LISTEN-IN

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 ’60s teen magazines.

HERMAN’S HERMITS – ’Museum’/’Last Bus Home’ (MGM K13787) July 1967

One of the most unlikeliest 60s groups catching the psychedelic wave must have been Herman’s Hermits. They’re not a combo that has attracted much attention at EXPO67 HQ but I recently undertook a project to collect the more enterprising Donovan cover versions from 1965-1970 and someone suggested that I should check out ’Museum’ recorded in 1967 by the Hermits.

I must admit that I was blown away by their version. It’s a super rendition and it surely must go down as one of their finest. As far as I know ’Museum’ sank without trace (at least in England). It appears that the song was lost on their usual teeny-bopper girl fans and of course the psych underground wouldn’t have touched the Hermits as they were considered way too uncool for them.

The flip ’Last Bus Home’ is also good and is another tune with a psychy feel, this one being a little ’Revolveresque’. The UK release had ’Moonshine Man’ on the B-Side. 

(15/03/13)

PETER & GORDON – ’Lady Godiva’/’Morning’s Calling’ (Columbia DB 8003) September 1966

I’ve not got any other Peter & Gordon record in my collection apart from this single from September 1966. Peter & Gordon have always sounded way too wimpy for my tastes and their squaresville image didn’t help either.

However, I was hipped to this 45 by Mole from The Higher State last year and I’m glad he waved their flag. The top side ’Lady Godiva’ hit the top 20 in the UK but I’m far more interested in the hidden gem on the flip. ’Morning’s Calling’ is a wonderful folk-rock jangler, written by the duo themselves.

I’m wondering if I’ve missed out on any more of their recorded underground sounds.

Reader comment:

Wonderful track – you don’t need to hear The Beatles or REM after this – all their work is tied up in this 3 minute masterpiece! I always (mistakenly) thought this was an A side, but I think all the rest of their stuff was pretty disposable folk duo meanderings.

Many thanks for post, the original 45’s sound is infinitely better than any re mastered version – the vibrato/reverb on last ring off is what we draw breath for………….regards Ian B

(26/01/13)

MANFRED MANN – ’Up The Junction’/’Sleepy Hollow’ (Fontana TF 908) February 1968

Manfred Mann were asked to compose the film music for UK movie ”Up The Junction” and as one would expect it’s a marvellous soundtrack of jazz, mod and psych moves that add greatness to an already cool film.

According to the liners of the ’Up The Junction’ CD on r.p.m. most of the incidental music was composed by keyboard player Manfred Mann and songwriter Mike Hugg. Only this song featured all members of the group.

The theme tune ’Up The Junction’ is a beautiful psychedelic pop nugget full of key changes and harmonies with stunning production. This song was recorded at the Philips Studios, however, the other material was recorded over a couple of days at Advision Studios in London, during late October/early November 1967.

The flip ’Sleepy Hollow’ did not feature on the movie soundtrack LP and was recorded during January 1968.

Unbelievably, the single flopped and as such remains one of Manfred Mann’s most elusive 45s especially with the picture sleeve.

(21/12/12)

THE COMMANCHES – ’Missed Your Lovin’/’Tomorrow’ (Hickory Records 45-1264) February 1964

The Commanches released this record in Britain on Pye 7N 25609 in February 1964 and it somehow managed to get a release in America on Hickory.

By ’64 The Beatles had conquered our old colony and Hickory Records must have been keen on some of that merseybeat action because they also released singles by The Overlanders.

The A-Side ’Tomorrow’ is very much tepid merseybeat, the singer has a crooning style similar to Elvis. Quite boring stuff actually.

The best side is ’Missed Your Lovin’ and was obviously lost on the flip. This is classy beat angst with a couple of killer lead guitar breaks….

The Commanches had previously backed singer Bobby Allen on a 1964 Fontana single titled ’Half As Much As You’/’So In Love With You’ but stepped out on their own with this 45.

Curiously ’Missed Your Lovin’ was written by Bobby Allen.

