Monday, 24 December 2012

Rupert Holmes - Perfect Tree (1980)

Here's a nice tune I heard a few Christmases ago whilst on a nostalgia trip, revisiting kids Christmas television specials of my youth. "Perfect Tree" by Rupert Holmes, the same bloke you had a hit with "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)", was written for and included in The Christmas Raccoons, a Canadian cartoon, originally aired in 1980 as the first of four seasonal episodes before being turned into a regular show running for 60 episodes between 1985 and 1991. The song, a real McCartney-esque piano pop number, fits the scene perfectly, where the two kids stumble upon a ready chopped evergreen conifer and decide to take it home on the back of Schaeffer the dog. A soundtrack LP called "Lake Freeze" exists but I've never seen one and is apparently a bit of a rarity. Anyway, enough of my yakkin', Merry Christmas.....

...and you can watch the full episode here if you're a saddo like me!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Buckwheat - Pure Buckwheat Honey (1969)

I have to admit to not really liking this album very much when I first heard it a few years ago, but repeated listens paid off and I now rate it as one of the best US popsike records of the era, a record with a strong UK influence, mainly The Beatles' Sgt Pepper album resulting in what could be described as the Monkees covering the Idle Race or more specifically, Davy Jones singing with that odd vocal warble of Jeff Lynne's early days. If that sounds like your bag, read on.

Buckwheat were formed by Tim Harrison, aka Tim Dulaine who had moved to New York City from Houston, Texas in 1966 with a band called The Clouds who'd recently had a regional hit single, a "Jeannie" on Kidd Records, but split when members of the band joined pre fame Jimi Hendrix's band, Jimmy James & The Blue Flames. Dulaine went solo for a short while and was spotted busking one day by A&R man and future synthesizer pioneer, Robert Margouleff who got him a screen test for ABC television studios. Margouleff recommended Dulaine to go away and practise for a while and six months later he returned playing keyboards, guitar and vocals with a new band, Buckwheat with ex member of the Clouds, Danny Casey on drums and backing vocals along with Charlie Bell on bass guitar/vocals and John Govro on guitar/vocals. Margouleff was impressed with Buckwheat and agree to manage them, resulting in a successful six week residency at the notorious Cafe Wha? club in Manhattan, which led to a record deal with Super K records, a short lived subsidiary of Jeffrey Katz and Jerry Kasenetz's Buddah label.

Buckwheat - 1969
The album, "Pure Buckwheat Honey" was recorded at Broadway Recording Studios, New York, produced by Robert Margouleff and coordinated by Fran White. Opening track "Yes" is a bubble pop gem, with it's guitar riff stolen from "Pleasant Valley Sunday" an unashamedly positive chorus lyrics "Yes we love you more than you will know, Yes our love will grow and grow". "Radio" sees the band going all vaudeville, blame "When I'm 64" for this if you will, but I find it hard to dislike such a happy tune. I've played this song back to back with the Electric Light Orchestra's "Mr Radio" and the similarities are uncanny, especially the vocals. "Mr Simm's Collector Man" again steals from Sgt Pepper, this time McCartney's middle section of "A Day In The Life". Some cool banjo and fiddle playing on "The Albert Hotel" which has a distinctively Headquarters feel about it. "Sunshine Holiday" sounds like it was produced by Roy Wood circa 1968. The orchestrations on this album were scored by John Corigliano, conductor of the Manhattan Philharmonic and adds an air of class which makes this record stand out from the other bubblegum records of the era. "Goodbye Mr. Applegate" is a groovy Beatlesque rocker that would fit nicely in place on the Merry Go Round album.

Side two of Pure Buckwheat Honey continues the upbeat vibe of it's flip (these really were a happy bunch of guys) "Don't You Think It Would Be Better" is one minute and forty four seconds of pure sunshine pop with guitar parts imitating George Harrison's fret work on Revolver. "Purple Ribbons" is the closest this album gets to a ballad, a bit like "Penny Lane" minus a decent chorus. "Wonderful Day" is a great example of Bubblegum meeting early Power Pop, I can imagine the band playing this one live and sharing a shake of their heads for the closing chord, a C7, natch! The title track, album closer is the most ambitious song of all,  its slowed down "Lady Madonna" riff, speed changes and excessive use of ba-ba's, oh oh's, wahoo's and tit tit's should charm the pants off the most critical music fans out there. I'm not sure why I rejected this album for so long as it's one of my favourites now and a regular spin at chez Gough.

Buckwheat continued as a touring band, occasionally performing gigs pretending to be other hit bands until their split in 1971. Tim Dulaine went on to join Stray Dog, writing and singing on most of their second album "While You're Down There". His biggest success came in 1975 when his song "Circles" was included on the Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan album.

Another band called Buckwheat existed from 1971 to 1973 but have no connection to this band despite them sharing the same entry on Rate Your Music.

Also check out Tom Dulaine's website here for his interesting memoirs.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Blue Mink - Wacky, Wacky, Wacky (YouTube)

Dancers such as Pan's People and Legs & Co were usually on reserve when a band couldn't appear on Top Of The Pops or in this case, if the band were a bunch of ugly bastards (Madeline Bell not included), just to make things a little easier on the eye. This cool clip of Blue Mink playing Wacky, Wacky, Wacky in 1972 is one that I particularly enjoy and keep coming back to. This song is also included on the recent Bite It Deep Mix Volume 7.

