Saturday, February 28, 2009
by Bruce Eder & Richie Unterberger
They could've been contenders — hell, they should've been contenders! That's the first thought that passes through one's head as one hears the early singles by the Creation — and, indeed, how they weren't contenders is astonishing. They had it all, the in-house songwriting, the production, the voices, and the sound that should've put them right up there with the Who and ahead of the Move and Jimmy Page, among others. Their lead guitarist, Eddie Phillips, was even asked by Pete Townshend to join the Who as their second guitarist. But thanks to an unaccountable weakness in their British sales — as opposed to their German chart action, which was downright robust — and some instability in their lineup, they were ... Read More...
Friday, February 27, 2009
Little Deuce Coupe was a concept album of sorts, in that most of the songs had something to do with cars and hot rod culture. That's a pretty thin train of thought to sustain for most of a record. What's worse, by the Beach Boys' own standards of hot rod tunes, most of the tracks are pretty trite and unimaginative, rating among their worst early material. Not only that, the three best cuts — "Little Deuce Coupe," "409," and "Shut Down" — had already been issued on LP. The most noteworthy of the other tracks was the Top Ten hit "Be True to Your School," whose fine tune and arrangement are marred by breathtakingly sappy lyrics of faith and loyalty to one's high school. (The album version, oddly, is different from the superior single, which had the Honeys adding female cheerleader chants.) "Spirit of America" and "A Young Man Is Gone" (a James Dean tribute with Four Freshmen-style vocals) are moderately interesting numbers, but on the whole this is probably the worst early Beach Boys album, with the possible exception of Surfin' Safari (and their 1964 Christmas LP, which doesn't really count). [Little Deuce Coupe/All Summer Long, a Capitol two-fer CD, combines this and Little Deuce Coupe onto one disc, adding the 45 version of "Be True to Your School," alternate takes of "Little Honda" and "Don't Back Down," and the previously unreleased "All Dressed Up for School."]
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Factory recorded two psychedelic singles in the UK in the late 1960s—unnoticed at the time, now fetching more than a hundred pounds among collectors—that combined psychedelia with power pop harmonies. They were discovered by Brian Carroll, an engineer in one of London's leading studios, IBC. With his colleague Damon Lyon Shaw, he was looking to enter production, so they cut their teeth on the youthful Factory, whose three members included a sixteen-year-old drummer and seventeen-year-old guitarist. Their first single, "Path Through the Forest," was a respectable piece of hard psychedelia with commendably creative guitar and vocal distortion, came out on MGM in the UK in late 1968.
The Factory's only other single, "Try a Little Sunshine," was written for them by John Pantry (a songwriting friend of Carroll), and issued by CBS in late 1969. It sounded a little like a mating of the Who and the Moody Blues (in the best sense of that combination), with its crunching guitar chords and catchy, wistful vocal harmonies. Like its predecessor, it was heard by few, and the group disbanded shortly afterward. That was too bad, as they had considerable promise considering their youth and the quality of their two 45s. Both sides of their two singles, as well as a couple of unreleased demos, were assembled for the Path Through the Forest mini-CD in 1995.
