Posts Tagged ‘The Troggs’

Spanky & Our Gang

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Listen: Like To Get To Know You / Spanky & Our Gang
Like

God, I hated Spanky & Our Gang when they were current. As a kid, they just sounded like safe sonic sludge, a cross between The Mamas & The Papas and The Letterman. Being impatiently addicted to the English group image, this bunch were simply hideous visually, out of shape and way too American.

Add to that, they were signed to the US Mercury/Philips/Fontana labels. As far as I was concerned, any money and manpower directed toward them took away from The Herd, The Troggs, Manfred Mann, The New Vaudeville Band, The Pretty Things and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Trust me, this did not sit well.

Truth be told, I was kind of wrong. Indeed, they probably did rob those other acts of company resources, but musically, they were pristine. To be fair, as the years passed, I found Spanky & Our Gang to be a nagging guilty pleasure, and one that eventually carried no guilt. Their collection of hits and non-hits sound even better with age. In fact, very psychedelic, aided in no small way by some of the earliest stereo 7′ pressings I can recall.

Check out both the production and arrangement of any Spanky & Our Gang single, start with ‘Like To Get To Know You’. This was on the radio constantly in ’68 and rivals Richard Harris’s Jimmy Webb written/produced ‘MacArthur Park’ for the flowery mini symphony slot of the era.

Kim Weston

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Listen: Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While) / Kim Weston KimWestonTakeMe.mp3

Tell you what, I wish I owned the actual tambourine used on ‘Take Me In Your Arms’. It must have been metal, as opposed to a wooden version. I wonder where that item is this very moment. Seriously, where would something like that ultimately end up?

Basically, we will never ever know. Shame. Because other than the rolling riff /piano playoff in the chorus, it’s the most important instrument here, the lead component. One of the most famous tambourines in the world. As famous as the maracas on The Rolling Stones ‘Not Fade Away’ or the tonette in The Troggs ‘Wild Thing’ instrumental break.

Yes. ‘Take Me In Your Arms’ is Motown’s most unique, prominent and influential tambourine song, like, ever.

UK A label and EP, both courtesy the Vicki Wickham collection. Two beauties full stop.

Gary & The Hornets

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Listen: Kind Of Hush / Gary & The Hornets GaryHornetsHush.mp3

Lou Reizner is a name you will notice often if you scour various mid 60′s singles in the Mercury/Philips/Smash/Fontana family. He either produced, A&R’d or both for the company. I’m guessing one of his pet projects, or maybe assignments, were brothers Gary & The Hornets.

Every week several bands suddenly appeared out of nowhere, clad perfectly in wide colorful cords and uncomfortably fitting polka dot or paisley shirts, complimented by the obligatory bowl cut. These kids were no exception.

A hipper looking, but not better sounding, version of contemporaries The Cowsills (sans the Mom), they covered a few well know (Herman’s Hermits ‘Kind Of Hush’) or semi well known (‘The Troggs ‘Hi Hi Hazel’) singles. None with any success.

Listen: Baby It’s You / Gary & The Hornets GaryHornetsBaby.mp3

One such well known track, ‘Baby It’s You’ was recorded by many, including The Shirelles and The Beatles, but the hit went to a female led, more soul/blues white act, Smith. For Gary & The Hornets, it was yet another unsuccessful stab at some Top 40 success.

If I had to guess, the hope was their voices would improve with age – but that wasn’t meant to be. Turns out I have five of their 7′s, and the more recent ones don’t indicate much of an upward trajectory.

Never mind. They were fun at the time, and encouraged many an aspiring youngster to give a go at cutting a single or two, and for that we should give Gary & The Hornets a nod.

The Troggs

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Listen: Night Of The Long Grass / The Troggs TroggsNight.mp3

Pawing through my Troggs 7″ collection, jonesing to hear ‘Night Of The Long Grass’, I realized what we all know, this band made a lot of great singles, for ages. I’m not sure why they didn’t have the occasional chart hit as the years progressed. They always toured, and were really good as well.

“Night Of The Long Grass’ was criticized for being bit unsettling musically. Well not by me, but most who heard it. Had a bit of a ‘From The Underworld’ creepiness, a bigger compliment is hard to get by the way. It’s without a doubt the most obscure of their US Fontana releases, especially a stock pressing, which took me years to find. Never seen one since.

Listen: Summertime / The Troggs TroggsSummertime.mp3

Speaking of summer, what better time to talk about the most clever seasonal lyric, maybe ever. With more songs than anyone I can count encompassing schoolboy sexual eye winks, ‘Summertime’ is their true juvenile masterpiece. How this didn’t blow up, given they reunited with producer Larry Page from their Fontana/Page One hit making days, has to be down to one, and only one reason. No airplay.

