Posts Tagged ‘The Spencer Davis Group’

Wilbert Harrison One Man Band / Prince La La / Derek Martin

Monday, December 30th, 2013

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS / Various Artists:

SIDE 1:

Listen: Let’s Work Together (Parts 1 & 2) / Wilbert Harrison One Man Band
WilbertWorkTogether.mp3

Side 2:

Listen: She Put The Hurt On Me / Prince La La
She

Listen: Daddy Rollin’ Stone / Derek Martin
Daddy

Just check my previous two posts. Not hard to guess, I’ve been picking through the various artists section of my wall shelf.

Weirdly enough, this is usually a head scratching process. I don’t do it often, but every time seems to unearth a multi-artist record, usually an EP, that I’d never really noticed before, suddenly falling into the ‘where on earth did I get this from’ category. And honestly, it happens every single time. One source, the UK weeklies, who for a few years there during the late 80′s/early 90′s were including free EP’s, whether it be NME, Music Week or Melody Maker, with each issue. I religiously grabbed every one and stuck them in that VA section for a rainy day. The entire chunk now being a treasure trove of both obscure and focus tracks.

When the Ensign label got all hot and bothered about the Sue Records catalog, which I’m guessing they could suddenly access via their 1983 Island distribution deal, they issued a series of four song EP’s religiously honoring the labels iconic history. Some were single artist compilation EP’s by Ike & Tina Turner or Inez & Charlie Foxx. Others were theme centric: SUE INSTRUMENTALS, THE SUE SOUL SISTERS and this, the latter’s partner, THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS. I played all three in the past few hours and basically did a blindfold drill to choose today’s 31 Days Of December – All EP’s post.

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS, most likely by design, builds around much covered songs from Sue’s UK catalog. And there were many songs to choose from here, not forgetting, the Sue UK label issued the American Sue releases along with various blues and RnB singles from small and indie US labels. Initially, Juggy Murray, who owned Sue in the US was reportedly furious with Chris Blackwell and Guy Stevens, the day to day guy at Island/Sue in London. Apparently, neither had cleared the idea of picking up product from other US companies and slapping a Sue label on it for the UK.

As a result, other than the bothersome bad blood, Sue’s British catalog and discography rivaled the majors like Decca’s, who bolstered their output and image by repping Atlantic, Monument, Tribe, RCA, Coral and others in Britain. Island became the little indie that could, even harder in the 60′s, when swimming against the tide of Decca, CBS, EMI and Pye was near impossible.

And so, the team at Ensign picked some solid originals here that went on to become widely popular as covers. Loads of bands, including The Who and John’s Children released Derek Martin’s ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ during the Mod era.

Canned Heat, blues experts themselves, took Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ Top 40 in 1970, delaying their version to give the original a chance to sell and reach #32 on BILLBOARD. In a loose full circle chain of events, John Mayall chose to record Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ for his fantastic, and I do mean fantastic, Island album, A SENSE OF PLACE from 1990.

Eddie & The Hot Rods

Friday, December 13th, 2013

AT THE SOUND OF SPEED / Eddie & The Hot Rods:

Side 1:

Listen: Hard Drivin’ Man / Eddie & The Hot Rods
Hard

Listen: Horseplay / Eddie & The Hot Rods
Horseplay

Side 2:

Listen: Double Checkin’ Woman / Eddie & The Hot Rods
Double

Listen: All I Need Is Money / Eddie & The Hot Rods
All

There were few better live bands in the world than Eddie & The Hot Rods around the time of this EP. Depending on the moment, probably no better one.

They are seldom credited with putting the bpm’s back into sluggish radio rock, the type of poisonous stuff Lee Abrams was about to turn into a successful US format, proceeding to keep punk off of America’s airwaves for two decades. By then, bands several generations younger were glorifying or respectfully copying the original idea. Regardless, most of punk’s, and in the case of Eddie & The Hot Rods, pub rock/pre-punk bands never got the massive exposure they deserved.

AT THE SOUND OF SPEED EP followed it’s predecessor LIVE AT THE MARQUEE during the summer of 1977, almost exactly one year later. The former reintroduced the EP format to the UK singles charts after a solid decade, peaking at #43.

As a result, Island did a short series of EP’s at the time, including those with new music from by The Jess Roden Band and Michael Nesmith, as well as reissue four song jobs by Toots & The Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, The Spencer Davis Group and even Heads, Hands & Feet.

They’re a nice series to collect.