by Richie Unterberger
There can't be many other 1960s bands whose output totaled two flop singles that have been honored with a bootleg. Yet this one materialized for the Factory, and in common with many bootlegs, it's at once useful for its excavation of a mound of obscure material of interest to fanatical collectors, and irritating for its substandard packaging and (at times) sound. Both sides of the two official Factory 45s are here, along with the demos "Mr. Lacey" and "Second Generation Woman." All half-dozen of those tracks previously appeared on Bri-Tone's CD-EP Path Through the Forest, but Complete Story! adds 13 more cuts. The catch is that just one of them, the "original long version" of "Path Through the Forest," is actually a recording by the Factory. Filling out the disc are seven songs from the singles by Peter & the Wolves; both sides of the Norman Conquest 45; and three numbers by the Bunch, two of them done for the BBC. What's the connection between the Factory, Peter & the Wolves, the Norman Conquest, and the Bunch? The CD sleeve doesn't say a word about it. Granted, you shouldn't expect bootleggers to always go the whole nine yards in supplying such basic information, but not everyone has complete sets of back issues of Record Collector to fill in the gaps. Dedicated research reveals that both Peter & the Wolves and the Norman Conquest included the Factory's studio engineer, John Pantry, who also wrote the Factory B-side "Red Chalk Hill." As for the link between the Factory and the Bunch, it's been written that the Bunch was another name for Peter & the Wolves. To further muddy the picture, some Peter & the Wolves' 45 sides are not included here, though it's doubtful that too many people will get upset.So how's the music? Well, the Factory tracks are good second-division, British late-'60s psychedelia/freakbeat, particularly "Path Through the Forest" and "Try a Little Sunshine." The original long version of "Path Through the Forest," the one actual Factory cut not on the Path Through the Forest CD-EP, adds some yet freakier effects not heard on the official 45. Peter & the Wolves play much lighter pop-psychedelia than the Factory, with sunshine pop and bubblegum overtones, sometimes with a nice merry-go-round feel ("Little Girl" and "Lantern Light"), but sometimes in an unmemorable, lightweight fashion. The Norman Conquest single is yet more featherweight, late-'60s British flowery pop, though one of the sides, "Upside Down," benefits from some enchanting organ. The Bunch makes a decided upswing into moodier psychedelic rock on "Spare a Shilling" (both studio and BBC versions included) and the BBC performance of the group's spooky "Looking Glass Alice," though there was surely enough time for the studio version of that tune — one of the better '60s British psychedelic obscurities — as well. In all, this has some good late-'60s pop-psychedelia for the intensely devoted collector of the style, yet it's marred not just by the poor documentation, but also by uneven sound quality in which the volume levels fluctuate and some surface noise can be heard. Yes, it's a bootleg, but it could have been much more laudable with just a little more effort on the part of the perpetrators.
by Richie Unterberger
Though they got considerable input from talented L.A. songwriters and producers, with their two big hits penned by outside sources, the Electric Prunes did by and large play the music on their records, their first lineup writing some respectable material of their own. On their initial group of recordings, they produced a few great psychedelic garage songs, especially the scintillating "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night," which mixed distorted guitars and pop hooks with inventive, oscillating reverb. Songwriters Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz wrote most of the Prunes' material, much of which in turn was crafted in the studio by Dave Hassinger, who had engineered some classic Rolling Stones... Read More...
by Dave Thompson
In its original vinyl form, Dr. Z's Three Parts to My Soul rates among the most valuable British prog albums of all time. But it is a rarity among such rarities in that it is also as good as a high three-figure value leaves you hoping it would be. Dr. Z was discovered by Nirvana UK frontman Patrick Campbell-Lyons, who is also credited as executive producer on the album. But Three Parts could not be further from its mentor's taste for eclectic airiness. The dominant mood is of percussive keyboards, alternately majestic and militaristic, the sound, if you like, of a Keith Emerson harpsichord concerto if Carl Palmer matched him note for note on a kettle drum. The vocals, meanwhile, have that kind of bellowed edge of conviction which makes every lyric resonate like a profoundly meaningful motto. The first half of the near-singalong "Spiritus Manes et Umbra" moves like a battalion of tanks, with the LP's title itself rendered as compulsive a chant as any "gabba gabba hey" could be. There are moments of less-than-scintillating activity: the four-minute drum solo which punctuates that same song flags long before the chorus careens back into view, while "Summer for the Rose" is a ponderous snarling in desperate need of melody. At its most inventive and textured, however, Three Parts is an excellent example of early-'70s prog at its deepest and darkest, as inventive as it is occasionally magpie-like. "Burn in Anger," the most commercial song in sight, is a dead-ringer for a classic rock hit which will forever float just beyond your ability to name it, while the closing "In a Token of Despair" is a tour de force of Floydian winds, Crimson-ish signatures, and electifyingly symphonic structure. The Si Wan reissue concludes with two bonus tracks drawn from a similarly rare Dr. Z single released a year or so before the LP. Produced by the Pretty Things Dick Taylor, "Lady Ladybird" and "People in the Street" have little in common with the main attraction beyond a similar taste for crashing drums and keyboards; the world's first orchestral garage band.
by Richie Unterberger
Chicago's New Colony Six originally emerged as a tough, British Invasion-styled outfit prominently featuring Farfisa organ and a novel (at the time) Lesley guitar. Scoring a huge local hit with "I Confess," their early recordings — exemplified by their 1966 debut album, Breakthrough — featured first-class original material that gave the sound of Them and the Yardbirds a more commercial, American garage-based, vocal harmony approach. The rest of the '60s saw the band gradually abandoning their roots for middle-of-the-road pop with horns and strings. Continuing to rack up major local hits and minor national ones, they finally cracked the U.S. Top 30 with "Love You So Much" (1968) and "Things I'd Like to Say" (1969).
