24 November, 2013


THE MAMA'S AND THE PAPA'S - 'If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears' (Dunhill Records D50006) March 1966

To say that The Mama's and the Papa's defy vocal and visual description has to be the biggest understatement of the year - and, for that matter, of next year as well.

There are four of them, and they come in all shapes and sizes. They live in a nutty world of semi-existentialism, of cuckoo-clocks and antique lampshades, of beat-up old cars and Indian boots, of longish hair and longer hair of folk-singers and not-so-folk singers, of Lou Adler and Lovin' Spoonful's, and primarily of Mamas and Papas, which in point of fact they are not.

John is the acknowledged leader; a tall thin, gaunt person who takes everything very seriously and would probably perpetrate a rather bewildered executive image were it not for his mildly dignified, but perennially poverty-stricken appearance. He has played and sung his way around Greenwich Village and other significant musical areas with and without his three partners. He has an usually creative mind which has been evident on the many songs he has written, several of which are featured in this album.

His fellow Papa is Denny, an insolently handsome young Canadian, who is nonconformist in that he originally entered our offices clean-shaven, but wearing black leather, and has since taken to wearing expensive sports clothes, only with a beard. His philosophies conform to the standard folk dream in many ways, the main difference being that they are neither idealistic nor illogical. If we were talking in terms of sex symbols and full page color pin ups and potential Marlon Brondos and John Lennons, we would select Denny to play the role. But we're not. So we won't.

It would be hard to say which of the two Mamas is the more striking. Michelle is certainly the more mysterious of the two. She is a lissom, blonde, vision-with-a-voice who doesn't say very much, but just looks at you waif-like, sylph-like or what-ever-adjective-you-care-to-dream-up-like. She was once a model, and in her own way is still a model. And you haven't seen anything until you have seen her smile.

To end up with, there is Cass. You couldn't really end up with anything else. She collects antiques, talks freely about art and Bob Dylan, loves Whispering Paul MacDowell, has travelled the land in satirical revues, wears cute little gold-rimmed glasses and, like the others, lives for today, buddy, "Cos tomorrow may never happen."
She is large and lovely, benevolent and broadminded, cynical and maybe sinful....who knows? Ask her.

The Mama's and the Papa's are all descendents of Traditional Authentic Folk Groups. One was in The Big Three, which for a long time ruled the folk scene in New York. Another was in the Halifax Three. A third - or perhaps it was a third and a fourth - were in a very big group called The Journeymen.

They have travelled all over the States in various capacities, and they recently returned from a trip to the Virgin Islands. Here they spent their time as one should spend one's time if one is a Mama or a Papa. Cass became a waitress for a short while, and finally joined the others who had set up camp in the foliage, and were passing the time lounging around on the beach enlightening the natives to American pop culture. When the govenor of the islands decided that they were not contributing too much to the everyday problems of running an island, he suggested that they move on to conquer fresh pastures - and this they are doing.

Their first record 'California Dreamin', waxed prosperous on the bullet-riddled charts. Their highly unusual contrapuntal harmonies - which is flannel for different vocal lines sung on top of each other - plus John's unique vocal arrangements, plus the unusual approach of the whole bunch, provided a healthy filling for a gap on the musical landscape which has reamined void even in these enlightened days.

Some of the songs in this album are new; others will be familiar. All are good. They become great when performed by The Mama's and the Papa's.

Denny's poignant lead vocal on 'Monday, Monday' transforms a clever song of many intricacies into a work of beauty which becomes disarmingly simple. The bawdy, vaudeville analysis which Cass inflicts upon 'I Call Your Name' projects The Beatles song in an entirely new light, John and Paul, one feels, would approve.

To describe the gentle harmony obtained by Michelle and Casson the extraordinary 'Got A Feeling' as 'soft and silky' would not only be inadequate, but also slightly inaccurate. 'Feathery' would be a better word. And on the swinging, swaying 'You, Baby' you have that old 'Good Time Music' feel as it was born to be felt.
In short, The Mama's and the Papa's emerge as one of the more stimulating groups of the era. They experiment; they create; they construct; and most of all they communicate.   

