Sunday, 25 January 2015

David Dundas - David Dundas (1977)

David Dundas along with song writing partners Roger Greenaway and Eddie Howell, knew how to write a catchy tune. Originally a writer of commercial jingles, it was was obvious that Dundas knew how to get a catchy hook in the head of the television viewer.

The Brutus Jeans advert was the one that started things off for Dundas, securing him a record deal with Air/Chrysalis in 1976. The full song re-write "Jeans On" went on to chart around the world, hitting number 3 in the UK, number 17 in the US and number 1 in Germany.

Another of Dundas' catchy advert tunes was the killer, "Come To C&A", which was re-written as "Where Were You Today" and included on his self titled album, released in 1977. Blue Mink recorded there own version, released in 1977 on the Target record label.

The album is full of strong well written songs, as you'd expect. Fans of 10cc, Pilot and Andrew Gold will find a lot to love on here, especially "New York Doll" (with Bridget St John on backing vocals), "Another Funny Honeymoon" which was the follow up single to "Jeans On". "Stick On Your Lollipop" is pure Abbey Road era McCartney, so twee that even Ringo would have refused to play on it!

In 1978, a follow up album "Vertical Hold" was released and would be Dundas's last. More polished but less catchy than it's predecessor, it's not without a few moments of greatness, especially "Never Surrender" which bears a strong resemblance to Electric Light Orchestra.

Following the lack of chart success of "Vertical Hold", Dundas returned to TV, radio jingles and film scores, including Withnail and I in 1984.

My David Dundas LP came with a press release insert. I've included it here at the end of the post as an addendum as it doesn't appear anywhere else online and is quite interesting if you'd like to know more about DD....

"I just try to write songs which people like to buy" says David Dundas.

 As a commercial songwriter, a tunesmith in the 'four-minute-verse-chorus-end' sense, Dundas is all too aware of resting on his creative laurels and is, by his own admission, still learning.  After all he's only recently had his second hit single, though his pedigree as a TV jingle writer is far more prolific. He's penned adverts for everything from Spanish holidays to orange barley. But it was his success with the Brutus jeans had that led to his Jeans On single hitting the charts and the beginning of David Dundas the pop singer.

Before that, and before Dundas the jingle writer it had been Dundas the TV actor, Dundas the movie actor, Dundas this stage actor and Dundas the aristocrat.

Born in 1945, David Paul Nicolas Dundas is the second son of the third Marquess of Zetland. After leaving Harrow school he went on the stage, graduated into films (including Prudence and the Pill with David Niven), into TV, back on the stage "standing about with spears and stuff" and finally into jingle land.

After turning the Brutus advert into a single Air/Chrysalis now handle Dundas the pop star. On May 1, shortly after the success of his second single "Another Funny Honeymoon", David releases his first album, co-written with Roger Greenaway and Eddie Howell.

"It's not as sophisticated, polished album" says David. "It's just a rough collection of songs with a feel, a beginning and an end". The album, simply called David Dundas took about two months to make. It was recorded at Air, RG Jones and Morgan Studios using a close-knit band of session men consisting basically of Alan Tarney, Trevor Spencer, Dave Marquee, Barry Morgan and David himself on piano.

"Around the end of January we realised that the album had to be ready in six weeks and it wasn't even written. So my wife Corrina and baby Daisy star went away for about three weeks and I sat with Roger and Eddie and more or less wrote the album.

"I like working fast. It doesn't give you time to start worrying or change your mind".

Since Jeans On was a hit in Britain it has always been a hit somewhere around the world and to date has sold 2 million copies which has kept the Dundas promotion machine in full swing. He still writes Tunes for commercials as well, as much for allegiance as for the exacting discipline they require.

"But", he points out "it's such a difficult thing writing commercials AND songs. I can't just sit down one morning and do a commercial and then start on a song. You've got to give yourself some room". 

Eventually David would like to get a band together for the road and record something of a concept album. "As I go on I'm going to get less commercial and more quality I hope. But I can't afford to indulge myself in the more obscure things at the moment after one or two hits".

David Dundas may still be learning but he is learning fast.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Mixtures - The Mixtures (1971)

Between May and October 1970 a disagreement over a rise in royalties between the six largest Australian record labels and commercial Australian radio resulted in their refusal to play major label records from the UK and Australia. Struggling Melbourne pop band The Mixtures took advantage of the ban by releasing a cover of the current UK number one record, Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime", which when released on the small label, Fable in July 1970, went straight to number one in the Australian pop charts.

