually, ’1984′ only ever appeared on LP once BEST OF SPIRIT was issued years later. The year 1984 seemed an eternity away on release and the record contributed to a political and ecological slant the band had taken from inception. Remember ‘Fresh Garbage’ from that first album?

Animal Zoo / Spirit

Listen: Animal Zoo / Spirit
Animal Zoo / Spirit

Many rightfully consider the original lineup’s fourth and final album, THE TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS, to be their art rock pinnacle. At least I read something to that effect recently. The two singles released from it are seminal. In fact the first, ‘Animal Zoo’, came out seemingly months prior to the album. I swiped it from a local album rock station whose late night dj occasionally let me visit. I honestly don’t remember their call letters, and he was a rather unpleasant know-it-all. I once recall him adamantly arguing with me about Humble Pie, claiming all their members, instead of just one, were from The Small Faces (wrong) and that none were from The Herd or Spooky Tooth (wrong), which I desperately tried to point out as incorrect for his benefit. He wasn’t having it, his loss. Nonetheless, I would tolerate him to get the records.

Mr. Skin / Spirit USA

Listen: Mr. Skin / Spirit
Mr. Skin / Spirit

This became mine one summer night’s visit a month or so later, along with the Juicy Lucy, Sea Train and Vivian Stanshall singles.

The Kinks

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Day's / The Kinks

Day's / The Kinks

Day's / The Kinks jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Ray Davies

Day's / The Kinks press-release

Listen: Days / The Kinks
Days / The Kinks

How do you pick a Kinks single to write about, yet avoid the guilt of the dozens you’re not mentioning? Not possible. But listening back to this week’s PICK OF THE POPS program, on BBC’s Radio 2, where Dale Winton counts down selected Top 20′s from years gone by, spanning the 60′s forward with much accuracy and old style chart excitement, I heard ‘Days’. It was in the 1968 chart that he was featuring.

‘Days’ has always been one of my most cherished records, and I have listened to it undoubtably thousands of times. I had a memorable life moment last November in London, walking from my hotel in Primrose Hill in the cold drizzling rain on a very grey Sunday to have late afternoon tea at my friend’s, when I heard it in the headphones, following Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Something In The Air’, played back to back on Radio 2. Being able to listen to the radio is a fascinating privilege not well known here in the States. This, my friends, was heaven.

As much as I loved it when released in summer ’68, and buying it at King Karol’s in NY on a summer excursion to see some bands, Jethro Tull with The Jeff Beck Group at the Fillmore East, I could never 100% enjoy it. I always felt so bitter that ‘Days’ got no airplay anywhere in the US and what a criminal shame it was that America was again being cheated out of such great musical culture by radio, a cancer that worsened year after year. No wonder we have what we have in our charts.

But some justice has been served, Ray Davies still performs and his great songs, like ‘Days’, get used in films etc. and covered. What would have happened if singles like this, and bands like The Small Faces or The Pretty Things had been given a chance back then. No question, things would have been very different here.

Kevin Ayers

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Caribbean Moon / Kevin Ayers

Listen: Caribbean Moon / Kevin Ayers KevinAyersCaribbeanMoon.mp3

In summer ’73, you could hear ‘Caribbean Moon’ incessantly on BBC Radio 1. I know, I spent most days lying in Regent’s Park with a transistor clamped to my ear. Occasionally a policeman would wander by instructing me to turn it off. Radios were not allowed in the Queen’s Parks.

By late afternoon, I’d start my rounds of the used record stands in Soho market, before going to meet my girlfriend Claire as she got off work at the Scotch House on Regent Street. Over to The Ship on Wardour we’d go, to have some beers and maybe a sandwich if money permitted; then onto the Marquee for work.

Yes, my job consisted solely of collecting empty pint glasses for the kitchen. I was not the washing up fellow, so felt a bit of seniority on my side. The obvious perk, in addition to free beers for us both, was seeing the bands. And guess what, this was simply a daily routine for months. I had a job which paid £1 a night, lived in the west end of London and had access to the latest 7″ promo singles daily. It’s seldom been better.

Glued to Radio 1 morning til night meant getting to hear a lot of great records, many of which somehow never charted: The Kinks ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’, Blue ‘Little Jody’, Writing On The Wall ‘Man Of Renown’, Frampton’s Camel ‘All Night Long’. This Kevin Ayers single unfortunately, was one as well.

