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

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
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...