The Mixtures' follow up single was an original tune, penned by vocalist Idris Jones and his brother Evan (not a band member). "The Pushbike Song" which, whilst being a bit novelty and totally derivative of "In The Summertime", is so catchy that it's impossible not to be sing along to and it comes to no surprise that it reached the number one spot in the Oz chart and number two in the UK, only to be beaten by George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord".

An album, "In The Summertime" was released in Australia on the Fable label shortly after the success of The Pushbike Song. It's a patchy affair with only a few good tracks, mostly orchestrated pop with strained vocals with the exception of "Never Be Untrue" which goes down the Crosby, Stills & Nash route, with it's slight country twang and three part harmony vocals.

The self titled, UK only album is much better. Released the following year when the band had relocated to the UK to record at IBC and Morgan Studios in London. It was produced by David Mackay (Nilsson, Twilights, Blue Mink, New Seekers) and Keith Potger and engineered by Robin Black, Mike Claydon, Andy Knight, Roger Savage and the legendary John Pantry. The band up at this point was Mick Flinn (bass), Don Lebler (drums), Idris Jones (vocals), Peter Williams (vocals,guitar).

"The Pushbike Song" and "Never Be Untrue" are both included on this album and the other tracks appear to be new compositions. "Travelling Song" written by Sulsh & Leathwood (aka Gary & Stu) sounds remarkably like a Pete Ham composition. "Daddy Brings Home The Bacon" bounces along much like the bands two big hits. A cool cover of Ron Davies' "It Ain't Easy" surpasses the original and would appeal to fans of Paul McCartney's first solo LP. "Oh, Mr. Jones" is a Manfred Mann-esque killer, written by Richard Hewson and Gordon Gray, whose only other song-writing credits I can find are "Colour Sergeant Lilywhite" by West Coast Consortium and "Holly Golightly" by Fluff (Mr Gray, why didn't you write more? You clearly had the knack!). Also included are the two other songs released as a-sides "Henry Ford" and "Captain Zero" which sounds like it should be a 1970's children's television theme.

So, definitely an album to keep your eye out for at the charity shops, car boots and bargain bins. Cheap, cheerful and unashamedly pop. Diggg...

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Cardboard Orchestra (1969)

Cardboard Orchestra were a British experimental pop band, hailing from Southend-On-Sea, Essex. Led by multi-instrumentalist Keith Bonsor, who had paid his dues in R&B band, The Essex Five. In 1967 Bonsor landed a job with US music publishers Shapiro Bernstein Music Ltd, a few months later opening his own studio in which a young Andrew Lloyd Webber would be employed as an arranger. Bonsor's creativeness was developing after spending many hours behind the mixing desk.

Joining forces with Vic Collins (bass), Mark Welsey aka Mark West (vocals), Roger (drums) and Bonser himself on vocals, guitar and keys, presented his new studio project to CBS who signed the band, christened Cardboard Orchestra. The lifespan of the group was a mere two singles, both released in 1969 and neither charting.

The first single "Zebedy Zak" is a killer jaunty piano pop tune and has been comped on Piccadilly Sunshine Volume 8 and A Trip To Toytown. It's a great effort given Sgt Pepper style production by Martin Wilcox. The b-side, "Mary Tell Me Why" is one for the Fading Yellow-heads, an orchestrated, flute laden (Mellotron?), gentle ballad reminiscent of Harmony Grass.

Has anyone got a group photo of Cardboard Orchestra?

The follow up single "Nothing But A Sad, Sad Song" is a heavily orchestrated ballad with psych tinges, not a bad tune that will appeal to Walker Brothers fans. For me, it's the flip side that is the real treasure. "Yes I Heard A Little Bird" is pure toytown pop perfection, with it's call and response vocals, continuous fuzz guitar (low in the mix, natch!) and twee lyrics; "yes I heard a little bird singing someone's name, sitting on an English garden gate, there it goes again". All of this is topped off with several key changes for the fade out! This single has become highly sought after by psych collectors over the years thanks to it's appearance on the Circus Days compilation.

Following the Cardboard Orchestra's lack of success, Keith Bonsor formed Zior, a Heavy Metal band known for their wild live performances and interests in Black Magic and Satanic Masses! Don't expect anything like "Zebedy Zak" on either of their albums!!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Bite It Deep Volume 23

Happy Christmas, folks...