 Updated from 31/12/08

PINKERTON’S COLOURS – ’Magic Rocking Horse’/’It Ain’t Right’ (Decca F.12493) September 1966

Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours had a hit with their first single ’Mirror Mirror’ but by the time of their third release it seems that Decca were not going to extend their contract unless ’Magic Rocking Horse’ was a hit. It wasn’t of course, and Pinkerton’s Colours as they were now known, signed a recording deal with Pye Records.

Perhaps the UK record buying public weren’t ready for the whimsical pop melodies of ’Magic Rocking Horse’ although it probably received little or no air time upon it’s release. The song title lived on though in the form of a title for a Rubble compilation on Bam Caruso in the 80s.

’Magic Rocking Horse’ was also recorded by Plasticland, an 80s psych band from USA. I actually heard their version before the original. Come to think of it, back then I probably thought that the song was a Plasticland tune.

The flip ’It Ain’t Right’ is an excellent beat ballad and may have been the better bet for a hit.

(18/12/12)

SVENSK – ’Dream Magazine’/’Getting Old’ (Fontana 272 354 TF) August 1967

Despite the Swedish sounding name Svensk were a duo from Southern England. Roger Hopkins and Jason Paul met one another in Bournemouth in early 1967 and started writing songs. They impressed Larry Page at Page One Records enough to sign them up to his label.

The duo were promoted as ’the two new beautiful people on the block’ and their debut single ’Dream Magazine’/’Getting Old’ was marketed heavily throughout Europe. Several countries released it with a picture sleeve showing Svensk in a recording studio.

My copy of the 45 is the Spanish release, other countries adopted different graphics but more or less the same image. The single was released on Page One in Britain but Fontana in other areas.

Both sides are excellent psych pop, ’Dream Magazine’ is notable for the unique church organ sound. I’ve always had a fondness for the more laid back ’Getting Old.’   

Svensk had another shot at fame with a follow up single but it went nowhere and they split up. Roger Hopkins formed his own production company and moved into marketing and T.V. commercials.

(15/07/12)

THE SPECTRES – ’We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet’ (Piccadilly 7N 35368) February 1967

Prior to becoming famous as Status Quo in the 70s Francis Rossi’s outfit were a struggling South London outfit called The Spectres. They released four beaty mod singles on Piccadilly that went nowhere despite strong arrangements and solid production. In fact all four singles had the potential to be hits if their label had promoted The Spectres to any kind of degree.

After their fourth flop ’Almost But Not Quite There’/’Wait Just A Minute’ in June 1967,  it was decided to add an extra guitarist in Rick Parfitt and have a name change. First to Traffic which obviously led to arguments with Steve Winwood’s outfit but give good exposure with front page coverage in Melody Maker.

The Spectres were forced to give way and became firstly Traffic Jam then Status Quo and of course subsequently having a huge hit with ’Pictures Of Matchstick Men’.…

’We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet’ is one of The Spectres more garage sounding recordings. Here, they offer a fine reading of The Blues Magoos 1966 hit in USA.

By the way, The Spectres’ Piccadilly 45s are virtually impossible to find and if they do turn up they’re very expensive and sought after. The best place to find them all intact on vinyl is ’Quo-tations Volume 1’ on PRT Records which was released back in 1987. The sleeve was designed by Bam Caruso head Phil Smee.   

(01/07/12)

ART – ’Flying Anchors’ (Island ILP-967) December 1967

After The V.I.P’s and before Spooky Tooth there was the short lived psychedelic rock group, simply named Art.

They’re virtually unknown outside English 60s psych collectors and they’ve rarely threatened the compilers apart from the song ’Supernatural Fairy Tale’ which can be found on a Rubble LP.

Most of the music contained on ’Supernatural Fairytales’ is of a heavy psych nature with elements of the darkness that Black Sabbath would reap on their first album. ’I Think I’m Going Weird’ is pretty much two years ahead of it’s time.

’Flying Achors’ is very hypnotic with what sounds like a mellotron giving it that lysergic eeriness over an acoustic guitar. Close your eyes and drift off somewhere with this…

”Sitting by a stream,
I begin to dream.
Flowers kiss my feet,
That can be so sweet.”

The stunning album cover was created by Granny Takes A Trip boutique designers Michael English and Nigel Weymouth who, with Art producer Guy Stevens were Haphash & The Coloured Coat and it was indeed Art that provided the music for their album.

