Posts Tagged ‘The Small Faces’

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.

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.

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 Hollies

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Listen: Jennifer Eccles / The Hollies
Jennifer

What on earth was Graham Nash thinking? Leaving this band?

Seems every once in a while, some visiting UK group lost a member to the lure of the Los Angeles folk contingent. None of that soft rock ever appealed to me, not to mention their unkept and drab dress sense. But probably in the 60′s, the modern living, mid-century designs that still prevail to this day were so magnetic, who could resist champagne bubble wall dividers, sparkle ceilings and aqua kitchens.

I can’t quite recall when he actually made the move, seems around ’68. Still somehow, The Hollies vocal sound didn’t really change. Not to my ears.

US radio were always very fickle when it came to their records. The wise man’s “be happy with life’s small pleasures” slogan applied here, and at least The Hollies got some airtime. I even recall, shortly after their switch to Epic, with ‘Carrie Anne’ going Top 10, former label Imperial re-released ‘Pay You Back With Interest’ as a 7″. It too got on the air, eventually charting in BILLBOARD (#28).

Luckily, all of the band’s records were played regularly on the upstate New York stations. Even WNDR, the most commercial Top 40 in Syracuse stayed loyal. ‘I’m Alive’ sounded massive over my little orange transistor, and ‘Jennifer Eccles’ was everywhere airwaves-wise during the Spring of ’68. Right there next to my other successful radio request line missions: The Small Faces ‘Lazy Sunday’, Grapefruit ‘Elevator’ and The Scaffold ‘Thank You Very Much’. Oh, and Madeline Bell too.

Manfred Mann

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Listen: Ragamuffin Man / Manfred Mann
Ragamuffin

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

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

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

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

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

The Pretty Things

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Listen: Havana Bound / The Pretty Things
Havana Bound / The Pretty Things

It’s May 19, technically the anniversary of booking The Pretty Things at my college. I celebrate it every year, well given this also marked my first date with Corinne, it’s impossible to forget. Talk about impressing a girl, this totally did the trick. Yes, our first date was a concert by The Pretty Things, with all the backstage trimmings.

I was the school’s event chairman and conveniently, there was no concert committee. None of the other students were interested. I believe that reality is known as a dream come true. Not only did I worm my way into the campus radio station as music director, I was also booking whoever I wanted with the school’s money. A spoiled freshman, that was me.

Needless to say, only British acts got the slots: Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Rory Gallagher, Atomic Rooster, The Incredible String Band and The Pretty Things. Not a bad lineup for year one.

Given they had a manager that turned down The Ed Sullivan Show, it’s no wonder The Pretty Things never made it to the US during the 60′s. Hard to believe, and neither did The Small Faces.

After having called it quits post their album PARACHUTE flopping in ’70; it was like a miracle that The Pretty Things were reforming to record FREEWAY MADNESS in late ’72. Seemed a lifetime then, and the news was a big deal to the small but already twisted following The Pretty Things had acquired.

Then, on top of that, a premier US tour for spring ’73 was announced. It seemed too good to be true and booking them became my mission in life, School work tabled, getting The Pretty Things to town top of the list. Success, I got the band to play for $500 on May 19th with The James Cotton Band as openers. See the poster below.

Never did I envision at the time that one day, years later, I’d have my own label and actually reissue the FREEWAY MADNESS album. Never ever crossed my mind, but life can take you on the wildest ride if you let it.

Fast forward to ’94, The Medicine Label is up and running out of the Warner Brothers New York office. Mo Ostin, then chairman of both Warner and Reprise, but based in Burbank, would often visit our building at 75 Rockefeller Plaza. On one particular trip, we were talking in the hallway, and it just occurred to me that this was the moment, so I asked, could I re-release The Pretty Things album from the catalog, then lying dormant having been unavailable for years.

“Sure. Good idea, just check to see it hasn’t been scheduled by the reissue department.”

I nearly blacked out with excitement, unlike the reissue team, who smelled a potential predator upon hearing the news.

“Not to worry guys, it’s a one-off.” Reissue departments were very cautious of the finite back catalog from which they drew.

Suddenly, with FREEWAY MADNESS on the schedule, the original 1/2″ master tapes were delivered to my office along with cover art films, bios, press shots, studio logs, you name it. There sat history in the Warner Brothers pouch, as it was referred.

Well who better to write new liner notes than Phil May?