21 Take Me Down to the Riverside 2:49
22 Rosie 3:07
23 Rock & Roller 4:32
24 Wheels, Wheels, Wheels Rijnbergen 2:04 25 Only One Week Rijnbergen 2:01 26 Gods of Evil Rijnbergen 3:06 27 Stop Looking on a Deadlock Rijnbergen 2:51 28 Show Me by Candlelight Rijnbergen 2:31 29 Dr. Sipher Rijnbergen 3:16 30 Everytime a Second Rijnbergen 3:30 31 Isn't It a Good Time Rijnbergen 2:12 32 Looking for Something Better Rijnbergen 2:55 33 Love Is Almost Everywhere Rijnbergen 3:13 34 Robinetta Rijnbergen 3:03 35 No Place Like Home Rijnbergen 4:22 36 Easy Come, Easy Go Rijnbergen 2:38 37 Look for a Windchild Rijnbergen 2:36 38 Let It Be Tomorrow Rijnbergen 2:15 39 Peace Ants Rijnbergen 3:51 40 Flowers Everywhere Rijnbergen 2:53 41 Tomorrow Rijnbergen 2:32 42 You'd Better Take Care of You [alternate take] Rijnbergen 2:27 43 Wayfaring Stranger [*] Traditional 3:28
44 Let Me Try to Cry [*] Rijnbergen 4:10
45 Lifetime [*] Rijnbergen 3:27
46 Mysterious Ways [#/*] Lingbeek, Rijnbergen 4:23
Biographyby Jon 'Mojo' Mills
The roots of Timebox lay in local band Take 5 in 1965 in Southport, a small northern English coastal town (situated near Liverpool). After a succession of interpersonal incidents, which led to the vocalist quitting, the band was left in disorder. Fellow local act the Music Students (who featured 15-year-old drummer Peter Halsal, a great drummer who was also proving himself on a majesty of other instruments) were facing similar problems. Halsall, Chris Holmes (piano), and Kevan Foggerty (vocals) teamed up with Clive Griffits as Take 5 and, very soon after, turned professional and headed towards London. Taken under the wing of the ... Read More...
Timebox originally started at an art college in Southport when Peter Halsall, Clive Griffiths and Chris Holmes decided to swap their art for music. After trying out several vocalists, all of whom proved unsuitable, John Gee, manager of London’s famous Marquee Club, recommended, Mike Patto who was singing with the London Youth Jam Orchestra, a 24-piece big band at the club. Supposedly, Mike was asked to join the group after a jam session at the Playboy Club. Mike accepted the offer and started working with the band in mid 1967. They quickly became know as a "groups group", and their stage act garnered admiration from many of their contemporary musicians, who for obvious reasons are always the hardest to impress. This alone should attest to the musical skill and unique sound of the band's live performances.
In 1970 Patto was formed consisting of the remaining members of TimeBox, Mike Patto (vocals), John Halsey (drums), Ollie Halsall (guitars and vibes), and Clive Griffiths (bass), and was signed to the newly formed Vertigo label, they recorded their first album live in studio with producer Muff Winwood.
This release is actually quite similar in content to the 1998 collection The Deram Anthology, but with a crucial difference. Unlike that previous release, this includes both sides of their first two singles (both done for the Piccadilly label before they moved to Deram); the only track it's missing from The Deram Anthology is a cover of "Misty." It thus replaces The Deram Anthology as the most comprehensive Timebox compilation, including both sides of all seven of their singles, as well as a good 13 tracks that were unreleased in the '60s (though all of those previously appeared on The Deram Anthology).
The four Piccadilly cuts, unsurprisingly, are more oriented toward straight R&B-soul than their later work on Deram, including a blue-eyed soul number ("I'll Always Love You") and three instrumentals (among them a cover of Dizzy Gillespie's "Soul Sauce") with elements of soul, blues, Latin, and ska.
The other recordings show them, like many late-'60s British bands with similar roots evolving from soul-R&B roots to more progressive sounds that, if not quite all-out psychedelic, certainly showed the influence of the psychedelic era.