I guess it wasn’t only me that thought it should have been a smash, as Harvest reissued it at least twice more within the next few years.

Listen: Take Me To Tahiti / Kevin Ayers KevinTahiti.mp3

There were a few resident dj’s at The Marquee. I want to say Ian Fleming and Jerry Floyd. Well Jerry someone, maybe Lloyd. Both guys were pretty cool, and we had a bit of a rivalry going on as to who could get the latest releases first. I did love when I flanked them after all, they were being serviced by the labels whereas I was slogging around the stalls picking singles up for 10p, maybe even a few they had handed off. All in good fun though.

I recall excitedly getting in one night, with this latest Kevin Ayers release. Radio 1 were already playing ‘Caribbean Moon’, but we were all jonsing to hear it’s B side ‘Take Me To Tahiti’. Everyone I knew was insatiable for Kevin Ayers that summer. Oh Lord did it sound spectacular playing through The Marquee’s sound system. Yes, this very single you see pictured above was the one that got spun at The Marquee that July night. Click on schedule above to enlarge, just to have a look at who was playing that month.

I’d always hinted to Jack Barrie, the club’s manager, that I should be the dj, but it never did happen.

Fairport Convention

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

FairportSirB, Fairport Convention, Island

Listen: Sir B. McKenzie’s Daughter’s Lament For The 77th Mounted Lancers Retreat From The Straights Of Loch Knombe, In The Year Of The Lord 1727, On The Occasion Of The Announcement Of Her Marriage To The Laird Of Kinleanie / Fairport Convention FairportSirB.mp3

Although the song title earned the Guinness Book award for ‘longest ever’, Fairport Convention were guaranteed not to have a hit single because of it. Besides, this was oddly relegated to the B side. A last remnant of Richard Thompson’s days with the band, by the time of it’s release, he was gone.

I was desperate to own this single, not having been included on FULL HOUSE, their current album at the time. Far from being amongst the majority vote, I considered the new four piece lineup, sans Thompson, their best yet. And although the prior release, LEIGE AND LIEF got, and still gets, all the praise, it’s FULL HOUSE hands down that’s my favorite. Possibly due to it coinciding with my first ever Fairport Convention concert, supporting Traffic. A wondrous night that. I was spellbound.

FairportJohnLee, Fairport Convention, Island
FairportJohnLeePS, Fairport Convention, Island

Listen: John Lee / Fairport Convention FairportJohnLee.mp3

Less spellbound were the critics. Everyone missed Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny. Okay, I get it, but Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol were equally powerful, unsung frontmen. Tiny Dave in dark blue platform boots swirling around the stage, attacking his violin, and creating a whirlwind of sound and nuts-ness. Showmanship in addition to being a superb songwriter. It was Dave Swarbrick who wrote all of these A sides. What the fuck’s not to like?

Their next album, BABBACOMBE LEE, ruled my world. That tour was a special night out for us British music followers, being sandwiched between The Kinks and Lindisfarne. This my friends was heaven on earth, the absolute best place to be in the entire solar system.

‘John Lee’, one the the album’s two singles, still brings back that raging blizzard of March 1, 1972. We’d driven through blinding snow for well over an hour. Being pre-cell phone days, I was terrified of finding the show’d been cancelled once we arrived and approached Kleinhand’s Music Hall with a deadly pit in the stomach. Besides, this was my first date with Corinne, who finally agreed to accept an invitation out. Please God, make it all happen.

Miracle. The show went on as planned, thankfully. It was in the stars I guess.

Let me tell you about it: This was Lindisfarne’s first ever US date, though you’d never have known. ‘Fog On The Tyne’ made it clear this was going to be a very English night. Bring it on, we had waited long for this.

Not to worry, Fairport Convention, despite being of the folk rock classification, powered that stage the moment they hit. Straight into ‘Walk Awhile’, “Sir B. McKenzie’s…’, ‘The Journeyman’s Grace’, ‘Sickness And Diseases’, ‘Sloth’ and the above ‘John Lee’, Even the balcony was jigging in the aisles, or at least they thought they were.