Art would change their name to Spooky Tooth after this album seemingly went unnoticed.

line-up:
Luther Grosvenor (lead guitar) he had previously been a member of The Deep Feelin’ and The Hellions
Mike Harrison (vocals/keyboards)
Mike Kellie (drums) after Spooky Tooth he was the drummer for The Only Ones
Greg Ridley (bass) quit Spooky Tooth and joined Humble Pie in 1969….died 2003

Steve Marriott produced Supernatural Fairytale.

(17/06/12)

THE BEE GEES – ’Please Read Me’ (Polydor 582012) July 1967

It’s obvious on this album that the Gibb brothers had a major infatuation with The Beatles with songs like ’Turn Of The Century’, ’Red Chair Fadeaway’, ’In My Own Time’ and especially the Lennonesque ’Please Read Me’ which is pure ’Revolver’ era John and hardly ever gets a mention. But it’s now a ’Flower Bomb Song’.

The Bee Gees ’1st’ was recorded over three weeks during March/April 1967 at IBC Studios, London….the home of Cream, The Small Faces, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and many others. Every song is an original Gibb tune, quite astonishing as all three were still teenagers.

Each and every song is both complex and imaginative. Checking the back of the LP sleeve for information it’s quite clear that the brothers had lysergic minds at this point as the songs they arranged on the album such as ’In My Own Time’, ’Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You’, ’Craise Finton Park Royal Academy Of Arts’ and the brilliant ’Please Read Me’ are the long-players most trippy forays into the psychedelic.

Barry is lead vocal on this one but just listen to those three part harmonies.

Vince Melouney played lead guitar with the group. Back in Australia he had previously been a member of Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs and led his own outfit The Vince Melouney Sect.

Drummer Colin Peterson was also from Oz.

(16/06/12)

ELLI – ’Mister Man’ (Dig The Fuzz DIG038LP) unreleased recording 1966

Sometimes, for reasons now lost in time, certain songs remained in the 60s vaults until they were excavated and released decades later by re-issue labels. Dig The Fuzz did just that with a fine collection of songs recorded by Elli Meyer.

Elli was born in Calcutta, India but moved to London.

According to the liners, Elli’s profession was as a painter & decorator but in his spare time was lead singer in various London groups starting in 1962 with The Eagles, then The Nutrons, then The Madhatters and finally in 1966 with The Infernos.. 

Elli then teamed up with song writing team Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker and it was their songs that Elli recorded during 1966-1970. Demos were cut at Pathway Studios, London with Finesilver on bass, Ker on lead guitar/flute, Vincent Crane on keyboards and Drachen Theaker on drums.

E.M.I. liked what they heard and signed Elli to Parlophone and during February 1967 ’Never Mind’/’I’ll Be Looking Out For You’ was released. ’Never Mind’ is a classic pop psycher but failed to chart and may have been overlooked in favour of a new Beatles 45 released on Parlophone the same day, namely ’Penny Lane’/’Strawberry Fields’.

Which brings me to ’Mister Man’. If ever a song deserved to be released as a single it was this one. According to the liners of the Dig The Fuzz LP, ’Mister Man’/’My Lady Of Love’ was slated by E.M.I. to be released on Parlophone in mid ’67 but due to a shake-up at the Company involving Elli’s A&R man schedules were changed including the next Elli release which was eventually shelved.

Fortunately, the master tapes survived so ’Mister Man’ can be heard in perfect sound. Listen out for Elli’s soft, almost lazy vocal style over a jazzy psych backbeat and Vincent Crane’s impressive hammond organ flourishes.

footnotes:

My favourite aspect when writing about obscurities is being involved in research and trying to fill some blanks in the story…

Elli Meyer – Throughout his life Elli struggled with diabetes and eventually died because of the condition in 2001. His last recordings dated from 1970 so perhaps Elli went back to work as a painter & decorator after his brief and ignored period in the music industry.

Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker also wrote and produced songs during the 60s for other outfits including The Love Sculpture. They then released ’Happy Miranda’/’It’ (Instant Records) in 1969 as The Excelsior Spring.

