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PREVIOUSLY ARCHIVED RECORD REVIEWS FROM MY OLD BLOG


Here are some of my random thoughts and words about obscure and in-demand ’60s garage and psychedelic singles over the years. All of the original blog posts on my old website have since been deleted so no label scans or picture sleeves are available. Instead, I’ve used images scanned from teen music magazines.

Sadly I don’t have an original copy of ”Guess I Was Dreaming” but I’m fortunate to have an official re-issue on the ACME label. Back in 2007 this label released several box-sets of rare psychedelic British singles, this being one of them.

The Fairytale were formed in Warrington and most definitely had the talent to go further but after a few flop singles they disappeared. ”Guess I Was Dreaming” appears to be about a young hipster waiting patiently for his dealer to bring him some narcotics, now I’m thinking those would be of the mind-bending variety.

”Here he comes walking through my mind
In so many colours making me blind.”

I have scanned the picture from Record Mirror dated 14th October, 1967. The article mentions their second single ”Lovely People” which was not a strong as their first highly desirable disc from the Summer.

Curiosly, American group The Kingsmen also recorded a version of ”Guess I Was Dreaming”

I have no idea where and how this obscure psych song came to their attention but on the other side was a version of ”On Love” by Skip Bifferty.

(28/08/17)

MANFRED MANN – ”Mighty Garvey!” (Fontana TL5470) June 1968

Record Buyer: ”Your light hearted manner suggests this is a fun-album.”

Indeed, Dear Sir or Madam. Here is a group that have no wish to freak you out, turn you on, over or off. They are one of those rare groups left in the entertainment business who still believe it is their purpose to entertain. It is their earnest hope that when hearing Tom ’The K’ McGuinness introduce Eddie ’Fingers’ Garvey on ”Happy Families” a smile may flicker across your face and that when Ed Garvey and His Trio commence ”Happy Families” you may laugh out loud. In fact when Edwin O’ Garvey and His Showband take you for your ”Limp Down Memory Lane” you may wish to become ever so slightly hysterical.

Record Buyer: ”Perhaps you could highlight some other attractions on the album.”
By all means. Three of the tracks were originally produced by Mike Hurst on which Klaus Voorman evinces thrush-like flute on ”No Better No Worse” – the melodic qualities of Mike Hugg’s composition, ”It’s So Easy Falling” made it a potential single and the lyric content of Tom McGuinness’ composition ”Cubist Town” warrants special attention.

One slightly wistful song is ”Everyday Another Hair Turns Grey” which features Mike Hugg on harpsichord and is vocalised with a tender antiquity by D’Abo. Beautiful production and the kind of all round instrumental work which gives this group it’s deserved reputation for musicianship.

”The Vicar’s Daughter” is another of those delightful auto-biographical D’Abo songs with Manfred doing his famous impression of a string section. ”Harry The One Man Band” features snatches of Mike Hugg’s vocal ability in the introduction and some interesting clockwork drumming techniques amongst the other amusing interpolations of mouth music and sound effects. This is really a showcase for the instrumental ability and production of the group.

(21/08/17)

THE FORTUNES – ”Caroline” / ”If You Don’t Want Me Now” (Decca F.11809) January 1964

This record was The Fortunes second single, the A-Side ”Caroline” was picked up by Radio Caroline as their theme tune. It’s a decent number if that’s your bag but for me it’s the up-tempo beat shuffler on the flip that’s really happening.

”If You Don’t Want Me Now” is an early beat shaker, recorded at the back end of 1963. This side should have been the one to promote with it’s infectious Beatles influenced riff, rat-a-tat-tat drums, vocal harmony parts, sax and what sounds like an electric piano. I’m sure this would have been mopped up by the beat teens, it’s also an early Shel Talmy co-production job by the way.

UK Chart Position: None

(06/06/17)

NIRVANA – ”Tiny Goddess” / ”I Believe In Magic” (Island WIP-6016) July 1967

Now, here’s a lesson to all those record producers who try to be over-clever on records. Listen, if you will, to this beautifully constructed piece of work.

Jimmy Miller and Muff Winwood have taken a deep brown cello, a piano, a harpsichord, added it to a normal line-up and made it all have a purpose. It sweetly moves with each instrument having a place and a reason. Oh, lovely. The lead singer has a funny little voice of incredible sadness under the words.