Then came The Kinks. At this point, in their high camp era, Dave decked out in a tailored tangerine red suit and Ray with bright green velvet jacket and clown sized bow tie, perfectly sloppy, opening with ‘Till The End Of The Day’, then satiating us with ‘The Village Green Preservation Society’, ‘Victoria’, ’20th Century Man’, ‘Death Of A Clown’, ‘Apeman’, ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’, ‘Holloway Jail’, ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Have A Cuppa Tea’, ‘Arthur’ and ‘Waterloo Sunset’. Sweet Jesus have mercy!

FairportRosie

Listen: Rosie / Fairport Convention FairportRosie.mp3

“Rosie’ is as vital a song and single in Fairport Convention’s history as any of the others, which by the way, seem to get all the name checks. It came to represent the beginning of a comradery amongst former members that eventually defined lineups ahead, whereby any or many would float in and out of the band.

For this one, it was Sandy Denny who guested on the call and response type chorus, hinting at the full time member she would return to be just a year or so down the road. For proof of the fantastic vocal clarity she could bring to any song, just listen to ‘Rosie’.

FairportWhitePS

FairportWhite, Fairport Convention, Island

Listen: White Dress / Fairport Convention FairportWhiteDress.mp3

Supporting the reunion album, RISING FOR THE MOON with another Anglophile crushing US package (Caravan and Renaissance), the horribly under attended September 24, 1975 stop in Rochester had to be a demoralizing, why-are-we-here moment. Unfortunately, the stark, vast theater seemed ironically fitting during ‘White Dress’, their most haunting track ever, and in some ways, most powerful simply via Sandy Denny’s ability to evoke chills so effortlessly.

As with her very own version of Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind’, a solo single from ’78, ‘White Dress’ can be overwhelming, and many times, still challenges my courage to play it all the way through.

Kennedy Express

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

kennedyexpressuka, Kenny Pickett, Eddie Phillips, The Creation, Kennedy Express

Listen: Is There Life On Earth? / Kennedy Express
Is

I stumbled on Kennedy Express in some London collectors shop, I think it was 50p. How could the staff not have noticed both the writers and producers were Kenny Pickett and Eddie Phillips of The Creation? Aren’t you paid to know these things?

Better yet, how did I not know The Creation were essentially recording under another name? Bigger fuck up.

Okay, so ‘Is There Life On Earth?’ was released in 1980, when the band were traveling the has-been patch before legend. Not sure if The Creation were ever really has-beens though. Never mind, the discovery was the shop’s loss and my gain.

It was pretty 80′s sounding stuff but the Phillips/Pickett hooks were still obvious. This was around the time when ‘Teacher Teacher’, a song they’d written for Rockpile, became a worldwide hit. Proof there is a God.

Presumably Don Arden, who owned Jet, decided to give the guys a release. Clearly he continued to be an investor, given some seven years later, when Eddie Phillips reformed The Creation, he released ‘A Spirit Called Love’, also on Jet. That was during a brief period when both Mick Avory and John Dalton from The Kinks made up the band’s rhythm section.

Considered disposable pop by those in the know apparently. ‘Is There Life On Earth?’ doesn’t even appear in the RECORD COLLECTOR PRICE GUIDE. Possibly only for we hardcore Creation specialists. I can live with that too.

Again, their loss, my gain.

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.

Blodwyn Pig

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Dear Jill / Blodwyn Pig

Dear Jill / Blodwyn Pig

Listen: Dear Jill / Blodwyn Pig
Dear

Even if you don’t favor late 60′s blues or progressive stuff, you might still appreciate Blodwyn Pig. They were an exception, really quite musical and in fact, still hold up well today.

The band was formed by Jethro Tull’s original guitarist Mick Abrahams, not long after they’d released their debut album, THIS WAS.

Similarly, Blodwyn Pig leaned a bit jazz and like Jethro Tull, were based in more than your standard guitar/bass/drums lineup, with Jack Lancaster on saxes/horns/harmonicas. A particularly strong asset being Mick Abrahams’ effortlessly authentic blues voice. Plus he was a very accomplished acoustic slide player as you can hear.

Pretty amazing to realize this music was written and played by guys in their late teens or at most, early twenties. Saw them once too, along with Chicken Shack, opening for The Kinks. The stellar UK band triple header had me glazing over my school work as I counted down the weeks, then days, then hours until showtime. Man, was it ever worth the agony.

Renaissance

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Listen: Northern Lights (Edit) / Renaissance
Northern

I went through a prog rock stage like every kid, but secretly never had the patience for all those long songs in private. I was playing The Kinks and The Marmalade to be honest. Even the bands exclusively part of that genre won me with their attempts at more traditional songs or singles, as they are ultimately best described.

