Posts Tagged ‘The Rolling Stones’

Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Listen: Black Woman / Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band
Black Woman / Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band

I don’t believe this story is uncommon amongst vinyl collectors.

Once an artist strikes that magic nerve in the system, you kind of need all of their records, or certainly the ones specific to the time period before they morphed into something way different.

This is exactly the case with Don Covay and me. I had many of those Atlantic singles, instinctively picking them up through the years based on an initial name introduction via early albums by The Rolling Stones. At any given moment, one of them hits you, all the rest get pulled out, examined and played. Then boom. The process begins. Regardless of day, time or convenience, a plot to complete the catalog materializes.

Ebay has made this so easy. A lot of my collector friends hate ebay, all cranky that it takes away from the back aching digs through boxes in record shops and rummage sales and things. I don’t get that, those moments will never go away. Ebay is like getting take-out food delivered. No different. Doesn’t mean you’ll never cook for yourself again. What’s the problem?

In an effort to complete the Don Covay Atlantic releases, I dig up a discography and think, the one that has forever eluded me is ‘Black Woman’ from ’69. It doesn’t sound familiar at all and I would’ve certainly remembered the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band bit. From the song title alone, it sounded very in tune with the times, black power fisted slants on records from Miles Davis to Jefferson Airplane being ever present then. ‘Black Woman’ had to be a great one.

So today I go digging through some .50¢ boxes at Academy Records in Williamsburg, and what do I find? Yep, the final component to having a complete Don Covay Atlantic singles library right here in the comfort of my own home.

I love that shop. Similar to most, the 45′s are second fiddle at best. Probably they don’t sell many, and great ones aren’t exactly walking through the door often. But the staff, as nice as they are, just don’t seem to have a consistent grasp on values or importance when it comes to Soul / Rnb / Northern / Jazz 7′s.

Perfect.

So now the follow-up punch line to my first sentence: I get home, clean the record up, give it a few plays and once totally satisfied, decide to file it away.

And what do I find? I already own a copy.

Well, one can always use a safety.

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.

Seleno Clarke / The Rolling Stones

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

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

Listen: Soulful Drop / Seleno Clarke SelenoSoulful.mp3

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

Listen: Memphis Boogaloo / Seleno Clarke SelenoMemphis.mp3

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

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

RollingStonesHeartPS, The Rolling Stones, London, Andrew Loog Oldham

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

Larry Williams

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

larrywilliamsshortfat, Larry Williams, Johnny Guitar Watson, London American, Northern Soul

Listen: Short Fat Fannie / Larry Williams
Short

Larry Williams is seldom respected as an original bad boy of RnR, but he should be. Legend has his underworld activities stretching back prior to these initial recordings. He eventually bit the bullet, literally, a victim of a suicide, although street legend claims otherwise. Having served time in the early 60′s for drug dealing, he hooked up with Johnny Guitar Watson upon release to sleaze out in late night Hollywood, which admittedly may be my self fulfilling fantasy, and also make some of the most authentic Northern Soul tracks known to mankind for Okeh.

I was excited when The Mooney Suzuki, who I looked after while at Columbia, recorded in the same studio on Santa Monica Boulevard that he and Johnny had. I literally thought about it constantly while there. I was pissing in the same toilet as the dynamic duo. No one else seemed to apprciate my excitement.

Prior to all that, he wrote ‘Bonie Maronie’, ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’, ‘Slow Down’ and ‘She Said Yeah’, my favorite, as recorded and performed by The Rolling Stones on HULLABALOO:

‘Short Fat Fannie’ goes back to pre Northern, pre Johnny Guitar Watson and pre jail time. It was actually one of his hits (#31 RnB / #35 Pop) in ’57 and comes courtesy of the Tony King Collection.

Original post: August 19, 2009.

The Birds

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Listen: No Good Without You Baby / The Birds
No

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.

Billy Preston

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Listen: Will It Go Round In Circles / Billy Preston
Will

I had no idea that huge Afro hairdo was a wig during the 1970′s when Billy Preston and his clavinet seemed omnipresent. Like no idea at all. Instead, I just became mesmerized by his seemingly effortless keyboard funk, possibly requiring the word chops be applied to a musician’s style for the first time.