A liner can only stand so many superlatives and hyperboles without becoming trite. This one has already utilized more than it's fair share. It only remains for you to extract the record carefully from the sleeve, play it, and then see if you believe what you have just read. And if you believe your eyes and your ears, then you're not only going to believe this album - you're going to be saving your nickels for the next one.

(original liners by Andy Wickham)

Producer: Lou Adler
Engineer: Bones Howe
Musicians: P.F. Sloan, Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborn, Peter Pilafian, John Phillips.

22 November, 2013


SONNY CURTIS - 'The Collector'/'Destiny's Child' (Viva V-607) January 1967

'The Collector' is a haunting psychedelic ballad that simply allows your mind to drift away....however, the lyrics are very dark and possessive and somewhat creepy.

According to Allmusic, Don Everley handed Sonny Curtis a novel called 'The Collector' and he wrote his version into a song. For some strange reason this song has never been compiled as far as I know.

The Everly Brothers and a group calling themselves #1 also recorded 'The Collector'.....sublime.


21 November, 2013


THE WORLD OF MILAN - 'One Track Mind'/'Shades Of Blue' (Brunswick 55298) June 1966

Milan a.k.a. The Leather Boy released several records during the mid to late 60s, all of which sank into oblivion. Shame he didn't get the success his unique songs deserved at the time.

This 45 is not one of Milan's most readily accessible releases and is not that easy to find, although it does show up on lists occasionally.

'One Track Mind' is the more garage side and has been featured on a Quagmire CD but the flip 'Shades Of Blue' is uncompiled. I actually prefer this side. Melancholic sounds with, maracas and flute...


20 November, 2013


THE ANIMALS - 'Baby Let Me Take You Home'/'Gonna Send You Back To Walker' (Columbia DB 7247) March 1964

This was the debut Animals 45 from early 1964 and before I was born.

Not a bad start for a new rhythm and blues group and it almost cracked the Top 20.
I prefer the flip 'Gonna Send You Back To Walker' which was a song they adapted from a Timmy Shaw composition titled 'Gonna Send You Back To Georgia'....

It's all about a dollybird who is obviously getting on Eric Burdon's nerves so much so that he threatens to send her back home to Walker. 

For those who don't know, Walker is a rough suburb of Newcastle where Burdon was born.
Back in the 60s, I imagine Walker was a grim place to live. It's not very nice these days. I went through it on a bus back in the Summer on my way to Tynemouth... put it this way, I wouldn't like to live there!

        THE ANIMALS - 'I'm Crying'/'Take It Easy' (Columbia DB.7354) September 1964

'I'm Crying', a fast paced beat swinger was the follow up to 'The House Of The Rising Sun' and went Top 10 in Britain...Of course this song smokes, there is footage of The Animals performing this on YouTube. Seek it out.

The flip 'Take It Easy' is another Burdon/Price original that brings the pace down somewhat after the frantic top-side. This one is more bluesy and perfect for the gritty vocals of Eric...

          THE APPLEJACKS - 'Tell Me When'/'Baby Jane' (Decca F.11833) February 1964

I've only got one Applejacks 45 so don't know what their other records are like but the driving beat of 'Baby Jane' is a keeper. Pity it lost out as a B-Side.

The song was written by Ray Cane and Peter Dello, who went on to form Honeybus


                                 THE ANIMALS - 'Boom Boom' EP (Columbia ESRF 1632)

Four song EP from France January 1965 (recorded '64)...
Somehow this found it's way to Chester-le-Street and I bought it from my local record dealer man. Nice to see that Alan Price is still sort of smiling. In the next couple of months he'll quit the Animals to go solo.

Found this live performance of 'Club A Go-Go' which was the name of the venue in Newcastle where the Animals were the house band until they relocated to London in early 1964....(song written by Burdon and Price about the Geordie club)

songs on EP:
'Boom Boom'
'Club A Go-Go'
'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood'


       THE HOLLIES - 'Little Lover'

From The Hollies first album (January 1964) so it was most likely recorded in late 1963. Classic uptempo beat rocker which has quite a surprising hard edge. This is probably more like how they sounded at gigs during 63/64 period before they started recording pop songs.