Brotherhood - Jump Out The Window
Cream - Doing That Scrapyard Thing
FMOTNYRE - Monkey Jungle
America - Mad Dog
Alan Bown - Strange Little Friend
Alan Merrill - Tranquility
Mike D'Abo - Miss Me In The Morning
Sapphire Thinkers - Get Along Boy
Neil Harrison - Eyes In The Back Of My Head
Snow - Catapillar
Ginger Valley - Country Life
Joe Griffifths - Whippersnapper Strut
Caravan - Golf Girl
Rodney Bewes - Meter Maid
Fanny - Knock On My Door

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The World - Lucky Planet (1970)

When the Bonzo Dog Band split in January 1970, songwriter Neil Innes had his sights set on commercial success, something that the Bonzo's had briefly come by with their only hit, the Innes penned and Paul McCartney produced, "I'm The Urban Spaceman". Innes had already written some "proper" songs, in particular, one tucked away on the Keynsham album, "I Want To Be With You" in which Innes pulls off an attempt into mainstream pop/rock, sounding a lot like Badfinger in the process.

Neil Innes enlisted former Bonzo, Dennis Cowan (bass, guitar, vocals) and Ian Wallace (drums, vocals) and Roger McKew (lead guitar) to form The World. Their sole album, "Lucky Planet" was recorded at Trident Studios in August 1970, written and produced by Innes. The music on the album is a fine example of 1970's Beatles influenced proto-power pop which is highlighted in "Not The First Time" and "Sail Away", both of which could be passed off as Pete Ham penned Badfinger out-takes. By the time of the album's release in late 1970, The World had already split, but Innes hadn't given up on the idea of writing Beatles infected songs and what followed is a story which deserves it own blog entry.

Here's what the liner notes for Lucky Planet had to say about The World...

Neil Innes - 25 years old, born in Essex and spent his childhood in Germany; studies classical piano for seven years until the emergence of rock 'n' roll. Fine arts degree from Goldsmith College, London University. Neil was one of the founder members  of the Bonzo Dog Band and was responsible for many of the Bonzo's compositions including the very famous "I'm The Urban Spaceman". Neil formed The World when the Bonzo's split up, and writes and produces  all the material for the world.

Dennis Cowan - 23 years old. Born in London. Took up the bass and leas guitar while still at school. Teeny Bobber Heart-Throb until joining the Bonzo Dog Band in 1967.

Ian Wallace - 23 years old. Libra (Virgin ascending). Born in Bury, Lancashire. Started his career at the age of 17 backing Little Richard. Ian has played all over Europe and Scandinavia and 1968 turned session work. He first met Neil Innes and Dennis Cowan in Spring of 1970.

Roger McKew - 27 years old. Born in London, studied piano for seven years and the cello for three years and later switched to the guitar because all his friends had one. Roger was a member of the Quiet Five and turned to session work in 1966. Like Ian Wallace, Roger first met Neil and Dennis in the spring of 1970.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Billy Kinsley 1973-1974 (The Solo Singles)

As there doesn’t appear to be any other place where you can listen to them (surprisingly, still uncomped), I’ve decided to upload the Billy Kinsley solo songs that I mentioned a few weeks back in the Liverpool Express post.

 Here’s the beautifully BeatlesqueAnnabella” and the totally 10cc-ish, “Make My Bed”. Enjoy...

...the other sides will appear on future Bite It Deep mixes.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Ginger Valley - Country Life/Ginger (1970)

Here's a killer, double sider 45 from ex Blue Bus members, originally from Corpus Christi before relocating to Houston, Texas in search of a record deal. Ginger Valley only put out one single, on the International Artists records (13th Floor Elevators, Bubbly Puppy) and this appears to be the last thing that the label would release, on green vinyl too (why not orange?). I'd describe this simply as pure pop with a slight country twang. A bit like Clarence White era Byrds.

Ginger Valley were named as a compromise of two separate ideas "Peace Valley" and "Ginger". Through their short lifespan, the band's line up consisted of the following members; David Garing (guitar), Richard Mauch (rhythm guitar), Edward Clifton (bass), Bobby Donahoe (drums), John Kenney (vocals), John Mitchell (bass), Jeff Burke (guitar) and Stanley Moore (drums).

Ginger Valley (1970) - Blink and you'll miss them

"Country Life" was written by Mauch and Kenney and came backed with "Ginger", written by Clifton and Kenney with production duties handled by label boss Fred Carroll. The band were signed to IA on a five year contract, but the label was going through some serious money problems at the time and would soon fold. Ginger Valley never did get to record their album and sadly only leave behind this great single which shows massive potential on the song writing front. The band split and moved back to Corpus Christi to get regular jobs. What a shame!