The whole sound and image kind of outdid Sly Stone for me. Sans the seediness, which as it turns out was all there, he was my black Elton John, with the shiny pastel clothes, those glam meets Blaxploitation spade shoes and all the remaining trimmings.

Once I started researching his past, actually around the time of his Apple Records singles, I discovered his early mod organ releases with their wonderfully suggestive titles luring me in, for example THE MOST EXCITING ORGAN EVER and WILDEST ORGAN IN TOWN. Wow, these albums were right up there with Jimmy McGriff and Jimmy Smith, Brain Auger as well.

Like some of his contemporaries, he caught the musical ear of various British acts resulting in both recording and touring partnerships. Most notably were The Rolling Stones, who he worked with throughout the 70′s, all the while donning that fantastically oversized Afro wig. Then there were The Beatles, adding keyboard magic to yet another of their rather dull songs, ‘Get Back’, turning it into something special. Certainly for me the highlight was always his electric piano solo midway through. As soon as it finished, I dove for the dashboard to switch the station.

During his most successful mid 70′s stretch came the A&M years, and several huge singles including ‘Will It Go Round In Circles’. Although a US #1 during ’73, the record never charted in the UK despite heavy airplay on the BBC that summer. I mean, seriously, I was there and know for sure, it was played constantly. Maybe too much, because as a possible result, no one needed to buy it.

Ian & The Zodiacs

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Listen: So Much In Love With You / Ian & The Zodiacs
So

Usually not one for the Liverpool sound, even I found the occasional exception. Top of the list would indeed be The Cryin’ Shames, and included somewhere, Ian & The Zodiacs. Yes, despite their twee delivery, I suppose it’s the nostalgia in me that finds this soft spot toward them. Plus I liked their name, and was always a big fan of their label group, Philips/Mercury/Fontana/Smash.

I recall seeing their album in a local shop, it may have even been my introduction to the band. Back in 1965, to be afforded an album, with only a single or two to spark it’s sale, especially when they were stiffs, was rare. But it gave us all a chance to see a color photo of them, itself a treat.

As was the case with Ian & The Zodiacs, their label Philips jumped on the US youth market’s insatiable taste for anything British Invasion related. Hence it seems the whole marketing plan for this band was to simply announce themselves as such, right there on the front cover of their debut, and as it turned out only, album:

“We’re new. We’re from England. We have a new sound”.

The last bit wasn’t really true at all, this debut single being a Mick Jagger / Keith Richards cover, made somewhat famous as the only UK chart hit by The Mighty Avengers, who like The Rolling Stones were also managed by Andrew Loog Oldham.

Also covered by The Herd, ‘So Much In Love’ or ‘So Much In Love With You’, as it’s titled here, possibly to avoid crediting the correct songwriters (Mick and Keith – see label above), is a rather perfect British Invasion, not my term btw, song. At least that’s my opinion.

And so, on July 31, 1965, ‘So Much In Love With You’ sat at #131 on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart, whatever on earth that meant. Airplay in some small town? A few boxes sold by mistake when the warehouse were meant to ship a much bigger current hit? A nice dinner for the chart compiler at BILLBOARD’s main office? I do recall when working at Elektra during a weekly Wednesday marketing meeting, our company trade publications rep mentioning ‘begging for bullets during her BILLBOARD lunch’. Hmm.

Regardless, hopefully Ian & The Zodiacs basked in their seven days of US fame during that fateful hot July week, as they were never to chart again.

Marianne Faithfull

Friday, December 27th, 2013

GO AWAY FROM MY WORLD / Marianne Faithfull:

Side 1:

Listen: Go Away From My World / Marianne Faithfull
Go

Listen: Yesterday / Marianne Faithfull
Yesterday

Listen: Sally Free And Easy / Marianne Faithfull
Sally

Side 2:

Listen: Summer Nights / Marianne Faithfull
Summer

Listen: Last Thing On My Mind / Marianne Faithfull
Last

Listen: Mary Ann / Marianne Faithfull
Mary

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rolling Stones

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

THE ROLLING STONES, NOW! / The Rolling Stones:

Side 1:

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

Side 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Contours

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Side 1:

Listen: Can You Jerk Like Me / The Contours
Can

Listen: That Day When She Needed Me / The Contours
That

Side 2:

Listen: Can You Do It / The Contours
Can

Listen: I’ll Stand By You / The Contours
ContoursIllStand.mp3

Looking back, The Contours probably released more dance instruction songs than anybody, with a possible exception being Chubby Checker. ‘Can You Jerk Like Me’ was one of their earliest.