Dig that tuba!!!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Bite It Deep Volume 7

Here's volume seven


Hudson Ford - Crying Blues
The Humblebums - Shoeshine Boy
Orphan - It's A Good Day
Mike McGear -  Leave It
Zuider Zee - Magic Fingers
Lynsey De Paul - Sugar Me
Osmonds - Movie Man
Christie - Everything's Gonna Be Alright
Barron Knights - To The Woods
Blue Mink - Wacky, Wacky, Wacky
Jawbone - How's Ya Pa
Grumbleweeds - Fiona McLaughlin
Indelible Murtceps - Be My Honey
Elmer Goodbody Jr - Do Ya

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Brian Protheroe (1974-1976)

Brian Protheroe's music career started in 1963 when he joined Roger Hicks and Bill Thacker in a folk trio named Folk Blues Incorporated (FBI). Around 1965 the group moved to London, where they were playing regular gigs at folk clubs such as Les Cousins in Greek Street and The Troubadour in Earls Court. Following his brief stint as a folkie, Protheroe spent the next seven years as an actor in the theatre, but he continued to write music in his spare time and even joined the Albion Band on Hohner Clavinet for a short time in 1970.

In 1973, Protheroe was playing the part of a pop singer in Death On Demand, a play in which he would perform some of his own compositions and it was during this time that he was spotted by a representative from Chrysalis Records who would sign him up for three albums over the next three years.

Brian Protheroe
"Pinball" was the first single to be released by Protheroe for Chrysalis in July 1974, entering the UK charts at number 40 before peaking at 22 gaining him his first and only hit record. The song was included on Sean Rowley's "Guilty Pleasures" compilation album back in 2004 which led to renewed interest and eventually saw his back catalogue being remastered and reissued on CD. The album that followed the single, also called "Pinball", followed. A nice album full of jazzy pop with with plenty of Protheroe's scat vocals scattered(!) across the thirteen tracks. The album is good and has it's better moments, "Mickey Dollar Dreams" has some neat backwards reverb and "Goodbye Surprise" rivals the album's title track with it's cool moodiness but would have been better off without the cheesy brass parts. On the whole the album sounds like a Jazz-light version of Bowie's "Hunky Dory". Good, but not essential.

For me, the best song on the album (and Protheroe's best tune) is "Fly Now" which was the second single, released in early 1975 backed with "Clog Dancer" (also on the LP). "Fly Now" borrows a bit of piano from Lynsey De Paul's "Sugar Me" and grooves like McCartney's "Monkberry Moon Delight", bouncing along for a modest two minutes and twenty seconds. This should've been a big hit but failed to make an impression on the charts and ending up in the bargain bins across the country.

1975 saw the release of a second album "Pick Up", a less jazzy affair than the debut and sounds like a cross between mid 70's Elton John and Bill Joel. This is my favourite of the three Brian Protheroe albums and contain a couple of his best compositions, "Gertrude's Garden Hospital" a Gilbert O'Sullivan-esque tune (any song that ends with the line "Shut ya gob!" is fine by me) and "Good Brand Band", which was his final single released by Chrysalis.

"You/I" was Protheroe's third and final album and he went all out with some epic production and lengthier songs, four of the ten tracks exceed the five minute mark and sounding a lot like Christopher Rainbow in places. "Every Roman Knows" has always reminded me of a Pilot song but I can't think which one. "Under The Greenwood Tree" is a great folk track with flute and features a guest appearance from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, a nice song but sounding a bit out of place on here. Album closer "Face And I" is a big ballad with Abbey Road guitar lines and a grand exit to his music career. Quite possibly, Brian had had enough of the music business rather than the music business having enough of Brian by 1976 and following the "You/I" album he returned to the stage where he remains to this day.

I'd featured Brian Protheroe's "Fly Now" on my 3rd Bite It Deep mix back in July, but here it is again. Diggg...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Eddie Addenberry - Captain Jones (1972)

Now here's a pop obscurity so melodic you'd be forgiven for thinking it was Mike Batt under an alias.  Eddie Addenberry (real name Eddie Adamberry) penned his fair share of pop tunes during the 1970's along with songwriting partner Tony Craig, but they never did score the big hit they deserved.

'Captain Jones' is a killer slice of toytown pop with lush early seventies production provided by Mike Batt. With some tasteful phasing in the choruses, ever so faint fuzz guitar buzzing away in the background and ELO-esque orchestration. It was recorded at Lansdowne Studios, London and was backed by the prime session men of the day, Chris Spedding, Ray Cooper, Herbie Flowers and Clem Cattini to name a few. I first heard this on a home made compilation called 'Famous Like My Dad - An Intended Tribute To 1970's UK Males' which was put on the It's Psych forum (whatever happened to It's Psych?) a few years back and has since been officially comped on the equally fab 'Tea & Symphony' CD. Strangely, both comps credit the song to 'Eddie Addenbury', just to make things even more confusing. I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of the single at the bargain price of £1 a couple of months ago and excitedly flipped the disc over to reveal another great Adamberry/Craig composition 'The Land of Milk and Honey', not quite as good as the A side, but a nice melodic tune nonetheless.

Eddie Adamberry
According to Tony Craig's website the single received some Radio 1 airplay at the time, notably on Tony Blackburn's breakfast show but failed to impress the listening public who much preferred Gilbert O'Sullivan's Clair which was number one at the time. Adamberry and Craig continue to write and record to this day and I recommend you to check out their website here as there are plenty more pop nuggets for you to discover, many dating back to the early seventies.

For now though, dig this...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bite It Deep - 1st Birthday Mix

Almost forgot to celebrate the first year of this blog!

Here's every song featured on this blog so far all in one 90 minute mix.


