Posts Tagged ‘The Who’

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.

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

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.

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.

Jim Sullivan

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Listen: Toad Stool / Jim Sullivan
Toad

From what I can uncover, this was a US only release, apparently before Big Jim Sullivan became big.

No doubt, he can’t recall who played on this, although you never know. I hope to ask him someday. I like to think that’s Bobbie Graham on the drums, and from the songwriting credit, my guess is Shel Talmy also produced.

That’s logical, as he used Jim Sullivan on many of his other productions during the period: The Kinks and The Who being the most familiar.

Ever a work in progress, a Jim Sullivan discography could make for a good book. You’ll need to stop down every page of so just to take it all in.

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 Who

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Listen: I’m A Boy / The Who
WhoBoy.mp3

I was very down on The Who after they played Syracuse back in early ’68. Pete Townshend chose to refuse my friends and I autographs. My pals were a bit more upset than me. You see I wasn’t really feeling ‘I Can See For Miles’, which had been released the previous autumn, but instead was desperate to impress my first girlfriend Mary Ann with their signatures.

No escaping it, ‘I Can See For Miles’ just didn’t hit the way ‘Substitute’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’, ‘Pictures Of Lily’ or ‘Anyway Anyhow Anywhere’ had previously. The Englishness had been polished off ever so slightly, but enough for me to notice without question.

Our crowd were the only ones buying those non-hits off the little racks in the back of Walt’s Records or at Smith’s Records; both usually stocking five or so copies at the most of US non-hits from UK bands. So when Pete Townshend got into the awaiting station wagon, hung himself out the window, gave us the finger with both his hands and shouted “You got a show for your $6 pricks”, we were speechless. Calm down dog, all we wanted were autographs. I do remember the other band members, who had obliged, looked seriously perturbed.

Fast forward to the first weekend of April 2012. Out of late night boredom, mixed with insomnia from being alone for the night, I Netflix’d up AMAZING JOURNEY – THE STORY OF THE WHO. Honestly, I’d floated along all these decades in arrogant denial at how powerfully great this band was. That documentary certainly sobered me. You must watch it, all three hours. The film will speak for itself. And if you’re in a band, learn a lesson to always treat your fans with respect.

I’ve been playing their first seven or so singles non stop since then, loaded them on the iTouch too. ‘I’m A Boy’ being just one that deserved airplay in the US during it’s day. Funny how all those programmers back then were wrong to keep them off their airwaves at the time. Even funnier how they’ll rewrite history to imply they hadn’t.

Angie / Pete Townshend

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Peppermint Lump / Angie

Listen: Peppermint Lump / Angie
Peppermint Lump / Angie

A few years back, Pete Townshend was suddenly in very hot water. I think he brought a computer in for repair, whereby a bunch of child porn was discovered on the hard drive or some such story. His official response: research. And on his way Pete went.

I thought sure Angie’s record might suddenly get some attention as a result. She was a very young girl who recorded with Pete Townshend back in ’79 for Stiff, and you know how the haters come out pretty easily. If that had happened, at least this terrific single would have been spotlighted and possibly heard at last.

It’s certainly a lost gem in my universe nonetheless. While weeding through the A’s in my wall shelf just now, I stumbled upon it, right there between Angels One-Five on Pye UK from ’73 and the US picture sleeve for The Animals ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ on MGM (sorry, I couldn’t resist). The second I laid my eyes on it, well I couldn’t get over to the turntable fast enough and give it a spin. Loud.

Pete Townshend’s signature playing is all over this as well as his arrangement style and vocals. No denying his gifts, and when he’s in the pocket, just don’t even try to compete.

Below: Stiff Records’ peppermint scented promotional handbill for ‘Peppermint Lump’.

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.

Thunderclap Newman

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Thunderclap Newman USA

Listen: Accidents / Thunderclap Newman
Accidents / Thunderclap Newman

Not enough people seem to appreciate Thunderclap Newman.

For such a British sound, they surprisingly had a pretty big US hit with ‘Something In The Air’. It, and their album HOLLYWOOD DREAM, were produced by Pete Townshend. Word is they were a studio concoction he put together to help John ‘Speedy’ Keen, a roadie for The Who. Speedy Keen had indeed quite a talent for songwriting, doing just that for all but one song on the LP. He later released two solo albums, as well as some great singles including ‘Bad Boys’, a reggae style Chris Blackwell produced favorite of mine.