Luckily, we’d been introduced a few years earlier by Shannon O’Shea, a UK friend who was managing the band around ’90-’91. I would often stay in Notting Hill Gate, and Phil lived just down the street from my hotel, on Talbot Road. We spent many an afternoon in his local pub. A nicer guy you will not meet, and the recollections. Endless.

So yeah, Phil May was only too happy to write those CD reissue liner notes, and while rummaging for some bits to post here, I found the agreement below between the WB art department and Phil for the job:

The real moment on FREEWAY MADNESS was ‘Havana Bound’. It was picture perfect Pretty Things, and originally the UK B side to ‘Over The Moon’, released in ’72 as the album’s official single.

Huh? The B side? Not to take anything away from ‘Over The Moon’, great great song but come on. What planet did that decision originate from? ‘Havana Bound’ deserved a big red A label.

Well now was my chance to right wrong so we scheduled a US 7″ of ‘Havana Bound’ to promote the CD reissue and service college radio but mostly because I just had to have it on an A side. Few things have been more exciting than the day those box lots arrived from the plant.

Believe it, the record business in it’s heyday was a euphoric free-for-all.

Above: The promo only insert from the ’73 US release of FREEWAY MADNESS
Below: The 8×10 press shot that accompanied FREEWAY MADNESS mailings to US journalists in ’73

The Small Faces

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Listen: All Or Nothing / The Small Faces
All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Move

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Night Of Fear / The Move

Listen: Night Of Fear / The Move
Night

I think I first noticed The Move in the UK charts section of BILLBOARD. In the 60′s, they used to print Hits Of The World over one page, Top 10′s from all the countries, but always a Top 30 or 50 from the UK. This was of course, during the tail end of the British Invasion, December ’66 to be exact. My local shop, Smith’s Records, in Oneida NY, would save their week old BILLBOARD for me, and on Fridays, when my Mom & Dad would do their shopping, they’d drop me at Smith’s. I’d get to play the new releases in their listening booth and read BILLBOARD at the counter. Basically studying it, especially the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 section. That was always a goldmine for me, ever changing, probably bought mentions by the labels of their new records, all hoping to help them jump into the proper Hot 100 chart. Missing a week meant you might not be aware something was out. Then later, back home with last week’s issue, I’d really comb it over for details.

I still remember seeing ‘Night Of Fear’ by The Move progressing #17 to #2 up that British chart. At this point I had watched it since debuting at #42 the previous week. The Move was simply the best name for a band ever. I needed to hear this group, and see photos, which luckily, I quickly did. Both their sound and look represented the black and white, rainy England that we heard about as kids, an exotic place with the greatest bands, a new perfect one emerging almost weekly.

My loyalty to The Move was blind, only lately can I admit by ’69, they went downhill slowly but steadily, eventually bringing Jeff Lynne in to grind them to a Beatles influenced halt. But their beginning was never to be repeated for me. A week or so later, Dick Clark played the single on his weekly AMERICAN BANDSTAND Rate A Record, two song competition. I have no recollection of the other single played, or which came out on top, but I still have my reel to reel recording of ‘Night Of Fear’ off the TV. I dove for the red record button, mike and recorder permanently positioned by my bedroom TV set. Technically I was a criminal then, that era’s version of file sharing I suppose. I listened to that tape hundreds of times.

You couldn’t buy ‘Night Of Fear’ anywhere. London, Deram’s parent company, clearly wasn’t promoting or payola-ing it at radio and hence the one stops weren’t inclined to stock it. In small town America, the stores all bought from one-stops, so they primarily sold the hits.

It always pissed me off when I’d read in the Melody Maker back then that The Move weren’t big in The States. They weren’t played. Kids here didn’t get to decide.

So my record company letter writing continued. Someone at London in NY had a deal with me, I’d send him $1.50 per record, which was extortion in those days but he’d send whatever I needed. He was basically selling promos through the mail, genius. Worked for both of us. The stuff I bought off this fellow: The Cryin’ Shames, The Attack, The Syn, World Of Oz, The Honeybus, non-hits by Them, The Small Faces, Unit 4 + 2, The Zombies. Even then I knew I should get extras, but I didn’t have the cash. On this particular occasion he sent me the stock copy above of ‘Night Of Fear’, not easily found then or now.