For all their reputation among audiences of the time and some collectors, none of this showed them making a leap to the fore as innovators in the way bands like, say, Procol Harum and Traffic with somewhat similar roots did. Their forte was heartfelt, wistful, blue-eyed soul-pop ballads; an attempt at Kinks-like whimsy ("Eddie McHenry") didn't work well, and their moves into harder rock-influenced directions weren't married to very memorable material.
That makes Timebox a talented but marginal part of the late-'60s British rock scene, but certainly there's never going to be more thorough documentation of their recordings than this anthology (review by Richie Unterberger - AMG).
After the Beatles the Action were the most impressive band signed to EMI by George Martin during the mid-'60s. That they never managed to chart a single in the space of two years with the label, even as lesser bands sold tens of thousands of records with seemingly no effort, is one of those great ironies of mid-'60s English rock & roll. The band started out in North London during 1963 as quartet called the Boys, and cut one single as a backing band for Sandra Barry before getting their own shot at immortality on the Pye label with a single "It Ain't Fair." The Boys went out of existence in 1964, but didn't split up, instead reconfiguring themselves as a five-piece. The original lineup, Alan "Bam" King... Read More...
Beginning in the fall of 1965 with their single "Land of 1000 Dances" b/w "In My Lonely Room," the Liverpool-based quintet the Action graced the world with some of the best R&B and soul ever to come out of a white British band, so utterly convincing and sung and played with such conviction that some listeners today can't believe they were white, much less English. They only got better with their next few singles, including "I'll Keep on Holding On," "Baby You've Got It" b/w "Since I Lost My Baby," and "Harlem Shuffle" (which wasn't even released until the 1980s), but somehow never made it to the charts. The 17 songs here overlap with the contents of the Ultimate Action CD, except that they've all been newly remastered in 24-bit sound from better sources, so the action on the drums is audible and the guitars, bass, and vocals are practically right in your lap (and they never sounded better, to boot). That new digital transfer, coupled with the extensive annotation and the array of group photographs, picture sleeves, advertising art, and original single labels all combine to make this CD an essential upgrade from the earlier release. Further, although it is a compilation of singles (and, thus, a bit unfair to stack up against individual albums by other bands), the music on Action Packed is every bit as essential, bracing, and enjoyable a listening experience as, say, With the Beatles, Rolling Stones Now, the Who's original U.K. My Generation album, or any of the other iconic music releases of the British Invasion. Even the one non-soul number here, Shadows and Reflections," which reflected a change in direction for the group and closes the collection (and also surfaced on Rhino's Nuggets II box), is one of the catchier unknown pieces of British psychedelic pop you're ever likely to run into
The Attack (thanks to an ever growing legion of collectors dedicated to the vibrant sound of mid- to late-'60s Swinging London) have a far larger fan base now than they ever did during their existence. Indeed their unique brand of guitar-heavy, mod-rock qualifies them as one of the finest examples of (the over used term) freakbeat. Hence over the last 15 years there has been an abundance of vinyl bootlegs and inclusions on such psychedelic/freakbeat compilations as Rubble! The founders Richard Shirman (the only original member to stay with the group throughout all of the lineup changes) and Gerry Henderson were originally in a group called the Soul System... Read More...
They were an incredibly hot property at the time, especially in the local London clubs, yet even with two future Nice stars, an Atomic Rooster-to-be, and a member of Marmalade in their various ranks, the Attack failed to breach the British chart. Long gone but far from forgotten, the mods-cum-psychedelic rockers finally get their due with this sumptuous compilation. Amazingly, between the time the Attack first entered the studio in 1966 and their final recordings together in 1968, they shifted their lineup four times. Thankfully, the sleeve notes provide some assistance untangling their convulsive history, with the aid of an interview with frontman Richard Shirman, who also annotates all 16 of the tracks within. The Attack released only four singles during their all-too-brief lifespan, and both sides of all their 45s are included here, joined by a pair of numbers recorded during a BBC radio session and a clutch of unreleased studio recordings. As the songs are not presented chronologically, About Time! has a rather mishmash feel, bouncing willy-nilly around the years and lineups. It's worth pointing out then that the quirky story-song "Neville Thumbcatch" was recorded eight months before Cream's equally eccentric "Pressed Rat and Warthog" hit the shops! The Attack's assault on the scene came from a variety of musical directions that included splashy mod, shiny pop, hefty blues, assaultive rock, and aggressive psychedelia. And perhaps this was a small part of their problem — every time one turned around, the band had a new look and another sound. Still, the talent within their ranks was phenomenal, and with their keen ear for covers, a splendid sense of melody, and their own talents with a pen, the Attack should have won the day. They didn't back then, but the war's not quite over yet.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The latter part of the 1960s saw the paper chart the rise of psychedelia and the continued dominance of British groups of the time. During this period some sections of pop music began to be designated as Rock. The paper became engaged in a sometimes tense rivalry with its fellow weekly music paper Melody Maker, however NME sales were healthy with the paper selling as many as 200,000 issues per week which made it one of the UK's biggest sellers.
