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.
CHRIS FARLOWE – ”Moanin” / ”What Have I Been Doing” (Immediate IM-056) June 1967
Chris Farlowe possessed a loud and gritty voice, similar to Eric Burdon’s and perfect for R&B and his vocals really shine on this odd single from mid 1967. It’s laced with fuzz guitar, tabla, sitar and a swinging brass section.
”Moanin” really is one of those records that’s difficult to categorize. It mixes psychedelia with soul and perhaps confused the record buying public as the record limped up the charts eventually stalling at #46. For me though, it’s a great sound and should have done better.
PAUL & BARRY RYAN – ”Pictures Of Today” / ”Madrigal” (MGM 1385) February 1968
Continuing my trip through the sonic pop trips of Paul & Barry Ryan I arrive at their final single together, recorded at the end of 1967 but not released until the following year.
The A-Side is a charming psychedelic pop song liberally sprinkled with sitar and orchestration, written by Peter Morris who also contributed songs recorded by The Orange Seaweed and City Smoke. It was perfect pop psych concoction for 1968 but it failed to hit the Charts.
”Pictures Of Today” was produced by Steve Rowland who was also working with The Herd, DDDBM&T and P.J. Proby at the time.
I dig the flip ”Madrigal” even more, again from the pen of Peter Morris and sung perfectly by the Ryan twins. Sublime production from Jimmy Smith making this a toy-town pop sike classic and pretty much still underground.
PAUL & BARRY RYAN – ”Heartbreaker” / ”Night Time” (MGM 1354) October 1967
This was their first release on MGM after leaving Decca and as happens so often the label chose the wrong side. ”Heartbreaker” is an up-tempo pop number with brass and may have been more radio friendly but in my opinion the languid psychedelia of ”Night Time” is where it’s at.
”Night Time” was co-written by ex Searchers drummer Chris Curtis and Sharon Sheeley who was Eddie Cochrane’s girlfriend. Indeed she was in the car when it crashed and killed Eddie.
It appears that this single bombed and can be added to the long list of flops with far more interesting and superior B-sides.
THE KYTES – ”Blessed” / ”Call Me Darling” (Pye 7N.17136) June 1966
This was the debut disc from The Kytes who released a couple more 45s before sinking into oblivion. I reviewed their second single ”Frosted Panes” last year. Go here for further information.
”Blessed” wasn’t a big seller and so is quite difficult to turn up but fans of folk-rock and Simon & Garfunkel will relish their version. It was compiled in 1992 on Sequel’s CD ”Paisley Pop” Another version to track down is The Tremeloes debut on Decca which was also released during June 1966.
The B-Side ”Call Me Darling” is a pleasant pop number.
STEVE & STEVIE – ”Merry-Go-Round” / ”Remains To Be Seen” (Sono Play SN-20.180) October 1968
Steve & Stevie were exiled Australians, with the surnames Groves and Kipner respectively. The latter was the son of Nat Kipner, who owned the Aussie label Spin for which The Bee Gees recorded. Nat also produced the Gibb brothers and unsurprisingly, there was a distinct Bee Gees influence on Steve & Stevie’s obscure self-titled album, issued on the Major Minor subsidiary Toast in 1968.
”Merry-Go-Round” and ”Remains To Be Seen” were taken from the album and released as a single in Britain and a few other European Countries including Italy, France and Spain. My copy (pictured) is on the Spanish Sono Play label and came housed in a picture sleeve.
”Merry-Go-Round” is a fine example of late sixties orchestrated pop mixing Bee Gees with The Beatles period ”Sgt Pepper” overtones. After their album as a duo they added ex Bee Gees drummer Colin Peterson and renamed themselves Tin Tin.
KATE – ”Hold Me Now” / ”Empty World” (CBS 3815) November 1968
This short lived pop group from London enjoyed three singles on CBS and then disbanded. ”Hold On Now” was their second release at the back end of 1968. It’s a bouncy pop affair with brass, no touches of psychedelia. It appears that these boys wanted to be as commercial and radio friendly as possible.