Over the years, I’ve acquired many copies, US and UK. The Dutch picture sleeve above, Roy Wood signed when I got to meet him during Wizzard’s first and only US tour. Then there was the time ten or so years ago, somewhere on Long Island where Duane and I were garage sale-ing very early one Saturday morning. Walking up the driveway I see a pile of singles on a table. The top one is on Deram. Probably White Plains or Procol Harum I think to myself, but it was ‘Night Of Fear’. I froze. I said, “Duane you need to buy this”. I just couldn’t handle the high.

Denny Cordell produced this perfect record. The mp3 post is from my overplayed original $1.50/extortion copy.

The Move 1966

The original lineup of The Move, who played on ‘Night Of Fear’, are pictured above. If there’s a better shot of a band anywhere on earth, go right ahead and send it to me.

The above is a repost, originally from June 8, 2008.

Jackie Lee & The Raindrops / Jacky

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen: White Horses / Jacky
White

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

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

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

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

The Devastating Affair

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Listen: You Don’t Know (How Hard It Is To Make It) / The Devastating Affair
You

Probably Motown had nearly the most instrumental singles, non-charting at that, out of any other major label during the early/mid 70′s. I just seem to stumble on so many, like unfinished songs issued for…..not sure why.

Possibly CTI would run neck in neck with Motown actually. Deodato got the trophy for mainstream, worldwide success there via his disco/jazz take on ‘”Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)’. Every last one of these songs a perfect soundtrack to grainy, low budget, drug cartel films shot in Harlem.

Despite being issued a few years past MFSB’s similar ‘TSOP’, it’s the flanged phasing that polishes off ‘You Don’t Know (How Hard It Is To Make It)’ perfectly, thereby making a brief return after the studio effect helped both The Status Quo’s ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ and The Small Faces’ ‘Itchycoo Park’ become US Top 20′s during the height of psychedelia.

D. Mob

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Listen: They Call It Acieed / D. Mob
They

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

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

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

P. P. Arnold

Friday, December 30th, 2011

PPArnoldGrooveyUKA, P. P. Arnold, Immediate, Steve Marriott, The Small Faces

pparnoldgroovyusa, PP Arnols, P. P. Arnold, The Small Faces, Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Immediate

Listen: (If You Think You’re) Groovy / P. P. Arnold
(If

Seems there was a family spirit happening at Immediate for a while. Songs, musicians and productions were being swapped out all over the place. I’m sure there are precise details documented in some book about all this. I haven’t read it, but would like to if one exists.

Without question, this Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane produced track was recorded around the time, possibly in the same sessions and studio (Olympic I think) as The Small Faces’ ‘Tin Soldier’. The tones and drum sounds are identical. The ambience too. Given that P. P. Arnold was guest vocalist on ‘Tin Soldier’ has got me believing my own story.

As clearly as you can hear her on ‘Tin Soldier’, you can pick out Steve Marriott even quicker on ‘(If You Think You’re) Groovy’. And how about those brackets around some of the words. Nothing beats brackets in a song title.

The Mamas & The Papas

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Listen: Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) / The Mamas & The Papas
Twelve

Never in my life did I expect to say I fell in love with Mama Cass, but the day has come. Yes, reading DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME: THE LIFE OF CASS ELLIOT by Eddi Fiegel allowed me to realize how much was missed during my empty life. Cass was clearly a great soul and this is a great book.

In their time, The Mamas & The Papas were everywhere, and despite the good songs, this Anglophile blotted the vision of them completely out of view. I mean, they looked pretty rough in comparison to The Small Faces, let’s say. And their name. Dreadful.

Having trolled through the world wide web as a result of my new found affection for Mama Cass, I did notice someone, somewhere, claiming they were America’s answer to The Beatles. No way. They deserve much more credit.

Combing back through their singles, anyone would need to admit, they were flawless. One classic after the other. A few still get heard today.

Not so with ‘Twelve Thirty’. Not in my world that is, but I never listen to terrestrial radio. I do have the balls to criticize it nonetheless, and am happy to take the risk of proclaiming ‘Twelve Thirty’ gets no play on the oldies format, bar Sirius. My brother-in-law Mitch argued differently just now, but I’m not buying it.

Written of course by John Phillips, it’s easy in hindsight to understand why the royalty of their 60′s and 70′s peers watched in awe of their output. The hooks, melodies and string arrangements that intertwine this, and all of his songs, remain unchallenged. Just when you think you know the track like you know your own being, another new, how the fuck did I not hear that before, twist slams you.