Hudson Brothers - Be A Man
Wolfe - Bite It Deep
Red Herring - Working Class Man
Chaos - Dance Dance Dance
Jamme - She Sits There
Sweet - Paperback Writer
NRBQ - That's Alright
Zuider Zee - Listen To The Words
Smyle - I'm So Heavy
Starry Eyed & Laughing - Closer To You Now
Sleepy Hollow - One Time
Gerry Morris - Only The Beginning
DBM&T - She Was A Raver
Tranquility - Nice And Easy
Junior Campbell - If I Call Your Name
Flame - Don't Worry Bill
Stackridge - Marigold Conjunction
Grumbleweeds - Never Before
Nicky Hopkins - Waiting For The Band
Jigsaw - No Questions Asked
Space Opera - Outlines
Nick Garrie - Little Bird
Remo Four - In The First Place
Elli - You've Only To Say
Telltale - Rainbow
Liverpool Echo - You Might As Well Surrender
Kit Russell - Peppers Last Stand
Barron Knights - To The Woods

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Barron Knights - One Man's Meat (1972)

The Barron Knights are known to most as a parody band. They had a number of hit singles between the 1960's and 1980's, their biggest hit being, "A Taste Of Aggro" from 1978, a song which parodies The Smurfs, Boney M and Brian & Michael's "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs". It is not well known though that they started out as a straight pop in the early sixties group before becoming successful as a comedy act. In the early seventies, after a few years of little success, the Barron Knights decided to go straight again, releasing their pièce de résistance, the self produced, "One Man's Meat" on Penny Farthing records in 1972.

Nine of the Ten songs on the album are original compositions, penned by band members Peter Langford and Leslie "Butch" Baker.  Recorded at MorganRecorded Sound and Beck Studios, the album wears it's influences on it's sleeve and you can hear echoes of The Beatles, David Bowie, The Sweet and Badfinger. I promise, I'm not making this up!

The album opener and lead single, "You're All I Need" starts off with tribal drums and fuzz guitar and can be heard on the Electric Asylum Volume Three compilation. "Before You Leave" sounds like David Bowie doing Abbey Road with its George Harrison-esque slide guitar and might have been a better choice of single. "Bottle On The Shelf" is a prime Badfinger singalong with the band doing their best Lennon impressions. The orchestrated ballad, "Lonely" sounds almost like the Bee Gees but without the billy goat vocals. "You Know What I Mean" contains hints of psychedelia with it's church organ and dreamy vocals, it also has my favourite lyric on the album, "She may be a trifle small but I don't care at all, just take a look at her teeth".  

(L-R)  Duke D'Mond,  Dave Ballinger,  Peter Langford,  Butch Baker,  Anthony Osmond
Side two begins with a better than the original version of Hurricane Smith's "Don't Let It Die", a tune that Smith wrote, hoping that would be recorded by John Lennon. "Turning My Back On You" is a dead ringer for the Sweet circa 1972. I wonder if Noel Gallagher has ever heard "Oh Little Girl"? as it sounds remarkably like Oasis' "All Around The World". I'm a total sucker for a Beatlesque tune, especially one with hand claps, like "To The Woods", the album highlight and worth the price of the album alone. The LP closes with the Pete Ham styled piano ballad "Peaceful Life" and rounds off the perfect ten out of ten album and fades out to the lyrics "I'm not gonna pack my bags, I ain't gonna pack my bags"

This album really is a genuine killer and if it was by any other band it would be considered a lost masterpiece by the rock press. Having searched the web for info on this album it appears that little has even been written about "One Man's Meat" in the blogosphere with the exception of The Downstairs Lounge, a site dedicated to novelty records. So grab yourself a copy of this album straight away. If you're lucky one might turn up at your towns charity shop, I cheated and got my copy from ebay!

Also worth mentioning is "Nothin' Doin'", the b-side to "You're All I Need" which is bouncy piano pop reminiscent of Macca at his most playful.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Last weekend I found myself behind the wheel (yes, just the one) of steel.  A friend of mine was running a vintage fair, required some suitable music for the event and for some reason asked me to provide it.  A five hour session spinning retro tunes was not far off what I'd be doing on a Saturday afternoon anyway so I obliged and was set up in the corner of a primary school hall to blast out some popsike, toytown, power pop and some Beatlesque faves at a reasonable volume. I got to meet some interesting characters who live in the area ranging from some old bloke who upon hearing the Moody Blues made a beeline towards me to tell me the usual "You can't beat the sound of vinyl can ya?" right down to a toddler who seemed hypnotized by the spinning vinyl on the deck. I'm glad I brought along a ten minute version of the Beach Boys, Heroes and Villains Suite as it gave me plenty of time for a toilet break and a stretch of the legs.

Highlights from the day included...

Slade - Martha My Dear
The Californians - Congratulations
Fenwyck - Mindrocker
Ronnie Burns - Coalman
Merry Go Round - Listen, Listen

...and of course "Tonight" by New Kids on the Block. A Junipers favourite!

I'm hoping to get the vinyl out again soon, maybe start a Bite It Deep club night or even as part of the Junipers' gigs with some help from the other lads. Watch this space.

Bite It Deep Mixes on iTunes

From now on, as well as being able to listen to these mixes on Mixcloud you can also get them from iTunes.  Just go to the iTunes Store, Podcast section and search "Bite It Deep".  You can subscribe and all future mixes will be automatically downloaded to your PC/Mac/iPhone/iPad/iPod etc.