Camel, Caravan, Curved Air, they all had great 7′s, and that’s just a few of the C’s. The likes of Yes, The Nice, Genesis, King Crimson or even Van Der Graaf Generator, when their full album sided epics got edited down for a single, probably discovered they’d essentially written a pop song. I’m guessing a few, like possibly Robert Fripp, are still shivering from the prospect.

I stumbled on a most fascinating Facebook post yesterday from a friend Bruce Garfield. He’s now managing Renaissance, a band who I would classify as prog, and remember from college. In fact, I booked them at my school and a few members came back to our apartment after the show, to buy drugs from my then girlfriend. His post centered around their new album, and how they’re raising money to record it via Kickstarter. Really impressive plan and I truly wish them well.

During the presentation, when snippets of their various songs were used, I caught a passage from ‘Northern Lights’. Blimey, I hadn’t heard it for the longest time, and so headed downstairs for a listen. A bit overlooked here at home when current in ’78, lost time is being made up for presently. If this got played once, it easily got twenty spins. Really good song, and am now planning on seeing their show in June as a result.

The band deserve a lot of respect, and they deserve a break. Turns out their label partners from those lucrative years all shut their doors and draw the blinds when they come knocking, tossing a mere dribble of royalties their way. Having worked for the majors a solid two plus decades, I know how true their claims must be.

The Scaffold

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Listen: Liverpool Lou / The Scaffold
Liverpool

Never modeling themselves as a band, but instead three guys basically doing comedy and poetry routines set to music, gave The Scaffold an out of jail free card in the image department. The fairly logical result of Liverpool and British themed material afforded The Scaffold a very local sound, and became pretty appealing to the Anglophile trait some of us had.

It was with great surprise to suddenly be hearing their first big UK hit, ‘Thank U Very Much’ on American Top 40 stations in the spring of ’68, and somehow it did okay. Probably the last very British sounding record, bar possibly The Kinks ‘Come Dancing’, that performed as such.

Fast forward to ’74, Warner Brothers US issues ‘Liverpool Lou’ that summer. Having lost no part of the pub/soccer singalong characteristics common to most Scaffold singles, it was most likely Paul McCartney’s production that promoted such decision, and the fact that Wings were the backup band.

It has often been said, you never win or lose the race until you enter, so why not give a current UK Top 10 single with Wings in the wings a shot here.

I heard it a lot in Discount Records that summer, where I worked, and at home. Beyond that, not an airing in sight.

Franz Ferdinand

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Listen: Walk Away / Franz Ferdinand
Walk

Just this past week, BBC Radio 4 had a second series whereby Joan Armatrading spoke to various guitarists about their style and technique. In fact, they’re all still archived for another few days. Being vastly accomplished herself, it of course led to nice conversation with a wide variety of others like Baaba Maal and Richard Thompson.

The first of those in this week’s rundown was the fellow from Franz Ferdinand, Alex Kapranos. Funny thing, one of their most inviting song’s for Joan, ‘Take Me Out’, was probably my most despised track of that period and the specific moment she liked best highlighted the exact reason I never had interest in the band. That being when they kind of change tempo mid song and all play in unison, each extending their left leg, or maybe right, and kicking out the beat together. Makes my skin crawl.

So it was a great surprise to me that the followup album, their second, included a song, ‘Walk Away’, that I just took to in a big way. Very reminiscent of The Kinks’ SLEEPWALKER or MISFITS period, the vocals were quite similar to Ray Davies, minus the obvious mimic that other bands purposely do. Made me a bit of a fan, and have now suddenly wondered what ever happened to them.

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Listen: Sergeant Fury / The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
Sergeant

Thank you Duane for emailing me tonight with a reminder of how great this band was.

If ever you saw them live, you’ll know, they owned a stage during their ’74 – ’75 heyday. Ok, a year or so later the handful of UK hits came. But even as that happened, their landmark album, NEXT, based around the Jacques Brel song of the same name, from just before they really took off, re-entered the UK charts and England was Sensational Alex Harvey Band mad. That meant we US Anglophiles were in total step.