Millie

Monday, December 9th, 2013

MILLIE AND HER BOYFRIENDS / Mille:

Side 1:

Listen: Never Say Goodbye / Roy & Millie
Never

Listen: We’ll Meet / Roy & Millie
MillieWe_llMeet.mp3

Side 2:

Listen: Since I Met You Baby / Jackie & Millie
Since

Listen: I Don’t Want You / Owen & Millie
I

From age 13, in 1961, Millie, known also as Millie Small, had her first Jamaican #1, ‘We’ll Meet’ a duet with Roy Panton. The two remained together as a singing team, achieving a second #1 with ‘Never Say Goodbye’ before she left for the UK in ’63 and signing to Fontana. Her worldwide smash, ‘My Boy Lollipop’ was just around the bend.

Prior tothatr international breakthrough though, duets in homeland Jamaica were commonplace for her, releasing singles with both Owen Gray and Jackie Edwards, two of which are included on this MILLIE ABD HER BOYFRIENDS EP.

Jacke Edwards followed her lead soon afterward, successfully himself in London, writing hits for The Spencer Davis Group and Wayne Fontana plus recording under his own name as well.

Leadbelly

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

HUDIE LEADBETTER / Leadbelly:

leadbellyep1, Leadbelly, Capitol, Jack White,

leadbellyeppsback1

Side 1:

Listen: Take This Hammer / Leadbelly
Take

Listen: Ella Speed / Leadbelly
Ella

Side 2:

Listen: Back Water Blues / Leadbelly
Back

Listen: Sweet Mary Blues / Leadbelly
Sweet

Like jazz or gospel singles, blues 7′s are pretty irresistable. For years, fairly abundant, it was a non stop 50¢ field day. I ended up with stacks, and occasionally spend several hours having a proper sift through them. ‘Take This Hammer’, like so many, found it’s way to me via a white 60′s English band, The Spencer Davis Group. Stevie Winwood unquestionably had the voice to pull off any of these standards, which was the case for ‘This Hammer’, as it was titled on their US GIMME SOME LOVIN’ album.

Good news. This stuff is still around if you look. I only just bought Leadbelly’s UK EP, HUDIE LEADBETTER while in London last month, for a few pounds. Lovingly played, I do believe original records like these would sound a bit naked without the surface noise.

The Spencer Davis Group / The Mindbenders / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich / The Pretty Things

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

THE BIG 4 / Various Artists:

Side 1:

Listen: Keep On Running / The Spencer Davis Group
Keep

Listen: You Make It Move / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
You

Side 2:

Listen: A Groovy Kind Of Love / The Mindbenders
A

Listen: Midnight To Six Man / The Pretty Things
Midnight

And so with the UK EP, given a possible restrictive higher price to the customer, often labels would package recent chart hits together making a purchase seemingly more attractive, musically convenient or both. Unlike Decca, Fontana weren’t regulars in the various artists EP game. But on this occasion, April 1966, THE BIG 4 hit the market to seemingly little response, given it’s absence from the RECORD RETAILER EP Chart.

Given the EP contained a recent #1 ‘Keep On Running’ and three current Top 50′s: #2 ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’, #26 ‘You Make It Move’ and #46 ‘Midnight To Six Man’, one would have expected a different result. Most likely the label did too.

Ultimately it’s hard to guess how many might have sold. I really would love to know. This one surfaces occasionally on eBay and doesn’t sell for much. Despite that, it still has value for the money as the pressing is superb, mastered loudly with great high and low end. Plus all the songs make for a great listen together.

The Spencer Davis Group

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Listen: I Can’t Stand It / The Spencer Davis Group
I

Imagine my thrill in ’75, stumbling on one of those big tubs full of 10 for $1.00 singles in JM Fields, the massive department store, somewhat a forerunner to Wal-Mart. They were few and far between then, and my memory has zero recollection of it ever happening again.

This was the outskirts of Syracuse and the result of a completely unplanned stop to buy God knows what. No wonder I turned to drugs soon after, it was the only way to replicate the high. I systematically dug through this pile a few times, insuring not one was overlooked. I shudder to imagine what I may have left behind, but regardless, the gem of the day was The Spencer Davis Group ‘I Can’t Stand It’. Rare even then, extinct now.

‘I Can’t Stand It’ was the band’s second UK single, but first in the US, and only release on Fontana. Tame by comparison to later A sides, still Steve Winwood’s undeniable Ray Charles styled vocal surely must have been the envy of every other white singer in England, all desperate to sound black.