                 THE SEARCHERS - "Play The System' EP (PYE NEP 24201) November 1964

The Searchers recorded 'The System' for a film of the same title starring Oliver Reed. So it's a required disc for that beat tune, which was never on any of their albums.

Check out the trailer for the 1964 film "The System" on YouTube cos it's cool and very British...

 THE BEATLES - 'Can't Buy Me Love'/'You Can't Do That' (Capitol 5150) March 1964

Two sided 45 of merseybeat rockers released on The Beatles American label, Capitol Records.
'You Can't Do That' was written by John Lennon and is seemingly about his jealousy towards a girl.


SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON - 'Lonesome Cabin'/'The Goat' (PYE International 7N.25268) October 1964

Some more blues, this time Sonny Boy Williamson...another record released during the month that I was born...coolsville... UK pic sleeve from Lenny Helsing.

'Mr Anello' - Here's Manfred Mann with an overlooked harmonica driven R&B instrumental...

taken from the album "The Five Faces Of Manfred Mann" (HMV CLP 1731) 1964

THE ANIMALS - 'The Animals Is Here' EP (Columbia SEGO 8374) December 1964

Awesome first EP from The Animals showcasing their hard edged R&B... 'I'm Crying' = killer song

CHUCK BERRY - 'No Particular Place To Go'/'Liverpool Drive' (PYE International 7N.25242) May 1964

Time for a bit of Chuck Berry from 1964...those PYE International "R&B Series" 45s are just perfect.

Seek 'em out for some primal R&B from American artists that influenced virtually all of the hard beat and R&B English groups circa 1962/65..

   THEM - 'Baby Please Don't Go'/'Gloria' (Decca F 12018) November 1964

Dutch picture sleeve of a two sided R&B pounder.

There is a video clip of Them on Ready Steady Go miming to 'Baby Please Don't Go' as recorded by Van and and the band with some session men including Jimmy Page on rhythm guitar. Them's Billy Harrison played the distinctive lead.

'Gloria' was Van Morrison's paean to teenage lust....the simple but hypnotic guitar riff was adopted by thousands of aspiring garage bands in America a couple of years later.

The SWINGING BLUE JEANS - 'You're No Good'/'Don't You Worry About Me' (HMV POP 1304) May 1964

Classic '64 merseybeat, top 3 in the UK

'You Make Me Feel Good' is the other side of the big hit 'She's Not There'...

Cool beat ballad, but long forgotten nowadays. Could have been a single in it's own right.

  THE ZOMBIES - 'She's Not There'/'You Make Me Feel Good' (Decca F.11940) July 1964

Zombies 45 reviewed in NME July 1964 as follows:

"A pounding medium pacer from new group The Zombies. The boys have a distinctive sound, with intriguing solo phrases by the lead singer, and attractive vocal blends in the unison passages.
The drummer and bassist are pretty solid, too. I'd have tipped it for a hit if the material was stronger. Even so, it must still stand a chance."


17 November, 2013


BOB RAY - 'Initiation Of A Mystic' (Soul City SCS-92007) 1969

This rather splendid late sixties album has completely slipped me by for decades.
Bob Ray was one half of the duo calling themselves Bob & Kit releasing a 45 on HBR Records. He then was a member of the equally cool Thorinshield.

Bob Ray is clearly inspired by Donovan on his solo effort even down to the way he sometimes pronounces words. Backing is by Hollywood's studio greats, Jim Gordon, Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborne, Jim Horn and Hal Blaine.

I've just YouTube uploaded the dreamy 'Live Today'....

Maybe one day this album will see a vinyl/CD re-issue.

liners inside the deluxe gatefold sleeve:
When the world has divided itself and each stands strongly upon it's own way,
The word will come forth to recognise these divisions....