Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Myke Jackson - Alone (1975)

When the Beatles split, Paul McCartney tucked himself away and recorded an album where he played every instrument by himself. The resulting LP was the killer, McCartney. This must have seemed like a tempting prospect for other songwriters in bands. Other well known instances of this are Todd Rundgren from the Nazz and Emitt Rhodes from the Merry-Go-Round. Here's one you might be unfamiliar with...Myke Jackson from Felt. If this name is new to you then read on, you're in for a treat!

Myke Jackson
Felt were an Alabama, USA band that released a single, self-titled LP on the Nasco label in 1971 which was masterminded by a then 17 year old, virtuoso guitarist named Myke Jackson. The band split shortly after the release of their album. For the next few years, Jackson played in various club bands to pay the bills, while simultaneously recording homemade tapes which he would send to Hollywood producer Ed Seay. A new band was put together but quickly fell apart after failing to get any label interest. In January 1975, Jackson decided to go it alone, borrowing some money from his uncle and renting out Creative Audio Studios in Huntsville to record his album by his self.

The album which would be titled "Alone", was recorded over three sessions of two days each including the mixes. Due to a lack of funds, each of the songs were recorded in one take, not that you can tell. The production is a little thin but the songs are melodic, (McCartney-esque/powerpop is the overall vibe), the vocals are strong and the playing is first class. Did I mention that Mellotron makes an appearance?

Only 1000 copies of the album were pressed when it came out in 1975, making original copies almost impossible to track down, but in 2013, Greek label Anazitisi Records officially re-released the album from the original masters as a vinyl only, limited to 300 copies, including 100 on blue vinyl, although these too seem to selling fast so grab one while you can. If you're not yet scrambling around for your credit card to buy this record you really need to ask yourself why you're reading this blog in the first place! The full story of Myke Jackson and the making of Alone including a recent interview can be found inside the Anazitisi reissue. What are you waiting for?

Need a bit more convincing? Then dig this...

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Natty Wright - You Move Me (1974)

Here's one of my 50p car boot finds that is probably quite rare but will never be valuable because of its lack of appeal to anyone other than the obscurest of obscure, pop geek!

I can't find any information on Natty Wright but 45cat lists him as having just the single solo release on Pye records in 1974. The A side "La Di Da" is a bit of a stinker, as cheesy as the title suggests and while it's even worse than Ringo's 1999 single of the same name, it's still not as bad as "She" by Charles Aznavour which was topping the UK singles chart at the time of it's release. The song was written by Des Parton who would pen the number one hit single "Sad Sweet Dreamer" for Sweet Sensation later on in the same year.

"You Move Me" is the more interesting side. Written by husband/wife song writing team Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, it is a simple tune that starts off with some very bendy synthesizer sounds and acoustic guitar before kicking into a full on McCartney-esque, piano pop anthem. The UK top forty was in such bad shape in 1974 that I reckon had this been the A-side, our Natty might have had a minor hit on his hands.

If anyone has any information to add to this blog entry, please get in touch. Believe it or not, there are people out there that are interested in hearing the full story!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Bite It Deep Volume 21

It's been a long time...

Bite It Deep Mix Vol.21 by Bite It Deep on Mixcloud

Swinging Blue Jeans - Keep Me Warm ('Til the Sun Shines)
Junior's Eyes - Mr. Golden Trumpet Player
Stormy Petrel - Hello Hello Hello
Raw - Love's Made A Fool Of You
Myke Jackson - I Am A Mockingbird
The Cowsills - If You Can't Have It Knock It
Jeremiah - I Saw Your Picture In The Paper
The Joint Effort - Mary On A Go-Round
Peter Sarstedt - Sayonara
The Arbors - I Can't Quit Her - For Emily Wherever I May Find Her
Trevor Gordon - Wounded Soldiers
Paul Ryan - Natural Gas
Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band - Concord World
Ted Mulry - Chicago
Mother Nature - Clear Blue Sky
Hurricane Smith - The Writer Sings His Songs

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Trevor Gordon - Alphabet (1970)

Trevor Gordon Grunnill aka Trevor Gordon emigrated from Blackpool, UK to Sydney, Australia in the 1950s. By the early 60s Gordon found himself a job as a kids television presenter which led him to meet and befriend Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. Gordon contributed some lead guitar on the Bee Gees first album "The Bee Gees Sing 14 Barry Gibb Songs". In return Barry Gibb penned a number of songs for Gordon which would wind up being released as a string of singles for the Leedon record label.