It’s all like falling leaves and grows and grows on you. In fact, if the voice had been harder this could have been a huge hit. It would be nice if it were anyway. But whatever happens, I love to dream to it.
(Penny Valentine review – Disc & Music Echo – 22/07/67)

UK Chart Position: None

(01/06/17)

THE SANDS OF TIME – ”One Day” / ”Ev’rytime We Say Goodbye” (Pye 7N. 17236) January 1967

”One Day” was written by the Jackie Trent / Tony Hatch partnership, they were married in 1966.

The song has an easy listening sound, hardly progressive for late ’66 early ’67 but the vocal harmonies are pleasant enough. An overall Beach Boys vibration soaks through the disc.

The flip is a version of the Cole Porter tune and is not my scene.

(29/05/17)

THE GAMBLERS – ”Find Out What’s Happening” / ”Now I’m All Alone” (Decca F.12060) January 1965

I acquired this obscure R&B disc by The Gamblers last week. They hailed from Newcastle in the North East of England, my neck of the woods by the way, and are perhaps better known as Billy Fury’s backing group. However, they also recorded some singles in their own right, like this one.

”Find Out What’s Happening” was originally released by The Spidells in September 1964. Then The Downliners Sect had a crack with it in November 1964.

The Gamblers version is a B-Side from January 1965 and is solid R&B with compact organ, sounds heavily influenced by fellow Geordie group The Animals. They should have really come up with a much more fierce lead guitar break to elevate it higher but sadly the break is tame.

The other side is a soul beat mover with brass and also worth hearing.

(10/05/17)

THE SOFT MACHINE – ”Love Makes Sweet Music” / ”Feelin’ Reelin’ Squeelin’ (Polydor 56151) February 1967

Paul & Barry Ryan reviewed a selection of new single releases in Record Mirror published 11th March, 1967. Here’s what they had to say about The Soft Machine. Presumably they were listening to both sides of the disc.

Barry: No, much too much bass. I would have thought this was someone like the Association. Oh yes, it’s all very hip.
Paul: Hear those lyrics? Everybody’s trying to do a John Lennon and a ”Strawberry Fields” with hippie hippie words that don’t mean a thing.
Barry: It sounds like an Andy Warhol painting!
Paul: Yes, very psychedelic. About as psychedelic as my little finger!

UK Chart Position: None

(19/04/17)

THE MOVE – ”Night Of Fear” / ”Disturbance” (Deram DM109) December 1966

The Move burst onto the English pop scene with a destructive stage act and one of the greatest debut discs from a mid sixties act. The seminal ”Night Of Fear” peaked at number two in the UK Charts but more mayhem and superb singles were to follow.

The pop-art mod beat gem ”Disturbance” on the flip is equally memorable and would have been a strong contender as a single in it’s own right.. ”There’s been a slight disturbance in my mind.”

UK Chart Position: 2

(18/04/17)

THE TREMELOES – ”Here Comes My Baby” / ”Gentlemen Of Pleasure” (CBS 202519) January 1967

Happenin’ B-Side raver from The Tremeloes, released January, 1967. The hit side ”Here Comes My Baby” was written by Cat Stevens…..flip it over for your mod beat confectionery.

UK Chart Position: 4

(18/04/17)

DENNY LAINE – ”Say You Don’t Mind” / ”Ask The People” (Deram DM 122) April 1967

This is Denny’s first solo record since his split with the Moody Blues, and for the real effect you should play it at least five times. I know people will say this is cheating, because a hit record will smack into you on first playing, but I don’t always think this is true-certainly not with this record.

Beautifully arranged and produced with guitars and strings sounding as they never have before-clean and clear as crystal water. Denny wrote this himself and it has a super hook line. My only complaint is that he has a lovely pained voice and by double tracking it they’ve submerged that quality a little. A favourite, though, despite that.

(Penny Valentine review – Disc & Music Echo 15/04/67)

UK Chart Position: None

(17/04/17)

THE SMOKE – ”My Friend Jack” / ”We Can Take It” (Columbia DB 8115) February 1967

With a record called ”My Friend Jack Eats Sugar Lumps,” the Smoke could have expected some sort of kerfuffle. But the stern rebuke from the ”News Of The World” was only the iceberg tip of what went on behind the scenes.