Wayne Fontana / Jackie Edwards

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Come On Home / Wayne Fontana

Listen: Come On Home / Wayne Fontana
Come

Wayne Fontana’s version of ‘Come On Home’ came on the radio during the summer of 1966 and it was an instant favorite.

Sixteen months earlier, he was the apparent leader of the first live band I’d ever seen, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. They opened for Freddie & The Dreamers. And so from my initial baptism into the live music world, I had a tendency to favor the support acts, especially if they were English.

By early ’66, they had split into two. It seemed like an eternity at the time. Both had several hits in the UK, with only The Mindbenders getting any real airplay here with ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ and ‘Ashes To Ashes’.

By that summer though, I was over anxious to finally hear a solo record from Wayne Fontana, having scoured the UK singles chart in BILLBOARD as part of my weekly ritual at Smith’s Records each Friday after school and seen one too many by him that had not entered my life.

Alas, ‘Come On Home’ got a few weeks worth of spins locally upon release, but then on the more mainstream leaning Top 40, WNDR, as opposed to the looser and much better WOLF. And yeah, I loved it immediately.

I recall mustering up the guts to shout it out at the London Palladium in April ’01. Along with Dave Berry, he was supporting Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Seriously, he was hysterically funny between songs and pretty great vocally as well. He ignored me when it came to my audience request although.

Listen: Come On Home / Jackie Edwards
Come

Little did I know at the time, ‘Come On Home’ was written by Jackie Edwards, the same guy who’d composed my early favorites by The Spencer Davis Group: ‘Keep On Running’, ‘Somebody Help Me’ and ‘When I Come Home’.

Years later, I discovered his history in ska, duets with Millie amongst others and several pop singles, many of which I’ve managed to obtain over time.

It was while digging through one of the seemingly endless storage cupboards at Island’s St. Peter’s Square office in London that I unearthed an unplayed promotional pressing of his ‘Come On Home’. I still experience a deja vu hot flash to that moment every time I hold this copy.

The Anglos

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Listen: Incense / The Anglos
Incense

Who doesn’t love a mystery?

For decades, speculation has surrounded the origins of The Anglos’ lead singer on ‘Incense’, many claiming it to be Stevie Winwood. The single was eventually released on UK Island proper in ’65. Having previously been issued a number of smaller UK and US labels, the confusion is most likely clouded by the Jimmy Miller production. He was working for Chris Blackwell and Island, involved with The Spencer Davis Group, having produced both ‘Gimme Some Lovin” and the ultimate ‘I’m A Man’ masterpiece.

But in fact, the voice here belongs to Joe Webster, from Virginia, as were The Anglos. Frankly, if you listen closely, it’s quite obviously not Stevie Winwood, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he wished it were him.

On a late night trip from London to his country house in Theale, where Chris Blackwell had invited Corinne and I for a weekend, conversation turned to The Anglos. Chris, driving his Rolls and playing the then unreleased Womack & Womack album for us, revealed in no uncertain terms it was absolutely not Stevie Winwood, but instead said fellow, Joe Webster.

We soon pulled up to the Theale cottage, whereby Chris apologized that Jim Capaldi had lazily left his clothes and shoes all round the guest room, assuring us the sheets were clean.

The Buffalo Springfield

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Listen: Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing / The Buffalo Springfield
Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing / The Buffalo Springfield

West coast soft rock, not a fan. It was the anti-christ to British music. Even as some of the UK bands got fascinated by it, started copying it, I still wasn’t buying in. But initially, The Buffalo Springfield looked as though they may have had promise. I wanted badly to hear their first single ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’. The title made me curious, and I wasn’t sharp enough to be put off by the band’s name. There was Lothar & The Hand People, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company, these guys seemed to fit into the nonsensical band name pocket just fine.

Digging through a massive bin of drilled, 39¢ closeout singles, I found a copy only a few months later. This was just before their third 45, ‘For What It’s Worth’, got traction and went Top 40. I got home and did not love this record later that night.