US Mercury, parent company to the Vertigo imprint, managed to get the band a slot on THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, doing the whole Vambo routine, the main character from NEXT. Frustrating thing, and a possible label mistake: the two best tracks from that album were never released as singles and therefore got no radio airplay focus. I’m talking about ‘Giddy Up A Ding Dong’ and ‘Vambo Marble Eye’. This was indeed still the era of an album being a completely thought through project, so the full length benefitted. Pressed on vinyl meant the running time couldn’t exceed forty minutes or thereabouts. Not too long, not too short.

Once compact discs hit, there was suddenly seventy plus minutes to potentially fill. Problem became, most bands would proceed to do just that. Result: loads of weak albums, cluttered up by throwaway tracks. Plus, everyone had less time. As technology progressed there were so many more fun things to do than listen to your favorite band’s B level material when only a few short years prior, these crap songs were simply tossed onto the scrap heap.

Never mind, point being my favorite Sensational Alex Harvey Band single, ‘Sergeant Fury’, is not from NEXT, but instead their followup, THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. Looking back, I recall my attraction it’s the English vaudeville dancehall element tremendously. The Kinks were swimming knee deep in the genre then too, as was Ian Dury with both Kilburn & The High Roads and a few years later, Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

Mercury brought the band to Syracuse, staging a free concert at the Landmark Theatre in order to film their live show. Why the label chose this town, and not New York or Los Angeles, God only knows. And I mention God, because clearly there is one to drop such a euphoric high into my lap.

What a day that was. We scoured the place from like 11am. Easily meeting the fellows, shocking both Alex himself by talking about his previous soul outfits; and his group, when asking for details about Tear Gas, their previous band. As a result, we were eating, drinking and drugging with them until the early hours.

What self proclaimed Anglophile could make a soft landing after that!

The Kinks

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Listen: The Village Green Preservation Society (Mono Single Version) / The Kinks
The

Our dear friend Nancy Rose from London recently visited New York, as always, with piles of gifts for the whole family. She has the kindest heart on earth.

We met centuries ago, well in the last one, when we were all Kinks stalkers. Those who worshiped The Kinks, by telepathy or something, all found each other, unswayable from the band’s God-like greatness. Actually, it was Corinne who first befriended Nancy, but before long, her Los Angeles Kinks circle and our east coast one were a team.

When we get together now, we reminisce stories deep and many, and truly become kids again. Yet another power that The Kinks possessed that we didn’t even know about until decades later.

So back to this batch of gifts, included was a BIG ISSUE cover story on the Ray Davies’ curated Meltdown Festival from June. The feature and interview are so, well, so Ray. If you’re a Kinks person, you’ll understand.

The event’s a multi-day, yearly happening. Ray chose to center it around the 60′s and included various acts and speakers from that period, including Vicki Wickham. It culminated with a full London Philharmonic Orchestra presentation of THE KINKS ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, the infamous 1968 album that flopped on release, charted nowhere, but has gone on through the years to be rightfully revered as one of the greatest recordings of all time.

Presently, it’s The Kinks best selling album ever. Did you get that? Ever. And has been certified platinum in the US.

Ray Davies has recently referred to it as the “most successful flop of all time”. Never give up hope for musical justice.

Maybe the greatest thing the US Musician’s Union ever did was ban The Kinks from performing here for three years, due to reasons no one has ever officialized. Once the ban was lifted, and they returned in October ’69, the stalking began. The press referred to the band and their followers as a cult.

But those three years of not playing America, and not being influenced by Haight Ashbury and the Viet Nam war and all that, meant The Kinks we all now love were born or I should probably say, reborn. To quote Ray Davies from said BIG ISSUE piece: “When we realized we couldn’t go back, I withdrew into complete Englishness and quaintness.”

Thank you United States Musician’s Union.

‘The Village Green Preservation Society’, above in mono, is a different greatness than it’s stereo sister. I love both. Particularly at exactly 2:21, the way Ray sings “Donald Duck”, completely untreated by studio gimmicks, not double tracked or harmonized with Dave, is a real spine tingler for every Kinks person. This I guarantee you.

One of the all time greatest television moments ever comes at exactly :29 – :33, whether by accident or design, the shot of Ray Davies, Dave Davies and John Dalton is perfection. Despite being from a 1972 BBC televised concert, it is the only known early performance of the song to exist. I hope the copyright police don’t ever remove it

Cockney Rebel

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Listen: Mr. Soft / Cockney Rebel
Mr.