Push on picture
Rick Andridge: Drums
Daryl Hooper: Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Liner Notes, Executive Producer, Compilation Producer
Jan Savage: Guitar
Sky Saxon (born Richard Marsh; vocals) and guitarist Jan Savage formed the Seeds with keyboardist Daryl Hooper and drummer Rick Andridge in Los Angles in 1965. By the end of 1966, they had secured a contract with GNP Crescendo, releasing "Pushin' Too Hard" as their first single. The song climbed into the Top 40 early in 1967, and the group immediately released two sound-alike singles, "Mr. Farmer" and "Can't Seem to Make You Mine," in an attempt to replicate their success; the latter came the closest to being a hit, just missing the Top 40. While their singles were garage punk, the Seeds attempted to branch out into improvisational blues-rock and psychedelia on their first two albums, The Seeds (1966) and Web of Sound (1966). With their third album, Future (1967), the band attempted a psychedelic concept album in the vein of Sgt. Pepper's. While the record reached the Top 100 and spawned the minor hit "A Thousand Shadows," it didn't become a hit. Two other albums — Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's Music Box (1968) and A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues (1969), which was credited to the Sky Saxon Blues Band — were released at the end of the decade, but both were ignored. The Seeds broke up shortly afterward.
During the early '70s, Saxon led a number of bands before retreating from society and moving to Hawaii. Savage became a member of the Los Angeles Police Department. A collection of rarities and alternate takes, Fallin' off the Edge, was released in 1977.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
by John Bush
Though many remember only their 1967 hit "Happy Together," the Turtles were one of the more enjoyable American pop groups of the 1960s, moving from folk-rock inspired by the Byrds to a sparkling fusion of Zombies-inspired chamber-pop and straight-ahead good-time pop reminiscent of the Lovin' Spoonful, the whole infused with beautiful vocal harmonies courtesy of dual frontmen Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman. Though they hit number one in 1967 with the infectious "Happy Together," the Turtles scored only three more Top Ten hits and broke up by the end of the '60s. Kaylan and Volman later joined Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention... Read More...
Founded in 1957 by John McNally (guitar/vocals), the Searchers were originally one of thousands of skiffle groups formed in the wake of Lonnie Donegan's success with "Rock Island Line." The Searchers' immediate competitors included bands such as the Wreckers and the Confederates, both led by Michael Pender (guitar, vocals), and the Martinis, led by Tony Jackson (guitar/vocals). By 1959, McNally and Pender were working together as a duet; later in the year, Jackson joined as the lead vocalist. After drummer Norman McGarry left the Searchers he was replaced by Chris Crummy, who quickly renamed himself ... Read More...
by Bruce Eder
The Artwoods were every bit the rivals of such bands as the Animals and the Spencer Davis Group, but never saw the success as a recording act that either of them enjoyed. Rather, their following was confined to the clubs they played, despite releasing a half-dozen singles and an LP during their four years together. Art Wood, the older brother of Ron Wood, had been involved with the London blues scene almost from the beginning, as an original member of Blues Incorporated, the pioneering blues/R&B outfit founded by Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies. He was the backup rhythm singer in the band's early lineup, before the split between Davies and Korner (and prior to their recording their one and only album); ... Read More...
by Richie Unterberger
One of the strangest stories in rock history, the Monks were formed in the early '60s by American G.I.s stationed in Germany. After their discharge, the group stayed on in Germany as the Torquays, a fairly standard beat band. After changing their name to the Monks in the mid-'60s, they also changed their music, attitude, and appearance radically. Gone were standard oldie covers, replaced by furious, minimalist original material that anticipated the blunt, harsh commentary of the punk era. Their insistent rhythms recalled martial beats and polkas as much as garage rock, and the weirdness quotient was heightened by electric banjo, berserk organ runs, and occasional bursts of feedback guitar. To prove that they meant business, the Monks shaved the top of their heads and ... Read More...