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

Friday, 11 July 2014

Paul Ryan - The Maple Annie Singles (1972)

When pop duo Paul & Barry Ryan split, amicably in 1968, the twin brothers decided that Barry would go solo and Paul would focus on the song writing. This proved to be a winning formula, seeing Barry's second solo single, the heavily orchestrated "Eloise" sell over a million copies, reaching number 2 in the UK charts and the top spot in the German charts in 1969. The hit single spawned the accompanying LP "Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan", which highlights Barry's angelic choir boy vocals. I'll not go on too much about this record as I feel it warrants a post of it's own, but fans of the Bee Gees' "Odessa" or Chad & Jeremy's "The Ark" should go out and buy themselves a copy, pronto!

Paul (or is it Barry?) Ryan
Barry Ryan had a good chart run, notching up a further 5 top forty hits in the UK, but by 1972 the hits dried up. It was around this time that Paul Ryan fancied a bit of his own solo success, putting out two singles of his own compositions for the small Maple Annie record label, an offshoot of Island Records which appears to have only lasted for seven single releases. Production duties were handled by Phil Wainman (Sweet, XTC) and arrangements were by Pip Williams (Moody Blues, Colin Blunstone). Neither of the singles gained any chart action in the UK but each one of the four songs is solid pop gold. And I should add that surprisingly, none of these songs appear to have been comped.

"Born On A Beautiful Day" is a flamboyant popsike romp with suitably camp lyrics, "When I was born a smile was on my face, they slapped me on the bum and I joined the human race" The b-side is the dreamy lullaby "Come With Me" a Bill Fay-esque composition which perfectly suits Paul Ryan's ethereal tones. "Natural Gas" sounds the most like 1972, taking it's cue this time from T-Rex with it's Glammy tribal beat and Bolan-like vocal phrasing, there's plenty of groovy electric sitar buzzing away on this too if you dig that kind of thing! Finally, "Hellow, Hellow" a song so melodic and laid back it makes the Beach Boys' "Friends" album sound uptight and in your face!

I can't recommend these two singles enough and because it's been a while since my last blog post I'm going to share not one, but two of them for you to enjoy. The other two songs will most definitely turn up on future Bite It Deep mixes. Watch this space!


Friday, 20 June 2014

Rough Riders - Hot California Beach (1974)

Here's a great little Power Pop/Surf/Glam single I picked up for £1 on Leicester Market by a band known as Rough Riders. It turns out that these guys used to be Muswell Hill's second most popular popsike heroes, Turquoise. By 1974 they were rolling under the name of Slowbone, with a line up consisting of Barry 'Lea' Hart (Guitar/Vocals), Jim Hunter (Organ/Piano/Vocals), Jeff Peters (Bass/Vocals) and Keith Shepherd (Drums).

For reasons unknown, but probably because they needed to pay the bills, Slowbone drafted in seasoned songwriters Miki Antony and Phil Chapman to write them a pop song and the results were the remarkable "Hot California Beach", which channels the spirit of the Beach Boys circa 1962 with some hip 70's production courtesy of Peter Anders (The Rockits). Released on the Rare Earth label in 1974 and sounding more like the retro pop of the Rubettes than their usual Deep Purple influenced funky hard rock, it's a shame Slowbone didn't do more moonlighting as the Rough Riders.

Still, we should be grateful that they left this pop nugget behind as it's a real killer, as is the slightly tougher, b-side, the Hart/Peters composition, "Do You See Me", which I have personally DJ'd at a psychedelic club night and it filled the dancefloor. Get yourself a copy while they're cheap!

Hot California Beach

The weekend's here we're gonna have some fun
We're gonna drive out west into the summer sun

They love to surf, they love to swim
They love to love at drive-ins
And they dance together on the sand together
And they walk together, hand in hand together
Yeah, the girls are great to meet on a hot California beach

The T-bird's ready and I'm on my way
The hallway's faster down to San Jose

They love to surf, they love to swim
They love to love at drive-ins
And they dance together on the sand together
And they walk together, hand in hand together
Yeah, the girls are great to meet on a hot California beach

When the sun goes down over Sunset Strip
I'm gonna find me a chick that loves to have some kicks

Friday, 13 June 2014

Steve & Stevie - Steve & Stevie (1968)

Steve & Stevie aka Steve Kipner and Steve Groves were an Australian popsike harmony duo who released their only album (under this name) on the small, Toast record label in the UK in 1968. As is the case with most Australian and New Zealand bands from the sixties, the sound is very British like. A good comparison would be Chad & Jeremy, although this is possibly a little more twee! After being on my record wants list for a good ten years, I was lucky to find a nice vinyl copy in my local charity shop for a jaw dropping £4.