In their ranks was Chris Gilbey who would leave Britain in the early 70s to live permanently in Australia. He then became managing director of ATV Northern Songs and ventured into production work. He signed The Church and produced their early recordings including one of their most famous songs ”The Unguarded Moment”
Q65 – ”World Of Birds” / ”It Came To Me” (Decca AT 10 263) April 1967
The first time I heard ”It Came To Me” was during the mid eighties but it wasn’t by Q65 it was a recording by R&B revivalists The Tell Tale Hearts. And a fine job they did too.
Both songs on this 45 were taken from the Q65 album ”Revival” recorded at the end of 1966 at Phonogram Studios in Hilversum, Holland. I don’t know if the Q65 were big hitters in the Netherlands like The Outsiders for instance. Not surprisingly nothing was ever released in Britain as far as I know.
”It Came To Me” is a fierce blast of rhythm and blues, quite basic in places, especially the drums. Vocalist Willem Bieler gives it his best shot in a Phil May kind of way. A Dutch classic.
THE HUNTERS – ”Russian Spy And I” / ”Spring” (RCA Victor 1541) September 1966
Amsterdam based beat group The Hunters hit the Top 10 in the Netherlands with the unique sounding ”Russian Spy And I” but subsequent singles failed to match this success. The record was
released three months later in Britain, no doubt trying to repeat the hit status enjoyed in Holland.
It was not to be and the single may not have even made it beyond the promo stage. The song made it’s way to America and California group The Regents released their version of ”Russian Spy And I” on Dot Records during October 1966.
The Hunters may have been completely forgotten about had it not been for lead guitarist Jan Akkerman who ended up in prog rock group Focus in the late sixties.
GRAPEFRUIT – ”C’mon Marianne” / ”Ain’t It Good” (RCA Victor 1716) July 1968
Continuing my Grapefruit trip with this, their third single. The top side was a cover of The Four Seasons ”C’mon Marianne” which is pleasant enough and had hit potential but it only climbed to #31 in the charts and was probably considered a disappointment after so much backing.
Better still is the nugget on the flip. ”Ain’t It Good” offers the listener fuzz, psych leads and close knit harmonies. I doubt if this side would have shifted more units than ”C’mon Marianne” though.
GARY WALKER & THE RAIN – ”Come In, You’ll Get Pneumonia” / ”Francis” (Philips BF 1740) January 1969
This is the second time out for Gary Walker & the Rain on my music blog, the first occasion was way back in 2007 when ”Spooky” was under my spotlight. This time around it’s their final single released in early 1969 but recorded the previous year.
”Francis” was the B-Side and it appeared on their No1 long-player released in Japan. It’s a strong group composition with powerful instrumentation. The other side ”Come In, You’ll Get Pneumonia” is a Vanda / Young song and is none album.
HERMAN’S HERMITS – ”Herman’s Hermits” (Regal SREG 1117) 1968
From what I can gather this album is a ”Best Of” or at least an interesting collection of Herman’s Hermits recordings, mostly singles but with some surprisingly good album cuts including a take on the folk-rock classic ”Where Were You When I Needed You”, The Hollies ”Bus Stop” and a satisfying cover of the rocker ”Jezebel”.
My choice is the bouncy pop tune ”If You’re Thinkin’ What I’m Thinkin’ written by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart. As far as I know The Monkees did not record this song, nor did Boyce & Hart when they started releasing records. Teen group Dino, Desi & Billy recorded a version so it must have been a song that was doing the ’rounds’ at the time.
MARIANNE FAITHFULL – ”Marianne Faithfull” (Decca DOA3) 1965
Angel blonde hair swirling in the wind, large wide eyes, grey and distant…heavy sweater, mittens, nose pressed against the window of a large department store…long evening gown, and wine, clear and red….a large, silver ring…a little girl alone on a windy common…her dog…a Dalmation called Sara…the elegant, sophisticated young panellist on the TV programme…laughter, frothy coffee. Joan Baez on the record player.
