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!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Bite It Deep 3rd Birthday Mix

Thanks to everyone who follows, leaves comments and reads this blog. Just like last year, here's a mix, compiling all of the featured songs from the last twelve months. A 100 minute collection of forgotten pop gems. I hope you like.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Liverpool Express - Tracks (1976)

After the breakup of  Rockin' Horse in 1972, Billy Kinsley spent a couple of years making his money recording soundalikes for the Top Of The Pops budget compilation albums (as heard on Bite It Deep Mix Vol.5).  He attempted a solo career, releasing two singles on the Epic record label, Annabella b/w Blue Movies in 1973 and You Make My Day b/w Make My Bed in 1974. Both were outstanding but failed to chart. Kinsley needed to get another band together.

In 1974, Kinsley started playing five-a-side soccer as a means of keeping fit. It was on the pitch that he met Roger Craig, keyboard player in a local band called Paper Chase along with Tony Coats (guitar) and Derek Cashin (drums). Craig was a fan of the Annabella single and asked Kinsley if he would like to join Paper Chase, to which he agreed.

Kinsley rechristened his new band Rockin' Horse, knowing that they would get more gigs with a familiar name. He also hoped that original Rockin' Horse, Jimmy Campbell would join him, but Campbell returned to his engineering job. Rockin' Horse Mark II was getting plenty of bookings on the club scene but their crowd pleasing set list comprised of cover versions. After six months of gigging, Kinsley had learned how to play the piano via Craig and armed with a Mellotron each, the pair started to write songs together. The band was renamed Liverpool Express by their manager, Hal Carter. Their first gig under this name was at the Huyton Labour Club in June 1975. Shortly after, Carter had landed the band a recording contract with Warner Btothers.

Liverpool Express (Coats, Craig, Kinsley & Cashin)
Their first single, the Pilot-alike "Smile (My Smiler's) Smile" came backed with the reggae-lite "Lae Mei"and failed to dent the charts. It was after the release of their second single in May 1976 that the Liverpool Express started moving. "You Are My Love" a McCartney-esque ballad (Macca is apparently a fan of this song), backed with the equally Wings-by-numbers, "Never The Same Boy" cracked the UK pop charts peaking at number 11 and would go on to be a hit in many countries around the world.

An album called "Tracks", recorded at both Zodiac and DJM Studios in London and produced by Hal Carter and Peter Swettenham was released in June 1976 following the success of "You Are My Love" and  included the hit and the previous single, now shortened to "Smile". Three more songs from the album were punted as singles; "Hold Tight" in September 1976, "Every Man Must Have A Dream" in December 1976 and "Doing It All Again" in March 1977. The overall sound of the album is 10cc meets Wings, harmony pop with a very typical 1976 'over production' which might put some people off, but the strength and quality of the songs helps you overcome the cheese factor. Also included on the album is a remake of the old Rockin' Horse classic, now titled "(I Remember) Julian The Hooligan" where Kinsley sings "Julian, plugging your smokes again, telling dirty jokes again, trouble for his folks again!".

Tracks is a great album which can be found for cheap and although it's not as raw or power poppy as the Rockin' Horse album, it is crammed with pure pop class. If you're still not convinced you better listen to this....enjoy....

To find out more about Liverpool Express and Billy Kinsley, I recommend the excellent Spencer Leigh book "It's Love That Really Counts" (The Billy Kinsley Story).

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Bite It Deep Volume 22 (80's Mix)

80's Special...

Bite It Deep Mix Vol.22 (80's Mix) by Bite It Deep on Mixcloud

Intro - Hello
Dave Edmunds - Information
Hilly Michaels - Calling All Girls
Player - Am I A Dreamer?
The Rubinoos - Faded Dream
New England - Searchin'
Menudo - Like A Cannonball
The Shoes - Curiosity
Fantastic Something - Garden City
The Korgis - Contraband
Klaatu - Mrs. Toads Cookies
Kelly Groucutt - You Don't Need To Hold Me Tight
Electric Light Orchestra - Heaven Only Knows
Freiheit - Keeping The Dream Alive

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Kelly Groucutt - Kelly (1982)

Now, I know this album was released just outside the scope of this blog (usually late 60's to mid 70's), but, musically it fits right in and it's a little taster for my next Bite It Deep 1980's special mix coming in the next week or so.