Groves & Kipner circa 1968
The whole of this album consists of both of the Steve's Davey Jones-like, chipmunk voices harmonising over a heavily orchestrated backing, courtesy of Gerry Shury (Rubettes, John Bromley, Polly Brown) listed here as Jerry Shuri. If there was ever a record to "File under Fading Yellow" then this is it! If you like one song then you'll like them all. Production was handled by Steve Kipner's father Nat, who owned Oz record label Spin and is famous for signing the Bee Gees in 1966 and producing their single "Spicks and Specks".

The first two tracks on the album, "Merry Go Round" and "Remain To Be Seen" were tipped as a single by Toast in the UK but failed to chart. There is not a bad song on here and picking a favourite is hard, but if pressed I may choose the dancefloor friendly, funky piano pop of "Liza", which would have made a killer single or possibly the equally fab "Shine" with it's arpeggiated harpsichord, groovy bass line and kitchen sink orchestration that builds into crescendo of dramatic campness!

Following the failure of the LP, Kipner and Groves relocated to the UK in 1969 and under the guidance of Maurice Gibb, changed their name to Tin Tin, releasing a couple of killer albums for Polydor records. But that's a story that deserves it's own blog entry...

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Cowsills - On My Side (1971)

I'll start off by saying that On My Side by the Cowsills is one of my all time favourite albums. It is considered to be the work of a band who had just lost their main songwriter and are way past their prime. I couldn't disagree more. I'd say that it is their best album and I'd even go as far as saying (and you can quote me on this) that the first side of this album is as good as anything by the Beatles, Beach Boys, whoever. So yeah, I like it a lot!

The Cowsills are a bubblegum/harmony pop band from Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Formed in 1965 by brothers Bill, Bob and Barry Cowsill. By 1967 the line up had expanded to include two more brothers, John and Paul, a younger sister Susan and their mother Barbara. Their father Bud, managed the band and according to the killer and highly recommended documentary Family Band: The Cowsills Story, was a bit of a mean old swine. A good example of how cruel their old man was is that their was a sixth brother, Richard who was not allowed in the band, instead recommended him to join the army just as the Vietnam war was in full swing. Nice one, Bud!

After a couple of minor regional hit singles for the Philips record label in 1966 the band, whose siblings ages ranged between 8 and 19 were signed to MGM records and in 1967 had their first major success with the sunshine pop anthem "The Rain, The Park & Other Things" which just miss the top of the Billboard charts, peaking at number 2. The Cowsills remained on MGM until 1970, playing approximately 200 shows a year and racking up a good handful of minor hits, plus another single charting at number 2, their version of "Hair" taken from the hippy musical of the same name. The accompanying LP's are well worth checking out too. For a group that are not really considered a serious act (mostly down to the fact of their young age and lets face it, having your mum in the band will never be cool) this family more than their fair share of killer tunes. If you're thinking of checking the band out, a good place to start is Painting the Day: The Angelic Psychedelia of the Cowsills compilation CD on Cherry Red records.

In 1970 Bill was caught smoking a joint by his father and was swiftly booted out of the band. The Beach Boys offered Bill a job taking over for the newly retired Brian Wilson, which was rejected in favour of his own solo career which would last for a single LP, the very listenable "Neverous Breakthrough" released in 1971 on MGM.

With Bill out of the picture, Bob, Barry and Paul took over as songwriters for the band's final album proper. In the space of a year between "IIxII" and "On My Side" the band had really matured and the production and arrangements by Bob and Barry is phenomenal when you consider they were aged just 21 and 17 respectively. They even look pretty cool on the album sleeve. The album has always reminded me of the first Bread LP, only more laid back in a Crosby, Stills & Nash way and with better harmonies. I've said it before, you'll never beat a family with vocal harmonies! There's even some Mellotron on a couple of tracks. I could rave on all night about how great each track on the album is, but I know that if you like the music I put up on this blog then you'll dig this album for sure. So go and hunt a copy down online on eBay or Discogs or treat yourself to the Now Sounds CD reissue. You need to hear this album!