This track though, was the followup to ‘Something In The Air’. A 9:40 version of ‘Accidents’ can be found on the album, complete with kitchen sink psychedelics during a long middle part, but it’s the 7″ version that out-Englishes the Englishness of ‘Something In The Air’, if you can believe that. If not, just listen.

I dare say it’s a near perfect, or perfect plain and simple, record. Despite that, the single spent only one week in each the UK and US charts: #44 UK / #100 US.

Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch was noticeably great. His intertwining parts here, and on every song, are hugely melodic and make all Thunderclap Newman’s material a little more special.

He later joined Stone The Crows and a very obscure band called Blue. They actually scored a minor hit, ‘Capture Your Heart’, when signed to Elton John’s Rocket label once he had departed, but previously had two albums on RSO, the first of which included the single ‘Little Jody’, an absolutely perfect, must own pop record, made even more perfect by his playing.

Later, he joined Wings, debuting on ‘Junior’s Farm’, undeniably one of their strongest singles.

I’m posting the mono single version of ‘Accidents’ here. A stereo version can be found on the cd reissue of that infamous HOLLYWOOD DREAM album, but for some reason they left off the mono. Sloppy….

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?

Marie Knight

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Listen: Cry Me A River / Marie Knight
Cry Me A River / Marie Knight

Hey thanks Vicki Wickham, for keeping this one since the 60′s. Yes, it was part of her 45 collection that I was gifted by Saint Vicki herself last fall.

You know, I love you Vicki Wickham.

Let’s talk about Vicki Wickham. We first met in ’89, when she managed Phranc during her Island days. I remember exactly where we first shook hands: backstage at the Beacon Theater, in the the very stairway where Ahmet Ertegan took his last spill. Phranc had just hired her, and was at that time on tour with The Pogues.

I was actually meeting thee Vicki Wickham. The one that booked READY! STEADY! GO!, managed Dusty Springfield, co-wrote ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ with Simon Napier-Bell, produced Labelle. The one who not only booked the infamous Saville Theatre series, brought the Motown Review to England, worked at Track Records with The Who, Thunderclap Newman, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Marsha Hunt, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, John’s Children, and yes, The Cherry Smash; but also knew Scott Walker…and Brian Jones. I was nervous and in awe. Vicki Wickham was a higher form of life.

Fast forward. Nowadays, we meet often for lunch, on 9th Ave and 44th Street at Marseilles, possibly her favorite restaurant. She always orders the asparagus omelette and eats about half. I grill her for details: RSG, The BBC during the 60′s, Rediffusion Television, Top Of The Pops not to mention every band and everybody she ever encountered. Did she visit the Immediate Records office, Deram, Philips, Fontana. What was the Ready Steady Go canteen like, did she know Tony Hall, Steve Marriott, Inez Foxx, Joe Meek, Dozy. When did she last speak with Andrew Loog Oldham, P.P. Arnold or Madeline Bell…..we cover, discuss, judge and trash tons of people. Yes, we are guilty. Needless to say, there’s never a loss for topics.

On one such occasion last year, she mentions having just found boxes of 45′s in storage, and the only one she can remember seeing in the whole bunch was the Bessie Banks ‘Go Now’ UK A label pressing. Was I interested in the lot? That’s like asking Alago, Duane, Joe and I if we’d like a free bump in the VIP bathroom at The Ritz in the 80′s. Ahh, yeah.

Vicki, you ARE a saint, and a beloved friend.

And you turned me on to Marie Knight. Praise be.

Derak Martin

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

derakmartindaddyrollingsue, Derak Martin, Sue Records, John's Children, The New York Dolls, Streewalkers,, The Who

Listen: Daddy Rollin’ Stone/ Derak Martin
Daddy Rollin' Stone/ Derak Martin

Right down to the misspelling of his name on the label, this reeked of street, almost bootleg. The noisy, dirty recording being the kind that would aggressively make the rounds on the underground club circuit, deep south US or deep north UK. ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ and Derek Martin’s reach were validated by the bands that covered the track: The Who, John’s Children, The New York Dolls, Roger Chapman’s Streetwalkers. And that’s just the recorded versions.

The Who

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Substitute / The Who

Listen: Substitute / The Who
Substitute / The Who

I missed the junior prom because of this record. My childhood sweetheart girlfriend Marianne was an Anglophile like me, most kids were back then really. But the two of us, we were hardcore.