Riding in the park…a large white mare with sad eyes, head proudly raised… a small white figure on a large empty stage…darkness…sunshine…the cloistered solitude of a small Convent…the clinical mechanism of a recording studio…Byron…Bob Dylan…the haunting rhythm of a twelve-string guitar…the vibrant sensuality of a Fender bass…sunset on a lonely sea…the wind in the trees…the wistful beauty of Giselle…the wild spontaneity of a Rolling Stones concert…chattering on the telephone to her favourite girlfriend…the luxury of buying expensive cigarettes…the loneliness of a hotel room…the gunfire of applause…this is Marianne Faithfull. (Andy Wickham)
HERMAN’S HERMITS – ”Dandy” / ”No Milk Today” (Columbia CH 3098) October 1966
I collect vintage 60s music magazines and they’re full of Herman’s Hermits pictures and articles, so no doubt they were a group young teenagers (probably girls) doted upon. Much of their music is appealing in a sixties pop kind of way but they did delve a little deeper and recorded psychedelia and some choice cover versions.
”Dandy” is a Kinks klassic and no group can come close to surpassing their songs but full marks to Herman’s Hermits for recording this charming little song which in lyrical content is pure English. What else would you expect from Ray Davies in the mid to late sixties?
”Dandy” was never released as a single in Britain but it was in several other countries including America where it went Top 5. My copy is the Dutch release which came housed in a picture sleeve.
The other side ”No Milk Today” written by Graham Gouldman was a single in it’s own right in Britain and reached #7.
”Dandy” was also released as a single in 1966 by The Rockin’ Vickers who were Lemmy’s beat group before he joined psychedelic rockers Sam Gopal.
PAUL & BARRY RYAN – ”Two Of A Kind” (Decca LK 4878) July 1967
Paul and Barry Ryan are among the most talked about people in show business. Everyone knows they are a pair of fun loving swingers. Their exploits invariably attract attention. Somewhat removed from the world of hairy groups, their determination to establish their own vogue has made them trend-setters.
The Ryan’s entered the music business with a handicap – things were good for them to start with. Theirs was a home with everything they wanted, so it’s not a rags to riches story with them. Now they are richer as a result of their ventures into pop music. They live on their own in a luxurious apartment poised at the top of a block in South Kensington. They stand on their own four feet and pay their own way.
The success story of Paul and Barry Ryan, therefore, is a different one. They know how to enjoy the wealth they are acquiring for themselves; how to enjoy themselves to the full when they are working and when they are playing.
But the swingers are singers too. And this, their first album, showcases twin vocal talents that will surprise a lot of people. Paul and Barry did not find it difficult to cause a sensation with their stage appearances and the cynics could say that this had something to do with their instant fame. However, these handful of songs must prove to be one and all that the Ryan’s justify their high placing on pop ladder of success.
Dedicated to their music they spend hours perfecting each track and the results prove a genuine understanding of their work. They have come a long way since they made their first British stage appearance at a ballroom in Crawley. Tours, a major pantomime, concert appearances all over the world. Into a short space of time they have crammed a lot of show business experience. It shows in the way they handle this album.
As we said, the swingers are singers too.
THE BUFFOONS – ”My World Fell Down” / ”Tomorrow Is Another Day” (Imperial IH 744) September 1967
Despite their horrendous name The Buffoons were actually no real life buffoons and if their version of ”My World Fell Down” is anything to go by, could actually sing perfect harmonies.
The Netherlands were never noted for producing harmony groups so I was more that intrigued when I saw this disc for sale on a list a month ago. I was buying other records but decided to add a few cheapies to my order, this being one of those cheapies.
”My World Fell Down” was originally recorded by The Ivy League then again by Sagittarius in America. The Buffoons version is every bit as good as those other two. Digging a little deeper I’ve noted that they released numerous singles and a couple of albums in Holland. Maybe their recordings from 1967 – 1969 are worth tracking down.
Both sides of this disc were produced by David Paramor who worked with Simon Dupree & The Big Sound, The Gods and The Nocturnes. Perhaps The Buffoons travelled to London for the sessions.
Maarten Assink (drums)
Gerard van Tongeren (guitar)
Hylke ter Heide (vocals)
Eilert van Tongeren (lead guitar)
Bob Luiten (bass)
Bjinse de Groot (vocals)
TWICE AS MUCH – ”Crystal Ball” / ”Why Can’t They All Go And Leave Me Alone” (Columbia C 23512) August 1967
Twice As Much were English songwriting duo David Skinner and Andrew Rose who were signed to Immediate Records by Andrew ”Loog” Oldham after impressing him at an audition. Their first single, a Rolling Stones song, ”Sittin’ On A Fence” became a decent sized hit in Britain during mid 1966 but the singles that followed didn’t really do much.