But I did like that a) it was a Bubbling Under The Hot 100 flop (#110), b) was on Atco and c) was an unlikely single.

a) There’s nothing like the endless gems that never reached the Top 100. In retrospect, countless seminal classics populated and peeked on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart, within it’s #101 – 135 range. All struggling for airplay that never came. Where was the expertise programmers supposedly had in the 60′s and 70′s, we now wonder. Proof that some things never changed.

b) Atco was cool. The younger, but prettier step sister of Atlantic. Amongst it’s early roster of bands that never made it / looked like they weren’t going to: The Vagrants, The Who, The Groupies, The Spencer Davis Group, Julie Driscoll/Brian Auger & The Trinity and The Cream. Yes, this was in the day before groups like The Pink Floyd, The Cream and The Buffalo Springfield managed to drop ‘The’ from their official professional name.

c) There are few things more inviting than a single that made no sense being a single. Like just about any jazz 7″, certainly edited versions of tracks from Miles Davis’ BITCHES BREW album. Not that ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ came close to such an extreme, but it was a real surprise on first spin.

The Buffalo Springfield have now reformed, sans ‘The’, with the remaining living original members, and I would bet the whole house of cards they are not playing this first single live. Just like the setlist for The Cream’s reunion (sans ‘The’) omitted ‘I Feel Free’.

So I won’t be attending, but all said and done, I ended up liking ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ a lot.

Update (6/11/11): John Poole emailed to say they did play ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ during their first reunion appearance at the Bridge Benefit Concert last year. How awesome is that?

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

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millie Small

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Bloodshot Eyes / Millie Small

Listen: Bloodshot Eyes / Millie Small 01 Bloodshot Eyes.mp3

Who can forget ‘My Boy Lollipop’? It was Millie’s big hit during ’64 and still sounds as vibrant now as when it was everywhere that summer. Distinctly recall riding my bike round and round the block, trying to get in with my friend’s older brothers and sisters – all just turning into teenagers, and very into the latest records. Seems everyone of them had ‘My Boy Lollipop’ and I wanted a copy so badly.

I guess Millie Small was a one hit wonder. I’ve just now realized this. Shame. She made a bunch of great singles for several years to follow.

Chris Blackwell was her producer, manager, keeper. I asked him many times for Millie (as she was known outside the US) details but he had few, well none actually.

I’m always on the prowl for those elusive Millie 7′s. The one I want the most and have just never found is ‘A Mixed Up, Fickle, Moody, Self Centered, Spoiled Kind Of Boy’. Does this sound great or what?

Chris did tell me he’d done a two singles production deal with Ahmet Ertegan’s Atco in ’65, one was The Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Keep On Running’ and the other Millie’s ‘Bloodshot Eyes’. It could have fit easily onto the DOCTOR NO soundtrack. By the way, that film was one of Chris’ first jobs. As well, he produced both singles. Good start.

The Strawberry Children

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Strawberry Children Picture Sleeve

Listen: Love Years Coming / The Strawberry Children
Love

Turns out Johnny Rivers was a pretty hip cat, as I believe he’d be referred to at the time. Like his career, Johnny Rivers’ record label Soul City, was very Los Angeles centric. Having earned parent company Liberty a ton of cash, he was afforded an imprint and indeed quite the businessman, which occasionally populated the landscape during the 60′s. In short, he licensed his masters instead of allowing the label to own them. Not only as performer, but as producer and A&R alike, Johnny Rivers had talent, signing The Fifth Dimension to Soul City as well producing many of their hits. Reputedly giving Jimmy Webb his initial songwriting placements, Rivers teamed he and The Strawberry Children together. Never shy on picture sleeves, Soul City issued ‘Love Years Coming’ during the summer of ’67. It was almost a hit.

Looking back on one of my local radio station’s chart below, ‘Love Years Coming’ was that week’s pick hit. Look further though. Usually a very tight follower of the national Top 40, seems WNDR was burning it’s bra that summer as well. The sunshine was clearly powerful as acid pop singles aplenty were being played: Sagittarius at #15 (which they misspelled), The Third Rail, The Forum, The Merry-Go-Round, The Will-O-Bees, The Cyrkle, The Left Banke and pyschedelic folk hippie Marcia Strassman. Not to mention some decent soul/Northern soul: Linda Jones, The Sweet Inspirations, Betty Swanne and a portion, though not big enough, of UK stuff: The Kinks, The Spencer Davis Group

It was a great summer.

The Spencer Davis Group

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I'm A Man / The Spencer Davis Group

Listen: I’m A Man / The Spencer Davis Group SpencerDavisMan.mp3

No big story to tell. Just a record I don’t hear enough anymore, despite it being a Top 10 single in the US. Steve Winwood had to have been the envy of all his peers, he really did sound black. As hard as the others tried, only he could pull it off. Want a perfect intro? Here you go. A bass guitar has never sounded better?