Possibly my favorite song at this very moment in time.

The Tremeloes

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Listen: Helule Helule / The Tremeloes
Helule

The fifth single in a multi year run of pretty flawless releases that lasted through the early 70′s. By then, The Tremeloes could always be depended on to come up with one or two undeniables: ‘Me And My Life’, ‘(Call Me) Number One‘.

Due to those high charting records, the occasional “too pop” comment got attached to this band quite unfairly. But ‘Helule Helule’ particularly proved them serious players as well as hit makers. This sounded so good on the air that springtime when released. I recall hearing it a lot for a few weeks, around the same time as The Small Faces’ ‘Lazy Sunday’ and Grapefruit’s ‘Elevator’ were out. The record seemed to be a payola casualty, lack of, basically. Still baffling how the powerhouse of Epic Records let this band dwindle off the airwaves in the US. Crime.

The Move / The Who / The Small Faces / The Cream

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

I Can Hear the Grass Grow / The Move

Listen: I Can Hear The Grass Grow / The Move
I

Pictures of Lily / The Who

Listen: Pictures Of Lily / The Who
Pictures

Patterns / Small Faces

Listen: Patterns / The Small Faces
Patterns

I Feel Free / Cream

Listen: I Feel Free / The Cream
I

Irish record shop bag 67

Ok. So these are fairly recognizable records. Certainly The Who and The Cream songs are, probably the most obscure being The Small Faces ‘Patterns’. Although on many comps, it’s their hardest Decca single to find by far, and certainly the most expensive. Plus it was never issued in the US as a 7″.

The reason I have them clumped together: they all travelled back to The States with my Mom from Ireland in June ’67. She had gone off to see my Aunt Connie for a few weeks and I loaded her down with a list and a half of records to please bring home. She came back with four, all she could probably afford but I was totally content; my Aunt Connie ordering the one I wanted most, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich ‘Okay’, and sending it on later.

Luckily I had the greatest parents in the world for a billion trillion zillion reasons, two being their patience with my record fetish and generosity toward the addiction.

I found that I had filed The Cream single with the actual shop bag all four records came back to the US in. Notice the address on the bag’s art work matches the stamp on the record’s sleeve. So when pulling ‘I Feel Free’ to play tonight, I thought it would be fun to bunch them together for this little, but true, story. After all, they literally existed as a unit for weeks upon my Mom’s return that June. I almost couldn’t let one play all the way through, I was in such a hurry to hear the next, especially once familiar with them.

Thank you Mom.

Grapefruit

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Dear Delilah / Grapefruit

Listen: Dear Delilah / Grapefruit
Dear Delilah / Grapefruit

Formed from the remnants of Tony Rivers & The Castaways, and Harmony Grass by George Alexander, birth name: Alexander Young. Brother to George (founding member of The Easybeats) as well Malcolm and Angus (founders of AC/DC). For some reason, the family left him behind in England when the others moved off to Australia. Lucky guy.

Grapefruit issued their first single to much attention as The Beatles had acquired the publishing and hence posed in trade pictures with the band. As with their label, The Beatles tended to be quite good at A&R. Even Brian Jones was in those publicity shots, God knows why. Result, the press were interested.

In the US, the debut single ‘Dear Delilah’ was released via Terry Melcher’s new imprint, Equinox, and hence got a decent push. Mom Doris Day wasn’t about to let son and Beach Boys’ friend Terry flop. But despite being recorded in “new orthophonic high fidelity” and getting some decent airplay, the imaginative psychedelic taint (not my words) of ‘Dear Delilah’ only reached #98 in the Billboard Top 100, and #21 in The UK. A shame.

Listen: Elevator / Grapefruit
Elevator / Grapefruit

The album AROUND GRAPEFRUIT, from which it came, was chocked full of gems including the followup ‘Elevator’. I remember it and The Small Faces ‘Lazy Sunday’ shockingly being played on my hometown Top 40 one Saturday afternoon that spring. Getting picked up for some daytime airplay so quickly upon release via the generally tight WNDR seemed quite optimistic. I was temporarily content.

It was over before it started though, as both peaked and stalled during the same week (5/11/68) on Billboard’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart (above, click to enlarge). Nearly failed my finals as a result, the depression was so bad.