”Crystal Ball” was their final single as a duo and as you can see came housed in a fab picture sleeve in Germany on the Columbia label. It was August 1967 by the time it was released over there. The B-Side ”Why Can’t They All Go And Leave Me Alone” is the highlight. A dramatic and intense piece of orchestral rock tinged with psychedelia and made memorable by the duo’s perfect harmonies.
It’s interesting to note that Twice As Much wrote songs for other Immediate artists including Chris Farlowe, P.P. Arnold and Del Shannon. During the 70s David Skinner played keyboards for Roxy Music.
ST. LOUIS UNION – ”English Tea” (alternative version) 1966
St. Louis Union were a short lived mod group from the mid ’60s. They had a hit with a tame version of The Beatles ballad ”Girl”, however, on another level is their fab (mostly) instrumental ”English Tea” housed to the brim with soulful vocals, way-out hammond with lashings of fuzz….. killer!
This version was never released but St Louis Union performed it on 1966 British film ”The Ghost Goes Gear” and contains much more fuzz guitar. The single version, on the back of April 1966 single ”Behind The Door” uses saxophone.
Find it on ”Mod Meeting” Volume 1
The lead singer Tony Cassidy was my Uncle. In later years he would become quite agitated if he heard himself singing anything from the Union. He became a headmaster at a leading Cheshire girls grammar school & past away from cancer a few years ago
PETER JAY & the JAYWALKERS – ’Before The Beginning’ / ’Solitaire’ (Piccadilly 7N.35259) August 1965
I’m still in a killer instrumental mode and ’Before The Beginning’ by Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers is where it’s at….such a fabulous backbeat that hints at the happenin’ beat sound which would become a whole lot more freakier in 1966.
They were quite a popular 60s instrumental group with many of their singles produced by Joe Meek. A recent CD on Cherry Red showcases their many singles. ‘Big Boy’ Pete Miller was a member of the Jaywalkers.
This 45 on Piccadilly is a valuable collector’s items among the mod fraternity.
RONNIE BURNS – ”Coalman” / ”All The Kings Horses” (Spin EK-1578) January 1967
Turntable spin of the day is this fab pop 45 by Australian Ronnie Burns. ”Coalman” was written by the Gibb brothers (Bee Gees) and I’ve read that they provided backing vocals on this early 1967 Beatles inspired beat.
According to the liners on the Raven release ”Five by Four” ”Coalman” and his next hit ”Exit Stage Right” were actually Bee Gees tracks with Barry’s voice taken off. The originals can be found on the ”Birth Of Brilliance” album from the early 70s.
Ronnie Burns turns in a great vocal performance, just right for the sound which reminds me of ”Revolver’ period Beatles psychedelia…. should have made the ending last longer Ronnie, would have made a better trip…
THE BYSTANDERS – ”Renaissance Fair” (Top Sounds TSLP 003) 2007
”Shapes & Sounds” is a premier series of compilations unearthing rare radio broadcasts from the late 1960s to early 1970s. Few if any of these unique performances have been heard in public since their original transmission making these comps a must have for psychedelic connoisseurs.
I recently wrote about The Bystanders when covering their single ”Pattern People” and here they are again, this time from a radio broadcast. It’s certainly an obscurity and one in particular for Byrds fans. This is their version of ”Renaissance Fair” recorded for the David Symonds Show on 6th May 1968.
Remember that this is a radio recording and was never given the full studio treatment and released as a single. It’s only available on ”Shapes & Sounds” Volume 2 (Top Sounds).
THE BYSTANDERS – ”Pattern People” / ”Green Grass” (Piccadilly 7N.35399) August 1967
The Bystanders hailed from Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales who managed to hang around long enough in the sixties to release several singles mostly all based around their tight harmonies and heavily influenced by The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons.