It cost EMI £750 and two months to re-record and change the lyrics four times before their doubts about it’s suitability were met. The BBC was reported to have suffered qualms when Simon Dee played it.

Quite a rumpus for four young lads from Yorkshire to kick up in their first few months in London.

”But we didn’t set out to be deliberately controversial, although I suppose the meaning must be obvious to even someone who’s only seen LSD on his cheque book,” said Michael Rowley, 20 years old and the lead guitarist.

”In fact we only came to write the song by accident. It was a sticky time for us, nothing we wrote seemed to go right. To try to cheer the others up I began to sing this stupid phrase ”My Friend Jack Eats Sugar Lumps.” After a while nobody could forget this line and so we began building a song around it.

(Disc & Music Echo – 25th March, 1967)

(17/04/17)

SIMON DUPREE & the BIG SOUND – ”Reservations” / ”You Need A Man” (Parlophone R 5574) February 1967

A man to watch. I liked ”I See The Light” very much and here he comes up with another good raver. I particularly like the way he delivers these kind of songs, beautifully raw and unsophisticated. Makes a nice change.
(Penny Valentine review – Disc & Music Echo – February, 1967) 

UK Chart Position: None

(16/04/17)

THE MOVE – ”I Can Hear The Grass Grow” / ”Wave The Flag And Stop The Train” (Deram DM-117) March 1967

Here is a record that The Move can really be judged on (not like that last thing that was such a huge hit). A record much more representative of the group – and great.

Producer Denny Cordell has even put in some grass-growing sounds – like rain falling into an empty tin. There’s something Byrd-like about the sound and this is going to go down huge in America.

The title is a real gem-thank you Bobby who suggested it. The chorus is super-thank you the gentleman in my Office who has sung it daily though not it may be said with the success of the record. A touch of real genius was that sudden ”West Side Story” whistle part. Yes I like it.
(Penny Valentine review – Disc & Music Echo – 01/04/67)

UK Chart Position: 5

(13/04/17)

JEFF BECK – ”Hi Ho Silver Lining” / ”Beck’s Bolero” (Columbia DB 8181) March 1967

I’m sure this is a hit song and I’m pretty sure this is a hit treatment by the new solo figure on the scene. Curious sound effects early on then into a commercially staccato beating number with a catchy chorus phrase. And Jeff’s guitar gets a fair amount of space, too
FLIP: A virtuoso (and noisy) guitar instrumental. Self penned. Top Fifty Tip.

UK Chart Position: 14

(13/04/17)

PLASTIC PENNY – ”Your Way To Tell Me Go” / ”Baby You’re Not To Blame” (Page One POF 079) July 1968

I haven’t posted a single of the day for a while. How about this fab psych side by Plastic Penny from 1968 which MOVEs along, killer bass runs especially. ”Your Way To Tell Me Go” is an under the radar obscurity.

The other side is heavy mod bass pounder ”Baby You’re Not To Blame” from mid 1968. If you dig late period Small Faces then this is a must…

misc information:
Paul Raymond joined Chicken Shack. Mick Grabham went to Cochise and Procol Harum, and Tony Murray joined Troggs….Murray also produced the excellent ”Restless Night” album by Octopus on the Penny Farthing label.

(06/11/16)

THE HONEYCOMBS – ”That Loving Feeling” / ”Should A Man Cry” (Astor AP-1307) September 1966

45 ACTion time of the day and The Honeycombs final single from late 1966. Fab sound with male/femme vocal harmonies. Wonderful Joe Meek production job too. The Honeycombs started wearing Carnaby Street style mod threads but to no avail, the record didn’t sell and it remains very hard to find.

So much so, my search led me to Australia for the release on Astor.

(06/11/16)

THE CHEYNES – ”Goin’ To The River” / ”Cheyne-Re-La” (Columbia DB 7368) September 1964

Great R&B mover by this obscure London based group who would have been completely ignored had it not been for drummer Mick Fleetwood, who eventually formed his own blues band Fleetwood Mac via The Bo Street Runners and John Mayall’s Blues Breakers.

The Cheynes also included Peter Bardens who would later join Them, then The Shotgun Express and Phil Sawyer who was also with The Fleur de Lys. Lead singer Roger Peacock took over from Mark Leeman in The Mark Leeman Five.