Apple made this process of uploading a podcast as hard as they could. It took me a good evening to get these up, so gimme some good ratings please!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Kit Russell - Pepper's Last Stand (1973)

Every year for my best pal Joe's birthday, I make him a mix cd.  We've been friends for donkeys years and share a very similar taste in music. We meet up, at the Junipers' studio at least once a week and in between rehearsing/jamming/laughing with the other lads, we'll chat about our latest musical discoveries. Well, I had to keep quiet about this one for a good six months, not wanting to spoil the surprise for his birthday mix. July came and I got give him his present and he loved it, natch! We're both amazed that this one has slipped under the radar for so long.

Kit Russell was actually Charles Gilesnan (never heard of him either!) and had put out another excellent and unknown/uncomped single under the name Charlie on the tiny Bumble record label in 1972. "Dream Hero" is a nice, floating, orchestrated pop tune sort of like a laid back Gilbert O'Sullivan. The Kit Russell single, released on Deram in August 1973 is Charles' nugget though. "Pepper's Last Stand" is a genuine killer with it's Moog synth intro, Abbey Road drums and Beatles references in the lyrics. When the word gets out about this one, I can see it selling for bison dollar on ebay.  I'm just glad I got my own copy. On the down side, "Shuffle Back", the B-side, is a steaming pile of poo.

Pepper's Last Stand - Lyrics

I'm writing a sad song
It don't seem to last long
Lasting one minute it seems
If it were a fast song
It'll last even less long
I guess I'll just write about dreams

I'll write about Snoopy
Or maybe about Lucy
The girl with the tangerine eyes
They've sung her before
Perhaps they may want more
Of acid and diamonds in skies

Listening to Beatles I'm much better off without songs that I write about me
Sometimes when Paul sings I'm dreaming of something like wearing my own M.B.E.

And when I have ended
with no one offended
I'll listen to some other boys
Like Simon, Garfunkel or Melanie's uncle
Then tune in and turn off the noise

I've got a sentence that rhymes
And when I have spoke it
I know someone wrote it before
But I hope they won't mind

Listening to Beatles I'm much better off without songs that I write about me
Sometimes when Paul sings I'm dreaming of something like wearing my own M.B.E.

And when I have ended
with no one offended
I'll listen to some other boys
Like Simon, Garfunkel or Melanie's uncle
Then tune in and turn off the noise
Then tune in and turn off the noise
Then tune in and turn off the noise

Friday, 19 October 2012

Bite It Deep Volume 6 (Mixcloud)

Volume 6

Chas Mills And Mark Wirtz - What's Good For The Goose
The Jackpots - Jack In The Box
Omnibus - Somebody's Watching You
David Explosion - Mister Hardy
The Searchers - Desdemona
Bloom - Don't Break This Heart
Second Hand - Good Old '59
Music Motor - Where Am I Going
The Majority - Our Love Will Be So Strong
John Kongos - Flim, Flam Pharisee
Kajanus & Pickett - Flying Machine
Keith West - Wherever My Love Goes
Sleepy Hollow - I Surrender
Stained Glass - Mediocre Me
Wolfe - Tale Of Two Cities
Barnaby Bye - The Way

Friday, 12 October 2012

Liverpool Echo - S/T (1973)

In the early 1970's the Beatles influence was present in the sound of many popular bands.  Smyle, We All Together, The Tremeloes, Stackridge, Emitt Rhodes etc, all made great records with obvious nods to the Fab Four but one band that really stand out are The Liverpool Echo, a band whose one and only LP, on Spark records sounds more like a tribute to the Beatles rather than a Beatles influenced album. But where as the mentioned bands' Beatles sound are like continuations from Abbey Road or Let It Be, Liverpool Echo looked towards their more energetic and live sound Please Please Me and the Merseybeat era  for inspiration. Rockin' Horse had tried a similar act a few years earlier in 1970 but failed to grab the public's attention. So, in 1973 were the music buyers finally ready for the Beatlesque, Liverpool Echo? No! And so we are left with another lost classic, an under appreciated pop nugget, a perfect entry for this blog!

The roots of Liverpool Echo can be traced back to East London, UK where school friends Martin Briley and Brian Engel formed the psychedelic quintet, the Mandrake Paddle Steamer with the help of Martin Hooker (organ), Paul Riordan (bass, vocals) and Barry Nightingale (drums). Two heavy psych singles were released on Parlophone during 1969:  "Strange Walking Man" b/w "Steam" and "Sunlight Glide" b/w "Len" (a Sweden only single). A regular gigging band, playing with the likes of The Who, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple to name a few lasted until 1970 when Briley ran out of steam and left the band to become a graphic designer.

Mandrake Paddle Steamer
Brian Engel continued writing musical scores, attracting the attention of George Martin who suggested him to bring back old band mate Briley to provide some lyrics. The duo recorded an albums worth of originals material at Martin's AIR studios, which remained unreleased until recent years aside from the singles: "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" b/w "Jaywick Cowboy" as Corn & Seed Merchants and the excellent "Pale Green (hmmmm) Driving Man" again b/w "Jaywick Cowboy" under the name Prowler. The songs from these sessions were eventually released by RPM records in 2007 as "Between the Sky and the Sea" by Briley & Engel.

Following the AIR sessions Briley and Engel made friends with Andrew Pryce Jackman (ex-The Syn) who was conducting orchestras at the time and the three of them came up with the idea to record an album of "proper songs".  The new band name, Liverpool Echo, was also the name of a newspaper and was a concious link to the Beatles, even the album sleeve is a front page article from 1963 of a Beatles news story. They employed the now legendary session musicians Clem Cattini (drums) and Herbie Flowers (bass) for the recording sessions which also included Jackman on keys and production duties and Briley and Engel sharing guitar and vocals. The recording sessions were quick with most tracks captured on the first or second take. The simplicity and rawness of the songs is a perfect antidote to the overgrown, seriousness of the Prog Rock of the time, much like the emerging Pub Rock scene.