My particular pick is their fifth single ”Pattern People”, released during the Summer of 1967. This song was plucked from The Fifth Dimension’s album ”Up Up And Away” album. The Bystanders version switches the lush harmonizing chorus to the beginning and adds a recorder hook. It was an ideal Summer sound for ’67 but it somehow swerved the Charts.
Another fab song which was never released at the time was ”Royal Blue Summer Sunshine Day” written by Ronnie Scott (not the famous jazzman as stated on wiki). The version I’ve included below was an unused mix of their fourth single adding trumpet overdubs.
THE LORDS – ”Don’t Mince Matter” / ”No One Knows” (Columbia C23278) August 1966
This is the first time for The Lords on my blog and it’s all about their Troggs effected beat pounder ”Don’t Mince Matter”. I’ve got no idea what they mean by the song title, perhaps it’s been lost in translation or something as they’re singing in English on this .
The Lords were from Dusseldorf, Germany and were part of the very popular Beat Scene attracting loads of British Beat and R&B groups to that Country during the early to mid 1960s.
The Lords formed in 1959 for instance and their first single was a cover of ”Shakin’ All Over” by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. As you can see from the record sleeve they all had very odd moptop hairstyles.
TV footage of their Beat-Club performances exist and are on YouTube demonstrating that The Lords were one of Germany’s premier groups.
THE KNACK – ”It’s Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)” / ”Time, Time, Time” (Decca F 12278) November 1965
This particular Knack were from Ilford near London and were on the scene for a couple of years during the mid sixties. They released several records on Decca and Piccadilly but never broke through in the Charts despite having strong commercial offerings, including this beat raver on Decca.
”It’s Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)” is classy up-tempo beat music. According to their wiki page The Knack were great live and had a strong mod following, it’s got to be said that ”It’s Love Baby” has a certain Who-like quality about it (but without the distortion and feedback).
Production by Troggs associate Larry Page.
The B-Side ”Time Time Time” is also essential which delivers a strident moody beat jangler. This song was first recorded by The Clique, another Larry Page produced combo.
When organist Tim Mycroft departed the Gurvitz brothers, Paul and Adrian along with drummer Louis Farrell continued but with a name change to The Gun pursuing a heavier rock direction.
PETER & the WOLVES – ”Little Girl Lost & Found” / ”Is Me” (MGM 61169) October 1967
This is an obscure 1967 pop syke single by John Pantry’s group Peter & The Wolves. ”Little Girl Lost And Found” was first released by US group The Garden Club during April 1967 on A&M Records.
For those who have no idea who John Pantry is, well he wrote two of the classics recorded by The Factory – ”Path Through The Forest” and ”Try A Little Sunshine”, supplying lead vocals for the latter.
THE BRAIN – ”Nobody Knows The Game” (Tenth Planet TP-052) 2001
The core of ”Syde Tryps #7” is provided by a handful of previously unreleased 1967 tracks from The Brain, who were of course responsible for one of the more manic 45s of the psychedelic era with the May 1967 single, ”Kick The Donkey” / ”Nightmares In Red”.
The group had previously been known as Trendsetters Ltd, though a December 1966 single for Page One ”Boyfriends And Girlfriends” / ”Shot On Sight” had appeared under the truncated name of The Trend.
”Nobody Knows The Game” is about as commercial sounding as The Brain ever got and could have easily been released as a single A-Side but sadly remained in the can until Tenth Planet called for this compilation.
The Brain were:
Michael Giles (drums, vocals)
Peter Giles (bass, vocals),
Alan Azern (piano, vocals)
Michael Blakesley (trombone, vocals).
THEM – ”It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” / ”Good Or Bad” (Decca 6.11225) January 1974
Turntable spin today is a cover of Bob Dylan’s ”It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” by Them from 1966. This 45 was never released in Britain at the time. I believe it came out in Germany during 1974, hence the fonts they’ve used on the cover which are more Glam Rock than Folk Rock.
According to a Them fan, the song was used in German film ”Die Rocker” [The Rocker] so the label issued it on a single and it went to number 1.
As a consequence Them reformed in Germany and recorded a new album ”Shut Your Mouth” which became their final album. They then went touring but due to problems with management and personal conflicts Them disbanded once again.