They were never an act to achieve much more than lower chart success in the US, and excepting the reissue of ‘Just A Little Misunderstanding’, none in the UK. They mirror The Marvelettes in Motown’s history books. That being, there was always some other act getting the best songs from their in-house writing machines, and ultimately the push at radio.

And like The Marvelettes, for my two cents, that became a benefit. Not to take away from The Four Tops or The Temptations, clearly on the A list then, but the quick in/quick out studio policy meant The Contours’ records remained unpolished and messier in the best way.

So in Berry Gordy’s world, if The Marvelettes were to The Supremes as The Rolling Stones were to The Beatles, let’s take it a rung lower in the case of The Contours. They were to The Temptations what The Pretty Things were to The Beatles.

Hence I covet every single they ever recorded. And heavens knows, no price is too high for their only EP.

The Marvelettes

Friday, December 6th, 2013

THE MARVELETTES / The Marvelettes:

Side 1:

Listen: Too Many Fish In The Sea / The Marvelettes
Too

Listen: He’s A Good Guy (Yes He Is) / The Marvelettes
MarvelettesGoodGuy.mp3

Side 2:

Listen: You’re My Remedy / The Marvelettes
MarvelettesRemedy.mp3

Listen: Little Girl Blue / The Marvelettes
Little

If you believe all the accusations contained in the handful of detailed Motown history books on the market, The Marvelettes got the second tier of important songs coming off the in-house songwriting assembly line. The cream of the most obviously commercial works went to The Supremes. It had been deemed early on that they were the label’s female superstars, and so The Marvelettes had fewer home run hits, but in the end, came off more intellectual. One might even slot them in as Motown’s biggest cult group.

Mind you, The Supremes were great, I loved them. The world loved them. But The Marvelettes, they had the darker slant, minor key at times, thereby giving them edge, even a touch of danger.

Their patch of Smokey Robinson written and produced ’66 to ’68 singles rate amongst Motown’s highest calibre. ‘The Hunter Gets Captured By THe Game’ and ‘My Baby Must Be A Magician’ to name a few.

But this EP, with earlier songs from ’63 – ’64 and their accompanying Motown bounce, mark a time when all things were a bit more juvenile and created a bit more equal, and the first division songs went around to all.

In the end, my two cents maintains The Marvelettes were to The Supremes what The Rolling Stones were to The Beatles. And I just love that.

Mitty Collier

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Listen: I Had A Talk With My Man / Mitty Collier
I Had A Talk With My Man / Mitty Collier

The oddest things can happen, and will.

Mitty Collier got pop play on my local Top 40 when I was a kid. Now, her records were strictly black hits, even though ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ did cross to some pop outlets in major cities. I did not, however, grow up in a major city. But WOLF, as I’ve raved on about before, was indeed an educational source in it’s day. Right there next to The Rolling Stones and Them we could hear The Vibrations, Irma Thomas and yes, Mitty Collier, thanks to their programming excellence.

Basically, the single was a secularised version of James Cleveland’s gospel song ‘I Had A Talk With God Last Night’ and reached #41 on Billboard’s Top 100.

Gloria Lynne, who had jazzier material and therefore more grown up appeal, grabbed some airplay on the easy listening formats, as it was referred to then. So my parents’ stations played her, and I regularly heard ‘Watermelon Man’ at our local barbers. There’s a definite resemblance between their voices, both full and heavy.

I actually bought ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ at Walt’s Records instead of a new Searchers single one particular week. If you’re listening, this is it, rough around the edges but still intact.

Listen: Free Girl (In The Morning) / Mitty Collier
Free Girl (In The Morning) / Mitty Collier

Despite being a freezing November Saturday, ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ brings back warm, vivid winter memories of rushing from the bus into Walt’s, desperate to find this record. Once back home, I played it over and over. But in the weeks that followed, B side ‘Free Girl (In The Morning)’ ended up grabbing my attention and by Christmas break, I probably made everybody nuts with it.