The Virgin Sleep

Monday, March 8th, 2010

VirginSleepLoveUKA, Virgin Sleep, Deram, Noel Walker, Keith Mansfield, Rod Buckle

VirginSleepLoveUK, Virgin Sleep, Deram, Noel Walker, Keith Mansfield, Rod Buckle

VirginSleepLove, Virgin Sleep, Deram, Noel Walker, Keith Mansfield, Rod Buckle

Listen: Love / The Virgin Sleep
Love / The Virgin Sleep

For a UK summer ’67 psychedelic snapshot, Deram were a pretty dependable label. Extending Decca, their parent company’s policy of the previous four years (basically grabbing up as many blossoming bands as possible and awarding them a single or two to see if they had something) gave The Virgin Sleep their 15 minutes. ‘Love’ has ranked respectfully among the most sought after period singles, and obviously for good reason. Sounding not unlike The Troggs’ more druggy tunes, the band modelled this after the Buddhist chant ‘Om Mane Padme Hum’ and logically threw in a sitar. ‘Paint It, Black’ beware.

VirginSleepHaliford, Virgin Sleep, Deram, Noel Walker, Keith Mansfield, Rod Buckle

VirginSleepHallifordUK, Virgin Sleep, Deram, Noel Walker, Keith Mansfield, Rod Buckle

VirginSleepHallifordUSB, Virgin Sleep, Deram, Noel Walker, Keith Mansfield, Rod Buckle

Listen: Halliford House / The Virgin Sleep
Halliford House / The Virgin Sleep

Produced by in-house Decca staffer, Noel Walker, both ‘Love’ and it’s B side, ‘Halliford House’ left no psychedelic studio trick untried. The crack ending here being solid proof.

VirginSleepSecrets, Virgin Sleep, Deram, Noel Walker, Keith Mansfield, Rod Buckle

Listen: Secret / The Virgin Sleep
Secret / The Virgin Sleep

Things went a bit more commercial for their second and last swing at the hit parade. Keith Mansfield was brought in to ‘arrange’. His history was incidental music for TV and film. Nice choice. Didn’t work though, as far as chart success went. Sounding not unlike the future classical ideas The Move would explore makes me wonder if Roy Wood was a fan. Still the psychedelic accolades remained intact, as ‘Secret’ has turned up on a few hardcore comps of the genre.

VirginSleepComes, Virgin Sleep, Deram, Noel Walker, Keith Mansfield, Rod Buckle

Listen: Comes A Time / The Virgin Sleep
Comes A Time / The Virgin Sleep

As with ‘Secret’, ‘Comes A Time’ was produced by Rod Buckle. He must not have enjoyed the experience given his name never surfaced again, to my knowledge. Despite some nice Honeybus moments, it’s always ignored. This B side really grew on me, by accident if truth be known. The turntable was on repeat.

SMASH / FONTANA CATALOG 1968

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

God knows where I got this – probably wrote away for it being the record collector I was at eight years old. Still have a few Fontana 7″ mailers from that time period as well. I would write to this person, Claranelle Morris, at Fontana’s main office in Chicago back then, pestering her about The Herd and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. She’d send photos, bios, sometimes even a single. I guess she figured you couldn’t hear or buy them in the sticks of the Syracuse suburbs, so give the kid the record already. We’re going to toss them anyways. Thank you Claranelle. To go back and police the Fontana dumpsters. If only.

It was years later, when I finally got a break to get into the business when Howard Thompson gave me my first A&R job at Elektra. Without him, I’d still be struggling. That’s when I first discovered that as soon as a record isn’t current, being worked at radio or believed in (at Columbia, my last label job, this often happened within a few weeks: Charlie Walk in particular convinced many he was quite good at A&R, he’s now unemployed), off to the dumpster went the product, and many times off to the scrapheap went the act’s career.

But let’s not lose focus. So I found this catalog in one of the many trunks of stuff I’ve saved over the years. It’s just like new, man, I wouldn’t mind a box lot of many of the titles here. Of course, I loved the English groups back then, but also had a jones for Gloria Lynne. It wasn’t only because she was on Fontana (which was always a favorite label, Suzanne King made me a great Fontana T Shirt for my birthday one year. She lives in Chicago now. Visit the Fontana building Suzanne. It was at 35 E. Wacker Drive).

Gloria Lynne had a bunch of records on Everest prior. I had a copy of ‘Indian Love Call’ from that period, given to me in one of the Saturday morning piles of singles my uncle, a jukebox operator, would drop off instead of trashing when I was very young, about five or six. It’s probably the reason the record collecting gene was dangerously awakened in my DNA.

I paid attention to Gloria Lynne singles. I often heard them on the radio playing in the local barber shop where I’d get my haircut as a little boy. Must have been an AC station of the day, way before it’s then output turned into bachelor pad, lounge, hipster stuff decades later.

And check out some of the soundtracks here too.