Both were also part responsible for ’Fire’ recorded by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. By the late 60s Mike Finesilver was running Pathway Studios in London which would be the studio of choice for the punk and new wave groups such as The Damned, The Clash, The Police and Elvis Costello.

Drachen Theaker – ’Drachen’ is (I’m told) German for Dragon so that takes care of the unusual forename. He was the drummer with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and guested on the skins for Love during their ’Four Sail’ recordings. Drachen died of a brain tumour in 1992.

Vincent Crane – He was responsible for the demonic hammond organ as a member of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown then heavy progressive outfit Atomic Rooster. It seems that Vincent was a manic depressive and he died of an overdose of painkillers in 1989.

(15/06/12)

update from January 2009

Belfast born George Best was one of the greatest footballers of all time. Shame he played for Manchester United (a team I loath….not that hard being a Leeds United supporter)…
BUT, George Best had a surname that couldn’t have been any more appropriate because he simply was the BEST.

With his silky skills and pop star good looks he quickly became a 60s icon and was once dubbed the ’fifth’ Beatle. He went through so many dolly birds, usually Miss World’s (it is written that he shagged three different Miss World’s during his playing days)…..

Unfortunately he liked a good old drink and didn’t know how to stop until it killed him in 2005.

Still, my blog ’Flower Bomb Songs’ acknowledges George as an all time footballing hero and an unforgettable face of the 60s and 70s.

So did the BBC, when in 1970 they documented his lifestyle and included a song called ’Belfast Boy’ by ex Sorrows lead singer Don Fardon.

Reader comment:

Nice story of Georgie Best, as people liked to call him back during those years. I was born in 1961 & am now 53…my father was a well heeled sportsman himself, playing, football, cricket & golf, as a young man, during my fathers heyday, he played for our local football club (Chelmsford City) & the Saracens on a Sunday.

Our family were Green Grocers & as I remember my father had many footballer friends who often visited to stock up on fresh fruits & vegetables.

Greats like Jeff Hurst, Brian King (goalie), Jimmy Greaves & George Best…those were the magical days of football, when these guys played for the love of the game…not like today for a high salary only & an ego to go with it…many fond memories of the 60’s & 70’s, a superb time in football history.

With so many fabulous players. God bless them all & thank you so much for the opportunity. With kindest regards. Sincerely, Nicholas Scott Barker (PS) yes its probably true George Best was one of the greatest players on the pitch during his heyday. Peace.

(07/05/12)

MIKE WALLACE – ’Daffodil’/’Early Morning Bird’ (Major Minor MM 668) 1970

Most lovers of late 60s English underground psych will be familiar with an earlier Mike Wallace 45 on Polydor Records ’Natural High’/’Mandarin’ and a pleasing pop psych double sider it is too.

I never realised that Mike Wallace had another overlooked and obscure 45 released on Major Minor until I found a copy late last year. This record has a similar pop psych approach with an obvious Donovan influence.

’Daffodil’ is lyte pop with orchestration, a perfect lazy Summer’s day sound. Sadly no one was listening or cared and the record has remained in obscurity until I’ve resurrected it today.

’Early Morning Bird’ is also an engaging lyte pop dream, but more acoustic and folk rock than ’Daffodil’. I love this type of sound. Mike Wallace rules…

Reader comment:
Hello – I knew Mike in London in the early 1970s. Sure its the same chap – he had a mini with a Union Jack on the roof! Daffodil was always a favourite at gigs. I wonder where you are now Mike?

(27/01/12)

JASON CREST – ’Hold On’ (Tenth Planet TP041) 1999

Second time out for London group Jason Crest on ’Flower Bomb Songs’… This is their radio session rendition of ’Hold On’, a song that was recorded by several English underground groups including Ipsissimus, Rupert’s People and Sharon Tandy (backed by The Fleur de Lys).

Jason Crest recorded ’Hold On’ in November 1968 for radio broadcast although I’m sure this song and others were never played on the radio at the time and were just used as audition tapes to assess their suitability for live broadcast. The mastertapes were found gathering dust in the late 90s in their former manager’s attic.