Early on, Cockney Rebel were inconveniently caught somewhere between glam and suave Roxy Music, despite being nothing near suave visually. A US slot supporting for The Kinks on their SCHOOLBOYS IN DISGRACE tour, and getting a bit of ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)’ radio play, didn’t change their US fortunes much, well, not at all.

This was a time when The Kinks were struggling, on the tail end of their has-been to legend penance. They could hardly help themselves, let alone Cockney Rebel.

We saw the show at SUNY Brockport, in the gym. Despite being permanently affixed to stage edge, drooling for The Kinks to transcend us into heaven, every last pal in all directions loved Cockney Rebel’s set. The band seemed genuinely surprised.

‘Mr. Soft’ never saw a US 7″ release, despite EMI giving them a few serious gos with several tracks. Not that such a British centric tune would have changed their fortunes in America. Therefore acquiring a UK pressing needs be a must for every responsible citizen.

Despite nary a mention that I can recall, it seems blaringly obvious Blur honored this band’s many ideas. Good choice fellows.

The New Vaudeville Band

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Peek A Boo / The New Vaudeville Band

Listen: Peek A Boo / The New Vaudeville Band
Peek A Boo / The New Vaudeville Band

The New Vaudeville Band did not get their due respect, even though they never made a bad single, and their albums are full of flawless…..vaudeville. A genre cornered successfully by The Bonzo Dog Band and later dabbled into by The Kinks, I’m guessing maybe these guys were just a touch ahead of the credibility curve. Add to that, their first single ‘Winchester Catherdral’ became a worldwide #1 and, even back then, they landed into the mainstream before the press could give them praise, so they didn’t. Never mind, these singles speak for themselves.

The two followups to ‘Winchester Catherdral’ in order were ‘Peek A Boo’ and ‘Finchley Central’.

Although hits in the UK, only ‘Peek A Boo’ made the Top 100 here (#74 in February ’67), due in part to a great performance on the then, newly ‘In Color’ version of popular Saturday night variety show HOLLYWOOD PALACE. Singer Tristam The VII, Earl Of Cricklewood wore a blue sparkley jacket identical to the one Mick Jagger pranced in just a month earlier on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW (January ’67) when they caved, changing the lyrics for the boss, Ed himself, and thereby performing ‘Let’s Spend Some Time Together’ as a worldwide one-off.

Finchley Central / The New Vaudeville Band UK Picture Sleeve

‘Finchley Central’ Picture Sleeves: Above (UK) / Below (US)

Finchley Central / The New Vaudeville Band US Picture Sleeve

Listen: Finchley Central / The New Vaudeville Band
Finchley Central / The New Vaudeville Band

‘Finchley Central’ followed in late spring. Although not housed in a now very hard to find color UK picture sleeve, indeed US Fontana sprang nonetheless for a cover, except in black and white. Both are pictured above. Despite climbing to #16 in England, for places like Texas and Florida, a single in the style of your parents music (with a vocal that doesn’t even begin until 1:04 into the song, and then lyrically about the London subway system) during the summer of psychedelic ’67 meant…little.

Well actually it did Bubble Under The Top 100 at #102 for a stubborn three weeks. Maybe people equated it to something off SGT PEPPER or YELLOW SUBMARINE and thought it so far out that it was actually in, as it got some play and sold a handful.

See, The New Vaudeville Band were so good even The Beatles wanted to sound like them, and occasionally did.

The Kinks

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Listen: Sitting In The Midday Sun / The Kinks
Sitting In The Midday Sun / The Kinks

June 26, 1973. The first day these two feet ever touched British soil or more accurately, the carpeting at Heathrow. Just dug through my sock drawer to verify. It’s where all the old passports are kept.

Three days later, ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ was officially released in the UK, according to the label copy on the demo pictured above. And that’s probably very accurate, given it was one of the first records heard when I finally, like finally, finally, finally got to hear BBC Radio 1. Believe it, in those days, the great radio of the UK was not a click away.

Now there are many priceless summertime songs, and one could opinion differently, but ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ is amongst the very best. Always overlooked, often for The Kinks’ own ‘Sunny Afternoon’, but don’t be fooled. This is the one. The tingle of hearing The Kinks new single on the radio that day in June ’73 was a grand privilege. Despite ‘Lola’ being a massive US hit just three years earlier, by ’73 The Kinks were relegated to finished, has beens, completely washed up by American programmers. But in homeland England, they were still being played on the radio, a kind of musical precursor to open source.