Listen: Lady Godiva (Come Home) / Grapefruit
Lady Godiva (Come Home) / Grapefruit

Things took an even sharper left turn for Grapefruit a year or so later in ’70 when the band got a touch too progressive, recording DEEP WATER for new, in US that is, label RCA. It’s one of those blues soul prog rock calamities that sells for a nice price nowadays, but grinds by at snail’s pace once you get it onto the turntable. Second single, ‘Lady Godiva (Come Home)’ wants to be hooky, but some cringing lyrics and slightly Foghat leaning vocals prove punishing. Having said that, I do like a nice clean aural snapshot of a bad single, and this is one. They’re totally fascinating artifacts.

Listen: Universal Party / Grapefruit
Universal Party / Grapefruit

An unexpected, and more than low key reprieve occurred without explanation or commitment by Deram in ’73, when the label issued ‘Universal Party’. First listen will most likely result in a shrug at best, but the faint hint of glam gets a bit more addictive with a few more spins. Given it was Grapefruit and on Deram meant extra rope.

In hindsight, I guess nothing compared to the optimistic sound of those first few releases, which I’m reminded of daily as I eat my grapefruit each and every morning.

Frampton’s Camel

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

All Night Long / Frampton’s Camel

Above / Below: UK Promo Only sleeve (front/back)

All Night Long / Frampton’s Camel

Listen: All Night Long / Frampton’s Camel 01 All Night Long.mp3

Peter Frampton was, unfairly, a guilty pleasure to loads of folks for years. Once he hit the big time it was uncool to like him. Not me. I loved The Herd, and was loyally into Humble Pie. That was a funny one actually. Here you had a signature member of The Herd and Steve Marriott in the same band. If you’re an Anglofile, you give them rope. Their early stuff I liked even though it leaned toward the extended blues rock sludge setting in at the time. Live, they were on fire. Luckily, I saw them open for Ten Years After on that first US tour, not yet Americanized in any way, still kitted out in lime or purple velvet and silk trousers etc. Glued to the edge of the stage in the Livestock Pavilion on the Syracuse State Fair grounds, overjoyed by the fact that we were seeing members of The Small Faces and The Herd, was half the thrill.

Then Peter Frampton went solo. His second, post Humble Pie release was issued as Frampton’s Camel. He’d shed that Humble Pie heaviness. The album didn’t sell. I never heard it anywhere at the time, although the single ‘All Night Long’ got a lot of daytime BBC Radio 1 play that summer ’73 I’d spent in London. It was a perfect seasonal single and has sentimental value.

Listen: (Baby) Somethin’s Happening / Peter Frampton PeterFramptonSmethin.mp3

For the record, the follow-up album, SOMETHIN’S HAPPENING, went fairly undiscovered too. He toured that record with former band mate Andy Bown, from The Herd, on keyboards. Rich Packter, the A&M promotion guy during summer ’74 had set Corinne and I up with Peter and Andy for lunch at the then turquoise and pink circular Holiday Inn restaurant in Downtown Syracuse. Frampton’s Camel were opening for Uriah Heep that night. We both worked at Discount Records, so I’m guessing Rich could justify the meal.

As far as we were concerned, this was lunch with The Herd. It was great fun picking their brains about the past. They both laughed non stop at all my questions, in a most flattering way. And I’m sure Andy Bown was genuinely surprised at the attention. Peter didn’t seem to mind one bit that when push came to shove, these two crazies were there to meet Andy Bown.

So yeah, SOMETHIN’S HAPPENING is a gem too. Soon after, Peter Frampton’s deserved home runs began. The industry calls this process artist development. I call it finally getting a fair shot at radio.

The Stone Poneys / Linda Ronstadt

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Stone Ponies - Different Drum

Listen: Different Drum / The Stone Poneys StonePoneysDifferentDrum.mp3

Ok, so a follow up single isn’t always better than the hit preceding it, as was maybe the case with ‘Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water’. It’s hard to top ‘Different Drum’. In fact, Linda Ronstadt never did. At least I don’t remember her doing it, possibly due in part to my general lack of interest toward country leaning music back then.

‘Different Drum’ was indeed another story though. It became a radio staple not long after Jefferson Airplane’s somewhat similar sounding ‘White Rabbit’, and at the same time as both ‘Itchycoo Park’ by The Small Faces and ‘Zabadak’ from Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.