These RnB records really did go over the heads of my friends. Motown was way okay, but the hardcore stuff, not so easily tolerated. A twisted little kid, yes, happy to have been one.

Listen: Together / Mitty Collier
Together / Mitty Collier

Keeping up with the B side infatuations, ‘Together’, the flip to her next single ‘No Faith, No Love’, was really a gem. A most obvious similarity between ‘Together’ and ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ is undeniable. I wonder which of the two was written first.

Not long after releasing her final records for Chess, Mitty Collier was stricken with throat problems, polyps, which ultimately threatened to end her career. Never to sing again, she became completely devoted to her Christian beliefs. By ’72, there was an unexpected turn of events, Mitty’s voice regained strength and her ability to sing restored.

One of the first recordings as a result: ‘I Had A Talk With God Last Night’. Gospel albums followed. She established a Bible Study Telephone Prayer Line and a community outreach program, “Feed-A-Neighbor” (FAN), for which she received the key to the city of Birmingham in 1987.

Mitty Collier became a preacher, and was ordained in 1989, later being appointed pastor of the More Like Christ (MLC) Christian Fellowship Ministries in Chicago. She has received a number of humanitarian and other awards, including the National Council Of Negro Women (NCNW) and Woman Of Wonder Award 2000.

If that doesn’t warm someone’s heart, nothing will.

The above UK demo gifted to me by Vicki Wickham, a living saint. Thank you dearest Vicki. XXX

The Mothers Of Invention / The GTO’s / Wild Man Fischer

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

WPLJ / The Mothers Of Invention

Listen: WPLJ / The Mothers Of Invention
WPLJ

In the late 60′s and early 70′s, it wasn’t only The Beatles and The Rolling Stones who started their own labels, Frank Zappa did as well. In fact when he left Verve and joined Warner/Reprise, they gave him two imprints: Straight and Bizarre.

I think The Mothers were one of the few west coast, Los Angeles to San Francisco, groups that interested me at the time. I was admittedly loyal to the British bands back then. They looked better. It may have been the beards that put me off the US acts. Admittedly, Blue Cheer and Big Brother & The Holding Company always looked great, and so too did Love and especially The Seeds, all coincidentally beard free. But despite the beards and various repulsive elements, I loved The Mothers Of Invention. They looked menacing, and dirty and just plain seedy. The cover of MOTHERMANIA is a particularly fantastic shot. Musically, give me WE’RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY, and many of the early singles and songs as well like ‘Wowie Zowie’, only being a let down in that it never got issued as a 7″.

Frank Zappa always applauded his self love of doo wop, as is exampled on this track from BURNT WEENY SANDWICH, ‘WPLJ’. The style, dreadfully out of step at the time, made for a terrific single. There must have been a radio station with those call letters somewhere….if only they’d played it, which I’d bet they didn’t.

Frank Zappa was obviously an insomniac. I mean who has more double albums? And then to constantly tour and put together two labels. Amazing. Alice Cooper debuted on Straight, Tim Buckley moved there from Elektra. Even Keith joined the roster post ’98.6′.

Circular Circulation / G.T.O.S

Listen: Circular Circulation / G.T.O.’s
Circular

Two of his earliest signings are on singles featured here: The GTO’s and Wild Man Fischer. I always got a kick out of both these tracks, hearing them initially on one of the many $2.00 Warner/Reprise samplers that were everywhere in those days. Both acts had great album sleeves too.

We may want to blame The GTO’s for giving license to a whole slew of twee female singers hiding behind indie rock as an excuse for minimal vocal ability, but ‘Circular Circulation’ is an absolute out of jail free card.

Merry Go Round / Wild Man Fischer

Listen: Merry Go Round / Wild Man Fischer
Merry

Wild Man Fischer has a story and a half going on. Google him – I don’t have enough time to write it all…….but ‘Merry Go Round’ is tops. Sounds like David Byrne picked up some vocal tricks from him.

The Bachelors

Friday, February 1st, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marianne Faithfull

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Listen: Sister Morphine / Marianne Faithfull
Sister

Seeing Mark Miller Mundy’s name mentioned on a Facebook friend’s page today, combined with the chill of Fall setting into New York’s weather, brought on the idea of a BROKEN ENGLISH listen. Chris Blackwell once mentioned during a company retreat that Marianne Faithfull was the perfect example of an Autumn/Winter artist, siting Toots & The Maytals as being more adapted to Spring/Summer releases. The concept always stuck.