I know exactly the spot where this monumental moment occurred. It was about two hundred yards into Regents Park, sitting up against the first tree to the very left of the park entrance directly opposite the Great Portland Street tube station. This became my good luck spot for making a fake pillow (music was not allowed in the Queen’s Park, as a bobby once gently scolded) out of cousin Dinah’s large transistor radio and spending hours listening almost daily.

Dinah still has that wireless in her kitchen, and lives in the same flat a few blocks away on Cleveland Street, W1. I visit her and the radio every time I’m there.

That spot and that radio introduced Roy Wood ‘Dear Elaine’, Junior Campbell ‘Sweet Illusion’, Linda Lewis ‘Rock A Doodle Doo’, Dave Edmunds ‘Born To Be With You’, Kevin Ayers ‘Caribbean Moonshine’ and The Honeybus ‘For You’, amongst many, to this insatiable teenager.

All great singles but nothing near the direct hit ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ delivered. I was still in a swirl from up and moving to England without a plan in the world, and only $200 in my pocket. The beautiful insanity of youth, you have to love it. It was as though Ray Davies was speaking right at me, every last word. A little frightening in one way, given almost all of them applied. Thankfully the song’s calming conclusion helped keep the two pints I’d chugged en route at the Tower Tarvern on Clipstone Street down.

A little over two weeks later, The Kinks played a one day, outdoor festival at the White City Stadium in London. I didn’t want to go, it was expensive and other than Lindisfarne, the few UK bands playing were regulars at The Marquee. Besides, I recall a load of US groups as well, like Edgar Winter, by then quite polished and nothing like the soul review of Edgar Winter’s White Trash from a few years prior. I came to England to escape American bands. But how could I miss The Kinks, especially as I was now possessed by ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’.

It was a cold day for July. Never will I forget exiting the tube at White City and thinking, “I don’t want to do this”. Literally did an about face and decided to go back, then stopped. What an idiot, coming all this way and already having bought the ticket. Still, something felt not right.

Turned out this was the day Ray Davies quit on stage, just like that. Said he was “Fucking sick of it all’ straight after playing ‘Waterloo Sunset’, and left to the horror of the crowd. Everyone literally looked at each other in fear, was this really happening? Days later, all the music press covers announced the bad news to the world. ‘Ray Davies Quits Kinks’, as the MELODY MAKER headline read. I still have my copy.

Radio 1 stopped playing ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’.

Listen: Sweet Lady Genevieve / The Kinks
Sweet Lady Genevieve / The Kinks

It was not a good week. Family also announced their breakup. Two of my all time favorites, gone. Still, with glam in full swing, the mind did wander and life did go on.

Miracles can happen. What seemed like an eternity in reality lasted about three weeks. Ray Davies was now out of the hospital, where he’d gone directly following his stage exit that day for a stomach pumping. False alarm, The Kinks were in tact, with a new single in the wings even.

Was it the joy of having The Kinks back that made ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’ sound even better? I don’t think so. We were all crazy about this record. Well, Corinne and I that is.

By Fall, both of those UK A sides were coupled as a US 7″ on RCA, and an American tour announced. We ventured to New York for the triumphant return of The Kinks at The Felt Forum, and somehow figured out the band’s hotel, The Warwick on 54th Street. So we booked a room there as well.

Never a shy one, she calls the front desk and asks to be connected with Ray Davies, and sure enough, he picks up the phone. Without hesitation, Corinne explained we had traveled hundreds of miles from upstate New York to see the show, and would he be so kind as to play ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’. My jaw was on the floor.

Did you just talk to Ray Davies? “Yep.”

The Kinks didn’t play ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’ that night, but between songs, during either one of his Rudy Vallee style renditions or some old dancehall classic, Ray Davies did a quick a cappella verse/chorus from ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’, and we know to this day, it was just for us.