The B-Side ”Cheyne-Re-La” is a fab R&B instrumental composed by Bardens.

line-up:
Peter Bardens (keyboards)
Mick Fleetwood (drums)
Phil Sawyer (guitar)
Roger Peacock (vocals)
Peter Hollis (bass)

(15/10/16)

TRAFFIC – ”Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” / ”Coloured Rain” (Island WIP 6025) November 1967

Another startling, punch-packed and absolutely fascinating disc from Traffic – full of light and shade, contrasting tempos and intriguing sounds. For the most part, it’s busy, urgent and infectiously beaty – but there are constant breaks in the rhythm when all manner of absorbing things happen.

The organ is gutty and fruity, and on one occasion gives out like a ship’s siren. The whole record swings along with uninhibited eagerness, and works up a walloping fever pitch – apart, of course, from those sudden breaks.

In fact, on first hearing, you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next. The vocal is spirited and alive, and the whole thing has an irresistible carousel flavour. As the title song from a film it must be big.

FLIP: A much more bluesy number, with an intense and impassioned vocal by Stevie, and again that swirling organ. A touch of psychedelia in the instrumental passages. (NME review, November 1967)

(12/10/16)

ANDY ELLISON – ”It’s Been A Long Time” / ”Arthur Green” (Track 604018) December 1967

Andy Ellison’s ”It’s Been A Long Time” ranks as one of my fave rave orchestrated pop psych tunes from the late 1960s. This cut is from the original motion picture soundtrack of ”Here We Go ’Round The Mulberry Bush” filmed and recorded in 1967 but not released until the following year.

A copy of this sought after single sold a few months ago for £140, sadly I was well beaten in the bidding war and came up short but I decided to download the image from the eBay sale and research the disc.

Most interesting feature of this single is that it comes from the soundtrack of the movie ”Here We Go ’Round The Mulberry Bush.” It’s a poignant, almost sad song – with the scoring of sighing cellos, solo trumpet and muffled tambourine establishing a suitably plaintive mood.

The descriptive lyric is impressively performed by Andy Ellison  – though it loses a little out of context. (music press record review) 

Andy Ellison sang ”It’s Been A Long Time” on the film’s soundtrack. He recalls that Simon Napier-Bell was editing the music score at a cutting room in Old Compton Street while the legendary Beatles project Magical Mystery Tour was being edited next door.

It appears that Donner and Napier-Bell were not happy with the romantic music written for the Judy Geeson character, Mary. At the last moment Napier-Bell suggested a piece that he had written and which had already been recorded, namely ”It’s Been A Long Time.”

Donner liked the recording, so it appeared in the finished film. However by this time, the credit sequences for the movie had all been filmed and the front cover of the album had already been sent to the printers, so it was too late for Ellison’s name to be featured, though Napier-Bell feels contractual reasons might also have played a part in it.

Napier-Bell sequenced the various music strands well. The film title song was set against Richard Williams pop art credits. The Andy Ellison track played when Mary is on screen, is also heard in varying forms throughout the film. (CD liners – RPM re-issue)

(11/10/16)

THE BANANA BUNCH – ”The Tra-La-La Song” / ”Funky Hoe” (Page One POF 183) October 1970

Hidden away on the B-Side of this cash-in Banana Splits theme tune single is a happenin’ hammond organ groover that will most definitely interest some psych collectors. ”Funky Hoe” sounds like a group given freedom to do whatever they want in the studio and they came up with a bluesy proto-prog instro like the kind used in film sequences during late 60s party scenes.

Digging deeper it appears that The Banana Bunch were in fact psychedelic outfit The Nite People who had previously recorded for Fontana and also released records under the latter name on Page One. Why the moniker change for their final single is unknown to me.

Their producer Phil Waller also worked with The Troggs and Plastic Penny.

(09/10/16)

THE MONOTONES – ”It’s Great” / ”Anymore” (Pye 7N.15640) April 1964

I must admit to not knowing much about The Monotones until I started researching the group after buying their second single ”It’s Great” from early 1964, right at the height of the Beat Boom.

”It’s Great” is a fine up-tempo beat number which would have been even better with a savage lead guitar break but sadly these boys or their producer kept the freak outta the beat.