‘Different Drum’ felt a bit psychedelic, even though it wasn’t. Maybe it was by association. Nick Venet was the producer and his work covered many genres. As a Capitol in house employee, seems he was handed all their youth culture signings of the day, thus slotting The Stone Poneys sessions between The Leaves, Lothar & The Hand People or Hearts & Flowers. It was one of many historic times at the Capitol Tower.

Stone Ponies - Up To My Neck picture sleeve

Listen: Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water / Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys StonePoneysUpToMyNeck.mp3

Long before Simon Cowell, the ruthless corporate machine gnawed it’s way through bands, carving out the superstar for investment and mainstream marketing, leaving the other members to survive somehow. As when Clive Davis butchered Big Brother & The Holding Company for Janis Joplin, so too, it seems, did Capitol decimate The Stone Poneys for the asset now known as Linda Ronstadt.

‘Different Drum’ by The Stone Poneys was literally still on Billboard’s Top 100 when ‘Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water’ was released as Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys. Housed in a full color sleeve, big things were expected. The record stalled at #93, but the setback was only temporary. She skyrocketed. It’s a great single despite the misery.

Linda Ronstadt was particularly critical of The Ramones, having gone to CBGB’s, catching an early performance and trashing them the very next day in a local New York paper. It was a hurtful moment that they talked about on occasion. So when Elektra threw a rather lavish party for her in New York, upon release of a successful new album, CANCIONES DE MI PADRE, the mischievous idea of inviting the band was impossible to resist and they were happy to attend.

We all met at Paul’s Lounge on 3rd and 10th, now a drug store, for a drink, then proceeded uptown to the event. Monte of course came along, Michael Alago and Arturo Vega did too. Everyone cleaned up on designer Mexican food, the album theme being traditional Mexican folk songs, and waited patiently for her to make the rounds, greeting her guests. The moment when she turned towards our table was classic, but it was too late to turn back. Obviously, she’d not been forewarned. Her look was priceless. DeeDee smiled and stared very menacingly, John just glared. Joey, after about five or ten seconds, decided to break the silence with “So Linda, long time no see”.

Nervously: “How are you guys doing?”

“We’re fine” replies John before she’s even finished her last word.

Incredible singer, successful artist but at that moment, Linda Ronstadt was stumped. Wincing, she backed away and slithered into the crowd.

Touché.

Ten Years After

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Listen: The Sounds / Ten Years After TYASounds.mp3

Abrupt false ending followed by slight reprise, non-musical sound effects, over echoed background vocals: all quickly becoming standard psychedelic production ideas by ’67/’68. Simple to observe now, but then…it was ‘pass the headphones’ stuff.

Mike Vernon, I believe signed Ten Years After to Deram prior to starting probably the best UK blues label in terms of both quality and success, Blue Horizon. I’m guessing it was this band’s original musical style that most likely drew them together.

‘The Sounds’, although recorded as a single during that short period between album one and two, and released spring ’68 (UK B side / US A side), actually marked the beginning of a unique songwriting style that blossomed fully on STONEHENGE, their third full length and first of a flawless trilogy (SSSSH and CRICKLEWOOD GREEN).

Ten Years After were about to be on a roll, due to a wildly blistering performance at Woodstock of ‘I’m Going Home’. It’s original recording was released as a followup 7″ to ‘The Sounds’. Coupled with ‘Hear Me Calling’ meant it became a classic double sider. The Woodstock version made both the film and soundtrack album, hence Ten Years After enjoyed the perfect artist development curve making those (and other albums) deservedly successful and their live draw solid for years.

‘The Sounds’, at time of release, could be found nowhere, and surprise surprise, heard nowhere in the US – certainly not upstate. It took me years to snag a copy, around ’74 I would guess, when then MCA salesman Ed Terracino (former London Records employee) gave me a stack of singles from his basement stash. I am forever grateful Ed if you’re reading.

Never did see them play this one, and maybe they never did. It must have been around SSSSH when they made their way to Syracuse, with Humble Pie supporting. It’s was Humble Pie’s first US tour, and although nowhere near as interested in their boogie rock as the music of the member’s previous bands (The Small Faces and The Herd), I went along, being a huge Ten Years After, but also with the possibility of meeting Humble Pie as a bonus.

I’ll admit, Humble Pie were surprisingly great live, still bean pole skinny, clad in lime, purple and pink velvet pants/suits and little girl blouses, America hadn’t influenced their wardrobe or haircuts yet, so it was well enjoyable.