Briley & Engel
The album was released in 1973 by Spark Records who unsurprisingly had no idea how to market the band and many believe that the few copies that were sold were probably people thinking they were buying a Beatles album.  The band we're paid £25 for their efforts and the records sunk into obscurity.  The failure of the records success prevented  Briley and Engel from turning Liverpool Echo into a live gigging band and it's legacy remains only on vinyl grooves.

The duo continued to write together for a short while, putting out the odd singles as True Adventure, Starbuck and Slick Willie (check out "Side Walk Surfing Skate Boarding" Birthday-esque?) and eventually drifted apart. Brian Engel went on to form country rockers, Limey and then Joined the New Seekers.  Martin Briley had a succesful solo career in the 1980's and now works  for Paul McCartney's MPL Communications Organisation and has written songs for N'SYNC, Celine Dion and Michael Bolton to name a few.

Mr Blue Sky - The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO

Last Friday BBC4 played Mr Blue Sky - The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO and what an ace documentary it was. Lynne came across as a humble, down to earth decent kind of bloke, just as you'd expect. Great old clips and new interviews with Macca, Ringo and Tom Petty. Check it out on the BBC iPlayer while you can here.

The Electric Light Orchestra are my Dad's all time fave band and were the soundtrack to many a car journey while growing up.  I heard Jeff Lynne's new album "Long Wave" yesterday and it's pretty good. 

I wonder if the BBC are planning a documentary on Roy Wood? The radio doc, Record Producers - Roy Wood (2 hour long extended cut) is well worth tracking down. Originally aired on 6Music a couple of years ago and was a real treat. I'm sure it can be downloaded somewhere on the net.

Here's Jeff & Roy together in the Move in 1972 with a killer studio performance of "California Man".  I can watch this over and over...

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Greg Shaw on Powerpop (Bomp magazine - Feb 1978)

I've never been able to explain what Power Pop is.  I've always found it hard to describe the one of my favourite genres of music, instead I'd just play "No Matter What" by Badfinger or "See The Light" by The Flame and say "That's Power Pop!"  Well, I was reading the Bomp: Saving The World One Record At A Time book the other week and Greg Shaw explains it a million times better than I could ever dream of, tracing it's history via Mod in the UK and Garage Punk in the US and heaping the praise on one of the ultimate bands of the genre, the Raspberries.

Originally printed in Bomp magazine, February 1978, take it away Greg...

Powerpop Past

Powerpop (or Mod-rock as it was once called) thus began with the Who and was in fact pretty much a British phenomenon all the way.  Australia was a strong outpost with the Easybeats, Masters Apprentices and others, and with the Tages in Sweden, the Wizards in Norway etc, it had it's exponents everywhere. But as a movement we need look no further than London's West End for the core.

Most youths of 64-65 had a sound we'd call more-or-less Powerpop. The Small Faces, Eyes, Sorrows, even the Troggs and somewhat later, when Mod emerged for a magical moment with flower power, a second peak period that gave us the Smoke, Jason Crest, Wimple Winch, the Attack, the Syn, the Move, the Idle Race, Johns Children, the Herd and the band that has become one of the legendary names, Creation. Another Shel Talmy production, they had only a few first rate songs, but those were the epitome of Powerpop.

In America, without the social force of youth culture behind it, Mod music was heard out of context and never much of an influence except among those dedicated bands who read the British papers and longed to be Mods themselves (not unlike American punk fans today - Mod was after all the social and cultural equivalent of the current punk scene, if we care to draw that parallel ). The American reaction to British rock was first-wave punk rock, a style better suited to conditions here, although a number of would-be Mod bands came in with a punk scene. Groups like the Litter, the Ugly Ducklings, the British Modbeats, the Choir, the Clefs of Lavender Hill, Chessman Square and to promote Mod aesthetic in their mostly Midwestern locales, but since none managed to bring home a national hit record, they were lost in the ongoing mayhem of the times.

By the late 60's, the pop climate that supported Mod had disintegrated. Powerful guitar music  was confined to hard rock and both the trend-setting audiences and the musicians they produced lost all respect for pop as a result of the 'underground' movement. The result was that pop and rock went their separate ways. This divorce was doubly tragic: rock lost it's magic and pop lost the force of youth culture that had made it exciting. Pop music was now a studio product; at its best, with American bubblegum (Tommy James, et al) and British art-pop (Flowerpot Men, etc) it was marvelous stuff that the fans weaned on mid-60's mania often preferred to the formless, excessive rock that was the alternative. But the bands behind these records rarely even existed outside the studio and in most cases it was producers who proved the creative force, with musicians existing in its own artistic vacuum. Teen anthems were out of the question.

It's singularly important, in attempting to follow the thread of Powerpop over the years, that we clearly distinguish it from its closely related form, pop-rock. Pop-rock goes back to the Zombies, Hollies, Searchers, etc and while these groups often ventured into hard rock, the foundation is pure pop and the sphere of pop-rock encompasses all varieties of soft rock stretching back to the blandest inanities of Gilbert O'Sullivan or Hamilton, Joe Frank etc.