(25/01/12)

TREV GORDON – ’Love Comes And Goes’/’You’re An ’E’ Type’ (Pye 7N 17113) May 1966

I reviewed Trev Gordon’s second 45 ’Floating’ last year and readers got in touch with some information about this obscure recording artist.

Some time ago I tracked down his debut single on Pye Records and both sides are just as ’English pop’ sounding as ’Floating’, maybe more so with a strong Donovan influence. On ’You’re An ’E’ Type’ Trev Gordon cunningly describes his girl as a Jaguar sports car…hilarious.

(02/07/11)

PAUL NICHOLAS – ’Reggae Like It Used To Be’/’Lamp Lighter’ (RSO 2090 185) March 1976

Paul Nicholas is best known in Britain for his acting roles in theatre and on TV, although few people probably realize that he was a member of Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages in the early/mid 60s. Soon after he became a solo performer releasing several singles as Paul Dean and Oscar.

He then moved into acting in the late 60s playing lead roles in stage productions of Hair and Jesus Christ Super Star.

Curiously, in 1971 a Paul Nicholas 45 was released in some European countries. ’The World Is Beautiful’/’Lamp Lighter’. This single did not get a release in England.

However, in 1976 Paul Nicholas started releasing records again in the UK and ’Reggae Like It Used To Be’ reached #17 in the charts. As you can imagine the majority of recordings in 1976 were terrible and not worthy of my investigations or breathing space on my site.

The flip ’Lamp Lighter’ is a memorable late 60s early 70s rocker with a tinge of psychedelia. This song happened to be the flip of that 1971 European release I mentioned earlier and sounds like it was recorded from even earlier.

’Lamp Lighter’ was written by Paul Nicholas (label shows Paul Beuselinck which was his birth name) and moves along nicely with those basic drum beats, wah-wah guitar and some fuzz. The song is short and in my opinion ends far too quickly. The guitar solo in the outro sounds great and I could have listened to more.

(26/06/11)

DANTALIAN’S CHARIOT – ’Madman Running Through The Fields’/’Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud’ (Columbia DB 8260) September 1967

The short lived psych group Dantalian’s Chariot released their one and only record during the Summer of ’67. The epic ’Madman’ is now rightly regarded as one of the finest recorded examples of English psychedelia with it’s heavy use of studio trickery such as backward tapes, fade-ins, weird sound effects and a trippy dream sequence.

Despite being well received, including a ’Single Of The Week’ in Disc & Music Echo, the 45 bombed, along with (as it turned out) any hope of Dantalian’s Chariot releasing a follow up.

The gentle psych of the flip ’Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud’ is beautiful sonic lysergia that is just right for June in England.

As I write this (here in Old Blighty) we’ve had heavy overnight rain and indeed the sun is now bursting through the clouds. An absolutely perfect mellow ballad.

”Sunlight came bursting through my cloud
Breaking daylight through the misty shroud.”

(25/06/11)

THE ATTACK – ’Hi Ho Silver Lining’/’Any More Than I Do’ (Decca F.12578) March 1967

The Attack, led by teenage lead singer Richard Shirman, were one of London’s premier white soul groups. They got a deserved repution on the live circuit playing hard driving soul covers (that were unknown at the time in England) at hip hang-outs like The Marquee and Blaises. However, on record, they were a different kind of combo delivering art-pop psychedelia and blistering beat music (now tagged freakbeat).

A debut 45 ’Try It’/’We Don’t Know’ released in January 1967 surprisingly flopped. Soon after, The Attack recorded their second single for Decca in February and according to Richard Shirman (interview in Ugly Things #25) they all thought that ’Hi Ho Silver Lining’ would have been their break through pop hit.

Sadly, delays at the pressing plant meant copies of the record were slow to hit the shops and Jeff Beck’s version stole a march and became a huge hit.

The Attack’s version of ’Hi Ho Silver Lining’ is at the very least a match for Jeff Beck’s and with a proper advertising campaign and organised distribution would surely have brought The Attack a deserved hit. As it was, the record stalled although John Peel played the flip on a regular basis on his pirate Radio London show where he utilized ’Any More Than I Can Do’ as one of his jingles.