The band were halfway through their second album for London when they were dropped and consequently split. A partial reunion took place in 1978 and some recordings known as "Cocaine Drain" were made but would not be officially released until 2008. Barbara Cowsill passed away in 1985 and it was at her funeral that all of the Cowsill children would reunite for the first time and would continue to record music sporadically right up to the present. Sadly, in 2005 Barry Cowsill was found dead in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Just as tragic was Bill's death, on the same day as Barry's memorial service.

What I've written about above is just a fraction of the Cowsill's story. To find out more, check out the Family Band: The Cowsills Story DVD.

Friday, 23 May 2014

The Nashville Teens - Nashville Teens (New World) (1972)

The Nashville Teens hit their commercial peak with their debut single, the John D. Loudermilk penned "Tobacco Road" in 1964 on Decca Records, reaching number 6 in the UK charts. Their second single "Google Eye" release later that year would also rise to a respectable number 10. These records would do pretty well in the U.S too, prompting an LP release but oddly, not in the UK. The band continued to trudge through the 1960's with several flop singles, most of them in the beat style of the highest quality. The band never kept a steady line-up with the exception on singer Art Sharp, who stayed with the band from 1962 to 1972. This may be why Decca never offered the opportunity to record an album for the UK market.

An albums worth of material did turn up though, better late than never in 1972 on the budget label New World. "Nashville Teens" is a collection of some of the band's late sixties singles but also includes some killer unreleased psych, which I'm guessing was recorded at least a few years before it's release date. A few of these songs have appeared on compilations: "Widdicombe Fair" and "Ex Kay One LX" both on Incredible Sound Show Stories Volume 3 and "I'm A Lonely One" on Psychedelia Volume 4. One track which I'm surprised wasn't picked up by a comp is "Day & Night", a moody, heavy folk number which sounds like it could be straight off a soundtrack to an obscure British horror flick. A re-recording of "Tobacco Road" is on there too, although it's pretty similar to the original. With the exception of a couple of so-so blues songs, this is actually a really good compilation which highlights what a great band the Nashville Teens were and I'd imagine they were a killer live act too.

I'll leave you with the opening cut on the LP, the Randy Newman penned, Vic Smith produced "The Biggest Night Of Her Life", also recorded by Harper's Bizzare for their third album "The Secret Life Of...". Released by Decca in September 1967 as a single (backed with the equally ace "Last Minute") for me, is the band's champion song. A hard pop nugget with subtle psychedelic undertones. It should have been a massive hit.

The Nashville Teens - The Biggest Night Of Her Life
(Randy Newman)

Susie's going out tonight to her sixteenth birthday party 
Her shoes are pink, her dress is white 
And she's a beautiful sight to see 
And you can bet it will be the biggest night of her life 

Susie's got a boy she likes 
And his name is Tom Van Fleet 
Susie's parents think he's nice because his hair is always neat 
And you can bet it will be the biggest night of his life 

Two kids out dancing, having fun till the sun comes up 
In a high-school sweater and a paper hat 
What could be wrong with that? 

Susie's going out tonight to a promise she must keep 
She thought about it all last night 
And she was too excited to sleep 
And tonight's gonna be the biggest night of her life

Friday, 9 May 2014

Arthur's Mother - On The Dole (1971)

I'm not sure whether I should call "On The Dole" by Arthur's Mother a novelty record or not. It's not as downright cheesy as "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" by Middle Of The Road but it is very playful a'la "Pushbike Song" by the Mixtures. I'm also probably in the minority, even in obscure pop circles standards, who think that this is a great song. There's a bouncy, upbeat charm about this throwaway tune, released in March 1971, that I just can't resist and any song with the lyrics "kiss me on the helmet" gets a thumbs up from me! These sort of records, for now at least, seem to be ignored by the reissue market. Not psychedelic enough for Mixed Up Minds and too late for Piccadilly Sunshine comps. And so they wind up in an even more embarrassing place than a charity shop/car boot. A poorly written blog. Here!

The man behind Arthur's Mother, as it states on the song writing credit, is John Bryant and was released a year before his self titled solo album (of much more sophisticated songs), also on Polydor records, hit the shelves. Production is handled by Wayne Bickerton (World Of Oz, Giles, Giles & Fripp). A European picture sleeve for the single shows Bryant (top left) joined by a band who except from Mike Wedgewood (bottom right) are unknown to me. Anyone out there recognize them?

The single was a minor hit thanks to some substantial radio play and should be reasonably easy to track down for a cheap price. I should also point out that the b-side, a contrasting acoustic ballad entitled "Butterfly" is comparable to late sixties Bee Gees. One for the Fading Yellow heads.