Michael William Groucutt (aka Kelly) started his music career in 1960, aged 15 as a guitarist in a rock and roll group called Rikki Storm & The Falcons, playing parties, weddings and dances throughout the year. Now called Rikki Burns & The Vibras called it a day in 1961. Kelly Groucutt went on to play in numerous bands over the next decade including Greenwich Village, Marble Arch, Sight And Sound and Barefoot.

It was during his stint in Barefoot that he was noticed by fellow Midlander, Jeff Lynne who asked him to join the Electric Light Orchestra as a replacement for Mike de Albuquerque, who had just quit the band. Kelly would appear, as bass player and backing vocalist on the following ELO albums; Face The Music, New World Record, Out Of The Blue, Discovery, Xanadu and Time.

By 1980 Jeff Lynne was playing the bass parts on new ELO recordings himself, reducing Kelly's recorded input to merely backing vocals. By this time he'd learnt a trick or two about songwriting and with enough material for an album, Kelly went to Pasadena, California along with, Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, Louis Clark and Mik Karminski to record and produce (executive producer, Peter Kuys) his solo album which sounds, not suprisingly like ELO!

The resulting album "Kelly" (released on RCA Records in 1982) isn't as well known as an ELO one, but it deserves to be. Every track here is a winner, loaded with lashings of melody, anthemic choruses and hooks a plenty. If Lynne would have allowed album opener "Am I A Dreamer" onto an ELO record it would have been a hit for sure, but without the familiar name on the sleeve, Groucutt's album fell by the wayside, known only to ELO die hards.

Groucutt remained a member of ELO until 1983 when he sued Jeff Lynne for £300,000 over unpaid royalties. When Lynne split the band in 1986 it was Kelly that kept the band going (under name variations like ELO Part II, The Orchestra etc) right up until his death in 2009 of a heart attack.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Jelly - Sharpshooter (1973)

When Baroque Psych band The New York Rock Ensemble split in 1973, Clifton Nivison (Vocals, Guitar) and Martin Fulterman (Drums) continued to work together on various one off singles.
The best of these include "Monster Movies" (as Clif & Marty) on the Mosaic record label, which sounds very similar to the their work with the NYRE. Another good single is "Brooklyn" (as Wizz) on Capitol records, a whimsical musical hall tune that wouldn't sound out of place on an early Nilsson album. The best though, has to be the single they released on the Scepter label under the name of Jelly. "Sharpshooter" is an instant pop classic which sounds like it was written specifically for reviewing on this blog! A bouncy McCartney-like piano which bobs up and down on the verses along with a xylophone plonking away in the background which makes way for some cello and slide guitar in the chorus, plus you get a neat George Harrison-esque double tracked guitar solo and a cheeky lyrical nod to the Fabs ("Radio stuck in my ear, singing a song with The Beatles") thrown in for good measure.

Unfortunately the single I own is a DJ promo which has the stereo version on one side and the mono on the other, so I've hot heard the actual b-side, a Fulterman composition called "Hey Ho". If anyone has this, I'd love to hear it.

Easily my fave 45 find of the year...enjoy...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Manfred Mann - Cubist Town (1968) A Story of a Lost Psych Pop Masterpiece

For this very special blog entry I'll be passing you over to my buddy and fellow bandmate, Joe Wiltshire who has unearthed a bonafide UK psychedelic lost classic album and would like to tell you the story of it's creation to it's eventual abandonment.

It's June 1966 and Manfred Mann drummer, Mike Hugg turns up at I.B.S studios during sessions for Manfred Mann's latest long player, "As Is". Another collection of singles, b-sides and fillers with inclusions provided for them from outside sources, a reoccurring concept that Mike Hugg was beginning to grow out of. 