Since pop-rock is by nature commercial, it's always been around and in the hands of this or that exceptional group, sometimes approached the splendor of Powerpop. There was a period in the early 70's when so many musicians turned against the vapidity of mainstream rock that it seemed a kind of spontaneous Pop Revival was taking place. We had a wealth of records that were, if not Powerpop, the certainly powerful pop-rock: "Do Ya", "Tonight", "Chinatown" by the Move, "Baby Blue" and others by Badfinger, "Love is in Motion" and "Darling" by Stories,  "Rendezvous" by the Hudson Brothers, "September Gurls" by Big Star, "Long Cool Woman" by the Hollies, "Good Grief Christina" by Chicory Tip, "Tennessee Woman" by the Nashville Teens, "Some Sing, Some Dance" by Pagliaro, "Orbit" by Thundermug, "Natural Man", by Marcus Hook, records by Blue Ash, Circus, Pony, Vance Or Towers and dozens more.  All of them great, some classic hard-rocking pop records.

The only problem was these records either became hits and sold to the AM radio masses, or more often they stiffed and were never heard. The groups themselves rarely had local audience support and the worldwide cult audience wasn't yet sufficiently organized to give them foundation and inpsiration for continued effort.

Powerpop Supreme

The one Pop Revival band that could really have done it was the Raspberries. What a perfect band! Their roots went back to bands like the Choir and Cyrus Erie who'd been championing mod music since 1965.

Their first four records were smash teen hits, entrenching the Raspberries in AM radio and the teen mags. They were beloved by the press and the cult rock audience of the time, even if neither of these factions was then potent enough to give more than encouragement. Most of all, they made the best damn records I'd heard since 1967.

The Raspberries were the essence of Powerpop, more than the Who or any of their prototypes. On their best records, every nuance, every tiny bit was flawlessly designed to create an overall impact that's never been matched. The reason: Eric Carmen had studies and distilled into the group everything that was great in his personal idols, not just the Who but the Beatles, Lesley Gore, the Beach Boys, Tommy James and more. Records Like "Go All The Way", "Tonight", "Ecstacy", "I Wanna Be With You" and "Let's Pretend" illustrate the Powerpop ideal: pop beyond question, dealing with themes of innocence and teenage romance, without schmaltz, with the power of pure rock & roll giving force to the emotions being conveyed. All the dreams and frustrations and urgent desires of teenage emotion are captured in those records as never before or since.

Whatever the reasons they didn't, if the Raspberries had become phenomenally big, who's to say what might've followed in their wake. They represented a growing movement that needed only a catalyst to take off. In Cleveland and other Midwestern cities, whole echelons of similarly-minded bands were working the club circuits, many issuing private records in anticipation of the New Wave, with the support of local press and radio. The possibilities of Cleveland as a "New Liverpool" were, for a time, very real.

The spirit of Powerpop lived in the Pop Revival and was exalted in the music of the Raspberries. Meanwhile, back in England where its genesis lay, it had taken different shape in the Glitter trend. Suffice to say that the form and a great deal of the sound by which we identify Powerpop were successfully recreated in the laboratories of producers like Chinn & Chapman, Phil Wainman, Mickie Most and with a more than implicit nod to Mod (Bowie's Pinups) along with the refreshing outburst of teen mania that accompanied the doings of all these acts,  the exposion of records and teen magazines and all the rest, it looked on the surface that it was "all coming back" at last.

There were two things wrong, however. First , America was having none of it. Too many damaged brains still preferred boogie bludgeoning to pop power, and the pop spirit of the time was grafted onto the same old music with the glittery costumes of Edgar Winter et al. Most of the best glitter bands stiffed completely in the US and this fact proved fatal to the movement. Equally fatal was the fact that this music, still, belonged to the producers and and string-pullers. It was no real movement at all, but an artificially created trend exactly analogous to the Kasanetz-Katz era of bubblegum. The musicians had no roots in their audience and the audience itself had no identity or pop culture of its own from which to produce musicians. Glitter fashion consisted of elaborate, expensive stage costumes. Nothing a kid could improvise or create.

The thrust of glitter was in the right direction and most of the records, as pieces of plastic, stand on their own, but without the connection to a healthy pop culture, it wasn't Powerpop in the sense we aspire to.

Excerpt taken from Bomp: Saving The World One Record At A Time by Suzy Shaw and Mick Farren. Available to buy here.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Telltale - Rainbow (1973)

Telltale were the house band for 70's & 80's children's television show Rainbow.  The show, my favourite as a kid, was based around a camp bear called Bungle, a pink, gay hippo called George and Zippy, a loud mouthed, anarchistic baked bean/rugby ball/snake?  The three of them lived (and slept!) together in a multicoloured house and were looked after by Geoffrey, an all round nice bloke who took all sorts of shit from them but always kept his cool.  Each episode featured a song by Telltale and in 1973 an LP was released on the budget record label, Music For Pleasure, produced by Anton Kwiatkowski and included fourteen original songs in a light folk pop, nursery rhyme style.

The album has its fair share of cool tracks. "Up and Down" sounds a bit like Tranquility with its laid back piano and killer harmonies. "Autumn's Really Here" is prime seventies folk on par with anything Fairport Convention were putting out at the time.  The real killer though is "Rainbow", the shows theme tune.  We only got to hear the first verse of the song as the show's opening credits but the album and single version also released in 1973 lets us hear the song in full and what a treat it is.  I first played it to my mates in The Junipers on a mix cd I'd made for a journey to a gig.  They all loved it and kept hitting the back button for repeated listens.  I think we even made an attempt at playing it the studio once too!

Telltale performing "Shapes" on Rainbow in 1972
Here's a bit about Telltale from the album liner notes.