The other side ”Anymore” is much slower and in beat ballad mode. A decent two-sider and I’ll be looking out for their other singles released during February 1964 to April 1965.

I also collect vintage 60s music magazines and have found some Monotones items in my FABulous mag archives. The double page pictures and article date from 20th June 1964 edition while the group photo and information is scanned from FABulous 6th February, 1965.

(08/10/16)

KATCH 22 – ”Major Catastrophe” / ”Hold Me” (Fontana TF 768) November 1966

This sought after freakbeat single by Katch 22 doesn’t come up for sale very often so I was pleased to capture a copy a few months ago on eBay for a decent price too.

Katch 22 released five singles on Fontana between 1966 and 1969, all of which flopped. But despite no commercial success they were still able to record a studio album. I don’t have a copy of the album but I’ve read elsewhere that it’s a soft rock affair and not like this tormented piece of beat.

”Major Catastrophe” is an overload of fuzz guitar and brass flourishes. It doesn’t sound to me like this would have had any chance of making the Charts in 1966, it’s far too way-out. But for me it’s the most exciting thing the group created.

Both sides were recorded at Olympic Sound Studios in London during two sessions. (20/09/66 and 03/10/66). Accompaniment by Harry Roberts. Now I suspect this is the same person who wrote and produced The Spectrum who released records on RCA Victor.

(25/09/16)

THE ROBB STORME GROUP – ”Here Today” / ”But Cry” (Columbia DB 7993) August 1966

The Beach Boys were probably America’s biggest pop group import into Britain during the mid sixties but very few UK outfits recorded their songs. But here’s one by The Robb Storme Group who at the time were the regular backing group of Paul & Barry Ryan.

”Here Today” is a cut from ”Pet Sounds” and is ably covered here, the arrangement from Wilson Malone is neat and tidy, the vocal harmonies are excellent too. It must have been a daunting task to even get close to The Beach Boys original.

The flip ”But Cry” is also good. Both sides have never troubled the compilers either, but if anyone should ever create a Beach Boys collection of songs recorded by other groups and artists The Robb Storme Group should receive some serious consideration.

Wilson Malone and other members became The Orange Bicycle and the former released a very sought after and expensive solo album on Morgan Blue Town in 1969. Lewis Collins, the actor who played Bodie in ”The Professionals” was the bass player in The Robb Storme Group!

line-up:
Robb Storme (vocals)
Tony Ollard (guitar)
Lewis Collins (bass)
Jim St. Pier (piano)
Wilson Malone (drums)
songs recorded at: Landsdowne Studios, London

(14/08/16)

DAVEY SANDS & THE ESSEX – ”Advertising Girl” / ”Without You I’m Nothing” (CBS 202620) March 1967

Mod beat sound with a ”She’s About A Mover” organ riff.
”Advertising Girl” is a song about the obsession a lad has with a girl who appears in posters promoting soup, soap and cars while wearing a purple mini-skirt and having manageable fair hair. They don’t write them like this anymore!

Davey Sands & the Essex released an earlier single ”Please Be Mine” / ”All The Time” on Decca during June 1965. Both sides were produced by Brian Poole and Alan Blakley from The Tremeloes. On that particular disc the line-up was:

Ian Warner (drums)
Howard Schaffer (lead guitar)
Chip Hawkes (bass)
Chris Cochran (keyboards)
Davey Sands (vocals)

Chip Hawkes later joined The Tremeloes so I doubt that he was part of their 1967 single.

(30/07/16)

MIKE WALLACE – ”Natural High” / ”Mandarin” (Atco 45-6783) October 1970

I wrote about Mike Wallace’s other 45 on my blog a few years back, check the archives for further information. ”Natural High” is perhaps his most famous song, not that it was a major hit or anything, it’s just well known in psych collector circles.

Don’t be put off with the October 1970 release date cos this record really is a psych pop swinger, kinda sounds like Donovan on purple hearts. The Atco label is obviously the American release, the single was also given an outing in Britain on Polydor and this version may be different or at least an edited version. I’m trying to find out this information and when I do I’ll update this entry.

Update: the UK release on Polydor has a 3:28 playing time, meaning it is indeed an edited version of the US variant on Atco.

(27/07/16)

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