In 1967, Gordon joined the Gibb brothers in returning to the UK, pairing up with his cousin Graham Bonnet to form The Marbles. Using his Bee Gees connections, the Marbles secured a record contract with Australian impresario, Robert Stigwood. Their first single "Only One Woman" b/w "By The Light Of Burning Candle", with both sides written by the prolific Gibb trio was released on Polydor records in 1967 and reach the number 5 position in the UK singles chart. Two more Gibb penned singles and an LP for Polydor followed but neither would chart. The Marbles decided to call it a day with Gordon and Bonnett going their separate musical ways.

Trevor Gordon returned in 1970 with a solo long player for Polydor. "Alphabet" was composed and arranged by solely by Gordon with production by Denis Comper. The album is a good example of UK songwriter, soft orchestrated pop of the early seventies, reminiscent of late sixties post-Nash, Hollies, charming and well produced with easy on the ear vocals. Out of the eleven songs, there are no stinkers or ones that I'd skip, but neither are there any that instantly grab your attention or resemble a hit record. My personal highlights are the opening track "The Goodbye Story", the very Mike Batt-esque "You Won't Believe It" and the far superior reworking of the Marbles "Elizabeth Johnson". I wouldn't recommend spending too much of your hard earned cash on this LP but it is worth a couple of quid at least and collectors of this genre (and the Fading Yellow heads) will hear something they like on it.

Following "Alphabet", Gordon quit performing and became a high school music teacher. Sadly, Trevor Gordon was found dead in his London flat in 2013 by school friend Peter Foldy.

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Californians - Congratulations (1968)

Fans of British psychedelia will know The Californians thanks to many appearances on compilations such as Rubble, Fading Yellow, The British Psychedelic Trip and many more. Between the years of 1967 and 1969 the band put out eight singles on four different labels (CBS, Decca, Fontana and Chapter One) with the focus on Four Seasons/Beach Boys inspired harmony pop. Sadly, there is no album.

Like the similarly minded Harmony Grass, The Californians don't quite reach the heights of their influences but it would be unfair to compare them. You don't get a lot of sun and surf in Wolverhampton! The band's legacy is a string of ace singles, some bona fide psych, some popsike and the rest pure pop with no real duffers to mention.

The Californians
(photo courtesy www.robbielee.co.uk)
One song that really stands out among the Californians discography is their version of Cliff Richard's Eurovision Song Contest classic, "Congratulations", which was written specifically for the event by songwriters Bill Martin and Phil Coulter who had penned the winning entry the previous year with "Puppet On A String" for Sandie Shaw. Both versions were released on the same day (22nd March 1968), but the Californians much superior, Hollies-esque version was over shadowed (pun intended) by Cliff's Eurovision success which saw it top the UK chart as well as many other countries around the world. George Harrison was clearly a fan of the song having lifted the melody for "It's Johnny's Birthday" on his All Things Must Pass album.

According to the Brumbeat website the band line up at this time was Peter Abberley (bass/vocals), Mick Brooks (guitar), Robert Trevis (drums/vocals), Adrian Ingram (guitar) and Geoff Parks (vocals). The single was produced by Irving Martin (Finders Keepers, Lord Sutch, Sight and Sound) and arranged by Des Champ (Vanity Fare, Chicory Tip).

Some psych heads may sneer, but the proper pop people will dig this...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Highly Likely - Whatever Happened To You (1973)

The Likely Lads is a 1960's, black and white British sitcom, broadcast by the BBC and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. It starred James Bolam and Rodney Bewes as two working class, life long friends, Terry and Bob and was set in the industrial backdrop of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The show's humour was based around Terry's cynical personality versus Bob's ambition and need to better himself.
Bolam & Bewes aka Terry & Bob

The show returned to the BBC in 1973 as "Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads", this time in colour and with a catchy new theme tune. "Whatever Happened To You (Likely Lads Theme)" is a nostalgia laden singalong with lyrics penned by La Frenais and music scored by ex Manfred Mann multi instrumentalist Mike Hugg. Vocals are provided by Bite It Deep favourite Tony Rivers. Production is handled by Hugg and David Heath Hadfield. It was released as a single on the BBC Records label under the name of Highly Likely.
Mike Hugg
The b-side, "God Bless Everyone" is also worth a mention. This time with Hugg and Rodney Bewes sharing a song writing credit. Not the most natural of singers, Bewes takes the lead vocal, which while it is not as good as his previous single, the fab popsike rarity from 1970, "Dear Mother, Love Albert" b/w "Meter Maid" it is a good effort.

