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!

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

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...

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

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. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

Rick Jones - Twixt You And Me (1971)

Here's another record with children's television connections. British readers of a certain age will remember Rick Jones from Playschool and Fingerbobs, but I doubt that many will remember the Canadian's two solo albums. I've not heard the second of the two, "Hiya Maya" from 1972, but I do have in my possession his first, "Twixt You And Me". Released on Argo Records in 1971, it contains seven of Jones original compositions, six co-written with Jeffrey Alexander Ryan (Georgie Fame's sideman) and a couple of covers including a flute driven version of the Beatles' "Blackbird". The overall Soft Pop sound of the album will appeal to anyone who likes the first Peter Sarstedt LP. Don't get too excited though, it is by no means a classic, but within it's grand production, courtesy of Frederick Woods, are a few songs worth mentioning on this blog.

Rick Jones - Smell My Fingerbob
"Saskatchewan Sunrise" with it's ultra laid back vocal reminds me of Gerry Rafferty's early solo work. The similarly mellow "Mornin'" strolls along with a spring in it's step, a proper feel good song bringing to mind Kenny Rankin's "Peaceful". "The Child From The Future" is the real winner on here, written in the perspective of a child in the year 2023 where predictably, the planet is left in a bit of a shit hole. It's the closest on the album that we come to rocking out (in a Sandie Shaw, Reviewing The Situation kind of way!) with some swirling Hammond organ and wailing fuzz guitar solo, both low in the mix, naturally!

Because of it's general rarity and nice psychedelic sleeve, eBay sellers might try to fool you into thinking this is an acid folk or a lost stoner psych classic. That's not to say Jones wasn't stoned when he made it! What it is, is pure Soft Pop! Keep your eye out for it in the charity shops and car boots. Dig...

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Joshua - The Automatic Camel (1971)

My friend Stuart gave me this single a couple of weeks ago, "Here, you'll like this" he said. Not only do I love it, but its been on my wants list for a little while now. I'm a sucker for children's television theme tunes from the 1970's and this piano instrumental song ,"The Automatic Camel" by Joshua (aka Joe Griffiths) was used as the backing tack for the music on the UK animated kids show, "Chorlton and the Wheelies", which ran for 40 episodes between 1976 and 1979. This type of music always reminds me of the more playful side of the Beatles, much like the whole Popsike genre. The b-side "Mr Cuffling's Cake-Walk" is equally as enjoyable as the flip.

From the 7" promo sleeve - Joe Griffiths?
I cant find a lot of information about Joe Griffiths, but the connection with producer Harold Franz links them to at least two more single releases under different names.

Independant Operator b/w Share My Caravan as Joe Griffiths (Philips 1970)
Love Is Love, Is Love b/w All You Have To Do Is Say Hello as Umbrella (RCA 1972)

...anyone heard these?

So, a bit of a fun tune for this Easter holiday. I hope you enjoy...