Basically, as soon as I’d get home from school on Fridays I would head to Smith’s Records in Oneida, either on my bike or my Dad would drive me, bless him. Mrs. Smith gave me her week old Billboard magazines like clockwork, and I’d always buy something as well. Occasionally, one of the special orders we’d put through would actually show up. And every time, she’d buy two extras for the shop. Usually either my two friends, Mark or Denny, or Marianne, would buy those copies. Some pretty great things ended up in our collections that way, like The Pink Floyd ‘The Gnome’, The Yardbirds ‘Ten Little Indians’ or The Pretty Things ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’.

On this particular day in May ’66, I was shocked to discover that ‘Substitute’ had come in, only a week after placing the special order. Most records never did turn up as Mrs. Smith was forced to buy from a one-stop, and they’d pretty much stick to the mainstream hits. You had to be set up direct with the major labels to get their obscure non-hits. Being a tiny Mom & Pop store, she could never do enough business for them to be opened up as a direct client. Hence always a surprise when an obscurity arrived at Smith’s.

I tore into her little listening booth seconds after she handed me the single saying “One of your records came in” upon entering the shop. My insides knotted up. I’d wanted this single so much, having seen it scale the UK charts those previous few weeks. The seconds it took to get it out of the sleeve and onto the thick spindle of the automatic turntable, then waiting for it to drop and the tonearm to connect felt like fucking minutes. Half way through, I was losing it. ‘Substitute’ was so good.

That wasn’t to be the last claustrophobic meltdown I’d have in that little booth let me tell you.

The Who were very left of center to programmers then, not having a US hit until the next year with ‘Happy Jack’. They got no airplay to speak of nationally but our crazy local Top 40, WOLF, played all their singles (click on chart below to enlarge). This US only version has the lyric “I look all white but my Dad was black” swapped out for “I try moving forward but my feet walk back”. ‘Substitute,’ being the only US single by The Who available on Atco (6409), was issued with a far superior mix than any other version ever – hands down.

A year or so later, they re-released ‘Substitute’ (as Atco 6509) although via a safer, not so wild mix. Well I think it’s the mix but it may indeed be a less hot, less bright mastering. Neither version has ever appeared on a compilation that I know of.

I called Marianne from the shop, told her it had come in and we ended up spending that evening listening to the single over and over and over. True. We missed the prom.

WOLF Charts May 7, 1966

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.

The Heartbreakers

Monday, February 8th, 2010

HeartbreakersBornPS, The Heartbreakers, Walter Lure, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, Track,

Listen: Born To Lose / The Heartbreakers HeartbreakersBorn.mp3

The Heartbreakers were in London, playing The Marquee around the last week or so of March ’77. It was luckily during a fortnight visit, seeing a band every night type trip, right at the height of punk. The Roxy was in it’s brief existence and having missed them there in order to see The Damned and Johnny Moped at the LSE, I was anxious to get in early. It’s funny when you go 3,000 miles to see a band that’s from your own backyard. They were both everything New York yet perfectly invented for England too. Recalling the show that night still gives me the shakes.

HeartbreakerOneTrackPS, The Heartbreakers, Walter Lure, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, Track,

Listen: One Track Mind / The Heartbreakers HeartbreakersOneTrack.mp3

To prove the point about England, they signed to a reactivated (I think just for them) Track Records. Seemingly dormant since the very early 70′s, suddenly Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were dug up and cleaned off – good as new.

In ’67, when the label began, those two must have been a real threat with both The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Who on a roster that overnight put Track in the uh-oh we’re all in trouble now league. Thunderclap Newman and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown didn’t help, while Marsha Hunt, John’s Children, The Eire Apparent and Cherry Smash made stubbornly difficult to find, must-have flops.

‘One Track Mind’, The Heartbreakers second single, had me thinking they could take over the world. My crystal ball obviously needed new batteries. But the guitar tones of Johnny Thunders and especially Walter Lure were a wall of sloppy sound live and for a brief moment I couldn’t get enough.

Walter played for years on The Ramones albums. His signature sound is a giveaway on TOO TOUGH TO DIE, and a perfect foil to Johnny’s.

Freddy Cannon / Where The Action Is

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

freddycannonaction, Freddy Cannon, Where The Action Is, Dick Clark, American Bandstand

Listen: Where The Action Is / Freddy Cannon FreddyCannonAction.mp3

Let’s face it. The theme song to ABC’s syndicated daily pop show, WHERE THE ACTION IS, titled ‘Action’ by Freddy Cannon, was so good, even The Ramones could have covered it.