’Any More Than I Can Do’ is a freakbeat classic with a blistering guitar break from an eighteen year old called Davy O’List. According to the liners of the Bam Caruso/RPM CD ’The Attack – About Time’, O’List was approached by John Mayall to become one of his Bluesbreakers when he was hustling around the London talent for a new lead guitarist.

That job never materialized and he eventually ended up in The Nice after The Attack’s first line-up of the group broke up soon after this 45 flopped. Drummer Alan Whitehead returned to Marmalade.

(23/06/11)

MANDRAKE PADDLE STEAMER – ’Strange Walking Man’/’Steam’ (Bam Caruso PABL 033) June 1985 – original release on (Parlophone 5780) May 1969

I’ll continue my ”Made In Britain” series of reviews with this fabulous record by a group of teenagers from North London calling themselves Mandrake Paddle Steamer. The core members of the group formed at Walthamstow Art College in 1968 with an influence of and a love for American West Coast psychedelia and the hippie ethos.

line-up:
Brian Engel (vocals)
Martin Briley (lead guitar/vocals)
Paul Riordan (bass)
Martin Hooker (farfisa)
Barry Nightingale (drums)

After securing regular gigs at the Asgard Club in Streatford their reputation grew but were somewhat fortunate to find that a demo tape of a song called ’October Country’ had made it’s way to EMI. They were sufficiently impressed to invite Mandrake Paddle Steamer to one of their studios to make a set of demos of their original material.

This then led them to a record deal with EMI where they were teamed up with producer Rob Finnis and engineer Jeff Jarrett at Abbey Road studios during February and March 1969 to record ’Strange Walking Man’ and ’Steam’.

’Strange Walking Man’ is an absolute classic example of late 60s UK psychedelia tinged with a progressive edge. I first heard this mindblowing song on the Bam Caruso re-issue pictured.

This 45 was released in mid 1985 and I bought it because of the psychedelic front cover. I thought anything housed in a cover like that had to be wyld….and I was right of course (as usual).

According to the notes written on the sleeve of this re-issue single, Mandrake Paddle Steamer insisted on playing every instrument during the sessions. They refused all attempts by the producer to use session musicians.

Rob Finnis (producer) did however splice a tape of music played by sessionmen playing ’Maybe Sunday’ by The Incredible String Band as an end coda of the song that completely adds to it’s psychedelic appeal.   

As is usually the case with new groups Mandrake Paddle Steamer got no publicity for their new single on Parlophone. According to bass player Paul Riordan they wanted the record to come out on Harvest Records and that total advertising was one three inch advert in Melody Maker the week of release in May 1969.

The group recorded four songs for John Peel’s ”Top Gear” Show in April 1969.

These were as follows:

“The Ivory Castle Of Solitaire Husk”
“Cooger and Dark”
“The Janus Suite”
“Senlac Lament”

Bootlegs exist containing these songs (I’ve not heard them) but the sound quality is by all accounts appalling and dubbed from second or third generation tapes.

Mandrake Paddle Steamer also released a Swedish only single ’Sunlight Glide’/’Len’ on Parlophone. According to the liners of Psychedelia Volume Two (The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke) released on Tiny Alice Records during the early 90s, both songs were written by the film producers of ’Skottet’, a 1969 Swedish film. The music was produced by Brian Engel. This single came out under the moniker Mandrake.

Mandrake Paddle Steamer were no more by the end of 1969 but members did continue in the music business. Martin Briley and Brian Engel recorded an album as members of The Liverpool Echo in 1973.

Briley then joined Greenslade for a short time before moving to New York in the 70s becoming a session musician for Meatloaf and Mick Ronson.

He then had a hit record with ’Salt In My Eyes’ as a solo performer in 1983. It hit the Top 40 on Billboard.

Brian Engel joined MOR group The New Seekers in the 80s and even wrote a couple of songs used in The Muppet Show.

Paul Riordan moved into recording film library music and TV commercials. When Nick Saloman conducted his interview with him in 1991, Riordan confirmed that he was gigging with his own band called The Disciples at venues such as Dingwalls and the Mean Fiddler.

sources:
Ptolemaic Terrascope #23 (1997)
Bam Caruso 45 release 

(22/02/11)

Leave a Reply