Fast becoming the bands chief songwriter, Hugg was feeling inspired and was in no mood to record "just another LP". Under his arm on this day was the latest Beach Boys effort, Pet Sounds and that record was the new direction that he wanted to angle the Manfred's in now. 

(Tom McGuinness, Klaus Voorman, Manfred Mann, Mike D'Abo & Mike Hugg)

The band bought into his vision but, on this occasion Hugg didn't get his way. The group had almost wrapped up the recording of "As Is" and collectively had to concede that this time around they had missed the boat.The band left with a plan. They would all go away, absorb Pet Sounds and write their very best songs for the next Mann album.Mike D'Abo came back with "No Better, No Worse" while Hugg himself feeling particularly creative penned the bulk of the stronger compositions, "Harry The One Man Band","It's So Easy Falling" and "Too Many People". Lead guitarist Tom McGuinness returned with the psychedelic oddity "There is a Man" and "Cubist Town" a song which Hugg felt fit the new concept and mood so well that he suggested they name the album after it and work to that title.

"Cubist Town" was shaping up nicely and the band began recording at I.B.S studios in early 1967. The band arranged the songs in track order and merged and mixed parts together which they felt would fit right. Utilising similar techniques to Brian Wilson on Pet Sounds. Combining sounds, using new instruments including the harpsichord and Mellotron as well as adding plenty of vocal harmonies to their sound, filling any space they could with their new ideas. 

During the sessions, manager Gerry Bron received a call from budding film director Peter Collinson, who wanted to meet the band to discuss the possibility of writing material for the soundtrack to a new movie he was making called "Up The Junction". Mann and Hugg met with the director but although tempted and flattered by the proposition, couldn't tear themselves away from their latest project. It took some convincing from Gerry Bron but the band eventually agreed to go ahead with the soundtrack. Bron also managed to talk the band into submitting some of the songs intended for Cubist Town. So reluctantly, "Sing Songs of Love", "Just for Me" and "Floating in a Dream" soon to be renamed "Up the Junction" were all put forward.

Momentum was being lost for the album that Hugg was so desperate to make. He then heard that The Zombies were following a similar path with their new project Odessey & Oracle. Hugg was gutted to hear this, but again was further inspired and determined to complete "Cubist Town". With pressure from their label and manager to release something new, the results were never going to be as intended and the band ended up releasing the LP "Mighty Garvey". The new release included some of the songs intended for Cubist, but also, again included novelty songs and fillers like "Big Betty", "Ha! Ha! Said the Clown", (a cut written by Tony Hazzard and released as a single the previous year) and D'Abo's "Happy Families".  

So "Cubist Town" was never released and instead the band were left with a back catalogue of semi-strong, patchy long players. The original "Cubist Town" has now been realised and put together with the early mixes in the intended order, the way the band wanted you to hear it in 1968.

Another story of a lost album that 'would' fascinate me, if only it were true! A bit of a sad hobby of mine. Making albums that 'could' have been. Photoshop-ing new cover art for me iTunes and coming up with a short, make believe back story, just to make the lads in the Junipers laugh. When I told Pete I'd made Manfred Mann's very own, lost Odessey & Oracle, he asked if I'd include the album and a back story for his Bite it Deep blog. I tried to steer away from the obvious favourites and main singles because it wouldn't be as interesting to make or listen to. That's a separate job for a "Best Of". You never know, the story may not be too far from what actually happened. Either way, it's nice to imagine it did while listening to "Cubist Town".

Joe Wiltshire - October 2014

Very good Joe. You had me going for a moment there!!

Now, listen to Cubist Town for the first time in it's entirety. Enjoy...

01 No Better, No Worse
02 It's So Easy Falling
03 Cubist Town
04 Harry the One Man Band
05 Up the Junction
06 Everyday Another Hair Turns Grey
07 Funniest Gig
08 Budgie
09 Too Many People
10 There is a Man
11 Just For Me