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...