Fact is though, a thick UK 7″ pressing sounds better than any album, any day. Disagree? Don’t even. A/B ‘The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’ or ‘Broken English’ against their album counterparts and see for yourself. Most of humanity probably wouldn’t notice but to me, it’s blatant. So over to the singles shelf I went, and in the process, realized it’d been way long since the Island version of ‘Sister Morphine’, re-recorded during those BROKEN ENGLISH sessions, had made it’s way out my speakers.

Okay, so this clearly didn’t stand up to the rest of that album, despite the obvious logic that it’s subject matter might perfectly fit. When you think about it, the song was always anchored by a clunky blues arrangement. God love The Rolling Stones, but they’re basically boogie woogie to the bone. So whether it be their version or Marianne’s original with them on backing, the songwriting blueprint was hard to shake.

Mark Miller Mundy clearly couldn’t find a way round it either and this was therefore relegated to the outtake mausoleum at the time. Luckily, the scorn in her delivery made it a worthwhile B side not long later, in ’82, when ‘Broken English’ got a UK re-release, thus providing the single with it’s own little corner of history. And the picture perfect sleeve didn’t hurt.

Power Pill

Monday, February 27th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buster Brown

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Listen: Sugar Babe / Buster Brown
Sugar

If you can’t get enough Buster Brown, you’ve come to the right place. Yeah, I know, I do go on about Buster Brown a bit. Maybe a result of totally missing him when current. Fair enough, I was a little tyke, but that didn’t stop me attaching to a bunch of other current RnB acts of the day.

Admittedly admitting the above, Buster Brown most likely got ignored by northeast programers consistently. Let’s be real, this stuff was way to earthy for them. Relegated to chitlin circuit radio and venues, Buster Brown clearly made little impact in
Syracuse, New York.

Acquired this earlier today amongst a big box of 45′s from an estate sale. $5 for the whole lot, about 300. Highway robbery in one respect, but I did get up at 5AM in the dead of winter and left the house with wet shower hair, so we’re even.

Thankfully, The Rolling Stones lifted his sound, riffs and songs back in’65, introducing him to us white suburban kids, if only by accident. Hopefully they paid him.

The Love Affair

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

LoveAffairSheSmilesSweetlyUKA, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

Listen: She Smiled Sweetly / The Love Affair
She

It’s happened hundreds of times through the years. Label takes chance on an act, issues a single or two with no results, then moves on. Same act gets another deal, sometimes only months later and blows up. Around this period, David Bowie bounced from label to label, Marc Bolan too, The Herd, a bunch of them. On the quick path were The Love Affair. Probably signed by Decca in-house blues expert Mike Vernon or assigned to him for production, a good cover choice (Jagger/Richards ‘She Smiled Sweetly’) was released almost simultaneously with The Rolling Stones’ own rendition from BETWEEN THE BUTTONS on February 10, 1967. By the end of the year, the band had moved on to CBS and that label’s debut ‘Everlasting Love’ entered the UK charts in the first few days of January ’68, ending up at #1. Someone had egg on their face, including me.

I was so excited to see a copy in a local department store, and without a penny in my pocket, I decided to shoplift it. Got caught, almost arrested. Threatened to call my folks, which they didn’t, but it did cure me of that one.

LoveAffairRainbowUKPSFront, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, CBS, Date

LoveAffairRainbowPS, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, CBS, Date

Listen: Rainbow Valley / The Love Affair
Rainbow

‘Everlasting Love’, like all their singles, was a cover, this one originally released by Robert Knight. Even U2 have taken a stab at it, but no one has one upped that version by The Love Affair.

The followup, ‘Rainbow Valley’, was just as powerful. In particular, it continued to make obvious the strength of lead vocalist Steve Ellis. I’m sure I’ve read many times that this patch of singles, all Top 10 in the UK, were indeed Steve Ellis with studio musicians, a persistant trend in the 60′s. Probably to great frustration, the calculated pop made the band member cringe but who can say.