Now, pour yourself an ale and reminisce about the good old days...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

George Bean - The Candy Shop Is Closed (1967)

George Bean's music career began in 1963, where signed to Decca Records he released four singles, most notably "Will You Be My Lover Tonight" b/w "It Should Be You". Both of these songs are known to be the first recordings of Jagger/Richards compositions not to be recorded by the Rolling Stones themselves. This record came about thanks to Bean's friendship with Andrew Loog Oldham, who also produced this and a further two Decca single releases. Still, these connections weren't enough to grant Bean some chart success.

The final release for Decca in 1965 was a cover of Bob Dylan's "She Belong's To Me", the b-side of which, was a Dylan-esque, Bean original, co-written with Tony Catchpole (later a member of The Alan Bown) "Why Must They Criticize", which was comped on English Freakbeat Volume 5 and covered by the In-Crowd who would later become Tomorrow.

In 1966 on Parlophone Records and under the moniker of Bean & Loopy's Lot, saw the release of the killer beat single "Haywire" b/w "A Stitch In Time", a highly rare record demanding top dollar on eBay, but comped on Diggin' For Gold Vol.6, for your listening pleasure.

It would be another year until the next George Bean recording would be released, this time on CBS records. "The Candy Shop Is Closed" for me is Bean's pièce de résistance, an overlooked Toytown Popsike lost classic with all the ingredients of a hit record. Songs about sweetshops were ten a penny back in 1967 but this offering really hits the spot, a jaunty romp filled with nostalgic lyrics, Beatlesque orchestration (courtesy of Mark London's nifty production) and some satisfying 12 string electric guitar, sounding more like the Monkees than the Byrds. The b-side is also a winner. "Smile From Sequin" another London/Bean original, more laid back than it's flip and mildly psychedelic. Both sides can be found on Piccadilly Sunshine Volume 2. If only Bean had been given the chance to record an album of his own material, I can't help but think we'd have another record of John Bromley "Songs" standards. Oh well!
George Bean in Privilege (1967)

The second single for CBS and final single as a solo performer was "Bring Back Lovin'" b/w "Floatin'" which is a stone cold, British psychedelic classic. Good luck finding a copy of this!

Bean's next move was an appearance in the movie and accompanying soundtrack to the movie "Privilege", listed as George Bean and the Runner Beans performing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Jerusalem", this is possibly the only available video footage of George Bean performing and can be viewed here.

By 1970, Bean had formed the Jazz Prog band Trifle along with John Hitchen (guitar), Patrick Speedy Keen (bass), Barry Martin (sax), Dick Cuthel (horns) Brian Chico Greenwood (drums) but would pass away before the release of their only album, "First Meeting" on Dawn Records in 1971. A tragic loss to an unexplored talent that should have left behind much more than he did.

I'll leave you with my favourite George Bean song which you're guaranteed to diggg!!!

The Candy Shop Is Closed

Now the candy shop is closed,
Yes the candy shop is closed

We descend up there each day
Rounding up pennies just to pay for things like
Raspberry lollipops, old milk bottle tops, comic books for swapping too

We play hopscotch, hide and seek
And between our meals we'd eat things like
Chocolate cigars, sticky nougat bars, gob stoppers by the jar too

Now the candy shop is closed
Office blocks come into view
And I know my rent is due
Yes the candy shop is closed

All those times were so exciting
You might see two friends fighting over
Who called who a name
Who won a football game
Whoever got the blame wasn't so

Now there's much more to get through
But only boring things to do
Settling insurance policies, parting nominees, hardships and worries by the score

Now the candy shop is closed
Office blocks come into view
And I know my rent is due
Yes the candy shop is closed
Oh, the candy shop is closed
Yes the candy shop is closed