I lived for WHERE THE ACTION IS and saw many a great act each day after school. Our local Syracuse affiliate, WSYR-TV, was wishy-washy, and many times pre-empted it with other things. Looking over the complete, chronological list of episodes and guests, I’ve only just discovered missing Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, The Action and Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich for just that reason. Indeed, I’m a bit crushed having now discovered these atrocities. Scumbags.

But seeing an LA centric act almost daily, given they were basically down the street from the studios, must have been daily bliss. To name a few: The Guillteens, The Ikettes with and without Ike & Tina Turner, The Vejtables, The Leaves, The Seeds, Gary & The Hornets, Love, Dino Desi & Billy, The Buffalo Springfield, Jan & Dean.

Not to mention the RnB stuff: Martha & The Vandellas, Doris Troy, The Royalettes, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, The Toys, Maxine Brown, Kim Weston, Carla Thomas, Billy Stewart, Bobby Hebb, Alvin Cash & The Crawlers or Felice Taylor. I still replay The Vibrations doing ‘My Girl Sloopy’ vividly in my memory.

Then there were the black and white segments from England, a real high for we Anglophiles: The Small Faces, Gary Farr & The T-Bones, Them, The Mindbenders, The Zombies, The Moody Blues, The Kinks, Unit 4 + 2, The Who, Wayne Fontana, Marianne Faithfull, The Yardbirds and The Cryin’ Shames.

Billboard Magazines

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

I got a fantastic email today from a reader in France, Bands Michel, who alerted me to a site whereby you can read just about every BILLBOARD from the 50′s, 60′s and onwards. These are mesmerizing. Scrolling through the weekly singles reviews whereby they predict records that will achieve Top 20, Top 60 or simply a ‘Chart’ placing alone is worth the visit. Most of the greats are in that later section, although many a ‘should have been a hit’ record features in the other two as well. Not to mention stunning full page tip sheet adds for singles by The Herd, The Who, Mary Wells, Scott Walker, Ike & Tina Turner, The Small Faces, multi artist adverts for Mercury, Okeh, Motown, Fontana, Deram, Ric Tic, Bang, Sue Records plus hundreds and hundreds more. Do yourself a favor:

BILLBOARD MAGAZINE ARCHIVE

Benny Spellman

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

bennyspellmanfortuneuka, Allen Toussaint, London, Decca, Benny Spellman, The Rolling Stones

Listen: Fortune Teller / Benny Spellman BennySpellmanFortune.mp3

One hit wonder – but what a hit. An early staple for many a London RnB combo in the mid sixties, ‘Fortune Teller’ proved essential for The Rolling Stones, The Merseybeats, The Who and The Downliners Sect.

Hailing from Florida, Benny Spellman had a foot in both blues and rockabilly, via New Orleans. It was writer Allen Toussaint who provided the song, somewhat reminiscent of Bo Diddley. I guess it was the maracas. Originally released by LA’s Minit label, word is Benny was signed during the thriving New Orleans RnB goldrush at the turn of the decade.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Listen: Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Zabadak

Last year around this time, Bob Lefsetz, who publishes a fascinating subscription letter you should all Google and sign up for, wrote about hearing The Box Tops during Christmas break in Vermont, ’67. It was a nice piece, time traveling me back to that Christmas/New Year’s week, growing up outside of Syracuse, a ten year old obsessed with records. I wrote him a response with much of the following, but don’t know if he ever read it. He never responded.

Everything happens for a reason. It motivated me to start my own blog, so all good.

Basically, I still like the winter weather as it reminds of that week off school as a kid. Everyone wants to escape it here in NY nowadays but I love staying home, hanging around the deserted city, having friends over especially if they bring Christmas cookies, keeping the fireplace going and hoping for snow.

Growing up near Syracuse was pretty drab but we had one remarkable perk: a Top 40 station, WOLF, that from ’64 – ’67 seemed to flawlessly play the good bits of BILLBOARD’s chart alongside national non-hits, most of them British, and many rightfully considered classics today, including several US flops each by The Who, Them, The Move, The Zombies, The Kinks, The Moody Blues, Unit 4 + 2, The Hullaballoos, The Pretty Things and Manfred Mann.

So I’d spend that whole week glued to the radio, crawling the record shops and record departments at W.T. Grants and Woolworths, collecting chart handouts, asking for discarded Billboard magazines and stocking up on deletions.

One of the UK bands whose label, Fontana, didn’t or couldn’t put the needed payola cash behind them on a national level, actually had hits upstate: Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Some consider them too pop, or zany, but I just loved their image of paisley pants with flowered shirts and their music.