Julien Covey & The Machine / Wynder K. Frog / Jimmy Miller

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

juliencoveyuk, Julien Covey & The Machine, Wynder K. Frog, The Spencer Davis Group, The Kinks, Ray Davies, Jimmy Miller, Island, Philips

Listen: A Little Bit Hurt / Julien Covey & The Machine
A Little Bit Hurt / Julien Covey & The Machine

I guess you might call them a supergroup. Julien Covey, real name Phil Kinorra, played with Brian Auger in his early days. As well as fronting the band vocally, he also drummed. Amongst it’s members were John Moreshead on guitar, who played with Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, The Shotgun Express and The Ansley Dunbar Retaliation. In addition, the band included Peter Bardens (Them, Camel), Jim Creagan (Blossom Toes, Family) and Dave Mason at various times. Their lone release, ‘A Little Bit Hurt’, was co-written and produced by Jimmy Miller in ’67, who brought along his freshly used prodcution techniques, successful on The Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Gimme Some Lovin” and applied them to The Kinks ‘You Really Got Me’ riff, to help create this now, Northern soul classic, according the Northern soul classic experts.

wyndergreen,  Wynder K. Frog, Island, Jimmy Miller, Mick Weaver

Listen: Green Door / Wynder K. Frog
Green Door / Wynder K. Frog

Between ’64 – ’67, the sound of the Jimmy Smith/Jimmy McGriff hammond B3 was the prevalent connection that bridged hip rock and soul, bringing the jazzy black Flamingo club stuff (Brian Auger & The Trinity, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, The Graham Bond Organization) to a more mainstream public, as with The Spencer Davis Group. Jimmy Miller’s production played a part. He worked as house producer for Chris Blackwell then and recorded some successful and some less successful, well commercially for the time that is, singles, like the aforementioned Julien Covey & The Machine track, and ‘Green Door’ by Wynder K. Frog. Although not chart records, they became club hits, and apparently still are to this day, on the Northern circuit, wherever that is.

Big Brother & The Holding Company / Janis Joplin

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Down On Me / Big Brother & The Holding Company

Listen: Down On Me / Big Brother & The Holding Company
Down On Me / Big Brother & The Holding Company

There are two things about Janis Joplin that annoy me. Neither are her fault.

Firstly, there is so little footage that really captures her power and that the media uses. The clips on a short lived US pop music show, MUSIC SCENE, are the best ones. That was with her Kozmic Blues Band lineup. Then to be fair, the Ed Sullivan and Dick Cavett shows were great as well. But the media always use that shit footage from the Monterey Pop Festival, when she hadn’t yet exploded vocally or visually. By the time she left the Bay area and was playing nationally, her voice was rasp and tortured; and she was visually a ball of color and fire. So heads up: seek out some of the aforementioned performances.

The second is Clive Davis. Why people line up to credit him with her success sickens me. Yes, he signed Big Brother & The Holding Company. And yes, he’s done a lot of things. His resume looks way better than mine. For instance, he let Ray Davies make two awesome Kinks albums, SLEEPWALKER and MISFITS, when most felt he and the band were washed up, signed The Patti Smith Group and let her make two great ones initially as well, plus gave both Lou Reed and Iggy Pop shots on Arista.

But masterminding the break up of Big Brother & The Holding Company with Albert Grossman is not a creative stroke of genius and is definitely unforgivable. How fucking dumb can you be? Their CHEAP THRILLS album soared to #1 in the Billboard charts being a blisteringly perfect document of her and the band’s magnetism.

Big Brother & The Holding Company were the ultimate acid rock group, probably of all time. They were raw and ragged but had swing, a lethally positive combination. Listen to James Gurley’s solo on the version of ‘Down On Me’ I’ve posted. By the time this was released, after her death, Columbia didn’t even have the courtesy to credit the band on the label. I assume the plan was to polish her for mainstream acceptance. Please. The whole point was her wild abandon.

Big Brother & The Holding Company live were an experience I’ll never forget. Friday October 11, 1968. Syracuse University presented the band at The War Memorial, but you had to be a student to get in. I wasn’t an SU student, in fact I was a little boy; no way could I even pass for a college kid. My friend Denny and I begged a security guy to let us in, bless him cause he did! Changed my life.

Big Brother & The Holding Company / Syracuse War Memorial / October 11, 1968

Above and below: Big Brother & The Holding Company / Syracuse War Memorial / October 11, 1968

Janis, October 11, 1968

These two pictures are from that night, snapped with my crap camera. I wish I had the negatives as the prints are fading. Check out how little equipment is up on stage. Still it was loud and out of control. Fantastic. Luckily, Janis played my area many times. I got to see all her line ups through the years. She was amazing. It’s not because I was young and impressionable. Janis Joplin was truly a living legend. And the lasting effect she has over everyone, not just me, proves it.