LoveAffairDayWithoutUKA, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

LoveAffairDayWithoutUS, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

Listen: A Day Without Love / The Love Affair
A

New producer Mike Smith had a simple formula down, which with ‘A Day Without Love’, now included recording the songs of non-member, singer/writer Philip Goodhand-Tait.

LoveAffairBringingUSA, The Love Affair, Steve Ellis, Mike Smith, Mike Vernon, Date, Decca, CBS, Philip Goodhand-Tait

Listen: Bringing On Back The Good Times / The Love Affair
Bringing

What seemed to rub the more hip, progressive rock fan of the day wrong is exactly what attracted me to The Love Affair. Big, over the top productions, with loud brass and orchestration, almost Motown-esque, and a perfect showcase for that great Steve Ellis voice.

Wilson Pickett

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Listen: In The Midnight Hour / Wilson Pickett
In

The UK promo above came from Vicki Wickham’s collection, which she so generously donated my way. Let me tell you one of many things about Vicki, she’s a saint. Who else rings up, finding boxes of forgotten, valuable records, and just offers them to a friend? Not many, maybe no one. Well that’s Vicki.

The way I put it back on her was, there’ll always be yours, and here if you ever need them. She was happy, me too.

Nothing I can tell you about ‘In The Midnight Hour’ that the readers of this blog don’t already know, so hopefully giving it a play now will at least bring you back to when you first heard it. Dare I proclaim, that moment has to be impossible to forget.

Listen: Everybody Needs Somebody To Love / Wilson Pickett
Everybody

It was ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’, another one from her lot, that really brought me back, not only to Solomon Burke, but The Rolling Stones. Yeah, as a little white kid growing up in the no black folks allowed sticks, it made a very deep imprint on my life, opening side one of THE ROLLING STONES, NOW!. An all time favorite album, the origins of that memory are chronicled elsewhere on this blog.

The real flashback though is them opening both their ’65 and ’66 Syracuse shows with it, Mick Jagger pointing in every possible direction around the arena, while singing the lines “I need you, you, you”. Each of those finger points resulting in even louder shrieks from that section than the rest of the venue, all losing their gear uncontrollably regardless.

Not that Wilson Pickett doesn’t reel this in on his own. Man, these guys could sing the phone book and it would be a hit. Released in early ’67, a track from his then brand new THE BEST OF WILSON PICKETT collection, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ still found a path to #29 Pop / #19 RnB. The power of greatness.

Unit 4 + 2

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Listen: Concrete And Clay / Unit 4 + 2
Concrete

Always loved this band’s name. It pre-dated tags given to electronic music acts by about thirty years or so. As it turned out, their acoustic guitar style had a Flamenco thing about it, I guess. It was a thread pretty common to the majority of Unit 4 + 2′s records, even though as a kid, the wilder, trashier, bluesy guitar stuff appealed the most, especially when maracas were involved.

Anything from Decca UK, and released via their London Records Group in America was moved to the top of my pile though. Even the MOR productions of Tom Jones and The Fortunes were fine by me.

‘Concrete And Clay’ would’ve gone Top 10 here, no doubt, if another competing copy cat version by Eddie Rambeau hadn’t been grabbing airplay and sales simultaneously. So instead of reaching a placing near it’s UK #1 slot, the record topped out at #28 on BILLBOARD, victim to a wank American singer who hadn’t moved on fashion wise since Fabian from about five years earlier.

Nice intro as well, ironically similar to but predating label mates, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Honky Tonk Women’ by about three years.

Listen: (You’ve) Never Been In Love Like This Before / Unit 4 + 2
Unit4+2NeverBeen.mp3

Even more appealing was the followup. ‘(You’ve) Never Been In Love Like This Before’, complete with my favorite, an unnecessary bracket within the title, continued their pattern of re-writing the previous single, as ‘Concrete And Clay’ had done with it’s predecessor, ‘Sorrow And Pain’. This can double as either developing a sound, or becoming a perfect target for hater journalists. Both outcomes are common.

Basically, a stiff, it hovered around the lower reaches of the Top 100 for several weeks, eventually topping out at #93. I can still see that unsold chunk in a W.T. Grants record rack, back when vast areas of department store walls were lined with rows and rows of the latest 45′s. There they sat for weeks, until one day, gone. Well, all but the copy pictured above.