The idea for Telltale began while Tim Thomas and Hugh Portnow were working for the Freehold Theatre Company. Tim moved on in 1970 to concentrate on forming a group of first class musicians and actors and Hugh joined him a year later. With the arrival on the scene of Hugh Fraser, Chris Ashley and Fluff Joinson, Telltale was fast becoming a reality and it became complete with the addition of Ted Richards

(Fraser, Portnow, Thomas)

Up above the streets and houses
Rainbow climbing high
Everyone can see it smiling over the sky
Paint the whole world with a Rainbow

All along the the streams and rivers
shining in the lakes
See the colours of the Rainbow as the morning breaks
Paint the whole world with a Rainbow

Red, the colour of a sunrise
White clouds floating in a sky of blue
Green for the rivers
Gold for the cornfields
The day is shining new

Red, the colour of a sunset
Grey shadows creep across the hills
The sun is sinking, colours are fading
The fields are dark and still

Take some green from a forest
Blue from the sea
Find the misty pot of gold
And mix them for a week
Paint the whole world with a Rainbow

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Bite It Deep Volume 5 - Top of the Pops Special (Mixcloud)

Every record collector in the UK will have flicked past their fair share of Top of the Pops albums while at a car boot sale or charity shop.  This series of albums, 92 in total not including countless spin-offs, ran from 1968 to 1985 on the Hallmark record label who would release six or seven of these a year and would feature cover versions of the current pop hits.  The quality of the music often reflected the time the session musician were allocated in the studio.  Regular vocalist Tony Rivers (ex Harmony Grass) once stated that "Quite often than not, you had to do three songs in three hours then you were out of there".  Billy Kinsley (Merseybeats, Merseys, Rockin' Horse, Liverpool Express) said that sometimes he'd have the time it took his train journey to the studio to learn the song.  The public didn't mind the inferior versions and thanks to its budget price and sexy bird on the cover, it sold by the shit load, regularly topping the album charts in the early 1970's before being made ineligible.

For a long while the albums were written off  by collectors, even Oxfam refused to stock them, but they are now being accepted for their kitschyness.  Mojo magazine inlcluded an article about the series a few years back and there are many websites celebrating the world of Top of the Pops records and other budget albums. I even saw one of the rarer ones selling for £10 on ebay the other day! 

And so I present to you, Bite It Deep's own budget record. A tribute to cheapo records.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Beatlealikes (Twitter)

A few of my fellow Junipers and I have set up a Twitter account to celebrate all things Beatlesque.  The aim is to provide Beatles fanatics with songs that resemble the fab four.  Some obscure, some not so obscure but all ace!  So if you've worn out your Beatles albums, want more of the same (or similar) and have a Twitter account, be sure to follow us and join in the fun.

You can follow The Junipers too, if you wish.  Plug, plug plug!!!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Elli (aka Elli Meyer)

Elli Meyer was born in in 1946 in Calcutta, India and moved to London, England in the late 1950's.  After holding down a job as a painter/decorator for a few years he swapped the paintbrush for a microphone after getting compliments on his fine singing voice.  Meyer found himself singing in several beat bands in the early/mid sixties including The Eagles (UK), The Nutrons and The Madhatters with whom he would provide the support to acts like PJ Proby, The Honeycombs and The Moody Blues.

After a brief stint with The Infernos, replacing Troy Dante, Meyer became ill with Diabetes, a disease which would eventually take his life in 2001.  He decided to leave the Infernos and go solo aided by his new songwriter friends Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker.  Joined by Vincent Crane on Piano and Drachen Theaker on Drums, Meyer and co recorded a set of demos which would impress music publisher, Malcolm Forrester to secure a single release for Parlophone.  The mildly psychedelic "Never Mind" b/w "I'll Be Looking Out For You" was released in February 1967, the same time as The Beatles "Strawberry Fields Forever". Guess which single EMI decided to push.  "Never Mind" sank without a trace but has since been comped on Incredible Sound Show Stories Vol.02 "When The Tangerine Strikes Twelve" and is highly regarded a minor classic by UK psych collectors.

EMI were set to release a follow up single "Mister Man" b/w "My Lady Of Love" but Meyer's A&R man was fired thus leading the single to be forgotten about.  Chances are that the single would've bombed the same way as "Never Mind", but that doesn't stop it from being a prime slice of British popsike and can be found on Incredible Sound Show Stories vol.06 "Plastic & Rubber Lovers Of Life".

Elli Meyer continued to record demos with the help of Finesilver and Ker up until 1970, but these recordings would not be released until 1999 when Dig The Fuzz records released an album, "Elli". collecting all of Meyer's known recordings, a total of ten tracks.  The quality of the songs on this album is very high and prove Finesilver and Ker's songs were the perfect platform for Meyer's sweet, angelic vocals, which sound uncannily like Carlos Guerrero from We All Together.  Hopefully, following the release, Meyer saw some recognition of his talents before he passed away.

Finesilver and Ker went on to put out one killer single, "Happy Miranda" b/w "It" as Excelsior Spring on Instant records in 1968 and would also pen the best songs on Love Sculpture's second album "Forms and Feelings" in 1969.

Enjoy Elli...

More Zuider Zee...(YouTube)

One of my best discoveries of last year was the Zuider Zee album from 1975 on Columbia records. One of my first blog entries (and the most popular, see here) was a reappraisal of the album which I consider a genuine lost pop classic and which shockingly, remains to be re-issued.

To my absolute delight, this morning I've found that a YouTube user going under the name of UncleRiko1 has recently uploaded three Zuider Zee rarities for our listening pleasure.  Not only are all three songs killers but the accompanying videos show some great photos of the band playing live and in the studio. Much like the album, the three songs are in the McCartney/Badfinger style that songwriter, Richard Orange, managed to craft so well.