KHJ chart 1-24-68

Eventually, they switched US labels in late ’67, to Imperial, who made a big attempt at breaking them here and almost did. ‘Zabadak’ got a lot of play, charted in many markets and got great reaction. KHJ in Los Angeles took it Top 10. (See chart above). Both my local Top 40′s were spinning it, and even the adult contemporary one.

I was feeling liberated. Finally Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich were having a hit, and The Small Faces too, ‘Itchycoo Park’ was doing equally well. US radio was about to be on pulse. I didn’t need to find a way to live in England after all.

Then thud. ‘Zabadak’ stalls at #52 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 (above). Seems it’s been all down hill ever since.

December 28th: it’s been 41 years today, the receipt is still in the sleeve, that I bought ‘Zabadak’ at Walt’s Records on Salina Street, doing my part. It’s a fantastic single. All jungle drums with haunting strings and chants. Sounded stunning on the radio then, like nothing else. A lot of stations played it for a few weeks. The kind of record that zaps me right back, hence I always remember the date and I’ll always remember that great record shop.

I can easily visualize the decor and it’s unique record shop smell. I wanted everything in the place, still do. One whole wall was lined with brackets that held 25+ copies of a single, where all the biggest sellers made it. But the obscure records, many of the ones I mentioned, would reside in the back on a four sided carousel that swirled, and had slot like pockets, each able to hold ten or so copies of a single. I would go straight to that unit every visit which was usually once or twice a month, having to decide which two or three singles I could afford on my dollar per week allowance. Some of the ones I had to pass up took me years to locate: The Small Faces ‘All Or Nothing’ with the picture sleeve and The Riot Squad ‘How Is It Done’ come to mind. But there were many I did get like Them ‘Richard Corey’, The Yardbirds ‘Goodnight Sweet Josephine’ and The Herd ‘From The Underworld’.

On December 28, 1967 I tore to that rack and there it was. ‘Zabadak’. My Aunt Nancy, a grand lady, had brought me shopping and kindly paid as a Christmas treat, thereby allowing me to spend my dollar allowance on Inez & Charlie Foxx’s ‘(!-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days’. We went on to visit another relative that afternoon where I was tortured, staring at these jems, jonesing to get home and play them as they did not own a record player.

Now I’m convinced Hot Chip could do a killer remake of ‘Zabadak’.

Oh and one other tid bit about Walt’s. I ran there to buy Traffic’s ‘Hole In My Shoe’ the day after seeing them at Syracuse University’s Jabberwocky Club on their first tour. As I walked in, out came Traffic, with loads of soul and jazz albums. They patiently waited as I bought the single then signed it’s picture sleeve.

Cast

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Free Me / Cast

Listen: Free Me / Cast
Free

I hadn’t realized Cast scored eight UK Top Ten’s between ’96 – ’99, and more chart success into ’01. I always thought this to be a pretty under appreciated record, but indeed it reached #7. Very good. Well deserved.

I suppose it’s a bit too early in their curve to hear the press singing praises just yet, but then again I don’t read most of it, well any of it to be precise, so they might be. Except RECORD COLLECTOR and MOJO, but haven’t spotted a Cast mention in ages. John Power was the guitarist for The La’s, and it’s all politically correct to like them so…

I’ve been very lucky, ever since Howard gave me that Elektra job, I’ve gotten to visit the UK many, many times. Always liked hearing Cast on the radio there, it just was a natural soundtrack. But I’ll never forget when this came on one morning. You know those moments when a song is an everlasting imprint of a time and place on the brain? I remember that moment, right down to the weather, what I’d just eaten for breakfast and the hotel room I was in while listening to Radio 1′s Breakfast Show, readying myself for work. It sounded modern and perfectly ’60′s at the same time. I had to have the record that day. I immediately called my pal, Jim Lahat, at BBC London and asked if he had a copy. Bless him, he always made sure I got everything, still does. He said, don’t worry, it’s in your pile, adding ‘why do you want it anyways?’. He’s a riot like that. We were seeing each other later at our usual haunt, EAT & 2 VEG, which, by the way, a is killer vegetarian joint just down Marylebone High Street from his office. And Jim outdid himself, getting his Polydor guy to bike over one of the promo-only vinyl pressings they’d done as a surprise. Jim has a heart of gold this way, always doing generous things for friends.

So ‘Free Me’ has great memories attached to it. Despite endless plays, I still can’t put my finger on exactly who this reminds me of, let’s say The Who and The Creation for sure. Anyways, it’s a classic.