Ten Years After, on the other hand, appeared bored and sullen. No biggie – it happens. Playing Syracuse understandably nothing to look forward to I guess.

Afterwards, I made my way backstage, really in search of Humble Pie to stalk them for Small Faces and Herd details, when I came across Chick Churchill moping dismissively against a wall. Probably an unpleasant day for the fellow, and I suppose me excitedly getting to the real point of our conversation: where are Humble Pie, didn’t help. Although I loved those Ten Years After albums mentioned above, he did throw a temporary wet blanket on my mission to covert any and all to his band.

The Who

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Listen: Happy Jack / The Who WhoHappyJack.mp3

Pull this out and give it a spin. You’re bound to say, “Man I have not heard this in ages”. Well, my guess is you’ll say that. I loved all the singles up through and including ‘Pictures Of Lily’. Then came ‘I Can See For Miles’. Something about that one, it was good but didn’t hit dead center. Was a first real understanding of my body’s reaction to music. ‘I Can See For Miles’ may have been the record that set the template for an A&R career years later: if I didn’t love it – chances were good it’d be a huge hit. Hey, as long as you know how to read the indicators, that’s all that really matters. ‘I Can See For Miles’ was in fact their only ever US Top 10. Hard to believe I know.

Back then, The Who weren’t much different than The Small Faces or The Move when it came to US radio. You never heard them. Yeah radio was much better in the 60′s, but still fairly narrow. These bands just didn’t get national airplay – if they were lucky, regional exposure was usually the extent of it and then maybe a crossover….leads me to an interesting memory about The Who.

I and my Anglophile friends religiously bought every single by The Who. My teenage girlfriend and I missed our junior prom the night I got ‘Substitute’ it was so good – we just played it over and over and fiddled about, as someone once coined. It was the plan anyways.

There were a few shops around town that would get two to five copies of the non hits, or hopeful to be hits – like Walt’s Records or Smith’s Records or that huge record department in WT Grant’s on Salina Street in Syracuse. So starting with ‘I Can’t Explain’, we bought ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’, every single right through and including the immaculate ‘Substitute’, ‘I’m A Boy’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and this one, the psychedelic ‘Happy Jack’, which actually did crack the Billboard chart peaking at #24 in ’67. A few years later when TOMMY was released, everyone noticed a rock opera similarity between that and it’s predecessor, The Pretty Things S.F. SORROW, still we listened to them both regularly during several weekend Parcheesi matches. The Who finally made a return visit after opening for Herman’s Hermits a few years earlier. Even though in my opinion the glow of those earlier singles had dimmed down noticeably, of course I went along. TOMMY admittedly wasn’t bad.

After the show, a few of us waited around for autographs, brought albums, singles, the works. I wasn’t quite as fussed and brought nothing, but seriously, was there something better to do in Syracuse as a teenager than possibly say hello to The Who? When my best friend Denny went up to Pete Townshend proudly with his MY GENERATION album to get signed, the guy turned his nose away, dismissiveley refusing to sign anything. He proceeded to make his way toward their station wagon with band members including Keith Moon and Roger Daltry already inside waiting. Even Keith Moon jumped out of the car to oblige, looking at Pete with a ‘you asshole’ glare, I couldn’t resist. So I spoke up.

“Pete, you know those few copies of the older singles you used to sell in towns like this prior to your hits, we were were the kids that bought them.” As the car pulled away, plain as day, I recall him hanging out the window, wearing a coat that looked like a piece of ghastly ornate drapery, middle finger on both hands projecting at me and shouting “you got a show for your $6 prick”.

Hmm. Not really, you didn’t play any of the aforementioned songs I came to hear. Not one. Still it was rude, certainly embarrassing and I never bought another record by The Who. Big deal, basically my bitterness toward he and unfairly the other guys in The Who went unnoticed and I’m sure Pete Towshend never lost a wink of sleep because of me.

About thirty years later, his keepers were doing the rounds of labels trying to hawk a new, not very good Pete Townshend album. I was at Columbia then but decided to pass on the record, or more specifically on him, his talent to write those gems long ago withered in my opinion. Still, it was a very hard call. You’d be a fool to not want to work with Pete Townshend. Honestly, he is a higher form of life but I’d experienced his temper. Once bitten, twice shy.

‘Happy Jack’ really is a terrific single.