I hope you enjoy as much as I do...

1. Better Than All The Others

2. Lana

3. Night Light

Thanks to for alerting me of these songs.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Remo Four - In The First Place (1967)

The Remo Four Quartet started out as a vocal harmony band from Liverpool. They  formed in 1958 with a line up of Keith Stokes (Vocals, Guitar), Don Andrew (Vocals, Bass), Colin Manley (Guitar) and Harry Prytherch (Vocals, Drums).  By 1960 they had shortened their name to the Remo Four and were gigging regularly around Liverpool, cultivating a large following including Manley's old school mate, Paul McCartney, who would often check them out at the Cavern Club.  In early 1963 Prytherch left the group to get married and was replaced by Roy Dyke.  A little later Tony Ashton joined the group on Keys and Philip Rogers replaced Andrews on Bass.

The band would release several singles on the Pye/Picadilly label between 1963-64 whilst  occasionally serving as a backing group for the likes of Tommy Quickly, Johnny Sandon and Gregory Phillips. In 1965 the Remo Four (alongside Quickly) performed on Pop Gear (aka Go Go Mania), a British music review film directed by Frederic Goode and hosted by Jimmy Saville.  By 1966 the band had left their beat group sound behind, now favouring a more mod approach of Jazz and R&B and relocated to Germany where they were more popular than in their native country.  They were now playing a residency at the Star Club in Hamburg and had also became the unofficial house band for German music television show Beat Club and can be seen in many episodes.

While in Germany the Remo four signed to the Star Club's record label, releasing a few singles which sold well over there and eventually cut an album in 1967 called Smile! Recorded in just two days, the album is a collection of cover versions of mod standards and sounds along the lines of Brian Auger & The Trinity, Georgie Fame and Graham Bond. Following the album's release the band released one more single, the excellent "Live Like A Lady" (comped on Rubble 16) b/w "Sing Hallelujah" then returned to the UK for a brief stint of cabaret, backing Billy J. Kramer.  It was around this time that they were approached by George Harrison who asked the band to back him on his first solo album.

In December 1967, London based American director, Joe Massot met George Harrison at the opening party of the Apple Boutique where he offered him the job of creating the soundtrack to a film he was making in the UK called Wonderwall.  Harrison accepted the offer and recruited the Remo Four as his backing band for the recording sessions. The first recording sessions were held in EMI's Bombay studios during January 1968 where Harrison conducted several Indian session musicians over three days of recording (he also recorded the instrumental track for The Inner Light while he was there).  The Remo Four did not attend the Bombay recordings but were required for the preceding recording sessions at Abbey Road studios.  Joining the Remo Four on the sessions, it's rumoured that John Lennon plays some rhythm guitar, Richie Snare aka Ringo plays some drums (on "Party Seacombe"?), Harrison's best mate Eddie Clayton aka Eric Clapton plays guitar on "Ski-ing" and Peter Tork plays Macca's banjo on "On The Bed" (?).  The album was released in December 1968 by which time the Remo Four had split up with Ashton and Dyke joining forces with Kim Gardner from the Birds/Creation to form Ashton, Gardner & Dyke. Neither movie nor soundtrack album were successful and were soon forgotten until thirty years later.

In 1998 Massot, now an established film director, decided restore Wonderwall for re-release.  He contacted Harrison and asked for him to send the master tapes for the soundtrack.  On the masters was a track that Massot had never heard. "In The First Place", written by Manley and Ashton, is a vocal recording, a heavily phased song, similar to "Blue Jay Way" with Harrsion on vocals and the Remo Four providing the backing.  George hadn't submitted the song to Massot first time round as he was under the impression that he was only to provide instrumentals for inclusion on the soundtrack.  Massot loved the track and added it to the newly restored film.  The song was also released in conjunction with the movie as a single on cd and 7" vinyl credited to the Remo Four (produced by George Harrison).

A version of "In The First Place" was recorded for the first Ashton, Gardner & Dyke album released in 1969  on Polydor records.  Retitled to "As It Was In The First Place", the re-recording, now clocking in at 6 minutes and 32 seconds, suffers from an annoying wailing vocal and a two minute lounge/jazz outro.

Check out the killer version, recorded in 1967 and released in 1998 on the Pilar label.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Hudson Brothers - So You Are A Star...Oh Yeah! (YouTube)

YouTube has slowly become my main source for discovering music.  I can spend hours at a time diverging between bands and genres, adding new entries to my ever increasing wants list and being totally knocked out by the rarities that I find on a regular basis.

There are a few clips from the Hudson Brothers TV Show which aired in the US in 1974, miming to their latest song in the most over the top fashion.  This particular clip makes me laugh every time at around 1:45 when moustachioed Mark Hudson fluffs his line but carries on like a true pro.  He's the real star!

Check him...

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Bite It Deep Volume 4 (Mixcloud)

Volume 4

Los Shakers - B.B.B. Band
Dalton & Montgomery - All At Once
Liverpool Echo - You Might As Well Surrender
The Tokens - Commercial
Jigsaw - And I Like You
Excelsior Spring - Happy Miranda
John Killigrew - Brand New World
Unknown Artist - Deeper Magic
Allison Gros - Naturally
NRBQ - Talk To Me
Edison Lighthouse - Reconsider, My Belinda
Colin Hare - Alice
Gigymen - Plain Jane 
Bread - Down On My Knees 
Malcolm & Alwyn - Buried Alive
Airbus - Walking The Silver Hay
Fairfield Parlour - Sunny Side Circus